Letter to a Friend: About Methods of Effective Reasoning – By Ibraheem A. Waziri

Originally written on June 14, 2010, now published with slight editing!


Thanks again my Good Friend,

I am actually interested in System Thinking from my background knowledge of System Analysis and Design in Computer Science. In that I agree much with the school of thought by Herbert Spencer (1820 -1903CE), which sees circumstances and conditions – natural system templates – as more the problem of system efficiency than just the operators of the system. This, unlike the school of thought by Tom Carlyle (1795 – 1881CE),  who may insist that the system operators are the ultimate! Tom Carlyle believes there are heroes who can “magically” turn things around overnight. This is why in the essay I forwarded to you earlier you will notice how much I stressed in finding out why the North is the way it is and why its elite behave the way they do. This, instead of blaming them as many do, I choose to bring forward what makes them think and behave the way they do.

In certain exceptional situations, I take recourse in the school as claimed by Majid Khadduri (1909 -2007CE) of the merger of the two positions by Spencer and Carlyle. This school says that for a good output a system must be OK as much its operators.  In this I say let’s build a good working system first in theory and then in practice. The issue of the operators will come. Also in building the system all pointers in nature must be considered from the very scratch. This is why in the issue of your marriage (another system), I’ll tell you to consider your basic feelings and beliefs first before reasoning through the nuances of other things leading to more serious steps toward commitment. There are other many indicators when the question is of building a legal, economic or political system where trivial things as whether, climate, culture and spiritual tendencies can make or mar a seemingly comprehensive system.  All the books you see me reading even those about methodologies of history (E. H. Carr and Coolingwood) plus those of Muslim religious sciences are with the aim of getting enough information that will help me form a cogent system analysis on any system that crosses my path.

My shortcomings become manifest since system theory in the natural sciences is entirely different from system theory in the social sciences. While in the natural sciences and particularly Computer Science what I need is an all-round working system that will help me automate a process with practically seen and gauged results. In social sciences it is not so and for many reasons. The philosophers here say the permanent thing is change, the nuance is change!

In the field of reason and logic, my hero is Bertrand Russell (1872 -1970CE). Someone I came into contact with in Computer Electronics as among the chief constructors of the reasoning processes that led to the founding of logic gates, the principles upon which Computer Integrated Circuits(IC) were built. The functions we write in Computer Programs as logical elements of the whole system run as Boolean (Boolean algebra) as they return values in nature that are either true or false for effective decision making.

Later I got to know how Russell died a philosopher after getting Nobel Prize in literature in 1950. According to another friend, Russell was adjudged to have an almost zero emotion in treating issues. Also Karl Popper (1902 – 1994CE) is another good name in philosophy of reason as till today he is being relied on seriously even by people like Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II. His works are just sweeping.

All, these I am writing only because you’ve asked but being me interested in textual and social criticism, I actually wouldn’t need to ask any writer even that of fictional works, before I am able to understand him or what he is writing. And when a critic join issues with me in writings I wouldn’t need to look closely before I know what type of critic or place he’s placed on the expensive ladder of critics. In textual criticism there are scholars who built on the efforts by Muslim thinkers of the past. Among western intellectuals I prefer literary critics of substance against those of form. To this end I identify with some of them like the French Sainte Beuve(1804 – 1869CE) who postulates that understanding what people write is necessarily hinged on the understanding of their historical and psychological background, as against Mercel Prost(1871 – 1922CE) and  V.S. Naipaul(still alive) who see the book, the written word, the idea as the perfect symbol of the human natural reality.

Among social critics I identify with the deconstruction school of thought of Derrida (1930 – 2004CE), Searle (still alive) and others. Who believe that the elements in one’s background are necessary seen in what they say, do or write.  Thus, the claims of many writers like Charles Darwin may not necessarily be scientific but rather informed by other natural claims of their circumstances of birth, learning and upbringing.

In all that I have mentioned I have read comprehensively not less than one book for an informed analysis as all these areas placed within concepts as Modernism, Post-Modernism, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism.

You can see actually, why I do not have to ask any writer anything save a collection of his writings to know exactly how to deconstruct him. In my recent discussion with a friend he brought some benefit to me by way of information on how Edward Said – a thinker I so much respect, love and try to imitate at least in substance – got deconstructed by Ibn Warraq in a very recent work. I am already on high heels searching for the book! Ibn Warraq did not wait to ask Edward Said about himself. In fact Said is now late but the work seems to be adjudged to be good, at least in the judgment of my other friend.

Again, all these I try to harmonize with my religious and spiritual leaning. My good friend, I have to admit to you that, these processes are soul torturing. Some say it shows on my face always. They say it shows that my heart is truly burning.  It is to Allah we defer, it is from him we seek for help.

Thanks greatly!