Archive for June, 2012

Does Reason Require Praise?

Posted in Uncategorized on June 9, 2012 by jkiparsky

I’ve just been reading through a little book called “In Praise Of Reason”. I’m not sure I’m equipped to engage with his arguments in any sensible or coherent fashion, so I’ll wait a while before I do that. (Richard Rorty has been added to the “to read” list)


However, I do want to wonder aloud at the notiont that reason should require praise or defense. After all, it seems the one thing in the world least in need of any sort of support at all.

There’s the cartesian argument: if someone attempts to assert that reason is not the end-all of our understanding, you can simply give them your most condescending smile and ask “And how do you know this?”

More seriously, it seems to me that any attempt to question the value of “reason” falls on a failure to understand what the term refers to. “Reason” is simply the practice of justifying to ourselves and others the actions and preferences we engage in. And if anyone wants to dispense with this practice, they are welcome to attempt to live without it for as long as they can keep up the pretense. This game played out, they will then be forced to give up the foolish notion that there is something other than reason that we live by.

Just because some people aren’t very good at it doesn’t mean that they have a choice about whether they play the game.