Reason  

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

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

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

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".

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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 original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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