Skepticism About Rationality
Skepticism About Rationality
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  • 승인 2018.03.07 13:22
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Scapegoated speed skater in Pyeongchang Olympics, sexual harassment of a female prosecutor, Choi Sun-sil Gate, and many more. It is undeniable that there are many controversial issues and debates being disclosed, especially these days. You may say such issues have occasionally come up in the past, or the advancement in Information and Communication Technologies (IT) has invigorated them. Of course, controversies have been Korean report media’s favorite topics and many modern SNS such as Facebook and YouTube effectively let us be exposed to controversial issues. However, what I am interested is that the participation of young people in their age of 10s and 20s in such controversial issues have never been so enthusiastic and significant. IT and SNS may work as the pathway for them to get exposed to new issues and express their opinions, but it can never be the intrinsic motivation of the participation. Then what is? I would like to assign the skepticism of Rationalism as the root of such motivation.

‘Cogito Ergo Sum (I think, therefore I am)’. This famous Latin philosophical quote by Rene Descartes is probably the very summary of Rationalism. At the end of pre-modern centuries series of religious events such as the Crusades and selling of indulgence eventually showed the limit of the absoluteness of gods and aroused humans to question their gods. In searching for the replacement, humans arrived at Rationalism; the absolute belief in humans’ rationality.

Rationalism allowed humans to replace their old gods and have the authority to determine and justify their actions. Soon, humans achieved many great things. They built their own civilization oriented not towards their old gods but themselves. Experiencing series of industrial revolution and scientific innovation, humans embraced the golden-age in a scale that was historically unparalleled. However, Rationalism had trade-offs. It was the fact that humans were now the subject of their own thoughts and actions. Because Rationalism demanded each individual to have absolute belief of oneself, humans were now not only the subject of their own thoughts and actions but could also justify them with what they think as ‘rationality’. Soon the world was interpreted as the existence of two opposing concepts. The good and evil, Caucasian and non-Caucasian, Capitalism and Socialism, and many more. The dangerous belief that only one side is right rendered humans commit terrible things such as world wars, dictatorships, discrimination, and eventually holocausts, the most unforgettable mistake of the 20th century.

The world we live in is still constrained by such dichotomous thinking. Frankly speaking, perceiving everything into black and white is so convenient. It gives us confidence and righteousness of what we think and act. More importantly, the more we know, the tendency to stick to what we know and believe becomes stronger and the less we attempt to understand the opposite sides. Fortunately, the world is showing signs of changes, especially among the young people. Because we know and have experienced less, we can more easily see the world not by black and white, but with open-mind.