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Rationality and Reason Today

From: Criticism and Defense of Rationality in Contemporary Philosophy, eds. Dane R. Gordon and Jzef Niznik, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998, 17-31.

Wolfgang Welsch

Rationality and Reason Today

The Zeitgeist is not well disposed to reason. Reason stands in the crossfire of criticism. There are two kinds of attack. One is well-known: For decades reason has been criticized as being dominating, oppressive, destructive, downright Eurocentric or merely irrelevant. One might at best still speak of rationality, but on no account of reason. "Farewell to Reason" is a motto of the age. The second, more subtle kind of attack comes not from the enemies of reason, but from those who claim themselves to be defenders of occidental 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. Opposing both kinds of attack, I will outline a concept of reason which might be appropriate today. I will call it "transversal reason." I develop this concept in two stages. In the first part of this article I explain the situation of rationality as I see it. My thesis is that the contemporary shape of rationality requires and also makes possible a new concept of reason, which I then discuss in the second part.(1)

I. The New Constitution of Rationality Let me first offer a summary definition of rationality. 1. We speak of rationality whenever people follow a specific set of principles which determine the realm of their validity, identify their objectives, define the aims to be achieved, the methods to be followed, and the criteria to be applied. 2. These principles must be coherent with one another in order to allow coherent usage. 3. Therefore, to be rational simply means to follow the rules suggested by these principles. In doing this, we are rational in the sense of the respective version of rationality. This is, of course, a very technical definition, but its advantage is that it fits any kind of rationality. Modern rationality now displays unaccustomed contours. Three main factors determine its new structure: pluralization, entanglement, disorderliness. 1. Pluralization First of all, the modern field of rationality is distinguished by the emergence of manifold self-willed forms of rationality.

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Rationality and Reason Today

a. Two Types of Pluralization: Differentiation and Paradigm Pluralization With regard to this pluralization, two types are to be distinguished. First, pluralization, conventionally, has the meaning of `differentiation'. The one reason of old has, in modern times, come asunder in a number of self-willed rationalities - such is the understanding from Immanuel Kant, via Max Weber, through to Jrgen Habermas. One thinks in particular of a tripartition of cognitive, moral-practical, and aesthetic rationality. Second, within these types of rationality divergent paradigms emerged, each proposing its own definitions, potentially for all dimensions of rationality (object, domain, methods, criteria, aims). I call this second form, the paradigm pluralization, pluralization in the actual sense. It, in particular, is responsible for the new profile of rationality. In its context, the contented order of ideally suited forms of rationality welded onto one another, as might still have seemed believable based on differentiation, is definitively over with. Paradigm pluralization transfers the field of rationality into a medley of conflicting versions. Until now, the theory of rationality has restricted itself too much, I think, to the first step, to differentiation. What matters is to direct attention to the second step, to paradigm pluralization. It is far more resultful. b. Consequences of Paradigm Pluralization In this context all determinations become disputable. Different paradigms take hold of the same objects, but define the dimensions of their rationality in varying ways. This begins with the specificity of the objects, and proceeds through methods, criteria and aims, to the number of, and the delimitation of, domains. Logical purists will apprehend the cognitive narrowly, contextualists on the other hand broadly. Popperians insist on drawing a sharp border between science and art, whereas Kuhnians and Feyerabendians consider the common factors between the sciences and the arts to be particularly instructive in matters of cognition too. Understandably, respective controversies about methods and aims go along with this. First, different paradigms determine both the inner configuration and the outer delimitation of their domains differently. (Which is why to speak of a domain of rationality from now on inevitably means to speak of a definition of the domain specific to a particular paradigm, as distinct from other, competing, definitions.) Second, this effects the arrangement, delimitation and number of neighbouring domains. Whoever, for example, wants to understand by cognitive questions simply the explanation of that which is the case, achieves by this means a clear demarcation towards aesthetic and ethic questions. Should the analysis only of general structures and repeatable relationships belong to the tasks of cognitive operations, then the circle of possible questions described becomes even more narrow - everything relating to individual events falls away. If, on the other hand, one also attributes the analysis of statements about non-cognitive phenomena to the domain of cognition, then one makes, through this - seemingly small - change, aesthetics and ethics sub-disciplines of cognition. In this way singular definitions of paradigms potentially affect the whole terrain of rationality. The result of paradigm pluralization is that throughout the scope of rationality varying options oppose one another at every point and in every issue. Within the perspective of singular paradigms everything appears to be clear; if one considers the multitude of conflicting paradigms, everything becomes unclear. c. Paradigms as the Radicals of Rationality

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Rationality and Reason Today

The consequences of paradigm pluralization are so farreaching because paradigms represent the actual radicals within the field of rationality. Conventionally, in the context of differentiation, this role had been ascribed to the types of rationality which were thought to prescribe binding rules for the paradigms. In fact, it's the other way round. Paradigms in no way run through a program stipulated by rationality types; instead, they treat all stipulations as disposable. Self-willed, they potentially lay down all dimensions of their version of rationality from the specific rules for the constitution of their objects and the rules for linking their assertions, to the criteria for validity and completeness. Hence paradigms represent the radicals and the actual versions of rationality, whereas the so-called rationality types are large secondary groups arising through the intersections between paradigms, held together by family resemblances alone. 2. Entanglements Another point of view needs fundamental consideration: paradigms are distinguished through entanglements. In their inner structure they exhibit links with elements of other paradigms and domains. a. The Interparadigmatic Structure of Paradigms Entanglements often originate from the fact that paradigms are designed in opposition to other paradigms, and hence bear inscriptions of deposition, reinterpretation or rejection, or, as the case may be, of affiliation, resumption, articulation anew. In addition, paradigms frequently exhibit entanglements with far-distant domains. For example, the universally pragmatic paradigm of morality relies upon a whole series of assumptions from anthropology, analytic philosophy and evolutionary theory, whose substantiation is to be guaranteed not from within this paradigm itself, but from elsewhere. Or take social-Darwinistic theories: they presuppose not only biological Darwinism, but take their hold only in a competitive society and under additional conditions such as moral crises or the pressure of overpopulation. Finally, ethical models, even where they don't argue historically, are forged by historical experience and current configurations of problems. Such entanglements are frequently of constitutive importance to the respective paradigms. A paradigm's decisive substantiations can lie outside of it. b. From the Independency Premise to the State of Entanglement This interparadigmatic structure of paradigms necessitates a rethinking of principles in matters of rationality. Paradigms are not constituted independently, but as networks. They represent complexes, not solitaires. Until now, people have allowed themselves to be guided by the expectation of autonomous and well-defined rationality types, that is by paradigms. Connections were regarded as secondary. In fact, it's the other way round. Paradigms, and with this the radicals of rationality, are determined by entanglements. The independence of rational forms is merely a secondary appearance on the basis of a fundamentally network-like organization. The independency axiom has been the proton pseudos of rationality theory until now.(2) Today, it is a question of proceeding to a profoundly non-separatist design of rationality. 3. Disorderliness As a result of changes in the field of rationality, rationality itself is distinguished by a peculiar disorderliness. Rationality is certainly intended to establish and guarantee order. But disorder is an inevitable consequence of the modern development of rationality, characterized by pluralization and entanglements.

