WHY LOGOS AS WEB SITE TITLE?
Why logos (Greek =
as the title of this
Web site? Logos is a Greek term with
a wide range of interrelated meanings and rich history of philosophical
usage. In any specific context of usage, logos may mean: word,
speech, language, account, explanation, theory, reason, thought, concept,
principle, formula, articulation, or law. From
Plotinus, it plays a central role in
classical Greek and Hellenistic philosophy. In this historical context, logos
gathers within its semantic scope the distinguishable domains of human rationality,
linguistic symbolization, and intelligible law. Therefore, my first reason for choosing logos is its
rich semantic complexity and the implicit philosophical connections
contained within that complexity.
The term logos also evokes reflection
upon the oft-discussed, historical transition from mythos to logos
in Greek thought. The Greek philosophical revolution inaugurated by
represented a rejection of the Homeric and Hesiodic
mythical worldview (mythos) in favor of a rational-scientific form of
thinking (logos). Accordingly, logos symbolizes for us the birth
of Western rationality (philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, scientific
methodology, etc.) out of its mythical historical matrix. Generalizing
beyond this specific historical significance, logos also symbolizes the
individual intellectual shift from prephilosophical attitudes and thinking to a distinctively philosophical form of reasoning.
Consequently, my second reason for selecting logos is its symbolic
reference to both the historical and individual birth
of philosophical thinking.
In contrast to a predominantly individualistic,
subject-centered model of rational activity, the term
also draws our attention to the possible inner connection between rationality
and dialogue (dialogos). In its original Greek formulation, dialogos
embraces the three distinct senses of logos articulated
above: language, reason, and law. Accordingly, we define dialogue philosophically
as a form of linguistic communication conducted by means of (dia) a
common commitment to rational principles and pursuits (logos). This
concept of dialogue, however, does not dispute the legitimacy or reality of
individual rational activity. Rather, it suggests an additional, and often
overlooked, communicative or dialogical dimension of rationality.
Therefore, my third reason for adopting logos is its semantic
suggestion of a specifically dialogical dimension of rationality.
Finally, logos also signifies my philosophical
rejection of recent totalizing or radical critiques of
Western reason. The concept and practice of a critique of reason by
reason itself has undoubtedly become a prominent feature of
Western European philosophy since
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). However, in recent years an
unprecedented radicalization of the critique of reason has put the
fundamental legitimacy, and not merely the limits, of reason into
question. While I readily acknowledge the theoretical need for
philosophical rationality to exercise vigilant self-criticism, the
wholesale dismissal and dissolution of Western logos proposed by various
philosophers is naive, self-destructive and incoherent. Hence,
the Web site title Logos indicates my positive interest in philosophical attempts to reconceive Western rationality
constructively within our contemporary historical context. Conversely, it
also indicates my critical stance towards
what Richard Bernstein has aptly termed the rage against reason.