The Retreat to Commitment

The Retreat to Commitment

The Retreat to Commitment

The Retreat to Commitment

Excerpt

This is an essay in the theory of the open mind. Through a study of the conflict between the rationalist and Protestant traditions it tries to solve what has been called "the central problem that confronts moral philosophers in our time." This problem, which lies at the core of that conflict, is whether some form of relativist existentialism is inescapable because rationality is so limited, logically as well as practically, that the choice between ultimately competing religious, moral, and philosophical positions is, in the last resort, arbitrary. For example, is an individual's decision to become a rationalist--even from a rationalist point of view--any less subjective, relative, arbitrary, irrational than an individual's decision to become a Christian?

Not surprisingly, concern with this problem, and with the clash between competing traditions, often arises out of personal conflict. Bertrand Russell, one of the most ardent contemporary apostles of the Enlightenment, seems to pro-

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