Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Twelve Rounds with Kant (part ten)

Alexej von Jawlensky, Abstract Head: Inner Vision-Rosy Light (1926)

Well, here we go again.

I'll admit I haven't given too much additional thought to the "theory" outlined in the last Kantpost. Can it even be called a theory? It's more of an inkling, an idea. How could such a thing be substantiated? What sort of data would be required, and how would one go about gathering it? What sort of pattern would we seek to find in it?

I wish I shared Kant's faith in rationalism as a divining rod towards truth—and that I had his meticulous genius for analysis and systematic thought. For that matter, I wish it were possible for me to just take two months off from work and contemplate the problems of free will and morality for six hours a day. Ah, well.

Anyway: in what's going to be my final post on The Critique of Practical Reason (1788), I'd like to touch on Kant's three postulates of practical reason: freedom (free will), immortality of the soul, and the existence of God. According to Kant, these are suppositions which reason must adopt to ensure the moral law's sufficiency, and the rational agent is constrained to accept them. Even though theoretical reason can only problematically entertain such ideas, their indispensability to the purposes of reason in its practical use gives them objective reality, but only so far as their intersection with ethical matters is concerned. (It's complicated.)

Please note: I am, as usual, flying completely by the seat of my pants here. This is less an exercise in scholarly analysis than in expatiation.

Let's start with the big one.