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Why did Rand view Kant as evil?

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Hume looked around at the Enlightenment and didn't understand it, so he threw up his hands and said, I don't know how to validate the law of causality, how to prove that value follows fact, etc. It took Aristotle and Ayn Rand to validate and prove these philosophical truths and many others.

Kant looked around at the Enlightenment and understood, so he said that the Enlightenment and everything it stood for: causality, this-worldy values, etc., is false and vicious because it is true and good.

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Do you know where Kant stated this? Is "altruism" here being used in the Randian sense or under a different definition propounded by Kant?

I don't remember which of his works it was in('critique of practical reason' maybe?) But yes, rand's version essentially came from kant directly. Other's have more watered down uses of the term, but his belief as I understand it, is that good acts must be done out of a sense of duty. That to derive any value from it, even emotional, causes it to cease to be a noble act. Further, it must be something which is actually harmful to you, buit you choose to anyway.

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Do you know where Kant stated this? Is "altruism" here being used in the Randian sense or under a different definition propounded by Kant?

It was incredibly painful...I dont like to dig into that little bastard's mind, but I found some pertinent parts.(it was practical reason, by the way)

italics mine to highlight essentials

The notion of duty, therefore, requires in the action,

objectively, agreement with the law, and, subjectively in its maxim,

that respect for the law shall be the sole mode in which the will is

determined thereby. And on this rests the distinction between the

consciousness of having acted according to duty and from duty, that

is, from respect for the law. The former (legality) is possible even

if inclinations have been the determining principles of the will;

but the latter (morality), moral worth, can be placed only in this,

that the action is done from duty, that is, simply for the sake of the

law.*

...

It is of the greatest importance to attend with the utmost exactness

in all moral judgements to the subjective principle of all maxims,

that all the morality of actions may be placed in the necessity of

acting from duty and from respect for the law, not from love and

inclination for that which the actions are to produce.

by evil SOB #1

It was incredibly painful...I dont like to dig into that little bastard's mind, but I found some pertinent parts.(it was practical reason, by the way)

italics mine to highlight essentials

by evil SOB #1

Oh...here's a nice one

For men and all

created rational beings moral necessity is constraint, that is

obligation, and every action based on it is to be conceived as a duty,

not as a proceeding previously pleasing, or likely to be Pleasing to

us of our own accord.

Feel how the slimy words sort of dribble into your ears? Yuck...Going to take a shower now.

Edited by aequalsa

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However, I am unsure why Kant is necessarily more evil than other D2 philosophers such as David Hume. Is it merely because Kant was more influential in terms of crippling the minds of subsequent generations?
I think that Kant's influence is probably the most evil thing about him, if by evil you mean that which is detrimental to the life of the individual--he made Skepticism much more acceptable to the professional intellectuals than Hume did, and introduced the most systematic ethics of altruism that had ever been devised.

Is "altruism" here being used in the Randian sense or under a different definition propounded by Kant?
I don't recall ever seeing the specific quote about trying to "save altruism from Enlightenment influences," but a nice statement of Kant's ethics is in his Metaphysics of Morals. His presentation of altruism is astonishingly consistent and extreme. (The word "altruism" was coined by Auguste Comte, as a description of Kant's ethics).

Kant looked around at the Enlightenment and understood, so he said that the Enlightenment and everything it stood for: causality, this-worldy values, etc., is false and vicious because it is true and good.
I do not believe that Kant said that the Enlightenment values were "false and vicious because [they were] true and good." At any rate, I don't think it's appropriate to attribute a statement like that to a philosopher, even one as wicked and dangerous as Emmanuel Kant, without a direct reference. Edited by Bold Standard

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It took Aristotle and Ayn Rand to validate and prove these philosophical truths and many others.
I think this wording is a little confusing, too, because Aristotle flourished from 384-322 BC, and David Hume lived from 1711-1776 AD.

I think you meant it took Ayn Rand's *completion* of principles which had been pioneered by Aristotle.

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Knowledge of causality is true because it comes from observation of reality. But Kant claimed that the law of causality is false because it pertained to reality, of which no knowledge is possible. This-worldly values are good because they make it possible to for one to live. But Kant claimed that taking the actions required to sustain one's own life is vicious because the good is precisely the opposite: duty to others.

