This thesis examines Western rationality, contextualizing that subject in British colonialism and Western modernity. Using Scott Lash's description of academic characterizations of modernity, I explore the “high" modernity of the social sciences represented in the books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. I then explore the cultural studies critique of that characterization of modernity in the book Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe. Using the theory of Jean Francois Lyotard, Martin Heidegger, and Theodor Adorno, I look at Western rationality through its manifestation in British colonialism. I argue that colonialism is a site where rationality's negative legacy is manifest, and that the paradoxical representations of rationality in the books by Carroll and Doyle indicate a problem with the assumption that Western rationality was a universal epistemology. Contrary to the British's own ideas of their rationality, I find that Western rationality is ultimately a culturally-grounded discourse. Using Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God, I examine the intersection between Western rationality and other forms of cultural knowledge, an intersection that occurred through British colonialism. Achebe argues against the universal model of Western rationality and posits instead a relative valuing of each culture's methods of arriving at truth. I use his novel to illustrate the limits of Western rationality and its claim to universality.



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Humanities; English



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rationality, rational, enlightenment, reason, logic, Western Rationality, the West, colonialism, modernism, modernity, postcolonial, postcolonialism, eurocentrism, ratiocentrism, eurocentric, ratiocentric, Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chinua Achebe, Arrow of God, Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, Hound of the Baskervilles