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Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 5:09amSanction this postReply
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I liked your defense of Kant (expect point 6, which I don't think I had enough background in Kant to understand). Of course being the good little student I am, I'm going to hold out judgment. But you've convinced me that it's at least worth picking up some of his books. Where should I start?

Jana

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Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 2:51pmSanction this postReply
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Dear Mr Seddon,

 

I posted my own article Kant Couldnít because it was becoming somewhat tiresome to see you popping up on various threads, quoting Kant out of context, telling us how Objectivists had got him all wrong etc., but never coming out and making a consistent argument to back up this position.

 

Thatís why I wrote my piece, in order to honestly find out what exactly it is you say Kant said, and where exactly it is that you say Objectivists have got him wrong. But after your reply weíre no further ahead now, are we?

 

Your piece purports to do two things: 1) to reply to my Kant Couldnít, and 2) if your title is to be taken seriously, to demonstrate that The Old Kant is both an Enlightenment Hero and  a Proto-Objectivist.

 

Sadly, it does neither.

 

The problem really begins at the beginning (which apparently wasnít a good place for me to start). My own piece was intended to set out what I understand to be the main themes of Kant, so that you could point out where I and other Objectivists are apparently misunderstanding him. This was not unclear; in fact thatís exactly what I said at the start Iíd be doing. (Did you read the start?) ďÖI thought Iíd offer up what I understand to be the main things Old Kant-Lips was saying,Ē I said, ďand then Fred can tell me (clearly and in plain English) how Iíve got it all wrong, and where Ö Accordingly, here (clearly and in blunt English) is what I understand to be a summary of the Kantís main themes:ÖĒ There it was: I was presenting Kantís ideas (not mine) in order that we could begin to understand this apparently unique view of him that you bounce around extolling.

 

But weíre no further ahead now, are we? And frankly, when you then begin your own piece by criticising Kantís own turgid points as if they are things I hold to be true I have to wonder two things:

 

1) whether you have a problem understanding a fairly clear exposition of about eight-hundred words. These were Kantís ideas, not mine (shall I say it again so that you notice this time?) or did you not understand that? In which case, if you canít understand a piece so brief and clear, I have to wonder how on earth you can understand, form and hold what appears to be a unique view of Kantís own corrupt ideas, who wrote complicated volumes in some of the most convoluted language ever used anywhere. Huh? How do you do it?

 

2) whether, then, your employers are not wasting their money in employing you. You do do this professionally, donít you? For ďbig breadĒ?

 

I will respond eventually in detail to your points. This is simply to alert readers in the meantime to the fact that I do not hold the views you are criticising. Kant did.


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Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 4:36pmSanction this postReply
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To think that I got this ball rolling with my one and only article published here: http://www.solohq.com/Articles/Ryan/Rand_and_Hume_An_Analysis.shtml .

When I read Dr. Seddon's brief explication/defense of the work of Kant, I began to feel this naggingish tug underneath my scalp. As I got to the bottom of the page, the processes of unconscious reflection had done their work and...

Awright, awright. http://www.pinkmonkey.com/dl/library1/book1134.pdf . I'll get around to reading it someday.


Post 3

Friday, September 17, 2004 - 5:41amSanction this postReply
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Jana, Here are some suggestions.
(1) KANT AND THE REACH OF REASON by Nicholas Rescher. If anyone makes Kant sound like an Objectivist, Nick does. I find him easy to read, but then I've known him since the early 70s.

(2) AYN RAND, OBJECTIVISTS AND THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY, by me. Chapters four and five are devoted exclusively to Kant.

(3) And of, the original source, Kant himself. For understanding the first Critique, you will need to read that, obviously, the LOGIC ( this is out from Dover and is cheap) the other two Critiques, and RAISING THE TONE OF PHILOSOPHY, a late and more"popular" work where Kant bashes mysticism.

(4) For a nearly line by line commentary, Norman Kemp Smith's A COMMENTARY TO KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON is highly recommended. Its "patchwork" thesis has fallen out of favor these days, but its great for when you reading CPR and get stuck.

(5) As far as what translation to read, the latest by Werner Pluhar and published by Hackett (which tries to be inexpensive) is great because he is the only guy to translate all 3 of the Critiques--thereby giving us the same translation of the same words across the 3 books.

(6) And I would be willing to answer any questions. Enjoy. Kant's is very tough but hang in there.

Fred

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Friday, September 17, 2004 - 12:57pmSanction this postReply
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Fred,

What do you have to say about what I happen to feel is Kant's weakest point: philosophy of mind?

