post-rationality

July 25, 2007

Many taking part in the post-modern conversation, and also in the emerging conversation, at some stage get to a point where they are faced with the question concerning rationality, or some would say rationalism. Rationalism was probably one of the biggest markers of the modern era, and is seriously under suspicion in a post-modern world. And in this short paragraph I’ve already said many words which I promised myself never to use in a post. So lets just explain this shortly.

Many would roughly divide worldviews into three categories (I personally believe this is only applicable on western worldviews, but that’s another story for another day): Pre-modern, Modern and Post-modern. Already it should be obvious that this is built around the Modern worldview, one could say: That which is not Modern yet, Modern, and That which is not Modern any more.

Further, they would say we are experiencing the transition from Modern to Post-modern. We live in a system created with a modern worldview, and for people with a modern worldview, but people have changed, and now we have post-modern people living in a modern world. All nice philosophical jargon. Let’s get to the point. Rationalism would be seen as a mayor factor of the modern era. It’s was believed that we could find all answers by looking at things rationally. But many are getting somewhat sceptic about this view, and this raises a lot of questions concerning rationality.

Are we seeing the end of rationality? Some extreme viewpoints would claim this. I’m not going ot try and make a rational argument for rationality, maybe just say (very shortly) how I see the place of rationality, the task of rational thoughts, and the problems of rationality.

I think the problem was that when, in a modern worldview, different elements came into conversation with each other (feelings, stories, traditions etc) the rational viewpoint was always given the right to veto any conversation. What seemed rational was raised as the final answer, and if anything else didn’t fit, then that must be wrong. The correction on this would not be to lift feelings into this privileged position, but to create a conversation where we acknowledge the limits of a rational argument, but also realize that a rational viewpoint have something very important to contribute. Not really rocket-science I know, but we something of this discussion in class this week, so I thought I might raise some thoughts.

I think it’s a good thing that rationality is getting de-throned, but I’m not so sure if a better conversation-king would be found, so always we need to be wary of crowning something else!

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