The Return to Reason

The Return to Reason

The Return to Reason

The Return to Reason

Excerpt

This volume is the fruit of a co-operative movement known as the Association for Realistic Philosophy, which has now been in existence for five years. The platform of this association is printed in the Appendix (pp. 354-360). Several of the contributors participated in the formulation of this platform. All are familiar with it. Many of us would disagree in interpreting certain statements. But all of us accept the platform in the sense in which it was formulated, as a program for "critical clarification and defense."

Hence, in spite of many individual variations, and even disagreements, the present essays are more than a jumble of independent treatises. They fit into the sort of coherent pattern which is suggested by the platform. They are all expressions of a realistic way of thought. But within this general pattern, there is room for great divergence and growth. Hence each contributor should be held responsible only for what he himself has said, and not for all the views expressed by others. The philosophical evidence is very vast and rich and its basic structure as yet little known. Even what is known must be rediscovered and reformulated by the living mind. Unsolved problems must be attacked with new methods and hypotheses. A timid clinging to accepted principles is as dangerous to philosophy as is an uncritical scorn for what has been discovered in the past. In this volume we have tried to avoid both these extremes by showing how classical doctrines can be critically reformulated and constructively applied to the problems of our modern age.

We inhabit a universe marked by real structures which exist independently of human knowledge and desire. These structures can be known as they really are, at least in part, by the human mind, not only the more restricted patterns revealed by the special sciences, but also more fundamental ontological patterns which require philosophical description and analysis. Finally, norms are not exclusively man-made. There are norms actually founded on nature which are accessible to human cognition.

By neglecting these realistic principles, and by evading those basic philosophical questions from which alone a disciplined clarification and defense of such principles may arise, we believe that influential Anglo-American philosophies have propagated subjectivistic, irrational, and relativistic modes of thought which are empirically unsound and culturally demoralizing. We are confronted with the strange spectacle of academic . . .

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