Off-Print of “Freedom on This and the Other Side of Kant” from Proceedings of the XIIth International Kant Congress in Vienna, Austria (September 2015) – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

This abridged version of the paper “Freedom on This and the Other Side of Kant” was presented at the XIIth International Kant Congress in Vienna, Austria, September 21-25, 2015. This abridged version is published in Natur und Freiheit, Akten des XII. Internationalen Kant-Kongresses, hrsg. v. Violetta L. Waibel, Margit Ruffing und David Wagner (Berlin/Boston, 2018: 1959-1966 – Proceedings of the 12th International Kant Society Meeting at the University of Vienna, Austria (September 21-25, 2015

The unabridged version is available under “Categories: Freedom on This and the Other Side of Kant at https://criticalidealism.org

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Post-Update Project Underway

POST-UPDATE PROJECT
(Summer 2019)

A “Post-Update Project” has been underway here at criticalidealism.org since mid-July, 2019. All posts with an “Updated” line at the beginning have been completed.

WHAT’S NEW:

    1. The post has been reviewed and edited.
    2. A pdf file download button has been added so that the paper is available with page numbers and footnotes. All posts are Copyright Protected over Creative Commons.
    3. A “Works Cited” page has been added at the end of (most) posts.
    4. All citations to Kant’s works have been changed to the Akademie Ausgabe (AA) convention as follows:

AA indicator, plus Volume #: Page #s (e.g., the Critique of Judgment
citation is AA V: page #(s).

This revision means that the Kant citations are not tied either to a non-Akademie Ausgabe German edition or to a particular English translation. Because the citations to Kant in the posts was most frequently to the Weischedel edition from the Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, access to the citations was limited to German readers with access to that edition. This update project allows particularly English readers to find the passages referred to in the notes. The reader will only need to find English translations with The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy Edition page numbers in the columns.

As a translator, I know painfully well that there is no “perfect” translation so that the citation to the Akademie Ausgabe allows the reader to quickly check the original German. Twenty-three volumes of the Akademie Ausgabe are available on-line at https://korpora.zim.uni-duisburg-essen.de/kant/verzeichnisse-gesamt.html

Please share with me any errors that you find! I would deeply appreciate your suggestions at dougm@mail.de

Studying Religion: More and Less than Mapping Territories (33 PAGES) – Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019

“Studying Religion: More and Less than Mapping Territories” by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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 “Studying Religion:  More and Less than Mapping Territories”

Abstract

Rather than portray Religious Studies by J. Z. Smith’s metaphor of mapping territories, here the metaphor is extended to cover Kant’s description of the human condition as consisting of three regions of experience: fields (Felde), territories (Böden), and domains (Gebiete). All three regions involve clarity of conceptualization.  Fields constitute regions of experience where there is conceptualization without rules (e.g., dreams, fantasies, hallucinations), territories regions where rules are possible but not universal (e.g., civic laws), and domains regions where rules are necessary and universal (e.g., nature and creative freedom). Concerned with all three, RS is grounded in the necessary conditions of possibility for experience where there is self-legislation (because imperceptible) of rules for its understanding and action. This paper contrasts this grounding in domains with eleven territories of RS. Neither a mere perspective on life nor limited to a single region of experience, RS focuses on pure religion at the core of all historical religion.

Freedom! What’s It Good For? 17 Pages – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

Freedom! What is it good for? by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Freedom! What’s it good for?

