The Limits of Reason and the Role of Central Banks in Economic Stability

Lucas Charbonnier

Lucas Charbonnier

Oct 03, 20234 min read


The Limits of Reason and the Role of Central Banks in Economic Stability


The question of whether we can fully understand and reason about everything has been a topic of philosophical debate for centuries. In this article, we will explore the limits of reason, as discussed by Kant in his work "Critique of Pure Reason," and delve into the question of whether we should abandon the pursuit of complete understanding. Additionally, we will examine the historical interest rates set by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Federal Reserve (Fed) to understand their approaches to monetary policy and their impact on economic stability.

The Limits of Reason:

According to Kant, reason must acknowledge the presence of belief and restrict itself to what can be experienced. In his "Critique of Pure Reason," Kant argues that reason alone cannot provide absolute certainty or knowledge beyond the realm of experience. This notion challenges the idea that we can fully comprehend and explain everything through reason alone. While reason provides valuable insights and understanding, there are inherent limitations to its scope.

An Impossible and Insignificant Endeavor:

Attempting to render reason for everything becomes an infinite task. The complexities of the world and the human experience defy complete understanding and explanation. As French philosopher Blaise Pascal famously stated, "The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing." There are truths and insights that can be grasped by the heart or intuition, which reason cannot demonstrate.

Connecting Reason and Central Bank Policies:

Now let's shift our focus to the role of central banks, specifically the ECB and the Fed, in implementing monetary policies. The ECB's primary mission is to maintain price stability, aiming for an inflation rate close to 2%. On the other hand, the Fed prioritizes economic growth to maximize employment. However, the global economic crisis caused by the US subprime mortgage crisis forced the ECB to adjust its policies to avoid hindering the fragile recovery. The ECB now considers both short-term growth and long-term inflation in its decision-making process.

Comparing Monetary Policy Decisions:

Analyzing the historical interest rates set by the ECB and the Fed provides insights into their approaches to economic stability. The ECB's interest rate has varied over time, with a current rate of 4.25% as of August 2, 2023. In contrast, the Fed's interest rate has fluctuated more significantly, reaching 0% between October 2007 and December 2008, and remaining low until the end of 2015. The rate then rose to 2.25%-2.50% by the end of 2018 but experienced a rapid decline due to concerns about economic slowdown. Notably, the ECB did not follow the Fed's rate increase, maintaining its rate at 0%, indicating a lack of strong economic recovery in Europe.


In conclusion, the question of whether we can fully understand and reason about everything remains a philosophical debate. While reason has its limitations, it is still a valuable tool for gaining understanding and knowledge. Similarly, the policies of central banks like the ECB and the Fed play a crucial role in maintaining economic stability. By considering both short-term growth and long-term inflation, central banks can make informed decisions to balance their respective objectives.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the limitations of reason: Recognize that there are aspects of life and knowledge that surpass the capabilities of reason alone. Cultivate an openness to intuition and embrace the idea that not everything can be fully understood or explained.
  • 2. Stay informed about monetary policies: Keep track of the decisions and actions taken by central banks, such as the ECB and the Fed, as they greatly influence the overall economic landscape. This knowledge can help you make informed financial decisions and understand the broader implications of monetary policy.
  • 3. Diversify your investments: Given the uncertainties and complexities of the global economy, it is essential to diversify your investment portfolio. By spreading your investments across different asset classes and regions, you can mitigate risks and optimize returns.

By acknowledging the limits of reason, staying informed about monetary policies, and diversifying your investments, you can navigate the intricacies of the world and make informed decisions for your financial well-being.


  1. "Peut-on rendre raison de tout ?", (Glasp)

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