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Reason and Feeling

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  • Herman B. Triplegood
    In talking about reason I am talking about reason as a canon, not reason as a hypostatized theoretical entity. This is not a theory of everything. Without a
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 1, 2006
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      In talking about reason I am talking about reason as a canon, not reason as a hypostatized theoretical entity. This is not a theory of everything. Without a canon of reasoning there can be no theory of anything. The exposition of such a canon of reasoning and its ultimate justification cannot be achieved by means of mere definition. It can only be accomplished by means of a concrete process of reflection that is grounded in acts of judgment, as Kant would say, a critique of reason.

      The very word "epistemology" which means "theory of knowledge" is an oxymoron based upon an infinite definitional regress. Before one can say what constitutes a theory of everything, what constitutes a theory of anything must first be explicated. Prior to this, however, one must have a theory of knowledge. But, in order to have a theory of knowledge one must know what counts as a good theory. In other words, one must have a theory of a theory. And so it goes, ad infinitum.

      The fallacy that goes with this regress is precisely the confusion that exists between definition and exposition in philosophical discourse. The idea that there can ever be such a thing as a theory of knowledge is a fallacious notion that arises from the inappropriate application of axiomatic discourse to a subject matter that requires dialectical discourse.

      The use of the term "moralistic" as an epithet only serves to poison the well and to distract discourse from an objective discussion of the moral absolute. That there is such a thing as a moral absolute cannot really be denied. The assertion that there is no moral absolute is itself an assertion of an absolute with respect to moral order, namely, that it is absolutely relative, which is a self-contradictory assertion.

      Hb3g
    • Trinidad Cruz
      ... Try TOPS Herm. Theory of practical something. Epistemology can only ever be partial and temporary. It cannot even directly reflect. Just because it cannot
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 1, 2006
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        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Herman B. Triplegood" <hb3g@...> wrote:

        Try TOPS Herm. Theory of practical something. Epistemology can only
        ever be partial and temporary. It cannot even directly reflect. Just
        because it cannot escape the constraints of time and circumstance does
        not mean that it cannot be valid in time and circumstance. If you are
        a terrific writer, and you are, it's still your view: limited and
        quaint. That is the constraint of our nature on all of us, and why we
        must always challenge pragmatically, or go nowhere at all.

        http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rorty/

        tc



        > In talking about reason I am talking about reason as a canon, not
        reason as a hypostatized theoretical entity. This is not a theory of
        everything. Without a canon of reasoning there can be no theory of
        anything. The exposition of such a canon of reasoning and its ultimate
        justification cannot be achieved by means of mere definition. It can
        only be accomplished by means of a concrete process of reflection that
        is grounded in acts of judgment, as Kant would say, a critique of reason.
        >
        > The very word "epistemology" which means "theory of knowledge" is an
        oxymoron based upon an infinite definitional regress. Before one can
        say what constitutes a theory of everything, what constitutes a theory
        of anything must first be explicated. Prior to this, however, one must
        have a theory of knowledge. But, in order to have a theory of
        knowledge one must know what counts as a good theory. In other words,
        one must have a theory of a theory. And so it goes, ad infinitum.
        >
        > The fallacy that goes with this regress is precisely the confusion
        that exists between definition and exposition in philosophical
        discourse. The idea that there can ever be such a thing as a theory of
        knowledge is a fallacious notion that arises from the inappropriate
        application of axiomatic discourse to a subject matter that requires
        dialectical discourse.
        >
        > The use of the term "moralistic" as an epithet only serves to poison
        the well and to distract discourse from an objective discussion of the
        moral absolute. That there is such a thing as a moral absolute cannot
        really be denied. The assertion that there is no moral absolute is
        itself an assertion of an absolute with respect to moral order,
        namely, that it is absolutely relative, which is a self-contradictory
        assertion.
        >
        > Hb3g
        >
      • hermanbtriplegood
        Trinidad: I cannot really deny the kernel of truth in what you are saying, or, at least, what I believe is the attitude behind it. What you say goes hand in
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 1, 2006
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          Trinidad:

          I cannot really deny the kernel of truth in what you are saying, or,
          at least, what I believe is the attitude behind it. What you say goes
          hand in hand with Bill's cogent remark about what interests people.

