Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
tommyedison

Rand's understanding of Kant

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

bub, this hardly matters what is a 'direct realist'? Did Rand describe herself in these terms?

She believed that reality is perceived directly, which is all she needs to to be a direct realist. There is no "official" taxonomic label to philosopher's views. Explain your view of how Kant should not be labeled an indirect realist, please don't dance around by talking about Hume or say Kant didn't call himself one.

Your "some points" in order.

1. RIGHT here you're saying how Kant thinks the mind is related to the world indirectly. Looking at Boydstun's posts, I see how we can disagree on how to label Kant in terms of how to classify his views on just how "thick" the veil is and how anything is processed. But Kant clearly doesn't think we can see reality as it is, that perception can't show reality as it is.

2. Naive realism isn't the only form of direct realism.

3. Not sure why this matters.

4. I don't think I know what you are arguing for now; you moved goalposts and changed your jersey.

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An open question to everyone:

 

Has Kant contributed ANYTHING which addresses in a consequential manner any part Man's urgent and unavoidable need of knowledge for dealing with reality for his life on Earth? 

 

Assuming a man has learned from other Philosophers, scientists, artists, engineers, economists, ethicists,  what was Kant's important/consequential contribution, such that that man should, in addition to all his other learning/readings, purposefully seek it out and add it to his body of knowledge?  Please identify this with specificity and why it is relevant to the man's dealing with reality in his life on Earth. 

 

Anyone?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Ayn Rand Letter
Vol. III, No. 8  January 14, 1974
Philosophy: Who Needs It

If you feel nothing but boredom when reading the virtually unintelligible theories of some philosophers, you have my deepest sympathy. But if you brush them aside, saying: "Why should I study that stuff when I know it's nonsense?"—you are mistaken. It is nonsense, but you don't know it—not so long as you go on accepting all their conclusions, all the vicious catch phrases generated by those philosophers. And not so long as you are unable to refute them.
 

In order for man to deal with the reality of his life on Earth, he needs to be able to distinguish when he's dealing with nonsense, and how to disregard it as such, or how to attack it head on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In an unfortunate world where there are schools of thought or ideas A, B, and C which are incorrect, and which are believed by many others with whom you must deal, then you must know A, B, C in order to deal with reality and to live.  Such is equivalent to learning enough about DISVALUES: plagues, diseases, natural flooding, landslides, in order to avoid and or combat them, in order to live.

 

 

These disvalues, which must be understood for survival, are to be distinguished from teachings/philosophies which are USEFUL to man.  Also, Kant did not offer his work as an example of what NOT to think, or as something one must not believe, and not accept.

 

My question remains open: for someone to provide an identification of something positive/useful/consequential of VALUE contributed by Kant to Man or to any individual man for that matter.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My question remains open: for someone to provide an identification of something positive/useful/consequential of VALUE contributed by Kant to Man or to any individual man for that matter.

He contributed to the perpetuation of Enlightenment ideals, or at least, that's what a Kantian would value. In a twisted sort of way, he accidentally contributed to the development of more rational viewpoints. For better or worse, Kant was wrong and disvalued enough to get vociferous disagreement, leading people to develop better philosophy. Nietzsche is one example, Rand to a lesser degree in terms of volume. Not to say some people didn't take Kant to deeper extremes, i.e. Hegel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

'Explain your view of how Kant should not be labeled an indirect realist, please don't dance around by talking about Hume or say Kant didn't call himself one.'

I'd appreciate it if you accept my efforts in good faith. If these issues had been easy to clear up, they'd have been cleared up before now and I don't mean the pitiable results of this 10+ year thread. Upon reflection, I realize that I'm testy about some other threads entirely, but nevertheless I am testy. 

 

Dan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He contributed to the perpetuation of Enlightenment ideals, or at least, that's what a Kantian would value. In a twisted sort of way, he accidentally contributed to the development of more rational viewpoints. For better or worse, Kant was wrong and disvalued enough to get vociferous disagreement, leading people to develop better philosophy. Nietzsche is one example, Rand to a lesser degree in terms of volume. Not to say some people didn't take Kant to deeper extremes, i.e. Hegel.

 

okay, what is the justification for Kant, why is he the central figure in modern philosophy. He supposedly set the terms for much of nineteenth and twentieth century philosophy, and supposedly continues to exercise a significant influence today in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, and other fields. It ought to be possible to say what is the 'fundamental idea'. Well, Kant argues that the human understanding is the source of the general laws of nature that structure all our experience. And, a related point, he also argues that human reason gives itself the moral law, so-called. Kant popularized a notion that scientific knowledge, morality, and religious belief are mutually consistent and secure because they all rest on the same foundation. This might be sounding pretty reasonable, if you aren't too exercised to distinguish Kant from Rand, here.

