‘The Right of Reason’s Need’: Kant and the Origins of Speculation

(x-posted here)

speculationSince Mikhail has already invoked the most speculative of topics, I thought I would join him in trying to explicate what the ‘conditions for the possibility of speculation’ look like. Now, to put the spoiler up front, it’s going to turn out that Speculative philosophy for Kant is the rather strange twinning (or maybe intertwining) of aesthetics and ethics that arises from the Reason’s need to act in and judge its world and that is only possile on the basis of an irreducibly subjective feeling of difference (i.e. a difference that is ‘more primordial’ than either intuition or the pure concepts of the understanding). Let me underscore this point: if we’re in the least bit Kantian, Speculative philosophy is essentially normative philosophy, which takes its bearing from an inherently subjective position, but attempts to encompass or comprehend its total situatedness

Lest anyone think this claim is off the mark — for how could speculation not be metaphysical? –, it should be enough to point out that nearly every Post-Kantian, speculative philosophy, from Fichte to Marx, is bound up with the notion of Normativity; They are all inextricably connected to developing the meaning and richness of the notion of Reason, or Rationality, whose defining features are normative.* Whether you call it the Absolute I or Spirit, Nature or Bourgeois Capitalism, the ‘Totality’ that German speculative philosophy attempts to comprehend is configured in terms of the normative potentials and limitations inherent in the concept of Freedom, Selbtsändigkeit, or whatever fancy name it bears. Insofar as German Idealism is specualative, it attempts to develop, widen, and transform our practices of making and taking things to be valuable or true.

Given the above sketch — and it’s no more than a sketch –, we can now ask a ‘materially transcendental’ question: how did speculative philosophy take on such an avowedly normative tone? Answer: Kant. A proper account of Kant’s evolving views on speculation (indeed, as an inherently normative practice) would probably have to begin with how Kant limits its metaphysical traction from the Critique of Pure Reason to his curious essay, ‘What does it mean to orient oneself in thinking,’ and then trace the necessity for speculative thought in the Critique of Practical Reason and the Critique of Judgment. But who has the time or patience for that? We can, I think, provide an interesting, albeit foreshortened version of this argument by concentrating on the ‘Orientation’ essay, and then gesturing to the decisive reformulation of this essay’s key notions in the 2nd and 3rd Critiques. In effect, what I want to claim is that ‘speculation’ (like Revelation for Rosenzweig) is orientational, arising from an original kind of need in relation to an irreducible, subjective feeling for difference (Hence the wild catchphrases, like ‘the point of indifference between identity and difference’ in Schelling, and the Identity of identity and difference in Hegel).

1. Orientation is Speculation — Practically


“However exalted the application, and however far up from sensibility we may abstract them,” Kant says at the beginning of his Orientation essay, “still they need to be attached [anhängen] to figural representations [blidliche Vorstellungen] whose proper purpose is to make these concepts, which are not otherwise derived from experience, serviceable for experiential use” (Ak 8:133 for those curious, you can find an English translation of this essay in the Cambridge Series of Kant’s primary works, Religion and Rational Theology, 7-18; citations will be to the AK). Although this may sound like the 1st Critique‘s motto, ‘concepts without intuitions are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind,’ there are is at least one decisive difference: figural representation, like the construction of geometrical figures, is a potentially constructive procedure: the synthetic a priori construction of a new concept is made coherent through its visual presentation, and thus enters into the realm of possible experience. Figural Representations, we might therefore say, are essentially mnemonic devices, or experiments: what can be visually presented is an object of possible experience. These figures orient thought.
This is the orientational kernel I want to focus on. To be sure, I’m departing from Kant’s actual exposition, but I think this departure is authorized by the larger arc of Kant’s thought, to which I would like to draw attention. So, leaving aside Kant’s remarks on Mendelssohn, let’s pick up Kant’s discussion of orientation proper in this essay. For he offers a form of argument strikingly similar to the kind used in the deduction of the Transcendental Unity of Apperception (i.e. a regressive, immanent analysis that uncovers the unique principles involved in a particular activity): First, he attempts to establish the meaning of ‘orientation;’ second, he extrapolates the formal structure underwriting this meaning (i.e. he articulates what makes that meaning intelligible); third, he identifies the unique conditions that makes the previous formal structure possible. What separates the present argument in the Orientation essay from the Transcendental deduction in the 1st Critique is what I would like to call a catachrestic reduction. That is, Kant identifies the figural register inherent to the notion of ‘orientation in thought,’ and then inquires into the conceptual conditions of possibility for ‘orientation as such.’ And this essentially figural concern, I would like to suggest, marks the birth of a distinctively Kantian conception of Speculation. With this general overview, let’s look at the specifics of Kant’s argument.