In his 1979 essay “What’s wrong with Negative Liberty,”[1] Charles Taylor identifies Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts of Liberty”[2] as the archaeological heritage to which he appeals in order to engage a discussion of freedom.  However, Taylor employs Berlin’s concept of negative freedom (freedom from external interference) as the straw man for formulating an alternative notion of positive freedom to Berlin’s positive freedom.  Berlin’s positive freedom is “coercive freedom” in the sense of Rousseau’s Social Contract through which the individual subordinates her-/himself to a “higher authority” such as parents or the state in order to increase one’s, or to achieve a greater, freedom.  In contrast, Taylor’s positive freedom is not “coercive” but “purposive.”  In other words, Taylor wants to acknowledge that freedom involves not merely an alternative between radical independence and external coercion, but positive freedom is concerned with “internal” elements (the individual’s desires) that lead to our pursuing purposive ends.  For Taylor, then, Berlin’s notions of negative and positive freedom are inadequate to grasp the true character of positive freedom:  the pursuit of ends governed by our internal desires.  Because not all desires are moral, though, the desires that govern Taylor’s notion of positive freedom as “purposive” require a “second-order” reflection that invokes moral principles to govern our desires.  For Taylor, the source of these moral principles is religion.

“Religion and Morality” Presented at the University of Cape Town – 27 Feb. – 1 Mar., 2019 (7 pages; with notes 15 pages) – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

Conference Call for Papers

Department of Religious Studies

University of Cape Town

Call for Papers

Moral and Ethical Frameworks and Performances

Convenors: Abdulkader Tayob; Andrea Brigaglia

In spite of deep-seated modernist suspicions, religions have been expected by the state and by societies to take some responsibility for morality and ethics. The close connection between moralities and religions has been recognized as an important part of social life. From Kant’s vision of religion rooted in ethics, to the challenges of globalization, ecological degradation and poverty alleviation in our time, religions are expected and often do respond with ethical values and virtues. This hope invested in religion is not always matched by social theory. Most contemporary and early modern scholars have not seen a close affinity between religion and true morality (ethics). The prevailing doxa is that the two are worlds apart. While freedom occupies an essential feature of a truly moral and ethical life, obligation and compulsion are believed to dominate religious life. The latter was characterised by very little scope for deviation and adaptation, which makes ethical choices difficult if not impossible. While closer attention to religious life has challenged these presuppositions, the prevailing prejudice is  hard to change. Religious moralities might be valued, but they are hardly regarded as truly ethical.

Recent interest in Aristotle’s virtue ethics has prompted a turn to the religious life worlds where ethics and morality are guided by a complex of beliefs, values and practices.  Theodicies (the justification for the persistence of evil) are only one among the many ways in which religious traditions frame human life on earth. Other ways of thinking about how religions frame ethics and ethical dispositions  might be conceptions of the nature of good or evil, conceptions of the human person, patterns of social and culture life that sustain moral life, or the future of the good in this world and the afterworlds. But conceptions of a moral life are not presented in clearly organized frameworks. They are embodied and lived through narratives and practices that sustain a moral and religious life for individuals and groups. And they are subtly malleable, but also resilient to winds of change.

This is a call for papers on the deep connection between religious traditions and morality as it is articulated in texts, beliefs, media, dispositions, practices, attitudes and emotions.

  • What are the conceptions of the good life and how are they formulated and framed in the foundational texts religious traditions?
  • How are ideas of religious ethics and morality embodied and sustained over a period of time. How do they meet the demands of change and challenges in political, economic or cultural contexts?
  • How are ethics and moralities sustained and transmitted through informal and formal educational projects?

If you are interested, please send a detailed summary of 1500 words to Abdulkader.Tayob@uct.ac.za  by 30 October 2018. A meeting will be planned for January 2019.

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Religion and Morality[1]

Douglas R McGaughey
30 January 2019

Abstract

 

If there is anyone who was not (and today would not be) surprised about a disconnect “between religion and ethics, it would be Immanuel Kant.[2] Nonetheless, the two are deeply connected: there can be no morality without particular experience in the world and the transcendental conditions of possibility for which the term religion is appropriate.