Aristotle showed the truth of the law of causality, though Hume missed it. Ayn Rand showed the good of this-worldly values, though too late for Hume to notice.

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As has been pointed out, he wanted to save altruism, which meant damning reason so his mysticism would seem to his victims workable.

Reality he claims, as man perceives it is unreal, some sort of inferior illusion, inferior to what man can identify / perceive with this mind (independent of the senses) and his feelings. So in other words, consciousness is invalid, and man is left with his feelings and whatever [in reality if we were to assume he was right] baseless assumptions that occur to him.

Kant's goal required him to try to destroy reason, therefore saving religion from that which could easily destroy it, which would make his concept of duty a lot harder to challenge.

And remember, his concept of duty preached that the worst the conflict between "duty" and our desires, the more noble it is. So not only are we to be slaves to our feelings and those of others, we are to be abjectly miserable slaves.

I would say Kant is the most evil man in history, primarily because 1) he attempted to destroy what man relies on: reason and 2) because if he had his way we would all be slaves to whatever we or anyone else FELT was right, in a constant war against ourselves, living a life of total misery feeling obliged to stab ourselves in the heart morally speaking because he feel we must, but when in reality we are grinding ourselves in the dust.

Other candidates for the worst men in history, Stalin etc, merely try to act out in reality kant's nonsense, in one form or another...

Edited by Prometheus98876

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"Don't hate the player, hate the game" is the modern Kantian nihilist crap spewed by the hip hop culture. So in other words, you can bend and break your morals as much as you want because it's the world that is flawed, not you or your philosophy. This crap is not just perpetuated by Kant and Hume. It's spread into plenty of other places as well. Fight Club, anyone?

"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."

So in other words, these things that DO define you in the real world, DO NOT define you under nihilist ideals. And to top it off, nihilism says that you are meaningless anyways. So whine, whine, whine that you have no label that is given to you by some higher mystical power, because despite what you want, you have to give YOURSELF a real label in the real world, it's not just given to you by your almighty government. Stop waiting for it to happen, get off your ass, and create a damned identity for yourself!

Nihilists drive me up the wall. Can you tell?

Edited by bobsponge

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Kant wanted to save religion from the Scientific Revolution. Strike one.

He developed a philosophy which attempts to undermine the scientific method by discrediting the evidence of the senses. Strike two.

He gave new life to religion by claiming to find evidence for the supernatural (the "moral law") within his own consciousness. Strike three.

Kant saved religion from the Scientific Revolution. For that I consider him to be the most evil man in history. He was truly an evil genius if ever there was one.

Edited by MisterSwig

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[H]is belief as I understand it, is that good acts must be done out of a sense

of duty. That to derive any value from it, even emotional, causes it to cease

to be a noble act. Further, it must be something which is actually harmful to

you, buit you choose to anyway.

My interpretation of the passage that you quoted is that

1.) Kant believes that for an action to be moral it is necessary that the action be motivated from one's sense of duty.

2.) Kant believes that it is not sufficient for an action to be moral if it is solely motivated by one's self-interest.

I would like to see a more direct excerpt where Kant states that any action where one derives pleasure (stemming from rational self-interest) cannot be moral. Most of the direct quotes I have seen seem to suggest that Kant argued

(I) An action is moral if and only if it is motivated by one's duty.

However, I would like to find corroborating evidence for Kant arguing:

(II) An action cannot be in accordance with duty (and therefore cannot be moral) if it was also motivated by rational self-interest (even in addition to being motivated by duty).

Rest assured, I believe that Kant argued (II). Furthermore, if Kant argued (II) then he could not have possibly meant (I) as they are in contradiction. The Wikipedia article on Kant even suggests that Kant believed (II). Nevertheless I would just like to find some original sources for future reference, to further my understanding of philosophy and as additional ammunition for when I next get into a discussion about Kant.

Incidentally, someone should constructively edit that Wikipedia article to include Ayn Rand's criticism under the "Critical Reaction" section.

Thanks again for your responses.

Edited by DarkWaters

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Rest assured, I believe that Kant argued (II). Furthermore, if Kant argued (II) then he could not have possibly meant (I) as they are in contradiction.

