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Beyond the limits of reason

Is there an opportunity for experiences that go beyond reason, and can these be called meaningful?


Joanna Bornemark and Sven-Olov Wallenstein (ed.): Madness, religion and the limits of reason
Södertörn University, 2015

The point of Immanuel Kant in Critique of the common sense is that man cannot recognize anything outside of time and space, but that we still have a natural inclination to speculate beyond these boundaries. In doing so, we become entangled in fallacies and paradoxes. Of particular interest is his notion of the "transcendental illusion" – that reason blends what can be imagined as real with real. This illusion cannot be eradicated, but it can be rendered harmless by the realization that it is a performance, as one recognizes that a vein that appears broken in water is not actually broken.

Father Settlement. The book covers a wide range of topics, from Kant's criticism of Emmanuel Swedenborgs The confessions of a spirit reader to Giordano Bruno's animistic philosophy, Hegel's view on the relationship between religion and philosophy, and Derridas and Wittgenstein's philosophy of language.
If Immanuel Kant was the father of Enlightenment, this book bears the mark of being a father settlement. Sven-Olov Wallenstein and Joanna Bornemark write: "After Kant, modern philosophy has never asked the question what it means to limit reason." Kant absolutely believed that religious experiences have their validity as long as they stay within the bounds of reason. Thus, it was his job to determine where these boundaries go.
The book's introduction is written by theologian and philosopher John D. Caputo called "Forget rationality. Is there religious truth? ”The author writes, among other things, that“ one of the most remarkable things about Kant is how much he is focused on the formality of knowledge, and how little he is focused on the truth as a content. He does not define reason as a faculty of being, but as a faculty of principles, of a priory synthetics ».
What this book wants is to introduce a new period of enlightenment, including by opening up that religious experiences need not have anything to do with madness. That philosophy has something to learn from religion is a rare belief today, but Hegel, as known, has a philosophy that everything has to learn from religion. Many people also make religious experiences.

Faith and morality. Now Kant did not deny any human right to believe in God, as long as this happens within the bounds of reason. But he pointed out that feeling confident that God exists is a haughtiness: “After the haughty intentions of a sense that transcend the boundaries of every experience have been annihilated, we still sit back with enough that we have reasons to be satisfied in practical terms. " And later he becomes directly biting and ironic: “Admittedly, no one will be able to boast that he knows that there is a God and a later life. If he knows, he's just the man I've been looking for for a long time. "
The belief in God was for Kant a certainty that is based on moral reasons, that is, a moral tenacity of the will, which means that the belief in God and a future life is primarily related to the moral disposition of the person who believes, and not can be separated from this one. Faith has nothing to do with the truth, regardless of moral conviction.

Experience Shapes. But what was enough for Kant was not enough for others; Bruno, Hegel, Swedenborg and Steiner all had a slightly different view on matters. Can the truth be anything more than a subjective conviction, an expression of the moral conviction of the individual's personality? The book answers a clear "yes".

If Immanuel Kant was the father of Enlightenment, this book bears the mark of being a father settlement.

But what should a new enlightenment time be built upon? What truths should it advocate and which should it reject as part of its new enlightenment project? The book looks at the relationship between religion and philosophy, and between madness and reason. Kant's conclusions were that no one can claim that religious experiences are true of others but one and the church. But modernity contains a wealth of alternative forms of experience. Should they just refer to human private imaginary life, or do they have validity beyond the individual? As the book says: "Truth is a substantial issue, while rationality is a formal one." Edge is charged with formalism – and Madness, religion and the limits of reason will push the boundaries of formality.

"Soul" and "madness". In "Divine frenzy and the poetics of madness" we are included in the dialogue Ion of Plato. Ion was a so-called rap singer, a poet. Socrates defined the poet as one who is touched by divine madness and does not understand what he or she is writing or saying. The text looks at how this phenomenon manifests itself in the culture. Poets were, as is well known, not welcome in Plato's academy; they were driven by inspiration beyond reason.
"Ghostly Reason: A phenomenological interpretation of Paul and pneumatology" begs the question: "What is spirit? Is there really a spirit? Is it possible to give a rational account of spirit? Does reason have access to spirit, or is spirit what reason should refrain from in order to remain reasonable? ” The author believes that it is absolutely meaningful to ask such questions, yes, that in the long run you cannot avoid asking them.
The essay "Matter, magic, and madness, Giordano Bruno's philosophy of creativity" asks whether one must necessarily be crazy, or go crazy if one crosses the boundary of reason. Is there any reason beyond this, which is based on a different kind of experience of what the world looks like, and can such experiences be called true? We meet the Christian mystical tradition through neoplatonism, canned thinking and Christian mysticism, and we come across names like Causanus, Plotin and Copernicus. The book is also inspired by Francis A. Yate's book Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. 

The way forward. It is a weakness of the book that it becomes predominantly historicist in its attempt to find the way to a new Enlightenment tradition. The question of where this road goes is hanging in the air. Professor of philosophy and Carl Cederberg demonstrate, as a matter of course, that skepticism is contradictory; Professor of Systematic Theology Espen Dahl, on the other hand, has written a very interesting text about Wittgenstein. «If there is a threat of madness in religion, I believe such isolation is one of its most important faces. Perhaps this is mirrored in the madness that is sometimes found in prophecy: something that urgently needs to be expressed and conveyed, yet without any assurance of being understood – indeed – sometimes not likely to be understood at all, »the latter writes. In other words, what is not understood is not necessarily meaningless and should certainly be the subject of phenomenological studies.

Henning Næs
Henning Næss
Literary critic in MODERN TIMES.

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