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Mysticism – Kant and Rand

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Mysticism – Kant and Rand

Reason

Rand gives to Ellsworth Toohey the voice for some of her thinking on how certain false ideas compromise independent rational judgment, thereby making an individual ready for rule by the authority of others. Toohey speaks to Keating:

Men have a weapon against you. Reason. So you must be very sure to take it away from them. Cut the props from under it. But be careful. Don’t deny reason outright. . . . Don’t say reason is evil—though some have gone that far and with astonishing success. Just say that reason is limited. That there’s something above it. What? You don’t have to be too clear about it. . . . If you get caught at some crucial point and somebody tells you that your doctrine doesn’t make sense—you’re ready for him. You tell him that there’s something above sense. That he must not try to think, he must feel. He must believe. (1943, HR XIV 692)

When I was a youth, in high school, I was still religious. I had originated a saying: Logic in life is faith. I had not yet studied any logic, but of course one knows something about it before entering one’s first class or opening one’s first textbook on it. (I became an atheist at eighteen, shortly before reading Rand.) When Rand wrote The Fountainhead, published when she was thirty-eight, she knew quite a bit about logic and quite a bit about reason.

Rand had some exposure to Kant by the time she wrote We the Living, for she refers to him in that work (1936). She uses the word transcendental in both Living and Fountainhead, although in these usages, the sense is as contrast with square perception and with immanent practicality. One definition of transcendental in American Heritage is “rising above common thought or ideas; exalted; mystical.”

Rand joins the notions of saintliness and nobility more than once in Fountainhead. She expresses the radiant aspect of religion in what Toohey tells Stoddard to tell Roark in order to persuade Roark to build the Temple of the Human Spirit. She again expresses that radiant aspect in Dominique’s testimony at the court case over the temple. Dark aspects of religion are also not neglected in Fountainhead. The testimonies of Toohey and Keating at the trial express them, and the link between religion and socialism is remarked in several places in the novel.

It is tempting to read Rand’s “just say that reason is limited” in Toohey’s technique as an allusion to Kant (see also 1961a, 18). Whether the statement is such an allusion or not, Rand certainly was speaking in the passage I quoted to anyone who was caught in the tension between reason and faith.

In Atlas Shrugged the following is likely an allusion to Kant’s bifurcation of things as they are in themselves and things as they are in our sensory and rational cognition of them: “‘Things as they are’ are things as perceived by your mind; divorce them from reason and they become ‘things as perceived by your wishes’” (1957, 1036).

A few paragraphs later, Rand tells the religionist: “Whenever you committed the evil of refusing to think and to see, of exempting from the absolute of reality some one small wish of yours, whenever you chose to say: Let me withdraw from the judgment of reason . . . the existence of God, let me have my one irrational whim and I will be a man of reason about all else—that was the act of subverting your consciousness, the act of corrupting your mind” (1037).

Rand was not opposed to feelings. She was not against the idea of the human soul, provided it is thought of as naturally part of one’s living body and mortal as one’s body. In Fountainhead she has dialogue between Keating and his wife Dominique in which soul is given the expressly nonreligious meaning: that in one that is one’s genuine person—not only one’s body—one’s will and meaning, that in one which independently thinks, values, decides, and feels (GW II 454–55; cf. 1957, 1057).

In Fountainhead religion that entails belief in the supernatural is taken to be false. It is not presented, however, as something needing to be abandoned for the sake of human independence and freedom. It is not expressly taken as subversive of those good things. That changes in Atlas, wherein all religion holding forth the supernatural is openly opposed as inimical to human life and freedom. There religion is proclaimed to be mysticism. I agree. (See also Peikoff 1991, 183–84; Underhill 1925.)

In Fountainhead the classification mysticism had not been given directly to the Judeo-Christian belief in God. It was given to religion of the ancient Egyptians. It was maintained that such mysticism and atheistic dialectical materialism were only “‘superficially varied manifestations of the same thing’” (HR VI 600). Earlier in the novel, Rand had Toohey iterate and reiterate that the central moral teachings of Jesus and socialism were like peas in a pod. Rand had made clear that belief in God was mistaken and partly at odds with human life and achievement on earth (PK III 45). She had stopped short of pronouncing belief in God mystical.

Early in Galt’s radio speech in Atlas, Rand attacks as mystical the common belief that there is a supernatural power called God, who issues moral commands based on whim, and to whom one must dedicate one’s life (1011). There are no ghosts in heaven (1012). There is no “mystic God with some incomprehensible design” (1025).

Rand attacked the old conception of man as divided into two antagonists: soul, which “belongs to a supernatural realm,” and body, which is “an evil prison holding it [soul] in bondage to this earth” (1026). This division denies the reality of mind, the living self, as sovereign of human life. Without reason, man is left as a battleground of two monsters, “of a body moved by unaccountable instincts and of a soul moved by mystic revelations” (1026). Around this division are gathered two competing congregations against man’s life and happiness. These camps are known as spiritualists and materialists, which Rand characterized as the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle (1027).

In reality, on earth, both mystical schools “want their consciousness to be an instrument not of perceiving but of creating existence, and existence to be not the object but the subject of their consciousness—they want to be that God they created in their image and likeness, who created a universe out of a void by means of arbitrary whim. . . . They want an omnipotent power over existence; instead, they lose the power of their consciousness” (1036–37).

The underlying bond between religious mysticism and secular dialectical materialism in The Fountainhead has been expanded into a bond of spiritualism and materialism in Atlas Shrugged, which bond is called mysticism by Rand. She had introduced the latter two variants of mysticism by way of repudiating all dichotomies between soul and body. In 1961 Rand posed the opposition between reason and mysticism as underlying not only the soul-body dichotomy, but other false dichotomies as well: mind v. heart; liberty v. equality; and practical v. moral (1961b, 88).

The fundamental opposition is between reason, “the faculty which perceives, identifies, and integrates the material provided by man’s senses,” and mysticism, “the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, supernatural means of knowledge” (1961b, 89; cf. Russell 1914, 6–7). Mysticism is the belief that “man’s mind is impotent” and that “man must be guided by some irrational ‘instinct’ or feeling or intuition or revelation, by some form of blind, unreasoning faith” (ibid., also 1960 62–63; cf. Russell 1914, 9–14).

That definition of mysticism is close to one in American Heritage. One meaning of mysticism is “belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual and intellectual apprehension, but central to being and directly accessible by intuition.” Another meaning of mysticism is “confused and groundless speculation; superstitious self-delusion.” Rand includes this second sense also with her concept of mysticism, for she writes that it is “the acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one’s senses and one’s reason” (1960, 62). Certainly it is self-delusional to turn to supernatural dimensions through which simply wishing will make so (further, Rand 1957, 1035–36).

