7. Conclusion

 
 
Critique of Historical Reason

  

Section 7.5




 
World History 
And The Eonic Effect

Civilization, Darwinism, And Theories of Evolution
4th Edition
The Book
By  John Landon

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 CHAPTERS:
 

 

 
 

 
7. Conclusion  
     7.1 History and Evolution: A Paradox Resolved 
        7.1.1 Transition and Divide: A New Perspective on Modernity 
    7.2 The Eonic Effect As a Resolution of Kant's Challenge      
      7.2.1 Freedom’s Causality, Teleology and Politics  
        7.2.2 Free Will, Moral Action, and Self-consciousness       
     7.3 Will Democracy Survive? Toward A Postdarwinian Liberalism    
      7.3.1 Modernism, Eurocentrism, Imperialism, and 'Western' Civilization
        7.3.2 Ecological Endgames: A Tyranny Of Markets
     7.4 Ends and Beginnings       
NOTES  
     7.5 Critique of Historical Reason  
        7.5.1 Spengler, Toynbee, and Cyclical Theories 
        7.5.2 Is There a Postmodern Age?  
        7.5.3 Evolution and The Idea of Progress
        7.5.4 The Case of the Missing Centuries 
     7.6  Beyond Darwinism: A Theoretical Self-Defense
         7.6.1 The Meaning Of Evolution
         7.6.2 The Great Transition

 

 
  
        

    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

     7.5 Critique of Historical Reason

 

Our new model of history has turned out to be a Critique of Historical Reason, that book aspired to by the philosopher Dilthey. Further, we see something remarkable, the correlation of the history of philosophy and our philosophy of history. Thus, it is remarkable that just at the modern divide appears German classical philosophy. Its philosophies of freedom are themselves a part of the discrete freedom sequence! Hegel first sensed this stunning fact, but we should evade his somewhat grandiose account for a somewhat humbler effort using simple systems theory, and a step backwards to Kant. The search for an historical critique became contorted with seeming complexities, but we can see that the issue is simple and lies at the core of the Kantian ‘dialectic’. For we see that the eonic effect contains an expression of Kant’s Third Antinomy in its actual structure, a remarkable discovery. The great critique requires nothing more than that antinomy. Kant’s system is quite difficult, but his essay expresses the crux of the philosophy of history, and the problems of almost all methodologies. Kant performs a kind of duet with Newton , and makes sense especially to a modeler, as the progression from mechanical to ethical, then esthetic/teleological modes arises from dealing with our data.[i]

A Science of History? What is the relation of our method to Kant’s actual system? There is a direct one in his so-called Third Antinomy .

“Causality according to laws of nature is not the only kind of causality from which the phenomenon of the world can be derived. It is necessary, in order to explain them, to assume a causality through freedom.” Its antithesis is: “There is no freedom: everything in the world takes place solely in accordance with laws of nature.”

We confront the enigma of the thesis, that freedom generation and physical causality somehow are both the case. The dilemma is immediate from the periodization of our model, remembering that this is only an empirical discovery, not a deduction.

Kant’s Third Antinomy is reflected in our pattern, but on such a large scale, and such a different mode, that we must proceed with caution. From the way we set up our model (for another purpose) we can see how the stream of history seems interrupted by a second different ‘causal initialization’ that has no continuous lead up or antecedents. Our transitions are formally analogous to the noumenon, but quite different. They stand in conjunction to the limits of historical representation.

Nature and freedom We need to be careful here since we are dealing with history. We have retreated from the use of the term ‘causality’, and, further, the term ‘causality of freedom’ might involve us in the famous ‘double affection’ problem that arose in the classic post-Kantian debate. This criticism denies the use of the term ‘causality’ to the different aspect of the noumenal. In our model, we need hardly worry about this confusing, yet apt, objection. We can replace ‘causality (of freedom)’ with ‘noumenal blank X’, temporalizing as, indeed, some sort of ‘causality’ of freedom in the phenomenal zone.

