Reasoning Is Everywhere in Human Life
The words thinking and reasoning are used in everyday life as virtual synonyms. Reasoning, however, has a more formal flavor. This is because it highlights the intellectual dimension of thinking.
Reasoning occurs whenever the mind draws conclusions on the basis of reasons. We draw conclusions whenever we make sense of things. The result is that whenever we think, we reason. Usually we are not aware of the full scope of reasoning in our lives.
We begin to reason from the moment we wake up in the morning. We reason when we figure out what to eat for breakfast, what to wear, whether to stop at the store on the way to school, whether to go with this or that friend to lunch. We reason as we interpret the oncoming flow of traffic, when we react to the decisions of other drivers, when we speed up or slow down. We reason when we figure out solutions to problems. We reason when we formulate problems. We reason when we argue.
One can draw conclusions, then, about everyday events or, really, about anything at all: about strategic planning, newspaper articles, poems, microbes, people, numbers, historical events, social settings, psychological states, character traits, the past, the present, or the future.
To reason well, we must scrutinize the process we are using. What are we trying to figure out? What information do we need? Do we have that information? How could we check it for accuracy? The less conscious we are of how we are thinking, the easier it is to make some mistake or error.