I will quote myself to solicit a response from you:

-------------------
In the spirit of contempt for Kant so characteristic of objectivists, allow me to claim that this was a man whose very psychological continuity was not real (noumenal) to him. In other words, his internal impressions of things were not "really" his internal impressions of things, but merely impressions of his impressions.
-------------------

source:
http://www.solohq.com/Forum/ObjectivismQ&A/0050.shtml

Ed


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Friday, September 17, 2004 - 1:03pmSanction this postReply
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Fred,

Using your theory/practice terms, am I correct in the presumption that Kant would say that he did not have any theoretical knowledge of his own theories (didn't even "know" his own thoughts), but that he supposedly had some practical knowledge about his theoretical knowledge?

Ed

Post 6

Friday, September 17, 2004 - 2:18pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Cresswell,

"I posted my own article Kant Couldnít because it was becoming somewhat tiresome to see you popping up on various threads, quoting Kant out of context, telling us how Objectivists had got him all wrong etc., but never coming out and making a consistent argument to back up this position."

Tiresome. Reminds me of an old episode of Hill Street Blues. I woman called in to complain that if she raised her blind, and stood on the kitchen chair she could see a naked man across the alleyway and she was offended. The sergeant told her, "Don't do that."

Tiresome. In the late rounds, the loser always complains of being "tired." Hm.

"I was presenting Kantís ideas (not mine)"

And I was refuting your presentation of Kant's ideas when it was incorrect--which was very often. I was not refuting your ideas--you have given little indication that you have any worth considering, let alone refuting. Tee hee.

Since you post no new arguments, I will await your (not so tiresome, I hope) response. Bring it on.

Dr. Seddon

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Friday, September 17, 2004 - 2:24pmSanction this postReply
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Ed,

I always feel unqualified to comment on a thinker's inner states, motives etc. unless I have documentary evidence.

"this was a man whose very psychological continuity was not real (noumenal) to him."

Again, if he was as damaged as you maintain I have a hard time explaining his enormous productivity, reports of friends and colleagues etc. that paint quite a different story. Of course they could be wrong. Maybe I'm a wimp but I prefer to deal with the texts that he left us.
Did I understand you? Let me know if I misunderstood.

Fred

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Friday, September 17, 2004 - 7:06pmSanction this postReply
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What's coming next - a defense of social work?

Post 9

Friday, September 17, 2004 - 7:49pmSanction this postReply
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Fred,

It appears that you understood my concern - at least well enough to formulate an engaged response to it. However, I do not "like" your answer. Your defense of Kant - in this one case - is perhaps not as sound as your other defenses of him.

You make the leap from my claim, paraphrased as: Kant-can't-justify-knowing-his-own-thoughts (without contradicting his writings)

to your claim, paraphrased as:
he'd-be-institutionalized-if-that-were-so

I could form the correct syllogism to highlight the faulty reasoning, but instead I'm asking you politely to fill in the premises required and to self-test them for truth and relevance - discovering how your argument doesn't fly (even though it does get off the ground for a moment).

In short, I was not talking about reading the man's mind, I was talking about reading the man's philosophy and applying it to his mind (or any mind).

No truth contradicts other truth - if his work contradicts anything known, then his work must go by the wayside, not our growing body of knowledge about reality. I'm attacking a weak point in his philosophy to show that it contradicts reality.

There is a real (and "knowable" - in its real form) psychological continuity involved in being a human - I need not appeal to reading anyone's mind to arrive at that truth. Now, either Kant's works jive with that truth, or they don't - that is the (weak) point I'm getting at. Here's a paraphrase that rocked my world the first time I had read it (added for shock value):

"The objective view of the mind is the subjective view of it."

Wrap your mind around that one for a minute, Doc.

Ed

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Friday, September 17, 2004 - 8:09pmSanction this postReply
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Mr Seddon, 

You say that you're used to seeing respondents call you tiresome in what you call "the late rounds." (Late rounds? Apparently you see intellectual debate as a boxing match?)

Anyway, I can well understand why you hear that complaint so often, and I can sympathise with those who have made it.

However, had you read what I wrote (you do read what you respond to, don't you?) you would realise that I had initiated this round of inquiry because of what I called your tiresome habit of claiming Kant as a "proto-Objectivist" and as evidence offering little more than some foggy prose and and a tee-hee. I was trying to find out exactly what it is you claim Kant's system to be, and how and where exactly Objectivists and mainstream commentators have got him so wrong. In other words, how on earth he can be a proto-Objectivist, and how then we can explain away what we already know about his system. I had hoped you might explain systematically in clear and concise language what it is you hold his system to consist of,. but apparently we all just have to guess. You certainly do insult your readers.