But, despite the many disputes on such issues, the general point is clear as crystal, in terms of our model, a remarkable concordance. Our finite transition intervals stage a ‘relative transform of freedom’ in some sense, the discontinuity aping an ‘uncaused cause’. The general resemblance of overall formalism is striking, and we see the glint of the noumenal through the fog of our fuzzy periodization. Our model was not designed to deal with these issues, but produces an out of focus version of the classic Third Antinomy. But this is an historical dataset, and not a psychological issue of representations.

Kant must have sensed that a new perspective was needed for history, and wrote his essay after his first Critique. In any case, we find this ‘antinomy’ in history itself. We cannot directly apply this antinomy to the discrete freedom sequence, but we are left to wonder. We see nature’s resolution of the question. Here’s our version of the thesis: Generalized causal determination (GCD) according to the laws of nature is not the only causality, it is also necessary to assume a GCD through the eonic emergence of (historically phenomenal) freedom, visible in discrete transitions. This is not an explanation, but the match is perfect, as the term ‘causality’ undergoes meltdown to show nature’s solution to the antinomy. Problems remain. Are we speaking of transcendence or immanence? In fact our model strongly suggests the latter, but its level of abstraction sets it prior to such a dualism. We could not determine such a question with the data we have. But we could hardly endorse any thought of ‘transcendence’ in such an obvious evolutionary schematic.

Thus, our prime objective, to demonstrate a non-random pattern, once complete, resolves Kant’s Challenge. But, with the status of scratchpad extensions, we suspect more, a suspicious resemblance to transcendental idealism. Although it is beyond the scope of our argument, which is empirical and can’t produce a deduction, the result has a cousin look to the noumenal /phenomenal distinction. We need to be wary of such statements, which will outstrip the simplicity of our prime objective. Later philosophy has done everything it can to abolish this distinction, but we see that it reappears at a stroke of the pen using our periodization. With a slight catch, however. We cannot say that our eonic mainline has any connection to the noumenal, or can we? We can see that this invokes a classic debate, the so-called double affection problem. We escape from this because we have started with ‘standard Newtonian causal language’, discovered it was nonsense, and then replaced this with a generalized causal matrix and a freedom emergentism (Here freedom is strictly the phenomenal traces of some purported noumenal aspect, not ‘transcendental freedom’). Our result is simply a phenomenological matrix of historical data, and suffers no contradiction. We see, however, that we are deprived of a solution as law in closed form.

Thus, our model was not designed to demonstrate this distinction of noumenon and phenomenon (it was not an historical construct), but stumbles on it, the concordance exact, and the discrete freedom sequence shows how there is not just a loose connection, but an exact macro-historical analog. The specter of transcendental idealism is a very undesirable result for both scientists and religionists (why?), but it is actually a very realistic and elegant approach that has a formal rightness to it. In any case, we can simply speak of a two-domain model that fits the emergence of freedom into a ‘generalized causal nexus’, thus crossing the tripwire of Kant’s Third Antinomy. All we can do is voice our suspicion here, keeping in mind that we are dealing with history, and that the Kantian formulation refers to the individual and his representations only. We would have to reconstruct a new version of Kant’s system for history, not a simple thing to do.

But the basic issue is extremely simple. Look at our eonic pattern. Where does freedom come from?

 This noumenal aspect, or look-alike, arises because we see our general freedom emergentism enclosed in a finite region bounded by our discrete-continuous periodization, a strange gift of the data, a stroke of empirical mystery That is a provocative hint indeed and a clue to what is obvious from the data, that we are seeing the appearance behind which something else remains hidden. It is remarkable indeed that nature should mimic this transcendental aspect.

It is important to remember that this is history, and what we see is not the noumenal/phenomenal distinction as such, but a mysterious cousin, in an artifice of periodization that (quite unwittingly) produces two kinds of history, a phenomenal region, and another kind of region, still quite in the region of the phenomenal, but with a connection of some kind with the ‘noumenal’. Since all history, everywhere and always is the same, we cannot divide history into two kinds based on such an idea, although the history of this mistake is considerable, ‘ages of revelation’. But all these have missed the point. Don’t make that mistake with the eonic effect. It is a problem that resembles what happens with Kant’s moral theory, which we won’t pursue. But in the final analysis, the Israelites were correct. Some intervals in history have something strange about them.

