Words of Reason

If there was no ambiguity about the nature of ‘the real’ there would be no need to single out or believe in the fact of it. As it happens, most of us live in a literal reality – our understandings being shaped by the words used to divine ‘the real’, with the intellect aspiring to truths couched in words of reason, echoing facts said to speak for themselves. Yet words are but foils for ‘the truth’, expounding a logic drawn from the precepts of which we explain our understandings – or is it understand our explanations? – in any case, being expressly validated as a outlook that defers to the facts, as if the facts tell us what to know. But this derived form of realism sidesteps the real task of philosophy – to expose the fictions and unseen contradictions generated by a reasoning that sees no greater truth than itself. For despite knowing that the reasons of today can turn into the regrets of tomorrow, we dutifully abandon our doubts and rationalise away problematic truths with ever more sophisticated forms of sophistry – thereby to convince ourselves that the rhetoric of reason remains our ultimate mentor – as if it is ‘the truth’ that abhors the contradictions – as if the intellectual impasse of contradiction also delimits the nature of ‘the facts’.

Mike Laidler

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