Rationality of an irrational world...

10:13 . 21/11/2022 Pazartesi

Süleyman Seyfi Öğün

Süleyman Seyfi Öğün is a political scientist who worked at Uludağ University between 1985 and 2010. He currently serves as a teaching member of the faculty of Human Sciences at Istanbul Ticaret University.

Süleyman Seyfi Öğün

The modern world’s categories lead one to many mistakes. Suggesting concrete categories, types, and concept sets are the imperatives of thinking. There is nothing to say about this, yet the real matter is how these are used. If analytical reasoning subjects these sets to a black-and-white distinction, that is where the problem starts. This is the pressure in the modern world. As I tried to express previously on various occasions, other methods are available as well. The dialectical method is one of the main methods. Contrary to the analytical method, the dialectical method not only suggests conceptual sets, but it also focuses on more amalgam situations arising from their interaction. 

 The modern world suggests certain concept sets in order to draw a thick line between itself and ancient worlds, to ensure a historical detachment. Accordingly, for example, ancient worlds have ideas and beliefs that are identified as irrational. Yet, the modern world controls minds. In other words, it places a block between the irrational and the rational. Max Weber’s distinctions between thought patterns present an essential example to this. Weber argues that the modern world has given rise to lawful-rational structures on a bureaucratic basis. Accordingly, the conventional and charismatic authority (Herrschaft) relations that shaped the ancient world were shaken and lost their impact. Weber’s ideal types are taught in lengthy detail in sociology classes. However, no other matter regarding which Weber warns sociologists is mentioned. Weber not only introduced these ideal types, he also encouraged sociologists to be careful about the lack of pure correspondences for these in life – which is the right thing. 


The modern economic world's ideal type is the Homo Economicus, who makes rational decisions and choices, while the ideal type for the political world is the Zoon Politicon. It is assumed that these are eventually controlled by gain maximization. The economic human acts to maximize their profit, while the political human acts to take the biggest share from this. These are rational categories. It is assumed that their correspondences in life are pure. Yet, Weber revealed that there is a deep relationship between capitalism and Protestant Ethics, and – in a sense – his opponent Sombart revealed the same between Judaism and capitalism. There are those today who – whether right or wrong – mention relationships between esoteric beliefs and the economic world. The economy is not directed by pure rational economic laws, there are cultural motives, sentiments, and beliefs involved as well. Similarly, politics takes its share from this as well. Limited time periods, in other words, other than the times we describe as stability, in other words, in chaotic times which make up the majority of modern history, politics is mostly shaped by emotions that are hard to predict and control. 


The concept the modern world presents to us as rationalism is nothing other than the connaturalization of certain irrational relations as rational. Descriptions of the modern economy discuss the imbalance between limited sources and infinite needs. Yet, it is quite the opposite. Capitalism's primary handicap is not the lack of supply but the lack of an eternal demand – because profit maximization depends on crushing the demand. Capitalism is irrational from the very start, with a production fetishism, through which products and services undergo a transformation value. (Fetish is not very rational, right?) There is more: As can be seen in the consumption world, if capitalism boosts the demand artificially, it loses its productivity. Consumer societies lose vitality. (Ibn Khaldun had pointed to those centuries ago.) Thus, capitalism appears as a chain of irrationalities, which fails to – and will never be able to – make ends meet between supply and demand. This is exactly the irrationality on which theses in economy and business courses claiming rationalism are based. The deep estrangement revealed in these irrationalization processes, and the loss of the humane dimension all happen here. 


Realpolitik evaluations have gained an overwhelming nature in the current age. In reality, realpolitik, in other words, gain-based profit analyses are a luxury for the world we conceive. The political mind cannot survive where the economy loses its mind. Though states today seem to be following gains based on realpolitik, it is not the reality. Despite the fact that we may be ethically opposed to realpolitik, it is, essentially, a serious concept. The question is whether Macron or Scholz are leaders capable of following realpolitik. Or is U.S. President Joe Biden, who clearly appears to be on the verge of dementia, realpolitik’s shining star? Or is Trudeau, who is unable to put two words together in the presence of the Chinese leader the sought name? During World War II, we were able to mention names that pushed the limits of craziness such as De Gaulle or Roosevelt against Hitler or Mussolini. Irrationality today though has a much vaster spectrum. 

 We stated that rationalism consists of the rationalization of many irrational things. It is understood that the modern world allows this to work to a certain extent. 

#Irrational World
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