1.1. The Catachrestic Reduction: the Meaning of Orientation

As Kant will show us, the most literal — although still figural — meaning of ‘orientation’ is geographical. “In the proper meaning of the word,” he writes, “to orient oneself means to use a given direction [Gegend] (when we divide the horizon into four of them) in order to find the others — literally to find Sunrise.” (Ak 8:134) Quite simply put, ‘orientation’ amounts to finding one’s position within a whole, based on relative — finite and relational — knowledge, rather than absolute knowledge. “If I see the sun in the sky, and I know it is midday” Kant continues, “then I know how to find south, west, north, and east” (Ak 8:135). Here, what’s worth pointing out — despite what Kant himself will say in a moment — is that Orientation requires intuition (a representation of the Sun) and some form of knowledge-based practice (how to divide the horizon into the 4 directions at midday). This practice, however, is not entirely conceptual. For as Kant emphasizes, “I also need the feeling of a difference in my own subject, namely, the difference between my right and left hands.
We should, I think, pause to consider the implications of this ‘feeling of a difference in my own subject’ carefully. A great deal hangs on it. For it seems to suggest that some differences are more fundamental than others, and that these more fundamental differences are not given conceptually or intuitively. In this case, my right and left hands, which are phenomenally indiscernible from one another (they’re mirror images of one another, etc. Wittgenstein also discusses the irreducibility of the right-left difference Cf. his Tractatus 6.3 ff), become the foundation for my orientation in the world. Right and left it would seem, are prior to the intuitions of ‘things on the right or left’ and their concepts in every conceivable way. Rather than being ‘equiprimordial’ or ‘flat,’ this feeling of a difference is the foundational difference which makes (1) a figural representation and (2) the set of applicable concepts possible. I take it that Kant’s feeling of an (orientational) difference between right and left is not a difference in the objects of knowledge, or in the things in themselves, nor in the world in general. It is not a difference that is independent of ‘the subject.’ But it is the difference which allows us to identify other relevant differences.

Kant considers two other figures of orientation, before moving on the next stage of his argument (what he calls mathematical orientation and orientation in thought), but they more or less amount to the same thing outlined above. In all three cases, ‘orientation’ means attaching to a set of concepts to a figure through the primordial feeling of a difference.

1.2. The Formal Structure of Orientation: the Needs of Mental Life

So far, Kant’s procedure has remained consistent with what reader’s of the 1st critique would have expected. He manages nevertheless to reverses our expectations.** Almost out of the blue, after considering how thought can orient itself in the putative absence of any figure, Kant claims that thought can nevertheless find within itself “a subjective ground for of differentiation in the determination of its own faculty of judgment” (Ak 8:137). In essence, and to anticipate, Kant tells us that we possess the potential for merely reflective judgment. Even more interesting, however, is not the relationship between the feeling of an orientational difference and the feeling of a reflective difference, which Kant seems to be intimating, but that this difference itself corresponds to a need. Kant himself is vague on what constitutes “an actual need” (Ak 8: 136), as he calls it, but this much is certain: where “there enters the right of Reason’s need, as a subjective ground for presupposing and assuming something which Reason may not presume to know through objective grounds,” there it is “capable of orienting itself in thinking solely through Reason’s own need, in that immeasurable space of the supersensible, which for us is filled with dark night” (Ak 8:137).
Maybe it’s just me, but there is something sublime, almost terrifying about Kant’s claim: Speculation is called on to satsify a need, a need to orient oneself in the darkness. And this orientation, as we have now seen, is possible only through a subjective, irreducible, yet fundamental feeling of difference, which allows us to transforms pure concepts into figures, symbols of something else — so that now something beautiful can stand for something moral — which can in their turn be attached to other concepts. Although Kant doesn’t clarify in this essay what constitutes the need (past saying that all conditioned things must stem from something unconditioned), a few pages later he does clarify where speculative thought is needed. Taking the Speculative claims concerning God as his model, Kant writes, “we must assume the existence of God not only if we want to judge, but because we have to judge. For the pure practical use of reason consists in the precepts of moral laws” (Ak 8: 139). From the starry sky above, which Kant will later designate as sublime, to the moral law within, which rests on the absolute, unconditioned idea of my freedom, Kant’s introduces speculation as a response to an irreducible need of a finite individual. More than this: he introduces speculation as an orientation towards an uncognizable totality that one ultimately comprehends via one’s normatively driven activities.

