Powerful Reason

Since I’m doing a lot of reading this term, I’ll probably be throwing out more quotes and less original writing. Here’s a bit about reason and power, with interesting connections to politics!

Kant spoke of “pure” reason and the “autonomy” of reason. But that is a dangerous abstraction, for reason is always already embedded in system of power. To a great extent what “reason” means is a function of the system of power which is currently in place, and what is irrational is what is out of power. Indeed, it is of the essence of power as “irrational.” Those who dissent from the ruling standards of reason are often declared irrational in much the same way that those who dissent from the current administration in Washington are declared unpatriotic. One enlists the authority of the institution in the service of one’s own ideas. And those who dissent have to show that they are not against reason or country—that they are not made or traitorous—when they are only against the ideas which currently prevail.

John D. Caputo, Radical Hermeneutics: Repetition, Deconstruction, and the Hermeneutic Project (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), 229.

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