Wolfgang Welsch

Reason and Transition

On the Concept of Transversal Reason

Introduction: "Farewell to Reason"?

For most philosophers today reason is no longer an issue. On the contrary, "Farewell to Reason" seems to be a motto of the age. Reason - once the center and hallmark of philosophy - has become the victim of two strategies. On the one side there is the open postmodern attack on reason; on the other side we find a creeping rationalistic abolishment of reason.

1. Postmodern attacks on reason

Ever since the Dialectic of Enlightenment of the fourties and the postmodern and poststructuralist critique throughout the last few decades, reason has been openly accused of being dominating, oppressive, destructive, downright male, class-based, Eurocentric or merely irrelevant. Striving for the general and universal, reason cannot do justice to the singular, but is always oppressive; and since no version of reason is ever in fact comprehensive and universal, as all of them claim - and for reason's sake must claim - to be, the concept of reason seems to be unrealizable and flawed in itself. Why not just get rid of it?

2. Rationalistic abolishment of reason

A second, more subtle, way of doing away with reason comes from the partisans of ever more consummate rationality. They say: we don't need reason any more, all we need is rationality, and throughout modernity we have developed a comprehensive range of rationalities, able to cover all conceivable questions. Amidst these highly differentiated versions of rationality, no room and no issue remains for reason any more. - Analytic philosophers, for example, often practice this kind of abolishment of reason. If you dare to use the expression `reason' when talking to them, they leave you in no doubt that they haven't the faintest idea of what you might mean.

3. Traditional expectations: reason's substantial and formal distinction

Traditionally two kinds of expectations were connected with reason: one substantial, one formal. Reason should either give us a comprehensive view of the world (the true vision of the world), or provide us at least with a superior capacity for clarifying ultimate questions. Reason's distinction was either substantial - with reason itself establishing the fundamental structure of the world - or formal - with reason being the highest faculty of reflection.

The postmodern attack, it seems to me, tries to do away with the substantial distinction of reason, the rationalistic attack with the formal one. The postmodernists say the overall views brought forward in the name of reason are mistaken from the outset; the rationalists deny the existence of any reflective capacity higher than rationality.

4. Intent and structure of the paper

In the following, however, I would like to defend reason by suggesting a concept of reason which, in my view, is able to counter both postmodern and rationalistic objections and to fulfil substantial as well as formal expectations linked with reason - albeit in a manner quite different to traditional solutions.

To give a brief overview of the structure of this quite long paper beforehand (it, in fact, tries to summarize some 500 pages of a book)(1): In the first section, I will try to demonstrate reason's indispensability and develop some basic characteristics of reason by focusing on its formal aspect, its reflective character. In the second section, I will consider reason in practice, discuss reason's proper status as distinct from positional stances, address the issue of reason's purity, clarify its relationship to rationality, and criticize some traditional concepts of reason. In the third and concluding section I will explain in more detail the transversal type of reason which I recommend and discuss the possible fulfilment of substantial claims as well as transversal reason's relationship to reason altogether.(2)

I. Reason's indispensability and some basic characteristics of reason

1. The continual practice of reason

When I speak of the indispensability of reason, I do not mean that we cannot do without reason. What I'm suggesting is even more: that we factually don't do without reason.

With the term `reason' we refer to a permanent part of our mental activity, namely to reflection, and, more specifically, to self-reflection. Reason, in a first, broad and, I think, unquestionable sense, designates our capacity for self-reflection. And this capacity is in play - in various aspects and on different levels - whenever we concentrate on our mental procedures, considering, for example, the sequence or the form of our thinking, reflecting on the architecture of self-reference (whether it resembles a spiral or rather a multi-storey building), or considering the categories, patterns and logical forms employed in thinking, or the steps and the success as well as the potential traps and abysses in the processes named.

And we do all this quite naturally. We continue to do so despite postmodern and rationalistic recommendations to abolish reason. What's more, even these criticisms of reason themselves make use of the procedures named, sometimes they even originate from specific and intensified attention to these procedures. They too occur within the realm of reason - which by its very structure is self-critical anyway - and could not otherwise come about.(3) - Derrida, for example, is very aware of, and has marvelously articulated, the complicity between reason and its critique.(4)

2. Reason and reflection in general:

the distinction between reason and rationality

I started out by saying that reason is the capacity for self-reflection. How, then, is this related to reflection in general?

a. Self- versus object-directed reflection

It seems appropriate to distinguish self-directed reflection from object-directed reflection and to parallel this with the distinction between reason and rationality - or, in older terminology, between reason and understanding. Rational reflection (or first order reflection) refers to objects; reason's reflection, however, is a second order reflection which refers either to the procedures of rationality or to the procedures proper to reason.

It is, as you know, in this way that Kant distinguished between reason and rationality: reason, he stated in his first critique, "is never in immediate relation to an object, but only to the understanding."(5) In other words, whereas rationality (or understanding) deals with objects, reason deals with the forms of rationality which deal with objects.

So the specifity of reason within the realm of our mental procedures altogether - within the realm of object-reflection as well as self-reflection - consists in its second order status and the inward direction of its reflection: it does not, as rationality does, reflect on objects, but on the procedures of object-directed rationality as well as on its own, self-directed, reflection.

b. Reason and rationality: distinct but not separate

Let me, however, in order not to be misunderstood, clarify that reason and rationality are indeed to be distinguished, but not to be separated.(6) Rationality, we will later see, already implies procedures which come close to those of reason; and reason is, as we have seen, to an important extent directed towards rationality. So reason and rationality are to be distinguished well, but not simply severed from one another. - So much for the moment about the reason-rationality distinction (which I will come back to in more detail later).

3. Levels of reason's self-reflection

Reason's reflection exhibits a variety of different levels. Reason can analyze first the forms and procedures of rationality, then the steps and results of this analysis, but, in addition, also the patterns reason itself employs in these and other reflections; furthermore, it can consider the steps involved in this pattern-analysis, and so on. Reason's reflections seem to be organized like a cascade which comes about through iteration to ever higher levels.

4. The double-sidedness of reason

a. Reason as the performative medium and background of all reasoning

From this description a specific feature of reason can already be made clear. Reason can never be completely made its own object. It can certainly thematize itself, but for any such act reason will again function as its medium and background, and this reverse side cannot, as such, be thematized by the same act. Reason will, as the framework of an act, always remain its backdrop. Even for any specific reflection focusing on reason's permanent status as medium and background precisely this functional mode of reason would again serve as its supportive ground, which, as such, escapes the intended objectivization.

