irrationalism


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.

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.

References in periodicals archive ?
For instance, there is no dialog between New History, post-structuralism or post-modernity, as it will soon be perceived, and even less a demonstration of what would be the irrationalism of these trends in terms of theory or philosophy of history.
He compared in details the consequences resulting from an adoption of irrationalism with the ones resulting from an adoption of critical rationalism, and showed many evils of the irrationalism and equally many merits of critical rationalism.
The attack on conservative irrationalism also takes the form of decrying the vulgarity or mediocrity of liberal democratic art, music, and thought.
Like Kurtz, he notes a reduction in irrationalism since the founding of CSICOP 30 years ago.
While others have stigmatized Schopenhauer for his pessimism and irrationalism, Horkheimer reminded us that he was also the philosopher of compassion, of identification, and of solidarity.
Noting that DeLillo's work often problematically demonizes religion in general and Islam in particular as a site of irrationalism, asceticism, and ecstatic fusion responsible for a great deal of human suffering, McClure's second chapter charts the course of DeLillo's career as a clear trajectory.
Given his complete opposition to a Jewish state and to the existence of Israel as well as his assertion that the Holocaust has still to be verified, his claim that the imam is directing his policies suggests to many abroad a toxic combination of mysticism, irrationalism and aggression that makes him a source of enormous danger.
Finally, although the presentation of Dostoevsky's critique of reason is persuasive enough, it is a shame not to see a few words on the other side of the argument: that Dostoevsky was by no means an advocate of irrationalism or mysticism, but believed in the value of tsel 'nost', or the holistic integration of man's cognitive faculties, both rational and spiritual.
Jacoby singles out their attraction to the pseudoscience of social Darwinism in the post-Civil War period, noting that the popularity of this ideological rationale for "untrammeled capitalism" demonstrated the susceptibility of intellectuals to irrationalism, the confusion of sociology with hard science, and the dangers of a little knowledge: "Many Americans possessed just enough education to be fascinated by the late-19th-century advances in both science and technology, but they had too little education to distinguish between real scientists and those who peddled theories in the guise of science: Jacoby rightly identifies pseudoscience and religion as two "critical ingredients" of unreason since then.
If America can move from a culture of fear to one of hope, it will require a leader who embodies the American dream: modern and armed with a humanistic religious message, in contrast to the anxious irrationalism of the Christian conservative movement that fueled Bush's political base.
In 1999 Wendy Kaminer, in Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and the Perils of Piety (Pantheon), complained that advocating atheism and criticizing religion were still "like burning a flag in an American Legion hall.
irrationalism," Rusen's language represents "a specific kind of reason" (140).