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Kantian cold showers…

September 3rd, 2016 · No Comments

The only cure for Zizekian drivel and I must say much French philosophic drivel is, for a new generation (the old is too far gone) to get a cold shower treatment with a long and really boring study of Kant. It need not be at the level of complexity of too many college track courses that are for future specialists. Too many students would burn out early in the confusions of the first two chapters of the first Critique. But the latter is a problem that can be solved. Bryan Magee has an engaging version of Kant for tots just as they are tucked into bed. Hope that helped. But the questions raised by Kant are a key to both the philosophical and those who wish to escape its metaphysical swamps.
The problem here is in part Hegel. It is worth reading another Magee: Glenn Magee, Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition. He offers the warning that Hegel is not a philosopher but a Hermetic mystic and one of the first ‘new agers’, a home grown version. On that basis one can actually appreciate him, remaining wary of his treatment of Kant.

This is said because marxism is a strange subject that pioneered a scientific clarity and ended up in a crypto-Hegelian mystical swamp. The whole game climaxed in Stalin’s and Engels’ dialectical amterialism, and never recovered.

I see no problem with Hegel seen thus rightly, although he is very difficult (can any five year beginner profit from the Phenomenology?), and as a new post-prophetic thinker at the end of the Reformation. But a better starting point for the left is a simple disciplined Kantianism, hopeuflly one that can also escape Kantian rigor mortis syndrome. I can’t say I recommend academic Kantianism. I never took a college course in Kant. I think that was fortunate, but college courses that are ‘easy’ but cogent would not be hard to devise. This problem was early seen by Schopenhauer, who was even smarter than Kant, but saw the need to streamline the great discovery of Kant.
I don’t propose dogmatic Kantians on the left. But taking Hegel in the wrong way has created confusion. In general the warning given by Kant is that materialists can end up in their own brand of metaphysical illusion.

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