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The disorderliness begins within the domains of singular rationality. It is based on the conflict between diverse paradigms, which makes every issue controversial. The disorderliness continues with different options regarding the number, arrangement, and delimitation of domains. Moreover, it is fortified by the tangled character of paradigms, so far as these give rise to a complex architecture of paradigms. However, the entanglements not only establish coherencies, but are simultaneously linked with manifold shifts in the meaning of common elements in transition from one paradigm to another. Finally, the contravention of differing options recurs on the level of interpretations of rationality as a whole. A number of paradigms, in consequence of their reaching out interparadigmatically, advocate options with regard to the structure of rationality as a whole. But different paradigms sketch different pictures of the whole. Hence, in the attempt to provide a unitary structure of the whole, the variance recurs ironically one more time.(3) Altogether, the constitution of rationality based on paradigm pluralization presents itself as a state of medley and conflict. Varying options within a vast and complex structure compete at every point. An ordering of rationality as a whole no longer comes into sight. Quite the contrary - the more we get into details, or reach out to the whole, the more reasons come to light as to why an order of this type is no longer to be reckoned with. From its microstructure through to its macrostructure, the field of rationality has become a highly complex sphere of rational disorderliness. This rational disorderliness evidently has nothing to do with a possible tapping of irrational potentials, rather the dissolution of the clear lines of rationality results from the evolutionary process of modern rationality itself. It is a consequence of the intensified pluralization of rationality. It concerns the relationship of rationalities to one another, and is rationally reconstructible in its mechanisms and its logic. To this extent, the concern is one of a rational disorderliness in an emphatic sense. It is this rational disorderliness, which no longer seems vanquishable, which we must today face.

II. Reason Or is reason, as the faculty traditionally superior to rationality, able to provide for order and unity once again amidst the complexity and disorderliness of rationality? I now turn to the second part of the article - to the explication of reason. In a first section (A) I make some general comments about reason, before, in the second section (B) explaining the concept of transversal reason. A. General Considerations on Reason 1. Reason and Rationality Reason operates on a fundamentally different level from rationality. While forms of rationality refer to objects, reason focuses on the forms of rationality. This has been the constellation of reason and rationality at least since Kant who said: "Reason is never in immediate relation to an object, but only to the understanding."(4) Nowadays, this requires reference to the highly differentiated, diverse and conflicting paradigms of rationality, because they are obviously equivalent to what was conventionally called `understanding' (Verstand). They are restricted to their specific perspectives. Reason, on the other hand, reaches further. It refers to the host of different versions of
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rationality, and evaluates their interrelationship. Structural considerations dictate that this responsibility cannot be fulfilled adequately by any of the rationalities, only by reason.

This is why the objection from supporters of rationality mentioned before falters, namely, the objection that all conceivable questions would already be answered by the many versions of rationality, so that absolutely no room and no issue remains for reason. By means of their diversity, rationalities might be capable of answering questions about objects in various ways, but what the relationship is between diverse rationalities - a question which is becoming all the more urgent on account of plurality - cannot be stated from the point of view of one of these rationalities, but only by means of a differently oriented faculty. This is not to sever reason from rationality. It is just that the difference must be recognized and understood. Reason and rationality basically represent the same reflective faculty, but in different orientation and function. By `rationality' we refer to feats which thematize objects, with the expression `reason' to those referring to rationalities. The difference between rationality and reason is merely one of the direction of view and function, but this includes the fact that the one cannot deputize for the other. 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 form a pair. They stand in a matched relationship which cannot be foreshortened with impunity to just one of its sides. 2. Reason and Totality Let me now consider the peculiar orientation towards the whole which is characteristic of reason. This reaching outwards for totality stems from the dynamics of reason itself. It is not that totality exists objectively and is in need of clarification, and that we then, fortunately, have reason too 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. But what answer does reason provide to the question about the whole? Traditionally it is expected to consist in the exhibition of unity. Overcoming multitude and setting aside opposites prevailed as "the sole interest of Reason."(5) This however is not absolutely compelling. It corresponds merely to traditional expectation, not to an obligation of reason altogether. Conversely, a decoupling of the question of entirety and the unity answer is coming into view. The new conditions of rationality no longer permit the demonstration of ultimate unity and order at all, rather reasonable contemplation will uncover the generative mechanisms which ultimately lead to diversity and disorderliness, and it will set out why this finding can no longer be passed beyond. Ultimately, reason cannot overcome the `disorderliness' of rationality and establish a meta-order because such a meta-order is impossible. This claim is as strong as it is emphatic. Its substantiation leads to a central point in current debates over rationality and reason. 3. No Meta-Order It is self-evident that none of the rationalities is able to present a meta-order, an order which is capable of