 Finally, notice the resemblance of all Kant’s antinomies to each other and to the three great outcomes of the Axial Age, a religion of soul, a religion of divinity, and the birth of the idea of Freedom ! We have an ace up our sleeve. Our eonic effect is some strange mechanical play on this ‘Dialectic’ of Kant.

Thus, a close look shows that divinity, soul, and free will, all revolve around some core Idea, e.g. ‘will’ (‘will of god’, ‘latent will as soul’, and ‘uncaused free will’). Note further that the eonic effect shows three civilizations specializing in each of these antinomies.

One of the strangest facts of our pattern is the appearance of Kant himself with his antinomies at the ‘slingshot maximum’, the divide, of the third ‘discontinuity’, or transition.

Kant’s Question, Teleology, And Asocial Sociability Even as we examine Kant’s essay on history we develop a critique of one aspect of Kant’s thinking, which devolves, at least in the minds of some, into another conflict theory. Even as this happens Kant is proposing a new and brilliant method of dealing with teleological questions. Unfortunately the contradiction between the two creates a confusion, one instantly resolved by our eonic model. Kant seems stranded in the category of ‘bourgeois ideologist’, bestowing the curse of teleology on a dismal science of human conflict. Small wonder, then, that Marx categorically rejected the whole critical system. Another casualty of Adam Smith.

Kant is very strict in his separation of the phenomenon, and its mechanical causality, and the noumenal, associated with the complexities of freedom (until he arrives at his moral theory). But we have discovered a macroevolutionary link between the two! Let us be aggressive here, and wrest Kant’s essay from its sockets with a demonstration that it is really asking a question, not proposing a conflict theory.

Constitutive vs. regulative judgments Kant distinguishes carefully between constitutive and regulative judgments, then again, in the Third Critique, between the determinative and reflective.[ii]

The ‘As If’ Sometimes Kant is interpreted as asking us to proceed ‘as if’ in the consideration of natural teleology or purpose.

Teleology as constitutive! The problem here is that we can see, with sledgehammer force, that directionality, hence a detected teleology, is genuinely constitutive of the data of the eonic effect, in its representation as directionality, seen looking backwards. Thus, although this seems incautious, and we have erected a severe failsafe against teleological presumption, we cannot easily conclude that teleology is to be seen only ‘as if’ through regulative judgments. After five thousand years of records the smoking gun of empirical data appears out of the blue. You may fight a losing battle to say this is subjective, and indeed, such a judgment involves complex assessments, including moral and aesthetic iffy hunches. But the overall gestalt is devastatingly obvious. The mediating link between the noumenal and the phenomenal takes the form of the eonic sequence, itself we presume in the realm of phenomenon.

Teleological ideologies To call the teleological constitutive is a dangerous step, but our eonic method will spawn an instant failsafe. None of this is grounds for teleological ideologies projected on the future, unfortunately. Any such ideology will be micro-action in the wake of the eonic sequence, and history records an ‘antinomy of teleological judgment’ in action, e.g. as the collision between Kant the bourgeois ideologist and Marx, for example.

The noumenal approximation Our eonic sequence is nonetheless strictly an aspect of the phenomenal realm. Its noumenal lookalike character points to the limits of our knowledge and the noumenal mystery behind the evolutionary driver. Please note that we cannot divide history up into phenomenal and noumenal sections, never our point!

The Old Testament again This point is important because the ‘mistake’ we are pointing too is clearly one that haunted Jews and Christians as they tried to reckon with the concept of an ‘Age of Revelation’, and fumbled the ball most tragically. There is no such age, nor does it inherently impinge on the spiritual domain. All we see is the pseudo-noumenon pressed against history in the eonic sequence. We have thus a powerful and different interpretation in the eonic effect. And yet the Israelites were onto something, their eonic context, whatever the primitive character of their realizations as an upgraded Canaanite polytheism turned monotheism (almost) was ejected into the stream of history.