In other words, we can indeed speak, and achieve clarity, about reason's structure as background and medium of all acts of reason, but we cannot exhaust reason, cannot get a comprehensive look at reason. We don't get a view from outside of reason, but only from inside reason - with reason itself being the agent of this view and hence, for this act, its unobjectifiable background. - So reason - by virtue of the logic of its performance - escapes total grasp.

One might well object that the iteration of reason's status as medium and background cannot contain anything new which would not already have become evident by thematizing its first occurrences. But this is not the point. The question is not about content but about form: it is about reason's procedures inevitably implying an open flank which, for reasons of principle, cannot ultimately be closed.

b. The inconcludability of reason

And it is crucially important for every analysis of reason to take this open flank into account. Reason's inconcludability belongs among its innermost characteristics. The constitution of reason is ultimately non-reifiable, there always remains an aspect of opaqueness to it.

This may appear perplexing. But let me emphasize that there is nothing mysterious to it. Rather this constitution can clearly be explained and understood - the only constraint is that it cannot be eliminated. There is no substance waiting at the bottom of reason which we might want to uncover but which by itself would withstand such attempts at disclosure - or would be accessible only by other faculties, by faculties transcending reason (mystical experience, religious belief, or the like). The seemingly dark side of reason is simply the reverse side of each of its acts - and not to be construed as an ineffable underlying substance.

Let me sum up this point by saying that reason is, in all its procedures, double-sided: forwardly directed towards its issues - be it forms of rationality or the procedures of reason itself - and at the same time functioning as the opaque background and medium of each of its acts. This is the natural key constitution of reason and reasoning. Reason is constitutively Janus-faced. - This double-structure, of course, fascinated the German idealists, and was marvelously discussed by them.(7)

c. Inconcludability: a motive for criticism?

On the other hand, it is understandable that the inconcludability of reason should have become a motive for today's widespread tendency to avoid the thematization of reason, to try to ignore reason, or to abolish discourse on reason altogether.

Reason's inconcludability must be annoying and offensive for every dominative or technical type of thinking. These will try either to make reason conclusive or to do away with it. With respect to the framework and purpose of dominative and technical thinking these attempts are consistent and necessary; philosophically, however, they are insufficient. Reason can be ignored, but not avoided, and the philosophical task, it seems to me, consists in exposing and enduring reason's constitution.

5. The primacy of self-understanding over communication

Having explicated one of reason's most elementary features, its inconcludability, I'd like to return to the question of reason's indispensability and to emphasize that all our self-understanding is bound up with reason. Reason is the medium and the driving force of all self-understanding - be it processes of reflection, or of the interpretation of subjective as well as objective issues.

The specific point I want to make here is that even all intersubjective communication is based on this subject-internal deployment of reason. All our communication processes require an understanding of the argument and the viewpoint of the other person. And this is only possible by virtue of considering them in the immanence of subject-internal reflection. Without this, one could neither disagree, nor agree, with them. Hence the primacy of subject-internal over intersubjective communication.(8) Inner communication is an elementary precondition for outer communication.

6. The prevalence of theoretical reason

One concluding remark to this section, in which I have attempted to point out the indispensability and primacy of reason: what I referred to with the term `reason' was - from self-reflection through to inner communication - a type of theoretical reason. At least, compared with practical and aesthetic reason (if there is such a thing), we would best call it theoretical reason. Not because it refers to specifically theoretical questions as distinguished from practical or aesthetic ones, but because reflection and self-reflection, it seems to me, are the common denominator and the permanent medium of all these kinds of reasoning, and reflection in this pure form is most proper to theoretical reasoning. In this sense theoretical reason - or the prototype of reflection represented by it - comprehends the more specific kinds of theoretical, practical, and aesthetic reasoning.(9)

II. Reason's deployment, purity status, meta-order denial, and its relation to rationality

In this second section I' d like to develop a series of further decisive characteristics of reason which will finally lead to my concept of transversal reason.

A. Reason in interpretative practice - progressing from ordinary debate to reciprocal interpretation

Firstly, I want to take a closer look at reason in practice - following my initial statement that factually we don't do without reason. On the whole my intention is not to speculate about a conceptual entity or idea or phantom called `reason', but to analyze the extent to which our mental procedures imply practices of reason and to consider what reason's constitution must be like in order to allow such practice.

1. Reconstructing objections within the framework of the alternative position

I'd like to take an everyday situation in philosophy as starting point, the situation where one position finds itself questioned by another position. Let us further assume that one somehow feels that the other position has a point against one's own position - perhaps not ultimately, but the objection is at least worth consideration. - What should we do in a situation of this kind?

a. The possibility and obligation to move on to a serious understanding

We hardly have a choice. We must certainly, in the first place, try to achieve a sufficient understanding of the alternative position and its objection. Otherwise - by just ignoring or simply rejecting any objection - we would not be upholding our position in a truly reasonable way. We would not be meeting the standards we are obliged to meet.

Also, in feeling that the other position might have a point, we have already attributed it with potential validity, which, of course, then requires exploration.

Finally, there is no doubt that objections from alternative positions are possible, that they can have a point, at least in those cases where the competing positions are not completely heterogeneous but have some intersection, for example, in referring to common issues (like the concept of philosophy, the relevance of science, the destiny of humankind, or the like) - issues which have an explication already external and prior to the assessment which the positions in question make of these matters.(10) - So, in short, an examination of the objection is possible as well as obligatory.

b. Reconstructing an objection within its own framework

This examination first requires a reconstruction of the opponent's objection, because the validity of any argument is primarily related to the net of its underlying premises. You have to find out what grounds and evidence support the objection, or what aspects are responsible for its validity in the opponent's view. In other words, you have to step back to the framework and premises of the opponent's thinking, within which her objection makes sense - and possibly good sense. You are obliged to reconstruct the objection within the opponent's own framework. This reconstruction work is a precondition for any counter-argument's being reasonable, instead of just strategic.

c. Potential outcomes of reconstruction

Next you may consider the validity of the objection with respect to your own position. Different results are conceivable. You may discover that the objection does not apply to your position at all - say because the two positions use a term equivocally, so that the objection is based on conceptual misunderstanding.

Or you may discover that the objection is valid: that the argument brought forward makes sense not only within the alternative framework, but represents a real challenge to your own position and beliefs.

Or you may just not know if the objection is applicable at all, and whether it would topple your position or not. You are, for the time being, just too uncertain about the relationship between the two positions. You will need to consider the matter further, to go into it more deeply.

2. Transcending one's own position

a. Admitting the possibility of alternatives

Whatever the situation may be, let us consider for a moment what the practice described so far implies. In taking the objection seriously and considering its validity within the alternative position, one has already transcended the exclusivity of the position one holds.(11) One has come to discover and admit the specifity of one's own position. It is not all embracing. Alternatives - other approaches which might be comparably valid - are possible.

