Thursday, March 15, 2007

DeKantstruction - Part One

For those of you who want to follow this discussion here’s the text

Kant’s essay is a contemptuous and emotional outburst of an answer to a scornful “question”.

But it has since been read as a lexigraphic statement, as a definition and manifesto of The Enlightenment, neatly following the tradition of the French Encyclopédie by Diderot from 1772.

Here is the polemic context – because it was indeed a part of a heated argument.

The question Was ist Aufklärung? was originally asked – as an aside - by the Berlin theologian J. F. Zöllner (1753–1804).

In December 1783 he published an article in the Berlinischen Monatsschrift with the following rhetorical question as the title Is It Advisable No Longer to Sanctify Marriage Through Religion?

He was responding to a previous piece in the paper where an anonymous writer had advocated the possibility of a civil union between a man and a woman outside the Christian church.

As a strict guardian of morality the preachy Zöllner bemoaned the lowering of standards brought about by the “prevalent thinking of the times” which unter dem Namen der Aufklärung die Köpfe und Herzen der Menschen zu verwirren‹. (under the name of enlightenment confuses the heads and hearts of people).

In a note to his article Zöllner puts the question Was ist Aufklärung?. You can almost hear and see the sneer and spite: What IS this thing called Enlightenment? This new fashion? This stupid idea? Nothing more than blasphemy and corruption of public morality!

Kant’s triumphant answer was just as contemptuous, especially in this passage, religious immaturity is the most pernicious and dishonourable variety of all

But in his protestations isn’t Kant himself presenting a new liturgy?

And why is he so obsessed with priests, monarchs, authority and obedience?

(More to come)


Anonymous J. River Martin said...

Dear Yusef,

I'd like to call your attention to my question in the comments following the blog entry dated
Wednesday, February 28, 2007 and titled "Enlightenment Ambivalence". Thank you.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Thanks for this valuable information, Orla.

8:40 PM  

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