The data for historical directionality is powerful and conclusive, and we can see the problem that Kant had, and the reason he ends up entangled in the confusions of ‘asocial sociability’, even as his essay senses something that will resolve it, a ‘something’ that we have discovered. Let us dispense with ‘asocial sociability’ once and for all. One way to do that is to redefine it as the dynamic relationship of individual and society, and the tension between the two. In this interpretation there is no conflict with our different interpretation. But unfortunately the serpent has entered the garden, and the grounds for a pseudo-theory of the teleology of social conflict is ambiguously evident in Kant’s rendering. Kant may as well be a proto-Darwinist. Disaster! We must, if necessary, bail out from the Kantian connection and stick to our independently derived eonic model.

Asocial Sociability Even as we examine the issues of the Kantian philosophy of history, we should note that we depart radically from the conventional interpretation of Kant’s historical thinking in dislodging the focus on ‘asocial sociability’ as a teleological mechanism driving cultural progression. More Kantian than Kant we stumble on a solution to the teleological confusion that still lurks in his historical thinking. The meaning of the term ‘asocial sociability’ tends to drift between some idea of ‘social conflict’ and/or the basic descriptive categories of ‘individual and society’. In any case to ascribe progress to social conflict is a clear mistake, and we can see that a now visible macro component voids the necessity of this ‘flat history’ thinking.

Discrete Freedom Sequence We can see at a glance that the emergence of a progression toward a ‘perfect civil constitution’ has two components, a macro factor and a micro factor. The emergence of democracy, for example, is perfectly timed in our eonic sequence. This macro aspect, even as Kant spoke, is then replaced by the micro-action of democratic realization. In general, the eonic sequence has its finger in all pies of human state formation and deliberation, from the early Pharaohs to the era of Solon to the French Revolution . While social agents are at each other’s throats, Greater Nature proceeds by eonic induction to produce democracy virtually on schedule.

Nature’s Secret Plan Kant’s asks us for ‘nature’s secret plan’. This language is too hypostatized for us, but we can see that the eonic sequence clearly draws the veil for one glimpse of this ‘plan’.

Kant’s essay has more than this paragraph, speaks of progress toward a perfect civil constitution, Nature’s Secret Plan, and creates an ambiguity over a proposed idea of ‘asocial sociability’, as its own resolution of the question implicit in the essay. We can see that Kant is just on the threshold of another conflict theory of the Smithian type, but senses that something is wrong and that there must be some larger process at work, possibly teleological, in the category of natural teleology. As it stands Kant produces an elegant general framework then is reduced to near proto-Darwinian thinking in the default collapse of historical motivation to ‘antagonism’. To ascribe this to ‘Nature’ in the large as teleological is a potential calamity and the moral individual is renedered irrelevant. Further, this is ambiguous. Is a ‘macro-teleological something’ ascribed to hypostatized ‘Nature’ doing historical progress, or is it the individual in his freedom? Kant never really resolved this problem. The eonic model resolves the question at one stroke. In our two level model, the answer to the paradox is that there are two components to historical progression, macro and micro. When they intersect in our transitions, the agent of history rises to the higher degree of relative freedom as his ‘self-consciousness’ and realizes the macro ‘telos’as a micro result, however imperfect or incomplete.

In the age of Adam Smith, Kant’s problem is obvious, as is the reason he asks for someone in the future to help solve the problem he has solved in essence, or soon will solve in his later critiques, but whose complete solution requires more historical data to find this regular movement in the flow of historical action. History documents that puzzlement very accurately in Kant’s ambivalence toward the French Revolution, and his sense of some greater moral process in history. His essay, What is Enlightenment? shows that he is thinking implicitly in ‘eonic’ terms, of age periods. Kant was just on the verge of a solution, lacked the total perspective of our eonic transition, the carrier of teleology as directionality,

We need to rescue Kant from the ideological interpretations, a straight jacket, to which he has been subjected. Kant himself shows the way. A certain ambivalence arises in Kant’s essay, and he proposes a standard ‘flat history’ interpretation in terms of a concept of ‘asocial sociability’ to resolve historical dynamics. But a closer look shows that he has created a framework for a new and better answer, one to be found in the future. This remarkable prescience is confirmed by the way in which the discoveries of archaeology in Kant’s wake have shown his deeper intuition to be the right one. We need to show how the literature here, although often uncertain, does prefigure our statement that Kant’s essay proposes, not a solution, but a question asked by Kant, Kant’s Challenge. Kant’s essay seems ambiguous, and we will end up in an argument with classical liberals who have annexed Kant using the idea of ‘asocial sociability’. It seems to ask a question, and then produce ‘asocial sociability’ as the answer. But that, surely, is not the point. Kant senses correctly that he is not yet in a position to answer his own question. Thus his question is projected into the future. With the discovery of Sumer , and the Axial Age, the pot begins to boil.

