CFP: Rationality of rationalism(s): on communicable truths and testable knowledge. A collection of essays in honor of Jan Woleński (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities - BRILL)

Submission deadline: January 15, 2019


Joseph Conrad once said that it was the duty of the artist to do justice to the visible world. In a different context, yet in a very similar spirit, the Lvov-Warsaw school of logic and analytic philosophy, including such figures as Alfred Tarski, Stanisław Leśniewski and Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz, among others, held that we need a kind of rationalism that would oppose not only the overt irrationalism, outspoken about its abandonment of science, logic, and reasoning, but also one that would demur all sorts of worship of reason (or Reason). The projected view was dubbed "anti-irrationalism."

Anti-irrationalism is best thought of not as a particular philosophical position, but rather as a special attitude or epistemic virtue. As such, it conveys a more general message in the times described by many as marked out by rampant irrationalism.

From the perspective in question, a belief is rational if it is inter-subjectively communicable and inter-subjectively testable. The point is that rationalism worshipping an order or mechanism that is supposed to be laid down in being, in society, history, etc., but not tinged with the social practice of how people actually think and act, breaches the boundaries of rational discourse and, paradoxically, proves irrational. Thus, we see anti-irrationalism as a commitment to reason, poised to defend us against the perils of obscurity, while at the same time keeping an equal distance from any idea of Reason that would be in itself inaccessible to our limited endeavors, yet supposed to set standards for the latter. As such, it may be described as an attitude that is normative, and yet – to use Conrad's phrase – that does justice to the world as it appears to us.

We invite papers that deal with different aspects of rationality, rationalism, irrationalism (and anti-irrationalism). What are the relations between the concept of rationality (and rationalism) and such concepts as knowledge, truth, justification? What are the relations between various types of rationality: e.g. bounded rationality, practical rationality and practical reason, collective rationality and social choice, scientific rationality? What does the concept of rationalism mean in each of these cases? Does scientific rationality play a special role in shaping all the other types of rationality and rationalism? Many thinkers (including yet not limited to Ajdukiewicz, Davidson, Kahneman, Nozick, Putnam, Searle, Tversky) have provided answers to these and related questions. Is there a common ground between them?

Jan Woleński is a tireless advocate of anti-irrationalism and the anti-irrational way of thinking in philosophy and in general. He has been engaged in countless debates spanning Tarski's definition of truth, on the one hand, and religion, on the other. He has been outspoken about social and political issues, too, always embracing the anti-irrational approach. This collection of essays is to pay tribute to his undeniable achievements in this field.     

 The volume will be published as a volume in the Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities series (Brill). One of the standing aims of the series in the past has been to provide a forum of exchange of ideas between philosophers from both sides of the Iron Curtain. More than 100 volumes have been published in the series.  Each volume is guest-edited and devoted to the philosophy of the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities as well as to foundational topics in metaphysics, epistemology and social philosophy. The papers are subjected to a rigorous double-blind review procedure.

Konrad Werner, University of Warsaw (Guest editor) 

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