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Are passions, then, the pagans of the soul?
Reason alone baptiz'd ? --Edward Young, Night-Thoughts

Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” --A Treatise of Human Nature (1738) by Hume

"“Unreason” has an uncanny power to fascinate and seduce."--The Seduction of Unreason (2004) by Richard Wolin

Sherlock Holmes (right) and Dr. Watson, by Sidney Paget
Sherlock Holmes (right) and Dr. Watson, by Sidney Paget

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

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.

Also see practical reason and speculative reason.

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".



Ratio is Latin for reason, explanation; calculation; manner and method.


Said to derive from reor (“to compute”) +‎ -tiō. It is impossible to trace the origin of the concept of ratio, because the ideas from which it developed would have been familiar to preliterate cultures. For example, the idea of one village being twice as large as another is so basic that it would have been understood in prehistoric society. However, it is possible to trace the origin of the word "ratio" to the Ancient Greek λόγος (logos). Early translators rendered this into Latin as ratio ("reason"; as in the word "rational").

See also


Rationality is the exercise of logic in philosophy. It is the manner people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action. However, the term "rationality" tends to be used in the specialized discussions of economics, sociology, psychology and political science. Rationality deals with the ratio of benefits to costs. A rational decision is one that is not just reasoned, but is also optimal for achieving a goal or solving a problem. The term "rationality" is used differently in different disciplines.

See also

See also


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Reason" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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