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comprising all versions of rationality and linking them in a conclusive overall manner. It is not that versions of rationality don't propose such overall orderings - at least some of them do. It is just that every one of these overall options is opposed by other overall options advocated by other versions of rationality, which are incompatible with the former as well as with each other. Consequently, none of these options for order is in a position to embody the desired meta-order. The attempt to grant an Archimedean position to one rationality fails for reasons of principle. No version of rationality can escape the fact that it has other versions alongside it, none of them can really establish itself as a metaposition. For every option claiming to embody a superior Archimedean position, it can be proved that in fact, from beginning to end, from its elementary to its holistic assertions, it stands alongside other competing options, not above them. This conclusion is inevitable in view of paradigm pluralization. Can reason lead beyond this and provide a ground for meta-order? To fulfil that traditional expectation reason would have to be a superior faculty and have principles at its disposal which permit it to establish a meta-order. This is however not the case. Crucially, reason does not possess such principles. Reason is to be understood as pure reason, meaning that it does not possess any principles. To put it more exactly: it is not in possession of any principles relating to content, rather it possesses formal principles, logical principles alone. Reason is fundamentally an unlimited faculty of reflection, hence its universality and sovereignty. But this depends upon the purity of reason. Of course, there is no guarantee that any use of reason corresponds to its ideal purity. The important thing however is that reason is the only faculty for recognizing, correcting, and transcending its own actual impurity. Through self-reflection, reason can free itself from one-sidedness. It is precisely this faculty of self-purification that we refer to when, reasonably and even emphatically, speaking of reason. If things were any different, if reason were to possess - as one, in alleged reverence, attests to it - principles relating to content which would permit it to establish a meta-order, then reason would not be reason, but merely rationality. Advocating principles relating to content, making statements about objects and constituting fields is the hallmark of rationality. Put harshly, the well-established notion of reason fails its concept in the most fundamental way. It wrongly turns reason into hyper-rationality. It paralyzes the concept of reason. If this notion were in fact right, there would be no reason at all. If reason is not to be misunderstood as a higher rationality or as a dictatorial reason, but rather apprehended strictly as pure reason, then it cannot consistently ordain, by its own consummate power, an ordering of the world of rationalities, its `true' ordering in contrast to its outward disorderliness. This possibility is excluded by reason's purity and its being devoid of content. The result is the impossibility of a meta-order. Rationality is characterized too much by plurality and diversity to be able to attain such a meta-order. Nor is reason, with its purity, in a position to issue a meta-order. It is precisely at this central point of traditional philosophizing that a rethink is called for. Incidentally, as with almost everything important today, Wittgenstein already pointed this out when he said that there is no "metaphilosophy," a remark to wich he added: "We might so present all that we have to say that this would appear as a leading principle."(6)
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Rationality and Reason Today

B. Transversal Reason 1. Reason and Transition - Transversal Reason Let me now turn to the explanation of transversal reason. If reason does not operate from an Archimedean position, in what way does it proceed? If it does not decree a contented order of rationality, what does it accomplish in the field of rationality? With the departure from the Archimedean conception of reason, the axis of reason rotates from verticality to horizontality. Reason becomes a faculty of transitions. It does not contemplate from a lofty viewpoint, but passes between the forms of rationality. This is a consequence of its status of purity, since it is just as pure reason that it cannot begin with the possession of contents, but must operate processually. All reason's activities take place in transitions. These form the proprium and the central activity of reason. Reason is thus transformed from a static and principle-oriented faculty into a dynamic and intermediary faculty. In view of this transitional character, I designate the form of reason thus outlined "transversal reason". 2. Orientation amidst the Disorderliness Altogether, transversal reason aims at making transparent the new constitution of rationality, from paradigm pluralization through to rational disorderliness. In this sense, the explanation of rationality given before was already an explanation in the light of transversal reason. Moreover, transversal reason contributes to the correct procedures in the situation of rational disorderliness. It forms the foundation of competences in a world of complexity. Transversal reason makes clear to us the multitude of rationalities so that we can recognize their complex conditions as the real constitution of rationality. What's more, it shows how this situation is formed and what the reasons are for the unavoidable and unsurpassable nature of disorderliness. At the same time, it enables us to understand that this constitution is not a loss, but an enhancement of rationality. Contrary to traditional prejudice, it doesn't mean chaos, baselessness, or ruin. Transversal reason involves itself in this disorderliness. It attempts to think with it, instead of wanting simply to head it off or merely to `cope with' it. In a confused situation only transversal reason still offers orientation. It shows how one can move steadily on wavering foundations and in the midst of disorderliness. 3. Transversal Reason in its Critical Relation to the Structures of Rationality Transversal reason strives for as comprehensive as possible analysis and the reconstruction of the singular paradigms. Reasonable contemplation uncovers the interparadigmatic network of loans and reasoning amidst which the respective paradigms operate, and to which they owe their arrangement and effectiveness. Whereas paradigms themselves tend to fail to recognize their complex character, reasonable reconstruction points to their deeper levels and ramifications. This requires the advocates of a paradigm to proceed from narrow selfapprehension to consideration of the vastness and interparadigmatic constitution of the paradigm concerned.

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At the same time a next step, the departure from hypertrophic self-confidence, is prepared for. Corresponding to their limited self-apprehension, paradigms often have unlimited self-confidence. They claim to be exclusive. Instead of facing up to the factual multiplicity of, and competition between paradigms, they beat a hasty retreat. Once the interparadigmatic character has been uncovered, not only the inner, but the outer blinkers become decrepit. The singular paradigm must situate itself in the midst of a multitude of other paradigms and abandon the pretense that it is exclusive. New self-awareness knows about entanglements with other paradigms and acknowledges their plurality and legitimacy. In all this, reason transfers the constituents of rationality - from the microlevel of paradigms to the macrolevel of holistic interpretations - from their originally limited to their reasonable form. It confers on them an awareness which knows its own complexity and vastness, and doesn't deny the existence and legitimacy of other rational constituents. Instead, it incorporates and acknowledges them. The ultimate result of reason's activities amidst the rationalities might then be described as rational justice. 4. Transitional Characteristics The transitions of reason are of a peculiar kind: they are transitions in the transitionless, dialectic and inconclusive in nature. I have tried to make clear in what a far-reaching sense the diverse rational complexes, between which reason has to pass, are different in their rational typicality. The differences do not first concern singular statements. They concern the entire basic typicality (the architecture or logic) of the rational complexes. A comparative and pondered transition between such complexes demands a faculty which is capable of determining its conditions without, in so doing, wiping out or compromising their heterogeneity. The main responsibility of this faculty is to operate unerringly in a mixed constitution of heterogeneity and entanglement. The transitions of reason do not form a system or approach an ultimate synthesis. Perhaps they include synthetic feats, for example, rational architectures can be supplemented, paradigms conjoined, new concepts generated, but, decisively, they are dialectical transitions without ultimate synthesis. At least some of the rational complexes will not allow themselves to be reduced to a common denominator, ordered in a linear series, or organized in a systematic association. They remain divergent. Hence, reason's transitions do not lead to a system of the whole, but, conversely, to uncovering the impossibility of a conclusive architecture. If reason's transitional feats were not to occur, then the field of rationality would shatter into mere fragments. If, on the other hand, one were to misunderstand the transitions synthetically, then the constitution of reason would be debased. Transversal reason's transitive activity holds the middle ground between the hell of atomization and the high water of totalization. 5. Inconcludability Transversal reason faces up to the phenomenon of inconcludability. It doesn't do this simply in view of the fact that the processes of rationality keep going anyway, but in view of the reasons which are responsible for it.