To be sure, one might still consider one's own position better than any other, but no longer as being in sole possession of all truth. Not only because the objection and its position might have a point, but also because it might turn out to be very difficult to establish a non-circular criterion of `better' - one which hadn't been taken from and thereby naturally privileged one's own position.

b. Gaining a detached view of one's own position

If the matter cannot easily be settled (as it can in the case of equivocacy), the next move may consist in examining your own framework, its basic beliefs and premises as well as its rational architecture. Because reconstructing the opponent's position has helped you to a less involved view of your own philosophical home ground. By examining it in a more detached way you may discover some unclear or superfluous assumptions and even flaws. Then you may start working on this - and perhaps be lucky: you manage to sort out the mistake.

3. Reciprocal interpretation

Finally, having gained this more detached view of the whole matter, you may move on to an interesting intellectual experiment. I call it `reciprocal interpretation'.

You consider how the things you say come to stand in the opponent's position (quite altered and estranged, of course), and how his or her beliefs look when put in your idiom (certainly equally estranged). You develop mutual representations of central topics of the respective positions. And you do this not in the sense of the `hermeneutics with polemical intent' which Richard Rorty once suggested - just holding on to your own position and aiming at parodying the other's,(12) but in a truly balanced manner: you put devotion to your own position more and more on hold and turn instead to a free examination of the advantages of your own, as well as of the other, position. You no longer - and be it just for the moment - act as a partisan of your accustomed position, but just as distanced from, and interested in, this as any other position. - Let us now look in more detail at the steps and requirements involved in this process of reciprocal interpretation.

a. Alternative representations

Firstly, the alternative representations - position A viewed from B, B viewed from A - are to be established.(13) They constitute the material for the further steps of reciprocal interpretation. Such alternative representations are, of course, deeply position-bound (their view is determined by the framework of the respective position), and whenever we encounter not just ready-made alternative interpretations, but first have to develop them,(14) we too will do this as faithfully as possible to the frameworks of the respective positions - no matter how much one-sidedness and position-bound blindness this imposes on us.

b. Reflecting on the findings and experiences of reciprocal interpretation

Next we reflect on these mutual representations - on their design and status, on their mutual validity and impact, as well as on their one-sidedness and injustice and on possibilities of getting beyond these apparent insufficiencies.

aa. Reciprocal representations: one-sided, yet consistent

The first point you may turn to is the obvious one-sidedness of mutual representations: Wittgenstein's representation of traditional philosophy's emphasis on theory amounts to a caricature rather than a fair representation, and a traditional assessment of Wittgenstein's recourse to language games will not do justice to his position either. The second point, however, which you will immediately run into, is the fact that these mutual assessments are, although apparently injust, obviously consistent nonetheless and even necessary within the framework of each position.(15)

bb. How to get beyond this insufficiency?

The insight that reciprocal representations are inadequate yet consistent - and necessarily so, due to their positional frameworks - will motivate you to get beyond them. And you will already have received a hint as to the conditions in which this could be done: you would have to get beyond the grasp of the frameworks of reference.

There is a further motivation for attempting this: with respect to the controversial topics, one will certainly want to develop a reasonable judgment as to which position is right and which is wrong. But as long as one remains on the same level as such positions every argument one may bring forward will itself be position-bound and thereby unfairly favor one of the positions instead of correctly settling their conflict.(16) But you will definitely want to improve on this status, because otherwise all argument would be condemned to being merely strategic and polemic instead of truly reasonable - it would not live up to the expectations connected with argumentation. - But how can one get beyond positional frameworks?

cc. The failure of attempts to draw on common ground between positions

Common ground between positions seems to provide a way out. By referring to such a fair comparison and decision with respect to points of difference should become possible. But this attempt fails.

Taking Wittgenstein and Aristotle again as examples, one might cite as such common ground the ultimate perspective of a fulfilled life, or the insight into the difference between what's evident to us and what's evident by itself, or the emphasis on clarity and transparency. But close analysis of this common ground shows a difference in understanding in each case. Whereas Aristotle conceives of the ultimate sense of life as strictly philosophical and theoretical, Wittgenstein situates it beyond philosophy; what's ultimately evident by itself according to Aristotle is a set of abstract principles of thought, according to Wittgenstein, however, a set of concrete grammatical structures; and ultimate clarity for Aristotle arises in the self-transparency of thinking, for Wittgenstein, however, it is connected with the insight into the limits of substantiability.(17) Finally, consider Wittgenstein's famous phrase "don't think, but look!"(18) - a clearly paradoxical phrase on an Aristotelean account, where the very nature of thinking is seen as consisting in looking,(19) whereas what Wittgenstein has in mind is directing attention away from thinking to the consideration of language and life forms.

So the consideration of apparent common ground only leads back to basic differences again. The positions may have many declarations and terms in common, but their understanding in each case turns out to be characteristically different, with the communality amounting to hardly anything more than equivocacy. The difference in the frameworks of reference proves to be decisive one more time. Therefore the attempt to get beyond the framework difference through reference to common ground and thus to achieve a common basis for settling conflicts and arriving at fair decisions in reciprocal argumentation fails.

dd. Consequences: dizziness, suspension of firm ground, liquefaction of thinking

This experience, however, is not just negative, it is also enlightening. Through it you acquire a better understanding not only of the specific design of the single positions, but of the general structure of conflicts between positions altogether. You become familiar with the logic of positionality and perspectivity. You begin to understanding why it is perfectly possible that what appears right in one of these positions is downright wrong or nonsensical in the other, and vice versa.

Likewise, the shift in the meaning of terms from one position to the other is enlightening. What is obviously lacking is an obligatory definition of these terms. Whenever you think you have one, you will soon recognize that it is bound just as much to a specific position as every other one. There is no safe ground below or beyond the individual positions. When you move from one position to another, everything can be changed, even the most basic concepts can undergo changes in their meaning, validity, and applicability. The more you explore and the deeper you penetrate the field of reciprocal interpretation, the more everything starts reeling - this is reminiscent of Hegel's remark on the "bacchanalian frenzy" of truth,(20) it's just that this frenzy is not due to your being drunk, but to your ongoing and relentless reflection.

The effect on your own beliefs will be threefold. Firstly, with respect to the position you originally held, you will have to recognize that it is just one of several possible positions, in principle neither more reliable nor doubtful than others. The certainty of your position, one previously so apparent, vanishes.

Secondly, with respect to the voyages between positions which you perform in these processes of reciprocal interpretation, you discover that ultimately you can do nothing but move between these positions - every position you might want to use as a stable basis from which all this can be considered, would itself, inevitably, remain within the dynamics of positionality and reciprocal interpretations, unable to maintain the somehow Archimedean privilege you wanted to preserve for it.

