Sunday, August 12, 2007


Kant expressed this fear,

"…then nothingness (immorality) with gaping maw would drink the whole realm of (moral) beings like a drop of water." - quoted in The Dialectic of Enlightenment on page 67.

What Kant fears isn’t a charging rhinoceros, an exploding bomb, a sickness, or death in the usual sense. He’s afraid of some sort of spiritual disaster – some sort of spiritual collapse which will engulf the very power to be moral.

Deleuze also expressed a fear which seems very similar,

“What distressed us was that in renouncing judgment we had the impression of depriving ourselves of any means of assessing the differences between existing beings, between modes of existence, as if from now on everything were equally
valid.” – Gilles Deleuze, Critique and Clinique, page 168.

What Deleuze feared wasn’t a charging rhinoceros, either.

Kant’s fear remains open-ended, and it appears to me as if Kant was ultimately forced to deal with his unacceptable open-ended fear by placing morality as a “given” of his system—a way by which he let himself off the hook of demonstrating the rationality of morality.

For Kant, there had to be morality as a given, OR ELSE…Something unthinkably horrible would happen...

Deleuze’s fear is expressed in the past tense…The distress is over, it is not ongoing...He is speaking of something which used to distress him. He appears to believe as if he (or he and his colleagues) had found a way to renounce judgment without losing the ability to assess the differences between existing beings, between modes of existence, and without falling into the condition of viewing everything as equally valid.

This last part, “the condition of viewing everything as equally valid” is something like a heat death of the universe – it’s the dry death of thought and movement…A permanent eclipse of all value. It's as horrible as nothingness with gaping maw drinking the whole realm of beings like a drop of water.

Deleuze is no longer afraid of what scared Kant to death.( No, not to death, but into a philosophical position which must have been an ongoing source of anxiety for Kant-- and that's nearly worse than death.) Unless Deleuze is delusional, this remedy of Kant’s fear is big, big news – an epochal event. It’s an event of Sapere Aude, and we EU’ers need to take notice.


Post a Comment

<< Home