Return to Reason

Return to Reason 10:1 Copyright 2004 by Duke University Press Stephen Toulmin, Return to Reason (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 256 pp. Toulmin means by his title that (1) in ancient Greece and even through the time of Montaigne, reason and rationality were much the same, but that (2) as the Enlightenment gathered momentum, rationality became calculation, the engine of progress, while (3) sweet reason, reasonableness, collaborative reflection based on common sensibility and cautious judgment were all demoted. He means also that (4) this demotion was academically enforced by the creation of disciplines that became hermetically sealed to each other’s wisdom and that, while contemporary life has got itself into a pretty pickle, (5) we can to some extent extricate ourselves by getting away from abstraction and a lust for universality and by acquiring a compassionate understanding of all the particularities of past and present. Toulmin’s title, Return to Reason, pairs with one chosen long ago by his contemporary, Paul Feyerabend: Farewell to Reason. Toulmin would say that Feyerabend chose the wrong noun. There is nothing wrong with being reasonable; it is only the spoiled brat, rationality, that has done us wrong. Toulmin invites a literate quest for premodernity. Fifteen years http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

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Abstract

10:1 Copyright 2004 by Duke University Press Stephen Toulmin, Return to Reason (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 256 pp. Toulmin means by his title that (1) in ancient Greece and even through the time of Montaigne, reason and rationality were much the same, but that (2) as the Enlightenment gathered momentum, rationality became calculation, the engine of progress, while (3) sweet reason, reasonableness, collaborative reflection based on common sensibility and cautious judgment were all demoted. He means also that (4) this demotion was academically enforced by the creation of disciplines that became hermetically sealed to each other’s wisdom and that, while contemporary life has got itself into a pretty pickle, (5) we can to some extent extricate ourselves by getting away from abstraction and a lust for universality and by acquiring a compassionate understanding of all the particularities of past and present. Toulmin’s title, Return to Reason, pairs with one chosen long ago by his contemporary, Paul Feyerabend: Farewell to Reason. Toulmin would say that Feyerabend chose the wrong noun. There is nothing wrong with being reasonable; it is only the spoiled brat, rationality, that has done us wrong. Toulmin invites a literate quest for premodernity. Fifteen years

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2004

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