On the Value and Lack of Values of Artificial Intelligence (9 Pages) – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

“On the Value and Lack of Values of Artificial Intelligence” by Douglas R. McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Presented in Prof. Otfried Höffe’s
Oberseminar
12 January 2019
Tübingen

 

On the Value and Lack of Values of Artificial Intelligence[1]

Abstract

An examination of the claims made on behalf of “artificial intelligence” (AI) that it can and will replace human rationality.  Whereas AI has the potential to be beneficial (as the case with any product of autonomous freedom), it also has the potential to be extremely destructive.  However, the core thesis of the paper is not simply one of a critique of AI by practical reason but a rejection of the materialistic reductionism on the part of the blind defenders of AI.  Already in the 18th Century, Critical Idealism pointed out that there is far more to reason than the “hypothetical” imperatives and “culture” of technical skills.  We lose humanity when we overlook the a priori synthetic structures of theoretical and practical reason, the reflecting judgment of “aesthetics,” and “pure” religion.

Mea culpa – Anachronistic Metaphor Interference: Synthesis as nexus and compositio 28 October 2018

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Mea culpa – Anachronistic Metaphor Interference:
Synthesis as nexus and compositio
28 October 2018

The postings on https://criticalidealism.org make no claim to perfection because the limits to reason are so ubiquitous and pervasive.  Furthermore, because the postings are (and must be) reflections stimulated by Kant’s writings, they make no claim to know what Kant “really meant.”  To make such a claim would be to succumb not only to the arrogance of hermeneutical certainty denied by the very limits to reason so central to Kant’s project but also to the illusion of the intentional fallacy.

Nonetheless, it is painful to have to acknowledge that one has made the same error that one has pointed out in the writings of other interpreters:  anachronistic, metaphor interference.  This is a label for the assumption that what a metaphor means today (or at the point in time of an interpreter’s writing) is what the metaphor meant for Kant.  Jean Paul wrote in his Vorschule der Aesthetik in 1804 in Sämmtiche Werke, Vol 42 (Berlin:  S. Reimer, 1827):  24-25 that “each language is a dictionary of faded metaphors.”   Given that all language is metaphorical, not literal, it should come as no surprise that the meaning of a term for a particular author must be arrived at through careful attention to its context of usage.  However, interpreters pro and con of Kant have acceded to metaphor interference with respect to core elements in Kant’s terminology:  a few examples are autonomous freedom, Enlightenment, a priori synthetic judgment, radical evil, Anlage  and Hang, critique, Copernican Turn, subreption, Ding an sich, Noumenon and Phenomena, regulative and constitutive ideas, “pure”/rein, Anschauung, etc.

“Desiderata 2018” – 5 Pages

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Desiderata 2018

The page is blank. It turns into a “text” because there is an “animal” capable of “seeing” more than just a blank page. The page is a metaphor for a life, and this “animal’s” capacity to generate a “text” is what makes all the difference …

What follows seeks to unpack this difference in a way that enables the reader to grasp its transforming power as far more than the blind causality that, like leavening yeast, changes flour and water into a loaf of bread. This difference involves more, though, then just the individual because, as a communal project, it is grounded in dignity from which springs not the self- and social-destruction of mere self-promotion and material aggrandizement but the elevating joy of responsible creativity that improves us all. Make no mistake: The duty that accompanies dignity is no depressing weight that crushes the enjoyment of life but a call to do one’s best despite the inescapable and ineradicable limits that biology places upon us. It is precisely our imperceptible limits that make it possible for us to stretch the perceptible limits of the physical world. When we do so with a sense of insight and responsibility, we not only draw on the thrill of creativity but also commit ourselves to what makes our efforts truly worthwhile: the preservation of the material conditions of life as we creatively transform what are only merely apparent, perceptible limits of the material world.

God is Necessary to be Good (10 pages) – Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019

“God is Necessary to be Good” by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

With Index to Footnote Themes

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Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies
Ioannou Centre
Oxford, UK
August 2, 2018

God is Necessary to be Good!

Abstract

This paper proposes that, although one best avoid invoking an anthropomorphic deity, belief in God is, nonetheless, a necessary assumption for the exercising of humanity’s moral capacity.  This invokes the notion of the “good,” which will be parsed according to an amoral, a categorical, and a hypothetical good that grounds (or is necessary for) autonomous freedom’s ability to intentionally initiate sequences of events that, otherwise, nature on its own cannot accomplish, which, in turn, makes moral effort possible.  Denial of this set of themes is, of course, conceivable, but methodological skepticism’s Copernican Turn points out that such scoffing amounts to misanthropy.

