Of Rationality, Conscience & Temperament

Rationality, or the art of acting and understanding according to one’s conceptions of rational (reasonable) arguments is one of the foremost qualities of a virtuous life. Conscience, is the guiding principle, the jury, so as to say, within each one of us that lays the foundation of our rationality. Temperament, defines the innate tendencies (that may either facilitate or hinder) of a human being to act in accordance to his character.

This essay explores the interrelationships between the three guiding principles that act as the basis of our actions. Rationality is assumed to be an absolute, irresolute and unchanging conception guided by unbiased reasons. These reasons are assumed to be independent of time, space or being on whom the concept acts. Temperament is the other extreme of rationality; being the emotional self of any being that asserts its intrinsic and individualistic influence and affect one’s actions. Conscience is an individual quality too; however, it is assumed to be true to one’s nature and heavily affected by one’s character and conceptions that change slowly over time and is a more generalized notion. The conscientious self is aware, awakened, capable of comprehending one’s moral responsibilities, one’s rational concepts and at the same time one’s temperamental flaws. It is essentially the seat of one’s judgement posterior to actions and judgements taken by the self.

Every action that one takes has a primal causal element to it. The categorization of the causes of an action is thus guided by any of the following three views:

  1. The rational view
  2. The conscientious view
  3. The temperamental view

The hypothesis that this essay purports is that for an individual to be able to lead a virtuous and peaceful life, rationality has to be the most essential component that pushes oneself into acting.

The rational view and the temperamental view, in general, tend to be the a priori forces acting as basis of most of our actions. The conscience, tends to mold our conceptions of the results of our actions besides at times being the cause themselves.

Temperament, by essence is temporal extremely dependent on one’s conceptions of the present. Our understanding of the world around us is essentially ephemeral. We harbor myriad biases, misunderstandings. Our inferences are based on generalizations that may be not rest solely on true facts. We tend to be inward looking and are therefore guided more by the ideas that favor our own self. Temperaments tend to be outlived by preposterous results of our own actions triggered by such biased ideas.

Rationality is solidified by reasons and understanding associated with any stimulus. Any troublesome situation has a rational response associated to it. When devoid of any rational view, one should adhere to a moral viewpoint. It would ensure that one’s actions have support of one’s long held conceptions, thereby not being temporal. Thought processes that are built up over a larger period of one’s life tend to be more structured and have better results.

The conscientious view, being all aware, tends to be correct and morally correct. Posterior to our actions, when emotions drain out and understanding seeps in, this view takes note of our actions. Conscience tends to be place that infuses satisfaction or sorrow into the results of our own actions. Thus, the underlying guide to our own satisfaction in life is this conscience which is independent of our emotions in the long run.

The curse of rationality lies in the observation that it is hard to practice. As beings, we are born with an essential desire to be impulsive, guided by the moment rather than an understanding evolved over a larger period of time. Our rational self requires time and effort to develop into a self sustaining being within. At times, it requires extreme patience and belief in oneself to follow the path of reason. As erroneous beings the probability that one would forgo the rational path will always be finite. Emotions tend to be powerful and tend to decline as we grow old giving way to the rational self. Conscience, on the other hand, matures through understanding, learning, experience itself. Conscience is ever present within us, yet takes a large time to awaken from the slumber it resides in. Quite often, we tend to jump to action, skipping the more patient path of rationality. The jump infuses a sense of energy within leaving us with emotions running higher. There are areas where being passionate definitely help and reasons tend to fail. In such circumstances, conscience could be the guide yet the source of strength has to be passion and not reason. Barring, such situations that require an extreme level of outdoing oneself, normal life tends to be better guided by reason and logic.