Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reason, its limits and discontents

I do suppose that fundamentally all definitions of rationality are local and provisional. The original attempt comes to mind, the chilling, brittle and utterly disastrous 18th century view devoid of any understanding of human passions and their great dangers. Nevertheless I cannot but privilege the view that the understanding of limits set to will and power by empirism and logic represents the best definition of reason that is available to us in this world, in our experience of being in this world. There are limits to human will and human power, objective limits. Now I understand that anything can be used for repression by humanity and against humanity, but I cannot see many very obvious concrete examples of this position being used so. Postmodernity, though valuable in many aspects, has done a great disservice to liberalism and progress by undermining this approach to reason, and furthered cynical forces of reaction and repression. (Not to mention being wrong, also.)

Reason is obviously a weakening force in our culture: both the Enlightenment and Christian/humanist morality are waning, and the positions we still have are maintained increasingly only by force of habit, unknowingly and unthinkingly. They are lightly held, and the signs of times don't point to any easy, unassaulting future. Well, to a degree this is what is always said, but I think we are in a different position, accountable to fiercer demands, and I do wonder how well do we measure...

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