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Rand's understanding of Kant

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Well I fully agree with this but its not really an argument against Kant, since he didnt deny the possibility of a moral system like Rand's which consisted entirely of hypothetical imperatives, he just thought that moral philosophy should look for something higher than this. Rand was quite happy with a moral system containing only if/then statements ('IF you want to live and be happy THEN...') but Kant had totally different goals.

Kant's first critique is basically a long-winded argument for the claim that concepts/thoughts need to refer to empirical reality in order to be valid ("Concepts without intuitions are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind" / "All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason" / "All thought must, directly or indirectly, by way of certain characters, relate ultimately to intuitions, and therefore, with us, to sensibility, because in no other way can an object be given to us.") so he was perfectly aware of the fact that you couldnt just pull concepts out of thin air and start using them - literally his entire philosophy was based around that principle. However he had specific reasons for thinking that transcendental logic could provide conclusions about the formal conditions moral statements had to meet in order to be valid. Its crucially different from 'pulling concepts out of thin air' because he didnt believe that you could have a priori knowledge about the content of true moral judgements, only about the form which they had to take (ie that they had to be universalizable). All of Kant's transcendental arguments are about deriving formal conditions rather than about deriving content, since that would have violated his first critique.

Kant thought the 'phenomenal world' was real reality, and perfectly sufficient for both gaining objective knowledge about the world and obtaining valid scientific theories. The noumena isnt meant to be some kind of device used to discredit science or empirical knowledge. Kants position is quite similar to Rand's in ITOE (consciousness has identity which determines how the world appears to it, but this doesnt mean that knowledge is subjective or invalid). The only meaningful difference is that Kant didnt rule out the possibility of a hypothetical entity which had a non-conceptual knowledge, but this has no real impact on human epistemology.

Epistemologically, Rand and Kant dont really differ that much in their conclusions (Rand misinterpreted Kant as being a skeptic, which he wasnt), they mainly differ in the arguments used to justify them, since Kant's epistemology is based on his highly dubious views about the nature of space and time. When it came to ethics they were light-years apart though yeah. Kant's ethical system is a disaster.

Kant's formal conditions of ethics, e.g., his universalization formula, albeit true are never justified by him. He just expects us to believe those conditions are valid. Rand's position is correct, moral values are those concepts required by man's nature. But even here, to show how clever he was, Kant speaks of morality being required by rational minds. But I don't see an argument demonstrating that which, apparently, Kant thought self-evident.

Besides, the metaethical and normative aspects of ethics are not to be separated. Thus a demonstration of a norm as correct is inclusive of all metaethical considerations. Kant's failure, i.e., emphasizing the formal side of ethics, results in the weird emptiness of the normative side. Still I would rather be a Kantian than a silly Utilitarian, at least in spirit a Kantian.

Concerning Kant's skepticism, his assertion of the mind a priori spitting out regulative concepts such as time, space, etc., leads to skepticism, as does any a priori form of knowledge. Again, the a priorist, i.e., Kantian, has no answer to my critique that the a priori proposition collapses into the reductio of it having to be explained how the proposition itself is not a priori, i.e., how it is validatable.

Kant's synthetic-a priori category of knowledge, the core of his epistemology, is diametrically opposed to Rand's epistemology. Rand's theory of knowledge asserts that the only valid category of truth, if you want to use Kant's terminology, is analytic-a posteriori, again, the very category which Kant disqualifies as a conveyor of knowledge. Copyright June 2008/[email protected]

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Kant's entire "philosophy" is just one really big floating abstraction and grand larceny when it comes to dealing with concepts. To have a proper epistemology, one needs to base one's conclusions logically on the facts of reality and then integrate those together into concepts. But Kant claimed that we do not observe real reality, to him we only observe the phenomenal world not the real reality, so he basically just pulled things out of thin air with no observable basis and claimed they were the real truth, and it is all bunk.

Moral precepts are proven in the same way mathematical truths are proved -- by observation. 2+2=4 is true because one can observe that if one has this ## and one adds this ## then one has this ####. Likewise with the derivation of ought from is, which has already been solved by Ayn Rand, what something is determines what it ought to do in order to sustain it's life.