I'm interested in the the historical and intellectual contex in which the Critique of Pure Reason was written, but I'm also the guy who mentioned that 'life is short'. There is no cure for cancer to be found, in Kant, heh. It's true that the Enlightenment was then in a state of crisis. The 'cultural balance' shifted decisively away from the Enlightenment. What I want to particularly emphasize about what *I* mean by 'Enlightenment', is that this is a reaction to the rise and successes of modern science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

 

Kant says this:

Our age is the age of criticism, to which everything must submit. Religion through its holiness and legislation through its majesty commonly seek to exempt themselves from it. But in this way they excite a just suspicion against themselves, and cannot lay claim to that unfeigned respect that reason grants only to that which has been able to withstand its free and public examination 

 

here again, I think if you're not too impatient to distinguish Kant from Rand, you might be able to admire this quote. Kant wrote an essay, about how Enlightenment is about thinking for oneself rather than letting others think for you. A culture of enlightenment is “almost inevitable” if only there is “freedom to make public use of one's reason in all matters”. He has a touching faith in the inevitability of progress, that a few indepedendent thinkers will gradually inspire a broader cultural movement, which ultimately will lead to greater freedom of action and governmental reform. I patronizingly call this faith 'touching', but actually I *am* touched. 

The Critique of Pure Reason is Kant's response to the main intellectual crisis of the Enlightenment. Its main topic is metaphysics because, for Kant, metaphysics is the domain of reason – it is “the inventory of all we possess through pure reason, ordered systematically”. The authority of reason was in question. Kant's main goal is to show that a critique of reason by reason itself, free rational inquiry, adequately supports, -- well, supports, establishes a secure and consistent basis for, *all of these essential human interests*, shall we say. And, shows them to be mutually consistent. So reason deserves the sovereignty attributed to it by the Enlightenment. But this doesn't get me very far in describing how to see how Kant attempts to achieve this goal.

 

Rather than get into that, I'll just say that what *I* like best about Kant, is clearly evident whenever he makes comments about how philosophers should go about the process of judging the views of other philosophers. And, Kant's tendency to consider a matter from various perspectives characterizes virtually all his writing, though as a rule, the later the work, the greater and more explicit is the use he makes of this principle...

 

Dan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Somewhere in this esoteric backhanded talk about who supposedly meant what, I'm missing the actual point of this debate outside of something like "I don't like so and so because I think they missed this detail" which I hope I'm wrong. 

 

Can someone please explain what is the crux here. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Critique of Pure Reason is Kant's response to the main intellectual crisis of the Enlightenment. Its main topic is metaphysics because, for Kant, metaphysics is the domain of reason – it is “the inventory of all we possess through pure reason, ordered systematically”. The authority of reason was in question. Kant's main goal is to show that a critique of reason by reason itself, free rational inquiry, adequately supports, -- well, supports, establishes a secure and consistent basis for, *all of these essential human interests*, shall we say. And, shows them to be mutually consistent. So reason deserves the sovereignty attributed to it by the Enlightenment. But this doesn't get me very far in describing how to see how Kant attempts to achieve this goal.

You see, that's the issue, that Enlightenment ideals have a nice sounding ring to them because they talk about reason and rationality as Kant does, but when we take the content of those ideals, they consist of various ungrounded ideas and make "Man" a universal Platonic thing distinct from "man" an individual.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spiral asked:

Can someone please explain what is the crux here

Danny boy doesn't like the Randian type of egoist. Particularly the way they don't care to pretend to engage in the more multiculturalist toned "discourse" with intellectual opponents who come into their turf condescendingly calling her a dogmatist. He prefers the socially conscious foundation of Kant's approach. The one that redefined "reason" in such a way that it can be on a par with "faith" ....Then we all can respect each others faith without moral judgement because justification of the Aristotelian sort ( the certain kind) is for those who still slumber "dogmatically".

I will respond in detail to this tonight.

Edited by Plasmatic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A long time ago, I was searching through the Objectivism CD for references to Kant, and put together the following:

 

 

CUI - 22. The Cashing-In: The Student "Rebellion"  
"With rare and academically neglected exceptions, the philosophical "mainstream" that seeps into every classroom, subject, and brain in today's universities, is: epistemological agnosticism, avowed irrationalism, ethical subjectivism. Our age is witnessing the ultimate climax, the cashing-in on a long process of destruction, at the end of the road laid out by Kant.
Ever since Kant divorced reason from reality, his intellectual descendants have been diligently widening the breach. In the name of reason, Pragmatism established a range-of-the-moment view as an enlightened perspective on life, context-dropping as a rule of epistemology, expediency as a principle of morality, and collective subjectivism as a substitute for metaphysics. Logical Positivism carried it farther and, in the name of reason, elevated the immemorial psycho-epistemology of shyster-lawyers to the status of a scientific epistemological system-by proclaiming that knowledge consists of linguistic manipulations. "

 

 

 

 


The Letters of Ayn Rand - Letters To A Philosopher
"If you care to discuss it, we would have to start with a discussion of Kant—since logical positivism is his epistemological descendant. I am sure you gathered from my speech at Brooklyn College that it is Kant that I am challenging, at his very root and base. I do not believe that modern philosophy can be discussed without reaching an understanding on Kant. Modern philosophy may and does depart from him on many issues, but it is his epistemological premises that have been accepted without challenge or proof. If you want to understand my philosophical position in a historical context, this is just a brief clue."