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Reasonable contemplation uncovers an uninhibitable instability in all configurations and reasoning. One can make this clear with a view to decision-making situations. In such situations, reasonable analysis will insist, first of all, on consideration of all alternatives, and on clarity in respect of the premises and consequences of the singular alternatives. Furthermore, it will bring the consistency criterion into play. The decision to be met must be in agreement with all the chosen premises. But, more fundamentally, what about the choice of premises? Obviously that is subject to the standards of the respective culture. A culture of reflection, such as ours, will find itself convinced by axioms other than those of a culture of emotion. A culture of individuality will set fundaments other than those of a culture of sociality. Can one still overcome the arbitrariness of such basic decisions through reasonable reasoning? In any case, not absolutely. The reasons which one would like to adduce in favor of the basic decision are often only good or relevant within the framework of the basic decision. In a retrogression through reasoning one reaches no irrefutable basis of acceptance. This seems, indeed, to be an age-old, familiar finding. Aristotle already pointed out that chains of reasoning come to an end at some time. They must have recourse to something which counts as substantiated not on account of derivation or proof, but in some other way, say, because it is evident, or because it is concordant with other assumptions, or because it commends itself by its consequences, or because in reflection it withstands every interrogation. But traditionally, these pre-proven principles were believed to be absolutely reliable. This hope can no longer be sustained. All bases are questionable, displaceable, relative. As Wittgenstein put it: "Nothing we do can be defended absolutely and finally. But only by reference to something else that is not questioned."(7) Reasoning is never ultimate in character in the sense that it would be immune to further interrogation and changes. On the contrary, it is open to the possibility of being interrogated. We can even be sure on principle that other options will be plausible from another stance, that - in reality just as reflexively - changes will come about in the premises and, as a consequence, in reasoning and decisions. Reasonable reflection uncovers at the same time both the best reasons and their limits. The openness of all reasoning is of fundamental and far-reaching importance. There is no absolute fundament, no ultimate reasoning, no permanent stability. All absolutist or fundamentalist hopes are to be replaced by situational and relative insights and strategies. Orientation, certainty and reliability are to be gained, this side of traditional, eternalistic phantasms such as the recourse to ostensibly ultimately valid bases, in the midst of a constitution of non-fundamentality, uncertainty and relativity. This is the difficult task which we see ourselves yielding to. 6. Transversal Reason and Reason Altogether What of the relationship between transversal reason and reason altogether? Clearly, transversal reason is not an absolutely new faculty. It just accentuates anew and enduringly one element which has always belonged to reason but which has today acquired particular importance, the element of transition. Does this mean that transversal reason is just a specific contemporary form of reason? Or does it succeed in redeeming the characteristics of reason altogether? Transversal reason seems to me to articulate the innermost trait of reason altogether. It is reason altogether, in today's conditions. Every historical form of reason was obliged, not simply to decree unity, but to exhibit it in a plurality which was
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prior and forged by prior interpretations. That was the task of reason from Parmenides and Heraclitus, through Kant and Hegel, to our times. This always demanded passing between different points of view and connecting these in a holistic organization which doesn't extinguish, but retains difference and transfers 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 meet transversal feats, transitions, between conceptions, thoughts, and phases of reflection. Such transitions form the medium of all the 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. 7. Past and Present Concepts of Reason - a Basic Difference Below I sketch briefly a history of reason in order to demonstrate what is distinctive about it today. The traditional claim of reason was to comprehend everything as a unitary whole. To this end, reason was assigned a position superior to the world. It was supposed to be synoptic, universal, to connect everthing, and to guarantee unity. Reason was assigned a godlike, Archimedean position. The transition to modern, historical thinking did not alter the telos of unitariness and universality, it did however necessitate a modification of the strategies for its attainment. Beginning in immanence, reason now had to work for its superior position in historically unfolding its sprout (Kant) or in apprehending the way of being as the way of its own development (Hegel). Later however, the further historicalization of reason led to an on-principle questioning of the possibility of its unity and superiority. In view of historical and cultural diversity in apprehensions of reason, it was not only the traditional thesis of reason's superiority over the world which became discredited. The assumption that reason, in all its shapes and forms, possessed the same principles relating to content, which were then just differently developed, was also discredited. From then on the retention of reason seemed possible only if one apprehended reason as no longer possessing material principles relating to content, but rather as an essentially formal faculty, capable at best of the working-out and clarification of principles. With this, much had been left behind, but by no means everything. The transition to formal concepts attempted to retain the efficacy of reason in new conditions, that is, to account for it in a new way. This took place, for example, through the thesis that claims to validity are built into our language, permitting universal and unitary clarifications of those culturally and historically highly differing assertions, in respect of which such claims to validity are raised. The content may be as relative to the environment as you like; the formal processes for their clarification are to be universally valid. It is in these formal structures, not in the content, that reason is embodied. So, in spite of all alterations, an essential element remained intact to this point: reason still designated a universal and unitary structure which was supposed to be common to all people, and thus to permit the attainment of totally valid and unitary solutions. Although difficult to discover, there would always be a unitary basis and universal points of reference. The potential of reason had, so to speak, subsided from its former divine heights to the lowlands of the human rendering of language, and was no longer embodied by principles relating to content, but merely by common procedural factors. The light of reason no longer had the shape of Heraclitus' sun, but was
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rather just a spark in the waste-rock of language. But the spark could be brought to glimmer and shine, and then reason would make possible universality and unity again. In the meantime it has turned out that the formal unitary structures to which this modern understanding of reason has recourse are no less relative to culture than were the former principles relating to content. Consequently, this formal, post-metaphysical outcome is ultimately subject to the same objections as the content-loaded metaphysical conceptions. What follows is that reason of the traditional kind, including its modern modifications, and in consequence, reason of the universal-unitary type is no longer possible. Does this mean that reason is no longer possible at all? Many contemporaries draw this conclusion. They exclaim a "Farewell to Reason" or want to restrict themselves merely to the analysis of rationalities, as I mentioned before. With the outline of transversal reason given in the meantime, I have tried to show that departure from a metaphysical conception of reason, as well as from its successive post-metaphysical forms, must in no way lead to the abandonment of reason. Nevertheless, reason must be thought of anew by abstaining from every ostensibly universal-unitary basis of reason, and abandoning the claim to be able to attain once again universally valid unitary solutions. The concept of transversal reason continues consistently in its departure from principles relating to content, over and beyond the modern reclamation of universal formal principles. Reason is to be thought of strictly as a pure faculty. Moreover, contrary to what is believed by the rationality-reductionists, the supra-rational status of reason is evident. Whenever we make comparisons and transitions between rationalities, we draw upon a faculty that one cannot describe as anything other than reason. In so far as rationalities carry out a number of transitions, reason is already built into them. In their specific form, however, the dynamics of reason insist on transitions in the whole. In this sense reason still distinguishes itself by a form of universality. Nothing is excluded from its reflection, not even the critical addressing of its own procedures, and the making of such corrections as may be necessary. Reason does not operate from an exempted or intangible basis, but from the midst of rationalities and in transition between their forms. All reason's achievements display this typical form. Reason has thus become a perilous faculty without firm ground, without a net, without ultimate security. For this, you could also say Reason declines every (all too comfortable) exposition of itself as being rationality. Its enduring claim is to bring about clarifications through the transitional activity of a reason apprehended as reason. In this spirit, the concept of transversal reason sets itself against both a backwards-facing hubris of reason, a repeated insinuation of autonomous principled reason, and against present-day defeatism, the abandonment of reason in favor of a multitude of rationalities. It seeks to lead the way out of this double cul-desac. The task of making reliable steps in the midst of uncertainty and relativity, and of attaining reasonable solutions is not only inescapable, but highly unaccustomed. "To a new generation" however, it might, to quote Wittgenstein, "have become second nature."(8) 1. These considerations have been set out more comprehensively in Wolfgang Welsch, Vernunft. Die zeitgenssische Vernunftkritik und das Konzept der transversalen Vernunft (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1995, stw 1996). The reader is referred to this for the exposition of issues only touched upon in this article.
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2. Perhaps this applies only to continental philosophy, where even opponents like Jrgen Habermas and JeanFranois Lyotard share this assumption. Within analytic philosophy, however, authors like W. V. O. Quine with his holism, or C. G. Hempel and D. Davidson have transcended the monadic view of rationalities. 3. This has been pointed out by Goodman in particular (cf. Nelson Goodman, Ways of Worldmaking, Indianapolis: Hackett 1978, p. 20). 4. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kemp Smith (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1965), p. 532 f., A 643. 5. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's System of Philosophy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1977), p. 90. 6. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Grammar (Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974), Pt. I, 72, p. 116. 7. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, ed. G. H. von Wright (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1984), p. 16. 8. Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, p. 1.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Welsch Friedrich-Schiller-Universitt Institut fr Philosophie Zwtzengasse 9 D-07740 Jena Germany E-mail: Wolfgang.Welsch@uni-jena.de [Top of page][Wolfgang Welsch Homepage]