You offer a parable from a crap TV show to suggest I pull my head in and leave you alone to parade what others have called your "twisted view". of Kant, so I'll offer a parable from an Alfred Hitchcock film to explain why I won't. Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window sees a crime being committed in an apartment opposite, and despite advice that he should leave things be, he doesn't, and in doing so puts an end to some villainy that could have had disastrous consequences. I feel like I am (reluctantly, as Jimmy was) in that same position: Kant's system  if taken seriously (you do take it seriously, don't you?) commits the crime of suggesting that real knowledge is divorced from reality. Despite that severing of all we love from all we can ever know you come to praise Kant not to bury him - and then won't give a clear systematic answer to explain why your titters should be taken seriously.

I will be responding in detail as I said, but as it's now Saturday here I will first be watching Taranaki beat Auckland, and then Geelong beat Brisbane.

(Edited by Peter Cresswell on 9/17, 8:27pm)


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Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 12:46amSanction this postReply
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And of course, Hitchcock was always thorough when it came to including the union bugs.

To shift the subject somewhat: from what I remember reading, it was the Labor guys that took an interest in libertarianism in NZ. Given this, wouldn't it be more politically pragmatical to add Hilaire Belloc [The Servile State] to the brew?


Post 12

Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 4:20pmSanction this postReply
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Daniel, Not from me.
Fred

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Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 4:24pmSanction this postReply
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Ed,

"Using your theory/practice terms, am I correct in the presumption that Kant would say that he did not have any theoretical knowledge of his own theories (didn't even "know" his own thoughts), but that he supposedly had some practical knowledge about his theoretical knowledge?"

No, I think not. It's only of the noumena that we cannot have theoretical knowledge. We know our own theories, and Kant certainly knew Newton's theory, Leibniz's theory, Descartes' theory etc. I don't think he has a problem here.

Fred


Post 14

Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 4:33pmSanction this postReply
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Ed,

"In short, I was not talking about reading the man's mind, I was talking about reading the man's philosophy and applying it to his mind (or any mind)."

I stand corrected. According to Kant's philosophy he could know his own mind as it appears to him, i.e., in time. He, of course, cannot know (in the strong sense of know) his own mind as it doesn't appear to him, i.e., outside of time.

"There is a real (and "knowable" - in its real form) psychological continuity involved in being a human"

I think Kant would agree. That continuity takes the form of memories about the past, perceptions of the present and planning for the future. But these are all in time and Kant would have no problem with that.

"The objective view of the mind is the subjective view of it."

For Kant, we can have objective knowledge of our mind as it appears; we cannot have objective knowledge of our minds as it doesn't appear. We can have subjective belief in our mind as it doesn't appear. All of these terms are use in Kant's technical sense. Hope this is better.

Fred

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Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 4:50pmSanction this postReply
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Mr Cresswell,

"I was trying to find out exactly what it is you claim Kant's system to be"

You want me to do it while standing on one foot. After all, what is sauce for the goose etc. So here goes.
metaphysics - realism
epistemology - reason
ethics - act on rational principles
politics - capitalism.

Clear enough? Let me know if you need more.

"I will be responding in detail as I said, but as it's now Saturday here I will first be watching Taranaki beat Auckland, and then Geelong beat Brisbane."

I will be watch my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers kicking some pathetic Baltimore Raven ass by the time you read this. Enjoy the games, at least as they appear. Tee hee. By the way, Taranaki is what kind of team?

Dr. Fred Seddon

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Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 6:42pmSanction this postReply
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"Enjoy the games, at least as they appear. Tee hee."

I did enjoy the games - both as they appeared and as they were in themselves. We non-Kantians can do that. Sadly however both my teams lost, and as a non-Kantian I can have no satisfaction that they might only have appeared to lose. They really did lose, and I do know it - all they way down to the root.

"By the way, Taranaki is what kind of team?"

Taranaki is a rugby team; they lost an NPC game. Geelong is an Australian Football (AFL) team; they lost a semi-final. (A semi-final!! <sob> Incidentally if anyone's interested, and I've argued elsewhere that you should be, next weekend's AFL Grand Final  is usually broadcast across the States - I commend it to your attention.)

"You want me to [say exactly what it is I claim Kant's system to be] do it while standing on one foot."

Noooowwww we're getting somewhere!

