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Transcending Objectivism and Kantianism
Ilya Startsev posted a topic in The Critics of ObjectivismAs can be seen with an old popular thread I started on Objectivism online forum, I am very interested in putting side-to-side various philosophies, even before I learn that some of them cannot be thoroughly compared! So I would like to find out whether it is even possible to conceive of transcending Rand’s worldview with that of her well-known ‘archenemy’ – Immanuel Kant himself. I’ve spent the last two years trying to figure out this big conflict in contemporary philosophy by studying Kant’s philosophy and debating Kantians, especially on Philosophy forums, which are now, unfortunately, non-operational. So what are some ideas that I’d like to put forward to initiate this discussion? Part I: Describing conflicts First, I want to delineate the premises of my argument as conflicting characters of both philosophies. Let Objectivism take only (a) subdivisions, while Kantianism take only (b) subdivisions. General vs. specific Objectivism is general in respect to being broadly applied to most areas of life, including even sex (in Rand’s words!). Philosophy, according to Rand, is a way of living, rather than only a way of thinking (which is a part of living but not the whole). Hence Rand is more concerned with having an integrated picture of the whole rather than only its parts in isolation or abstraction. Rand’s epistemology starts with metaphysics (most broad or general field of philosophy). Kantianism is specific in respect to being narrowly applied only to thoughts concerning positive knowledge in theoretical science, moral/ethical practice, and judgments in art. Kantian way of thinking takes ideas in isolation and abstraction and only bounded by mind, representing all areas of knowledge within mental structures and through categories of thought. Kant’s epistemology cycles through itself, making metaphysics subservient to it without a possibility of deriving any knowledge about ends. External vs. internal Objectivism is concerned with external experience of reality, where it finds knowledge. Every judgment must correspond to or be ultimately derived from external reality. Kantianism is concerned with internal experience, wherein it claims to find all positive knowledge. Everything considered to be ‘external’ to mind is merely thought to be a representation or appearance structured by our mind as pure reason or inwardly directed by mind as practical reason with aesthetic judgments connecting the two reasons. Public vs. academic Objectivism is well known in general public by means of popular novels, podcasts, presentations, and audiobooks, but not among many academicians, who openly oppose it or try to avoid it. Formal discussions of Objectivism mostly occur in Objectivist journals, and Objectivist scholars do not take these discussions to established and trustworthy academic philosophical journals. Hence the nature of Objectivist discussions and research is mostly closed rather than open, in regard to academic work. Kantianism is popular among many academicians but not in general public. Kantianism is considered by many academicians to be a ‘suble’ and ‘true’ philosophy not comprehended quite enough by most others. Objective vs. subjective Objectivism follows the ethics of rational or objective egoism to the detriment of sometimes being able to develop healthy relationships with others. Objects in this philosophy precede private subjects. Kantianism follows the ethics of rational yet subjective altruism to the point of forcing others (even violently) to heed one’s ‘social’ will (especially of those in power) as if it were universal law. Peikoff describes Kantian influences on Nazism in The Ominous Parallels, and Kant himself praises the sublime in war over peace in Critique of Judgment, §28. Thus, subjects in this philosophy are not only central but the only ones, as physical objects in themselves are non-existent. Political vs. scientific Objectivism has greatly influenced the progress of politics and economics through conservatives, neoconservatives, libertarians, and even some liberals. However, Objectivism hasn’t had much effect on science. Kantianism has greatly influenced the progress of science through Bohr’s Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, Chomsky’s universal grammar theory, and various neuro and cognitive scientists, anthropologists, and psychologists. However, Kantianism hasn’t had as much direct effect in politics. Part II: Transcending conflicts Second, as a possible way to transcend these areas as it would mostly benefit Objectivism (like a stronger connection to academia in 3), I need to provide a potential idea to be built upon. My current and main source of inspiration is Leonard Peikoff’s DIM Hypothesis (2012), which is based on Rand’s epistemology, in particular her theory of concepts. What Peikoff develops in his book called after his hypothesis is a metaphilosophy (although he doesn’t call it that) specifying boundaries of all philosophies involving three categories: disintegrating, integrating, and misintegrating. As a point of contention, these are Peikoff’s words that I reinterpreted in favor of my own hypothesis: I’ve been building on some concepts from Peikoff’s hypothesis this past couple of years and have found another way (a visual method) to describe all philosophies, while also borrowing some of these terms from Peikoff. Based on my extensive research, I would like to show not only that I independently verified some insights from Peikoff’s hypothesis (as I also did a few years back for Rand’s theory) but also describe what he had achieved (and he considers this book his greatest achievement so far) as an understanding of Rand’s epistemology not as an epistemology in academic sense (which they don’t accept as such) but a meta-epistemology that transcends epistemology as conceived by Kant. If Rand’s epistemology be truly a meta-epistemology and Peikoff’s hypothesis be truly metaphilosophical, then we can use these areas to transcend Kant’s ‘transcendental’ philosophy without losing specificity required (as in 1). As far as I know, Kant never covered these areas in his philosophy. Considering that there also exists a term ‘metametaphysics’ (books on the topic: 2009, 2015, and 2016; cf. my metaphysics), maybe this so-called ‘transcendence’ can also achieve greater breadth than Rand was able to conceive, although, as speculative as all this may sound, there is currently not enough understanding of these new ‘meta’ (meaning not just ‘after’ but ‘beyond’) fields because they are on the frontier of contemporary philosophical research. Maybe we can share knowledge and understanding to see whether any of my suggestions have ground for further developments. At the end, if we reach any conclusion, we may find and improve upon the missing links required for Objectivism to hold the center stage it deserves in philosophical discussions.
