John 1:1, in the New Testament, states, "In the beginning was the word." In Koine Greek, the word logos means, "something said (e.g. word; saying;message; teaching; talk)." About 1.5 thousand years later, Goethe, through his character Faust, took a very interesting take on this passage. At 1224-1237, Faust says:
"'In the beginning was the Word': why, now
I'm struck already! I must change that; how?
Is then 'the word' so great and high a thing?
There is some other rendering.
Which with the spirit's guidance I must find.
We read: 'In the beginning was the Mind.'
Before you write this first phrase, think again;
Good sense eludes the overhasty pen.
Does 'mind' set worlds on their creative course?
It means: 'In the beginning was the Force.'
So it should be-but as I write this too,
Some instinct warns me that this will not do.
The spirit speaks! I see how it must read,
And boldly write, 'In the beginning was the Deed!'"
If one reads this without much thought, you would accuse Goethe of merely tossing the mind, or reason, aside. However, I think the implications here are much deeper, stemming back to that eternal debate between Plato and Aristotle: thought or action, word or deed?
Plato says that pure knowledge is sufficient, that if one merely knows what the good is, then someone will be good. Aristotle, on the other hand, rejects this notion. Aristotle states that knowledge alone is not sufficient, but rather it takes action. It is not the man who knows what the good is, but who actually does it! Suppose that you were getting ready to get on an airplane, and you had to choose between two pilots. One had read all the manuals, knew all the physics, mechanics, and engineering behind flight and the airplane, had seen a thousand how-to videos on flying, but had actually never flown a plane. The other guy started out as an apprentice to a pilot, observing what he does and how he does it, slowly beginning to a fly a plane on his own, until eventually now he has been flying for twenty years. Which pilot would you choose?
One could argue against this point with the maxim, "Think before you act." However, I do not think that this maxim applies-the real debate is not between pure thought and pure action, but rather how one relates to the world. Are you an Ivory Towered intellectual, sitting away at your armchair, deducing how the world works? Or, are you likened to a child again, constantly examining the world, taking in as much experience as possible, and from this forming your ideas? Philosophically, this distinction is called deductive versus inductive reasoning. Plato and John would state that the world must be understood via deductive reasoning, by starting first with the "word", with the "idea", and taking this "knowledge" and then applying it to the world. Aristotle, Goethe, and Ayn Rand would state that the world must be understood via inductive reasoning, by starting first with the "deed", with the "action", and taking a collection of the knowledge gained via experience, organizing it in our head, finding a common denominator between actions, and forming our ideas from the world.
Of course it stands to reason that if your "word" is based upon previous experience and subsequent reasonings, then it is okay to use this knowledge in order to apply it to future situations. This is not deductive reasoning. But what always must be remembered is that before the "word" came the "deed", and a mind which constantly seeks the real through the active process of experiencing the world will be safely able to fly the plane of life.