The Retreat of Reason: A dilemma in the philosophy of life

Paperback | April 10, 2008

byIngmar Persson

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One of the main original aims of philosophy was to give us guidance about how to live our lives. The ancient Greeks typically assumed that a life led in accordance with reason, a rational life, would also be the happiest or most fulfilling. Ingmar Persson's book resumes this project, which hasbeen largely neglected in contemporary philosophy. But his conclusions are very different; by exploring the irrationality of our attitudes to time, our identity, and our responsibility, Persson shows that the aim of living rationally conflicts not only with the aim of leading the most fulfillinglife, but also with the moral aim of promoting the maximization and just distribution of fulfilment for all. Persson also argues that neither the aim of living rationally nor any of the fulfilment aims can be rejected as less rational than any other. We thus face a dilemma of either having to entera retreat of reason, insulated from everyday attitudes, or making reason retreat from its aspiration to be the sole controller of our attitudes. The Retreat of Reason explores three areas in which there is a conflict between the rational life and a life dedicated to maximization of fulfilment. Persson contends that living rationally requires us to give up, first, our temporal biases; secondly, our bias towards ourselves; and, thirdly, ourresponsibility to the extent that it involves the notion of desert and desert-entailing notions. But giving up these attitudes is so overwhelmingly hard that the effort to do so not only makes our own lives less fulfilling, but also obstructs our efficient pursuit of the moral aim of promoting amaximum of justly distributed fulfilment. Ingmar Persson brings back to philosophy the ambition of offering a broad vision of the human condition. The Retreat of Reason challenges and disturbs some of our most fundamental ideas about ourselves.

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One of the main original aims of philosophy was to give us guidance about how to live our lives. The ancient Greeks typically assumed that a life led in accordance with reason, a rational life, would also be the happiest or most fulfilling. Ingmar Persson's book resumes this project, which hasbeen largely neglected in contemporary phil...

Ingmar Persson is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Lund in Sweden.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:504 pages, 9.69 × 6.73 × 1.18 inPublished:April 10, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199543968

ISBN - 13:9780199543960

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Table of Contents

IntroductionI. The nature of para-cognitive attitudes1. Pain as a sensory quality2. Pleasure as a sensory quality3. Beyond hedonism4. An analysis of desire5. The concept of emotion6. A typology of emotionII. Reason and value7. Introduction: subjectivism and objectivism8. The structure of reasons: internalism9. An objective requirement?10. The desire relativity of value11. The rationality of para-cognitive attitudes12. Weakness of will13. Representational mechanismsIII. Rationality and temporal neutrality14. The nature of a temporal bias15. The irrationality of the bias towards the near16. The irrationality of the bias towards the future17. The dilemma as regards temporal neutralityIV. Rationality and personal neutrality18. Introduction: the bias towards oneself19. Self and body20. Psychological theories of our identity21. Somatist theories of our identity22. The identity of material bodies23. The rational insignificance of identity and continuity24. Self-concern and self-approval25. Concern for and approval of others26. Prudence: maximization or idealism?27. The requirement of personal neutrality28. Moral individualism: autonomy and agreement29. The dilemma as regards personal neutralityV. Rationality and responsibility30. Introduction31. Predictability and freedom32. Compatibilist freedom of action33. Compatibilist freedom of will34. Responsibility and desert35. The deontological element of responsibility36. The emotive genesis of desert37. The dilemma as regards responsibilityConclusionAppendix: On being out of touch

Editorial Reviews

`Review from previous edition This book has been long in the making and it is no exaggeration to say that it was worth the wait ... hugely impressive ... In scope and ambition, iThe Retreat of Reason/i is comparable to modern classics such as Derek Partif's iReasons and Persons/i and Nagel'siThe View from Nowhere/i ... More important still, iThe Retreat of Reason/i matches these seminal works in terms of philosophical sophistication and rigour of argument. It is an enlightening as well as a fulfilling read.'Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews