ⓘ Arationality


ⓘ Arationality

Arationality is the state or characteristic of being arational, of being outside the domain of reason. The term is distinct from irrationality, which describes a state that goes against reason rather than beyond it. In this regard, that of going beyond reason, arationality is also contrary to positivism, the belief that reality can be understood rationally.

Arationality is also identified with certain pre-modern modes of thinking, including magic and ritual.


1. Arationality and novelty

The concept of arationality can be viewed in relation to the question of novelty. A new song for instance can always be reduced to the musical notes that compose it, all of which preexisted the songs creation. But despite being composed of "old" things musical notes, one could still ask: to what extend did something new come into existence when the song was first composed. A real theory of novelty then, i.e. a theory that can account for "newness", should be able to show how things come into being without first reducing them to things that already are. To avoid this reductionist trap we might need to go beyond the very methods that work by way of reduction, i.e. scientific reason and formal logic. A true theory of novelty therefore might need to acknowledge in the creative process, whether artistic or physical, an arational source.

As an example we could think of the event we call the Big Bang. Cosmologists affirm that our universe started with an explosion that brought into existence, not only the matter and energy that constitutes it, but also the very fabric of time and space. This means that the event itself must have happened outside of time and space, in a "non-place" and "non-time". Considering that our logic works exclusively within the categories of time and space, something that happened before these categories even existed is necessarily beyond logic, or in other words, arational.