Uncovering today’s rationalistic attunement

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 21 (3):707-728 (2022)
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In this paper, we explore a rationalistic orientation in Western society. We suggest that this orientation is one of the predominant ways in which Western society tends to frame, understand and deal with a majority of problems and questions – namely in terms of mathematical analysis, calculation and quantification, relying on logic, numbers, and statistics. Our main goal in this paper is to uncover the affective structure of this rationalistic orientation. In doing so, we illustrate how this orientation structures the way not only individuals but society as a whole frames and solves problems. We firstly point towards some exemplary instances of the rationalistic orientation, specifically regarding science, society, and lifeworld practice. Crucially, we argue that the rationalistic orientation is not merely based on a set of beliefs we could easily correct; but rather, that it is an affective condition tacitly shaping our engagement with the world in an encompassing way. Relating to the work of Martin Heidegger, we argue that what we have called an orientation in the beginning is in fact a rationalistic attunement. This attunement fundamentally shapes the pre-reflective level of how individuals approach the world. We elaborate this claim by showing how the rationalistic attunement concretely manifests in tangible socio-material affect dynamics. In the end, we motivate a critical stance towards this attunement, providing the ability to reflect upon and question instances where this way of framing and solving problems is counterproductive.



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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Otto Neurath.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
Sein Und Zeit.Martin Heidegger (ed.) - 1935 - M. Niemeyer.
Meditations on First Philosophy.René Descartes - 1984 [1641] - Ann Arbor: Caravan Books. Edited by Stanley Tweyman.

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