You will furthermore learn that each of these positions is valuable in some, and insufficient in other, respects. Positions are like boats, efficient and durable to a certain extent, and yet all in all you are left rocking on an unsafe sea.

Finally, it will become clear that you only ever get a hold on such boats, never on the sea itself. Each of your steps may be precise, but all firm ground is suspended. You've got to enter the dizzying play and interplay of different positions.

So far the result of such reciprocal interpretation - which I strongly recommend as intellectual exercise - is the evaporation of your positional certainty, a liquefaction of your positional rigidness, and an enhancement of the flexibility of your thinking. You might even start supposing that proper thinking altogether has its place between rather than within positions.

ee. The reflecting capacity

But there is a third consequence. A puzzling question remains. What is the capacity which allows us to perform all the procedures described? It seems to be a mysterious one, because on the one hand it cannot be represented by any one of the positions in play in reciprocal interpretation, on the other hand there seems to be nothing else in play than these positions. Yet there must be a further capacity in play - one which is not restricted to one of the single positions and is nonetheless permanently involved in considering their interplay.

This capacity is involved from the start, and from the start exhibits the most amazing characteristics. It is not bound to a specific position (otherwise it could not develop every position's alternative interpretation of another position's topics); it is extremely flexible (otherwise it would not be able to establish the whole range of alternative interpretations); it is able to adjust perfectly on the spot (otherwise it could not develop these interpretations in a manner truly faithful to the single positions' stances); and it is neutral (otherwise it could not provide a fair comparison of different reciprocal interpretations - through to stating their equal validity and ultimate undecidability).

And not only on this first level (with respect to the positions und their interrelationship) does this capacity prove to be distinguished, but equally so on the level of reflecting on the all the findings and experiences made in reciprocal interpretation. It is this capacity which recognizes the limits of positional thinking, effects the liquefaction of the concepts involved, and constitutes the relentless power of reflection on these matters.

B. Reason's purity and dynamics of self-purification

1. Reason as the capacity for making assessments between positions

What can be said about this capacity in more detail? It will come as no surprise that I believe it to be identified as reason. Relentless reflection and self-reflection is its core, and this is what, according to the previous analysis, is constitutive for reason.

a. Refutation of the substitution of third positions for reason

But perhaps another possibility has not been ruled out sufficiently so far: the idea that reciprocal interpretation is effected by a third position.

However, this cannot be the case. Firstly, because every assessment of a conflict between positions like A and B through a position C would necessarily be biased again - being simply determined by the standards of C. Secondly, this way of dealing with the matter would only delay the whole problem, with one now having to consider the relationship not only between A and B, but between A, B and C. In other words: the question pursued before - how a fair assessment of the positions involved is possible and which capacity is effecting it - would not be solved, but only reiterated. The perspective identified as that of reason cannot be bypassed by introducing ever more and ever higher positions.

b. Reason's proper activity in reciprocal interpretation processes

Once again: positions are the object of reciprocal interpretation, its proper medium, however, is reflection. Already the selection of the topics relevant for alternative interpretation and the establishment of these interpretations (so far as they are not already available) is effected by reflection. The same holds for all closer consideration as well as for potential alterations of these topics. It is through reflection that we judge former points incomplete or insufficient and choose new ones. The same applies to the consideration of mutual representations as well as to our experiences in doing this. It is through reflection that we discover the shifts in meaning which a term undergoes when placed in a different framework. Reflection operates here with the sharp tools of identity and difference - detecting differences in the seemingly identical or similar, and discovering similarities within a sphere of apparently pure heterogeneity. Another tool employed by reflection is the precise pursuit of respects (this venerable method introduced by Aristotle). Reflection discriminates in which respect positional utterances are comparable, similar, or different. Finally, it is through reflection that the structure of all these procedures becomes clear. - Everything we have been developing (and the reader considering) is the work of reflection, not of positional declarations.

Content-bound positions are the objects, not possible agents of this type of consideration. The latter is reflection. It is the medium of these processes, and the driving force of the discoveries made and the insights gained through it.

2. Reason's purity

I now want to point out what we can conclude from these considerations about the constitution of reason.

a. Reason possesses only logical operators, not contentful principles

We found reason to be not position-bound, but rather a capacity for taking any position into account, neutrally and fairly analyzing the various positions' relations, and also reflecting on its own experiences and insights arising in this analysis. In all this, reason, compared to the single positions, proves to be sovereign. It is in no way bound to specific contents (sets of beliefs, positional standards, single views of the world) as is characteristic of positional rationalities. Reason is free of such presuppositions and prejudices. In other words: reason is pure reason - else it could not be reason at all.

But what kind of purity is at stake here? Reason cannot be completely pure, totally devoid of any possessions. Such nihilism with regard to reason would come far too close to the defeatisms about reason mentioned at the beginning, it would eliminate reason one more time.

As the capacity of reflection - and of unlimited reflection - reason is in possession of some properties - but of logical properties alone. Reason is the holder of logic operators such as the principle of contradiction, elementary categories like identity and difference, singularity, multiplicity and totality, constancy and change, cause and effect, ground and consequence, conformity and contradiction, potentiality and necessity, unity, particularity, coherence, and so on. No operation of reflection can be carried out without having these concepts at one's disposal and employing some of them. Reason is essentially a logical capacity.

So reason's properties are logical, formal ones - and in no way material, contentful ones. It is in this sense that reason is to be called pure. And precisely through this reason is distinguished from rationality. Reason's principles are universal and logical ones, rationality's principles are particular and contentful ones. Reason's purity is equivalent to its logical status, and it is this purity which is responsible for reason's sovereignty and universality. It allows reason to be neutral, to keep equal distance from, and do equal justice to, the single positions.

b. Reason as the capacity for - and the implicit obligation to - self-purification

One might, however, object that reason rarely seems to be pure factually, that in its practice it often contains problematic presuppositions and remnants of one-sidedness so that we find a greater affinity to one position than the other. There seems to be no case (at least through detailed and critical analysis this may become clear) in which reason is truly neutral, truly pure.

Admitted. But what follows from this? That the definition of reason as pure reason is mistaken? That there is no such thing as reason at all, but only a misleading pretence of reason - which in fact serves to hide positional one-sidedness and encourages tacit oppression?

The objection I have just outlined does not touch the core of my proposition: that reason is the holder of logical principles and is in this sense pure, and that it has to be pure to deserve the name of reason. There is no dispute, but consensus on this point. What, however, is contested is that reason ever could live up to its logical nature.