A passage from Peter Fenves , A Peculiar Fate , might throw light on the question. “The ‘Idea For A Universal History  from a Cosmological Plan/intention Point of View’ is only a preliminary essay. Not only are its nine propositions thrown together in a seemingly unsystematic manner, reminiscent of Aristotle’s treatment of the categories, Kant even emphasizes from the very outset that this little essay will be withdrawn in favor of a universal history written by an as yet unknown philosopher of the future. In the footnote added to the title Kant explains that the essay was undertaken on the occasion of certain rumor that happened to make its way into a journal; this rumor ‘forces me to make a clarification, without which it would not make any sense’. Kant needs to show that one of his ideas and indeed a ‘cherished idea’ is not only founded on reason but even bound up with the very point of human rationality. This idea is cherished to the point of eroticism, the issues of priority and succession are thereby implicated in its general movement. Simply stated, the idea invites one to think that a ‘philosophical writer of history’ might one day appear and, after having established himself as a successor to Kant, compose a world-history that, since it is itself based on the ‘final purpose of the human race’, will be able to measure how far we have traveled with respect to our cherished goal. [Footnote below] To justify his remark, therefore, Kant will have to demonstrate that history in its entirety is not without sense, direction, and ultimate destination. Footnote: The remark attributed to Kant that happened to make its way into the Gothaische gelehrete Zeitung runs in part: ‘A cherished idea of Professor Kant is that the ultimate purpose of the human race is to achieve the most perfect state-constitution, and he wishes that a philosophical writer of history might undertake to give us a history of humanity from this point of view, and to shows to what extent humanity in various ages has approached or drawn away from the final purpose and what remains to be done in order to reach it’ ”.[iii] 

Hegel, Marx, and The Legacy of Dialectic A first attempt to answer Kant’s Challenge lies in Hegel (and the other post-Kantians) , and his grand philosophic effort whose appearance, timing, and unfolding is itself ‘eonically significant’, and almost spectacular, but our viewpoint is different, springing directly from Kant.

The issue of ‘historical dialectic ’ never arises in our approach (although the oscillations in the degrees of freedom in our eonic sequence, by any measure, would seem some sort of dialectic), and we are left suspicious, since we can see that the eonic mainline does not follow a dialectical logic. It is not our business to produce hasty judgments of Hegel, but we are going in another direction, and after the confusions of dialectic that follow Hegel, we should do well to be wary of the kind of dialectical  thinking that haunts Marxists. The irony is that our system showing oscillations of degrees of freedom shows a rediscovered meaning of the idea of a ‘dialectic of freedom’, but our sense is quite different.

We should note that our approach sets straight the vexed question of ‘embedded rationality’ (we won’t use that phrase) that Hegel and Marx both struggled with, and keeping our distance is a better way to clarify a classic discourse that went awry, as seen in the confusions of the Hegelian ‘The rational is the real’, and the over-hypostatized concept of Reason in history. The relation of eonic determination to free action allows a decisive recasting in better form of that famous phrase that blew up on the launch pad.[iv]

We should let history do Hegel, rather than Hegel history, to reconstruct the spectacular moment to which he gave expression, next to his political and other discourse. [v]

One always suspects something ‘behind the scenes’ with Hegel. He is really an early traveler in an early version of the current New Age movement. His dialectic is a version (quite sophisticated) of primordial involutionary triadism, ‘something we’ve seen before’. Is there any indication in the literature? One casts about for some source. Whence does this come? The recent Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition has done our work for us. We see the exact correspondence to this occult tradition. So our wariness about dialectic is confirmed, and one can be a bit appalled Leftists are using ‘negation of the negation’ to plot against governments. Hegel’s system starts to seem suspicious thus. But then again Hegel, and this is significant, is far and away better at ‘involutionary triadism’ that those promoting the endless junk in this field. Later we will reference a Samkhya version of this. These traditions are sometimes very careful if they invoke the ‘spirit n’, where Hegel is content to construct a myth.