In Atlas Rand had characterized mystics of spirit as believing in consciousness without existence (1027). She had characterized mystics of muscle as believing in existence without consciousness (1027; on this side of the coin, see also Efron 1968; Rand 1972; and Peikoff 1991, 33–35). In the context of those characterizations of the two kingdoms of mysticism, existence is preeminently material existence (1027). Schools of philosophy denying the reality of matter are called idealism.

(Continued)

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Intuition

One philosophic home of spiritual mystics is idealism. Other homes are Platonism, Neo-Platonism, Aristotle-adapted-to-Islam-or-Christianity, rationalism, skepticism, and empiricism tied to either idealism or skepticism. In his Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff classes Plato, Plotinus, and Augustine as idealists (1991, 30). That is not without scholarly precedent (including that of Kant 1783, 4:375). I hew to the historically stricter sense of idealism. The import is that I class those three figures simply as spiritualists, who predated idealism. I take idealism to have a predisposition towards spiritualism, but not to be simply a narrower class within spiritualism.

The erroneous alternatives spiritualism and materialism are each rooted in the error of taking consciousness to be fundamentally prior to existence, taking any putative knowledge of mind-independent existence to be dubious and to be settled by a consciousness that knows something of itself (Rand 1957, 1027, 1036–37, 1042, 1063; cf. 1961a, 14–20; Peikoff 1991, 20–21, 30–36). Tracking Kant, our focus will be on staging for mysticism provided by Platonic and idealist priority of consciousness, staging for denial of the reality of material existence. Such a progression is a slide from philosophy to mysticism.

In “For the New Intellectual,” Rand described people of faith as mystics and as attempting to avoid “the necessity, the risk and the responsibility of rational cognition” (1961a, 15; also 1966–67, 79). A mystic desires immediate, involuntary, and infallible knowledge; he retreats from rational cognition to his emotions and visions of a supernatural realm (1961a, 14–15, 17). Rand notes that Plato’s philosophy as taken up by Plotinus and Augustine served well as handmaiden of theology in the Dark Ages (22; cf. 1957, 1051). That is commonly understood. More novel is Rand’s picture that the Scholastic debate between nominalists and realists degenerated into the early modern schools of rationalism and empiricism. She sees the rationalists as abandoning reality by not deriving knowledge from physical facts (1961a, 30). Descartes gave modern philosophy a wrong starting point in presupposing the existence of the external world not self-evident (28; also 1957, 1058). Rand saw rationalists such as Descartes as confederates of the mystics of spirit (1961a, 30).

Berkeley was an empiricist and idealist. He had maintained that knowledge derives from the senses, though not by abstraction, and that there is no such thing as matter independent of perception. Berkeley was an empirical idealist. Kant called Berkeley’s idealism mystical. Rand passed the same verdict on Hegel’s absolute idealism (1961a, 33).

In the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason (1781), Kant had criticized a general argument to the ideality of outer relations: Outer appearances cannot be perceived directly, but must be inferred as the cause of given perceptions. Inference to the existence of a cause is merely doubtful existence. Therefore existence of all objects of outer senses is doubtful (A366–67).

Kant countered that objects of outer sense are given to us just as directly as objects of inner sense. If we will but accept matter as not more than matter as something in the realm of appearance, there is no need to trip down the Berkeley lane of idealism in which the reality of matter is denied. The existence of objects of outer senses need not be inferred from effects on inner sense. Inner objects are referred to inner sense. Outer objects are referred dually to inner and outer sense; one’s outer presentations exist, and they are presentations had by oneself, which also exists with each outer presentation (A369–72).

In Kant’s critical perspective, spiritualism (pneumatism), materialism, and dualism are each falsely based positions if their affirmations are of things as they are outside appearance. Dualism is sensible and correct where we mean by it only that both matter and the thinking subject are given in sense, outer and inner (A379; see also B420, A406 B433, A690 B718).

Kant’s idealism is not empirical, but transcendental. Kant’s transcendentalism is not realist, but idealist. The form of inner sense is time. The additional form of outer sense is space. Perception is of outer actualities in time and space. Those forms are not preexisting in the outer world, but come from us. So empirical realism is true, provided it does not exceed the rational limits of cognition by ascribing space and time (which are fixed subjective conditions of experience) to a putative physical world itself. On the other hand, empirical idealism is false. Transcendental idealism does not deny or doubt, rather it affirms, the actuality of the empirical world (A373–80).

An anonymous review of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason appeared in 1782. The review was written by the German empiricists Johann Feder and Christian Garve. The opening paragraph is a snide caricature of transcendental idealism, which it refers to as a “higher idealism.” In the second paragraph, the reviewers report that Kant’s system

rests on roughly the following main propositions. All our cognition springs from certain modifications of ourselves, which we call sensations. We have no idea where they occur or what causes them. . . . That is actual for us which we represent to ourselves in some place and at some time. Space and time themselves . . . . are subjective laws of our representative capacity {capacity for presentations}, forms of sensation, and subjective conditions of sensible intuition. One basic pillar of the Kantian system rests on these concepts of sensations as mere modifications of ourselves (on which Berkeley, too, principally builds his idealism), and of space and time. (1782, 53–54)
(Text between curly braces { } in quotations is from me; text between square brackets [ ] is from the translator; text in parentheses ( ) is from the author.)

Berkeley had been a figure much ridiculed in German philosophical circles. Kant was incensed at the review, and he replied to elements of the review he found offensive. This he did in an appendix to his Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783, 4:372–80). Kant points out, as one would expect, that his ideality of space and time does not transform the world into sheer illusion, which is precisely, Kant alleges, what Berkeley and all previous idealists had done (4:290, 374). Kant would now rather call his system formal or critical idealism (4:375). Transcendental misleads one to expect a visionary idealism. Kant’s system cuts down, he thinks, such idealism and in particular the “mystical and visionary idealism of Berkeley” (4:293). (See further, Emundts 2008. For the proper way to refute Kant’s idealism, see Pistorious 1786, 1789.)

In the final and brief chapter of Critique of Pure Reason, Kant sketches different conceptions of metaphysics through the history of that discipline. Concerning the legitimate object of metaphysical thought, Kant contrasts the purely sensualist philosophers, such as Epicurus, with the purely intellectualist philosophers, such as Plato.

The philosophers of the sensualist school assert that actuality is to be found only in the objects of the senses, and that everything else is imagination. Those of the intellectualist school, by contrast said that in the senses there is nothing but illusion, and that only the understanding cognizes what is true. Yet the sensualists did not by any means therefore deny reality to the concepts of understanding; but this reality was for them only logical, whereas for the intellectualists it was mystical. (A853–54 B881–82; see also A471–72 B499–500)

Kant is saying that Plato’s realm of the intellect was mystical. As concerns the origin of our concepts, Kant poses Aristotle as the head of the tradition holding that concepts are derived from experience, Plato as the head of the tradition holding that concepts have an origin that is independent of experience. Kant goes on to say that “Locke has followed Aristotle, and Leibniz has followed Plato (although keeping sufficient distance from Plato’s mystical system)” (A854 B882; cf. Leibniz 1704, 47).