But this assertion is doubly mistaken. Firstly, because logical operators precisely represent the tools for reason's self-purification. Whenever reason proceeds in the manner of consistent self-reflection - and to do so is an inner demand of reason - it will, by using these operators as tools for self-purification, be able to free itself from positional one-sidedness and contentful remnants.

Secondly, the assertion mentioned fails to recognize that it also allows one-sidednesses to be got hold of, and, as a consequence, possibly overcome. While, in view of factual impurities, it denies reason's chance of being pure, it takes advantage itself of the critical potential of reason. It asserts that hidden boundness can be discovered. But then it restricts itself to the defeatist conclusion of reason's permanent impurity.

However, if it is possible to recognize one-sidedness, then it is also possible to overcome it, because such recognition is always concrete, not simply abstract: you learn what the problematic point is, so you can work on it and sort out the mistake. Admittedly, other aspects of one-sidedness remain when you get rid of one, but then the same applies again: once you recognize them you can overcome them.

When we discover, through reflection, one-sidedness in our - for example, western - way of thinking, then this may be inspired by the experience of a different - a culturally different - way of thinking (within our own or a different tradition), but the discovery itself is an effect of reflection and not bound to a cultural standpoint (only the object found to be one-sided is bound in this way). And this discovery aims at overcoming the one-sidedness. There are many examples of the possible success of such attempts. Once discovered, you can overcome Eurocentrism or phallogocentrism.

And to do so is an inner demand of reason itself. Due to its logical constitution, reason objects to all factual one-sidedness and provides the tools to recognize and overcome it. Reason carries with it the obligation to self-purification as well as the means for self-criticism.

Hence it always makes sense to ask oneself if reason is truly pure in practice. To question - at least from time to time - the points one considers most natural is a strategy worth recommending highly, as, for example, Nietzsche did when speaking about the honesty of thinking: "Never keep back or bury in silence that which can be thought against your thought! Give it praise! It is among the foremost requirements of honesty of thought. Every day you must conduct your campaign [...] against yourself."(21) - This, it seems to me, is a maxim of reason.(22)

We may very well never know to what extent we have achieved the goal of purity. But we can be sure that reason calls for this and that it represents the capacity to move towards it. Every reason which fails in doing so, is a wavering form of reason. Kant, critically, called it "lazy reason".(23) The ideal and imperative of purity is built in to every process of reasoning. Self-purification represents an indisputable dynamic of reason.

C. The other side of reason's purity: the impossibility of a meta-order

1. Reason, being devoid of material content, cannot establish a meta-order

I now turn to another - and very important - consequence of reason's purity. If reason contains logical principles alone - in other words, if it does not carry with it any material content like first principles, fundamental orderings, basic beliefs and the like - then it cannot establish or decree a meta-order, cannot provide fundamental and unchangeable principles, laws, and orderings(24) - as was traditionally assumed. Being either pure or inexistent, it cannot ordain a meta-order. Rather it represents the faculty of questioning and reflecting on all content, all allegedly basic sets of principles, all orders. This point is crucial for the present discussion of reason and for my own idea of transversal reason.

2. Departure from the meta-ideal - an on-principle rethink of reason

It was, however, central to traditional philosophizing to understand reason the other way round: as being in possession of first principles and establishing a meta-order. This is what the substantial claims connected with reason were all about. At this point a decisive rethink is called for. Reason - apprehended in its purity and as the relentless capacity for reflection - does not guarantee, but instead refuses any meta-order.

Incidentally, as with almost everything important today, Wittgenstein already pointed this out when he said that there is no "metaphilosophy," a remark to which he added: "We might so present all that we have to say that [i.e. the impossibility of a metaphilosophy] this would appear as a leading principle."(25) And Wittgenstein was very aware that this meant destroying one of philosophy's innermost idols - and this he understood as being philosophy's contemporary task altogether: "All that philosophy can do is to destroy idols. And that means not making any new ones - say out of `the absence of idols'".(26)

3. The traditional misunderstanding of reason

Or, to put the argument the other way round: if things were any different, if reason were indeed to possess or decree a set of fundamental and contentful principles, and thereby issue a meta-order for all our understanding, our thinking, our conceptual activities, then reason would not be reason, but merely another kind of rationality. Advocating contentful principles and thus making primary statements about objects and stipulating the fundamental order of a field of cognition is the hallmark of rationality. Putting this harshly, one has to say that the traditional notion of reason falls short of its concept in the most fundamental way. It wrongly turns reason into hyperrationality. In so doing, it paralyzes the concept of reason. If this traditional notion of reason were in fact right, there would be no reason at all.


Whereas some aspects in my preceeding account of reason may have seemed very much in accordance with traditional philosophy (and, indeed, I hope they are), the strict understanding of purity I advocate and the turn away from the fantasy of a meta-order are probably fairly unaccustomed. In my view, however, these aspects, which break with the traditional expectations towards reason, consistently follow from reason's core - from reflection - upon which the traditional understanding had already focused, but perhaps not incisively enough.

D. Reason and rationality

I will now briefly reconsider reason's relationship to rationality. Earlier I pointed out the difference between rationality's object-directed and reason's self-directed character. However, I also emphasized that reason and rationality are only to be distinguished, but not separated, from one another. By virtue of the clarifications reached in the meantime we now can better understand the communality as well as the difference between reason and rationality.

1. Thanks to its logical character reason is already inbuilt into rationality

Reason is, in one respect, inherent to rationality, because rationality too, in all its procedures, makes use of the logical operators which we identified as the central content of reason. Whether ordering its fields of reference, providing grounds for its assessments, clarifying the architecture of its arguments and examining the coherence of its assertions, or determining its relation to other fields and types of rationality - in all of this rationality employs logical operators. There is no rationality without logical, and thusfar reasonable, operations, no reason-free base to rationality. Reason is an inherent and necessary element of rationality.

2. Reason's and rationality's different perspectives

The difference, then, between reason and rationality is one of their ultimate perspectives. The distinction mentioned before - that rationality's interest is to establish the structure of a field of cognition, reason's however to analyze and clarify the full range of its own procedures - is connected with rationality's perspective ultimately being domain-specific, whereas reason reaches out into totality.

a. Rationality as domain-oriented

I will briefly explain rationality's perspective by referring just to the commonly acknowledged types of rationality: to cognitive, moral and aesthetic rationality. Each of them is obviously related to a specific domain of objects, and, by establishing appropriate categories and corresponding methods, aims at instituting the rational order of this domain. Rationality provides the principles constitutive for a domain. Even when one of these rationalities looks beyond its domain, it does so in order to secure its own space and property.(27) It is for this kind of purpose that rationality employs the logical potential assured by the inherence of reason in rationality.

b. Reason reaching out to totality

Reason's orientation is different. Reason problematizes and transcends domains and their limits. Reason strives for totality. It tends to consider everything, always to make one step more, to enquire beyond the apparent limits, to consider how things might ultimately be related to one another.