Aren't humans (Kant especially) capable of holding contradictions?

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Aren't humans (Kant especially) capable of holding contradictions?

Hehe. You are right. My real intent with that line was to get the point across that I recognized that the two statements were incompatible. It would be amusing to see if he argued these two contradictory points in the same essay. :)

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I would like to see a more direct excerpt where Kant states that any action where one derives pleasure (stemming from rational self-interest) cannot be moral. Most of the direct quotes I have seen seem to suggest that Kant argued

(I) An action is moral if and only if it is motivated by one's duty.

However, I would like to find corroborating evidence for Kant arguing:

(II) An action cannot be in accordance with duty (and therefore cannot be moral) if it was also motivated by rational self-interest (even in addition to being motivated by duty).

I don't think Kant argued for (II). (I) seems more accurate.

I think Leonard Peikoff's analysis of Kant's ethics in The Ominous Parallels is correct and nicely stated:

In theory, Kant states, a man deserves moral credit for an action done from duty, even if his inclinations also favor it—but only insofar as the latter are incidental and play no role in his motivation. But in practice, Kant maintains, whenever the two coincide no one can know that he has escaped the influence of inclination. For all practical purposes, therefore, a moral man must have no private stake in the outcome of his actions, no personal motive, no expectation of profit or gain of any kind.

Even then, however, he cannot be sure that no fragment of desire is "secretly" moving him. The far clearer case, the one case in which a man can at least come close to knowing that he is moral, occurs when the man's desires clash with his duty and he acts in defiance of his desires.

But I suggest that you read Kant's The Metaphysic of Morals sometime and judge for yourself what he meant. Also, this passage in The Ominous Parallels is followed by a very revealing quote from a different work by Kant, Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, (which I haven't read yet, but looks like it will also be a good source on how Kant thought his ethics should be applied).

Edited by Bold Standard

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Knowledge of causality is true because it comes from observation of reality. But Kant claimed that the law of causality is false because it pertained to reality, of which no knowledge is possible.
When did Kant claim that the law of causality is false? Kant thought causality was a contribution of consciousness, but he argued that it was objective since all humans must perceive causally, just as we must perceive spatially and temporally, etc. I'll have to look up a reference for that; but I'm pretty sure. Hume rejected causality, but Kant *claimed* to uphold it, though he attributed it to consciousness rather than to ("neumenal") reality.

This-worldly values are good because they make it possible to for one to live. But Kant claimed that taking the actions required to sustain one's own life is vicious because the good is precisely the opposite: duty to others.
I'm not disputing that Kant was guilty of hating the good for being the good, it's just that the way you put it before made it seem (to me) like you were suggesting he was explicit about that. He was explicit about a lot of pretty disturbing things, but that's one that I don't think he ever admitted to--he also never admitted that the Enlightenment virtues were true or good. I'm not sure if he realized that they were (if he did realize that, then that would make him much more evil, but I don't know how to verify that hypothesis one way or the other)..

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Hehe. You are right. My real intent with that line was to get the point across that I recognized that the two statements were incompatible. It would be amusing to see if he argued these two contradictory points in the same essay. :lol:

I'm not sure if he did argue those same points in the same essay, but somewhere in Kant (I think in the Critique of Pure Reason) he DOES argue two contradictory points (the thesis and antithesis) simultaneously, in order to demonstrate his view that humans are cut off from real reality.

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I can explain a bit more about Kant!

"(II) An action cannot be in accordance with duty (and therefore cannot be moral) if it was also motivated by rational self-interest (even in addition to being motivated by duty)." To Kant, this is a non sequitur. Action cannot have two motivations. If the motivation of an action is self-interest, then the action has no moral content, even if it is the "right" thing to do. If that same action were done merely because it is right, and happened as a consequence to work in one's interest, then it would have moral content. But to say that an action can be motivated by two things at the same time would imply a duality of will that Kant could not tolerate.

Kant did not really argue for theses and antitheses in the Antinomy of Pure Reason, but constructed plausible arguments for contradictory positions in order to demonstrate that the objects treated by those positions were not capable of rational insight. The point was not that both arguments were right but that both arguments were consistent, and since the principle of contradiction could not be violated, there must be something wrong not in the conclusions but in the nature of the subject matter.