Kant regards Berkeley’s system as mystical, but he does not regard the system of Leibniz as mystical. Why not? I think one reason is that Leibniz did not deny the reality of matter. Further, although Kant understood Leibniz as having “intellectualized the appearances” (A270 B326; also 1790a, 8:218–21, 148–49), which includes the material world, Kant would not have seen Leibniz as mystifying appearances as had been done for example by Malebranche (Kant 1770, 2:410). (On Kant’s understanding of Leibniz, see Garber 2008.)

Kant would have seen Leibniz’ conception of human intuitive knowledge as simply adequate immediate apprehension (Leibniz 1704, 366–67, 434, 490), and his conception of human reason as adequate for truth without Platonic recollections of knowledge from a life earlier than our earthly one. Intuitive knowledge in Leibniz’ system is not visionary. Furthermore, Kant would applaud Leibniz’ emphasis on the coherence of our perceptual experience as a way of distinguishing it from a dream. Leibniz writes:

The truth about sensible things consists only in the linking together of phenomena, this linking (for which there must be a reason) being what distinguishes sensible things from dreams . . . . The truth about our existence and about the cause of phenomena is of a different order, since it establishes [the existence of] substances. . . . . The linking of phenomena which warrants the truths of fact about sensible things outside us is itself verified by means of truths of reason, just as optical appearances are explained by geometry. (1704, 374–75)

Kant maintains that by his purely intellectual organization of sensory experience Leibniz cannot in fact “bring the propositions of experience into necessary agreement with . . . a priori mathematical assertions” (A40–41 B57). What is needed in addition to general logic in our cognitive repertoire for experience are Kant’s pure forms of sensory intuition (space and time) and his categories and principles of the understanding. Content supplied by the senses into this formal organization yields empirical knowledge universal and necessary (A57–60 B82–85).

“Since truth rests upon universal and necessary laws as its criteria, for Berkeley, experience could have no criteria of truth, because its appearances (according to him) had nothing underlying them a priori; from which it then followed that experience is nothing but sheer illusion, whereas for us space and time (in combination with the pure concepts of the understanding) prescribe a priori their law to all possible experience, which law at the same time provides the sure criterion for distinguishing truth from illusion in experience.” (1783, 4:375)

Kant pleads that his own idealism confines intuition to that of the senses and is oriented to “grasping the possibility of our a priori cognition of the objects of experience” (ibid.). Visionary idealism, by contrast, steps from a priori cognitions, such as in geometry, to non-sensory, intellectual intuitions, which are gateway to visionary, mystical realms (ibid.)

Kant speaks of visionary idealists “from the Eleatic School up to Bishop Berkeley” (1783, 4:375). Kant’s understanding of Plato and Berkeley and of their alleged likeness in metaphysics and epistemology was congruent with contemporary German scholarship in the history of philosophy (Winkler 2008, 161–64).

In what way does he think of Plato’s system as mystical? “From the way in which Plato employed the expression idea we can readily see that he meant by it something that not only is never borrowed from the senses, but that far surpasses even the concepts of understanding . . . inasmuch as nothing congruent with it is ever found in experience” (A313 B370; Republic 510d–e).

Pure mathematics is a splendid achievement of intellectual reflection.

Captivated by such a proof of reason’s might, our urge to expand [our cognitions] sees no boundaries. When the light dove parts the air in free flight and feels the air’s resistance, it might come to think that it would do much better still in space devoid of air. In the same way, Plato left the world of sense because it sets such narrow limits to our understanding; on the wings of ideas, he ventured beyond that world and into the empty space of pure understanding. He did not notice that with all his efforts he made no headway. (A4–5 B8–9)

For Plato ideas are archetypes of things themselves and not merely keys to possible experiences . . . . Ideas, in his opinion, flowed from highest reason, from where they have been imparted to human reason; now, however, human reason is no longer in its original state but must laboriously recall the ancient ideas. (A313 B370)

The mystical bent imputed to Plato so far is this much: Plato holds there is a realm of original and most important truth that is accessible only by turning from the world of sense to a world of ideas not observed by sense, a world of ideas not obscured by sense, a world of intellectual understanding not restrained by sense. That much would place Plato at least at the door of mysticism. (Consider Phaedo 65b–67b, 74b–75d, 78d–79d, 99d–101e; Republic 507–17c, 525d–29, 596–97d, 602c–3a; Timaeus 28b–29b, 43c–44c, 45d–47c; Sophist 248a, 252e–54a.) Under my first dictionary definition of mysticism, Plato is thus far not entirely through the door of mysticism because although the Forms are beyond perceptual apprehension, they are not entirely beyond intellectual apprehension. Similarly, under part of Rand’s definition, Plato is thus far not fully through the door because although Plato is claiming a knowledge that is non-sensory, he is claiming a knowledge that is rational and definable.

Then too, Plato does not hold that man’s mind is impotent. We can say, nevertheless, that Plato is walking right through the door of mysticism. Looking to Rand’s full definition, and to my second dictionary definition, we notice that Plato’s posit of the Forms is not groundless, and the posit is supported with arguments. But the ground is loose and the arguments shaky. Consider Plato’s doctrine that the Good (an intelligible form not adequately knowable) is most fundamental, that all being, truth, and susceptibility to being known are its derivatives (Republic 508d–509b). Under Rand’s conception of reason, an existential posit that is really contrary the senses is really contrary to reason. Plato’s posit of self-subsisting archetypical Forms, or Ideas, “distorts reality into a mystical construct” (Rand 1966–67, 53–54). Dr. Peikoff maintains, furthermore, that at least some of Plato’s intellectual apprehension of Forms is intuition, another mark of mysticism contra reason (1967, 95–96).

William Tait argues powerful well against the view that Plato’s texts uphold intellectual apprehension of Forms as knowledge by acquaintance, thence by intuition (2005, 166–67, 180–81, 190–92). One of Rand’s definitions of mysticism was worded this way: “Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as ‘instinct’, ‘revelation’, or any form of ‘just knowing’ (1960, 62–63). Insofar as Plato has the Forms knowable to humans in their earthly life, they are not known by reason in Rand’s sense. They are not known with support of senses and by logical identification and integration of perceptual material. They are not known by this sayable positive way or that, set out in positive, literal relations to sense and reason (Republic 508d–509a). Intellectual apprehension of the Forms is left by Plato as “just knowing” (and partly as something beyond knowing, something not definable), notwithstanding his intimations that knowledge of the forms is supramathematical (see further, Mueller 1992, 183–95; Sedley 2007, 268–71; Denyer 2004; Miller 2007).