This is a long way off of what I had hoped to accomplish, but I’m too lazy to continue tonight, and this post is getting tedious. If I’m lucky, however, it gestures towards the origin of the notion of Speculation, and ties it, however ham fistedly, to the explicitly normative — and hence subject centered — concerns of ethics and aesthetics. Perhaps there’s even the germ of a critique of specualtive Realism here. After all, what is the need and the irreducibly subjective feeling of difference that produces the speculative proposition, and opens up new orientational horizons for philosophy?

*Schelling’s work may in fact be the exception to this rule, for what is distinctive of his philosophy is precisely the irrationality — the pain, suffering and loss, which, contra Hegel, is never made truly productive — of the process of becoming. But I’m a newcomer to Schelling, and have a tenuous grip on even his most elementary ideas.

**It is precisely this reversal that I find fascinating in this essay, and what makes it a strange transitional piece to Kant’s 2nd and 3rd Critiques. For this essay is the only place, so far as I am aware, where Kant speaks of the needs of judgment. This undeveloped, pregnant notion of Need, which will later become Duty, and disinterested interest, stands one of those intellectual borders where one could travel in several diffeent directions. IN this essay, need grounds Speculation, which is understood as a mode of orientation.

11 thoughts on “‘The Right of Reason’s Need’: Kant and the Origins of Speculation

  1. I didn’t realize you cross-posted this one here as well. May I be the first to welcome you here – I’d like to point out several interesting, for me, aspects of your post and hopefully raise some questions – not necessarily related to your observations:

    1) Speculative as Normative, I think, is pretty easy to demonstrate from Kant, as you point out, but I believe it is a good way of posing a sort of normative question for “speculative realism” – is there any normative dimension to the kind of speculative philosophy that is being constructed as a possible alternative to Kantian “correlationism”? If there aren’t any, what could come out of this as an unintended consequence of “speculating”? It seems to me that ethical or political concerns are not high on the list, thus my rant to Levi about why I should be bothered with problems of what primary qualities an object has as opposed to fighting poverty or slavery.

    2) Speculative as Serviceable. Is speculation a simple tool, the one that we can take from Kant and apply to objects? doesn’t it as I read you come very much attached to a certain philosophical system? If it does come attached, then the question is whether it is justified for some to simply attach the label “speculative” and proceed as if nothing was ever done with that idea?

    3) Some differences are more important than others. I think some of Levi’s reflections on difference could be confronted with this Kantian point, especially as presented in the Orientation essay – I feel as if the major approach here is to say: We reject Kant in all of his complexity, therefore if he is wrong on the thing-themselves, he must be wrong on all the other issues, which is definitely not the case, if you ask me.

    4) Speculation as a Need. I think this the most compelling point for me – if speculation is a need, a tendency of reason to cross without regard for the limitations it perceives, it is a tendency to unify, to deal with differences from a perspective of unity, and technically we cannot do otherwise. So all the talk about difference making difference as a starting point of philosophy would definitely have to justify its axioms.

  2. Interesting post, Alexei, and I don’t claim to know in any real sense what the ‘speculative’ adjective entails in speculative realism. (Which is already becoming a sort of tired term itself, at least to me – it’s a useful term (what else would we call this stuff?), but it’s already leading to over-generalizations.) Anyways, speculative, to me, has entailed two things: one, to distinguish it from a naive common sense realism (we might also say pre-critical, although I do think some work needs to be done to show how precisely speculative realism escapes Kantian criticism). And two, to point out that it’s a realism that can be extremely odd (the realism entailed by physics and neuroscience is ridiculously weird). So that’s my two cents.

    One question, and perhaps I’m missing the point, but is it necessary that this “need” to speculate has to come from a subject? If it stems from Reason, does Reason have to be subjective in any way? Could there be a sort of naturalized Reason in some non-Hegelian sense?

