February 7, 2024

I happened to catch an episode of Ideas on the radio yesterday. The program had already started, and I got out of the car before it ended but what I heard was really interesting.

Let me go back a bit. When I was in junior high school, one of my teachers, Mr. Peters, would tell me to be reasonable. He brought it up at a parent-teacher interview, too. I must’ve been quite unreasonable at the time. Not unlikely.

I imagine that my behaviour would be classified as ADHD or giftedness or anxiety today. 25 years ago, though, I was just unreasonable. It didn’t need a label. I can picture myself being high-strung and aimlessly ambitious. Doing well in school was my focus. It’s what gave me grounds for my self-understanding.

One of the panelists defined unreasonableness as a lack of imagination. What a brilliant definition. The inability to imagine what it would be like to be in someone else’s shoes is what enables unreasonableness. It’s very clever. A stinted mental agility helps us act without regard for others.

Another panelist used her native tongue of Bulgarian to help conceptualize unreasonableness as a social defined construct. It is not the person who defines unreasonableness but the collective. How can you be unreasonable in isolation?

The question of what is reasonable is not often asked, yet it has such a profound impact on our daily interactions. We can’t all be working from different definitions and hope to collaborate effectively.

I want to go back and listen to the episode through. It made me miss reading philosophy.


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