We often designate the 18th century as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason due to the pervasive confidence in rationality and the burgeoning optimism that distinguished the era. According to many virtuosos of rationalism, the possibility of mitigating all of our problems – social, psychological, and material – seemed not just feasible but inevitable.Continue reading Nothing but Sophistry and Illusion
“Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” Continue reading Change the World?
If philosophy cannot guide our conduct, much less change behavior, then why should we bother read philosophy at all? Curiosity, perhaps? If philosophy can help guide conduct, then let’s look at conduct. At the bare minimum, our actions are the result of character, which is what we fundamentally will as motivation. Then it follows that a change in motives will result in a change in action. Then it is reasonable that philosophy can at least produce a change in the information we have about the world that is relevant to how we act.
I view the transcendent concept as the ultimate armchair philosopher’s method of condescending to natural sciences and history and it began with Kant’s conditions of possibility. Whereas physics & history find conditions for the existence of entities by locating temporally prior entities, philosophy achieves such autonomy only as long it escapes time. Continue reading Skepticism of the transcendence of language
The paradox Kant raises in the Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, §13, is that two intrinsically alike objects must be interchangeable. However, some objects are exactly intrinsically alike, but they’re not interchangeable. He noted that his right hand is virtually identical to its image in the mirror. However, he could not replace his right hand with its mirror-image. He then proceeded to state that he could not think of any “internal difference” (Prolegomena, p. 37) between his right hand and its image in the mirror. Yet he could sense the difference between them for they were not truly congruent. Continue reading Kant’s paradox
The Problem of Evil (PoE), as formulated within the philosophical & theological tradition, presupposes that one acknowledges a magisterial god who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good. If such a being exists, then the existence of evil becomes a moral mystery. On the face of things, an all good God would eliminate evil; an all-knowing God would know how to eliminate evil, an all-powerful God would be able to eliminate evil, an all-good God would desire to eliminate evil. Evil shouldn’t exist, if God exists, because everything should already be perfect, precisely because the world is the creation of a perfect creator. Continue reading Kant, Schopenhauer, and the Problem of Evil
Imagine something too hot to handle. A hot potato. Now, try imagining something too cold to touch. They freeze the handler by draining away all vitality. Perhaps some insights are far too cold to be adequately handled enough to be understood. Unlike most insights that enlighten, these cold insights carry a sense of danger – even potentially harmful for many who deceive themselves. Continue reading Greatest insight
The irony of the Enlightenment: Immanuel Kant, the late 18th century thinker, was indisputably the greatest philosopher of Enlightenment. But it is also interesting to note that his critical philosophy project resulted in a devastating blow to the foundation of Enlightenment itself- our trust in reason. The faculty of reason is essentially an impulse for the unconditioned condition, and constantly urges our understanding on. Kant made it clear that man will never know the true nature of reality, and is limited to mere appearances. Despite being championed as the great icon of Enlightenment, with his transcendentalism he set the ball rolling down the mountain of truth and shattered the ideals of the gilded age at the bottom, in the gulch of the 20th century.
We are picking among the remnants for whatever remains salvageable. The consequences of such absurd praise of reason or rationalism in Enlightenment resulted in two great wars in the 20th century, which were committed at the source of naturalistic humanism. Reason and rationalism, secular reasoning especially never achieved its vast promise of transforming a superstitious culture into a rational utopia. At least some of us realize that within this massive failure, liberation is never of the human, but always and only in a negatory manner: from the human. Where does that leave us? The ghost of a lost innocence haunts the age in the form of postmodernist reflections.
Appendix: Critique of Kantian metaphysics
Schopenhauer devoted the final section of the first volume to a thorough critique of Kantian metaphysics. The critique was intended in order to highlight the greatness of Kant and the quote by Voltaire said it all: It is the privilege of true genius, and especially genius who opens up a new path, to make great mistakes with impunity. Plato and the Hindu are the other intellectual muses, but Kant is the chief golden calf Schopenhauer genuflects before in the majority of The World as Will and Representation, but by the end of the book, he wields the hammer of Uru to clear away the rusty flakes. It is much easier to point out the faults and errors in the work of a great mind than to give a clear and complete exposition of its value. (WWR p. 415) Continue reading World as Will and Representation: Appendix