    And Mikhail, as for your question about normativity and speculative realism – for me at least (others disagree), no, there’s no real concern with normative issues at all. And in fact, one of the conclusions to be drawn from someone like Brassier’s work is that we have no agency, no normativity, no self, and really we’re all a short blip in the universe. I don’t think this negates working with realism to develop a politics or ethics in relation to that, but these sorts of metaphysical issues should ideally be independent of normative issues.

    That being said, I think someone like Latour (who Levi’s work is based off of) is perfectly suited to politics, especially relative to the abstract theorizing of people like Zizek and Badiou and Ranciere. So some would definitely disagree with me that this stuff has to be apolitical.

    Lastly, I do intend on responding to your ‘Speculative Tone’ post, Mikhail – just busy at the moment, and I like to mull things over before I post them anyways.

  3. Thanks for the welcome, Mikhail. And I’m glad you found something of interest in this post. I banged it out rather quickly, as the typos and editorial problems shamefully indicate. I’ll have to go back in a bit and fix ’em.

    As for the 4 points you make here, I’m more or less on board with you. Viz. (1) I take it that the normative register of speculation entreats anyone who invokes a strong notion of speculation, as opposed to, say, a mere immanent analysis or critique, to also offer a constructive argument for its manifestation. Given the way that Speculative thought’s old habit of ‘waiting for the results to justify the procedure’ have lead to totalitarianism, genocide, and pirate DVDS, I think we’re past the point of being able to innocently claim that speculation is a just another approach among many. I think a constructive, normatively binding argument is needed.

    This is not to say, of course, that those working loosely under the name of ‘Speculative Realism’ haven’t offered such a constructive argument, one that situates them and their concerns within a ‘totality.’ I’m not familiar enough with their work. I would very much like to see, however, what the normative conditions governing speculative realist theorizing are.

    I’m also inclined to agree with what you say in point (3). For the life of me, I really don’t understand what Levi has in mind when he talks about “difference,” or puts forward principles like ‘every difference makes a difference.’ I used to think that he used ‘difference’ and its cognates as stand-ins for the opposite of ‘conceptual,’ something like Adorno’s ‘non-identity,’ but the problem is that some differences just really are more fundamental than others for the simple reason that some differences make the identification of differences, or production of other differences possible.

    This need not be read transcendentally, but it does need to be considered from a perspective of systematic coherence (Levi’s claim seems, his protests aside, to be a performative contradiction). We can find all kinds of examples in chemistry, cooking, physics, gymnastics, Football, etc. where 1 difference makes all the difference. (In fact, I’m tempted to say that’s true for anything described systems-theoretically.) And I really don’t see how one can have a coherent notion of difference-in-itself. So I don’t see how one can side step the claim that some differences are primordial.

    I’m also quite taken with the idea that Speculation arises from a particular need, which is tethered to the irreducible, subjective feeling of a difference. I think this notion of need, which is felt, provides the ground for the constructive ‘normation’ of Speculation I mentioned above.

    All this said, ‘Speculation’ really is tied to a particular systematic interest. Within the context of german Idealism, as you know, and as Franks points out, what makes speculation possible is a certain form of Monism. That is, speculation only makes sense when you want to defend against a certain form of skepticism about the coherence of principles and Being, i.e. subject and object, knower and known, etc, and not when you want to side-step that problem.

  4. Hi Nick,

    It doesn’t sound like we’re really disagreeing on anything, so maybe I’ll just sharpen what own position a little.

    Like you, I suppose that I feel that, if it turns out that the word ‘speculative’ isn’t doing any work in the name ‘speculative realism,’ then I’m not sure what it’s doing there. More to the point, realisms have always been wild, far out theories, and I’m not really sure yet how speculative realism is any wilder, or farther out. Object-Oriented philosophy does quite nicely I think to describe the position.

    Second, you ask,

    is it necessary that this “need” to speculate has to come from a subject? If it stems from Reason, does Reason have to be subjective in any way? Could there be a sort of naturalized Reason in some non-Hegelian sense?

    My first reaction was: what else but a subject, in the most minimal definition, can feel a need? Unless we’re willing to engage in some wild re-enchantment of nature (a new Romanticism?), some far out Anthroporphism, I’m not sure what else could feel a need, let alone speculate.

