Reason or rationality?

June 1, 2008

An interesting debate on the WIkipedia over the weekend on the definition of philosophy introduced the question of reason and rationality by way of a compromise. I was unhappy to define philosophy as a method based on rationality given the association with rationalism and its denigration of sensation.

I’ve also been concerned at what seems an unnecessary split between rationalism and empiricism. Worst still the rational/emotional left/right brain dichotomies of populist consultants who don’t check their sources. The issue was resolved (at least at the time of writing, things can change fast in the WIkipedia) by using reason (sic).

Reason links back to some of my earlier posts on coherence. If you look at the dictionary it talks about a cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event and the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic. In the sense of reason something out it has a sense of finding things out by considering various possible solutions. Talking about being reasonable has a warmer feeling to it that being rational. Listening to reason means to act sensibly, to do what is right, practical, possible or common sense. More reason, less rationality …

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