Friday, November 18, 2011

The Social is NOT Rational

I paused for thought when I read this sentence in Morgan Meis review of Péter Nádas's Parallel Stories:

That is the inherent tension of the beastly self in its relation to our rational and socially acceptable desires.

The idea that the "socially acceptable" is also the "rational" is a tired cliché that does not stand up to scrutiny. It is also a denigration of rationality. The world of social acceptability is thoroughly emotional, however insipid it may sometimes be. I stress sometimes. There are perfectly good norms out there. That does not make them rational, however.

That said, I agree that there is something "beastly" beneath both our reasons and our passions, beneath both our material world and our social history.

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