Reason Suppresses Feelings? Or Moses Mendelssohn’s Influence on Kant’s Project of Three Critiques (20 Pages) – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

Reason Suppresses Feelings? Or Moses Mendelssohn’s Influence on Kant’s Project of Three Critiques by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Originally Presented at Stellenbosch University
in Stellenbosch, South Africa,
24 April 2017
Revised 27 June 2018

 

Reason Suppresses Feelings?[1]
Or
Moses Mendelssohn’s Influence on Kant’s Project of Three Critiques

Abstract.: A common claim is that the proper functioning of reason requires the suppression of feelings because feelings are a debilitating, merely subjective pathology that cloud and/or distort clear thinking. Frequently, as well, it is claimed that Enlightenment reason’s suppression of feelings is exemplified by Kant. This paper proposes to the contrary that a more appropriate understanding of the role of feelings (not emotions, generally) for Kant’s Critical Idealism, rather than being a pathological hindrance to reason, as well as an understanding of the centrality of the third Critique is served by examining Section VII of Mendelssohn’s Morning Hours – Lectures on the Existence of God. The feelings of awe and respect are positive and ubiquitous to theoretical and practical reason as they, not by their content but by their function, motivate creativity and the assumption of moral accountability for the decisions driving, and the actions deriving from, such creativity.

The Human Spirit: Groundwork

Co-authored with James R. Cochrane (Available as of January 2018)

Title Page, Endorsements, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, and Introduction:

Click Here

Available as Kindle e-book at Amazon.com.  The link to download the free Kindle App in order to read Kindle e-books on a PC (or other media) is

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=kindle+for+pc

The e-book is in pdf format, which gives page numbers that make citations accurate.

Theology and Revolution -The 1839 Zurich Revolution: A Reader in the History of Theology for the Theology of History (Updated July 2019)

The 1839 political revolution in Zurich, Switzerland, provides a view not only of an early, yet still relevant, clash between the natural sciences and populist religion but also of the value of distinguishing between a so-called, empirically driven history of theology and a subjectively driven theology of history.

Despite all the developments in New Testament criticism since 1835, David Friedrich Strauß’ The Life of Jesus Critically Examined continues to be valuable for insights into the gospel narratives — particularly though by no means exclusively, the issue of miracles. Furthermore, Strauß’ shift from a far-Left-Wing Hegelian Speculative Theology in 1835 to a Kantian Practical Religion in 1864 indicates the value of the “Copernican Turn” in theology even for today.

Part I offers an overview of the key issues at stake in the engagement of Strauß in the 1830s and today. It provides a summary of the political, religious, and scientific context, and a presentation of the shift in David Friedrich Strauß’ theological understanding between the 1835 The Life of Jesus Critically Examined and 1864 The Life of Jesus Prepared for the German People that allows the identification of a Copernican Turn in his theological understanding from a history of theology to a theology of history.

Part II consists of the historical reader. It provides translations of thirteen documents: two historical accounts of the revolution’s events (one official, the other partisan), street pamphlets, newspaper articles, official governmental reports, and public letters pro and con, as well. The originals are available below.

Part III consists of five essays that seek to profile 1) the significance for today of the theology of history for the understanding of humanity, 2) the meaning of “radical” evil in Kant’s philosophical theology, 3) the significance of “Enlightenment” not as the triumph of instrumental but as the challenge that is practical reason, 4) the open-ended interface between religion and science, and 4) the general study of religion that 5) focusses on what is universal in religions, not merely on what is different.

Part IV completes the project with an account of the tragic consequences of the revolution: the “Report on the Activity of the Aid Society for the Good of the Victims of 6 September 1839.”