As part of our conception of mysticism in opposition to reason, we want to include that second dictionary definition I quoted: “confused and groundless speculation; superstitious self-delusion.” Kant would think mystical in this sense Plato’s speculations that Ideas are divine and that at birth our minds have been thrust into a body that obscures those ideas. Kant would depart from Plato “in his mystical deduction of these ideas” and “in the exaggerations whereby he hypostatized them” (B371n110). Kant is likely correct to denominate these speculations of Plato mystical in the present sense, rather than to take Plato to be posing them as myth. Mystical in the sense of confused or groundless speculation would be: the existence of the soul prior to birth in this world, the different access the mind has to Ideas before and after birth, and the delimitation and organization of the Ideas (Meno 81; Phaedo 64c, 66b–e, 72e–77a, 81a, 91e–95a; Republic 517b–c; Phaedrus 249c–50c; Philebus 15a–18d, 20b–30d, 59c–67a).

Kant would count Plato as mystical under not only my second, but my first dictionary definition of mysticism: “belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension but central to being and directly accessible by intuition.” Kant writes that “the sensualists {such as Epicurus} granted intellectual concepts, but assumed only sensible objects. The intellectualists {such as Plato} required the true objects to be merely intelligible and asserted that there is an intuition through a pure understanding unaccompanied by any senses” (A854 B882).

Kant is evidently incorrect in ascribing to Plato the idea that we have a power of intellectual intuition. Certain it is, however, that mystical intellectuals of Neo-Pythagorean, Middle Platonist, Neo-Platonist, or Christian stripe sometimes extended or remolded Plato to support human apprehension of divinity, apprehension visionary, intellectual, and intuitive.

Kant denies that we possess any purely intellectual intuitions. He divides cognitions into “either intuition or concept . . . . An intuition refers directly to the object and is singular; a concept refers to the object indirectly, by means of a characteristic that may be common to several things” (A320 B377). Concepts are unities we actively contrive among diverse things according to their common characteristics. Intuitions are given to us, given as single things whose diversity is contained within them only as parts we apprehend by limitation of the single whole (A25 B39).

We have some concepts that are not empirical; rather, they have their origin solely in the understanding. Kant reserves the name idea for a concept framed from wholly non-empirical concepts and “surpassing the possibility of experience” (A320 B377; see also A568–69 B596–97).

Let us take as “Platonic” the entire tradition of spiritualist metaphysics from Plato to Plotinus. Under this broad rubric, we speak of Platonic elements in Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Alfarbi, Algazel, Avicebron, Bonaventure, or Malebranche, and we speak of Platonic revivals such as occurred within the Italian Renaissance, at Cambridge in the time of Newton, and in some German idealist circles in the 1790’s and early 1800’s. (On the last, see Beiser 2002, 364–65. On Platonist elements in Leibniz and his mentors at Leipzig, see Mercer 2001. On the opposition between Neo-Platonic interpretation of Plato and Christian appropriation and redefinition of Plato’s concepts, see Siniossoglou 2008.)

Kant is correct to fault Platonic Ideas as objects given by the direct and productive intuition belonging to divine understanding. And Kant is correct to fault Platonic “intuiting of these divine Ideas” here and now by us as in a shadow land (1796 8:391). This is an error of mysticism.

Kant rejected the realist views of universals, Platonic, Aristotelian, or Leibnizian. We have no intuitions of things as they are in themselves, only of things as they appear in our forms of sensory intuition. Our concepts are concepts of those forms (space and time), or our concepts are of objects as they are in those forms, which forms are from the side of the subject (B160–62). We have no concepts of things as they are in themselves. We have no concepts of forms imputable to things as they are in themselves (A266–89 B322–46).

On the other hand, Kant does not accept the nominalist strain in Locke, who writes: “General and universal belong not to the real existence of things; but are inventions and creations of the understanding, made by it for its own use, and concern only signs, whether words or ideas” (1690, 3.3.11). Neither does Kant accept the Berkeley-Hume critique of general and universal ideas and their abstraction. A concept is a universal representation; it is not a singular image, as Berkeley and Hume would have it. Locke errs not in thinking we have general ideas, but in thinking that any of them are gotten from perception of particulars unconditioned by fundamental and profound subjective forms (space and time) or that they are gotten from empirical experience unconditioned by pure concepts (the categories) of the understanding (A271 B327, A89–94 B121–27, A78–79 B104–5, B127–29, A124–28, B146–48; see also Guyer 2008, 79–85; Longuenesse 1998, 125–26; Pippin 1882, 90–116).

Kant rests concepts on the spontaneity of thought, specifically on “the unity of the act of arranging various presentations under one presentation” (A68 B93). Concepts serve as rules, general because endlessly repeatable in application, under which particulars can be grouped by characteristic marks. The unity among diversity on which concepts as generals rests is not in the world, but must be in the numerical identity of the conceiving subject (A106–12, B129–36).

Kant’s theory of concepts, like Rand’s, does not fit on either side of the traditional realist-nominalist division. Rand’s theory of concepts is accurately classified as neither nominalism (including conceptualism) nor realism. It can be rightly classed as mensural objectivism. Kant’s theory can be rightly classed as synthetic formalism.

Concepts are determinate thoughts in Kant’s view. Our conceptual power of understanding is through sensory intuitions; our understanding does not itself intuit. Ours is not “an understanding wherein through self-consciousness alone everything manifold would at the same time be given” (B135).

By our conceptual understanding, we have no commerce with the supersensible. Reason lays claim to the supersensible not through understanding, but in use of the inexplicable fact of freedom. Our Ideas of practical reason, such as God and immortality, must not be transported into the realm of possible theoretical understanding, “because if so they turn theology into theosophy, moral teleology into mysticism, and psychology into a pneumatics” (Kant 1793, 20:310; also 1788, 5:120–21).

Wisdom is not infused into a person from above by inspiration. Wisdom is a “height to be scaled from below through the inner power of his practical reason” (Kant 1800, 8:441). We have no passive means of cognition, no possibility of supersensible experience. Philosophy is the opposite of mysticism (ibid.).

(Continued)

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Feeling

Kant brings forth biblical stories to interpret as conveying genuine truths of humanity in an allegorical way. The kind of interpretation to which Kant aspires is one in which elements in the allegory coincide with elements of practical reason, where the latter legislates absolute moral commands, considered in allegory as the voice of God, where the legislating reason is the same reason by which one forms the concept of God (1791, 8:264; see also 1788, 5:129; 1803, 9:49).

One of the stories Kant interprets in this way is the story of The Fall and Original Sin (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12, 18). Kant’s own stand is that evil has to have some origin in the human constitution. It cannot originate in the necessitated nature that is rational animality, for then it would not be moral evil. Its fundamental root is the free allowance into one’s personal maxims for conduct conditionality upon sensory incentives, conditionality out of self-love, where only moral command from reason should rule. This installs a propensity to evil in the human being alongside the propensity to goodness that is given with freedom itself.

