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Monday, January 23, 2006

More on Rationalism and the abuse of reason

We have touched on Rationalism and the abuse of reason elsewhere on this blog. Many people have a very difficult time accepting the idea that reason is not superior to other types of knowing.

Orrin Judd takes up the subject here with crash-ax inhand and gives Rationalism more than a flesh wound. He calls upon Weaver, Hume and Oakeshott amongst others to help with the heavy lifting. I rather like his handiwork.
In short: so what if reason is itself irrational and only faith allows us to believe in its utility; faith suffices. In effect he's returned us to the pre-Rational worldview, where reason was a tool that God had given us in order to apprehend Creation. Thus is Reason cut back down to size and Faith returned to primacy.

It can hardly be a coincidence that Rationalism and Intellectualism and the theories they spawned have been far more influential, and destructive, in Descartes's France and on the European continent than they have been in Hume's Anglosphere. Having blindly clung to a metaphysic that was so clearly flawed, it's not surprising that Europeans (and American intellectuals) proved susceptible to the seductive allure of such rationalisms as Darwinism and Marxism, which offered perfectly rational explanations of how the world worked, if only you ignored the fact that we can't know it to be rational or material and that experience demonstrates otherwise. Meanwhile, in England and its former colonies -- but especially in America -- we have generally followed the example of Hume and been skeptical if not utterly hostile towards intellectuals and the claims of Reason. Perhaps that alone explains why there has never been a viable Communist party, nevermind a Marxist government in the Anglo-Saxon world and why Christianity remains so strong and Darwinism has fared so poorly in the States.

The post covers quite some ground but is worth the time.

1 comment:

Hey Skipper said...

That axe is a lot duller than you think.

For instance (quotes from the first article in the post):

The denial of universals carries with it the denial of everything transcending experience. The denial of everything transcending experience means inevitably-though ways are found to hedge on this-the denial of truth. With the denial of objective truth there is no escape from the relativism of "man the measure of all things."

This statement is guilty of taking as true that which isn't proven. That is, the acceptance of universals establishes truth. That notion is so inherently unsound that it collapses before it even gets to the door, particularly if it is used to show how faith is sufficient.

The expulsion of the element of unintelligibility in nature was followed by the abandonment of the doctrine of original sin. If physical nature is the totality and if man is of nature, it is impossible to think of him as suffering from constitutional evil; his defections must now be attributed to his simple ignorance or to some kind of social deprivation.

What is impossible for me to think of is how anyone can sell a sentence like that. It may very well be possible to arrive at the conclusion that ignorance etc, are at fault, but impossible to consider anything else?


Ooops. Out of time; have to head to work.

There are two posts on this topic, Ideas & Consequences, at The Daily Duck.