Volume 23, Issue 1, Spring 2018
Alberto Leopoldo Batista Neto
Religious Presuppositions of Logic and Rationality
There is a crisis in philosophical rationality today—in which modern logicisimplicated—thatcanbetracedtotheabandonmentofacommonbackground of principles. The situation has no parallel within the pre-modern tradition, which not only admits of such principles (as an unproblematic presumption), but also refers them back to a set of assumptions grounded in a clearly religious frame of mind. Modern conceptions of rationality claim complete independence from religious sources, as from tradition more generally, and typically end up disposing of first principles altogether. The result is a fragmentation of reason, which can be seen to be dramatically exemplified in the realm of modern logic, populated by countless different systems and incompatible conceptions of what it is to be a logic. Many of the conceptual choices that became implicit in the philosophical discussions eventually leading to the rejection of the religious picture, and ultimately to the aforementioned crisis, were themselves originally linked to religious premises, so that all along, a kind of religious subconscious has subsisted throughout those disputations; however, the lack of any proper recognition of this background obstructs the possibility of making a reasonable assessment of the nature and causes of the crisis. Alasdair MacIntyre, whose thought inspires the argument developed here, reached similar conclusions regarding practical (or moral) rationality and the effects of abandoning the teleological framework of Aristotelian (and Thomistic) philosophy. MacIntyre’s arguments can be adapted, as he suggests, to deal with reason more generally, and his insistence upon the tradition-laden character of rational enquiry can help point toward the grounding of human reason in religion.