Kant's Categorical Imperative is not based on any observations and is therefore invalid. It would be like saying that all zigords ought to ricolard; without a reference to observable reality it is entirely meaningless. And the biggest danger from that type of "philosophy" is that some people try to figure out what a zigord is and what to ricolard is, when it doesn't mean a damned thing! So, people try to figure out what Categorical Imperative they ought to be following and mess up their lives because the Categorical Imperative has no reference in reality.

And if you don't understand that then you ought to follow the code of the yerdicotes.

Rand's assertion that she solved the is-ought problem doesn't mean that she actually did solve it. Rand assumes, as do the devotees of Rand, that an ought can be derived from an is. Unfortunately for Rand, Hume's criticism of that approach, the derivation approach, still stands as valid as ever. The problem with Rand's argument, which I am surprised none of her followers has detected, is that she is unaware of an equivocation on the word "ought." There are two meanings thereof, one being the alternative an agent faces to obey a princile of action or not, the other being the principle of action itself as an ought principle. What a living entity "ought" to do in order to sustain its life, as a principle of action, is not an alternative, but a fact. That is to say, there is no alternative to the principle of action itself. For instance, a man cannot sustain his life by performing the life-sustaining activity of a wombat, which cannot sutain its life by acting like a fish, and so on. And ethics is about the principle of action itself, not whether an agent obeys it or not.

Again, the only ought here is whether a living entity will choose to engage in the principle of action required to sustain its life. And that is not relevant to philosophy, but rather to psychology. Rand is confused. I, on the other hand, never wasted any time barking up the wrong tree of trying to prove how to derive an ought from an is. I knew instinctively that Hume, and Aristotle before him, are right on the impossibility of doing so. My solution to the is-ought problem is a different tack, not to derive either from the other, but to demonstrate how the nature of the ultimate imperative is a duality, both an is and an ought, both a fact and a value. And that's that.

Moral precepts are "proven" because the ultimate moral precept is a logical connection based on a factual observation by which precept all other precepts are inferred. Only I have in hand that connection. My reputation as a philosopher will be based on my having finally solved the is-ought problem correctly, the last great unsolved problem of philosophy before I solved it, which will impel future generations to place me at the right-hand of Aristotle in the pantheon of philosophers, inasmuch as it is his norm which I have rationally justified, determining the course of mankind for the next thousand years.

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Again, the only ought here is whether a living entity will choose to engage in the principle of action required to sustain its life. And that is not relevant to philosophy, but rather to psychology. Rand is confused. I, on the other hand, never wasted any time barking up the wrong tree of trying to prove how to derive an ought from an is. I knew instinctively that Hume, and Aristotle before him, are right on the impossibility of doing so. My solution to the is-ought problem is a different tack, not to derive either from the other, but to demonstrate how the nature of the ultimate imperative is a duality, both an is and an ought, both a fact and a value. And that's that.

I think you are the one who are confused. There is no impossibility of deciding an ought from an is. One has the facts at hand and then decides what to do about them within the principle of man's life as the standard. Facts are only values within the range of a value to whom and for what. As for other connections, I refer you to Dr. Peikoff's essays Fact and Value. You seem to be wanting to accomplish something that has already been accomplished. And since Miss Rand already accomplished it, then she will be the one to propel mankind for the next thousand years.

Regarding your proposal that acting on an ought is psychological and not philosophical, I remind you that psychology deals with the subconscious, whereas philosophy deals with the conscious. An ought from an is done philosophically means that one makes a fully conscious choice to follow the logical conclusions of one's conscious mind. In other words, integrity is a province of philosophy and is a virtue. If one comes to the conclusion that one ought to do X, but one doesn't consciously follow that principle of action,then one has breached one's integrity and is no longer moral. None of this has to do with psychology, except insofar as one might have a psychological problem that prevents one from following the conclusions of one's conscious mind, but then one ought to overcome that psychological problem and follow reason fully. In other words, for man, who is a rational being, philosophy is much more important than psychology, and a man ought to follow his conclusions based on reason and not some subconscious urge or blockage -- in the long run. A rational man is not ruled by his subconscious. He may well have a psychological problem for a while that prevents him from following the conscious ought that would lead to the pursuit of a value; but philosophically the principle of integrity means that he will follow through with the consciously derived ought from is, again, in the long-run.

