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Rationality in the Flesh


This project aims to propose a novel solution to the problem of knowledge- and wellbeing-conducive irrationality. Empirical research shows that irrationality is sometimes preferable to rationality: even simplest decisions, like choosing a meal from menu, cannot be made by emotionless cost-benefit analysis alone only; religious faith helps to recover from surgery and is conducive to mental health; faith in success of a relationship makes it more successful, and even the capacity for moral agency requires empathy. These findings challenge a standard conception of rationality, according to which following reason and norms of logic is a reliable path to knowledge and wellbeing.

I argue that solution to this problem is to take body into account. Traditional approaches in psychology and philosophy often ignore human body. However, numerous findings suggest that body affects our cognition and decision-making through emotions, intuitions, etc., that often go unnoticed by our conscious mind. When offered to choose an object, people prefer that on their right hand side without realising that. Such circumstances, as left and right, insubstantial for rational decision-making, have crucial importance for our body. Bodily influence is structured and predictable, thus I hypothesise that body has its own kind of rationality, working in parallel to intellectual reasoning.

This study will develop and test this hypothesis by analysing the paragon cases of irrationality with positive and negative outcomes. It will go to the flesh and bone of cognition in order to reveal the basic structures of what is deemed irrational according to the standard concept. This project will open new research horizons on two levels: the ground-breaking methodological approach, combining the cutting-edge embodied method and legacy of pragmatic philosophy will be applied to the representative cases of irrationality. This will involve a novel re-reading of the empirical material of cognitive science, religious studies, and psychology, challenging traditional ideas about human cognition and developing a novel theory of irrationality, thus promoting European excellence in research and practical dealing with irrationality in policy making.

Field of science

  • /social sciences/psychology
  • /humanities/philosophy, ethics and religion/philosophy

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-CAR - CAR – Career Restart panel


Von Kraemers Alle 4
751 05 Uppsala
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 305 778,24