 

 


The Letters of Ayn Rand - The Later Years (1960-1981)
No, the "Austrian approach" has not "helped to mold" my philosophy. It is one of the many approaches to capitalism which I oppose, though I do agree with many of its purely economic ideas.
Yes, I do charge that "capitalism has never had any proper philosophical defenders," and I do not mean "the field of practical politics." I mean the field of philosophy, particularly of ethics and epistemology. I mean that capitalism is incompatible with altruism and epistemological ir-rationalism. (See the title essay of my book, For the New Intellectual.) I was, therefore, shocked to see that you list Hume and Kant among the philosophical ancestors of capitalism. Capitalism cannot exist, nor survive, on a foundation of irrationality—and the two arch-destroyers of reason in modern history are Hume and Kant.

 

 

FTNI: Ch-1 FTNI
The philosophers chose to solve the problem by conceding the Witch Doctor's claim and by surrendering to him the conceptual level of man's consciousness—a victory no Witch Doctor could have hoped to achieve on his own. The form of that absurd concession was the philosophers' ultimate division into two camps: those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge of the world by deducing it exclusively from concepts, which come from inside his head and am not derived from the perception of physical facts (the Rationalists)—and those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge from experience, which was held to mean: by direct perception of immediate facts, with no recourse to concepts (the Empiricists). To put it more simply: those who joined the Witch Doctor, by abandoning reality—and those who clung to reality, by abandoning their mind.
Thus reason was pushed off the philosophical scene, by default, by implication, by evasion. What had started as a serious problem between two camps of serious thinkers soon degenerated to the level where nothing was left on the field of philosophy but a battle between Witch Doctors and Attilaists.
The man who formalized this state, and closed the door of philosophy to reason, was Immanuel Kant. 
Kant gave metaphysical expression to the psycho-epistemology of Attila and the Witch Doctor and to their primordial existential relationship, shutting out of his universe the existence and the psycho-epistemology of the Producer. He surrendered philosophy to Attila—and insured its future delivery back into the power of the Witch Doctor. He turned the world over to Attila, but reserved to the Witch Doctor the realm of morality. Kant's expressly stated purpose was to save the morality of self-abnegation and self-sacrifice. He knew that it could not survive without a mystic base—and what it had to be saved from was reason.
Attila's share of Kant's universe includes this earth, physical reality, man's senses, perceptions, reason and science, all of it labeled the "phenomenal" world. The Witch Doctor's share is another, "higher," reality, labeled the "noumenal" world, and a special manifestation, labeled the "categorical imperative," which dictates to man the rules of morality and which makes itself known by means of a feeling, as a special sense of duty.
The "phenomenal" world, said Kant, is not real: reality, as perceived by man's mind, is a distortion. The distorting mechanism is man's conceptual faculty: man's basic concepts (such as time, space, existence) are not derived from experience or reality, but come from an automatic system of filters in his consciousness (labeled "categories" and "forms of perception") which impose their own design on his perception of the external world and make him incapable of perceiving it in any manner other than the one in which he does perceive it. This proves, said Kant, that man's concepts are only a delusion, but a collective delusion which no one has the power to escape. Thus reason and science are "limited," said Kant; they are valid only so long as they deal with this world, with a permanent, pre-determined collective delusion (and thus the criterion of reason's validity was switched from the objective to the collective), but they are impotent to deal with the fundamental, metaphysical issues of existence, which belong to the "noumenal" world. The "noumenal" world is unknowable; it is the world of "real" reality, "superior'' truth and "things in themselves" or "things as they are"—which means: things as they are not perceived by man.
Even apart from the fact that Kant's theory of the "categories'' as the source of man's concepts was a preposterous invention, his argument amounted to a negation, not only of man's consciousness, but of any consciousness, of consciousness as such. His argument, in essence, ran as follows: man is limited to a consciousness of a specific nature, which perceives by specific means and no others, therefore, his consciousness is not valid; man is blind, because he has eyes—deaf, because he has ears—deluded, because he has a mind—and the things he perceives do not exist, because he perceives them.
As to Kant's version of morality, it was appropriate to the kind of zombies that would inhabit that kind of universe: it consisted of total, abject selflessness. An action is moral, said Kant, only if one has no desire to perform it, but performs it out of a sense of duty and derives no benefit from it of any sort, neither material nor spiritual; a benefit destroys the moral value of an action. (Thus, if one has no desire to be evil, one cannot be good; if one has, one can.)
Those who accept any part of Kant's philosophy—metaphysical, epistemological or moral—deserve it.
If one finds the present state of the world unintelligible and inexplicable, one can begin to understand it by realizing that the dominant intellectual influence today is still Kant's—and that nil the leading modern schools of philosophy are derived from a Kantian base.
The popular slang expression "head-shrinker," applied to psychologists, is much more literally applicable to Kant: observe the sharp drop in the intellectual stature of the post-Kantian philosophers, and the progressively thickening veil of grayness, superficiality, casuistry that descends on the history of philosophy thereafter—like a fog enveloping a sluggish river that runs thinner and thinner and finally vanishes in the swamps of the twentieth century.
The major line of philosophers rejected Kant's "noumenal" world quiet speedily, but they accepted his "phenomenal" world and carried it to its logical consequences: the view of reality as mere appearance; the view of man's conceptual faculty as a mechanism for producing arbitrary "constructs" not derived from experience or facts; the view of rational certainty as impossible, of science as unprovable, of man's mind as impotent—and, above all, the equation of morality with selflessness. They rejected the root or cause of Kant's system, but accepted all of its deadly effects. They accepted it as some monstrous spider hanging in midair, in a web of unintelligible, almost unreadable verbiage—and,  today, few people know that that spider is not supported by a single thread of proof.

