Most men seem to live according to sense rather than reason. – Saint Thomas Aquinas
What does that mean?
To me, this quote is about the difference between sense (sensations), and reason (logic). Living according to sense is about feelings, and the sensations which provide pleasure.
This is, according to the quote’s observation of the state of humanity in the mid-1200s, more the rule than the exception. From my observations, it doesn’t seem to have improved much.
Logic or reason is the other way to help one make decisions. Instead of choosing what feels best or provides the best sensation, we choose what makes the most sense, according to the facts available.
Not a popular guy with the party crowd, I’m sure, but it does seem a slightly better regulated life. Yes, there’s a time to cut loose, but not all the time, right?
Why is reason important?
As is often the case, it’s easier to show the opposite. What would your life be like if you never thought of logic, consequences or anything about the results of a choice? What if all your decisions were based on what felt good, felt right, or provided the best sensation at that moment?
How often would you be late to work, class, or even dinner, because rolling over again and sleeping felt too good to not do? How quickly would that turn into a real mess? And how much fun would it be then? So, I hope, you agree that at least a little logic is necessary in some parts of your life, right?
That said, reason and logic are not the antithesis of fun. If you have all the things you need to get done, and you’ll have time to recover in the morning, by all means, party on! But if you aren’t ready for Monday, partying hard on Sunday night because of the sensations, might not be the most reasonable course of action, right?
Reason and logic can be harsh, but facts are facts. And if you don’t do what is appropriate for the situation, based on reason and logic, the consequences are probably not going to be something you enjoy the sensation of, right?
Where can I apply this in my life?
This is something which, in my opinion, is a matter of balance. Feeling good is useful. Pursuit of pleasure isn’t a problem until you start crossing lines to get there. Ignoring your duties would be one of those lines. Breaking laws or societal norms would be another. In short, excess is too much, in either sensation or logic.
So where does that leave us? If we take some time to examine how we live our lives and how we spend our time, we can probably figure out if we are a person who fits the quote, or if we are the exception. Take a moment and consider when or under what circumstances you choose pleasure over duty? What is your weakness?
Most of us have at least one, and many of us will have additional weaknesses. Whether it is impulse buying, or partying too hard, there are plenty of ways to be more enamored with sensations than with reason. By finding out what might be that weakness in ourselves, we can prepare to better counter those urges.
It’s hard to fight sensation without some preparation and awareness. What could you do to fight impulse spending? One way is to get twice the money, and both buy the item, and put the same amount of cash into a savings account, allowing you to get the things you need as well as the things you want.
Most of us don’t have that much money, so we have to save up, or only get one when we want to get three. What about limiting yourself to a certain amount per week or per month, and when the money is gone, you’re done? If you have any other ideas, please feel free to leave them in the comment section at the bottom.
For some of the other sensations we enjoy, we can use reason and logic to help us there as well. What if we only indulged when the important things are done first? What if, before you watched TV, the blog was written? Would that help prevent the blog from being late? It might have, if I had thought of it earlier today.
The general term for this approach is delayed gratification and it can be quite useful for trying to curb urges and other sensation seeking activities. It doesn’t have to be terrible and draconian at first, you can work up to that later, if you so choose. By starting with the small sensations, you can begin to build a habit.
Of course, ladies, don’t let the ‘men’ in the quote make you feel that you have been excluded. Reason says we are all capable of both representing the quote, or going against the quote. You can feel free to try to balance your life between sensation and reason as well.
From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : Sadly, this was scanned in upside-down, making reading a little difficult… However, it cites “Summa Theologiae, 1a. 49, 3, ad 5.” as where the author found the quote.
photo by James Whatley