Loneliness and Persuasion

Image by Asim Z Kodappana.

What we feel defines who we are and what we believe. Such a statement seems obvious to the point of tautology. Yet we often don’t behave as if we genuinely credit it. Many of us are, despite increasingly savage attacks from neofascist champions of unreason, still children of the Enlightenment. And broadly, the Enlightenment dream was to strengthen people’s reasoning powers to the point where they would persuade one another through logical, rational argumentation and public debates conducted with impeccable calm. Feelings were irrelevant to this project, unnecessary, potential bearers of error. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, one of the fathers of calculus, expressed this rationalist attitude especially clearly in 1679 when he wrote about his pet project to create a universal language, declaring with poignant optimism, “The only way to rectify our reasonings is to make them as tangible as those of the Mathematicians, so that we can find our error at a glance, and when there are disputes among persons, we can simply say: Let us calculate, without further ado, to see who is right.”

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Scott Remer has published in venues such as In These Times, Africa Is a Country, Common Dreams, OpenDemocracy, Philosophy Now, Philosophical Salon, and International Affairs.

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