 

 


IToE: Ch-6 Axiomatic Concepts
It is worth noting, at this point, that what the enemies of reason seem to know, but its alleged defenders have not discovered, is the fact that axiomatic concepts are the guardians of man's mind and the foundation of reason—the keystone, touchstone and hallmark of reason—and if reason is to be destroyed, it is axiomatic concepts that have to be destroyed.
Observe the fact that in the writings of every school of mysticism and irrationalism, amidst all the ponderously unintelligible verbiage of obfuscations, rationalizations and equivocations (which include protestations of fidelity to reason, and claims to some "higher" form of rationality), one finds, sooner or later, a clear, simple, explicit denial of the validity (of the metaphysical or ontological status) of axiomatic concepts, most frequently of "identity." (For example, see the works of Kant and Hegel.) You do not have to guess, infer or interpret: they tell you. But what you do have to know is the full meaning, implications and consequences of such denials—which, in the history of philosophy, seem to be better understood by the enemies of reason than by its defenders.
One of the consequences (a vulgar variant of concept stealing, prevalent among avowed mystics and irrationalists) is a fallacy I call the Reification of the Zero. It consists of regarding "nothing" as a thing, as a special, different kind of existent. (For example, see Existentialism.) This fallacy breeds such symptoms as the notion that presence and absence, or being and non-being, are metaphysical forces of equal power, and that being is the absence of non-being. E.g., "Nothingness is prior to being." (Sartre)—"Human finitude is the presence of the not in the being of man." (William Barrett)—"Nothing is more real than nothing." (Samuel Beckett)—"Das Nichts nichtet" or "Nothing noughts." (Heidegger). "Consciousness, then, is not a stuff, but a negation. The subject is not a thing, but a non-thing. The subject carves its own world out of Being by means of negative determinations. Sartre describes consciousness as a 'noughting nought' (néant néantisant). It is a form of being other than its own: a mode 'which has yet to be what it is, that is to say, which is what it is, that is to say, which is what it is not and which is not what it is.' "(Hector Hawton, The Feast of Unreason, London: Watts & Co., 1952, p. 162.)
(The motive? "Genuine utterances about the nothing must always remain unusual. It cannot be made common. It dissolves when it is placed in the cheap acid of mere logical acumen." Heidegger.)
A man's protestations of loyalty to reason are meaningless as such: "reason" is not an axiomatic, but a complex, derivative concept—and, particularly since Kant, the philosophical technique of concept stealing, of attempting to negate reason by means of reason, has become a general bromide, a gimmick worn transparently thin. Do you want to assess the rationality of a person, a theory or a philosophical system? Do not inquire about his or its stand on the validity of reason. Look for the stand on axiomatic concepts. It will tell the whole story.

 

 


IToE: Ch-8 Consciousness and Identity
These are the mentalities that modern philosophy now asks us to accept as the criterion of the meaning of concepts.
There is an element of grim irony in the emergence of Linguistic Analysis on the philosophical scene. The assault on man's conceptual faculty has been accelerating since Kant, widening the breach between man's mind and reality. The cognitive function of concepts was undercut by a series of grotesque devices—such, for instance, as the "analytic-synthetic" dichotomy which, by a route of tortuous circumlocutions and equivocations, leads to the dogma that a "necessarily" true proposition cannot be factual, and a factual proposition cannot be "necessarily" true. The crass skepticism and epistemological cynicism of Kant's influence have been seeping from the universities to the arts, the sciences, the industries, the legislatures, saturating our culture, decomposing language and thought. If ever there was a need for a Herculean philosophical effort to clean up the Kantian stables—particularly, to redeem language by establishing objective criteria of meaning and definition, which average men could not attempt—the time was now. As if sensing that need, Linguistic Analysis came on the scene for the avowed purpose of "clarifying" language—and proceeded to declare that the meaning of concepts is determined in the minds of average men, and that the job of philosophers consists of observing and reporting on how people use words.
The reductio ad absurdum of a long line of mini-Kantians, such as pragmatists and positivists, Linguistic Analysis holds that words are an arbitrary social product immune from any principles or standards, an irreducible primary not subject to inquiry about its origin or purpose—and that we can "dissolve" all philosophical problems by "clarifying" the use of these arbitrary, causeless, meaningless sounds which hold ultimate power over reality. (The implicit psychological confession is obvious: it is an attempt to formalize and elevate second-handedness into a philosophical vocation.)

