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Reasoning in practice : foundation for understanding in a multi- cultural context.

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The thesis is based on the assumption that reasoning functions in its context. The locus of this context is the subject-in-act. The subject-in-act observes, wonders, asks questions, judges and makes justifications. In the functioning of reasoning, she uses the basic set of these cognitional operations rather than pure logical form or the empirical content alone to reach conclusions. Our contention is that logic cannot function on its own without the subject-in-act. Hitherto, efforts have been made to show that any knowledge system is based on either purely axiomatic and mathematical formulations or deductive tautologies and inductive reasoning or empirical convictions based on probability. The thesis attempts to argue that reasoning is not possible without the interventions of the set of cognitional operations. In the thesis we take as an example the early Wittgenstein's attempt to give a foundation for our knowing or the identity of what can be known, using atomic or elementary propositions. Wittgenstein' s own later repudiation of this introduces the idea that logic, and language are relative to social context. In Wittgenstein's second phase, we focus on the analysis of understanding in terms of "following a rule." This idea is later taken up by Winch in relation to his point of inter-cultural learning but he does not give us the method of how to achieve that learning. Lonergan introduces the idea of "self-appropriation" which we interpret by the idea of the "subject-in-act." It is this subject-in-act that forms a foundation for all possible understanding, explaining and knowing. Barden picks up from Winch and addresses precisely the issue of traditions and cultural differences. We want to argue that traditions and context are important in a sense that they serve as a starting point in our search for knowledge but in themselves, are not ultimately foundational. What is ultimately foundational is not a set of propositions, or rules to be followed, or social practice, but the subject-in-act.


Thesis (Ph.D)-University of Durban-Westville, 2004.


Reason., Logical positivism., Logic., Theses--Philosophy.