          It also goes along with what Louise pointed out is an important
          dimension to the ostensible disagreement about reason and feeling. It
          comes down to what personal is. The dimension of personal interest
          cannot be denied and ought not to be ignored.

          If I were to try and frame what I have been saying in a more personal
          way, I would say that my orientation to the philosophical is a kind
          of thinking that is already inherently oriented toward the idea of
          the unconditioned, that is, the absolute, and this, I call reason.

          I put my cards on the table, here, by stating that the idea of the a
          priori is a lively option for me, even within the practical realm of
          ethics. The idea of an absolute for reason, as well as for morals, is
          an idea that resonates very deeply within me. That is why, when I
          read Kant, for instance, he speaks a language that I can understand.
          Whether or not that resonance is merely psychological is part of the
          matter being debated here. Is this just my own personal take on the
          matter, or is it there some justification for the idea of an absolute
          reason for all and even of a moral absolute for all? I can almost
          guess what the answer to my question might be. Can we speak
          meaningfully about reasons that aren't just reasons on an arbitrary
          personal level, mere opinions, but reasons that apply to all persons,
          reasons that constitute knowledge and insight that can be
          communicated and can make an existential difference, in our word, for
          the sake of making it a better place to live?

          I am with Kant, and other philosophers of his kind, in that my answer
          to these questions would be, yes, we can talk meaningfully about such
          things as moral absolutes, the unconditioned, and thinking that goes
          beyond the merely personal and into the realm of inter-subjective
          shared practical interests.

          This more personal way of putting it perhaps leaves some room for
          respect for disagreement about which is more important, reason or
          feeling. Of course, my stand for reason is something that I bring to
          the conversation in a spirited and even passionate way, that is, with
          plenty of feeling.

          In every case, it is some concrete person who is doing the reasoning.
          When one begins to talk of reason in the abstract, as if it were some
          kind of entity that enjoyed an existence independent of the people
          who do the reasoning we can easily get lost in that kind of abstract
          shuffle, then the conversation loses its footing in the concrete
          world of real people and real experiences. We forget that when we say
          reason this and reason that we are actually talking about people this
          and people that, when they think in a certain manner that is called
          reasoning.

          I still stand by my high regard for reason as something exemplary for
          the human being. I may be against the contemporary grain in this, but
          I am with a long standing philosophical tradition of high regard for
          the life of reason, a tradition that goes all the way back to
          classical Greek philosophy. Do not mistake this as an argument from
          authority, or a bald faced statement that this is the way things
          ought to be merely because this is the way things have always been.
          There is good reason for the long standing high regard for reason in
          our intellectual tradition, and it has to do with reason's practical
          sucesses. Reason has given us science and medicine, morals and
          politics, education and culture. Feeling alone has not accomplished
          all of this. Perhaps feeling, schooled by reason has accomplished all
          of this. You may call this passionate defense of reason something
          merely "quaint", however, I do not think that by your choice of that
          word as an epithet you make an authentic effort to come to terms with
          the classicism of reason that I am attempting to communicate here.
          What is new and modern isn't necessarily what is better. What old and
          classic isn't necessarily irrelevant.

          I do not see reason as merely a system of rules of inference to be
          slavishly followed. It isn't only about being certain or secure in
          one's conclusions. Although, I am with Kant on this, because I happen
          to agree with him, that reason is best understood as an orientation
          toward the idea of the unconditioned in thinking, that is, the
          absolute.

          Nor do I see reason as if it were merely some theory of knowledge or
          an epistemology. When I mention morals I am pointing directly at that
          TOPS, a theory of a practical something, that you mention. The very
          conjunction between theoretical and practical in your locution,
          however, tends to obscure the deep unity that conjoins theory and
          practice in reasoning itself.

          I hear the complaint, all the time, "That might be true in theory,
          but it doesn't work in practice," and, to be frank with you, when I
          hear that kind of complaint, I know that I am dealing with a shallow,
          and not very carefully considered, bifurcated way of the thinking
          that is, in itself, imminently impractical and theoretically naive.

