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(2018) Rationality in the social sciences, Dordrecht, Springer.

The role of ideas in the extension and limitation of rationality

Wilbert E. Moore, Helmut Staubmann, Victor Lidz

pp. 61-68

A comparison of different societies shows that the cultural patterns of rationality differ considerably. Basic ideas within cultures are relevant to the significance of norms of rationality within a society. Decisive is the basic mode of orientation towards the empirical world. Two contradicting views on the status of rationality in primitive societies are contested. One view holds that – due to scarce technological means in the struggle for survival – early cultures are a kind of prototype of the rational homo economicus. Levy-Bruhl argued the exact opposite and described primitive thinking as having a pre-logical nature. In his view, they may be characterized as having an undifferentiated irrationality. Both claims are empirically untenable. Studies by Malinowski and Firth have shown that even the simplest societies have many non-economic elements, such as, religious rituals, but also rational and practical technologies.In comparing primitive and advanced societies, it is argued that there is not a naturalistic increase of rationality, but that the status of rational action depends on ideas. One famous point of reference is Max Weber 's thesis of the Protestant ethic as an important source for the development of modern rational economies. For modern society, it was not only Protestantism, but also a "climate of opinion," for which the emergence of philosophical rationalism and the ideas of natural law and natural order are characteristic examples. (Eds.)

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-62377-1_6

Full citation:

Moore, W. E. , Staubmann, H. , Lidz, V. (2018)., The role of ideas in the extension and limitation of rationality, in H. Staubmann & V. Lidz (eds.), Rationality in the social sciences, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 61-68.

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