Told as if it were the beginning of human evil in time, to assist limited powers of understanding among simple people, the story of Eve and Adam falling from divine grace tells of human constitution fundamentally innocent, but capable of originating human evil. The choice to eat fruit from one of the two forbidden trees was a free choice, which is to say, for Kant, a choice not necessitated by events preceding in time. Kant diverges from standard Christian biblical interpretation, which concludes that moral evil of humanity had a literal beginning in the history of the race, an evil that is thereafter passed down by biological inheritance. But the story of Adam and Eve rightly contains, by Kant’s lights, the idea that moral principles are from a type of command that excludes the influence of every incentive except obedience itself. It rightly portrays also the constitution of humans as we know them: as having a preponderance of sensory incentives over the incentives of law.

Each individual freely and daily installs the propensity to evil into his personal constitution. He has a daily fall from innocence and suffers temptations enabled by that installation. This fall is somewhat different from the Mosaic allegorical first fall in human history. Adam and Eve fell while in possession of free and competent reason. Our own temporally first fall must lie in the course of the emergence of reason in childhood, and this earliest fall reason cannot fathom. We can know we are capable of improvement, and that is enough (Kant 1786; 1793, 6:39–53).

Notwithstanding Kant’s distortions of scripture, the moral-tail (Lutheranism) is yet wagging Kant’s rational moral-animal. That tail, with its driving powers, is mystical.

In her 1960 essay “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,” Rand maintained that Kant’s morality is a version of altruism. To show by his texts that Kant’s conception of morality entails self-abnegation and self-sacrifice is straightforward under some usual senses of self. To show, further, that Kant’s ethics belongs to the species self-sacrificial that is self-sacrificial for the sake of other people (altruist) would be more involved. Perhaps I shall give that further thesis a trial in a future thread. Notice that Schopenhauer (1839) indicated a number of ways in which Kant’s ethics profoundly favors egoism (which Schopenhauer took to be a demerit of Kant’s theory). Moreover, Kant does not promote the abolition of self-love; he thinks there is a self-love good and rational when constrained by the moral law (1788, 5:73).

Besides Rand’s representation that Kant’s morality is a version of altruism, she wrote: “He claimed that it was derived from ‘pure reason’, not from revelation—except that it rested on a special instinct for duty, a ‘categorical imperative’ which one ‘just knows’” (1960, 64–65). A year later, she wrote that the Kantian moral realm is beyond physical reality, the senses, and reason, a realm of “‘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 feeling, as a special sense of duty” (1961a, 31; see also Rand 1974; cf. Schopenhauer 1839, §§4, 6; Nietzsche 1888, §9).

In his 1764 work “Inquiry Concerning the Distinctness of the Principles of Natural Theology and Morality,” Kant mentions his search for a concept of moral obligation that would have objective grounds, like the fundamental truths of metaphysics, which are rightly not subjective. The necessity in metaphysical first principles should not rest on criteria of conceivability or feeling of certainty. Likewise it should be for the necessity in moral obligation (2:294). This much we know according to Kant: necessity of means to ends derives from ends necessarily right in themselves (2:298–99; cf. 1781[=A] 1787[=B], A585 B613, A634 B662, B868).

Kant was in the Germanic tradition of thinking about morality under the concept of perfection. He accepted the formal rules “perform the most perfect action in your power” and “abstain from doing that which will hinder the realization of the greatest possible perfection” (1764, 2:299). But he was also lately taken by the ethical theories of Hutcheson and Hume. Kant writes: “The faculty of representing the true is cognition,” whereas, “the faculty of experiencing the good is feeling,” and these two faculties must not be confused with each other (2:299).

There is an unanalysable feeling of the good (which is never encountered in a thing absolutely but only relatively to a being endowed with sensibility). One of the tasks of the understanding is to analyse and render distinct the compound and confused concept of the good by showing how it arises from simpler feelings of the good. But if the good is simple, then the judgment: ‘This is good’, will be completely indemonstrable. (2:299)

Kant is unsure at this stage, however, whether it is the faculty of cognition or the faculty of feeling that decides the first material principles of ethics (2:300). To hold with the view that morality is based on moral sense or feeling goes radically beyond the safe saying that virtue presupposes feeling. Kant hesitates over taking the radical step. (See further, Kuehn 2001, 183–87.)

By the time of his Inaugural Dissertation (1770), Kant has set aside the supposition that we have a distinct faculty of moral sense. Morality is still seen in terms of a concept of moral perfection, now taken to be a noumenal perfection. Here the term noumenal means simply the intelligible as opposed to the sensible. “Moral philosophy, . . . in so far as it furnishes the first principles of judgment is only cognized by the pure understanding and itself belongs to pure philosophy {pure, apart from sense}” (2:396).

Kant has now come round to his settled view, for both theoretical philosophy and fundamental practical philosophy, that sense and sensibility should be kept radically distinct from intellect and intelligibility. Perfection is grasped conceptually. Fundamental principles of moral judgment are wholly an affair of the intellect. Happiness is partly sensory. Kant now has a systematic reason for keeping distance between happiness and virtue.

In Kant’s view, one essential purpose of reason is to make our judgments systematic. Another essential purpose is to be a self-justifying moral legislator. “Essential purposes are either the final purpose itself or subsidiary purposes that necessarily belong to the final purpose as means. The final purpose is none other than the whole vocation of the human being” (A840 B868). At this stage (1781), Kant says the whole and general vocation of the human being is to become ever worthy of happiness. “Do that whereby you become worthy to be happy” (A809 B837).

Kant’s system of morality “is linked inseparably—but only in the idea of pure reason—with the system of happiness” (A809 B937). “Morality in itself amounts to a system; but happiness does not, except insofar as its distribution is exactly commensurate with morality. This however is possible only in the intelligible {not sensible} world . . . .” (A811 B839). The world of morality is an intelligible world “in whose concept we abstract from all obstacles to morality (i.e., from inclinations)” (A809 B837). In that ideal world, happiness without fail would be proportionate with morality (A809–10 B837–38).

Kant saw happiness as an integrated “satisfaction of all our inclinations” guided by prudence (A806 B834). Morality is the guide for worthiness to be happy.

Happiness is a certain sort of intellectually comported feeling for Kant. That can be said of Rand’s conception of happiness also. In Rand’s system of morality, happiness is structured by moral virtues necessitated by the constitution of earthly life, in particular the human need of rationality for life.

Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy—a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of escaping from your mind, but of using your mind’s fullest power . . . Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions. (Rand 1957, 1022)

Existentially, the activity of pursuing rational goals is the activity of maintaining one’s life; psychologically, its result, reward and concomitant is an emotional state of happiness. (1961c, 29)

If a man values productive work, his happiness is the measure of his success in the service of his life. But if a man values . . . life beyond the grave, like a mystic, . . . his alleged happiness is the measure of his success in the service of his own destruction. (1961c, 28)

By contrast Kant resorts to mystical constructs beyond our world of sense and sound reason, to the Christian notions God and immortality for moral sanctions and for the moral shape of happiness. Because morality delivers rational, necessary commands, moral laws must be connected a priori with commensurate promises for and threats to welfare and happiness in an ideal limit. But such commanding, “the moral laws cannot do unless they reside in a necessary being that, as the highest good, can alone make such a purposive unity possible” (B840 A812). In Kant’s view, happiness is by itself incapable of being the complete good; happiness needs to be united with worthiness to be happy in order to instance complete goodness. On the other side of the union, “morality by itself—and with it the mere worthiness to be happy—is also far from being the complete good. In order for this good to be completed, the person who in his conduct has not been unworthy of happiness must be able to hope that he will partake of it” (B842 A814).

To the earthly shortfall of happiness that ought to ensue one’s moral actions, Kant tried to leave open a not irrational hope, a rational faith, for happiness in life beyond the limit of the one we know. For such a shortfall, Rand rested with the entirely earthly consolation of having been touched by the rays of a morally ideal rational world (AS 1068). Rand does not treat lightly the innocent pain and sorrow in the lives of people who have walked or tried to walk the earth (1936, 432–46; 1943, ET XI 350–51; 1957, 988–94, 1059–60). For inspiration and consolation, one looks to what is possible to human beings on earth.

Kant rejects moralities based on rational self-interest and one’s own happiness, moralities based on moral feeling or sense, moralities based on concepts of ontological perfection, and moralities based on concepts of divine, all-perfect will. This last approach has led to moralities that are in fact opposite morality: “desire for glory and dominion combined with dreadful representations of power and vengefulness” (1785, 4:443).

According to Kant, the defectiveness of the first type of morality, of which Rand’s is an example, is that it fails to deliver absolute moral rules durable against incentives of sensory pleasure and pain and all variety of human situations. Although Kant programmatically makes conceptions of God and a perfect will dependent on his conception of pure reason’s right morality, his presuppositions against moralities of self-interest and happiness (from the Greeks to Leibniz to his own contemporary eudaimonists) continues some of the very dark view of human life on earth found in Paul, Augustine, and Luther.

Kant thinks moral-sense morality mistaken because unable to “furnish a uniform standard of good and evil, and one cannot judge validly for others by means of one’s feeling” (1785, 4:442). He adds that at least such theories honor virtue by ascribing to it a direct moral delight and beauty, rather than taking hold of virtue merely for one’s own advantage.

How could Rand write that in Kant’s theory, moral rules are known by means of feeling when he writes expressly to the contrary in Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785, 4:442)? It is possible Rand was not familiar with that part of Groundwork as of 1961a. By 1974, if not sooner, Rand had some direct familiarity with Groundwork, for she quotes 4:397–99 from it (1974, 96–97). Even were Rand familiar with Kant’s statements against feeling as a basis or sufficient criterion for morality in Groundwork (4:442) and in Critique of Practical Reason (1788, 5:71), she might reasonably wonder how, on Kant’s theory, one could really know the general and more particular moral duties falling to oneself save by feeling. Rand held that when one releases any topic—including morality—from critical, logical reason identifying and integrating pertinent perceptual evidence, then concerning that topic, one’s mind becomes “an emotion exempted from thought” (1957, 1036–37). I agree.

In his fully exposed view, Kant does acknowledge an epistemologically basic kind of moral feeling. It is a feeling of respect for the moral law. This natural feeling, in Kant’s understanding, is not the basis of moral law, but it is an admissibility criterion for what could be a valid moral law (1788, 5:73–81, 92–94; 1973c, 8:283–85). Moral feeling is “a special sense . . . as it were. It is true that moral sense is often misused in a visionary way, as if (like Socrates’ daimon) it could precede reason or even dispense with reason’s judgment. Yet it is a moral perfection, by which one makes one’s object every particular end that is also a duty” (1797, 6:387; further, 399–400).

In his theoretical philosophy, Kant had too starkly divided sensory processes from intellectual ones. He had affirmed sensory intuitions, but denied intellectual ones. In his practical philosophy, Kant starkly divides, on the one hand, sensory inputs and intellectual cognition of facts and, on the other hand, moral experience and reasoning. When he turns to moral philosophy, he continues to bar intellectual intuition; he permits, however, a direct nonsensory acquaintance with objective moral law.

I think that content and cognizance of a code held to be opaque to ordinary reason will be in fact written and read by past experience and instruction and by feeling, better and worse. There is some variability in what people can come to think warrant feelings of respect or dignity. Kant thought that only something that could be an irreplaceable end in itself, above all market price, could have “inner worth, that is, dignity” (1785, 4:435). His idea was that moral necessity in all things derives from the necessity of respect for that which is genuinely and uniquely an end in itself: self-governing rational nature. Each person is to “treat himself and all others never merely as means but always at the same time as ends is in themselves” (1985, 4:433). Practical, moral necessitation Kant calls duty.

The practical necessity of acting in accordance with this principle, that is, duty, does not rest at all on feelings, impulses, and inclinations but merely on the relation of rational beings to one another, in which the will of a rational being must always be regarded as at the same time lawgiving, since otherwise it could not be thought as an end in itself. Reason accordingly refers every maxim of the will as giving universal law to every other will and also to every action toward oneself, and does so not for the sake of any other practical motive or any future advantage but from the idea of the dignity of a rational being, who obeys no law other than that which he himself at the same time gives. (1785, 4:434)

Rand lays an importantly different end in itself as the ultimate end of moral action. Furthermore, the relation of that biologically given end in itself—individual life—to rationality is different than in Kant’s account.

Kant was uniformly and adamantly opposed to “the turning of heads towards enthusiasm,” which is to say, towards emotionalism (1796, 8:398). Intimations of the supersensible inaccessible through conceptual understanding can promise no true knowledge of supersensible objects, rather “a surrogate thereof, supernatural information (mystical illumination): which is the death of all philosophy,” if passed off as philosophy (ibid.). In truth, according to Kant, our knowledge of the moral law is given, “not empirically (proposed to reason for solution), but a priori (as real insight within the bounds of our reason), and even extends the knowledge of reason up to the supersensible, but only in a practical respect: not by feeling, which purports to be the basis of knowledge (the mystical), but by a clear cognition which acts upon feeling (the moral)” (1796, 8:403).

So Kant finishes, balanced between “pure reason” and “rational faith,” informed by some of the widely accepted religious outlooks of his childhood (cf. Kuehn 2001, 34–40, 47–48). Kant’s thought, for example, that a necessary feature of a distinctively moral principle is that it would entail pain for oneself by its adoption (1788, 5:73) is dusty old doctrine from his mystical, Christian, self-sacrificial culture.