Schopenhauer After the Hegelian interlude, the philosopher Schopenhauer  appears attempting to restore the Kantian perspective in a brilliant and streamlined form. Note how our post-divide branches into Hegel and Christianity and Schopenhauer, a closet ‘Buddhist’. We don’t take usually take him as a philosopher of history but that he is in an inverted sense. There are so few exemplars at this high caliber of the Kantian strain that we tend to be swept up in a Hegelian tide, oblivious to the secret entranceway into Kant’s views or convinced that ‘Kantian dualism’ has been superceded. Although this formulation (also with its open sesame of the Third Antinomy) is open to the charge of being a metaphysical idealism of the will in a fashion that is distinct from Kant, it is often a starting point for many baffled by the host of distracting issues, from the analytic/synthetic question, to the transcendental deduction, standing at the gateway to Kant’s formulation in his first critique. But Schopenhauer is often the way we take Kant, like it or not, i.e. our preoccupation with ‘causality’, but not the full set of twelve categories in Kant’s metaphysical deduction. And we can easily find ourselves in a subjective ‘appearance and reality’ philosophy as a watered down version of the full set of ideas in Kant’s or Schopenhauer’s thinking. Schopenhauer’s insight into the connection with Indian philosophy is highly instructive and revealing, and his perspective on history tends to reflect that. Actually, for our purposes, we can take up Schopenhauer’s offer to peek into the Pandora’s box, take his ‘philosophy of the will’ as a dangerous adventure, and slip away, enriched with a guided tour of the Kantian basics. The next stage after opening the Pandora’s box seems to be Nietzsche and a torrent of ‘demons unleashed’. But, genius though he is, Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ runs the risk of being Kantian pastiche, and simply does not live up to the Kantian formulation, however vexed the foundationalism that Nietzsche attacks head on.[vi]

 

    Notes

   Web:  chap7_5_1.htm

 

[i] S. Körner, Kant (New York: Penguin, 1962), W. H. Werkmeister, Kant (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1980), Karl Jaspers, Kant [From The Greek Philosophers, Volume 1] (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1962), H. J. Paton, The Categorical Imperative (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvannia Press, 1971),William Galston, Kant and the Problem of History (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1975), Hans Saner, Kant’s Political Thought (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973), Yirmiyahu Yovel, Kant and the Philosophy of History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), Keith Ward, The Development of Kant’s View of Ethics (NY: Blackwell, 1972), George Armstrong Kelly, Idealism, Politics, and History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), J. D. McFarland, Kant’s Concept of Teleology (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 1970), Frederick Beiser, The Fate of Reason (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), Bernard Carnois, The Coherence of Kant’s Doctrine of Freedom (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1987), Peter McLaughlin, Kant’s Critique of Teleology in Biological Explanation (Lewisten, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1990), Thomas Wiley, Back To Kant (Detroit: Wayne State University Press,1978), Jean-Marie Schaeffer, Art of the Modern Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), Patrick Riley, Kant’s Political Philosophy (New York: Rowman & Allandheld, 1983), Harry Van der Linden, Kantian Ethics and Socialism (Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett, 1988), Arthur Collins, Possible Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), John Zammito, The Genesis of Kant’s Critique of Judgement (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).

[ii] Consider the following from S. Körner’s Kant: “Kant’s resolution of the antinomy of reflective Judgment must be considered in the light of the first Critique. In that work, especially in the Analytic of Principles, he has expounded a system of theoretical a priori propositions, which constitute the fundamental conditions of Newtonian physics, and, in his view, of all science. The result of the first Critique is thus, among other things, a mechanistic metaphysics; and nothing in the Critique of Judgment indicates that Kant has in any way changed his view on this subject. ...The third Critique does not develop a teleological metaphysics. On the contrary, it shows that teleological principles are not constitutive of the empirical world, but can only be regulative, for our reflection upon the empirical world. While the first Critique justifies the mechanistic method on the basis of mechanistic metaphysic, the third Critique justifies the teleological method in spite of the impossibility of a teleological metaphysics. This impossibility is insisted upon time and again. Kant admits only a metaphysics of nature and a metaphysic of morals. There is no metaphysic of purpose, but only a Critique of Teleological Judgment. He shows that there is no conflict between the maxims of mechanistic and teleological method. There can be no conflict between mechanistic and teleological metaphysics because, according to the critical philosophy, there can be no teleological metaphysics.” Stephen Körner, Kant, (New York: Penguin, 1974), p. 208-209.