 

 


IToE, Appendix (Abstractions from Abstractions)
Prof. C: But looking from the perspective of invalid concepts, when people claim that they see similarities, how would I dispute their claim when the issue is not perceptual?
AR: Are you looking for a formulation of what it is that one does [in grasping conceptual similarities]?
Prof. C: Yes, so that the criticism of subjectivity is not applicable.
AR: Well, what would you do on the perceptual level? You simply point. If you say that these two colors are similar, but that this color and that one are different, you simply point. Well, you do the same thing on the conceptual level by means of identifying what concepts you are dealing with.
In other words, if you claim that Descartes and Kant are similar in their metaphysics, but some Kantian tells you, "No, they are entirely different, because Kant was really an apostle of reason and Descartes was not," you would ask him to define what he means by "reason," and by "metaphysics," then you give him your definitions. Then you say, "I claim that they are similar in respects A, B, and C, which are essential to the question under discussion: the similarities or differences of their metaphysics."
And if he answers you, "Yes, but Descartes was French and Kant was German," you dismiss that as not relevant to the subject under discussion. Your definition of the concepts, your pointing out exactly what it is that you are discussing, substitutes for the perceptual evidence on the first level, where you merely point and say, "I mean this."
On the conceptual level, you define your terms, and if anyone disagrees and is subjectivist about it, you make him define his. And that may take a long time in a complex  issue. But you will be  able to prove your case, if you are taking the right position about what is similar and what is different. You will have to specify what you are discussing and by what attributes or characteristics you establish your claim that these are similar and those are different.

 

 

IToE, Appendix (Measurement, Unit and Math):
Prof. F: So the very concept of "exactness" is a contextual concept. Suppose I say to you that I will meet you in this room exactly one year from now. If when you arrive I take out a stopwatch and say you are a tenth of a second late, this is dropping the context.
AR: Exactly. Everything that we discuss, everything, is <ioe2_194> done from the human viewpoint and has to be, because there is no such thing as "reality in itself." That is one of the concepts of Kant's that we have to be very careful of. If we were omniscient like God, we would still have to perceive reality by our God-like means of perception, and we would have to speak of exactitude from that viewpoint. But "things in themselves"—as separated from consciousness and yet discussed in terms of a consciousness—is an invalid equivocation. That would be my widest metaphysical answer to any construct à la Kant and Bergson.
Prof. D: So you answer this question by saying that contextually, for our purposes, the measurement will do. In saying that the sides of this right triangle are each 1 foot long and the hypotenuse is 1.414 feet long, that will do. 
AR: What is inexact about it?
Prof. D: Well, geometrically it is inexact but it will do for building a platform.
AR: No, that is not what I am saying. I am saying that when we speak of measurement, we begin with a perceptually given unit, and that unit is absolute and exact [within the context of our means of perception]. 

 

 


IToF ,Appendix; The Role of Words
Prof. B: It is still true that every concept is prior to any proposition that contains that concept. You have to have the concept before you can use it in a proposition. You can't utter a proposition with the word "man" unless you have already formed the concept of "man." Putting it that way, doesn't it remove whatever question you had?
Prof. F: Yes.
AR: There is something I would like to add. There is a passage in the book where I said every concept stands for a number of implicit propositions. And even so, chronologically we have to acquire concepts first, and then we begin to learn propositions. Logically implicit in a concept is a proposition, only a child couldn't possibly think of it. He doesn't have the means yet to say, "By the word 'table' I mean such and such category of existents [with all their characteristics]." But that is implicit in the process. And that is important when you get to Kant—and to the whole analytic-synthetic dichotomy—that every concept represents such an implicit proposition, logically. But that doesn't mean that a child has to learn simultaneously concepts and propositions.
Take, for instance, a simple concept of the first, perceptual <ioe2_179> level, like "table." Implicit in the use of the word "table," and in the grasping or forming of that concept, is the [definitional] proposition: "By the sound 'table,' I mean objects whose distinguishing characteristic is a flat surface and supports." Now, a child doesn't have any of those concepts, but what does he do? Implicitly, he uses the word "table," once he has learned it, in that manner.

 

 


IToE: Peikoff, The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy 
The theory was originated, by implication, in the ancient world, with the views of Pythagoras and Plato, but it achieved real prominence and enduring influence only after its advocacy by such modern philosophers as Hobbes, Leibniz, Hume and Kant. (The theory was given its present name by Kant.) In its dominant contemporary form, the theory states that there is a fundamental cleavage in human knowledge, which divides propositions or truths into two mutually exclusive (and jointly exhaustive) types. These types differ, it is claimed, in their origins, their referents, their cognitive status, and the means by which they are validated. In particular, four central points of difference are alleged to distinguish the two types.

