Friday, July 08, 2005

Reasonable Belief and arguments

"Here Dennett seems to assume that if you can't show by reason that a given proposed source of truth is in fact reliable, then it is improper to accept the deliverances of that source. This assumption goes back to the Lockean, Enlightenment claim that, while there could indeed be such a thing as divine revelation, it would be irrational to accept any belief as divinely revealed unless we could give a good argument from reason that it was. But again, why think a thing like that? Take other sources of knowledge: rational intuition, memory, and perception, for example. Can we show by the first two that the third is in fact reliable--that is, without relying in anyway on the deliverances of the third? No, we can't; nor can we show by the first and third that memory is reliable, nor (of course) by perception and memory that rational intuition is. Nor can we give a decent, non-question-begging rational argument that reason itself is indeed reliable. Does it follow that there is something irrational in trusting these alleged sources, in accepting their deliverances? Certainly not ."

A similar line of thinking is taken in R. Carmy's "Letter To A Philosophical Dropout From Orthodoxy" regarding other modes of knowing truth aside from argumentation and "rationalism". The hegemony of "Reason" to the exclusion of the many historically acknowledged means of experiencing and engaging the world leads to false dichotomies of "facts vs. faith", "analytical vs. intuitive", etc. There are those who accept the false dichotomy while opposing rationalism, seemingly embrace an almost fideist stance - probably as treif as Enlightnment-era "rationalism".


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