Rationality and Unification

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By Keisuke Noda

Keisuke_NodaThe idea of “Unification” is central to the Unification Movement. The current reality of the movement is that there is no clear path toward this ideal. This lack of a path, be it conceptual or real, is critical to a movement that carries the banner of “unification” both in doctrine and title.

This issue can be approached from various angles. I examine two types of “rationality,” instrumental and dialogical, and how they are tied to two different understandings of and approaches to “unification.” By highlighting the benefits of dialogical rationality and the type of unification associated with it, I call for further discussion of the idea of unification. This article makes a reference to Hans-Georg Gadamer’s “Philosophical Hermeneutics.”

Why Rationality?

“Rationality” is a key issue in philosophy. Why do we need to care about “rationality” in philosophy and otherwise? Reasoning supports the presentation of a case, justification of a claim, or the establishment of an argument. The question then is what type of reasoning is used, consciously or unconsciously. Whatever type of rationality is used guides the discourse at a most fundamental level, and is critical to understand what kind of reasoning dominates one’s process of thinking. When one solves math problems, for example, he or she may use calculative rationality; in making moral judgments, one may use “prudence,” which requires experience and a sense of balance.

Instrumental Rationality

What is the primary or even dominant rationality today? Martin Heidegger, Jürgen Habermas, and other thinkers identified it as “instrumental rationality.” They argue that instrumental rationality has been dominating discourse since modernity without our even being aware of it; that is, we use reason as an instrument to realize pre-set goals and purposes in the most efficient manner.

The instrumental use of reason is common in the technological era, which seeks efficiency and control. Its exclusive focus is gaining what you want in the most efficient and cost-effective way. This type of reasoning is efficient and effective in handling material. Modern technological developments and production were so successful, they argue, that we consciously or unconsciously adopted this type of reasoning in all spheres of life.

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