1. Reason has somehow become tyrannical; this tyranny manifest itself in broad daylight in ideocratic totalitarianism, but it also threatens liberal democracy.
2. Human beings are subject to an elusive compound of reason and power. The rule of reason is as fragile and tainted as it is inevitable.
3. A reasonable self-understanding of reason would at once be open to the possibility of transcending shared (socially-politically authorized and thus to some degree enforced) frameworks and aware that even the terms of such transcendence must depend on such practical frameworks. Such an understanding would be the deepest ground of postmodern conservatism.
4. Humanity can be understood to exist along two dimensions: “practical” and “theoretical-spiritual.” We find ourselves embedded in a context of practices, habits, and shared understandings; and yet we are aware of being “other” than that context, of being free to transcend it or to conceive possibilities beyond it . To avoid pathological separations and fusions of these dimensions we need a proper self-understanding of the rule of reason and its limits.
5. The modern reduction of reason to formal method is complicit in such a pathology: it is at once too theoretical (abstracting from practically embedded intimations of the good) and too practical that is, transformative, having renounced all ends but the implicit drive to realize itself materially.
6. Tocqueville described this pathology as the “abolition of moral analogy,” a rupture between public and private, the city and the soul, between common, practical life and man’s theoretical-spiritual transcendence.
7. Modern, methodical reason drives a wedge between the common, practical world it proposes to rule and the soul’s self-understanding. The same rupture results from the soul’s claim radically to transcend the city. The “individual” is a halfway house on the soul’s fall into an abyss in which it has lost all possibility of self-representation. This fall is driven at once by democratic individualism and by scientific reason.
8. Modern reason’s implicit assertion of radical transcendence (the Archimedean point of scientific power over nature) is inseparable from the radical reduction of humanity to the “material” object of science.