In conclusion, it is you who are barking up the wrong tree. The is / ought problem has been fully resolved by Miss Rand's philosophy and her ethics.

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Kant's first critique is basically a long-winded argument for the claim that concepts/thoughts need to refer to empirical reality in order to be valid ("Concepts without intuitions are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind" / "All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason" / "All thought must, directly or indirectly, by way of certain characters, relate ultimately to intuitions, and therefore, with us, to sensibility, because in no other way can an object be given to us.") so he was perfectly aware of the fact that you couldn't just pull concepts out of thin air and start using them - literally his entire philosophy was based around that principle. However he had specific reasons for thinking that transcendental logic could provide conclusions about the formal conditions moral statements had to meet in order to be valid.

Kant's "philosophy" basically is an all out attack on reason. For one thing, as you quoted from him, our perceptual awareness of reality is not an intuition, but rather a direct grasp of reality as it really is. When you perceive this --> A <-- it is not an intuition you have that it might be an "A" but rather a direct perception of what it actually is. Perception is not done by the conscious mind, that is a perception of reality is not brought about by a conscious act in the sense that thinking about what I am writing is done. It is fully physiological rather than consciously derived. In other words, there is no guessing that it is really there and is an "A." It is not an intuition. Likewise with logical conclusions based on what is perceived, which is real reality. A logical conclusion is not an intuition.

As to forms without content, yes, that is one of the main issues that Objectivism has with Kant. This is why I wrote what I wrote before, as a form without content. If I tell you when you come across a xorbidal you ought to rezibofy...well, this has the form of some sort of moral imperative, but it is utterly meaningless, because it has no content. All of Kant's "philosophy" is like that -- form without content.

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None of this has ANYTHING to do with my original post.

Actually, it does.

If you want to understand what is wrong with the Categorical Imperative, then you have to understand how Miss Rand solved the is / ought problem and how Kant's "philosophy" is really just empty verbiage.

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Kant's "philosophy" basically is an all out attack on reason. For one thing, as you quoted from him, our perceptual awareness of reality is not an intuition, but rather a direct grasp of reality as it really is. When you perceive this --> A <-- it is not an intuition you have that it might be an "A" but rather a direct perception of what it actually is.
'Intuition' is just a term for sensory data ('immediate representations') in Kant. It doesnt have the same meaning as the word 'intution' today.

Perception is not done by the conscious mind, that is a perception of reality is not brought about by a conscious act in the sense that thinking about what I am writing is done.
Kant agrees with you. The synthesis of the 'manifold-of-intuitions' (raw sensory data) is carried out prior to us becoming aware of it, thats his whole point.

As to forms without content, yes, that is one of the main issues that Objectivism has with Kant. This is why I wrote what I wrote before, as a form without content. If I tell you when you come across a xorbidal you ought to rezibofy...well, this has the form of some sort of moral imperative, but it is utterly meaningless, because it has no content. All of Kant's "philosophy" is like that -- form without content.

The reason why Kant is concerned with forms is because he views a prior 'concepts' as being rules which determine the synthesising of intuitions, rather than being 'concepts' in the Objectivist sense (this is just a difference of terminology). Kant is essentially giving an abstract functional description of what our brains do when integrating sensory input into the world we perceive, before we become aware of it. Its not in conflict with the physicalist belief that this pre-processing is carried out by the brain - this is just a particular instantiation of the abstract Kantian scheme.

Kant isnt denying that its our brains which do this processing, what hes saying is that any entity, anywhere in the universe, which has similar experiences to us (in the sense of viiewing a 3d world full of objects) must necessarily have something carrying out this synthesis. In the case of humans its our brain, in the case of aliens on the planet Krypton is might be something else entirely. Hes only stating what 'has' to happen, but the particuars of how it happens depends on the nature of the entity in question. That's why its a formal argument.

Edited by eriatarka

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Rand assumes, as do the devotees of Rand, that an ought can be derived from an is. Unfortunately for Rand, Hume's criticism of that approach, the derivation approach, still stands as valid as ever. The problem with Rand's argument, which I am surprised none of her followers has detected, is that she is unaware of an equivocation on the word "ought." There are two meanings thereof, one being the alternative an agent faces to obey a princile of action or not, the other being the principle of action itself as an ought principle.

