Heart and Mind

The poem that follows is perhaps a bit of a tease. Behind the tease is my sense that the Principle of Sufficient Reason needs to be looked at much more closely than it usually is. It features as an assumption about how we understand the world. An assumption I will try an challenge over some of my future posts. What is the sufficient reason for believing in the Principle? I don’t think there is one.


I’m sure you remember this time last year
when we went walking on the Mendips.
Probably not as well as I do because
I have thought back to it more than once.
As we came to the rising ground our stride
lengthened and we walked more quickly.
We were engrossed in a conversation
about volition and must have increased
our effort without paying any attention.
I felt encouraged when a flash of
insight seemed on the point of taking shape
in a pithy phrase. “Wait a moment!”
and as I spoke I doubled up with a stitch.
Odd that the exclamation chimed
with both my mental and bodily state
so that your “What’s the matter?” said
as you looked back a few steps further on
was answered by my evident
discomfort, not my new understanding.
I was rooted to the spot, clutching
my side, but something in your look, perhaps
amusement, shooed off the timid words.
“Silly to have speeded up where the climb
started” but feeling that sold me short
added “unless cerebral exertion tipped
me too far into oxygen debt.”
“You’re not fit” was your sensible reply,
so we walked on more carefully
and our talk shifted to other matters.
I’ve recalled all this because un-
bidden, some such phrase as I misplaced then,
returned as it were on the wing
at the same time as the swallows to our barn.
“What’s the phrase?” I trust you’ll ask. But since
there’s no sufficient reason I should tell you,
I have instead left you with a clue.

Hope you’ll indulge me. Has to be less effort
than a brisk walk on the Mendips.

Published by davidcookpoet

I am a husband, father and grandfather. I retired from a busy working life as an adult psychiatrist in 2014. My interests are in literature, philosophy, modern jazz and horse racing. I might represent those four fields by Shakespeare, Kant, Charlie Parker and Lester Piggott. Like nearly all of us, I can identify a number of formative experiences, one of which was a psychotic episode in my first year as a psychiatrist. This reinforced an already established interest in mystical experience, and a sense of how little human beings know. My intellectual bugbear is reductive materialism, and I am surprised at the lack of moral imagination of those who promulgate such views. It seems to me they need to consider ,perhaps by exposure, just why totalitarianism is so horrific.

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