    My more refined response needs to take into account the possibility of naturalized reason. So sure: Reason can be naturalized, just as the subject can be an interpolation of state apparatuses, a function of discourses, an effect of some count, or whatever. But that doesn’t make the subject any less real — any less feeling, any less the source of speculation. To say otherwise strikes me as a category mistake. For Naturalization just changes what counts as the genesis of the subject and what’s going to count as justification/legitimation within a context of dispute/space of reasons. But it doesn’t change the fact that subjects do the arguing, the reason-giving, and the justifying. We shouldn’t conflate what we use to legitimate a claim, with some kind of fundamental priority over those who make the arguments.

    the classical example of such an error is Naturalized epistemology (NE): Rather than focusing on the conditions in which ‘S knows that P’ can be truthfully stated, NE tried to change the subject to the natural processes involved in perception etc, and then tries to offer a new definition of knowledge. The problem, I take it, is that saying (as NE typically does) “a belief is true iff it is caused by a reliable cognitive process and there is no other reliable cognitive process that contradicts the first one” says something about the correspondence of mental representation to world (i.e. about truth) but it says nothing about knowledge. nor does it say anything about the normative conditions for taking somethin gto eb true. Speculative Idealism seems to be engaged in something similar.

  5. And in fact, one of the conclusions to be drawn from someone like Brassier’s work is that we have no agency, no normativity, no self, and really we’re all a short blip in the universe. I don’t think this negates working with realism to develop a politics or ethics in relation to that, but these sorts of metaphysical issues should ideally be independent of normative issues.

    Nick, I think even a position such as “we’re all a short blip in the universe” would imply certain normativity, as least that’s how I understood Alexei’s reading of Kant, a sort of a view of reality done in a speculative way meaning a kind of “going beyond the actual details” comprehensive view which is done via reason’s speculative function… Is materialism implicitly normative? Does normative necessarily mean “political”? I think a sort of a minimal normativity should be a part of any kind of “speculative” view – but if “speculative” simply means “weird” I think it would be cool to have a name change to “weird realism”…

    Speaking of “weirdness” – doesn’t it require we have a set notion of “regular” or “normal”? Why is say some physical theories weird and some are not (like mechanics)? Are we talking about a sort of commonsensical impressions or a kind of ontological statement about reality profound weirdness?

  6. Interesting discussion here. Alexei, it seems to me that you are conflating the ontological and the normative when you point out that some differences make all the difference or that some differences are the most important differences. First, the claim that all differences make a difference is not identical to the claim that all differences are equal. I’ve tried to express this point in what I call the Principle of Reality which states:

    The degree of reality or power of an entity is a ratio of the extensiveness of the differences it produces.

    At the ontological level, there are differences that produce a whole cascade of differences. In this connection, your example from chemistry is a good one. A catalyst sets off a whole series of differences in the surrounding substances and therefore, from the perspective of the Principle of Reality, has a higher degree of reality. Ontologically, however, this wouldn’t betray or undermine the fact that the other substances involved also possess and contribute differences.

    When we shift over into the realm of epistemology, it is of course true that we strive to identify the most significant differences (though again, this is a normative judgment, not a matter of being). When scientists work in a laboratory, for example, they strive to minimize difference by constructing an environment where external factors are diminished so that they can identify and discover those differences that make a big difference.

    You’re right to point out that difference, as I understand it, is not identical to Adorno’s non-conceptuality. One of the strange things about the ontology I’m trying to develop is that anything that produces a difference would be included under the umbrella of the real. Consequently, insofar as concepts contribute differences– and often very important differences –they would, for me, be included under the real. I take it that this is one of the consequences of what I’ve called the Ontological Principle, which states that being is said in a single and same sense for all that is, i.e., being is univocal. Consequently, in my ontology, there is not one world that is “really real” like, say, physical objects, and another world that is not really real like, say, minds. Both are really real insofar as they contribute differences.

    The trick is not so much to be found in the individual differences, but rather the interplay of differences. That is, how are fields of differences woven together? Thus, my gripe with figures like Zizek is simply that they ignore vast domains of difference, instead privileging one form of difference as the all important difference. I think this leads to all sorts of false problems. The symbolic, for Zizek, plays the major structuring role, such that persons, collectives, technology, economics, the natural world, etc., are largely ignored altogether. I think this generates a whole set of dead ends where, for example, political questions are concerned. I also think it’s just plainly false ontologically. I guess here it would also be worthwhile to note that my target is not so much figures like Kant, but contemporary correlationists that reduce world to language and social constructions.

