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Kant, postmodernism, enlightenments

March 11th, 2006 · No Comments

Was looking at an unusual ‘quick summary’ of the emergence of postmodernism,

to find an unusual sourcing claim in the philosopher Kant:

Kant was the decisive break with the Enlightenment and the first major step toward postmodernism.

Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism form Rousseau to Foucault (Scholargy Publishing, 2004)

Despite the engaging nature of this book (clarity-wise, given postmodern obscurities), and the need for multiple perspectives on anything as complex as German Classical Philosophy, I find such an appropriation of Kant misleading. Sadly, poor old Kant who is the source of almost the entirety of decent modern philosophy in all its forms is treated as some superceded fuddyduddy, here some kind of primitive precursor to the profundities of postmodernism. That’s pure baloney. Philosophy, briefly, with Kant, recovered the lost Platonic strain after two millennia of oblivion, and just as quickly lost it again. The key point with Kant was the noumenal/phenomenal dualism, which was carved up and buried within a decade by his successors. Despite the plaintive efforts of Schopenhauer to keep it alive it disappeared completely. Darwin provided the coup de grace, as Nietzsche parodied the game by degrading ‘will’ to will to power, in a sort of snot-nosed kid display of impishness. The aesthetics of barbarism then becomes a profoundity called anti-foundationalism and we reach the present stage of bizarre aftereffects, notable for the complete loss of public philosophic perspective in the negations of the postmoderns.

Kant is better seen as the completion of the Enlightenment, and its protector, since the soon to arrive scientism, claiming the mantle, will prove a distortion, setting up the whole Enlightenment for a fall. Which is exactly what we see.
Kant foretold the exact problem, in his own terms, that has now beset Darwinists, claiming, wrongly, to represent the Enlightenment.
In any case, the Enlightenment is more than a philosophy, and a study of the eonic effect might help to see it as a complex spectrum inside the modern transition, occurring just near the Great Divide. So far from being a single ‘ism’ its effect is to encompass a totality in a synchronous effect near the ‘Great Divide’.

Philosophy peaks right on schedule then goes into chaotification.

Tags: Booknotes · Philosophy

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