Sunday, June 13, 2010

Leave Kanty alone!!

I think I might have read this a few months ago when it came out, but forgot to post about it.  Philosophy Professor Eric Schwitzgebel did a post listing Kant’s most peculiar and'/or odious views.   (I knew about his view of masturbation as being worse than suicide, but the Professor extends the list, and indeed one of the comments also throws in racism.)

Of course, there might be some excuse making to be found in the state of science was at the time.   Still, despite my general high regard for him, Kant did have some spectacularly odd views.  It also turns out that one writer has suggested that Kant wrote under the influence of a “massive left prefrontal tumor” which biologically prevented him from having proper empathy for people when he wrote his major works.

Somehow, I think that’s an unlikely scenario.  Reason can lead philosophers to all sorts of spurious and silly conclusions, as shown in my recent posts about the idea that people (even with the most “normal” lives) should logically think it would be better if people didn’t exist.  In that case, maybe it is excessive empathy that is leading to the result, but the conclusion is just as silly as anything Kant wrote.


TimT said...

Was there anybody back then who wasn't racist by today's rather ridiculous yardstick?

TimT said...

I don't know whether it's 'reason' that leads philosophers to all their conclusions. Perhaps a more general term like 'rhetoric' describes what they do: a lot of philosophers rely on original and persuasive arguments just as much as logical or systematic thinking. (Not that I'd know...)