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Hauser and Kant

December 5th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Comment on Hauser’s book on ethics/evolution

I think I was a little unfair to Hauser, and am ordering his book to take another look (after reading the book hurriedly a while back).
If you are raised on Nietzsche, gosh forbid, the idea of morality seems strange now, and, frankly, that is strange. Nietzsche’s attack on morality is misguided, and springs in part from Schopenhauer’s rejection of Kantian ethics. But I think that Kantian ethics could have been improved using Schopenhauer. Nietzsche always gets the sweepstakes for ‘brilliance’, but his oversimplifications are suspicious, and a bit stupid. He makes life too easy for himself.
The immense complexity of the questions of ethics, addressed by Kant, offer no escape.

The point here is the resemblance of Hauser’s general claim, minus the details, to the Kantian view of ethics. Kant’s claim is not to invent ethcs, but to explicate ‘common ordinary morality’, something that is evident in all tribes of life, despiste the contradictions there.
Kant’s attempt to clarify that is based on an Enlightenment take on ‘reason’ and seems to produce inconsistencies.
So does Set Theory,which didn’t justify abolishing it.

Kant’s advance is great, and remains to be completed.
Hauser’s perspective, then, is not as unusual as it might seem.

The problem I had with Hauser is the Darwinization of his claim.

The issue of how ‘common ordinary morality’ could have evolved remains a truly hard problem, one lacking any evidence.

Tags: ethics · Evolution

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