Re: New To List

Jorge Pedraza wrote;

>The crucial issue, the reason, I think, why post-modernism raises as many
>hackles as it does, is that it is not clear just what is meant by
>"rationality" in such a statement.

Although its probably true that "rationality" lacks a clear
definition in our culture, I think Kant was quite certain he knew what he
meant by rationality. From his perspective (that is the perspective of the C
r i t i q u e ) rationality is the logical apparatus (as apposed to
biological apparatus) which allows us to comprehend our world. Through
reason we situate noumena in space and time and present the understanding
with the object in general which then is given categorical predicates. For
example, if a red ball bounces into one's field of vision, the process of
rationalizing that event would entail 1) situating the phenomenon of the
bouncing ball in a place and time, 2) recognizing that the ball is a s o m
e t h i n g - a generalized object - which 3) must be granted secondary
characteristics such as shape and color by associating that stimulus with
innate general categories. The red ball becomes intelligible because
rationality is capable of piecing together a conceptual representation of
the ball.
By taking this tack Kant was able to argue that our knowledge of the
world is made certain, not by the natural orgranization and inherent
structure of the cosmos, but by virtue of the fact as rational beings, we
are all forced by our rational faculties to see the world in the same manner
- through the same lens.
This account is obviously a crude summary of a rich and multifaceted
thesis and while it is by no means the only definition of rationality - it
is certainly an important one.
If rationality is understood in this way, as a way of comprehending
the world, then it is not hard to see how subsequent thinkers could come to
argue that the light of rationality could be bent by cultural and historical
interpretations - interpretations of the world and the place of humanity in
that world.

It is interesting that Hagen says that
>rationality can be distorted...this implies that there is such a thing as
>an undistorted rationality. Clearly Foucault and most anybody writing
>under the banner of post-modernism still "believes" in some kind of
>understanding, some kind of critical function, some kind of rationality,
>some kind of logic. Otherwise why bother? and what would they be saying

I think the real critique of rationality came from Schopenhauer.
Schopenhauer counters rationality with the non-rational (the will) which is
argued to be just as important to our comprehension of reality as our mental
constructions. Thus the logic of pure reason is countered by the logic of

Hagen Finley
Berkeley, CA


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