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References

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There are a few typos, and one longish quotation that was to be made into a block quote was not. I will try to proof better next time. None of the typos alters meaning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mysticism – Kant and Rand

Reason / Intuition / Feeling

References

Edited by Boydstun

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. . . More novel is Rand’s picture that the Scholastic debate between nominalists and realists degenerated into the early modern schools of rationalism and empiricism. . . .

On the fit between empiricism and medieval nominalism: Lange 1873, 213; Windelband 1892, 451–52.

Edited by Boydstun

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On 23.10.2010 at 2:32 PM, Boydstun said:

...religion is proclaimed to be mysticism. I agree.

I strongly disagree. Religion is as different from mysticism as passivity from activity. True mystics were active individuals even to the point of being radical. Here is a list of mystics whom you could contrast to any religious idealist to date: Machiventa Melchizedek (1980 BC), Elijah (c. 900 BC), Laozi (605 BC), John the Baptist (c. 5 BC), Jesus Christ (7 BC), John the Apostle (6 AD), Hildegard von Bingen (1098), Helena Blavatsky (1831), Drunvalo Melchizedek (1941), Karen “Mila” Danrich (1960). There are more, but this should be enough to give you a comprehensive picture of genuine historical mysticism.

Now, if you agree with (a Kantian?) Bertrand Russell who confused idealism with mysticism by claiming that Plato was a 'mystic' - then this is a question of your DIS, which evidently opposes true mysticism by giving its face (thus defacing, or concealing, it) to those it can easily reduce and disassemble into fragmentary pieces. In my book, what DISes do best is deceive, and it is much worse for atheists in this tradition than non-atheists, like Kant. Yet they standardize Kant in academia to justify their deceptions. Satan rather loves those who don't believe in him because that means there could come a time they would believe in him as god. And many have been so deceived.

On 23.10.2010 at 2:32 PM, Boydstun said:

...a bond of spiritualism and materialism in Atlas Shrugged, which bond is called mysticism by Rand.

And this is one of Rand's mistakes (misintegrations). True materialism opposes true mysticism (which opposes true idealism). Does my statement need defense or explanation?

On 23.10.2010 at 2:32 PM, Boydstun said:

Rand posed the opposition between reason and mysticism as underlying not only the soul-body dichotomy, but other false dichotomies as well: mind v. heart; liberty v. equality; and practical v. moral

This is as false as the above. True mysticism doesn't oppose reason, as Aristotle and Newton opposed neither reason nor mysticism. In fact, mysticism is what integrates heart (soul) and brain (mind), but both Kant and Rand fail at grasping this, which means they have something they share. How ironic that you bring up Russell, who seems to be in the Kantian tradition as his bridging the gap between logic and mathematics provided the ground for understanding the analytic a priori like Rudolf Carnap after him. If you are confused about mysticism, it's better not to create and than attack a straw man, but ask an actual mystic, like me. I know mysticism because I belong to their tradition. Do you have questions?

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

One philosophic home of spiritual mystics is idealism. Other homes are Platonism, Neo-Platonism...

All bullshit, sorry for my French. Only idealists and materialists can say this. By the way, idealists and materialists can perfectly complement each other (contrary to what Marxists believe) because they ultimately have the same end (Nonexistence). In contrast to idealists and materialists, the end of mystics is Existence. If you learn to think directionally (rather than only positionally, which is a fault that promulgates such false ideas about other philosophies) you would understand this. Otherwise, I am sorry, but you cannot be helped.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Leonard Peikoff classes Plato, Plotinus, and Augustine as idealists

This is true in the strictest sense of idealism there can be, as I've proved again and again during the last three years with my Diagram, but you would rather disintegrate or ignore it, right? That's what most of the academic kind like to do. Because facts contradict their petty beliefs, and they would rather have their beliefs than facts.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

I take idealism to have a predisposition towards spiritualism

Actually, I agree that idealism is directed toward mysticism (or spiritualism, as you put it). However, here we are differentiating position and direction. There is also idealism that is directed toward materialism, like Stalin's (except to Marxism only) or even Rand's. So instead of putting the direction into position, like you seem to be doing, try thinking of direction as dependent on position but not internal to it. The latter method works much better for differentiating various philosophies more accurately.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Rand notes that Plato’s philosophy as taken up by Plotinus and Augustine served well as handmaiden of theology in the Dark Ages

That's what Aquinas said! Bah, this mixing of MIS and INT is no better than what Russell did.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Descartes gave modern philosophy a wrong starting point in presupposing the existence of the external world not self-evident

Oh yeah, and you should thank him for inspiring Kant with this and with much more (the mechanics?).

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

[Berkley:] there is no such thing as matter independent of perception. Berkeley was an empirical idealist. Kant called Berkeley’s idealism mystical. Rand passed the same verdict on Hegel’s absolute idealism

So Berkley viewed not matter but his ideas of matter, which is the kind of appearances that idealists promote. In contrast to Berkley, Kant views actual matter as appearances that we can only understand through reason, like in Democritus as well. That's the main difference between idealists and materialists: idealists only view appearances that they believe in, and materialists only view appearances that they know exist. The key here that connects the two is appearances; that both look only on the surface and never at the whole as it is. Neither is concerned with actual, honest truth. Kant's evaluation of Berkeley is the same as Russell's evaluation of Plato, and Rand's evaluation of Hegel is spot on. Even Marxists know Hegel as a mystical idealist, different from all preceding idealists.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

[Kant:] If we will but accept matter as not more than matter as something in the realm of appearance, there is no need to trip down the Berkeley lane of idealism in which the reality of matter is denied.

There you go. In one statement you've shown two things: that Kant was a materialist in the tradition of Democritus, and that Berkley was an idealist in the tradition of Plato. You only need to look deeper into your own statement and think it through.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Outer objects are referred dually to inner and outer sense

Except in Kant that outer sense is also inner, as all 'beyond' mind representations are included 'within' mind. I call this inversive reductionism.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

In Kant’s critical perspective, spiritualism (pneumatism), materialism, and dualism are each falsely based positions if their affirmations are of things as they are outside appearance.

Outside is what appears inside for Democritean materialists, since brain is also matter, did you know?

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Kant’s idealism is not empirical, but transcendental.

Yeah, some highfalutin terms here, eh? People like coming up with terms, so we let them. In truth, not all terms mean what they intend to mean. Sometimes they are used to change perspective, sometimes to hide a perspective. For example, you can try changing frames for rhetorical purposes by calling taxation a burden and saying tax relief in order to change a liberal's perspective on taxes and persuade them to follow your point of view. Or you could call materialism transcendental idealism in order to change perspective on it for idealists. This way, you know you can have idealists accept your point of view and think it to be quite unique and even revolutionary!

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

The form of inner sense is time. The additional form of outer sense is space.

