History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Kant, unsocial sociability, and history

December 17th, 2006 · No Comments

email on Kant’s unsocial sociability at Kant@yahoogroups.com:

In a message dated 12/17/2006 7:24:05 PM Central Standard Time, x@X replies:

Unsocial sociability amounts to Kant’s appropriation of the rationalization
of “commercial society” advanced by Hume and Smith, whereby, paradoxically,
the conflict of individualist self-interest results in material,
social-psychological, and institutional benefits. The crucial fact here is
that it does not involve any kind of judgment. The invisible hand does not
involve conscious agency

My reply:

I think I have indicated the way in which Kant’s theory of history is ambivalent, as seen in his essay on history where he seemingly intuits unsocial sociability as some directional factor and yet also seems to express doubt about this in the form of a question to be projected into the future. And I think that taking unsocial sociability in a teleological sense as ‘natural teleology’ simply precipitates the confusions of ideology that drove Marx to his critique and his own confusions.
I have said this many times, and my views are in print and on the web, so I feel sad to watch the point ignored, in the endless continuity in this subtle error.
It seems close to a philosophical tragedy, yet one I think I have resolved in my eonic model where the real sense of I call ‘Kant’s Challenge’ gives a better meaning to his essay by looking at teleology in its real meaning, without mystifications about the ‘invisible hand’. But, of course, all this is hopeless in a ‘commercial society’which is forceably deluded about the ‘teleology of markets’ for as long as such a society exists. It is a tremendously sad question, all this philosophical effort falling into ruin because of a confusion in Kant’s thinking condemning him to the ideologies of conservative liberals, when in fact his clear deeper intuition sees beyond that.

The eonic model ( http://history-and-evolution.com/model.htm and also the material on Kant’s Challenge) proposes a beautifully enigmatic clue to the riddle of teleology (or the antinomy of teleological judgment) as a function of Big History showing directionality in a series of alternations, precisely as intuited in the first paragraph of Kant’s essay.

In any case, the ‘invisible hand’ is an economic concept used by Adam Smith to express the properties of markets. It is not generalizable to universal history for reasons that should be clear and clearer still from my analysis, and Kant’s reasoning here may or may not have shown Smithian influence, but the fact of the matter remains that his unsocial sociability is ambiguous and not directly equivalent to Smith’s thinking (or, for that matter, Hegel’s ‘cunning of reason’, another such confusion).
Kant created a whole methodology for dealing with teleology and then applied it to the wrong concept. That’s the point that can’t seem to be resolved. Yet I think I have resolved it, and that in a fashion that corresponds to the facts of history and to the resolution of a beautiful enigma that could make Kant’s work relevant to a crisis of civilization. But he will be taken away into the hands of the economic ideologues, as everyone pursues the vain phantoms of postmodern postKantianism in the wreckage of a civilization fixated on the magic of markets and deriving all its theories therefrom.
I am a Kant peon, I know. No response can be expected.
Best of luck. Maybe better luck in another civilization.

Tags: Critique of Evolutionary Economy · Evolution · Philosophy · The Eonic Effect · you've got mail

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