Saturday, 17 September 2011

The trouble with Kant: couldn't have said it better myself

From The New Yorker article on Derek Parfit (September 5th, 2011, issue):

"He felt that the crucial Kantian idea of autonomy, for instance, was just a blatant cheat: Kant wanted there to be a universally valid moral law, and wanted every person to have the moral autonomy to determine the law for himself, and he just couldn't accept that you couldn't have both those things at once:

I asked a Kantian, 'Does this mean that, if I don't give myself Kant's Imperative as a law, I am not subject to it?' 'No,' I was told, 'you have to give yourself a law, and there's only one law.' This reply was maddening, like the propaganda of the so-called People's Democracies of the old Soviet bloc, in which voting was compulsory and there was only one candidate. And when I said, 'But I haven't given myself Kant's Imperative as a law,' I was told, 'Yes you have.'"

3 comments:

TH2 said...

Not only was Kant's notion of the moral autonomy of the self a howler, he was also a dilettante in science. Kant feigned, for example, an understanding of mathematics and Newton's Principia. Demonstrated by Fr. Jaki: Planets and Planetarians (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1978), pp. 111–122, 145–148.

Alan Aversa said...

Of course he feigned it! He would've actually reconciled empiricism and rationalism had he a deep understanding of Newton.

Alan Aversa said...

If you don't have a proper metaphysics you won't have a proper ethics. See Stephen Long's "'Goods' Without Normative Order to the Good Life, Happiness, or God: The New Natural Law Theory and the Nostrum of Incommensurability."

Deo gratias I've read very little Kant, just his Sapere aude essay and the part of the CPR arguments for God's existence. Kant seemed to have a hatred of scholastics, basically considering them subtle tricksters.