Kantian Gloom-Watch: Kant Strikes Back Edition

Not content to be caricatured by the likes of me (and it is a caricature, which I think we take too seriously at our philosophical peril), Kant responds:

As for those [e.g. Kant himself] who play down or outright deny the boasting eulogies that are given of the happiness and contentment that reason can supposedly bring us: the judgment they are making doesn’t involve gloom, or ingratitude for how well the world is governed. Rather, it is based on the idea of another and far nobler purpose for their existence. It is for achieving this purpose, not happiness, that reason is properly intended; and this purpose is the supreme condition, so that the private purposes of men must for the most part take second place to it. Its being the supreme or highest condition means that it isn’t itself conditional on anything else; it is to be aimed at no matter what else is the case; which is why our private plans must stand out of its way.

Kant, Grundlegung, Ak. 4:396


“There’s more to life than books, you know (but not much more…)”

Nicole has tagged me for this reading meme, which you’ll all have seen before:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people. (Shan’t! Can’t make me!)

Here is the quote:

For him [Fichte] the first principle of our thought in general must be itself grounded in a higher principle of spontaneity—most familiar in its derivative form as the moral law—if the unification of theoretical and practical philosophy is to be possible without the obliteration of freedom.

Reinhold insists that, in order to end the series of conditions known to philosophy, the Grundsatz cannot merely fail to have any condition or ground outside itself, for then it and philosophy as a whole would be merely arbitrary or groundless; rather the Grundsatz must be self-grounding. Although he is not always careful to distinguish them, Reinhold seems to have three different sorts of self-grounding in mind [self-explanation, self-evidence and self-determination].

Paul Franks ‘The Origins of Post-Kantianism’ in Transcendental Arguments: Problems and Prospects (ed.) R. Stern

All in all, that’s a very suitable suitable quote to represent this blog; I think I would be hard pressed to find a better passage were I to try to cherry pick one. The book is not even mine though! It is from my housemate’s collection on transcendental arguments that was lying at my feet on the floor of our living room.

Pippin on conceptions of freedom

Pippin gives a nice pithy survey of nineteenth century conceptions of freedom in the ‘author meets critics’ session on his Henry James and Modern Moral Life (video here) which I thought I’d note down here (because I am procrastinating…):

In the nineteenth century alone, at various times, it looked like I could be said to be free if I had set a goal myself on the basis of reasons (freedom as autonomy of a sort); if I had psychologically identified wholeheartedly with the end (freedom as authenticity or non-alienation); if I precisely had not identified with any role, and could take on and discard roles the way an actor takes on and discards roles (freedom as irony, as in Rameau’s Nephew or Schlegel); if I had the means to achieve some end (freedom as power); if I had experienced no human impediments to my pursuits (freedom as negative liberty); or if I had experienced in my striving a development and growth (dynamic self-realization).

Links: Zizek, Schiller and new blogs

I am a little busy (marking and writing—at least I should be), so here are some links instead of a proper post.

1. Zizek videos

Ecology Without Nature
Materialism and Theology
Rules, Race and Mel Gibson
The Liberal Utopia
The Reality of the Virtual
Liebe dein Sympton wie Dich selbst! (German documentary but mostly in English)
Zizek! (movie documentary)

2. Zizek audio

Here, including his still ongoing ‘Embedded in Ideology’ masterclass.

3. Inquiry

The new issue of Inquiry is out, with a symposium on Fred Beiser’s recent book on Schiller. For anyone who does not already have a copy, an electronic version of Schiller’s intensely wonderful ‘Letters Upon the Aesthetic Education of Man’ is available here.

There’s also an article on McDowell’s idealism by Adrian Haddock. I can’t seem to get access to it via Athens at the moment for some reason, so if someone could e-mail me a pdf of the Haddock article then I’d be grateful.

4. New Blogs

My friends Tom and Megan have recently started philosophy blogs here and here. There’s not a great deal on either of them yet, but I am sure there’ll be plently of interest up there soon enough for those of you into your philosophy of language and political theory respectively. Also deserving of mention are two newish blogs with more or less self-explanatory titles, meaning is use and A blog about social practices.

Brandom as a reader of Kant: A revised account of key Brandomian themes

If anyone can stomach yet another tract on Brandom, I’ve been trying to come at the themes of autonomy and objectivity from a different angle. The results are somewhat lengthy, again, so I’ve put them below the fold.

Continue reading