Gustav Ichheiser on Rationality and Irrationality

  • Ivana Marková
Part of the Theory and History in the Human and Social Sciences book series (THHSS)


Since Aristotle, scholars provided different answers to the question whether humans are rational. Some scholars, e.g. Descartes, presupposed that rationality is a norm, while others, e.g. Freud, claimed that humans are basically driven by irrational tendencies which they cannot control. For Gustav Ichheiser, rationality and irrationality were social and relational concepts. He argued that although it is meaningful to make a distinction between these two concepts, it is wrong to treat them as separate from one another; even more, he questioned whether the ‘cold rationality’ is ‘superior’ to ‘irrational’ impulses. It is the latter that instigates generous actions and spontaneous help to others. In analysing different meanings of irrationality and their attributions to the Self and Others, Ichheiser contrasted values of technological progress and of cultural-spiritual welfare in modern societies in their international contexts.


Rationality Irrationality Self and Others Relational concepts Values 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK

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