As already indicated this question asks us to consider the need to engage more overtly in world affairs, to broaden our experience and to deepen our awareness of what the subject really involves. At the same time it asks us to reflect on the ways in which we experience world affairs already, in terms of the ways we enact in our own selves the major patterns of practice that characterise these world affairs.
The more we reflect like this the more we are able to appreciate the limits the analytic life puts upon what we know. How many of us can say we have first-hand experience of world affairs? How many of us can say we truly understand how tragic our subject can be, or how affirmative? The more we reflect, the more we discern the lines drawn in our own minds upon which the world affairs of any age depend.
Another such line is that between being a citizen of one particular nation state, and being a citizen of another. Then there are the lines that establish our status as entrepreneurs, wage-workers, consumers, or investors as opposed to being those without wage-work, without capital, and without access to contemporary industrial products as well as the lines that establish our status as individualists, as members of a nation, or as members of a collective movement of some kind.
Is it enough to make world affairs into an object, for example, by standing back mentally to look at it with an analytic eye, searching for the patterns people make as they politic on a global scale? Or should we do as suggested above and seek out its subjective aspects as well? Standing back to look at world affairs in an objectifying, analytic fashion is certainly the preferred approach in these post-Enlightenment times.
It is part of our Enlightenment heritage. It is what rationalism is supposed to allow us to do. Looking from a mental distance with the light of the mind can certainly illuminate the subject. The point to note here, however, is that it can also blind us to what is going on.
It can set limits to what we otherwise might know. To compensate for this blindness we have to complement rationalist knowing with other kinds of experience. We have to use other ways of knowing, ones that allow us to stand close. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join. Home Books Politics. Save For Later. Create a List. Summary This book provides an overview of the entire discipline of world affairs in a way that makes immediate sense.
Read on the Scribd mobile app Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere. Thanks, my love. Ralph Pettman although it might present a clouded surface to the eye of reason, one sensed a content… solid… consistent… explicit… new… original… on an equal footing with the ideas of the intellect. The experience of world affairs We know the rudiments of disengagement. Distal and proximal experience My story starts, as noted on the very first page, with the intellectual revolution that took place in Europe in the seventeenth century.
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Rationality is the quality or state of being rational — that is, being based on or agreeable to reason. To determine what behavior is the most rational, one needs to make several key assumptions, and also needs a logical formulation of the problem. When the goal or problem involves making a decision, rationality factors in all information that is available e.
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Collectively, the formulation and background assumptions are the model within which rationality applies. Rationality is relative: if one accepts a model in which benefitting oneself is optimal, then rationality is equated with behavior that is self-interested to the point of being selfish; whereas if one accepts a model in which benefiting the group is optimal, then purely selfish behavior is deemed irrational.
It is thus meaningless to assert rationality without also specifying the background model assumptions describing how the problem is framed and formulated.
Rationalism and Beyond
The German sociologist Max Weber proposed an interpretation of social action that distinguished between four different idealized types of rationality. These expectations serve as means for a particular actor to attain ends, ends which Weber noted were "rationally pursued and calculated. Here the action is undertaken for what one might call reasons intrinsic to the actor: some ethical, aesthetic, religious or other motive, independent of whether it will lead to success.
The third type was affectual, determined by an actor's specific affect, feeling, or emotion—to which Weber himself said that this was a kind of rationality that was on the borderline of what he considered "meaningfully oriented.
We have a dedicated site for Germany. This book provides an overview of the entire discipline of world affairs in a way that makes immediate sense, i. It is also a critique of the limits that rationalism sets on how we know world affairs, showing how we might transcend these limits by augmenting rationalist research with non-rationalist techniques. It should appeal to anyone interest in why analysts so often seem to explain world affairs inaccurately and misunderstand what these affairs mean.
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Since the Enlightenment, rationalism is usually associated with the introduction of mathematical methods into philosophy, as seen in the works of Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza. Although rationalism and empiricism are traditionally seen as opposing each other, the distinction between rationalists and empiricists was drawn at a later period, and would not have been recognized by philosophers involved in Enlightenment debates.
Furthermore, the distinction between the two philosophies is not as clear-cut as is sometimes suggested. For example, Descartes and John Locke, one of the most important Enlightenment thinkers, have similar views about the nature of human ideas.
Proponents of some varieties of rationalism argue that, starting with foundational basic principles, like the axioms of geometry, one could deductively derive the rest of all possible knowledge. The philosophers who held this view most clearly were Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, whose attempts to grapple with the epistemological and metaphysical problems raised by Descartes led to a development of the fundamental approach of rationalism.
Both Spinoza and Leibniz asserted that, in principle , all knowledge, including scientific knowledge, could be gained through the use of reason alone, though they both observed that this was not possible in practice for human beings, except in specific areas, such as mathematics. Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz are usually credited for laying the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment. During the mature Enlightenment period, Immanuel Kant attempted to explain the relationship between reason and human experience, and to move beyond the failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics.
He is widely held to have synthesized these two early modern traditions in his thought. In it, he argued that there were fundamental problems with both rationalist and empiricist dogma. To the rationalists he argued, broadly, that pure reason is flawed when it goes beyond its limits and claims to know those things that are necessarily beyond the realm of all possible experience e.