Tuesday 29 July 2008

What's wrong with reason

An excellent (read: largely accorded with my prejudices) item on reason in the current New Scientist. It is a collection of thoughtful articles from a range of authors on the limitations of reason

One quick comment from me, though. In the editorial for the item we have:
The rationalist world view has been incredibly successful, transforming human life vastly for the better.
It certainly appears so for me, those around me, and probably most of the readership of the New Scientist. But, maybe we're only a privileged minority. Would everyone else agree that human life has been transformed vastly for the better? What, for example, would the Haitians eating mud cakes have to say about it? I know the evangelists of reason and science would argue that the problem is that the Haitians and others just don't have enough reason-and-science, but there are other stories you could tell. Could it be, for example, that reason and science have just proved to be a powerful tool that enable us (West, North, developed world, professionals - whatever 'top' group you care to choose) to exploit them (East, South, developing world, unskilled)?

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