There will always be some new unknown lurking in the borderland separating reason from superstition. Reason therefore does not and indeed must not become a tool by which we deceive our senses into believing that all is knowable. Reason provides no answers but it does create a space by which we interpret unknowable things as they relate to us and to the world. Reason is but a lens reflecting and refracting our own perceptions. Reason cannot be shared or traded because it belongs to individual perception.
Let us imagine ourselves standing in front of an unfamiliar house looking at the front door. We know the house to be a house because the basic structure is known to us. Reason informs our perception that it is a house because it has doors, windows a roof and because it is surrounded by other like structures which we as a society have signified to be houses. Because reason tells us it is a house we make certain assumptions about the nature of the house. But assumptions they remain. We are outside only looking at the front door. Reason tells us that behind the front door is a collection of rooms and that each room likely has a separate but defined function; A kitchen for cooking, a bedroom for sleeping, a bathroom for bathing, etc. Reason guides us to make these assumptions and we can be fairly certain of their accuracy. Reason further informs us that the kitchen has a stove, the bathroom has a toilet and the bedroom has a bed and again our reason would lead us to a more or less accurate description of the contents of the house. Reason can take us even further by deducing that the furnishing of the house are expensive because we believe the house to be expensive and because of this we can begin to make assumptions with relative accuracy as to the occupants of the house. But here reason falters because it demands that we make perception based assumptions about something that is beyond our perception, namely the actual contents of the house and the true nature of the occupants. Reason can never tell us that a red pot is boiling on the stove or that the sofa in the living room is white or that for some reason unknown to us there is an antique spinning wheel in the corner of the bedroom. These are all of course the physical realities of the house, the house as it exists in spatial time. But what of the aspects of the house that transcend the real? No amount of applied reason will invoke the memory of the occupant’s son first birthday in the dining room or the subtle stain of infidelity left on the bed sheets. These are the ephemeral or phantasmagorical qualities of the house and they are no less real to the occupants than is the sofa, the kettle on the stove or the loose floorboard in the hall. But they exist only for those who were part of the experience, to others they remain no more than stories told about a place. Reason will not allow us to perceive the unseen and thus unknowable quality of a place but it can stand in the way of our awareness that the ephemeral and phantasmagorical do exist separately from reason. Now let us go further, if the ephemeral is real to those who experience it then what if we are told this house is haunted? Reason says there is no truth to ghosts that they are figments of our imagination, only tricks of the mind, that they are in fact ephemeral events. Reason for the uninitiated or the unimaginative tells us the cold breeze has more to do with faulty insulation than with the vesperal breath of an apparition, that the noise behind the wall is the result of mice and not unseen fingers or that the creaking floor is a settling joist and not a disembodied footstep. Reason, because it demands a reliance on our perceptions can actual hinder our ability to perceive the world around us precisely because it presupposes to have the answers, even to questions that have not yet been asked.
This is all very existential and high minded imagining that we are standing at some house looking at some imaginary front door and considering what might be inside, maybe even ghosts. Rubbish! Imagine instead that we are a child looking at the cover a book. Ah this is all the difference. What reason governs a child’s choice of reading material? What reason dictates that ghosts do not exist or that English Nannies can’t really fly about with the breeze or that Pigs are never really saved by intellectually gifted spiders? Reason is the bugbear of a child’s imagination because it asks the child to surrender his or her imagination with all its wonder and sublime complexity in favor of the commonly shared perceptions of adults who have reasoned away far too much of the magic upon which the world of the child spins.