    As for the question of difference in itself, it might turn out to be incoherent. It’s certainly a difficult thing to work through. However, I do think I’ve made a start in developing what an internal difference would look like in my recent post “The Scheme of Translation”.

  7. Hello Levi,

    I don’t actually think I’m conflating ontological and normative categories. I take myself to be saying, like a good correlationist should, that ‘Ontological’ is a concept, which is delineated through other concepts, and that these concepts are intelligible as only in virtue of their normative character. More technically put, the normative structure of thought is the sufficient condition for being able to think about ontology. My anxiousness about object-oriented philosophy (and the foreshortened versions of Kant we’ve been seeing) is really a function, I think, of the fact that I have no idea what it would mean to think ontologically, without relation to the normative. For that seems to mean not only (1) trying to climb out of your own skin to think about the world, but (2) trying to think this non-subjective world without concepts. Quite simply put, then, Ontology is only ever conceptual, and concepts are first and foremost normative animals.

    This seems to me to be the biggest stumbling block in uderstanding Object Oriented philosohy. For no matter how complex and nuanced our concepts may be, no matter how differential, they are always simplifications of something or others (Adorno’s critique of the Begriff, etc etc).

    These preliminary concerns of mine aside, I’m still utterly stumped by what you have in mind by such turns of phrase like, “interplay of differences.” Leaving aside the fact that I still don’t know what you mean by difference (how does one identify a difference, how does one apply the concepts, etc? Appealing to the Scholastic notion of Degrees of Reality strikes me as really unhelpful; for with it you now need to also set up an awful kind of nominalism for which only one thing really — really — matters — and then you need to come up with a series of forms of intuittion and mental acts in which being and man participate with one another, etc etc; and then finally you end up with Kant), I can’t fathom what ‘interact’ would mean in this context. the model seems to be a network of causal affects (something vaguely Spinozistic), but such a causal network creates difference (individuation, cf def 4 I think of book II) in Spinoza, it isn’t identical with or caused by difference. What’s more, in the Spinozistic context, things can interact only because they’re not really different. So, I don’t know how to parse this ‘interation of differences’ in a coherent way. Here, I’m afraid, there’s an ineliminable metaphorical (catachrestic) register to your thought, which fails to reach the level of either ontology or epistemology (which is not to say it’s not interesting). It provides a nice metaphorical guide to orient your thought, but it doesn’t clarify much for me.

    Viz Zizek: I’ve never been a fan, so any effort to knock him down a peg is welcome. But tell me how you plan to reintroduce the Real as ontotogically relevant and independent from the symbolic and then thematize this difference in language in a non-dogmatic way. I mean, one of the nicer things in zizek’s early work, is the way that the Real is folded into the symbolic by way of the breaks, fragmentations, and inconsistencies of the symbolic itself. Why would one think that’s a bad idea? I Mean, doesn’t it end up saying that there’s no correlation between world and thought? why would that be any more correlationist than Meillassoux?

  8. Pingback: Difference by Other Names « Now-Times

  9. Pingback: Correlationism « Larval Subjects .

  10. trying to climb out of your own skin to think about the world

    Alexei, I think your fresh and bold approach here can certainly give us the necessary rigor as I lay wounded from a recent almost-got-personal exchange with Levi, and Shahar apparently is dealing with strangely timed flushing toilets – very annoying indeed, I will give him that.

    I think one point that I understand – I cite your phrase above – from the whole deal is that the imagery of climbing out of one’s skins would only work if I accepted Kant’s argument, or, to be more precise, if one was persuaded by Kant’s argument, that we indeed only perceive objects as they enter our specifically designed forms of sensibility. If you reject Kant’s analysis, you can easily claim that you are getting to know things as they are in themselves – this is precisely what has bothered me so far, that is, the presentation of this complex philosophical issue as a basic matter of preference, a sort of “Can I get you some Transcendental Philosophy with that?” choice…

  11. As usual, Mikhail, I agree with you. Philosophical Decisionism or Operationalism aside, I don’t think one can merely choose to reject — or accept — the Kantian analysis (hence my earlier claim that a constructive argument is needed to make speculation relevant). As far as I’m concerned, one is compelled to be in one’s skin, regardless of whether one likes it. I’m also aware of the intellectual hangover that arguing with Levi can produce. It’s happened to me in the past, and I sympathize.

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