The Edge of Reason: Beyond the limits of rationality


Can reason lead us to the truth? Spinoza, Hegel and Russell thought so. But might it be a fundamental mistake to imagine that reason is a neutral tool to arrive at incontrovertible conclusions? Should we be sceptical of the claims of logic, or would this allow blind prejudice to rule?

IAI panel tries to explain:


The Panel

Outspoken philosopher of science Steve Fuller and neurobiologist Steven Rose navigate the limits of rationality with Oxford philosopher Peter Hacker

By "The Institute of Art and Ideas" –

Featured image: IAI


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  1. I have had many experiences that cannot be answered by reason and no "reasonable" person would even begin to be able to comprehend them and yet the inability for these experiences to be explained by "reason" does not negate the fact that they happened.

    The participants precede the observers – Explorers go before explainers…

  2. Just as we cannot see every single color there is to be seen, their maybe "colors" of logic and reason that we have yet to perceive. However, not being able to perceive the logic necessary to understand something with our rational minds does not mean that we should stop using the available tools we have, anymore than not perceiving all the colors in existence means we should stop using our eyes to understand the universe around us.

    In other words, failure of resaon doesn't mean that reason is failure — it simply means we are not sufficiently intelligent to rely fully on it… yet. Of course, the possibility exists that we may never reach that point. Could it be the universe works on dream logic? Dreams always seem to make sense while we're dreaming; maybe they have the colors our conscious minds are missing.

  3. Reason, rationality and truth is as individual to a person as is their individuality.
    One’s education, self perception, understanding of life and the world, beliefs, cultural and religious stance, powers of perception and intuition, guide one’s perspective on self reason, rationality, truth, emotions and choices.

    In regards to the reason, rationality and truth of all ‘things’ natural and of ‘man’, ‘man’ may never understand completely the reason for all observable occurrences, and how unseen (by the mind’s eye or actual observation) may blind some to the actual reality of what it is they are trying to discover reason, rationality and truth in or with.

  4. The term reason can be used synonymously with Sanity, but rationality is clearly insane as a substitute for reason.

    Truth is simply… what Is. (Always Already Is).
    A sane appreciation of what is, IS NOT AT WAR with 'What Is'. The 'war with what is' CANNOT BE REAL in the sense of necessarily true – but can be experienced as a point of view. As a 'mind'.

    Our point of view is never without some distortions of what Is. One cannot differentiate in FACT from one's Existence – which is simultaneous to all existence.

    But we create a model reality and experience it as external to us, and through this we experience facets of What Is as the functionality of Existence knowing itself existing. This is the 'reason for existence' – to Know Thyself, but is humanly substituted for, by know one's self – and a world defined in its image; that of separate entities amidst a realm of 'non self and otherself'.

    Logic is inescapably applicable to its premise.
    Choose to accept and believe something and one has made an investment from which feelings and thoughts will automatically follow… and colour or inform one's experience.

    Because 'we all tend to agree' the human condition, it runs unchallenged and unquestioned as the human conditioning.
    But if the BASIS or foundation of this conditioning is a false sense of segregated consciousness, then ALL that proceeds from it is also false – no matter how real the experience.
    To uncover Reason or Sanity, is not via a process of applying rational thinking, though one can use such thinking to make the case for desisting in using it for what it is neither designed nor capable of.
    One cannot in that way 'understand' What Is'. But one can understand that one cannot NOT Be one with 'What Is' – as a direct expression of self-awareness via which Existence knows itself.
    As soon as one qualifies this, one is exploring 'point of view'. All points of view are valid as points of view. But they are not all resonant or relevant to the current focus of your – or my being.

    The rationality that is invoked for the justification of the separating self-sense may be apparently rational or patently irrational – but its primary purpose was to effect psychological defence against 'knowing' that had become associated with guilt, fear, pain and loss.
    Curiously, it is the defence that perpetrates such symptoms in our psyche, our relationships and our model of Life's Reality, and not the actual 'knowing'. For the nature of One is not war, but One – in infinite rich reflection of Itself.
    The 'egocentric' lens is experienced as compelling and addictively self reinforcing focus of identification and desire. This can be observed rather than played out in reaction through the willingness to pause and allow receptivity – in place of programmed reaction.
    Such receptivity re-established a clear channel of communication that includes inspiration, guidance or wisdom, unity and clarity of intent and congruency of thought word and deed.
    It is all already 'given' or innate to one's being – yet the egoic mindset must deny it and 'discover' or 'invent' its own manually operating replica or substitution.

    Nothing I have said is new, but is inviting a relationship with the Original Nature. If you have to empirically prove your existence before you will allow yourself to accept your existence then that is your choice to only allow existence on YOUR terms. This is also a point of view that can be explored and experienced, but not one of extending and sharing in the richness of Creation.
    The 'inheritance' that we prodigally run off with, is a copy – for the Original is neither Fatherless or orphaned!

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