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Reason and Transition

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

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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

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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 objectreflection 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
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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 nonreifiable, 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
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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 subjectinternal 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
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`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
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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.

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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 onesidedness 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

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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
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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
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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
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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 onesidedness 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,
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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 onesidedness and provides the tools to recognize and overcome it. Reason carries with it the obligation to selfpurification 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

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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
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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 reasonfree 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, selfstabilizing 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
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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
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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
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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
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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

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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 zeitgenssische 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 Jzef 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. Jrgen 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

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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.

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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 ber Vernunft - `meine wiederhergestellte Vernunft'" (in: Rationalitt und Prrationalitt, eds. Jan Beaufort and Peter Prechtl, Wrzburg: Knigshausen & 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.

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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

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Reason: traditional and contemporary

From: International Philosophy Today, Vol. 4, Beijing 2000, 65-78.

Wolfgang Welsch Reason: traditional and contemporary or Why should we still speak of reason after all? In the present essay - which was originally presented as a lecture at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing on October 11, 1999 - I try to give a brief account of my guiding idea when developing my conception of reason.[1] There is a riddle in philosophy concerning reason. In tradition, reason was considered our supreme faculty and the very core of philosophy. Think, for example, of Aristotle's praise of reason's capacity for self-cognition (noesis noeseos, Met. XII 9, 1074 b 34 f.). In present times, however, many philosophers want to do without reason at all. Feyerabend paradigmatically proclaimed a "Farewell to Reason".[2] Instead of the previous highest appreciation, a blank abolishment of reason is today being advocated. With respect to this riddle, I would like to address two questions. First: How did this change happen? Second: Should "Farewell to Reason" remain our final word in matters of reason? I. The traditional distinction between reason and rationality 1. Duality and hierarchy In tradition, a distinction has always been made between two faculties, or types of activity, of our reflective capacity: in Greek this distinction reads as nous versus dianoia or logos, in Latin as intellectus versus ratio, in German as Vernunft versus Verstand, and in current English as reason versus rationality. The first faculty (nous, intellectus, Vernunft, reason) was considered to be the higher, the second (dianoia, logos, ratio, Verstand, rationality) the lower one. Why was this distinction made and why was this hierarchy established? 2. Logos and argumentation - and their limits There is no doubt that most of our philosophical and scientific activity is performed through logos or - in modern terms - rationality. The core of logos lies in argumentation, in giving reasons for the views one holds. This is what makes logos so constitutive for philosophy and science. Logos is a capacity not just for making statements but also for providing their proofs. The paradigm form of argumentative proof is the syllogism. A statement is proven by being derived as a conclusion from premisses.