Project Overview:

Précis

Introduction

Table of Contents

Works Cited

Original German Materials in the Order of Their Appearance (List in Table of Contents):

Schultheß, Aufzeichnungen über die Straußische Bewegung und den 6. September 1839

Beschreibung des 6. Herbstmonats 1839 in Zürich

Paulus, Ueber theologische Lehrfreiheit

de Wette, Dr. Strauß und die Züricher Kirche

Strauß darf und soll nicht kommen!!

Strauß, Sensschreiben an die … Herren Bürgermeister Hirzel, Prof. Orelli und Prof Hitzig in Zürich

Antwort eines Laien auf das Sendschreiben des Hrn. D. Strauss an Hirzel, Orelli und Hitzig

Henne, Sendschreiben an den Großen Rath des Kantons Zürich

Meyer, Der Werth des geschriebenen Wortes an Henne

Kottinger, Doktor Strauß und seine Lehre. Ein freies Wort an die freien Züricher

Wirth, An dem Verfasser der Schrift: “Doctor Strauss und seine Lehre,” und das Zürichische Volk

Scherr, Ein freies und belehrendes Sendschreiben des züricherischen Seminardirektors an die Herren

Bericht über die Wirksamkeit des Hülfvereins zum Besten der am 6. September 3829 Verunglückten

Critical Idealism’s Defense of Investment in the Liberal Arts: Précis (3 Pages)

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Critical Idealism’s Defense of Investment
in the Liberal Arts:  Précis

Doug McGaughey

Welcome to Critical Idealism!

A Critical Idealist begins by asking what are the (usually, unquestioned) presuppositions of the issue at hand.  Appropriately, in my humble opinion, the usual defense of the Liberal Arts builds on issues of change, skills, knowledge, and creativity.  However, these terms are employed as if they are self-evident.  Maybe they’re not self-evident!

Introduction

Succinctly, rather than acquiring skills in order to create, we are a creating species that must acquire skills – our instincts are so lousy.  The symbolic (figurative language) and responsibility (morality) are not after-thoughts or “frosting-on-the-cake” but at the very core of what it means to be and become human.  Creativity, the symbolic, and morality all require education because they are not “natural.”

“The Cyclops and the Philosopher’s Stone” (15 Pages) – 30 July 2017[1] – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

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The Cyclops and the Philosopher’s Stone[1]

Abstract:

Regardless of national, ethnic, religious, and/or gender identity, or commitment to/rejection of the natural sciences, we are all pragmatic, instrumental cyclops today.  Thankfully, we are not genetically cyclops, but we have so long ignored, and become so comfortable with blocking, our “second” eye that we are threatened with evolutionary mutation to a single eye.  With Homer’s “Cyclops” representing the mere empiricism of “opening one’s eyes” and the Bacchae Dionysian representing a portrayal of insightful rapture that is the “closing of one’s eyes” (the exact opposite to the Cyclops’ empiricism), Odysseus and Athena are taken to represent the power of pragmatic, instrumental reason over nature.  Nonetheless, the Cyclops, the Bacchae, Odysseus, and Athena are all various forms of monocularity.  In order to preserve our “second eye,” we need the “Stone of the Wise” or “Philosopher’s Stone[2]” (der Stein der Weisen) that reminds us of the importance of practical reason to complement mere empiricism and its pragmatic, instrumental reason.

The Petri Dish Only Confirms that Kant was Correct: Or Technical, Teleological, and Practical ‘Purposiveness’ in Science and Morality (15 Pages)- Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019

 

The Petri Dish Only Confirms that Kant was Correct by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Presented at: “Religion, Society, and the Science of Life” Conference at the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion of St. Anne’s College, Oxford, 21 July, 2017

The Petri Dish Only Confirms that Kant was Correct:

Or Technical, Teleological, and Practical ‘Purposiveness’ in Science and Morality[1]

“The most important issue is to know how one properly fulfills one’s place in creation and correctly understands what one must be in order to be a human being.”  (Immanuel Kant, Handwritten Comments to ‘Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime’), ed. by Marie Rischmüller [Hamburg, 1991] 36 [McGaughey translation])

