Course date

1 July - 25 July, 1997
15 February, 1997
Course Director(s): 

Mark Notturno

Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Joseph Agassi

Tel Aviv University, Israel

Andras Benedek

Hungarian Institute of Philosophy, Budapest, Hungary

Adam Chmielewski

Wroclaw University, Poland

Ian Jarvie

York University, Toronto, Canada

Pavel Materna

Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague

Western philosophers have traditionally held that the rationality of a belief, theory, policy, or action depends upon its justification. Those that can be justified were regarded as rational; those that cannot were not. And `justification', in any event, meant showing that the beliefs, theories, policies, or actions in question were `grounded' upon indubitably true principles. But as a result of the logical and epistemological investigations of the 20th century, this `foundationalist' view of rationality has now led to a widespread ‘crisis of rationalit’. Many western philosophers no longer believe that our beliefs, theories, policies, and actions can be justified upon indubitable foundations. And some no longer believe that they can be justified at all. Most western philosophers, in response to this crisis, have adopted some form of what might be called `floating foundationalism'. Simply put: they attempt to `ground' our beliefs, theories, policies, and actions upon a `form of life', or `linguistic framework', or `scientific paradigm', or `communal consensus' that is not regarded as indubitable or unique; but which, nonetheless, is held to provide, and to limit, our `authoritative horizons'. Others, following Karl Popper, have tried to redefine rationality in terms of our ability to criticize our beliefs, theories, policies, and actions instead of our ability to justify them. Some philosophers regard these attempts as rational; others do not. But everyone recognizes that our beliefs, theories, policies, and actions can no longer be regarded as rational in the sense in which they once were. The purpose of Rationality in the Post-foundationalist Age is to study the options for restructuring our understanding of rationality and the use of reason given the collapse of tradtional foundationalism.