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Neurology researcher and clinician Donald Calne compares defining reason to assembling an incomplete jigsaw puzzle: we don't have all the pieces, and the pieces we do have don't always fit together well. But that doesn't stop him from setting out on the ambitious task of surveying our current understanding of reason and the historical role it has played for our species.
Within Reason begins with a simple--and in some ways counterintuitive--definition of reason, calling it a mere tool, not a motivator of humanity but an enabler. A powerful and versatile tool to be sure, but one whose purpose is specific to helping us get what we want, not revealing why it is that we want it. With this supposition, Calne methodically dissects reason's role in such spheres as ethics, government, language, and religion, supporting each assertion with historical anecdotes and the writing and research of others.
If Within Reason is any indication, Donald Calne would be charming dinner company. While you might not agree with every point he makes, you'd never be disappointed by the conversation. --Paul Hughes [via]