From the Enlightenment to Business Models. Season II. Episode 3. Kant´s Philosophical Prominence.
Have a good night.
After this first week of sailing in the Atlantic Ocean, I am honoring my word and the promise to deliver our strategic reflections about Kant’s contribution to humanity. First, look at all the slides and read each of them thoroughly, so you will understand all the dimensions and edges of our strategic reflections.
About Kant´s life. (1) and (2)
The life of Kant had a duration of 80 years. During his first formative years in math, physics, logic, metaphysics, ethics, and natural law at the University of Königsberg (Albertina); Kant was learning the basics of philosophy of his time. His first published work was in 1747 at the age of 23 years old, in which he was trying to mediate between Leibniz and Newton’s theories. Next, he became a tutor in different aristocratic households outside Königsberg. At the age of 31, his goal to teach was attained at Albertina but as a Privatdozent (unsalaried employment that conferred the privilege of giving public lectures). He was paid directly by each student in his courses, rather than by the university. The term Privatdozent was to take students at the university, provide lectures, and supervise their studies. Through his students´ recognition as a teacher, the Königsberg Society coined for him the brand of “der schone Magister”, or “the lovely master”. Kant was determined to yield a paid position as a Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at Albertina University, but he had to wait a lot of years for it. In that interim, the year 1766 arrived, and with it, his first paid public position, with a minor salary to become the assistant librarian at the Library of the Royal Castle at Königsberg (3). To obtain this position, Kant wrote a letter to King Frederick the Great, requesting it as a “long hoped” opportunity for subsistence. As a Privatdozent, each student paid 4 rthl (4) (Prussian Reich thalers) to him, which allowed him to pay his basic expenses, but he didn´t own a home property yet at that time. When he became an assistant librarian he received a salary of 62 rthl plus benefits(4). Finally, in 1770 he got his formal appointment from the King as a full professor at Albertina, at the age of 46. After that, Kant´s work was secured in the field of philosophy, and ten years later, all his past exertion earned for him a reputation as “the greatest luminary in Germany”. At this time, Kant evolved to be well known by the King of Prussia, Frederick´s ministers, and in particular, from the Minister of Education and all the Enlightenment International besties in Europe. By 1789 Kant received a salary and benefits under the Special Order of the King, making him the best-paid professor of philosophy at Königsberg, Prussia, and Europe.
The pure original philosophical production of Kant occurred in the year 1781 with his first critique oeuvre “Critique of Pure Reason”, at the age of 57 years old. And from here, until the day of his death, Kant continued being prolific in writing all his theories, teaching at an institution that allowed him “no major impediments to the pursuit of his publications and ideas”, while keeping a disciplined daily schedule activity between his authorships and the University.
Our reflection about Kant´s life: First, Kant didn´t have an easy entrance to his dream job as a professor. He had to sacrifice years and years without an official tenure, but his persistence, his high-quality work, dedication, and his unclouded vision that Königsberg was the “place for him”, maintained his expectations elevated. Second, location matters. He refused several offers from other universities in Germany because he was inspired where he was residing, and his lectures in Königsberg established a formidable reputation and notoriety as an academic speaker in private and public. He was well known in Koenigsberg, and he felt appreciated there, not just by his students but by his own community. In addition, East Prussia was going to evolve to be a crucial part of the German Empire, and he was blessed to be alive in the times of Frederick the Great, who opened the door to Enlightenment German and International authors. This unique standing location earned him wide fame, long before the publication of his greatest works in the 1780s decade. Third, Kant´s character, patience, and strict self-discipline paid off. Kant wasn´t good-looking, he was a bit deformed inside a diminutive body, but his mind was beautiful. He was the most popular and respected citizen in Königsberg, because of his commitment to honor, self-respect on duty, education, and philosophy. Kant emerged to overthrow the Leibniz-Wolffian hegemony, blocking Spinoza´s advance in Europe. Kant´s philosophical intervention was a miracle in stopping the radical premises of Spinozism. As Jonathan Israel explains: By 1789, “Kant not only crushed Spinozism, atheism, and materialism but discredited Voltaire’s irreverence and Hume´s corrosive skepticism. Kant´s breakthrough meant the philosophical restoration of Christianity and accepted morality to hegemony over learning, science, and the Enlightenment”.
What is the essence of Kant? How can we best describe his work?
I have prepared slide number 12 to answer these two questions. With the aid of Paul Guyer´s and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy guidance on Immanuel Kant´s life. The next slides describe the elements of the theories organized by Kant. Each of the major elements that you can observe in slide 13: Cognitive Faculties, Transcendental Idealism, Categories (and Judgements), Theory of Experience, Transcendental Dialectic, Synthetic Mathematical knowledge, Natural Science, Moral Theory, Political Theory, Human History Theory, Arts and Beauty Theory and Pragmatic Anthropology; are the main segments of Kant´s works. I can only provide a brush of the main definitions; nevertheless, I encourage you to read his books, or the references in each slide. Probably I will study Kant with a uniquely designed saga for him next year. Let´s see.
