This is the version of the essay we will use on Saturday, May 18.
Rational thought is carried out with concepts. When we describe a book, a stone or a fictional character, we use concepts to do it. For example, we have a concept of stars as nuclear furnaces, but also as distant points of light. Books, stones, Batman and stars are all objects. An account of what rationality is requires an account of the relation between concepts and objects; what relation does the thinking in our heads (our concepts) have with the external world (objects)? That relation is how the world makes sense to us; it is how meaning is generated. Ray Brassier, against much of contemporary philosophy, insists on a rigidly realist position: our concepts do give us access to the real world, based on the identity of the object.