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Is Being Human Being Rational? Otto Duintjer’s Critique of A Philosophical Tradition

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image of Philosophia Reformata

Throughout the history of Western philosophy there has been a remarkable consensus that the unique and distinctive feature of human nature lies in the human capacity to think — that is, to think rationally. Being rational is conceived of as being an essential property of human beings. The Amsterdam philosopher Otto Dirk Duintjer2 has made an impressive attempt to analyze this dominant intellectual tradition for the purpose of furnishing hints for an alternative conception of what goes into the essence of being human. This alternative is presented not as another, more promising route within, but as a way out of our Western intellectual cul-de-sac, as Duintjer sees it. In this essay I first want to give a brief exposition of Duintjer’s analysis of our philosophical tradition because, I think, it is worth our serious consideration. Secondly, I will review his alternative for the traditional conception of what it means to be a human being. And thirdly I will discuss the viability of his alternative by comparing it with Dooyeweerd’s transcendental philosophy.


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