Today I am racing with my (very delayed) study for a test the day after tomorrow on Contemporary Philosophy, hence my previous post and, hopefully, my next few. So I was looking for a single book from which I could extract, in my typical “borderline plagiaristic way”, material enough for quick summary posts and a decent understanding. I was lucky to mention that to a colleague who had just bought a book that seemed to be exactly what I needed: “German Philosophy 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism“, by Terry Pinkard. I gave him a ride home, borrowed the book (a real physical one!) and came home, not eager to read it, I must admit, but enjoying the fact that I had a mission that could now be accomplished. Like I said, I am late, so I am doing this sort of speed reading, highlighting just the minimum and not even taking notes when I simply had to stop and write this post. The reason is: I saw evil. I saw evil on page 44.
Ayn Rand used to talk about how Kant was pure evil, how what he intended was to destroy the world with his philosophy, his anti-reality, anti-reason, anti-life stance towards existence. She obviously exaggerated. I can’t see that little fellow as evil. And, to be honest, I don’t think his philosophy is or generates evil by itself. Yes, he reversed everything with his “Copernican revolution”, but his world of phenomena still works like my world, and his world of noumena is harmless enough — it’s even the source of all freedom and might also work as a philosophical place to leave all the remaining mystery in life.
No, the real evil is not Kant. The real evil is…
Sorry, I don’t have a word to mean what I want to say. I want to say that characteristic of man so pervasive today that allows one to “see only what one wants to see”, to bend reality to make it match one’s own inclinations, to mold existence in one’s own image, like God supposedly made man. Well, I really don’t know the word I want, and that pisses me off because I want to use this word very often, especially now that I see it so clearly in people’s discourse. Especially now that I saw on page 44.
“After Kant, it seemed that we could no longer explain our powers of thought in terms of a set of natural dispositions or in terms of their fulﬁlling some metaphysical potentiality for their own perfection. Thinking was to be understood in terms of judging according to the normative rules that govern discursive synthesis, not in terms of any kind of natural, causal, or metaphysical relation to objects (in anything like the traditional sense). Our mentality consists in the speciﬁc way in which we take up a normative stance to experience, and without that active “taking up,” there is, quite simply, no consciousness, no mentality at all. In even the most ordinary perceptions, we ﬁnd only the results of human spontaneity, expressed in self-imposed conceptual rules, combining itself with the given elements of sensory and intuitive experience, not the preordained results of a perfect order disclosing itself to us.“
I promise to you now: I will become a Ph.D in philosophy one day, even if only so that people may listen to me when I make my analyses of philosophical texts and philosophy in general. I know I am an ignorant fool right now, and that nothing philosophical I say can be regarded as serious, but one day I will show how people simply DON’T UNDERSTAND Kant, not because they can’t really grasp what he is saying — they have infinitely more ability to understand philosophy than I do right now — but simply because they can’t help but…. (here, I should write that word I can’t figure out, only in verb form) … when they read Kant.
They SEE WHAT THEY WANT TO SEE!
I forced myself to read Kant’s “Critic of Pure Reason”, I really did. It hurt like hell. The way he writes, the words he conjures, the inconsistency of his meanings, the aggravating length of his paragraphs, all that contribute for a terrible experience. Yet I persevered. And I know I understood little. Now I can’t even remember much. But the little I understood and the little I remember tells me the above quote is WRONG! Just like most of what I hear about Kant and Kantianism is wrong.
Even the most ordinary perception is a result of human spontaneity? Expressed in self-imposed rules? What people want nowadays is an excuse to do what they want, to express themselves in any way, and to have their opinions (no matter how ridiculous and evil they be) respected and upheld by “communities” of like-wise nutheads. I am not talking about this author specifically, I am talking about the “average Kantian”.
Kant said that all rational beings (be it humans or E.T.s from Andromeda) have UNIVERSAL cognitive structures that allow them to experience the world the way they do. But contemporary philosophy has distorted this up to the point of all-out personal subjectivity.
I know I can’t convince anyone of my argument. I know I don’t even have a fully-formed argument. I am tired. I have a lot to study and no motivation whatsoever. I have to make a post a day for more 267 days to fulfill my promise to myself, and I have no time. I just wasted a long time I should be studying to write this useless post. If there is any Kantian out there reading this post and getting mad about it, I’m sorry. If Mr. Terry Pinkard ever read this post and get mad about it, I’m sorry. This is just an ignorant fool vociferating his half-formed ideas about the world. Ignore me. Please.
But one day I’ll figure out the word I need, and then we’ll talk again.