Kant spend all his life trying to solve 4 questions: (1) What can I know?; (2) What should I do?; (3) What may I hope?; (4) What is the human being?; and finally he tried to organize his aged mind to solve question number (5) What God and Humans can do together?. In this latter question, he only left notes and sketches. For me, the last question that Kant didn´t crack, is related to Christ. The answer about what God and Humans can do together is Jesus Christ: Kant´s missing piece of the puzzle in all his critiques.
Kant was an analytical person, a problem-solver at the level of philosophical dilemmas. But this problem-solver value wasn´t his original essence. His Prussian dedication and self-willpower made him mint the word “critique”, and from there he coined notions, arguments, and theories at the level of “transcendental idealism” (his own philosophical theory, expressed in theoretical and practical categories). Ironically, he first built his own dictionary of philosophical terms. Kant fearlessly produced buzzwords, or jargon of his own invention to reflect on the limitations of humans to answer the questions of slide 12, particularly when humans use reason to understand their own inquiries. But in order to build his own mental framework of notions, he was disciplined enough to go through different stages. He built the block of sciences first. Kant´s strength of mind-power came from his polymath mindset that was built around sciences at the formative young age ritual life passage: Physics, Biology, Metaphysics, Mathematics, Chemistry, History, and Anthropology. Second, he also built his experience as a teacher. By teaching he learned more than what he received as a payment from students. Third, his framework of philosophy came afterward, when he was appointed as a Full Professor at Königsberg in 1770. He didn´t create anything in the original version until he was ready for it.
The fact that he chose Königsberg to build his own encyclopedia of philosophical notions, which were explained fully to us in the 1780s decade is also providential. By isolating himself from Europe (he was living far from the noise of the wars, conflicts, maritime trade, and overcrowded cities), and by choosing to mingle near books (he was the librarian of the Royal Castle), his life tells us how deeply elaborated was his mind before deciding to go for a new thinking, a new philosophy that could win the war at the ideas level. Meanwhile, Frederick II the Great was fighting for land territories; Kant was constructing his philosophy to defeat the radical enlightenment. I disagree with the hypothesis that Kant was looking for moderation in the Enlightenment. Each of the 12 segments of his philosophy was pure warfare at the ideas level, perfectly designed to neutralize the mistakes of the radicals. Kant comprehended that the radicals had awful faults in their theories and treaties because he was able to recognize them since he was boosted from a scientific initial background. If he wouldn´t have started with math or physics, he would have never been able to identify, discern and distinguish the mistakes of the radicals of the Enlightenment. I dare to write, that Kant knew that the sensibilities of the cognitive faculties of the Radical authors, not just Spinoza, but also in Wolff and Leibniz, were “a priori”, and in consequence, subjective to be proven, and subjectivity produces mistakes, even at the theoretical level.
Kant was able to separate and unify at the same time, reason and judgment, with the introduction of the term “a priori”, and by doing that, he knew he had it all to win the combat of philosophy.
In the philosophy battle or race against the Wolff-Leibniz system, Spinoza, and against the rest of the radical enlightenment profiles, Kant was a master of the distinction. Literally. He separated notions. He was able to set boundaries between sensibilities and reasons, and he squashed everything with the theory of experience. Only a master with a librarian mindset, an expert in categorizing and classifying books according to groups could do it. Only a researcher of texts in the Royal Castle Library of Königsberg was able to throw a party of critiques (critique of pure reason, critique of practical reason, critique of the power of judgment) with all his experience of carats, at his disposal. A genius with solid experience, in separation from other legendary universities in Europe, did it all with iron courage. His voyage of 62 years of training through teaching, allowed him to disregard the radical enlightenment philosophy by building a new one on his own terms.
Kant´s weird beliefs.
There are certain elements in the mindset of Kant that are a bit weird. He discriminated against the right of voting for those who were not able to have property or the power of economic self-sustenance. In this group were children, women, and anyone who was not able to make a living by his-her own means. He also was pro-capital death punishment. Some academic professors have also stated that Kant was racist.
Next week we will continue with Adam Smith.
Ocean Musical Section
Today´s observation about the Ocean Race trajectory goes to the celebration of reaching a world record. Team Malizia broke the 24-hour distance record, with 641 nautical miles. Malizia overpassed Team Holcim-PRB’s previous record in the monohull class, of 640.9 nautical miles. According to Guinness, becoming a record-holder requires determination, extraordinary skills, and commitment. Congratulations to Team Malizia. The boats are going to arrive in Aarhus the following day or so. We have reasons to celebrate the beauty of existence.
Today´s musical selection is a celebration concert composed by George Frederic Handel, with several pieces of music designed for solo oboe, of which only a few concertos have survived. The artists are Andrius Puskunigis (oboe & oboe d’amore), and Vincent Bernhardt (harpsichord & conductor), with the Klaipeda Chamber Orchestra.
See you next week with Episode 4.
Leg 5 will take us from Newport to Aarhaus. Photo Source: https://gfycat.com/gifs/search/volvo+ocean+race+extreme
Sources of reference are utilized today. All are listed on the slides. And below:
Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. All are used as Illustrative and non-commercial images. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Nevertheless, most of this blog’s pictures, images, or videos are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.
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