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The Voices Behind the Voice of Reason

When in an argument, or when finding it hard to make a decision, the phrase “let me be the voice of reason” will often be used. The person who says this will, through logical thinking choose the best option, or the option with the least amount of negative aspects. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) gives us the following definition of “the voice of reason”: “the person or agency through which reason is expressed or revealed; the representative of a logical, impartial, or rational attitude or stance” (Voice 4). Emotion and belief have no place in this reasoning. Everyone knows a person that is often the voice of reason, someone who can make decisions based solely on logic, and not on gut feeling, or emotion. I am most definitely not one of those, but you can often find one in the books you read, and the movies and series you watch.

Think of Benedick and Beatrice in Shakespeare’s "Much Ado About Nothing" who are quite the opposite of Hero and Claudio. Benedick and Beatrice are witty, cynical, and sharp. They have a “rational self-control as opposed to [Claudio and Hero’s] emotional self-indulgence” (225) as Carl Dennis argues in his article on wit and wisdom. They, through their rational thinking, avoid anything as irrational as love, right until the end of course. Sorry, spoiler. They are also the voice of reason when Claudio falsely accuses Hero and rejects her. Beatrice talks Benedick into talking to Claudio, because she is a woman and cannot be the voice of reason to a man, and Benedick in turn talks Claudio into apologising. Lisa Simpson is another character who can be described as the voice of reason in her respective series. She is the most intelligent person in her family. She is passionate and the moral compass of her family. In many episodes she uses clear and logical reasoning to explain concepts to other members of her family. In one episode called “Much Apu About Nothing” she tries to explain to her dad that correlation does not necessarily imply causality. In this episode a bear was spotted in Springfield and the town immediately set up a bear patrol. Later Homer says “Not a bear in sight, the bear patrol must be working like a charm”, anyone could see the fault in that reasoning. Lisa then tries to explain how by his logic you could claim that a rock just laying around keeps tigers away. Her reason in the series balances out the stupidity of all the other characters, especially her dad’s dim-wittedness.

A third example of reason above everything is Sherlock Holmes. He is perhaps the most famous of all these examples, and most famous for his reasoning. His powers of deduction are world famous and so are many of his quotes exemplifying his logical reasoning. One of these quotes is: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly on begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts” which is, today still, what good scientific research should be based on. This quote shows how Sherlock is focussed on facts, and in another quote he ties those facts to logical thinking “To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are”. He embodies the voice of reason quite perfectly, too perfectly some people could argue.

These three examples show that the voice of reason does not always have to be the annoying guy in your friend group who has to spoil the fun of arguing about irrational things by pointing out it is irrational to argue about them, or your mom who talks you out of buying those expensive new shoes. It can also be someone as loveable and passionate as Lisa Simpson, a couple as funny and cynical as Benedick and Beatrice, or someone as unreasonably handsome as Benedict Cumberbatch... I mean someone as clever as Sherlock Holmes.

by Natasja Kosten

Works Cited

Dennis, Carl. “Wit and Wisdom in Much Ado About Nothing”. Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 13.2 (1973): 223–237. Web

“Voice” Phrase 4, Oxford English Dictionary Online.

“Much Apu About Nothing.” The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season. Writ. David S. Cohen. Dir. Susie Dietter. 20th Century Fox Television. 1996. DVD.