August 15, 2008

Attacking Reason

From The New Scientist:

Seven Reasons Why People Hate Reason

From religious fundamentalism to pseudoscience, it seems that forces are attacking the Enlightenment worldview – characterized by rational, scientific thinking – from all sides. The debate seems black and white: you’re either with reason, or you’re against it. But is it so simple?

In a series of special essays, our contributors look more carefully at some of the most provocative charges against reason. The results suggest that for all the Enlightenment has achieved, we still have a lot of work to do.
Read More: Here

It is important to remember that 'rational thinking' is criticized by people who are often coming from very different positions on the ideological spectrum. In certain ways, all 'non-rational' modes of thinking are antithetical to formal rationality and heuristic cognition. This is because pre-rational, libidinal and egocentric cognitive orientations reject the tempering discipline and functional sublimating effects of 'rational' schema - whereas post-rational aperspectival thinking struggles to continuously deconstruct and explicate consciousness from the arrogance and abuses of a variety of formalized certainties (except their own) in an effort to maintain a post-linguistic, transpersonal awareness.

Ideologically, many post-rational thinkers also hold strong commitments to curbing the negative effects of historically dominating rationalities, and therefore often aligning themeselves with various 'non-rational' systems and frameworks as such.

Certainly 'rational thinking' is not the only discourse or cognitive style we should be including and exploring, but should we abandon logical heuristic thinking in favor of more intuitive emotional modes of thought? We reject the notion that it is an either/or choice. "Emotion", "reason", "will", "intuition" are all aspects of an integrated, embodied whole.

Human consciousness and mental functioning is much too complex to compartmentalize into 'emotion' and 'reason', or logic and intuition. The imaginative powers of humans are generated through a confluence of structural, processual and chaotic properties, in nature, self and culture, which generate a range of capacities and functions that work together. Emotion and rationality are thus intra-active.

Surely the healthy choice, then, is to honor and incorporate the whole network of mental potentials in a more flexible, adaptive and mutually enhancing cognitive repertoire. An integral approach to health and human development would therefore seek to maximize the whole matrix of human potential through the holistic enactment of more appropriate, just and sustanable social contexts.

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