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|Title:||Reason: An Existential Reflection|
|Abstract:||In this work I want to assess the role of reason in human existence. I think, the best way to explore what it is possible for philosophers to do requires an assessment of "reason". This question is central today with the failure of foundationalist epistemology, which I seek to replace with an existential epistemology . The work falls into three sections, where the final section is a synopsis of the first two sections in relation to my original question. The first section is dedicated to examining the views of Hilary Putnam, and the second section is dedicated to an historical exploration of the concept "reason". In the first section, on Putnam, I elucidate the problems he sees with metaphysical realism ( e.g. conceptual relativity, and scientific imperialism). In order to avoid idealism, pace the failure of metaphysical realism and foundationalist epistemology, Putnam proposes a new theory of knowledge, internal realism. Here, Putnam, while recognizing that all knowledge rest$ on human interests, values, and hence, a given perspective, argues that how we choose to see the world, our values, is further grounded in our conception of human flourishing the good. Our conception of the good , in turn, is ground in a presupposed conception of human nature, such that there are parameters which define, stipulate, that some interests, values, are better than others. In short, although there is admitted to be no one canon of rationality, method, or algorithm which yields "knowledge", Putnam thinks truth, what is rationally acceptable , is rooted in what it means to be a human being (under ideal epistemic conditions ). Putnam concludes, then, that (1) we can have truth from a human point of view that pays heed to our experience in the world, and (2) that we should affirm a plurality of methods which yield a pluralistic knowledge (psychological, sociological, ethical, chemical, and so forth.) I utilize both Gadamer and Aquinas to further exemplify Putnam's call for a plurality of methods, different conceptions of rational acceptability, for different areas of inquiry. In my second section I set about to characterize "reason". The ancient and pre-modern conceptions of reason has little to do with our modern, instrumental conception, since, it contains a strong intuitive/experiential notion, such that truth, the Jivine, could just be grasped by what was taken to be divine in Man, reason. The modern and pre-modern conception of reason is shown to be an technological or procedural rationality. With the loss of the experiential element, instrumental reason legitimates different bodies of knowledge, yet is unable to assess one body of knowledge as superior to another. Instrumental reason, concurrently, I argue, gives birth to the intractable problems of foundationalist epistemology, whose failure facilitates relativism/idealism. I show there has been a resistance to instrumental reason by certain thinkers, like m¥self, who hold that instrumental reason can never capture t"ruth, something always escapee (e.g. Heidegger, Jaspers, Zamyatin, Bergson, and Tolstoy). I have two conclusions. First, lnstrumental reason was born when the experiential/intuitive aspect of reason was severed. Further, the adoption of an instrumental conception of reason subverted the enlightenment project, by leading to scepticism, via foundationalist epistemology. Secondly, I view philosophical theories as mere symbols which always indicate something beyond themselves, by pointing to truth, the Jivine or Sacred round.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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