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Science of history–an antinomy

December 21st, 2006 · No Comments

Email exchange at kant@yahoogroups.com:

In a message dated 12/21/2006 8:20:46 PM Central Standard Time, x@x writes:
Why should you be a Kantian or Kant expositor to write about Kant? He did not
write just for professors!

____________
Reply:
Good point, however, not all would accept the point, whatever they say out front.
I am in a strange position, having ‘rediscovered’ transcendental idealism via a different route, a fascinating experience. I am uncomfortable with the term ‘transcendental idealism’ if only because students raised in a scientifically positivistic age react to the words with a kind shocked look, as if they saw a bear coming. By the time you point out that the term doesn’t mean what they think it means it is usually already too late.

However, my viewpoint pertains to history, not the ‘critique of reason’ or the elements of morality/aesthetic judgment, i.e. the psychology of man’s representations. We displace the issues to our temporal ‘representations’ of the past as these become our constructs of historical understanding–but these are not ‘intuitions’ filtered by concepts, so much as complex data impressions reconstructed in the imagination (the ‘past’) as ‘ideas’ (or reason) for a (universal) history. That’s a strange kettle of fish, and quite treacherous terrain.
But if we can claim to do evolution thuswise, we ought to be able to do history thuswise, and supposedly have an easier time of it, since we actually do have data for world history, abundantly so, at least by comparison with the primordial ages of Paleolithic man, about which we have almost no data.

The question was one I tried to reduce to the utmost simplicity: can I find Kant’s Third Antinomy relevant to the failure of historical theories? Indeed. And we can restate a sort of Popperian thesis about a science of history as an antinomy:
Yes, there must be a science of history,
No, there cannot be a science of history, since it must be a history of freedom.
The chronic frustration of scientists trying to claim, on the one hand, that science has authority over the whole of reality, and the simple fact that the decades turn into centuries of the failure to find/complete such a science with a science of history, springs from this antinomy. The resolution lies in seeing that both statements are in some sense true, and that a ‘science of history’ has to be a ‘science of the causality of freedom’, a statement subject to immediate shortcircuit as questionable semi-nonsense and yet the key to solving the riddle. I resolve it in my eonic model by using different concepts: eonic determination for causality and self-consciousness (or ‘ relative degress of free action’) instead of free will. Then the contradiction disappears, is resolved as a dynamic process of the ‘evolution of freedom’, speaking somewhat formally.
Mirabile dictu, if we adopt this approach we find that world history rewards us with data confirming this analysis, one spectacular example being what I call the ‘discrete freedom sequence’, seen in the emergence of democracy (check out history and evolution.com, and the text online of World History and The Eonic Effect). World history actually reflects the antinomy directly, a surprising discovery.
We thus find the resolution of the paradox forces our hand as realist interpretations burst from the sockets of ‘space-time’ representations.
The result beautiful echoes Kant’s thinking, but with the obscure ‘unsocial sociability’ up in the air, sidelined as a secondary aspect of historical behavior, but not a teleological process as some apparently seem to think it.

Tags: Evolution · History · The Eonic Effect · World History and The Eonic Effect · you've got mail

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