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A Fun Read: Seven Reasons People Hate Reason

Posted Aug 24 2008 12:06am
Some of you may remember R. Alta Charo's talk from the ASBH and politics conference a couple of years ago (podcast available here ), where she explores the tension between reason, politics, culture, and bioethics -- In a similar vein, an article in New Scientist magazine (subscription may be needed) explores the seven reason people shun reason:

"From religious fundamentalism to pseudoscience, it seems that forces are attacking the Enlightenment world view – characterised by rational, scientific thinking – from all sides. The debate seems black and white: you’re either with reason, or you’re against it. But is it so simple? In a series of special essays, our contributors look more carefully at some of the most provocative charges against reason. The results suggest that for all the Enlightenment has achieved, we still have a lot of work to do.

Editorial: How to make reason more reasonable

How humans dared to know

The 21st-century passion for "Enlightenment values" owes a lot to the 18th century. Philosopher A. C. Grayling discusses where those values come from and what they mean today

1: Reason stands against values and morals

Shaping a moral and humane world requires more than reason, says Archbishop Rowan Williams

2: No one actually uses reason

If we had to think logically about everything we did, we’d never do anything at all, says neuroscientist Chris Frith . Watch a related video

3: I hear "reason", I see lies

Science is routinely co-opted by governments and corporations to subvert people’s ability to make their own decisions, say sociologist David Miller and linguist Noam Chomsky . Watch a related video .

4: Reason excludes creativity and intuition

Reason is lost without art, says Turner prizewinner Keith Tyson . Watch a related video .

5: Whose reason is it anyway?

Real people don’t live their lives according to cold rationality, says bioethicist Tom Shakespeare . Watch a related video .

6: Reason destroys itself

Even in formal mathematics, reason breaks its own rules, says mathematician Roger Penrose . Watch a related video .

7: Reason is just another faith

Unconditional reliance on a single authority is never sensible, says philosopher Mary Midgley."
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