December of Kant: Scaring Away The Lazy.

Interesting note in Kant’s “Notes” (R 5031, 18:67) from 1776-78 (working on first Critique, out in 1781): 

I have chosen the scholastic method and preferred it to the free [crossed out: swing] motion of the spirit and wit, although, since I want every reflective mind to take part in this inquiry, I found that dryness of this method would scare away precisely readers of this sort who seek the connection with the practical. Even if I were in the greatest possession of wit and literary charm, I would still have excluded the alternative, since I am very much concerned to leave no suspicion that I would take in and persuade the reader, but rather would either allow him no access at all or expect it only through the strength of the insights.

Even this method has only arisen for me by means of experiments. Continue reading

(December of Kant) …And Then God Created Triangles.

Geometrical examples are abound in Kant, but the most peculiar is that of the triangle – peculiar both in its popularity and its philosophical history. Someone out there must be working on a book about it – A Brief History of the Philosophical Use of Geometry: The Case of Triangles. The issue is more interesting vis-a-vis Kant’s discussion of the moral law, or rather, the role of God in the discussion of moral law. A basic problem is, of course, well-known ever since Socrates decided to annoys the noble Euthyphro with a series of questions about piety: Is something pious because gods love it or do they love it because it is pious? Euthyphro ends with a sort of rude “I really have to get going now” from the young man, but the issue remained and puzzled theologians: Does God command that we do something because it is good, or is it good because God commands that we do it? While reading Kant’s lectures on ethics this afternoon, I came across this passage: Continue reading

December of Kant: Gothic Characters.

As most already know, Kant’s official Gesammelte Schriften are printed using the so-called Gothic type (Fraktur). Actually Kant quite liked the characters of Breitkopf (see example here). Not only that, he also complained that Roman type “tires the eyes more quickly than does Gothic” (7:114) – to which I should only say: really? I mean I am writing this in an acceptable Roman script and Gothic type is something I find to be very hard to concentrate on – look at the capital letters and you’ll see that sometimes they look nothing like “regular” Roman letters. Why does then the official edition of collected works use it? I imagine there must be some great story to it. Continue reading

December of Kant: Planning a Grand Philosophical System and Its Discontents.

Analogously to the famous Summer of George, I have accidentally stumbled into what can only be labeled a December of Kant: a number of peculiar conversations plus free time due to school break were bound to result in a more or less discipline browsing of Kant’s texts. Curiously, the question that strangely keeps coming up here and there in off-hand remarks and heated exchanges is following: Did Kant plan to write three critiques in any sort of disciplined elaboration of the system, or did they just come about accidentally and we’ve managed to persuade ourselves that they were from the very beginning a part of a grand plan?

But before we get to it, a quick anthropological digression: Continue reading