So here goes.
metaphysics - realism
epistemology - reason
ethics - act on rational principles
politics - capitalism.

Clear enough? Let me know if you need more."

See, you can do it when you try.  And, yes, more would be instructive, especially if delivered in plain language and on two feet. Remember Rand went on to expand on each of these categories herself in plain language, so what's good for her should be at least worth attempting by you. However, I note already that at this stage you already contradict what most commentators I have seen understand Kant's system to be, and you're also desperately equivocal between an Objectivist use of a word and the Kantian. I don't believe that's accidental.

"Act on rational principles," for instance means two very different things to a Kantian and to an Objectivist - as I'm very sure you know (if indeed a good Kantian can truly 'know' anything); so too does the word "reason" , as Tibor has already eloquently pointed out to you; and , of course, so too does the word reality - unlike Objectivist writers, a true Kantian really should have that word in scare quotes, now shouldn't he, as you don't know what reality really is.

So, as you're writing for Objectivists, perhaps you could do us the courtesy of choosing words which accurately convey to an Objectivist audience Kant's actual system , not the white-washed one you briefly offer here.


Post 17

Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 6:42pmSanction this postReply
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[Duplicate post deleted.]

(Edited by Peter Cresswell on 9/18, 6:44pm)


Post 18

Sunday, September 19, 2004 - 5:37pmSanction this postReply
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Dr. Seddon, you make the big bread, but you cannot be nourished by it without the human process of digestion (salivary amylase, pancreatin, etc). This doesn't make human nutrition something other than it "appears" to the trained mind. Here are some responses for you to digest:
--------------
"I stand corrected. According to Kant's philosophy he could know his own mind as it appears to him, i.e., in time. He, of course, cannot know (in the strong sense of know) his own mind as it doesn't appear to him, i.e., outside of time."

Doc (may I call you that?), that which is outside of time is eternal, such as the timeless truth of the Primacy of Existence, for example. A human mind is not eternal, it exists for a time and that time is linked to the time-span noted for the existence of a human body. To speak of a mind that is somehow outside of time is absurd - and this notion ought to be rejected by those aspiring to gain knowledge. A mind's identity imposes a temporal limitation on its existence. This inherent temporality is an aspect of the what-it-is-to-be, or the ontology, of what a mind really is.

In short, not being able to know a mind outside of time (outside of its identity), has no epistemological bearing whatsoever.
--------------

"For Kant, we can have objective knowledge of our mind as it appears; we cannot have objective knowledge of our minds as it doesn't appear. We can have subjective belief in our mind as it doesn't appear."

Doc (I hope I may call you that), Kant was stuck in the quicksand of "paddlehack" - my term for those otherwise intelligent thinkers of the past (PDLHK; Plato-Descartes-Locke-Hume-Kant) who never quite got around to recognizing that the mind has conceptual powers.

These poor buggers were stuck trying to explain all thought in perceptive terms - despite utilizing words that, if defined properly, contradict their common, mistaken intention. You have confirmed this view with your use of terminology to explain Kant's position - you used the perceptual word "appear" in speaking about abstract knowledge (e.g. of a mind). This is a misconception (for lack of a less ironic term!).
--------------

Ed

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Sunday, September 19, 2004 - 5:54pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Cresswell,

My team also did not fare well. In fact, they got their asses kicked.

"I was trying to find out exactly what it is you claim Kant's system to be"

Since I was "standing on one foot" I restricted myself to answering the above only. You wanted to know what I claim about Kant's system. I told you.

"you're also desperately equivocal between an Objectivist use of a word and the Kantian."

Well, yes and no. If Kant is only a proto-Objectivist and not an Objectivist, then we don't need complete and total univocity. Equivocal? Depends on how precise one wants to be. Let me illustrate. Let us say that one is trying to place Rand and Kant and, say, Berkeley, on either side of the "realist/non-realist" dichotomy. I take Berkeley to be a subjective idealist and, if correct, that would place him in the non-realist camp. Kant and Rand on the other hand, belong in the realist camp in the snese that they both endores an independent, extra-mental realm. So, in metaphysics at least, my one word characterization was dead on accurate. They both play in the realist ballpark. Berkeley is on the other side of the street.

Let me stop here and see if you agree with me and then I go on with the others.

[Side bar. Do you agree with George Walsh when he writes the following. "For Rand the function of metaphysics is to provide us with a unitary world view." For Kant, "the function of metaphysics is to provide us with a unitary world view."]

Sadden by the Steeler loss,

Dr. Seddon



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