“At many places my presentation would have had far more clarity, if it hadn’t needed to be so clear.”  (Immanuel Kant, Reflexion #16 von Reflexionen Kants zur Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Leipzig, Fues’s Verlag (R. Reisland), 1884):  7 [McGaughey translation])

Abstract

The “Call for Papers” of our conference begins:  “’There will never be a Newton for the blade of grass,’ Kant wrote in 1784, a quarter-century before the birth of Charles Darwin, and less than a half-century before the first synthesis of an organic compound in a laboratory.”  Proof texting must be called-out wherever it occurs.  What does Kant say?  “[…] [I]t would be absurd […] to hope that there may […] arise a Newton who could make comprehensible even the generation of a blade of grass according to natural laws that no intention has ordered […].” (Critique of Judgment AA V: 400 ; emphasis added) He also said:  “We can by no means prove the impossibility of the generation of organized products of nature through the mere mechanism of nature, because […] we have no insight into their primary internal ground, and thus we cannot reach the internal and completely sufficient principle of the possibility of nature […].” (Critique of Judgment AA V: 388) Kant’s point in the third Critique:  because we directly experience only effects, not causes, we must presume that a lawful order purposefully governs theoretical reason (nature) and practical reason (morality).  In the first introduction to the third Critique, Kant writes: “The special principle of judgment is […]: Nature specifies its general laws into empirical ones, in accordance with the form of a logical system [i.e., intentionality (McGaughey)], in behalf of judgment” (“First Introduction” – Critique of Judgment AA XX: 216).  This heuristic strategy of  presumed purposiveness is incapable of proof/disproof (here we have no teleological proof of God), but without its assumption nature is “a raw chaotic aggregate” (“First Introduction” AA XX: 209), not a system, and both an understanding of nature and ourselves is impossible.  The paper proposes that reflecting (not determining) judgment (i.e., a special, internal, motivating feeling) governs, but does not ground, theoretical and practical reason to make both the natural sciences and morality (as “religion” at the core of all historical religions) possible.

Introduction

“Was Kant a Racist?” with Addendum on South Sea Islanders (29 Pages) 01 May 2017 – Rejection of Slavery, Colonialism, the Inhumane Treatment of Animals, and Wanton Destruction of the Environment

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Was Kant a Racist? Can Critical Idealism Contribute to Combating Racism? With an Addendum: On South Sea Islanders in Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Revised 10 April 2018 with the addition of documentation of Kant’s explicit rejection of slavery as well as rejection of colonialism, the inhumane treatment of animals, and call for the protection of the environment (page 12 and two first footnotes).

Revised 20 January 2017 with the addition of a quote (page 17 below) from the Metaphysics of Morals (AA VI, 467-468):  The statement here by Kant constitutes an explicit rejection not only of racism, ageism, sexism, power or weakness, status and prestige (e.g., aristocracy) as criteria for judging others, but it is also an implicit rejection of homophobia, nationalism, populism, and any other criteria for judging others, which are all based on merely empirical criteria of “theoretical reason” to the entire neglect of the capacities and moral significance of “practical reason.”  Thanks to Birgit Recki who cited the second of the two paragraphs of this “Remark” from the MM for a very different but equally laudable purpose in her Ästhetik der Sitten. Die Affinität von ästhetischem Gefühl und praktischer Vernunft bei Kant (Frankfurt a.M.:  Vittorio Klostermann, 2001):  255, n. 43.

 

Was Kant a Racist?
Can Critical Idealism Contribute to Combating Racism?

With an Addendum:  On South Sea Islanders in Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Overview: In which Kant’s comments on race are discussed in light of his philosophy of history, critiques of theoretical and practical reason, and his biological reflections on “evolution.” Humanity is seen as the “ultimate end” of nature. Although this sounds anthropocentric and suggests the justification of the indiscriminate exploitation of nature, it is manifest not by means of a culture of “skill”, but by a culture that promotes the individual’s assumption of moral responsibility for her/his decisions and actions.