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But there is a problem with argumentation. Its reach is limited. For the certainty of a conclusion depends on the certainty of the premisses (as well as the correctness of drawing the conclusion). So if the premisses are not certain, the whole edifice of conclusions, the whole system of knowledge based on those premisses cannot be certain either, but will remain unstable and may finally collapse. Hence the main task is to achieve and guarantee the certainty of the fundamental premisses. How can this be done? 3. First premisses cannot be secured via argumentation Certainly not through the method of argumentation so typical of logos. One can, of course, try to prove a premiss by deriving it from deeper premisses. But even if one succeeds in doing so, the problem will not be eliminated but only shifted - to that of the certainty of those deeper premisses. In order to secure them one would have to go back to even deeper premisses - but with the same problem arising once again with respect to them, and so on. In other words: the attempt to secure the certainty of premisses through argumentation leads into an infinite regress, and so the edifice of philosophy and science would remain uncertain. Another strategy to solve the problem would consist of a mere trick: the premisses are proven via steps of argumentation which in fact already presuppose those premisses - just in a concealed, not obvious manner. Instead of providing a correct proof, one would then only turn a circle, so that after the argumentation the premisses are no more secure than before - at most they might seem to be so.[3] How can this problem, so crucial for all our cognition, be solved? How can we obtain reliable basic premisses - first principles -, if argumentation is, by its nature, unable to do so? 4. Reason is needed to provide and guarantee first principles It is here that reason comes in. In tradition reason is conceived as the faculty capable of providing and guaranteeing first principles. In order to be able to do so, reason must, of course, be different in its structure from logos and argumentation. What, then, is typical of reason? According to Plato reason is characterized by intuition, according to Aristotle it grasps the first principles through induction. I am not going to discuss the details here. I just wanted to make clear why traditional philosophy saw a need for conceiving of two cognitive faculties, not only that of logos (or, in modern terms, rationality) alone, but also that of reason. Logos would be unable to do its job of argumentation if reason did not provide the conditions necessary for this business, the first premisses. So, in short, the traditional pattern is the following: Reason is responsible for first principles, while rationality's task is to operate and argue on the basis of those principles. Hence the classical distinction, hierarchy, and cooperation between reason and rationality. II. Changing the traditional pattern - from Kant to Feyerabend and the contemporary rationality

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types theory 1. Kant: rationality takes over A big change occurred with Kant, the paradigmatically modern philosopher. At first glance no shift is visible: Kant continues speaking of Vernunft and Verstand (which for our purpose can be rendered as reason and rationality). But the definition and content of those two faculties is severely altered by Kant. According to him reason no longer provides first principles for cognition. It only provides the perspective of totality, driving us to be dissatisfied with partial, and to strive for total comprehension. The first principles are instead provided by the Verstand which contains our most basic notions, the Categories, and establishes the axioms for all our experience, the basic propositions (Grundstze). Thus rationality has become more powerful than reason. It is now the capacity which provides (as Kant puts it) the constitutive principles of cognition, whereas reason only plays a secondary role by providing regulative ideas, and furthermore carries with it almost insurmountable misunderstandings (which Kant discusses under the title dialectics).[4] In short: rationality has taken over the former role of reason, the provision of first principles. 2. Feyerabend and others as echoing Kant With this shift, initiated by Kant, in mind we can get a better understanding of the current slogan of "Farewell to reason" and contemporary philosophers' widespread willingness to abandon reason. Their abstinence from reason obviously echoes the decisive break initiated by Kant. He was the first to develop a conception of rationality and reason according to which we can in fact (with respect to reason's traditional main task, the provision of first principles) very well, and even must, do without reason. In this respect the contemporary abolishment of reason proves to be a late consequence of the change initiated by Kant. 3. Rationality as providing its own principles - the contemporary rationality types theory That in contemporary philosophy rationality is in fact assumed to have taken over reason's traditional role of providing first principles can be made more evident by taking a closer look at the contemporary understanding of rationality. Today one no longer speaks of rationality tout court, but advocates distinguishing between different types of rationality. a. Habermas: three types of rationality Paradigmatically Habermas lists three types of rationality: the cognitive, the moral and the aesthetic. These types are regarded as autonomous, as establishing their own principles, methods and viewpoints. Therefore they cannot be reduced to each other, or be judged upon criteria taken from a different type. Each of these types determines its own principles and has its proper sense and right.

