Can reason be humanized and remain reasonable?
The pre-Socratic, which became the traditional view of rationality, was that thinking was essentially contemplative action; thinking was regarded as an unmediated interfacing between the thinker and the object of thought. This tradition also drew a distinct line between theoretical and practical thinking.
Aristotle considered practical thinking was human action whereas theory was a communion with the divine. Man was considered to be essentially a theoretical being guided by a search for truth. Only when practical concerns were bracketed could this communion take place.
“It is worth noting that for Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and even Spinoza, desires and passions were not original properties of the human soul but the ‘disturbances’ it suffered as a result of its union with the body and which it could and should constantly endeavor to transcend.”
The first attack on this traditional view was via Hobbes, refined by Locke and the French Enlightenment. They argued that man was essentially a practical creature constantly in search for happiness. As Voltaire said “the passions are the wheels which make all these machines go”.
The second line of attack came from Hegel and Kant. Kant said that it was the perceiver that placed order upon the universe and that the knower could not know the thing-in-itself, i.e. reality is out there but we can not know it in any absolute fashion. Reality for us is the reality we create in response to our inner cognitive process driven by the sensations from the world out there.
Hegel argued that human thought was “culturally and historically conditioned and could not transcend the categories and assumptions of its time.”
“Marx married liberal psychology to Hegel’s historicism…Human thought was determined by interest…not in individual but in socio-historical terms…Each individual thought, he believed, in terms of the categories characteristic of his class…Such limited and distorted thought Marx called ideology.”
Ideology is the BIG problem of our times and the BIG question is ‘can the historically naïve traditional theory of the rational model be revised without destroying rationality completely?’ In other words can rationality be recovered from its heavenly haunts and be placed securely and solely within the human world without losing the positive aspect of reason.
Many humans express this common sense view of belonging to a supernatural world through their religious belief; however, even those who are not religious are often captives of the mind/body dichotomy that is so prevalent in Western philosophy.
I think that to deal effectively with this paradox we must become sophisticated enough to comprehend its source and to modify it at that point or not at all.
Cognitive science has introduced a new way of viewing the world and our self by declaring a new paradigm which is called the embodied mind. The primary focus is upon the fact that there is no mind/body duality but that there is indeed an integrated mind and body. The mind and body are as integrated as is the heart and the cardiovascular system. Mind and body form a gestalt (a structure so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts).
The human thought process is dominated by the characteristic of our integrated body. The sensorimotor neural network is an integral part of mind. The neural network that makes movement and perception possible is the same network that processes our thinking.
Quotes from Knowledge and Belief in Politics: The Problem of Ideology edited by Robert Benewick, R. N. Berki, and Bhikhu Parekh