“Critique, not Emotionless, Critical Thinking” (10 Pages) – Revised 2017, 2019

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Revised (2017/2019) version of “‘Critique,’ not ‘Criticism’” in response to Rob Jenkins’ “What is Critical Thinking, Anyway?”

Critique, Not Emotionless, Critical Thinking

When one encounters the word “critique,” one readily thinks of a negative strategy, frequently of negative dismissal, in the spirit of “criticism,” or perhaps one thinks of emotionless “critical thinking.”   As a consequence, it is easy to miss a profound difference between “critique” and “critical thinking.”  Given the difference in what each does with respect to the phenomena that initiates them, the difference is so great that one can even speak of “critique” as 180 degrees opposite to both “criticism” and “critical thinking.”

Design: A Heuristic Strategy, not a Metaphysical Doctrine (13 Pages) 11 July 2008 — Key Paper – Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019

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DESIGN: A HEUSRISTIC STRATEGY,
NOT METAPHYSICAL DOCTRINE

Abstract

Because there’s only indirect access to causes, given effects can be understood to have multiple causes, and the same cause can produce multiple effects, the criterion for the evaluation of a causal explanation is neither empirical proof nor disproof. Rather, the evaluation must be in terms of the consequences of holding the cause for an adequate explanation of the event in relationship to laws of relationality necessary for the appearances. The Physico-Theological argument for design as a form of cause in nature cannot serve to give us any information about the noumenon (God) that it presupposes – certainly not any information about anthropomorphic characteristics of that noumenon. Rather, its value is to confirm our confidence in the intelligibility (the rule-governed character) of nature in contrast, for example, to the chaos of nocturnal dreams. Because all our capacities, which include theoretical (science) and practical (religion) reason are dependent upon the material conditions of experience, this criterion of intelligible necessity is important not only for the furtherance of the natural scientific enterprise but also for (moral) religion.  Drawing on pre-critical and critical writings of Kant in the spirit of H. Allison, I reject the Naturalistic reading of Kant by P.F. Strawson et al. to argue that Kant’s Critical Idealism is beneficial for an investigating of the meaning and role of design in experience without succumbing to anthropomorphic speculations about God.

On the So-Called Conundrums in Kant’s Philosophical Theology (37 Pages) – Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019

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On the So-Called Conundrums in Kant’s
Philosophical Theology 7

Overview: In which three conundrums of Kant’s pure religion—the good will, radical evil, and grace—are addressed, and three strategies employed for understanding the role of the afterlife in religion (noting that pure religion is concerned with the moral improvement in history of the species generally and not merely the moral improvement of the individual). We conclude with an examination of the question of Theodicy in Kant’s pure religion.

A Post-Factual World? (10 Pages) – Updated July 2019

Updated 13 July 2019

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A Post-Factual World?

The boogey-man is alive and well in our scientifically “enlightened” age:  Knowledge is profoundly under siege by a threatening relativism called the “post-factual” and “post-truth” world.  Even well-intended proponents of cultural relativism have been seduced by a “world view” that at first appears to be a challenge to all “dogmatisms” but in the end undermines the very confidence in understanding that is necessary for humanity to constructively and responsibly play its role in the order of things.  The consistent relativist, like the radical skeptic, is left with no foot on which to stand to question anything, not least the injustices of her/his own society much less injustices in another society.

Zero Sum or Principles? (11 Pages) 13 November 2016 – Updated July 2019

Updated 13 July 2019

Zero Sum or Principles? by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Zero Sum or Principles?[1]

Abstract:  If we refuse to accept materialistic reductionism that makes our social lives exhaustively the product of capricious genetics, the amygdala, and chemicals in the brain like oxytocin, we are the species that can ask what we should do.  By playing a zero sum game,[2] one knows who “won” whereas acting on principle gives one the satisfaction that one tried to do more than “win.” However, here it is claimed that the alternative of a zero sum game and principles represents not an exclusive dyad as if one can pursue one of the options only by exclusion of the other.  Both are symptomatic of humanity’s “radical” evil and “radical” goodness.  We can pursue one or the other only because we have the capacity to do both. Hence, deeper than decline, progress, or stagnation is an understanding of humanity as the source of a causal efficacy that is not reducible to physical causality and, therefore, this suggests that with humanity we find in degree an “openness” in nature that allows for creative change while demanding assumption of moral responsibility for the exercise of humanity’s creative power.

