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Title:Cognitive Institutions: The Cultural Context of Reasoning
Author(s):Paden, Roger Kenneth
Department / Program:Philosophy
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This thesis is intended as a contribution to the social theory of reason. This theory attempts to analyze reason (that is, the standard of rationality) as a social phenomenon, rather than, as in classical views of reason (e.g., those of Plato and Descartes) as an abstract regulative idea, universally known to all men, perhaps through a faculty of rational intuition. Insofar as the social theory of reason treats reason as a social phenomenon consisting in part of techniques and rules learned in particular social milieus, it resembles the sociology of knowledge. However, the social theory of reason does not treat reason as a mere sociological object having no regulative force on the theorist himself. Rather, reason is treated as a necessary structuring element of knowing, which constitutes the individual as a knowing self, and is therefore both necesssary for and regulative of all thought, including that of the social theorist. Reason is both social and regulative.
The thesis consists of four parts. The first part is an examination of the two dominant theories of reason today: the positivist view and the Weltanschauung view. It shows how the two are related and how they are inadequate to the subject. In the second part are set forth the outlines of a social theory of reason by developing the concepts of cognitive institutions, problematics, practices, actualities and cultures. An attempt is made to show how this theory avoids the criticisms directed at other theories. The third section consists of two attempts to apply this social theory of reason to cases in the history of reasoning. The first case is the Copernican revolution. It is argued that it is only by assuming the social theory that Copernicus' actions seem rational, that no other theory has this result, and so that the social theory of reason has some historical backing. The second case studied is the history of the labor theory of value. In this chapter it is demonstrated that the social theory of reason allows us to understand broad sweeps of intellectual history. In the final part questions of relativism and truth are taken up, trying to show that the social theory of reason is not counter-intuitive with respect to these subjects.
Issue Date:1981
Description:245 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203546
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1981

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