Seminar with Tomasz Zarębski

Tomasz Zarębski from the University of Lower Silesia in Wrocław (Dolnośląska Szkoła Wyższa Edukacji Towarzystwa Wiedzy Powszechnej, DSWE) visits the Wittgenstein Archives in the period 3-23 May, 2005. In this context, a seminar is organized:

  • Thursday, 12 May, 14.15-16.00, Wittgenstein Archives, AKSIS (since 2009 "Uni Digital"), Allégt. 27, meeting room, 1st floor: "Post-Cartesian rationality according to Stephen E. Toulmin"


  • The seminar will present the account of rationality as put forward by Stephen E. Toulmin. In most of his philosophical work, Toulmin endeavoured to build a relevant and convincing image of human rationality, which yet would not be based on formal logic. According to him, the strict and formal logical rules are inappropriate not only for our ordinary reasoning, but also for the large part of our enterprises, including philosophy and science. Therefore, what we should do as philosophers is to reformulate our idea of rationality and try to base it on another pattern. For Toulmin, this proper pattern to follow can be provided by jurisprudence. On just this account he elaborates his model of substantial argument, as opposed to the analytic formal logic one. The principle features of such understood rationality - which we could call a post-Cartesian one - would be: a lack of absolutely certain conclusions, field-dependence of our arguments, changeable standards of our judgement, and, as a result, ever evolving content of our theories. The main problem emerging from such an account seems to be the risk of falling into relativism. However, Toulmin himself does not find such a consequence justified: he accepts the relativity of our concepts and standards, but not radical epistemological relativism. Putting particular stress on the idea that “A man demonstrates his rationality, not by a commitment to fixed ideas, stereotyped procedures, or immutable concepts, but by the manner in which, and the occasions on which, he changes those ideas, procedures and concepts”, he claims to avoid both absolutism and relativism.

Tomasz Zarębski is lecturer in philosophy at the University of Lower Silesia in Wrocław, Poland (Dolnośląska Szkoła Wyższa Edukacji Towarzystwa Wiedzy Powszechnej, DSWE), and has published "Od paradygmatu do kosmopolis" (Wrocław 2005), a study of Stephen E. Toulmin's philosophy.

Last change: 2005.5.9 by ap