Underneath most modes of western thought is the assumption that everything can be accounted for. Underneath is the assumption of rationality.
This in part explains the rise to Scientism, the idea that science is or should be the supreme source of truth about reality. In 1998 best-seller Consilience, an old word for 'coming together,' author Wilson hypothesised:
“...the humanities, ranging from philosophy and history to moral reasoning, comparative religion, and interpretation of the arts, will draw closer to the sciences and partly fuse with them.”
Consilience has long been a best seller. The idea that there could be one unifying framework to well, unify the world's thinking is compelling. Especially in face of many serious challenges: AI, climate change, all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
But with any reductionist framework, we risk limiting our capacity for thought, for new understanding. Those limits are best exemplified by this passage in Sand Talk, from author and Aboriginal scholar Tyson Yunkaporta:
"We yarn about the sentience of stones and the ancient Greek mistake of identifying 'dead matter' as opposed to living matter, limiting for centuries to come the potential of western thought when attempting to define things like consciousness and self-organising systems such as galaxies. They viewed space as lifeless and empty between stars; our own stories represented those dark areas as living country, based on observed effects of attraction from those places on celestial bodies. Theories of dead matter and empty space meant that western science came late to discoveries of what they now call 'dark matter', finding that those areas of 'dead and empty' space actually contain most of the matter in the universe."
Rationality, in many ways has been instrumental in human progress and development. But it is essential we acknowledge the phenomena in the world that exhibit complexity, nonlinearity, and emergent properties, all of which can challenge our ability to comprehend using rational modes of thoughts.
And that includes human behaviours, perhaps the least rational of all in our pursuit of total rationality.