This reaching outwards for totality belongs to, and stems from, the dynamics of reason itself. It is not that totality exists objectively, being in need of clarification, and that we then, fortunately, have reason at our disposal as a faculty to answer this question. Logically, it is far more the other way round. Reason - and it alone - engenders the horizon of totality and is at the same time the sole faculty for its clarification.(28)

3. Reason going beyond rationality's assessments and usage of the logical potential

So, in a sense, the tasks and interests of reason start where those of rationality end. Whilst one type of rationality considers its relation to other types and domains only secondarily and in a strategic and self-assuring, self-stabilizing and self-defending manner, reason - by virtue of its interest in recognizing how things are related altogether - focuses precisely on these second-order issues, on the relation between rationalities' orderings. Moreover, reason's enterprise is undertaken in a spirit of ongoing clarification instead of defence, and of reasonable justice instead of rational self-assertion.

In making the proper constitution of rationality its object of consideration, reason's use of logical potential is different from rationality's. Reason makes unrestricted use of this logical potential, one which is not bound to interests of domination, but tries to develop fully the logical structure inherent in rationality. Thus reason leads to a correction of the narrowness of rationalities and transfers the forms and statements of rationality into their truly reasonable form.

4. Functional difference, complementarity and unsubstitutability between reason and rationality

From this difference in orientation and practice it is clear that reason and rationality cannot deputize for one another. Reason cannot take on rationality's responsibility to make assertions about objects and to constitute domains. Conversely, rationality cannot fulfil the responsibility of reason to clarify the relations between rationalities. Reason and rationality - though different - form a pair. They stand in a matched relationship which cannot be foreshortened with impunity to just one of its sides.

In particular this means that the aforementioned rationalistic objection to even talking about reason - the claim that all conceivable questions are already answered through the many versions of rationality, so that no room and no issue at all remains for reason - is obviously false. As the types of rationality are restricted to their specific perspectives and domains, the question of their interrelationship can be adequately evaluated only by reason. No comprehensive analysis of rationality can ultimately avoid shifting to a practice of reason.

III. Transversal reason

Let me now, finally, turn to a more specific explanation of transversal reason.

1. Reason and transition

The crucial point in my exposition was that reason cannot operate from an Archimedean, contentful position - that its sovereignty is not to be understood in the style of a metaposition. In what way, then, does reason operate and proceed?

With the departure from the Archimedean conception of reason, the axis of reason rotates from verticality to horizontality. Reason becomes a faculty of transitions. Instead of contemplating from a lofty viewpoint (from a God's-eye standpoint), it passes between the forms of rationality and its own procedures. Reason is thus transformed from a static and principle-oriented faculty into a dynamic and intermediary faculty. It operates processually. All reason's activities take place in transitions. These form the proprium and the central activity of reason. In view of this transitional character, I designate the form of reason thus outlined as "transversal reason".

2. Kinds of transition

What can be said more specifically about these transitions?

Firstly, they are effected between the various forms of rationality which reason takes into consideration (the forms of rationality being, so to speak, the matter upon which reason exerts its activity in the first place). Secondly, these transitional activities (which can have the form of comparison, opposition, combination, reciprocal interpretation, consequential analysis, etc.) are effected along the lines of logical operators, with these serving as guidelines and tools for this analysis. Reason uses viewpoints like identity and difference, foundation and consequence, particularity and universality in order to figure out the proper relation between the forms of rationality concerned. Inventive skills, too, are implied in these processes: you have to find out what the promising viewpoints might be.

Although forms of rationality are the primary matter of reason's activity, it should not be overlooked that reason also (and, from time to time, already within its analysis of rationality) reflects on its own procedures - from the primary through to the final levels. These self-reflections are also transitional and effected according to the logical forms.(29)

3. Inconcludability

In these analyses, inconcludability comes to the fore again. Reason's procedures do not lead to a final synthesis or an absolute end - neither on the level of rationality's examination, nor on that of reason.

a. With respect to rationality: connections and ruptures - no system

In its analysis of the forms of rationality reason aims at the most complete comprehension of their relations. Striving for totality, it tries to find out how things are related altogether. The transitions serve this purpose. Yet they don't lead to an ultimate and all-embracing synthesis. The connections and relations discovered between various rational types might well reach far, but ultimately the quasi-systems which come into view through this will turn out to be disputed by other orderings and quasi-systems. And between these a synthetic assessment will no longer be possible because the frameworks common to the connectible forms prove to be irreconcilable with one another - no super-system of various quasi-systems is conceivable.(30)

Reason's task, then, is to clarify this situation of insurmountable dissent - instead of covering it with emphatic declarations, which may appeal to the heart but cannot satisfy the head. Reason enables us to understand and accept, to think and to live with this constitution of ultimate irreconcilability.

b. With respect to reason: ongoing process, new openings, no final word

Secondly, nor do reason's self-reflective processes necessarily lead to a conclusive overall structure. They always have an open flank: the reflective inconcludability of reason mentioned above; and also that of an unforeseeable potential for new openings. Reason's activities can sketch quite different geographies and landscapes, whose interrelation it will be hard to grasp ultimately. Remember Wittgenstein's remark from the Preface to his Philosophical Investigations that his "thoughts were soon crippled" when he "tried to force them on in any single direction against their natural inclination", which of course, he added, was "connected with the very nature of the investigation".(31) Certainly we can still perform transitions between these heterogeneous complexes. We have to do so - and do actually do so: how else could we ascertain their heterogeneity? But we cannot establish a conclusive account of their relation. We cannot speak a final word. It is this impossibility of a final word which leaves open the space for new - and different - approaches and findings.

4. Decision-making as an exemplary case

A look at decision-making may serve as an example that there exist reasonable limits to the expectation of conclusivity. It can also help us to recognize that transversal reason - though seemingly weak compared to traditional (in my view, however, untenable) concepts of reason - can be quite efficient, and how - in an altered manner - it meets substantial expectations connected with reason.

a. Limits of substantiability of decisions

In decision-making situations, reasonable analysis will demand, first of all, consideration of all alternatives, and clarity with respect to the premises and consequences of singular alternatives. Furthermore, it will demand consistency: the decision to be met must be in agreement with the chosen premises. But then, more fundamentally, what about the choice of premises? Obviously this is subject to given or preferred standards. Different positions find themselves convinced by different axioms. Can one overcome the divergence of these elementary decisions through reasonable reasoning?

