irrationalism

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irrationalism

See RATIONALISM.

Irrationalism

 

the designation for idealistic currents in philosophy that, as opposed to rationalism, restrict or deny the possibilities of reason in cognition and base their understanding of the world on something irrational, that is, inaccessible to reason or alien to it, asserting the illogical and irrational character of existence itself. The concept “irrationalism” refers to all the different philosophical systems and currents that accentuate one or another aspect of man’s spiritual life that lie outside the rational, such as will (in voluntarism), direct contemplation, feeling, and intuition (in intuitionism), mystical “illumination,” imagination, instinct, or the “unconscious.” All religious and religiophilosophical teachings are in their basic content irration-alistic, even though in their further interpretation they use the forms of rational thinking.

Irrationalism, with its deprecation or negation of rational cognition, must be distinguished from agnosticism, which asserts the complete and fundamental impossibility of objective knowledge of the world.

Irrationalist currents in the most general sense can be traced through the entire history of philosophy: they are characteristic, for example, of medieval mysticism, which, in contrast to the rationalistic claims of Scholasticism, saw the way to attaining god in suprarational contemplation and feeling. Irrationalism in the narrow sense of the term designates those currents of bourgeois philosophy that developed in opposition to modern rationalism. For example, there are the “philosophy of feeling and faith” of F. H. Jacobi, which opposes Enlightenment rationalism, the “philosophy of revelation” of F. W. von Schelling’s last period, the voluntaristic conceptions of A. Schopenhauer (Germany), and the doctrines of S. Kierkegaard (Denmark), which are a unique reaction to the idealistic rationalism of German classical philosophy and, in particular, Hegelian panlogism. The most prominent irrationalists in the mid-19th century were F. Nietzsche, the founder of the philosophy of life, and E. Hart-mann (Germany), with his “philosophy of the unconscious.”

Irrationalist tendencies spread widely because of the crisis of bourgeois society and its culture in the late 19th and early 20th century. Irrationalism is particularly apparent in such currents as the philosophy of life (W. Dilthey, Germany; H. Bergson, France) and existentialism (M. Heidegger, Germany), but irrationalistic currents are also typical of other directions of modern bourgeois philosophy (for example, some varieties of neopositivism). Irrationalism is in direct contradiction to Marxist-Leninist philosophy, which takes a scientific and materialistic world view.