Method of Reasoning in Speculative and Practical Sciences
Hawzah News Agency - The axis around which the discussions of the speculative sciences revolve, and the rational basis of arguments involved in these branches of human knowledge, are completely and fundamentally distinct from those of the practical sciences. The very axis of study in the speculative sciences is something whose reality transcends the domain of human’ will and science and whose realization or nonrealization is not affected by man's being.
This is true whether the subject under discussion is the general principle of being and non-being, or that of the being or none being of a finite object; the first class of questions belongs to the domain of philosophy, and the second class of questions belongs to the domain of mathematical and experimental sciences.
The foundations of the reasoning in the speculative sciences, especially philosophy and metaphysics, are self-evident axioms, whose validity is beyond doubt.
All complicated theoretical statements must refer to that series of self-evident axioms, so that their complexity is resolved and their validity or invalidity can be determined.
In order to do this, we are forced to discover the series of self-evident truths and their interrelationships so as to reach complex propositions, and then to analyze the complex propositions with utmost care by referring them to basic, self-evident truths.
In other words, both the axiomatic material through synthesis of which, or through reduction to which, complex propositions are solved; must be self-evident and certain, and the method of synthesis or analysis and the reasoning process must be self-evident and certain.
This is necessary because if either the axiomatic material or the reasoning methods have the slightest uncertainty about them, the conclusions attained would be uncertain, and the theoretical problem under consideration would retain its peculiar complexity ambiguity even though a partial aspect of it may be clarified.
Thus one cannot rely on conjecture, analogy, imagination or fantasy and the like, either in regard to the axiomatic material or in regard to the method of reasoning. The only thing that can be relied upon is pure reason. Discussion about the primary axiomatic material and the method of inference is the task of philosophy and logic.
However, as said above, the axis of the study of the practical sciences is situated within the realm of human existence and these sciences depend on human initiative and will for their existence. Things such as justice and injustice, humility and pride, contentment and greed etc., are examples of problems that practical philosophy (al-hikmah al-amaliyyah) is concerned with, and all of them are of the 'do' and 'don't' variety.
The method of reasoning for reaching conclusions is based on self-evident moral values and criteria. In other words, those things whose "evilness" and "badness" (fujur) are indubitably ate certainly perceived by the mind, serve as the reference points and foundations upon which all inference regarding the 'don'ts' is based,' whereas all those things the "goodness" and "desirability" (taqwa) of which are indubitably clear to the human mind serve as the foundation on which all judgements regarding the ‘do's' are based.
All the complex and difficult problems of practical philosophy are solved through reference to primary and self-evident goods and evils We reach solutions to our problems either through synthesizing these primary value with one another, or by analyzing the complex problems, reducing them to a series of simple and self-evident values.
In any case, there is no alternative to reference to these primary and self-evident values; either in the form of synthesis or in the form of analysis and reduction:' If there is an imperfection in any of the two that is either in the basic, underlying axiomatic material or the method of inference, or in other words, if the “goodness” and “badness” of a thing is not self-evident, or if the method of inference is not absolutely reliable the conclusions reached would lack certainty as a result, that particular problem of practical philosophy which we are dealing with would retain its former complexity and ambiguity, even if some aspects of the problem may resolved.
We must conclude, then, that neither in the axiomatic material used for our arguments nor in the form of reasoning used, is there any room for conjecture, fancy, personal prejudices, desires, likes and dislikes.
The only things which can be relied upon are pure reason and healthy instinct. Passion and desire should influence neither the material of our arguments nor the method of reasoning.
Description and definition of -the primary 'evils', and 'goods' and the form of reasoning-whether in the form of synthesis or analysis-are amongst the duties of ethics ('ilm al-'akhlaq) and practical philosophy (al-hikmah al- 'amaliyyah).
Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli, Divine Revelation, Human Reason and Science, Journal: Vol.1, N.2, Translated by Shahyar Sa'adat,Published by Ahlul Bayt World Assembly.