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Title: Razionalità e relativismo: il significato storico e contemporaneo della risposta hegeliana a Sesto Empirico
Authors: Westphal, Kenneth
Keywords: rationalityrelativismHegelSextus Empiricus
Issue Date: 2002
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Kenneth Westphal, "Razionalità e relativismo: il significato storico e contemporaneo della risposta hegeliana a Sesto Empirico", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, IV (2002) 1
Series/Report no.: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
IV (2002) 1
Enlightenment confidence in reason and in our individual powers of reasoning have been subjected to growing criticism. One criticism is that Enlightenment universalism about reason has provided a cover story for cultural if not economic or political imperialism. I identify and criticize three central assumptions about reason common from the Enlightenment to the present day: That reason and tradition are distinct, if not conflicting intellectual resources; that reason is inherently a power of individuals; and that rejecting individualism in epistemology entails historicist relativism. The contemporary debates between defenders of universalist views of reason and their multi-culturalist critics reproduce on an inter-cultural level the contests between Christian religious sects that originally compelled the development in Europe of Enlightenment views of reason. Both sets of debates recapitulate at a practical level the theoretical issues posed by dogmatism and question-begging (petitio principii), problems crystallized in Sextus Empiricus' Dilemma of the Criterion. I contend that rectifying the three erroneous Enlightenment assumptions about reason shows that Sextus' Dilemma can be resolved by a constructive account of self- and mutual criticism. This account provides a constructive response to the contemporary debates between the Enlightenment and its multi-culturalist critics. Surprisingly, the basic views required for a tenable, enlightened account of reason were developed by Hegel, whose views have been widely misunderstood because they have been forced into the very dichotomies against which Hegel argued convincingly.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1825-5167
Appears in Collections:Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2002) IV/1

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