In any case, not absolutely. The reasons one will be able to bring forward in favor of basic decisions are often good or relevant reasons only within the framework of the respective basic decisions. Or, as Wittgenstein put it, "Nothing we do can be defended absolutely and finally. But only by reference to something else that is not questioned."(32) Recognizing this circularity is equivalent to finding oneself obliged to accept basic diversity. All that reasonable reflection can do here is clarify the elementary decisions and, by going to and fro between them, articulate the points which are decisive for their diversity. Instead of reaching an irrefutable basis of acceptance or overcoming diversity, the ultimately contingent character of these decisions will become clear. Or, quoting Wittgenstein once again: "A style gives us satisfaction; but one style is not more rational than another."(33)

b. How substantial expectations are to be fulfilled

I said at the beginning that, usually, substantial as well as formal claims are connected with reason. Since then, however, while clarifying how formal claims are fulfilled by reason I also had to say that reason - due to its logical purity - cannot decree a substantial order, that it cannot fulfil substantial expectations in this way. In which other - non-traditional - way then is it that transversal reason is able to fulfil substantial expectations?

Let us assume one wants to defend a position, and let us further assume that one doesn't want to do so under all circumstances and possible conceivable conditions but with respect to a specific situation - for example, human rights with respect to the present state of the world.(34)

Following the demands of reason, one will give a precise account of the situation as well as of the position, and frankly and extensively consider all potential objections to one's own description of the situation and determination of the position.

But having done this as thoroughly as possible it is perfectly conceivable that one will find the position well defendable against all objections - in the given circumstances and with respect to the range of available viewpoints. It is then reasonably justified to advocate this position. It's just that one should be aware of, and admit to, the limits of its distinction: its situational and temporal limits. One would, for example, not claim to have discovered the only reasonable solution to the problem for ever - under whatever situations and circumstances; one would hardly claim that in a thousand years from now humankind will still best stick to this solution. But such limitations do not minimize the validity of the solution for the situation it was deliberately designed for (and in practical matters solutions always have to be designed for specified situations).

This is an example how the practice of reason can bring about substantial and reliable orientation. The position has been developed and tested through reasonable examination and reflection, and by virtue of this fulfils every reasonable expectation and standard.

The procedural and transversal character of reason prevents us from making immediate declarations about what is right or wrong (as could be expected from a substantial comprehension of reason). But its gains and insights are - due to their birth through self-critical testing and reflection - more reliable. Procedural, transversal reason, apparently weaker than substantial reason, in fact turns out to be more powerful.

c. Non-fundamentalism

Well, some people might still want reason to be firm, decretory, more or less fundamentalistic. But this is simply not what reason is like - this is, rather, what reason opposes. Reason rightly appears fundamental only in the sense that it constitutes the ultimate medium of all our processes of understanding and clarification. This, however, is, as I've tried to show, not to be spelled out by attributing first contents and principles to it. Reason's fundamentality is a medial and procedural one, not one based on principles.

The situation may seem paradoxical: reason's efficiency is based on what, in traditional respects, would engender its inefficiency; reason's power depends upon its freedom from any standpoint.

If Novalis was right in characterizing philosophy as homesickness, then reason's homeland is (to modify slightly a phrase from Horkheimer and Adorno) the state of having escaped any specific homeland.(35) Reason has no definitive place. (And probably the reasonable human being, as such, can hardly have a place in this world.)

Or to recall a quote from Nietzsche - his aphorism no. 638 from Human, All-Too-Human which is entitled "THE WANDERER" - "He who has attained the freedom of reason to any extent cannot, for a long time, regard himself otherwise than as a wanderer on the face of the earth - and not even as a traveller towards a final goal, for there is no such thing. But he certainly wants to observe and keep his eyes open to whatever actually happens in the world; therefore he cannot attach his heart too firmly to anything individual; he must have in himself something wandering that takes pleasure in change and transitoriness."(36) - I read this as perfectly describing the attitude of transversal reason.

4. Transversal reason and reason altogether

What, finally, of the relationship between transversal reason and reason altogether? Clearly, transversal reason is not an absolutely new faculty. It just reaccentuates enduringly one element which has always belonged to reason, the element of transition. In doing this, however, transversal reason, it seems to me, articulates the innermost trait of reason altogether.

Every historical form of reason was obliged, not simply to decree unity, but to exhibit it in a plurality which was antecedent to it and forged by prior interpretations. That has been the task of reason from Parmenides and Heraclitus, via Kant and Hegel, through to our times. This has always demanded passing between different points of view and connecting these in a holistic organization which was not simply to extinguish, but to retain difference - although transferring it into another form. In other words, reason has always operated transversally, at least: also transversally.

If we inquire about the innermost efficacy of reason, we regularly encounter transversal feats and transitions - between conceptions, thoughts, phases of reflection. Such transitions form the medium of all operations of reason and its most elementary potency. Reason is elementarily determined by transversality. In this sense, transversal reason seems to me to articulate the fundamental mode of reason altogether.

1. Cf. Wolfgang Welsch, Vernunft: Die zeitgenössische Vernunftkritik und das Konzept der transversalen Vernunft (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1995, stw 1996). The first part of this book (pp. 30-424) gives an overview of current criticism of reason; in the second part (pp. 425-949) my concept of transversal reason is developed.

2. Cf. for a more summary account of these matters my "Rationality and Reason Today" (in: Criticism and Defense of Rationality in Contemporary Philosophy, eds. Dane R. Gordon and Józef Niznik, Amsterdam - Atlanta: Rodopi, 1998, pp. 17-31).

3. This, incidentally, is why it is reasonable to expect a concept of reason which takes account of these criticisms - as I intend it to - to be possible.

4. What, for example, should the capacity which reflects on the boundaries of reason - on our boundness to reason and the difficulties of going beyond it (despite the perceived need to do so), which is so marvelously thematized by Derrida - be other than reason?

5. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kemp Smith (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1965), p. 532 f. [A 643].

6. Here I'd like to remind the reader of Kant's other statement "that understanding and reason [...] are not different fundamental faculties" ("The false subtlety of the four syllogistic features", in: Theoretical Philosophy, 1755-1770, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992, pp. 85-105, here p. 103 [A 30 f.]).

7. There are some very interesting affinities between idealist analysis and the postmodern critique of reason - although the former seems to be emphatic, whereas the latter seems to be deprecatory, with respect to reason. In fact it was idealism which discovered and discussed the limits of reason. (Cf. Kant's statement that reason has "absolutely no constitutive principles of its own" - which I will come to later.)

8. This statement is, of course, directed against Habermas's rejection and pretended overcoming of subjective reason, against his paradigm shift to communicative reason which he is so proud of, and which he considers to set an "end" to "the philosophy of the subject" (cf. Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, trans. Thomas McCarthy, 2 vols, Boston: Beacon Press, 1984/1987, vol. I, p. 390, p. 397).

