Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Discussion of Kant Leads to Gunfire

This is the way that philosophy disputes are actually ALWAYS resolved:  justice lies in the interests of the stronger handgun.  Thrasymachus said that, I think, or something close to it.

In Russia, gunfire breaks out over debate about Kant.

Best line:  "It was not clear which of Kant’s ideas may have triggered the violence." 

At a guess, let's go with thesis four of "Idea for a Universal History..."  Don't you agree?  Here it is:

The means employed by Nature to bring about the development of all the capacities of men is their antagonism in society, so far as this is, in the end, the cause of a lawful order among men. 

By “antagonism” I mean the unsocial sociability of men, i.e., their propensity to enter into society, bound together with a mutual opposition which constantly threatens to break up the society. Man has an inclination to associate with others, because in society he feels himself to be more than man, i.e., as more than the developed form of his natural capacities. But he also has a strong propensity to isolate himself from others, because he finds in himself at the same time the unsocial characteristic of wishing to have everything go according to his own wish. Thus he expects opposition on all sides because, in knowing himself, he knows that he, on his own part, is inclined to oppose others. This opposition it is which awakens all his powers, brings him to conquer his inclination to laziness and, propelled by vainglory, lust for power, and avarice, to achieve a rank among his fellows whom he cannot tolerate but from whom he cannot withdraw. Thus are taken the first true steps from barbarism to culture, which consists in the social worth of man; thence gradually develop all talents, and taste is refined; through continued enlightenment the beginnings are laid for a way of thought which can in time convert the coarse, natural disposition for moral discrimination into definite practical principles, and thereby change a society of men driven together by their natural feelings into a moral whole. Without those in themselves unamiable characteristics of unsociability from whence opposition springs-characteristics each man must find in his own selfish pretensions-all talents would remain hidden, unborn in an Arcadian shepherd’s life, with all its concord, contentment, and mutual affection. Men, good-natured as the sheep they herd, would hardly reach a higher worth than their beasts; they would not fill the empty place in creation by achieving their end, which is rational nature. Thanks be to Nature, then, for the incompatibility, for heartless competitive vanity, for the insatiable desire to possess and to rule! Without them, all the excellent natural capacities of humanity would forever sleep, undeveloped. Man wishes concord; but Nature knows better what is good for the race; she wills discord. He wishes to live comfortably and pleasantly; Nature wills that he should be plunged from sloth and passive contentment into labor and trouble, in order that he may find means of extricating himself from them. The natural urges to this, the sources of unsociableness and mutual opposition from which so many evils arise, drive men to new exertions of their forces and thus to the manifold development of their capacities. They thereby perhaps show the ordering of a wise Creator and not the hand of an evil spirit, who bungled in his great work or spoiled it out of envy. 

Just reading that, you want to go shoot somebody.....

UPDATE:  Turns out it was "The Critique of Pure Reason."  That was my second guess.


Anonymous said...

Really?!? You don't think it was something as simple as Kant's categorical imperative? The shooter just thought that gunfighting to solve random and meaningless disputes should become universal law.

Unknown said...

The entire Critique of Poor Reason is really long.

It would be fascinating to know what level of detail the conversation was conducted in. The more specific, technical, and picayune the catalyzing discussion, the more hilarious the shooting.