I know this isn't related to the topic at all, but I'd like to briefly comment.

First, that's quite a statement you've made, about a certain assumption Objectivists apparently make. I certainly don't *assume* an "ought" can be derived from an "is," I'm well aware of the fact that induction can make that kind of connection, thanks specifically to the philosophy of Objectivism.

I don't think in this context there are "two meanings" of "ought"; the second kind you gave merely reduces to the first, i.e., the principle of action which is itself an ought principle is such because of the alternatives a moral agent faces when choosing between following a principle of action or not. Besides, what you gave is only a Consequentialist's conception of "ought" (the "ought" is mandated by the consequences of following certain moral principles), too narrow to be a complete concept of the philosophical term "ought," which would encompass many different forms of philosophy.

My solution to the is-ought problem is a different tack, not to derive either from the other, but to demonstrate how the nature of the ultimate imperative is a duality, both an is and an ought, both a fact and a value. And that's that.

And what about nihilists? They may grant that a certain thing, the "ultimate imperative" as you call it, is a fact, but how could it be a value to them? How can something be a moral value if it isn't chosen by the moral agent, which is what you're implying by showing that something is both a fact and a value? My contention, and Objectivism's, is that facts are only moral values under certain conditions and in the lives of certain moral agents, not some intrinsic property of some "ultimate" fact.

Moral precepts are "proven" because the ultimate moral precept is a logical connection based on a factual observation by which precept all other precepts are inferred. Only I have in hand that connection.

Besides the fact that you're basically saying that you'll "solve" the is-ought problem by completely avoiding it, you're still running into Hume's problem. Even if we grant (a big "if") that values are intrinsic properties of facts, what makes the moral inferences drawn, or derived, valid? Though I think Hume was originally talking about deductions from "is" to "ought," his problem could generally include inductions as well.

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'Intuition' is just a term for sensory data ('immediate representations') in Kant. It doesn't have the same meaning as the word 'intuition' today.

But it is not an immediate representation. We observe reality, we don't observe a representation of reality. Kant is attempting to say that our grasp of reality has some intermediary that gives us a representation of what is there present to our minds, and he is wrong. When I see a Coke can in front of me, it is not a representation of what is really there, because what is really there is a Coke can.

The reason why Kant is concerned with forms is because he views a prior 'concepts' as being rules which determine the synthesizing of intuitions, rather than being 'concepts' in the Objectivist sense (this is just a difference of terminology).

But, sensory data -- in man, the awareness of objects -- is neither an intuition nor a synthesis of intuitions, and it is not a conceptualization. It does not require any conceptualization in order to perceive the Coke can in front of me. One does not have to do any conceptualization in order to perceive objects available to the senses. The integration of raw data is automatic, and does not require any conscious intent on the part of the observer. Kant is confusing conscious functionality -- i.e. thinking -- with perception which is automatic, and I think he does this with clear intent. And the clear intent is to confuse his reader such that he no longer knows what is real before him and what is going on in his mind. We have no volitional control over what we perceive, the perceptual is the given. But we do have volitional control over what we think about it.

Now, it is true that we perceive the Coke can as round, red, silvery, heavy, etc. because we have the perceptual apparatus that we have, but Objectivism refers to this as the perceptual form. In other words, we are not aware of the weight as a type of color, and when I ping the Coke can with my finger, I do not hear the sound as a weight.

The big difference between Objectivism and arguments stemming from Kant, is that the Coke can is really there and is the real thing before us. The Coke can before me that I perceive is not a representation of what is really there, the Coke can is really there. A blind man does not see the red with his eyes, but that doesn't mean that the sighted person is seeing a representation of what is there in the form of red. The Coke can is red, but only the sighted man can see that directly with his senses, with his power of vision.

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However [Kant] had specific reasons for thinking that transcendental logic could provide conclusions about the formal conditions moral statements had to meet in order to be valid.

