From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing
In western philosophy, reason has had a twofold history. On the one hand, it has been taken to be objective and so to be fixed and discoverable by dialectic, analysis or study. Such objectivity is the case in the thinking of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and Hegel. In the vision of these thinkers, reason is divine or at least has divine attributes.
On the other hand, since the seventeenth century rationalists, reason has been taken to be a subjective faculty, or rather the unaided ability (eg., pure reason) to form concepts. For Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz, the effort resulted in significant developments in mathematics. For Kant, in contrast, pure reason was shown to have the ability to form concepts (time and space) that are the conditions of experience. Kant made his argument in opposition to Hume, who denied that reason had any role to play in experience.
Discussion about reason especially concerns:
- (a) its relationship to several other related concepts: language, logic, consciousness etc,
- (b) its ability to help people decide what is true, and
- (c) its origin.
The concept of reason is connected to the concept of language, as reflected in the meanings of the Greek word "logos", later to be translated by Latin "ratio" and then French "raison", from which the English word derived. As reason, rationality, and logic are all associated with the ability of the human mind to predict effects as based upon presumed causes, the word "reason" also denotes a ground or basis for a particular argument, and hence is used synonymously with the word "cause".