 

 

Art of Non-Fiction, Ch-8 Style
Some writers do this deliberately to conceal the fact that they have nothing to say. Nietzsche has a line [in Thus Spake Zarathustra] about poets muddying their waters to make them appear deep. Other <nonfict_122>writers do it so that people will not understand too clearly what they are saying. The archetype here is Immanuel Kant. Most of today's newspaper and magazine reporting is a combination of the "muddied waters" approach and a gutter version of Kant. Its authors write so vaguely that they hide the fact that (1) they have nothing much to say, and (2) what they have to say is so evil that no one would accept it if they said it straight. That is predominantly the way liberals write; they use every euphemism and indirection possible in order not to say that they are advocating dictatorship.

 

 

New left - Cashing in, The Studnet's Rebellion
If you observe that ever since Hume and Kant (mainly Kant, because Hume was merely the Bertrand Russell of his time) philosophy has been striving to prove that man's mind is impotent, that there's no such thing as reality and we wouldn't be able to perceive it if there were—you will realize the magnitude of the treason involved.

 

 


New Left - Comprachicos
Even though philosophy is held in a (today) well-earned contempt by the other college departments, it is philosophy that determines the nature and direction of all the other courses, because it is philosophy that formulates the principles of epistemology, i.e., the rules by which men are to acquire knowledge. The influence of the dominant philosophic theories permeates every other department, including the physical sciences—and becomes the more dangerous because accepted subconsciously. The philosophic theories of the past two hundred years, since Immanuel Kant, seem to justify the attitude of those who dismiss philosophy as empty, inconsequential verbiage. But this precisely is the danger: surrendering philosophy (i.e., the foundations of knowledge) to the purveyors of empty verbiage is far from inconsequential. It is particularly to philosophy that one must apply the advice of Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead: "Don't bother to examine a folly, ask yourself only what it accomplishes."
...
For several generations, the destruction of reason was carried on under the cover and in the name of reason, which was the Kant-Hegel-James-Dewey method. When every girder of rationality had been undercut, a new philosophy made explicit what had been implicit, and took over the job of providing a rationalization <tnl_90> of the students' psycho-epistemological state: Existentialism.

 

 

New Left - The Age of Envy
On the basis of his works, I offer Immanuel Kant in evidence, as the archetype of this species: a system as consistently evil as his cannot be constructed innocently.
If one wonders about the paradox presented by this type of intellectual—a man who seeks a shortcut to escape mental effort, then devotes his life to excruciating mental contortions—one may  observe a similar paradox on the material level of existence. It is the case of a man who believes that "only suckers work" and seeks a shortcut to wealth by becoming a bank robber, then spends his life in and out of jails, devoting his brief snatches of freedom to the excruciating work of devising ingenious schemes for his next bank robbery.
 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

okay, what is the justification for Kant, why is he the central figure in modern philosophy. He supposedly set the terms for much of nineteenth and twentieth century philosophy, and supposedly continues to exercise a significant influence today in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, and other fields. It ought to be possible to say what is the 'fundamental idea'. Well, Kant argues that the human understanding is the source of the general laws of nature that structure all our experience. And, a related point, he also argues that human reason gives itself the moral law, so-called. Kant popularized a notion that scientific knowledge, morality, and religious belief are mutually consistent and secure because they all rest on the same foundation. This might be sounding pretty reasonable, if you aren't too exercised to distinguish Kant from Rand, here.

I'm interested in the the historical and intellectual contex in which the Critique of Pure Reason was written, but I'm also the guy who mentioned that 'life is short'. There is no cure for cancer to be found, in Kant, heh. It's true that the Enlightenment was then in a state of crisis. The 'cultural balance' shifted decisively away from the Enlightenment. What I want to particularly emphasize about what *I* mean by 'Enlightenment', is that this is a reaction to the rise and successes of modern science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

 

Kant says this:

Our age is the age of criticism, to which everything must submit. Religion through its holiness and legislation through its majesty commonly seek to exempt themselves from it. But in this way they excite a just suspicion against themselves, and cannot lay claim to that unfeigned respect that reason grants only to that which has been able to withstand its free and public examination 

 

here again, I think if you're not too impatient to distinguish Kant from Rand, you might be able to admire this quote. Kant wrote an essay, about how Enlightenment is about thinking for oneself rather than letting others think for you. A culture of enlightenment is “almost inevitable” if only there is “freedom to make public use of one's reason in all matters”. He has a touching faith in the inevitability of progress, that a few indepedendent thinkers will gradually inspire a broader cultural movement, which ultimately will lead to greater freedom of action and governmental reform. I patronizingly call this faith 'touching', but actually I *am* touched. 

The Critique of Pure Reason is Kant's response to the main intellectual crisis of the Enlightenment. Its main topic is metaphysics because, for Kant, metaphysics is the domain of reason – it is “the inventory of all we possess through pure reason, ordered systematically”. The authority of reason was in question. Kant's main goal is to show that a critique of reason by reason itself, free rational inquiry, adequately supports, -- well, supports, establishes a secure and consistent basis for, *all of these essential human interests*, shall we say. And, shows them to be mutually consistent. So reason deserves the sovereignty attributed to it by the Enlightenment. But this doesn't get me very far in describing how to see how Kant attempts to achieve this goal.