But there is no "transcendental logic," no logic that transcends the evidence of the senses and the facts. In Objectivism, logic is the non-contradictory identification of the facts of reality, and the primary facts are given in perception. If you make an argument not based on the facts of reality, then you really haven't said anything. And if you noticed, in all of Kant's "philosophy" he never gives any examples of what he is talking about; that is, he never reduces his arguments to the perceptually self-evident, which basically means that he isn't talking about anything. The whole thing comes down to form without content -- i.e. it is vacuous.

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[Mod's note: merged with a previous thread. -sN]

 

I've seen this stated repeatedly n reference to Rand - that she is misunderstanding Kant's positions. This post summarizes some of these assertions, and I would like to know how Objectivists would respond to these claims.

In particular I am referring to the three stated "central Kantian claims" (K1-K3 on that page). The post states that, for example, "particularly outrageous is Rand’s claim that for Kant, objects of perception are illusory, given Kant’s quite explicit explanations (in several places) of the distinction between appearance and illusion."

The post also goes into detail about duty and moral worth:

Kant held that an act has moral worth only if it is done from duty. Contra Rand, however, this is obviously consistent with deriving benefit from the act. Suppose -- to adapt one of Kant’s examples -- I am a merchant who is in a position to cheat a customer (a child, say). Acting from duty, I treat the customer fairly. My act has moral worth even though I derive benefits from acting fairly and being perceived as acting fairly: cheating customers is not good for business in the long run.

One can see from this how confused Rand is. She thinks that an act performed from duty is equivalent to one that runs counter to inclination, or counter to one’s own benefit. But nowhere does Kant say this, and nothing he does say implies it. An act done from duty may or may not run counter to inclination. Either way, the act has moral worth. If Jack and Jill are married (to each other!) and Jill asks Jack for sex, then Jack has a duty to engage in the act with Jill. Presumably, Jack will be strongly inclined by his animal nature to engage in the act. But if he acts from duty, then the act has moral worth despite the natural inclination. The difficulty of determining whether or not Jack acts from duty or from inclination is not to the point.


I understand that I cannot have a full understanding of either philosophy (Kant or Rand) without reading through their work, but I would still appreciate any comments. Edited by softwareNerd
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Here's a clue, about guys who claim Rand "misunderstood" Kant. Look for their actual quotations of Kant's words. In this case, none whatsoever. His justificiation"? "Trust me, I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Kant". That and $2.00 will get you a cup of coffee.

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In this example, it is critical to distinguish between two aspects: first, how does one decide on the morality of one's action; secondly, what is the actual, objective result (let's say as observed by third-party who knows the truth about what is good for you).

Let's say a shop-keeper cheats a child. He tells him that his only buys a tiny candy bar. The child eats the tiny bar. Fifteen minutes later, he starts to turn red and go faint. He is rushed to hospital. The doctors conclude he is allergic to the macadamia nuts in the bar, saying "it's fortunate he only ate a small bar; a larger one could have killed him". Did the cheating shop-keeper do something moral? No, he did not. While Rand and Kant would give different evaluations of the shop-keepers immorality, they would both call his act immoral, and they would both say the inadvertent result does not have a bearing.

Since the person acting immorally, ends up doing the "right" thing inadvertently rather than knowingly, this example is not the same as a "fair" trader. However, what this example illustrates is that morality is about the principles and process by which one decides about the action. Now, shift to the "fair trader". Let's say his duty tells him treat his customer well. This results in more business, so it is good for him. Is that "more business" the focus of his moral thinking, or is it an inadvertent, incidental or ammoral result?

Consider a rational shop-keeper, using business-growth as his (derived) moral focus. He thinks: "I want to increase my business; so, I should treat my customer's in a way that makes them want to return and to tell their friends to shop here too". There is no duty in this thinking. If you go back to the linked article, you'll see that this type of action is "in accordance with duty" but not "from duty". In other words, this type of shop-keeper is not really acting morally, even though the end result is the same (we'll fool ourselves a bit here) as that which would come from the truly "from duty" thinking. To the extent that the shop-keeper's action is motivated by this quest for more business, his action is not "from duty".