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Of course, Kant was not an altruist at all, and explicitly refuted altruism in the second Critique. It's, like, in the text.

Hello, welcome to the forum. Could you provide a reference for Kant refuting altruism in the second Critique (I assume you mean the second edition of CPR?). How are you defining "altruism" here?

It is my understanding that the term "altruism" did not exist when Kant wrote CPR, and that the term was invented by Auguste Comte as a description of Kant's ethics. Is it your position that I'm mistaken about this, or that Comte was mistaken in his understanding of Kant's ethics (if so, in what way in particular?), or something else?

But to say that an action can be motivated by two things at the same time would imply a duality of will that Kant could not tolerate.
If that is true, that's an interesting aspect of Kant's position that I hadn't understood. Can you provide a reference in which Kant discusses his reasons for holding the position that an action can only have one motivation? (If you've come to the conclusion that Kant held that view based on another scholar's interpretation of Kant, I would appreciate it if you would point to that, but a primary source reference directly to Kant would be the most preferable).

Kant did not really argue for theses and antitheses in the Antinomy of Pure Reason, but constructed plausible arguments for contradictory positions in order to demonstrate that the objects treated by those positions were not capable of rational insight. The point was not that both arguments were right but that both arguments were consistent, and since the principle of contradiction could not be violated, there must be something wrong not in the conclusions but in the nature of the subject matter.
Based on my reading of CPR, I believe you are correct about this. It wasn't until Hegel that philosophers began arguing for a thesis *and* its antithesis (what Hegelians sometimes refer to as the identity of opposites), which is an essential component of Hegel's dialectic process, in which [paraphrasing] the contradiction which does and doesn't exist between the thesis and antithesis is and isn't resolved into a synthesis.

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Hello, welcome to the forum. Could you provide a reference for Kant refuting altruism in the second Critique (I assume you mean the second edition of CPR?). How are you defining "altruism" here?

It is my understanding that the term "altruism" did not exist when Kant wrote CPR, and that the term was invented by Auguste Comte as a description of Kant's ethics. Is it your position that I'm mistaken about this, or that Comte was mistaken in his understanding of Kant's ethics (if so, in what way in particular?), or something else?

If that is true, that's an interesting aspect of Kant's position that I hadn't understood. Can you provide a reference in which Kant discusses his reasons for holding the position that an action can only have one motivation? (If you've come to the conclusion that Kant held that view based on another scholar's interpretation of Kant, I would appreciate it if you would point to that, but a primary source reference directly to Kant would be the most preferable).

Based on my reading of CPR, I believe you are correct about this. It wasn't until Hegel that philosophers began arguing for a thesis *and* its antithesis (what Hegelians sometimes refer to as the identity of opposites), which is an essential component of Hegel's dialectic process, in which [paraphrasing] the contradiction which does and doesn't exist between the thesis and antithesis is and isn't resolved into a synthesis.

Let me deal with these in order.

There are three Critiques: of Pure Reason, of Practical Reason, and of Judgment. Kant refutes altruism in the Critique of Practical Reason. I don't have my copy near to hand, as I am currently on campus, and internet sources are awkward to search. I am defining "altruism" as an ethical theory predicated on bringing pleasures and/or happiness to others, or to the greatest possible portion of mankind. Kant does not posit happiness, either of the self (egoism) or of the bulk of mankind (altruism) as a morally valuable goal. The altruism/egoism dilemma is a false one.

I believe Kant says that any motivating principle with an empirical element mixed in it will not be pure. Again, the source is not handy (second Critique, once again).

Actually, the synthesis seen in Hegel was seen first in Fichte, if I recall correctly. Kant merely used the antinomies as demonstrations that the mind led itself to contradictory results if it thought about objects that were outside its purview. His whole point was that a judgment and its opposite could NOT both be true, so he regarded the antinomies not as mutually true statements but as mutually false statements, or more correctly, meaningless statements. It would be like proving that the purple unicorn in the corner is both sleeping and not sleeping at the same time - it just demonstrates that talking about unicorns is nonsense. Kant's arguments in that section of the CPR were not supposed to be taken seriously.

