Media of Reason

Media of Reason: A Theory of Rationality

Translated by Darrell P. Arnold
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Media of Reason
    Book Description:

    Matthias Vogel challenges the belief, dominant in contemporary philosophy, that reason is determined solely by our discursive, linguistic abilities as communicative beings. In his view, the medium of language is not the only force of reason. Music, art, and other nonlinguistic forms of communication and understanding are also significant. Introducing an expansive theory of mind that accounts for highly sophisticated, penetrative media, Vogel advances a novel conception of rationality while freeing philosophy from its exclusive attachment to linguistics.

    Vogel's media of reason treats all kinds of understanding and thought, propositional and nonpropositional, as important to the processes and production of knowledge and thinking. By developing an account of rationality grounded in a new conception of media, he raises the profile of the prelinguistic and nonlinguistic dimensions of rationality and advances the Enlightenment project, buffering it against the postmodern critique that the movement fails to appreciate aesthetic experience.

    Guided by the work of Jürgen Habermas, Donald Davidson, and a range of media theorists, including Marshall McLuhan, Vogel rebuilds, if he does not remake, the relationship among various forms of media -- books, movies, newspapers, the Internet, and television -- while offering an original and exciting contribution to media theory.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52775-0
    Subjects: Philosophy, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xiv)

    In our century hardly a basic philosophical concept has been reconstructed and assessed in such irreconcilable ways as the concept of rationality. While some—who are obliged to the tradition of the Enlightenment—place the development of a stable concept of rationality at the center of their theoretical efforts, indeed even maintain “that philosophy in its postmetaphysical, post-Hegelian currents is converging toward the point of a theory of rationality,”¹ others are working to dismantle it, are busy debunking and demonizing it. A third group of philosophers has become suspicious of these efforts, whether of one group or the other. They...

    (pp. xv-xx)
    (pp. 1-77)

    The illustrious project of the Enlightenment, once the heart of European philosophy, has, in our day, a bad reputation. Those who commit themselves to the Enlightenment quickly meet with distanced reactions. For don’t we owe the destruction of nature to the Enlightenment? Isn’t the Enlightenment, with its demand to bring societal process under the control of rational planning, the project that is responsible for the societal systems of coercion? And isn’t the Enlightenment the project that set free processes of technical innovation, the consequences of which we cannot even begin to estimate? And isn’t a reason at work behind all...

    (pp. 78-113)

    Hardly any concept has been circulated with such numerous and often dramatically underspecified meanings as that of media. While academic reference works¹ have been rather hesitant to list the concept and have only recently begun to do so—with a largely semiotic understanding—in everyday language, as well as theoretical contexts, it is used in varied ways. In social theory contexts alone the collection of explications characterizing media yields an astoundingly heterogeneous composite. On the basis of his study of the concepts of the media theory of Parsons, Luhmann, and Habermas, Jan Künzler has compiled the following list:

    Languages, symbolic...

    (pp. 114-266)

    The previous reflections on the media concept should have shown three things. First, in all of the theories presented, the respective concept of the media played a prominent role. Except for McLuhan’s theory, which fashions itself as a media theory, the media concepts, however, largely owe this role to necessities of theory design. The media theories primarily have a subsidiary function within the framework of the antecedent theoretical intentions; hereby they take on a role that they cannot just shake off, for none of the theoreticians introduces the concept of the medium on the basis of a conceptually independent media...

    (pp. 267-306)

    At the end of chapter 1 I argued that an adequate theory of rationality can only be developed on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of processes of understanding. Such an analysis is only comprehensive if it includes the understanding of nonlinguistic communicative actions that can account for the untranslatability of nonlinguistic articulations. In conformity with one use of the concept of a “medium” in everyday language, I then assumed that some processes of nonlinguistic understanding are implemented with the help of means that are analogous to the medium of language, which makes verbal communication possible. Because no stable concept...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 307-340)
    (pp. 341-364)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 365-380)