rationality and advancement

Austin, Andrew austina at SPAMuwgb.edu
Sat Feb 17 14:32:02 MST 2001


George,

You completely distorted my post. I did not use rationality as meaning the
negation of creativity. Rationality is something that occurs throughout
history in a multitude of cultures. Goal directed behavior with an emphasis
on efficient means is rational action. Behavior based on calculable and
quantifiable outcomes and procedures is rational action. Such actions lead
to creative results (e.g., the bow and arrow). What I was arguing was that
*European* rationality applied to harmonic composition is comparatively
stifling (in contrast e.g. to West African meter and tonality). There is
nothing remarkable about this argument. This is why the 20th century was
chock full of composers trying to trangress and transcend Western rules of
composition. It is Western culture, because of its intrinsic relation to the
capitalist mode of production, that raises rationality to a central
organizing principle, which, like the economic system it works in,
infiltrates virtually every region of human existence and deforms it. If
this is romantic, then Marx and Engels were quite the Romantic types. Marx
believed in rational organization of social formation, but it would have to
occur with a socialist economic system to be liberatory. Recall that Marx
and Engels condemned capitalism for the way it reduced everything to a
quantified relation.

Andrew Austin
Green Bay, WI

-----Original Message-----
From:  George Snedeker
To: marxism at lists.panix.com
Sent: 2/17/2001 1:58 PM
Subject: rationality and advancement

Andrew uses "rational" as the negation of
creativity. this seems more than a little romantic.





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