Hegel, apparently, had other ideas.

Oh, and thank you, it's nice to be here.

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I am defining "altruism" as an ethical theory predicated on bringing pleasures and/or happiness to others, or to the greatest possible portion of mankind. Kant does not posit happiness, either of the self (egoism) or of the bulk of mankind (altruism) as a morally valuable goal.

This is indeed the case, and it shows that Comte was using a bit of a misnomer when he called Kant's ethics altruism. The more correct term would be nihilism.

Egoism - acting for your own benefit

Altruism - acting for the benefit of others

Nihilism - acting for no one's benefit

Note, though, that the distinction exists only as far as the motivation is concerned. As far as the results are concerned, altruism and nihilism are the same: they benefit no one.

Any more questions about why Kant was the most evil one?

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Kant does not posit happiness, either of the self (egoism) or of the bulk of mankind (altruism) as a morally valuable goal.
Using that definition, I agree with you. If you defined egoism as self interest, and altruism as self sacrifice, he would be an altruist, but he clearly thinks that people should sacrifice themselves for the sake of duty, rather than for the happiness of others. Kant was explicitly anti-happiness.

Against all the commands of duty which reason represents to man as so deserving of respect, he feels in himself a powerful counterpoise in his wants and inclinations, the entire satisfaction of which he sums up under the name of happiness. Now reason issues its commands unyieldingly, without promising anything to the inclinations, and, as it were, with disregard and contempt for these claims, which are so impetuous, and at the same time so plausible, and which will not allow themselves to be suppressed by any command. Hence there arises a natural dialectic, i.e., a disposition, to argue against these strict laws of duty and to question their validity, or at least their purity and strictness; and, if possible, to make them more accordant with our wishes and inclinations, that is to say, to corrupt them at their very source, and entirely to destroy their worth- a thing which even common practical reason cannot ultimately call good.

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This is indeed the case, and it shows that Comte was using a bit of a misnomer when he called Kant's ethics altruism. The more correct term would be nihilism.

Egoism - acting for your own benefit

Altruism - acting for the benefit of others

Nihilism - acting for no one's benefit

Note, though, that the distinction exists only as far as the motivation is concerned. As far as the results are concerned, altruism and nihilism are the same: they benefit no one.

Any more questions about why Kant was the most evil one?

Purposely using loaded language to compare Kantianism to nihilism is probably not the rhetorical way to go. Kant believes that morality has a purpose, and that morally sound action should be done for some reason. Nihilism does not believe that there is a reason, or does not believe that any proposed reasons matter anyway.

Altruism benefits the majority of mankind and not a single person, so I am unsure why it benefits no one. It benefits a lot more people. Many != zero.

Using that definition, I agree with you. If you defined egoism as self interest, and altruism as self sacrifice, he would be an altruist, but he clearly thinks that people should sacrifice themselves for the sake of duty, rather than for the happiness of others. Kant was explicitly anti-happiness.

Kant does not believe that pleasure or displeasure should come into morally valuable conduct at all. That does not mean self-sacrifice. It simply means putting some other goal than pleasure (even happiness, which is the sum total of all pleasures) as the end of moral conduct. If you are maintaining a pleasure-centered moral outlook, where everything is to be evaulated by the pleasure or pain it causes (and not the motivation of the will before the conduct), then what Kant advises will be painful in some instances, and might be termed sacrificial. But then, if what you are doing is evaluated not by what you know before you do it, but by what effects it has after it's done, then one can never be sure in advance what is morally right. If I have the "best of intentions" and my conduct happens to bring about my own pain, then an egoist will say that I have done wrong - I did not maximize my own pleasure.

Kant was not anti-happiness. He explicitly states that the possession of happiness will tend to produce better acts than a state of misery, and thus happiness is a subordinate good (like intelligence, a good but not THE good). A happy man may do evil things, just as an intelligent man may do evil things, but with the proper motivation, a happy or intelligent man has more good effect in the world than a miserable or stupid man, even if that miserable or stupid man has good intentions. So Kant is certainly not against happiness, but he does not view happiness as objectively good or evil in itself.

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