What is ‘Radical Evil?:’ A Reading of Ricoeur on Kant and Religion (21 Pages) – Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019

Theology and Revolution — The 1839 Zurich Revolution: A Reader in the History of Theology for the Theology of History by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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What is ‘Radical’ Evil?:

A Reading of Ricoeur on Kant and Religion

Introduction

What follows I can best describe as a “lover’s quarrel” anchored, for my part, in deep gratitude and respect.  On the one hand, I will strenuously critique Ricoeur’s reading of Kant, particularly with respect to 1) the ontological status of “radical” evil, 2) the anchoring of morality in violence, 3) Ricoeur’s “deliberative,” hence, consequentialist ethic, and 4) his limiting of religion to historical religion.  On the other hand, the “ontology” of his theory of metaphor as well as the centrality of the “productive imagination” in his theory of discourse are applauded vigorously and can be viewed as thoroughly in harmony with the “ground” of Kant’s ethical reflections, “autonomous freedom,” which will be proposed as a more comprehensive “ground” for morality, and a more adequate “ground” for understanding of religion.

Freedom on This and the Other Side of Kant – Unabridged – (15 Pages) September 2015 – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

 

Unabridged:  Freedom on This and the Other Side of Kant is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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This paper was presented in its abridged form at the 12. International Kant Congress. The abridged version is published in Natur und Freiheit, Akten des XII. Internationalen Kant-Kongresses, hrsg. v. Violetta L. Waibel, Margit Ruffing und David Wagner (Berlin/Boston, 2018:  1959-1966 – Proceedings of the 12th International Kant Society Meeting at the University of Vienna, Austria (September 21-25, 2015).

For the abridged version published in the conference proceedings, see the second entry under “Category: Freedom on This and the Other Side of Kant” at https://criticalidealism.org

PUBLISHING GUIDELINES FOLLOWED FOR THIS PAPER: See End of Paper

 

Freedom on This and the Other Side of Kant[1]

Axel Honneth[2] and Charles Taylor[3] represent a tendency to trace the “archaeology” of the notion of freedom either to G.W.F. Hegel’s Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts[4]or to Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts of Liberty.[5] Without claiming to be an exhaustive investigation of the discussion of freedom since or prior to Immanuel Kant, this paper proposes, however, that the meaning of freedom since Kant has for all intents and purposes overlooked the tradition of autonomous freedom prior to Kant that stems from Pico della Mirandola and influenced Leibniz, Sulzer, and Tetens – all of whom shaped Kant’s understanding of freedom.

Terminology

In his Vorschule der Ästhetik[6] of 1804, Jean Paul observes that the dictionary is full of dead metaphors.  However, metaphors never die.  Rather, they leave open the possibility of anachronistic distortions of them by subsequent generations.  We are well advised, therefore, to first provide “concept clarifications” before we begin our discussion of freedom on this and the other side of Kant.[7]

Enlightenment: Reflections on Michel Foucault’s “Was ist Aufklärung? [“What is Enlightenment”] 7 February 2016

“Enlightenment:
Reflections on Michel Foucault’s ‘Was ist Aufklärung?'”[1]

At least since the French „Encyclopedists,” the notion of enlightenment has been associated with knowledge of the correct facts.  As a consequence, even Kant’s famous aphorism for labelling enlightenment, Sapere Aude! (Dare to know for oneself!), has been frequently taken to mean:  assume responsibility for your own knowledge of the facts (i.e., don’t trust authorities to be providing you with the true facts)!