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Let me briefly illustrate this. The theorem of "art for art's sake" (l'art pour l'art), so prominent since the early 19th century, was directed against moral judgement and censorship of the arts (as had been a popular strategy before, think, for example, of Plato's moral banishment of the arts). Aesthetic rationality - say not only contemporary theorists of rationality, but for a long time artists themselves - is to be held free from the intrusion of moral demands. Likewise the difference between moral and cognitive rationality is obvious. Whereas in cognition the particular can only be understood as a case of something general (there are no singular "events" in physics, if this appears to be so, then one has to find the law of which the seemingly singular event is a typical event), moral-practical rationality demands high respect for situation, context, individuality and singularity; here one certainly has to correspond to general demands too, but what their application is in a given situation cannot be stated generally, but is to be determined in accordance with the specificity of the case. - Such considerations make it clear that it would be mistaken to apply cognitive rationality to moral questions, or moral rationality to aesthetic problems, or aesthetic rationality to cognitive tasks. And all this results from the various rationalities' determining their principles themselves - this aspect which so strongly distinguishes modern, postKantian from pre-Kantian understanding of rationality. b. Postmodernism: plurality of types and paradigms of rationality In this respect the view of postmodernists is quite similar. They proceed along the same lines as modernists, only going a bit further. Postmodernists too advocate a plurality of kinds of rationality, but they list a broader range, also including, for example, economic or religious rationality. Furthermore, they may emphasize that there is no single standard version of whatever type of rationality, but that within each of these a plurality of paradigms, each establishing its own set of principles, needs to be taken into account[5] - so that the view becomes altogether much more complex than Habermas' triadic picture suggests. Instead of just praising the liberating effect of pluralization in contrast to the uniformity formerly assumed of rationality, postmodernists also emphasize the conflicting character of the various versions of rationality. The decisive point in any case is that there is no meta-rationality regulating or softening the plurality and difference of the various kinds of rationality. In fact they establish their own principles instead of just following the authority of some meta-principle. The lack, or better: the impossibility of a meta-position is perhaps the most important insight and common ground in Western philosophy in the second half of the 20th century, one shared by modern as well as postmodern, and continental as well as analytic philosophers. Wittgenstein expressed this state of affairs early on when saying that there is no "metaphilosophy" - and adding: "We might so present all that we have to say that this would appear as a leading principle."[6] 4. Intermediate summary: as rationality provides its own principles, traditional (principleproviding) reason is no longer needed So far I have been trying to explain why, and in which sense most contemporary philosophers think it
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sufficient to speak of rationality alone (that is, of different types or paradigms of rationality) and no longer see any space or task for reason. Rationality does it all, and does it in a quite differentiated and sophisticated manner. And up to a point I agree. reason in the traditional sense of a provider of first principles is out. Rationality has taken over this role. III. Reason renewed 1. The need for reason - but in a different design My question and my appeal to take up the issue of reason anew arise in a different respect. For one thing is overlooked by the contemporary theories of rationality which want to explain the whole range of our cognitive and reflective activities with recourse to rationality alone. The question I pose is the following: Which faculty are we actually using when distinguishing these various kinds of rationality, when declaring them to have proper sense and when decreeing their autonomy, irreducibility and untranslatability? One thing is clear: This cannot be done by any of those types or paradigms of rationality themselves. Because they would, according to the contemporary rationality theory's own assessment of the matter, necessarily misrepresent the other types or paradigms. If one tried to draw the whole picture of rationality, for example, on the ground of cognitive rationality, one would only get a biased description of moral rationality, and likewise of aesthetic rationality. The same would apply if one were to draw the whole picture from the angle of moral or aesthetic rationality. Hence it must be a different type of functioning of our reflective capacity, one equally neutral towards the various types of rationality that alone can allow us to draw the picture which the theory of different kinds of rationality suggests. This type of reflection (presupposed as well as overlooked by this theory) is what I suggest understanding as reason. This is reason in a new design. Firstly, because this type of reason no longer provides contentful first principles (as was traditional reason's main task). In denying reason as a provider of principles, my conception of reason is in agreement with the contemporary understanding of rationality as providing its own principles. Secondly, it is new because this type of reason stands in a horizontal rather than vertical relationship to the various kinds of rationality, and its main activity consists of performing transitions between the manifold of rational complexes. This is why I call this type of reason "transversal reason". 2. Taking up the reflective, not the principles side of the traditional understanding of reason But before explaining this new view of reason in more detail, I'd like to point out another respect in which my conception of reason indeed takes up a basic traditional intuition about reason. In tradition reason was not only, as discussed so far, understood as the capacity for providing first principles, but also as the ability to reflect upon and explore our reflective capacity itself. In my understanding of reason this aspect is brought to the fore again by emphasizing that to speak of various types of
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rationality in the sense explained a reflective stance is required, and in play, which cannot be equated with any of the single forms of rationality, but which must be able to thematize all of them in a neutral manner and clarify their differences as well as their relationships. This kind of reflection is even - to say it again - a necessary condition for the theory of different rationality types itself - it is presupposed by this theory, but at the same time detrimentally overlooked or ignored by the advocates of this theory. Renewing the understanding of reason as the activity of exploring the core structure of our reflective capacity itself means taking up one of the innermost issues of philosophy - and philosophy, I think, cannot do without addressing this basic issue of the self-cognition of our reflective capacity. 3. Reason altogether: our transversal reflective capacity However, reason's reach is far from being restricted to the function pointed out so far. Once the dam has broken - and precisely with the core of contemporary rejection of reason, that is, with the theory of plural types of rationality, which from the non-necessity of reason for the provision of principles falsely concludes the dispensability of reason altogether - the broad range of our actual practices and uses of reason comes into view again. It reaches from most of our contemporary tasks in thinking through to current orientation in daily life. a. The current state of affairs being characterized by plurality There is a general precondition for this: the modern rise of plurality in virtually all matters. It reaches from high-brow to everyday aspects, say from the diversified understanding of rationality or the insurmountable variety of conflicting theories referring to the same topics; the plurality of cultures in the old sense of national cultures as well as the new sense of diverging forms of life within one society, and the related differences of worldviews; through to the plurality of life designs, political options, or ideas about the good life (concerning work, family, leisure, education etc.) in the everyday. The crucial point is that, despite some overlap and potential connections between those views, they diverge on essential matters, and cannot be reconciled with respect to these core questions. And furthermore there is no metaview (and, according to modern philosophy's insights, there cannot be one) through which this plurality could be united, ordered, or eliminated once again.[7] In fact, any pretended meta-view is just one more view within the plural condition. b. The congruence between the general situation of plurality and the proper character of transversal reason The question then is how we can deal with this plurality, how we can equitably refer to and pass between the variety of positions and do justice to them. Which capacity do we need in order to do this, and which enables us to do so? Now, in all these cases of plurality the problem, in its structure, is obviously the same as discussed before with respect to the various types of rationality. And so is the answer. It is precisely reason - transversal reason - which allows us to take this variety of views into consideration and to move between them.
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Why is this? Because reason is a capacity not bound to any particular stance, position or content. This enables it to pass between the various positions without inevitably misrepresenting them from a specific position's angle. So reason allows us to consider any position in its own light - and even to do so independently of asking or being biased by the question whether one would oneself be inclined to share this position or to adopt at least some elements of it (which, however, may later on be a result of such considerations). From this the congruence between the situation of plurality and the proper character of reason - reason's appropriacy for this situation - becomes evident. It is precisely reason's neutrality which enables it to meet the demands of plurality: to take the whole variety of positions into consideration, to do so in a fair way, not misrepresenting but adequately considering the single positions, and to pass between the various positions, to perform transitions within their plurality. This is why reason thus conceived transversal reason - is exactly what is required today, and is able to deal with this (modern or postmodern) situation of plurality. Transversal reason - and, as far as I can see, transversal reason alone is appropriate for this task and enables us to come to grips with the conditions we live in. 4. Reason in practice a. Philosophical tasks today Consider, first, the state of affairs in specifically philosophical matters. We have to deal with various positions, say hermeneutics versus deconstruction, system theory versus structuralism, constructivism versus pragmatism, and so forth. In doing this we have two options. The first consists of judging every other position from one's own position, one's own standpoint. But this is obviously insufficient. It would correspond only to a premodern stance, one predating the insight into plurality. The standards of modernity - and in the same way, and indeed even more so those of postmodernity - demand taking plurality into account and doing equal justice to the various positions, from their understanding and reconstruction on, through to the assessment of their relations, their advantages and disadvantages, their potential exchange and interconnections or conflicts. This demand, however, can be met only by considering them through a capacity of neutral reflection, one ultimately not bound to any of them, but capable of considering each of them in its own structure and right. In other words: What is required for philosophical work today, is reasonable instead of merely rational reflection. I am not saying that philosophical work factually always follows this reasonable type of reflection, but it ought to - and I am confident it will do so more and more. b. Transversality in everyday life In the same way we need and increasingly practice this kind of reason in our orientation in daily life. Here too we are confronted with a plurality of options - deriving from different cultures and world-views and offering a variety of sensible suggestions. In order to deal with this plurality we need to be able to transverse between these various standpoints and perspectives. We need to do so in order to communicate with others as well as with ourselves because we are increasingly internally affected and
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characterized by plurality. Transversal reason - as the genuine capacity for transitions - provides the means to pass between those plural stances. In these matters it might even be appropriate to shift from terms of `need' to terms of actual practice. Because, it seems to me, people are actually making use of transversal reason to an extent much larger than the professional philosophical treatment of the matter is usually aware. People are experts in transversal reason to a higher degree than most philosophers are. In other words: transversality is increasingly becoming an inner constituent of people's reasoning and life designs. The fact that we are more and more achieving a mixed cultural constitution - that we are becoming "cultural hybrids"[8] contributes to this turn to transversality. Transversality seems to be increasingly characterizing the factual life forms of many contemporaries. 5. Reason and rationality Altogether, in my conception, reason's axis is shifted from verticality to horizontality. Reason, properly understood, is not a capacity beyond or above plurality, but a capacity within it. It is, so to speak, the fluidum of all our reflective or mental activity. So, in present conditions, not only is the former task of reason (that of providing first principles) dropped, but also the hierarchical structure (with reason being understood as a faculty above rationality) is altered. Reason's relationship to rationality is not an external but an internal one. Properly speaking, `reason' is an expression with which we refer to the underlying structure (or the framework) of all our mental and reflective activity - one which is also in play in every step of rationality. Reason and rationality are not two separate faculties, and in a sense are not faculties at all, but rather signify different layers and functional modes of our reflective activity. `Reason' refers to the basic mechanism, `rationality' to the various concrete, object-directed versions of this activity. There is ultimately no (rational) reference to any object outside this (reasonable) realm of self-reference.[9] So ultimately I bring reason and rationality together again - but not in the old style of a hierarchy or a cooperation of two faculties, but as two modes of our reflective capacity. It should be clear that I am not at all opposed to rationality, but only to the dominant rationality-theory's claim that rationality does it all. Against this I point out the indispensability of reason, the fact that even in all rational activity we permanently make use of reason, and that, above all, reason - in the new design of transversal reason - is the capacity which allows us to come to grips with the conditions we are living in. 6. Having not only theoretical obligations, but practical advantages in view I set out to explain my view of reason by contrasting it with the current rationality types theory and its claim for the exclusivity of rationality and the rejection of reason altogether, then pointed out the kind of questions and reflective procedures overlooked by this claim, in order to bring the indispensablity of reason to the fore as well as to present an altered, contemporary conception of reason.

