Irrationalism

Topics: Reason, Philosophy, Rationality Pages: 9 (2994 words) Published: December 2, 2012
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1: Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2 2: What is Irrationalism?............................................................................. 2 3: Origins of Irrationalism…………………………………………………………………………….2 3.1: The Limits of Rationalism………………………………………………………………………2 3.2: The Religious Issue………………………………………………………………………………..3 4: Historical Synopsis……………………………………………………………………………………3 4.1: Ancient Greek Era…………………………………………………………………………………4 4.2: Medieval Mysticism……………………………………………………………………………..4 4.3: Modern Era………………………………………………………………………………………….5 4.4: The Historical Culmination of Irrationalism…………………………………………..5 4.5: The Twentieth Century…………………………………………………………………………6 5: Critical Evaluation……………………………………………………………………………………7 5.1: Irrational vs. non-rational…………………………………………………………………….7 6: Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………………...8 7: References………………………………………………………………………………………………9

1.0: INTRODUCTION:
The term irrationalism, which depicts a 19th and early 20th century philosophical movement, is a trend that claims to enrich or broaden human apprehension of life beyond the horizon of reason. This movement, as shall be demonstrated in this work, arose as a sort of reaction against the traditional over bloating of the capacities of human reason. Thus, it sought to incorporate other aspects of human life such emotions, will, passion and even faith. Accordingly, such movements like voluntarism, mysticism or religion, romanticism et al, find their place within this trend. But it must be noted at once that this movement does not seek to negate or refute the capacities of human reason. Instead it seeks to postulate that with rationality alone, human beings cannot explore certain areas of life which are in themselves unavoidable experiential data of human life. It is to delineate elaborately on the tenets of this trend that this work is poised to do. To achieve this, we have opted to render this exposition in accordance with the above given outline. 2.0: WHAT IS IRRATIONALISM?

Irrationalism refers to “any movement of thought that emphasizes the non-rational or irrational element of reality over and above the rational” . More than a school of thought, irrationalism is a multi-faceted reaction against the dominance of rationalism. As such, it played a significant role in western culture towards the end of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century. Irrationalism need not be opposed to reason. It can consist of a simple awareness that the rational aspect of things tends to be overemphasized and that this needs to be compensated by an emphasis on intuition, feeling, emotions, and the subconscious, etc .

3.0: ORIGINS OF IRRATIONALISM:
There are at least two main sources of irrationalism, viz:
The Limits of Rationalism:
First, we see that even the most consistently rationalist approach of the world will yield, in the end, some ultimate notions that can no longer be grasped or expressed through rational language. Such include questions of truth, goodness, beauty, and so on). This clearly appears in ancient Greek philosophy. In the eighteenth century Enlightenment, a somewhat superficial confidence in reason was often maintained, and the question about ultimate realities was thus avoided. Still, Voltaire, a typical representative of the “Lumières,” was very skeptical about the natural lights of human reason and the ability to find definitive answers. Nineteenth century Positivism, finally, appeared as the culmination of human confidence in reason based on scientific advances. The positivists’ belief that scientific reason would make all other approaches obsolete, however, was soon largely rejected as a naïve illusion. Irrationalism has therefore acted as a recurrent challenge to the belief that analytical or deductive reasoning was the alpha and omega of human mental activity . The Religious Issue:

A second challenge to the preponderance of reason...

References:  Bergson, Henri, Creative Evolution. Dover Publications, 1998, ISBN 978-0486400365
 Dewolf, L
 Kierkegaard, Søren, Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Princeton University Press, 1941. ISBN 978-0691019604
 Kierkegaard, Søren, and Howard Vincent
 Nietzsche, Friedrich, Beyond Good and Evil. Digireads.com, 2005, ISBN 978-1420922509
 Nietzsche, Friedrich, and Walter Kaufmann, On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo, Vintage, 1989
 Pascal, Blaise, Pensées, LGF Livre de Poche, 2000, ISBN 978-2253160694
 Plato, The Symposium, Penguin Classics, 2003, ISBN 978-0140449273
 Schopenhauer, Arthur, “Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung”, 1818/1819, vol. 2: 1844 (The World as Will and Representation, sometimes also known in English as The World as Will and Idea), Dover Publications, 1966. ISBN 978-0486217628.
 Stumpf, Samuel E, “Philosophy: History and Problems”, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1221, Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020, ISBN 0-07-240635-6, Sixth Edition, 2003.
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