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In his paper "The Problem of Domination by Reason and its Non-Relativist Solution" Oskari Kuusela describes a problem about our conception of rationality, which he labels the problem of “domination by reason”. This problem has contributed to generate, Kuusela notes, a widespread dissatisfaction with reason, which has resulted in a tendency to discard ideals of rationality altogether. Kuusela, in his paper, provides a response to this dissatisfaction. He argues that Wittgenstein, if we read him correctly, exemplifies a conception of reason that doesn’t incur the problem he indicates. In my response, I suggest a possible extension of Kuusela’s reflections. Domination by reason, as I argue, may also take another form, different from the one recognized by Kuusela. This alternative form is interesting for two reasons. First, those concerned about rationality’s dominance have quite often in mind this latter problem. Second, it is not obvious that the alternative version of the problem can be solved by appealing to the conception of rationality Kuusela locates in Wittgenstein: it could even be argued that such a conception, on a certain construal, may contribute to reinforcing it. I suggest that, if we focus solely on the aspects of Wittgenstein’s method highlighted in Kuusela’s paper, then such methods may be taken to promote domination by reason (in the alternative sense I introduce). There are, however, other aspects of Wittgenstein’s philosophy - most notably, his conception of ethical language - which may help us to dispel this version of the problem.
Keywords: Wittgenstein, rationality, modernity, clarification, James Baldwin
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