 

Rather than get into that, I'll just say that what *I* like best about Kant, is clearly evident whenever he makes comments about how philosophers should go about the process of judging the views of other philosophers. And, Kant's tendency to consider a matter from various perspectives characterizes virtually all his writing, though as a rule, the later the work, the greater and more explicit is the use he makes of this principle...

 

Dan

 

Really?  Is that it? 

 

One could easily gather up comments from other scientists, philosophers, and artists from the 18th century and before that would amount to the same and possibly more than this.  

 

Therefor I submit, THIS cannot form the basis of a purported reason to specifically include Kant in the roster of originators of ideas of VALUE for Man to live his life in reality on Earth. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't want to just, at this moment, be diligent at 'marking work'. I don't want to be 'expert at my subject', at this moment. I mean, I may or may not be..but..it doesn't make me cool.

 

I look back, at my posts here, and I wonder about what is 'canny', about me attempting a 'chalk and talk'. This sort of thing can often be dull. It's relatively cheap and easy to provide. But, is there a right way, a right time? Is it 'well done'? It is easy to do badly, is what it is. Hard to do well.

 

People talk about teaching being “relevant”, as this is a good starting point. that is, motivation is a good starting point, prior to the delivery, we might say. But it is not, actually, also a good 'outcome', when the idea is to move you beyond your outlook (reveal possibilities, raise expectations..)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gather that Kant and the German idealists after him were not successful, any more than the Wolffians before them, in defending their Enlightenment in fundamental rationale against the onslaught of skepticism and enthusiasm aligned with mysticism. By success I mean here only in terms of cultural understanding and acceptance of those (or any) defenses of the Enlightenment. I think all idealism faulty, but I think it would be a little optimistic to think every philosophy that has been rejected was rejected for valid reasons by all who reject it. And we should also not suppose that Enlightenment has been an absent agenda in the culture just because its dominance with philosophers was over. Similarly, the Age of Christianity passed centuries ago, but it remains a significant cultural force.

 

Related: Frederick Beiser’s “The Enlightenment and Idealism” in The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism (2000).

 

SL,

 

I don’t recall any philosophical insights leading to specific advances in modern mathematics or science that were not philosophical insights of the mathematicians or scientists themselves (rather than insight of some philosopher who was not also a practitioner in those disciplines). By modern I mean from the time of Descartes forward. That modern philosophers have had influence on politics and on individual lives and morality beyond those philosophers’ own lives and morality we can be sure. But when it comes to having a reasonably full picture of what have been those influences specifically from Kant—that would take some digging. It would not be surprising if some adherents experienced less conflict between their religious faith and their rational, scientific life. Then too, the revival and modernization of elements of Stoicism in Kant’s ethics may have brought some people some peace. And, of course, one would expect that Kant’s social views helped the cause of liberalism in the nineteenth century. But that is speculation and imagination from logical implications, and that is not enough. Specific historical record is required.

 

Kant did have specific influence on the advancing German biology prior to Darwin’s entry. However much Kant’s name was invoked by those biologists, I think their actual practice was closer to the teleological outlook of Aristotle than to the teleological outlook of Kant. In other words, they were influenced by Kant, but were not fully faithful.

 

I am personally acquainted with persons for whom Rand’s philosophy, theoretical and practical, has had a liberating effect, and with which they have won much happiness. But in her case, we have the advantage of having lived in her time and having these handy forms of written communication and record.

Edited by Boydstun

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting.

 

My motivation here was to put any possible negative legacy/consequences of Kant to Man and his life on earth in perspective against any possible positive contribution he may have made. 

 

It still looks like a pretty bleak report card...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I do reduce this style of utterance to an intriguing form at the expense of content.

Saying "maybe I do blow hot air just to hear the sound of it" is just not cool, no matter how you twist up the sentence structure.

Someone needs to lay off the V for Vendetta.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

that is, motivation is a good starting point, prior to the delivery, we might say. But it is not, actually, also a good 'outcome', when the idea is to move you beyond your outlook (reveal possibilities, raise expectations..)

Read: "I'm only here to raise your expectations in my vocabulary".

I mean, what else can you say? I would bet money that this guy's on whatever Kantian websites right now, defending Rand just to see how much he can get away with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm right here. And I'm here, to discuss 'big ideas'. And, I'm not picky. Anytime! I didn't anticipate that anybody was likely to gather the impression that I was trying to impress them with my vocabulary..this is not, actually, technically, beyond the 12th grade reading level, is it?

 

'Saying "maybe I do blow hot air just to hear the sound of it" is just not cool, no matter how you twist up the sentence structure.'

 

Noted, though I didn't say that. I have, however, stressed that ludicrous paraphrasing is not cool, imho. 

Edited by DannyBoyPoker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Danny boy .. prefers the socially conscious foundation of Kant's approach. The one that redefined "reason" in such a way that it can be on a par with "faith" ....Then we all can respect each others faith without moral judgement because justification of the Aristotelian sort ( the certain kind) is for those who still slumber "dogmatically".