9. And if one understands cognitive reasoning in the sense of theoretical reasoning - to reiterate: as reflection on reflection - then there is a good side to the often criticized primacy of cognitive reasoning.

10. Cf. on this point - which would also apply to some French or Kuhnian positions - my particular criticism of Rorty: "Richard Rorty: Philosophy beyond Argument and Truth?" (published on the Internet).

11. Which shouldn't be that difficult anyway because one has probably developed one's own position through struggles with other positions.

12. "If there is no such common ground, all we can do is to show how the other side looks from our own point of view. That is, all we can do is be hermeneutic about the opposition - trying to show how the odd or paradoxical or offensive things they say hang together with the rest of what they want to say, and how what they say looks when put in our own alternative idiom" (Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1979, p. 364 f.). - In his essay "Overcoming the Tradition: Heidegger and Dewey" however Rorty made himself a step beyond this "hermeneutics with polemical intent" and moved on to reciprocal hermeneutics: "In what follows, I propose to offer sketches of Dewey as he would presumably look to Heidegger and of Heidegger as he would presumably look to Dewey" (Richard Rorty, "Overcoming the Tradition: Heidegger and Dewey", in: Consequences of Pragmatism, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982, pp. 37-59, here p. 42).

13. Usually it is not a position in its full extent which is mirrored by the alternative position: instead the alternative representations are effected with respect to specific topics, yet to ones which are central to the respective positions. Wittgenstein, for example, gives an account of traditional philosophizing with respect to its theoretical stance, which he then ridicules as "the conception of thought as a gaseous medium" and to which he objects "we may not advance any kind of theory" (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. G.E.M. Anscombe, New York: Macmillan, 1968, p. 47e, no. 109); Wittgenstein's view, however, could - to consider things the other way round - be countered by giving an account of his position from a traditional viewpoint, for example an Aristotelean one, and in this Wittgenstein's own characterization that through his enterprise "a whole cloud of philosophy condensed into a drop of grammar" (ibid., p. 222e) might very well be rated as the testimony of a poor mind. - In any case: the more coherent the positions are, the more such mirroring of central topics will amount to position-mirroring. (In the example just given, the emphasis versus the rejection of `theory' is an aspect so central to the comparison of Aristotelean versus Wittgensteinean philosophy, that mirroring the positions with respect to this topic leads to a mirroring of the most characteristic features of these positions altogether.)

14. Sometimes both alternative representations are already at hand, in other cases one or both of them are first to be established: Habermas' open criticism of Adorno and Adorno's more tacit criticism of Habermas are well elaborated and just have to be considered; Wittgenstein's criticism of traditional philosophy's emphasis on theory is equally elaborated, whereas an assessment of Wittgensteins's arguments from the viewpoint of theory-centered philosophy has first to be developed (for the purposes of which one could, for example, take Aristotle, Hegel, or Jaspers as a starting point); finally, there are cases where the criticism - with respect to issues and all the more to authors - is just implied and has to be made explicit in the first place (take Kant's assessment of the French Revolution in contrast to Hegel's as an example).

15. This turns out to be the case at least with respect to well-elaborated positions which are in themselves coherent.

16. Some arguments may seem exaggerated. You may feel that you would have a hard time making them your own. But closer examination will tell you that the arguments are consistent within their framework. Wittgenstein's arguments against an Aristotelean position, for example, are just as reasonable as are the arguments the other way round. You cannot criticize these arguments - except by caricature; this, however, is precisely the approach you want to overcome instead of continuing.

17. "Nothing we do can be defended absolutely and finally. But only by reference to something else that is not questioned" (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, ed. G. H. von Wright, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1984, p. 16e).

18. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, p. 31e, no. 66.

19. Cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nic., X 7, 1177 b 19 f.

20. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Phenomenology of the Spirit, Preface.

21. Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak: Thoughts on the prejudices of morality, trans. R.J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 373 [no. 370].

22. Generally I don't share the evaluation of Nietzsche as a philosopher who destroyed reason. On the contrary, he was one of the most serious and intelligent philosophers on the subject of reason. Cf. my "Nietzsche über Vernunft - `meine wiederhergestellte Vernunft'" (in: Rationalität und Prärationalität, eds. Jan Beaufort and Peter Prechtl, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 1998, pp. 107-118).

23. Of such "lazy reason" (ignava ratio) Kant says: "We may so entitle every principle which makes us regard our investigation into nature, on any subject, as absolutely complete, disposing reason to cease from further enquiry, as if it had entirely succeeded in the task which it had set itself" (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, p. 561 f. [A 689 f.]).

24. Reason has, to put it in Kantian terms, "absolutely no constitutive principles of its own" (Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. Werner S. Pluhar, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1987, p. 284 [A 335]).

25. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Grammar (Berkeley - Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974), Pt. I, 72, p. 116.

26. Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Big Typescript", p. 413, von-Wright no. 213; quoted from Anthony Kenny, "Wittgenstein on the Nature of Philosophy" (in: The Legacy of Wittgenstein, Oxford - New York: Blackwell, 1984, pp. 38-60, here p. 42).

27. And this, to be sure, makes good sense: it preserves the specific domains, for example, from being taken over by a different type of rationality which is appropriate to another domain, but inappropriate to the domain in question. It prevents the danger of rational colonization.

28. In order not to be misunderstood: this perspective of totality, which is characteristic for reason, does not logically imply that the answer to the totality question has to consist in the exhibition of ultimate unity, as was traditionally expected. Quite the contrary, radical reflection can lead to a decoupling of the totality question and the unity answer. Cf. on this point my Vernunft, pp. 639-670.

29. The complete analysis of these operations would be the task of a transversal logic exposing the set of, as well as the connection between, all these operations.

30. Cf. the more detailed analysis of rationality's constitution in my Vernunft, pp. 439-610.

31. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, p. V.

32. Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, p. 16.

33. Wittgenstein was convinced that our most fundamental choices are a question of style: "So with creation. God is one style; the nebula another. A style gives us satisfaction; but one style is not more rational than another. Remarks about science have nothing to do with the progress of science. They rather are a style, which gives satisfaction. `Rational' is a word whose use is similar" (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein's Lectures: Cambridge, 1930-1932, ed. Desmond Lee, Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1980, p. 104).

34. Cf. my more detailed analysis in Vernunft, pp. 739-747.

35. "Homeland is the state of having escaped" (Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming, New York: Continuum, 1994, p. 78).

36. Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All-Too-Human: A Book for Free Spirits, Part 1, transl. Helen Zimmern (New York: Russell & Russell Inc., 1964), p. 405 f. [638].

Document update 29 Oct 2000