Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Knowledge(s) Production(s)

In Kant's motto for the Enlightenment, as declared at the top of this page, for me all emphasis is on the invitation, the injunction, to " have courage."

The word "reason," which may be a highly questionable translation to English of the Latin "sapere," deserves no emphasis at all - it's best to think of it as a loose placeholder word which we might fill in and map out through a wide variety of thinking acts - many of them not yet conceived, ( not preconceived, or intended by Kant to have been preconceived.)

That they aren't conceived yet - even to this day - may be part of the beauty and liberation of what Kant wished to convey to us with his slogan.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

I very like this take on it -- that "the beauty and liberation" that Kant offers us is that there remains much to be thought, to be created as thought.

(In this respect one can contrast Kant with previous rationalists, such as Spinoza and Leibniz, who held that everything conceivable already exists in God's mind, and all we can hope to do is discover it.)

Kant tells us that we need courage in order to reason. Why is this? What sort of courage does Kant have in mind?

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Yusef Asabiyah said...

Immediately prior to the Enlightenment period Kant participated in, I want to assert that there were no societally-acknowledged or validated knowledge production practices available - there was only the practice of textual exegesis, and the following after of traditional practices of various sorts. I think that it was the courage to break with these and to create newer practices that Kant was urging.

I don't really know enough Kant to understand how deeply he was mired in the reason versus revelation trap.

I like to think that what I mean by knowledge production bypasses that trap altogether, and that Kant really intended us to bypass that trap altogether with the exhortation of his motto.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

Much depends on how, precisely, one dates the Enlightenment -- the "Scientific Revolution" (Galileo, Bacon, Boyle, Halley, Harvey) was already a hundred years in full swing prior to Kant.

By the time Kant wrote, the Counter-Enlightenment was already underway, and Kant has to defend both the Enlightenment and the Counter-Enlightenment from each other. This is part of why he insists "I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith" (Critique of Pure Reason B xxx).

Yet precisely by doing so, he makes it possible to affirm an open-endedness of knowledge production. The trick here, I think, is to see how knowledge cannot conflict with faith because the two are, as it were, orthogonal. Each is unlimited in its own dimension of human existence, and so neither is limited by the other.

If Kant were better understood and appreciated, the "culture wars" would come to an end, because it would become clear -- I hope -- why scientific knowledge and personal faith do not conflict. The price one has to pay for this "reconciliation" is not very high.

In my diss., I called this "Kant's detente" -- and detente is much more precise that "reconciliation." There is no higher harmonization of science and religion in Kant -- as there is in Hegel -- but there is a sort of "mutual non-aggression treaty" between them.

Stephen Jay Gould has been heavily criticized by both religious and scientific dogmatists for promoting what he called a "non-overlapping magisteria" model of the science-religion relation.

Was Gould really a Kantian?

12:13 PM  
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