Now, let's look at the Kantian shop-keeper. He thinks it is his duty to treat his customer "fairly". This is good for business. Great! he might see that doing his duty is good for profits. So, this is not an inadvertent or unexpected result. Nor is it even an incidental result, if we assume that the two things ("fair treatment" and profits) are intertwined in reality. Nevertheless, the profits just come along for free. There is no push of duty driving him to act toward them. At best, they are amoral. They play no role in his moral decision-making. If they did, he is not acting from duty. If at any point they played a role where he gave those profits some weight in his decision, then he could not have done so from duty.

Now let's go back to a key passage in that article:

Kant held that an act has moral worth only if it is done from duty. Contra Rand, however, this is obviously consistent with deriving benefit from the act. Suppose -- to adapt one of Kant’s examples -- I am a merchant who is in a position to cheat a customer (a child, say). Acting from duty, I treat the customer fairly. My act has moral worth even though I derive benefits from acting fairly and being perceived as acting fairly: cheating customers is not good for business in the long run.
It is amazing that he has his entire answer in that one paragraph that he has authored, and yet he is confused. He does not realize that the deriving benefits aspect is amoral. If it had been used at any point in the decision-making, it would not be "from duty". In its essence, he is looking at a stopped clock and saying "you say it doesn't tell the time; but it does so accurately twice every day".

Aside: T.S. Eliot wrote a play, "Murder in the Cathedral" about the assassination of Beckett, who is visited by various "tempters". In his final temptation he concretizes the "from duty" theme, by showing that the saint who acts in perfectly good ways, but motivated by the desire to be saintly (as opposed to simply "from duty") is not acting morally. "The last temptation", Beckett concludes, "is the greatest treason. To do the right deed for the wrong reason." I recommend getting the play from the library and reading it.

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Here's a clue, about guys who claim Rand "misunderstood" Kant. Look for their actual quotations of Kant's words. In this case, none whatsoever. His justificiation"? "Trust me, I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Kant". That and $2.00 will get you a cup of coffee.
Rand very rarely directly quoted Kant directly during any of her attacks on him either, to be fair. Edited by eriatarka

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I've seen this stated repeatedly n reference to Rand - that she is misunderstanding Kant's positions.

You cannot misunderstand Kant's positions, because the term "understand" and its contrary "misunderstand" only apply to things that makes sense. After you have read the Critique of Pure Reason, the Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, and the Critique of Practical Reason, I'm sure you'll agree with me that they are not coherent, let alone scientifically precise philosophical works.

What people can do instead is interpret Kant's ideas--much like the various denominations and sects of Christianity interpret the Bible. Our "maverick" interprets Kant one way, and is angry with Miss Rand for interpreting him differently. In the CPR, there are some sentences where Kant uses the word "Schein" (which means things like "shine" and "appearance" in German) to refer to definitely false illusions, while in other places he says that certain "Erscheinungen" (a related word, still pretty much meaning "appearances") have "objective validity." Whatever this "objective validity" is supposed to mean, he also makes it very clear that he does not think we can ever know anything about "things in themselves." So Maverick Guy notices that he makes a distinction between "Schein" and the near-synonymous "Erscheinung" and focuses on that, while Ayn Rand cuts to the chase and focuses on his denial of man's perceptual faculty. It's similar to how some Christians point to Jesus's attack on the merchants in the church and declare that Christianity is not at all pacifistic, while other interpreters of the Bible notice the passages in the Sermon on the Mount about "turning the other cheek" and "going another mile" and identify Jesus as a precursor of today's peaceniks.

When you express yourself in unclear and contradictory language, you have to expect that different people will construe what you say in different ways. Dishonest people will try to mold your statements to fit their own views and purposes, picking out what they need and ignoring what does not suit them--while Objectivists, who understand that only evil ideas need to be hidden in murky verbiage, will bring out those evil ideas to the clear and denounce them.

Edited by Capitalism Forever

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This is a recurring thread topic. I think poster "GCS" answered the question best in this thread from 2004.

From that post by GCS:

There is no Objectivist interpretation of Kant. There is nothing at all *distinctive* about Ayn Rand's or Leonard Peikoff's description of Kant's views except for their classification and assessment of these views. They both interpret Kant in the manner that it has been traditional to interpret him since at least the time of Hegel, ...
Indeed. Funnily enough, even the author of the critique linked in the first post here shows agreement with Rand's view, when he is describing Kant's philosophy. One can reject that article on its own terms, even without going to either source: Kant or Rand. The author summarizes Kant's notion of morality fairly well. Then, the writer presents a couple of concrete examples and explains what Kant would think about them. However, given his own previous description of Kant, he is missing the crucial aspect in his examples. The author clearly understands Kant's ideas at some level (since he described them in opening), but he has not really "chewed" those ideas (since he misses the fundamentals when he gets to an example).

