Criticism of rationalism

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
(Redirected from Irrationalism)
Jump to: navigation, search

The philosophy of rationalism, understood as having first emerged in the writings of Francis Bacon and René Descartes, has received a variety of criticisms since its inception.[1] These may entail a view that certain things are beyond rational understanding, that total rationality is insufficient to human life, or that people are not instinctively rational and progressive.[2][3]

The term irrationalism is a pejorative designation of such criticisms.[2] While irrationalism is in this sense generally understood as an ambiguously-defined[2] philosophical movement of the 19th and early-20th centuries,[3] such criticisms "do not share a philosophical tradition as much as a skeptical disposition toward the notion, common among modern thinkers, that there is only one standard of rationality or reasonableness, and that that one standard is or ought to be taken from the presuppositions, methods, and logic of the natural sciences."[1]

Ontological irrationalism, a position adopted by Arthur Schopenhauer, describes the world as not organized in a rational way. Since humans are born as bodies-manifestations of an irrational striving for meaning, they are vulnerable to pain and suffering.[4]

Oswald Spengler argued that the materialist vision of Karl Marx was based on nineteenth-century science, while the twentieth century would be the age of psychology:[5]

"We no longer believe in the power of reason over life. We feel that it is life which dominates reason."

— Oswald Spengler. Politische Schriften, 1932.[6]


György Lukács believed that the first period of irrationalism arose with Schelling and Kierkegaard, in a fight against the dialectical concept of progress embraced by German idealism.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Callahan, Gene; McIntyre, Kenneth B. (eds.). "Introduction". Critics of Enlightenment Rationalism. Palgrave Studies in Classical Liberalism. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 1. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-42599-9. ISBN 978-3-030-42598-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Irrationalism". Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2nd ed.). Macmillan Library Reference. 2005.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Duignan, Brian. "Irrationalism". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-09-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Peters, M. (2014-12-03). Schopenhauer and Adorno on Bodily Suffering: A Comparative Analysis. Springer. ISBN 9781137412171.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Woods, Roger (1996-03-25). The Conservative Revolution in the Weimar Republic. Springer. p. 66. ISBN 9780230375857.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Spengler, Oswald (1932). Politische Schriften. Volksausgabe. pp. 83–86.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Rockmore, I. (2012-12-06). Lukács Today: Essays in Marxist Philosophy. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 5. ISBN 9789400928978.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>