          My friend, the reason why so many things do not work in practice is
          because the theory we bring to that practice is not adequately
          developed. Just ask any engineer who is attempting to solve a complex
          problem in structural mechanics, what his remedy to the poor design
          of a bridge would be. He certainly would not consider, for even a
          minute, tossing theory out the window for the sake of some empirical
          guesswork in the name of practice. If I knew that was the kind of
          engineering that was behind the design of the passenger plane I am
          about to board, I would rather walk to my destination. The remedy to
          an unworkable practice is a better theory.

          It isn't a feeling that flies rockets to the Moon and back, it is
          reason (in other words, it is thinking man oriented toward the
          necessities of physics through reason). It isn't a feeling that
          designs a bridge that will not collapse as soon as the first dozen
          commuters try to cross it. Feeling doesn't land a passenger plane
          carrying a hundred people safely on the runway. It isn't feeling that
          attempts to draft a constitution for a people that guarantees, as far
          as possible, in a world that we fully admit is contingent and fraught
          with uncertainties, their civil rights in accord with an ideal of
          freedom, and of human dignity.

          We bring the idea to the empirically contingent world for the sake of
          practical action in that world. We don't always succeed in fulfilling
          the idea in experience. But, if on account of the imperfection of our
          own understanding of a world that is not fully given to us through
          our experiences, if we give up on the notion that it can make sense
          to us, that the world is ultimately intelligible to us, that we can
          strive to know it and understand it, then, we give up on all projects
          and plans, we abdicate the very idea of a "for the sake of" something
          and, effectively, without purpose, through this euthanasia of our own
          reason, we commit spiritual and cultural suicide.

          It really comes down to optimism versus pessimism. The optimist
          believe in reason and that the world is reasonable. This is a
          rational faith, not a knowing. It is, indeed, a need for reason,
          without which reason would be impotent to effect practical change for
          the better. This issue of optimism versus pessimism, as I see it,
          isn't about the way things are in the world. It is about the way
          things need to be for mankind in the world.

          Hb3g

          --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Trinidad Cruz" <cruzprdb@...>
          wrote:
          >
          > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Herman B. Triplegood" <hb3g@>
          wrote:
          >
          > Try TOPS Herm. Theory of practical something. Epistemology can only
          > ever be partial and temporary. It cannot even directly reflect. Just
          > because it cannot escape the constraints of time and circumstance
          does
          > not mean that it cannot be valid in time and circumstance. If you
          are
          > a terrific writer, and you are, it's still your view: limited and
          > quaint. That is the constraint of our nature on all of us, and why
          we
          > must always challenge pragmatically, or go nowhere at all.
          >
          > http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rorty/
          >
          > tc
          >
          >
          >
          > > In talking about reason I am talking about reason as a canon, not
          > reason as a hypostatized theoretical entity. This is not a theory of
          > everything. Without a canon of reasoning there can be no theory of
          > anything. The exposition of such a canon of reasoning and its
          ultimate
          > justification cannot be achieved by means of mere definition. It can
          > only be accomplished by means of a concrete process of reflection
          that
          > is grounded in acts of judgment, as Kant would say, a critique of
          reason.
          > >
          > > The very word "epistemology" which means "theory of knowledge" is
          an
          > oxymoron based upon an infinite definitional regress. Before one can
          > say what constitutes a theory of everything, what constitutes a
          theory
          > of anything must first be explicated. Prior to this, however, one
          must
          > have a theory of knowledge. But, in order to have a theory of
          > knowledge one must know what counts as a good theory. In other
          words,
          > one must have a theory of a theory. And so it goes, ad infinitum.
          > >
          > > The fallacy that goes with this regress is precisely the confusion
          > that exists between definition and exposition in philosophical
          > discourse. The idea that there can ever be such a thing as a theory
          of
          > knowledge is a fallacious notion that arises from the inappropriate
          > application of axiomatic discourse to a subject matter that requires
          > dialectical discourse.
          > >
          > > The use of the term "moralistic" as an epithet only serves to
          poison
          > the well and to distract discourse from an objective discussion of
          the
          > moral absolute. That there is such a thing as a moral absolute
          cannot
          > really be denied. The assertion that there is no moral absolute is
          > itself an assertion of an absolute with respect to moral order,
          > namely, that it is absolutely relative, which is a self-
          contradictory
          > assertion.
          > >
          > > Hb3g
          > >
          >
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