Oh, this is interesting because that's how I think of metaphysical Time and Space. Although physical ones would be the same if not taken to absolutes. That's how Kant seems to make what's beyond or outer to mind as internal: by calling space an a priori form of intuition. He has a discussion of this in Crit#3 on making macro a micro and vice versa by giving scientific analogies of the functional faculties of microscopes and telescopes (I would make here an analogy to theoretical and practical reasons).

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Kant goes on to say that “Locke has followed Aristotle...

If this is so, then Bacon also followed Aristotle, since Locke followed Bacon. Most Kantians would disagree, referring to Bacon's criticisms of Aristotle, but I agree wholeheartedly. Go Kant!

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

...Leibniz did not deny the reality of matter. Further, although Kant understood Leibniz as having “intellectualized the appearances” (A270 B326; also 1790a, 8:218–21, 148–49), which includes the material world, Kant would not have seen Leibniz as mystifying appearances...

Yeah, and they say that Leibniz attempted to 'integrate' Plato (MIS) with Democritus (DIS). Seeing how highly Kant (DIS) spoke of Leibniz, I now think it must have been true. Leibniz's DIS part, just as that of Descartes, must have been a very noticeable appendage for Kant.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Content supplied by the senses into this formal organization yields empirical knowledge universal and necessary.

Yes, and this is also called the Kantian dare to know! This kind of knowledge is reflected in destroying one's objects of sensation in order to 'know' them. Unfortunately, don't you think? Especially considering that we learn about particles by destroying them. In Kant, there was also a passage about receiving a conception of an eye when cutting the eye open (Remark I to §57 in Crit#3). You may extend the analogy. Perhaps transhumanists (also mostly Kantians) need to cut open living people in order to understand them and use this understanding in making them into robots in order to make us happy! Dare to kill! would be a better maxim for those Kantians who feel like the boundaries of knowledge are not so prohibitive anymore.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

[Kant: Plato] did not notice that with all his efforts he made no headway

Wow. And this is told about the man who basically started philosophy as we know it by the man who followed in the footsteps of Democritus. And you still squinge at my comparison without thinking what Plato would have done if he knew that philosophy would come to this end?

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Dr. Peikoff maintains, furthermore, that at least some of Plato’s intellectual apprehension of Forms is intuition.

Oh yeah, intuition? Is that schematic or symbolic, a la Kant? So you know, intuition can never be intellectualized so, especially not through math and geometry like Plato did. Intuition is better known by mystics, who feel with their hearts before they think with their minds. And let me tell you: mystics use math like Newton did -- that's to describe reality -- and not like Plato did -- to try to force reality to follow mental laws. Don't bullshit me about intuition no more.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Kant would count Plato as mystical under not only my second, but my first dictionary definition of mysticism: “belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension but central to being and directly accessible by intuition.”

One thing I want to stress: Plato's level of position was metacosmic, while Kant's was metaphysical brain (really, just brain with metaphysical categories in it, like principles and parameters in a Chomskyan universal grammar module).

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Kant denies that we possess any purely intellectual intuitions.

Not 'purely' in the Kantian sense, but otherwise false. See his descriptions of intuition in §59 of Crit#3.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Philosophy is the opposite of mysticism.

Kant's philosophy surely is. And in academia nowadays this is the only kind that is respected.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:22 PM, Boydstun said:

[On Kant:]...moral principles are from a type of command that excludes the influence of every incentive except obedience itself.

This is what those who are in power want from us.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:22 PM, Boydstun said:

Our own temporally first fall must lie in the course of the emergence of reason in childhood, and this earliest fall reason cannot fathom.

But reason can fathom a priori 's, which were before childhood? No contradiction here? Kant's philosophy is a joke. Only his theology has any value.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:22 PM, Boydstun said:

Kant writes: “The faculty of representing the true is cognition,” whereas, “the faculty of experiencing the good is feeling,” and these two faculties must not be confused with each other (2:299).

Oh boy, why should I listen to Kant here? Aren't both 'faculties' just different ways our mind is used? I would rather connect science with ethics in my mind than separate them like Kant did. Otherwise, we have scientists who cause much suffering in the world. Just consider Richard Feynman and the atomic bomb. He obviously couldn't combine his two 'faculties' because he was an atheist, so there was nothing from the 'practical' side to connect, other than to nothing.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:22 PM, Boydstun said:

Kant now has a systematic reason for keeping distance between happiness and virtue.

I guess this goes along with his keeping sense and intellect separate.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:22 PM, Boydstun said:

Happiness is a certain sort of intellectually comported feeling for Kant. That can be said of Rand’s conception of happiness also.

Yes, thus they both opposed heart, wherefrom happiness springs forth.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:22 PM, Boydstun said:

In Kant’s view, happiness is by itself incapable of being the complete good; happiness needs to be united with worthiness to be happy in order to instance complete goodness.

Yeah, they have to complicate happiness and distance themselves from it to the point of happiness becoming so heavy as to be undecipherable. In truth, one grasps happiness only when one feels it (through the heart) and not when one merely reasons through it (through the brain). Therefore, happiness is quite a simple matter and doesn't really have to be discussed by philosophers who maybe have something better to do (or maybe not, and thus they discuss it, wasting our time).

On 23.10.2010 at 3:22 PM, Boydstun said:

Kant rejects moralities based ... on concepts of divine, all-perfect will. This last approach has led to moralities that are in fact opposite morality: “desire for glory and dominion combined with dreadful representations of power and vengefulness” (1785, 4:443).

Yeah, but such people love to use Kant to justify their actions against humanity to a great extent (end too). Without Kant, they wouldn't have had such a wonderful scapegoat!

On 23.10.2010 at 3:22 PM, Boydstun said:

"The practical necessity of acting in accordance with this principle, that is, duty, does not rest at all on feelings, impulses, and inclinations but merely on the relation of rational beings to one another, in which the will of a rational being must always be regarded as at the same time lawgiving, since otherwise it could not be thought as an end in itself. Reason accordingly refers every maxim of the will as giving universal law to every other will and also to every action toward oneself, and does so not for the sake of any other practical motive or any future advantage but from the idea of the dignity of a rational being, who obeys no law other than that which he himself at the same time gives."

Kant seems to know minds better than people, thus allowing people who, he thinks, don't know their minds as well or well enough be forced to follow minds in power who know what the minds subservient to duty need to practice.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:22 PM, Boydstun said:

...supernatural information (mystical illumination): which is the death of all philosophy,” if passed off as philosophy.

I think supramental information, as the judgments of minds other than your own, is the death of philosophy. Thus, if taking Kant for who he was, we should leave his reasoning for his own mind and not attach anyone else's to it. At least then we could survive and not suffocate to death from such a philosophy.

On 23.10.2010 at 3:22 PM, Boydstun said:

...not by feeling, which purports to be the basis of knowledge (the mystical)...

Yes, true, feeling and also sense.

Thank you for the essay, Boydstun. It was very well written and researched. I particularly liked your conclusion and that Rand's ethics, as based on individual rather than mind alone, is a better choice.

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