I am neck-deep in ARI's 50 hour course on "The History of Western Philosophy" taught by Leonard Peikoff. I am perplexed by an answer to one of the quizzes - perhaps someone can help me. I understood Peikoff to be quite explicit when explaining that Kant taught that true reality (what I take to mean the neumenal world as-it-is-in-itself) is outside the realm of direct consideration. Does he reach the conclusion that causality (via the categories) exists specifically because he has deduced it, and thus we can say (from a Kantian perspective) that causality exists in the world as-it-is-in-itself? I'm wondering if the use of the term "World as-it-is-in-itself" is confusing me here, as I don't know whether this is referring to the Neumenal or Phenomenal. I got this question wrong, even when consulting my notes closely! Argh...any thoughts on this?
From "In Condemnation of Apathy"
Sean O'Connor posted a topic in EthicsApathy comes from any degree of belief in any of the theories which teach it, whether explicitly or implicitly. Ayn Rand writes “For some two hundred years, under the influence of Immanuel Kant, the dominant trend of philosophy has been directed to a single goal: the destruction of man’s mind, of his confidence in the power of reason. Today we are seeing the climax of that trend.” (“Philosophy: Who Needs It”) One example, she explains, in her essay “Causality Versus Duty” is Kant’s notion of “duty” which she notes is “intrinsically anti-causal” and that “a ‘duty‘ defies the principle of efficient causation-since it is causeless (or supernatural); in its effects, it defies the principle of final causation- since it must be performed regardless of consequences”. The idea that thoughts and actions are fundamentally inconsequential provide no reason, and no motive for an individual to care, i.e., to objectively determine values, and morals, or to identify one’s self as a rational, consequential, productive, valuable entity. How then is a person to determine his or her values, which theoreticians should one look to for guidance, which have been most influential and why? Obviously, given the fact that our political system is veering towards communism, and given the typical explanations claiming to justify our political direction, it is indeed safe to say that Immanuel Kant, as well as Karl Marx, have had a tremendous influence on the majority of people, whether they know it or not. A product of Immanuel Kant’s ideology, which Ayn Rand does not mention too often, is Friedrich Nietzsche, who ironically was unaware of how influenced he was by Kant. Essentially, four theoreticians progressively dismantled the value of the mind and the idea that there is either no reality, or no way of knowing there is a reality or what reality is, which is central to the propagation of apathy. David Hume initiated the atrocity by saying that the best the mind can calculate is probability, and thus, there is no absolute- which is of course a contradiction in terms, because then their could not absolutely be no absolute.).Hume served as Immanuel Kant’s greatest inspiration. As Wikipedia explains, “[Kant] also credited David Hume with awakening him from “dogmatic slumber” (circa 1771). Hume had stated that experience consists only of sequences of feelings, images or sounds. Ideas such as ’cause’, goodness, or objects were not evident in experience, so why do we believe in the reality of these? Kant felt that reason could remove this skepticism, and he set himself to solving these problems.” (http://en.wikipedia....i/Immanuel_Kant; retrieved 4/21/12) He did so by establishing that we are to live for the sake of others out of duty, and that the mind does not indicate anything about reality- which is the evasion metaphysics. Immanuel Kant then served as Arthur Schopenhauer’s great inspiration. Schopenhauer essentially said that everything is an illusion called “maya” and anybody who tells you differently does so because he or she has evil motives, thus Schopenhauer is the quintessential pessimist. Schopenhauer was Friedrich Nietzsche’s great inspiration. Nietzsche said, in essence, that even the concept “evil” is an illusion, and that even the concept “illusion” is merely an indefinite word. Nietzsche did not believe in anything other than whatever served to empower him. The nihilism of Friedrich Nietzsche is the climax of David Hume’s skepticism, the product of which is the anti-concept “post-modernism”, which means truth is what ever each individual deems it to be, and that we must