[iii] Peter Fenves, A Peculiar Fate, (Ithaca: Cornell, 1991), p. 85. Note also Fenves’ remarks on the transition from an ‘idea for a universal history’ to ‘idea of a universal history’, at the point where the project of a world history is brought to fruition. Consider also this passage from Bruce Mazlish, The Riddle of History: “There is a certain irony in the fact that the little philosopher–Kant was only five foot tall–who never left Königsberg wrote a universal history from a cosmopolitan point of view. It corresponds perfectly, however, with Kant's abstracting mind as well as with the content of his philosophy. History, as he tells us, has to be looked at in its full, universal time sweep, for only in history as a whole is nature's purpose realized. And history has to be considered from a cosmopolitan point of view because its necessary goal is a ‘perfect civic constitution of mankind’, a point which Kant stresses not only in the Idea, but in Eternal Peace, where he defends ‘the idea of a cosmopolitan world law’ against the charge of utopianism. Kant begins the Idea by an assertion that human actions, like any other phenomena, are determined by general laws of nature. What appears accidental in the individual is determinate and predictable in the species. An example is marriage: although a marriage seems freely willed by the individual, yet the annual statistical tables exhibit a consistency which, according to Kant, show that marriages “occur according to stable natural laws”. Such a social phenomenon can be compared the oscillation of the weather: while we cannot predict individual states of affairs, we can rely on a regular support of the growth of plants, the flow of streams, and so forth, ‘at a uniform, uninterrupted pace’. The conclusion is one to warm the heart of Adam Smith. “Individual men,” Kant tells us, “and even whole nations, little think, while they are pursuing their own purposes—each in his own way, and often one in direct opposition to another—that they are unintentionally promoting, as if it were their guide, an end of nature, which is unknown to them.” Nevertheless, since man himself has neither instinct, like the animals, nor a rational plan of his own to guide him to a preconceived end, history, at first glance, seems pointless, like Shakespeare’s ‘tale told by an idiot’. Or, as Kant puts it in typical Enlightenment fashion, ‘It is hard to suppress a certain disgust when contemplating men’s actions upon the world stage.’

This disgust is relieved only by the discovery that “in this senseless march of human events” nature has a plan and an end. This discovery, however, is the philosopher's task, or rather Kant poses it as a problem for a future Kepler or Newton of the historical world. Kant himself will seek in the Idea only to provide a clue, or a guide, to this happy discovery. The whole point of Kant's attempt, however, is that he assumes from the beginning that man's random and free pursuits are to be considered as if they were subject to nature’s laws--which Kant, as we shall see, equates with an aim or purpose of nature.” Bruce Mazlish, The Riddle of History (Harper & Row, 1966), p. 103.

[iv] Alan Megill, Karl Marx ( New York : Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), Chapter 1, “Marx’s Rationalism: How the Dialectic Came from the History of Philosophy”.

[v] Charles Taylor, Hegel and Modern Society (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979), George O’Brien, Hegel on Reason and History (Chicago: Chicago, 1975). Robert Solomon’s In the Spirit of Hegel ( New York : Oxford , 1983. Burleigh Taylor Williams, Hegel’s Philosophy of History (Ithaca, New York: Cornell, 1974), Howard Williams, Hegel, Heraclitus and Marx’s Dialectic (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989), Glenn Magee, Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001), Michael Gillespie, Hegel, Heidegger, and the Ground of History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984). 

[vi] Arthur Hübscher, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer in its Intellectual Context (Lewiston, New York: Edward Mellen, 1989), Christopher Janeway, Self and World in Schopenhauer’s Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).

 

 
 


 

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Last modified: 10/04/2010