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But ultimately this correction of contemporary philosophical commonplaces about rationality and reason in theoretical matters is more a secondary aspect of my endeavour. My emphasis is on a different aspect: to suggest a concept of reason workable under present conditions, not only in theoretical, but also in practical matters, to develop an understanding of reason which can help us in our daily orientation. Or should I say: to articulate reason as it is factually used and proves helpful in people's current practices of self-understanding and life? I am confident that the latter description has a point. The task of philosophical clarification is not to decree something from nowhere, but to make more transparent and thus closer to hand capacities we already possess and practice - and thus to help in using them in a more conscious and intense way. Wittgenstein once noted: "I still find my own way of philosophizing new".[10] But then he went on also to express confidence about it: "It will have become second nature to a new generation".[11] I'd like to think that this might apply to transversal reason as well - which, in my view, has already become second nature to a large extent for many of our contemporaries.

[1] I first sketched out this conception in 1985 ("Postmoderne und Metaphysik. Eine Konfrontation von Lyotard und Heidegger", in: Philosophisches Jahrbuch, vol. 92/1, 1985, 116-122), then developed it further in 1987 (Unsere postmoderne Moderne, Weinheim: Acta Humaniora 1987, 295-318) and finally presented its full explication in 1995 (Vernunft. Die zeitgenssische Vernunftkritik und das Konzept der transversalen Vernunft, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp 1995). [2] Paul Feyerabend, Farewell to Reason (New York/London: Verso 1987). [3] All this was discussed for the first time by Aristotle (cf. Anal. post. I 3). [4] It should however be noted that in Kant the shift between reason and rationality concerns only the theoretical part of philosophy, the theory of cognition (as expounded in the Critique of Pure Reason). In practical philosophy however, in matters of moral action, Kant still sticks to the traditional pattern with practical reason providing the fundamental principle of this sphere (cf. his Critique of Practical Reason). [5] I have set this out in detail in my Vernunft (541-573). [6] Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Grammar (Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press 1974), 116 [I 72]. [7] Cf. Quine's statement that not "any one systematization [...] is scientifically better or simpler than all possible others. It seems likelier [...] that countless alternative theories would be tied for first place" (Willard van Orman Quine, Word and Object, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press 1960, 23). "[...] we can never do better than occupy the standpoint of some theory or other" (ibid., 22). [8] I analyzed this tendency in various articles under the term `transculturality'; cf., for exemple, "Transculturality: The Puzzling Form of Cultures Today", in: Spaces of Culture: City, Nation, World, eds Mike Featherstone and Scott Lash (London: Sage 1999), 194-213. [9] In this respect I take up an insight which was most convincingly brought forward by Hegel. [10] Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, ed. G.H. von Wright, trans. Peter Winch (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1984), 1e. [11] Ibid.

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Reason: traditional and contemporary

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