never judge what another person claims to be true because it would be offensive, disrespectful, and lead to conflict. The idea that one should not judge others, or proclaim that truth is absolute makes it quite challenging not to become apathetic. You are lost in a culture of intellectual chaos, and extreme uncertainty, and as I stated earlier, you are tempted either to become an apathetic nihilist or an apathetic altruist. The nihilist is an absurd, and pure whim-worshiper; a freak show, and tends to be an anarchist, not because he or she cares, but because he or she is a pure immoralist, and does not want to be hindered by philosophy, or law. “A rebel without a cause” so to speak. Now just as there are two forms of apathy (nihilistic or altruistic), there are also two forms of altruism. There is apathetic altruism, and there is manipulative altruism. Apathetic altruists simply don’t care that they subordinate themselves to the manipulative altruists- the ones who take complete advantage of the apathetic altruist. For example, John Nicholson is an apathetic altruist (A Nietzschean of sorts), whereas President Barack Obama is a manipulative altruist (A Kantian of sorts). To those of you who would say my characterization only describes the secularists within American culture, and that, to the contrary, those philosophers I mentioned are of minimal influence in contrast to Jesus Christ, I regret to say that Christianity has become obsolete in America. Approximately 78.4% of Americans claim to be Christian. ( http://en.wikipedia....e_United_States ; 4/21/12) but if we examine cultural trends, do they reflect fundamentalist Christians of pure conviction, i.e., absolutists, or liberal, pragmatic Christians, i.e., non-absolutists influenced by Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, and/or Nietzsche? In other words, regardless of what the majority of Americans claim to believe, to what extent do they actually care, fundamentally, about what they claim to believe? Are they “Christians” or “apathetics”? The 8th commandment says “you shall not steal” and yet theft is a major trend in this county which is supposedly dominated by Christians. This theft is committed by anyone who supports income taxes and demands government subsidy in any form. These thieves, most of whom claim to be Christian, certainly do not ask for forgiveness. Instead they demand more expropriation! Their latest demands, among the tamest of them, is that anybody who earns an annual income of $1 million or more pay higher taxes than everyone else, that the government allow people who get jobs to continue receiving unemployment funds, and that everybody be forced into purchasing health insurance. Now, in contrast, a Christian is a capitalist by virtue of the eighth commandment. It is obvious that most self proclaimed Christians and thus most of the U.S. population does not care about their philosophy and thus possess weak, apathetic, ever changing minds. These minds are the targets of communists and Islamists. Now keep in mind that today, America, a country where the majority thinks philosophy is ultimately irrelevant, is in an ideological war against Islamic terrorists. On what basis, since even the concept of a philosophical basis does not matter to most Americans, can those Americans firmly oppose the evil ideas of their enemies? They cannot. We see this inability explicitly articulated by President Barack Obama’s flimsy foreign policy, and extremely unstable staff. (His Secret Service, the GSA, et cetera). And yet, a firm ideology, or the semblance of one, and the ability to articulate it, at least within the menagerie of our government, in the midst of a war on terror and catastrophic debt, is now more crucial than it has been since Americans debated legalized slavery. In an ideological war. i.e, a war between nations of groups of different ideologies, if you are anti-philosophical/apathetic, you will be unable to defend yourself on intellectual grounds- you will lack conviction where as every terrorist has conviction- they know exactly why they’re fighting and can explain themselves. Furthermore, their conviction motivates them. What motivates the majority of Americans? Only the sedation of their apathy. Both the communists and the Islamist terrorists are competing for the role of sedation supplier for the American apathetic. (For eloquent, and detailed analysis of this, I refer you to The Glenn Beck Program). ((You may read the entire essay at http://seanoconnorli...25/hello-world/ ))