Archive for the ‘Reason’ Category

Why asking “what is…” always takes you away from ‘it’

January 17, 2009

Asking “what is…” is a process of abstracting from it to then determine abstract-it‘s ‘essential’ qualities. We are dealing with abstract-it, analysing abstract-it from a certain perspective. It is left behind.

Following this process recursively (what is abstract-it…?), abstract-it will come to signfiy less and less of the real world. Eventually, we will get to the most hollow of concepts, the ‘highest’ concepts, which, by virtue of the process taken to reach them, must signify nothing. A vacuum now exists, which nature abhors and that now must be filled.

We can only know that it is, never what it is, but more importantly for us as humans is what it is to me – how do I relate to it.

Be careful how you reason, because rather than finding a meaningful truth you may find nothing.


Debunking myths of reason

September 27, 2008
  • There is no single, universal rationality. Rationality is a consensus of a group on how to think and act. There are many different rationalities.
  • Rationality cannot exist without unsupportable, foundational beliefs
  • The term ‘irrational’ is often used to imply ‘mad’ and to dismiss one’s interlocutor rather than to engage them with sensible arguments, sincerity and an open mind
  • Richard Rorty defines allegations of irrationality as affirmations of vernacular “otherness”, and so accusations of irrationality are not only brushed aside, but are expected during any argument. (From the Wikipedia article bearing his name).
  • Rationality has boundaries and is therefore inherently close-minded
  • ‘Rationality is on our side’ has replaced ‘God is on our side’
  • ‘I am being rational, my interlocutor is being subjective’
  • Thinking my beliefs rational can be a specious way of enchanting them with divine authority
  • Rationality is more often than not prejudiced and that prejudice is hidden in language and the limitations of the conceptual framework
  • One man’s rationality is another man’s sophistry
  • Rational can be code for pretentious, irrelevant mental-masturbation
  • Rationality can be merely imperialist subjectivity
  • Rationality does not infer reasonableness
  • Rationality can mean following the herd and adopting views of the culture against your better instrincts
  • Rationality is often just pragmatism given undue prestige
  • A rational soul? Point to it or stop the fantasy
  • Reason is but rationalisation of the non-rational
  • Rationality is merely saying ‘I know that I know’
  • In a meaningless universe, everything and anything can be said to be rational, so long as you have the power to coerce such a belief

Don’t get me started on ‘analytic’…

Existentialism is super-rational

September 25, 2008

A favourite myth of diehard modernists is that Existentialism is ‘irrational’ – a term used to dismiss rather than discuss. It is not irrational, rather it is non-rational. There is a profound difference between the two. Kierkegaard’s leap of faith (actually, leap into faith) is only to be taken when reason has been stretched to its limits. He defines faith as an objective uncertainty grasped with subjective certainty. Existentialism is beyond reason, it is super-rational.

Even Immanuel Kant, the champion of reason, recognised that reason had its limits and allowed room for (but did not encourage) faith and imagination. It is time that those who profess to follow him did the same, rather than clinging to triumphalist myths of reason which were thoroughly discredited last century.