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Thanks for the great replies everyone. I'll definitely read through those other threads.

From that post by GCS: Indeed. Funnily enough, even the author of the critique linked in the first post here shows agreement with Rand's view, when he is describing Kant's philosophy. One can reject that article on its own terms, even without going to either source: Kant or Rand. The author summarizes Kant's notion of morality fairly well. Then, the writer presents a couple of concrete examples and explains what Kant would think about them. However, given his own previous description of Kant, he is missing the crucial aspect in his examples. The author clearly understands Kant's ideas at some level (since he described them in opening), but he has not really "chewed" those ideas (since he misses the fundamentals when he gets to an example).

I wonder how it's possible that a layperson like myself can see the obvious problem with his argument, but as someone who "wrote his doctoral dissertation on Kant", he couldn't see it himself. What he really needs to do is address why duty is preferable without referencing self-interest or personal benefit.

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The generous explanation is that he misinterprets Rand, thinking that when she says something is immoral, she means it is neither "from morality" nor "in accordance with morality". Actually, if he understood what she's saying, she's not talking about "in accordance with" at all. She would dismiss that as being irrelevant, in the sense of being outside the province of morality. So, he is criticizing Rand for saying that "from morality" actions can never be "in accordance with morality". She would not use those terms, but if she did, that was not what she was saying. So, the most generous explanation is that he understands Kant, misunderstands Rand, and argues against a straw-man argument that he thinks she has made.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Dr. Peikoff's book The Ominous Parallels provides a good overview of Kant's epistemology and ethics. Essentially, Kant said that reason is useless because the "real" reality is beyond our perception.

As to which of the two to follow, Kant's basic guideline on human behavior is that man should do whatever makes him suffer. Even the act of self-sacrifice is rendered amoral if it is done with any personal motivation whatsoever, even if that motivation is the desire to be moral.

Duty, according to Kant, is the only proper motivation, and duty inherently means doing that which you strongly desire not to do. The stronger your desire not to do something, the more moral you are for doing it. Morality = Frustration.

You are on the right track but it is not entirely true. Kant's Duty has nothing to do with " that which you strongly desire not to do". If your action is motivated by duty, a categorical imperative, then it is moral regardless if it benefits you, someone else or noone. If you perform that action and your motivation is anything BUT duty it is either amoral or immoral.

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Kant basically argued that there is a reality in itself which is unknowable. This is called indriect realism. The idea that there is the percieved world to which we are bound and the real world which is interpereted for us by forces unkown. We can never know reality for what it actually is because we can only percieve it and think about it as humans, limited humans.

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The manifold distinction between Kant and Rand is that Kant, as a (rather famous!) scientist, came to the sad conclusion that Hume's critique of Bacon was more or less correct; "LI have been shaken out of my dogmatic slumber!" What we sense as 'A' is not necessarily 'A',--to make a long story short.

 

Rand hates Kant to the extent that she issists.otherwise.

 

The analytic/synthetic distinction, or lack thereof was, btw, somewhat of a canard. Kant used analytics as a heuristic only to show that statements such as 'god is omnipotent' are not fit for metaphysics.

 

Rather, his quest was to find the possibility of metaphysics in the 'synthetic a priori'. What can be said of human knowledge beyond the sensible... or is it even possible?

 

The neumenal/phenominal distinction religates the former to 'thought without an object,' such as, perhaps, math. All else is 'phenomenal'. To this extent, rand's over-reaction might have been of linguistic origin: English contains  no concise word for 'object of thought', such as the Greek 'noite', French 'savoir' vs connaisance', etc.

 

In the third critique, Kant loops back to Hume to place freedom, god, free will, the sublime, and parts of judgment judgmentinto the faculty of the immagination.  

 

This being said, i find the notion of hating Kant to be rather silly.

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