I will respond in detail to this tonight.

 

I'm not interested in what you suppose Danny boy to prefer, so much as I am in what you prefer. If Rand's approach is not socially conscious, then I wonder what is the point. You need her permission to be a jerk? I suspect that putting the question that way is unlikely to receive a direct answer, so I'll rephrase. We're committed to being rational here, aren't we? Good. Well, at least I am. This is what I prefer. Also, I haven't claimed to dislike anything of Rand's philosophy, that I can recall, though I've had the opportunity.

Edited by DannyBoyPoker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Danny:

 

Why not post something positive about your working metaphysics and/or epistemology? (by "positive" I do not mean "optimistic", instead I am hoping for something of a positive assertion regarding what you actually hold as true which is to be distinguished from a negative assertion merely for purposes of rebutting another's claim which you do not hold as true...).

 

I realize some have put you on the defensive... but perhaps new substance for discussion would be more interesting and fruitful for all who are interested in the subject.  If you feel so inclined you could weave Kant or Rand into it.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spiral said:

Just for clarification to make sure we are not under the wrong understand: Rand would not call her work Socially Conscious since that term is an anti-concept which I'm confident in saying a lot of people here would agree.

Yes, I was referring to the way collectivist use the term to promote their "social agenda" of "other" directedness. Edited by Plasmatic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Daniel said:

. We're committed to being rational here, aren't we? Good. Well, at least I am. This is what I prefer. Also, I haven't claimed to dislike anything of Rand's philosophy, that I can recall, though I've had the opportunity.

Since you think Kant "wasn't wrong", I dont think "we" have the same notion of what it means to be reasonable. You said enough about Rand and Kant to show how you view their methods of "discourse".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I'm late to this thread, and it appears to have become somewhat contentious, but I just wanted to post a resource that might be interesting for the original question.  George Walsh, a philosopher who largely agreed with Rand's theses, maintained that she had misunderstood Kant on some fundamental issues.  He puts forth his own interpretation of Kant (limited to the area of metaphysics) in contrast to hers, and catalogs the areas where he thinks they are in agreement, and where their significant differences lie.  It is available online here:

 

http://enlightenment.supersaturated.com/objectivity/walsh1/

 

The section "A Point of Misrepresentation" might be most relevant to this thread.  It begins:

 

 

We now come to a point on which I believe Rand misinterprets Kant. She attributes to him the view on which she says “[t]he entire apparatus of Kant’s system . . . [rests as] on a single point: that man’s knowledge is not valid because his consciousness possesses identity” (Rand 1990, 80). By “possesses identity” Rand means having “a specific nature.” When she attributes to Kant the view that consciousness is not valid, she means that he holds that “reality, as perceived by man’s mind, is a distortion,” “a permanent pre-determined collective delusion” (Rand 1961, 32–33).

 

Consider the form of the argument Rand is here attributing to Kant. It is the following hypothetical syllogism: If man’s consciousness has a specific nature, it cannot have true knowledge. Now Kant never said this, and, in fact, no evidence has ever been presented that he did. First, he never asserted the major premise: “If man’s consciousness has a specific nature, it cannot have true knowledge.” As a matter of fact, if this view was ever held by a great philosopher, that philosopher was Aristotle. He said that the intellect “must, then, since it thinks all things, be unmixed . . . in order that it may know . . . hence too it must have no other nature than this, that it is potential” (Aristotle 1968, De Anima 3.4.429a18–23). The exact meaning of this is disputed by scholars, but here is at least some evidence that Aristotle held the view in question, whereas there is no evidence whatever that Kant ever did or that he ever argued from it to the impossibility of our having knowledge of reality by means of adding a minor premise that man’s consciousness indeed has identity.

 

Of course, Kant did hold that the specific characteristics of consciousness determine in part the way objects appear to us. These characteristics are the pure intuitions of space and time. But Kant presented these characteristics of sensibility as conclusions to his argument, not as premises. His argument ran like this: We have synthetic a priori knowledge. This cannot come from things in themselves. Therefore, it must come from the nature of sensibility, i.e., from the specific nature of sensible consciousness, which must be capable of generating pure intuitions. Kant arrives at this conclusion by eliminating the only other possible source of such knowledge, things in themselves.

 

It concludes with a summary of Rand and Kant's areas of agreement and disagreement.  Overall, a very illuminating and interesting read, one that (I think) does a good job at contextualizing what Kant's goals were and why he took the path that he did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If one were to identify the magnitude of the evil done by Kant, i.e. the consequences of the man's influence on other thinkers, cultures, societies, whole schools of thought... one really has to accept on that identification either:

 

1. Rand was correct BECAUSE Kant was such an influential thinker, and caused or encouraged much of the mysticism, rationalism, skepticism and irrationalism of today, or

2. Rand is incorrect because (and to the extent) Kant was not influential (not causally), as those who came before him had already set the damage others after him would be inspired to magnify. (Kant was merely a bystander in an unfortunate stampede of false dichotomies mysticism, rationalism, and skepticism (not to mention the ensuing overt irrationalism))

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...