Re[2]: Kant, Hegel, Hitler

I've just caught up on the "Kant, Hegel, Hitler" debate, and
I would like to make one more general comment in my own
defense: I have a fairly thorough understanding of Kant
and Hegel, thank you - but no, I am not quoting from
"familiar" texts; both of these authors, in addition to
their arcane writings, wrote popularly, as did many
18th/19th century "men of letters," the best example of
which is Hume.
If you notice, Focuault himself rarely refers to the
"arcane" writings in his archeologies. And there's a good
reason for this - it has to do with the grwoing cocneption
among 18th/19th c, authors that their writings had a general
currency, or "market". One of Hume's most important essays,
according to Hume himself, was "Of populations" - a topic he
took to be of the "utmost" importance because it contains
projections about the growing rate of population - a theme
that the economists wre keen to pick up on, especially
Ricardo and Malthus, but also, if you know your scientific
histories, Darwin developed his principle of natural
selection from.
Foucault's centasl image for the "disciplinary society' was
Bentham's Panopticon - not his writings from the Principles
of Morals and Legislation, but a fairly "marginal" text.
Why did Foucault choose this image? Because it was taken so
seriously by a number of 19th c. reformers; one finds
references to such texts in a number of places - some in a
variety of fields - psychology, Eugenics, natural theology,
etc., and in a number of growing "sciences" - education,
military science, etc.
Which of kant's works did F. spend his tiome discussing?
Mostly the "political writings" - "Idea for a Universal
History With a Cosmoplitan Purpose," "An Answer to the
Question: 'What is Enlightenment?'" and "On hte realtionship
of Theory to Practice in Politcal Right" etc. Kant does two
things in these writings which seem to impress Foucault (see
the "Maurice Flanders" article in the Cambride Companion, or
a number of hte interviews in Politics, Philosophy, Culture,
as well as D&R's comments in the Focuautl Reader). First,
he articulates a "teleological" theory of history. this
comes as a response to soem of the debates among English
scholars over natural theology and the "argument from
design." It's fairly well known that Hume's most
threatening "atheistic" text was the dialogues on natural
religion, in which he shows the "argument from design" to be
a poor argument from analogy. The watch-universe analogy in
Paley's arguemnt was a poor induction, according to Hume.
He concludes that a principle immanent to the teleoloigal
unbfolding of the universe is necessary for the arg. from
des. to work.
Kant's "universal history" introduces an immanent principle.
And I agree with Antoine here, that Kant needs to be taken
seriously here, and he was by Hegel and Marx among others
(and Marx started out as a Kantian, as both David McLellan
and Jean Hyppolite claim). Basically, he argues that reason
is self-correcting, and so on, which we're all
familar with from the criticque of PR. Let his marginal
texts speaK"true enthusiasm is always directed exclusively
towarsds the ideal, particularly towards that which is
purely moral" (from "An Occurrence in our own time which
proves the moral tendency of hte human race") "In these
principles, there must be something moral which reason
recognizes not only as pure, but also 0because of its
epoch-making influence) as somehting to which the human soul
manifestly acknowledges a duty. Moreover, it concerns the
huamn race as a complete asscoaition of men." "The actual
form of the desired state might be republican, or
alternatively, it might be republican in its mode of
government, in that the state would be administered by a
single ruler (the monarch)... Even without the mind of a
seer, I now maintain that I can predict from the aspects and
signs of our times that the human race willl achieve this
end, and that it will progressively improve without any more
total reversals...Only nature and freedom, combined with
mankind in accordance with a principle of right, have
enabled us to forecast it; but the precise time it will
occur must remain indefinite." Basically, Kant painstakingly
argues that practical reason enables progress, and it is
through reason that the concept of rights, the justification
for the state, etc. is based. Consider this quote,
conernign sexuality: "The fig-leaf was accordingly the
product of a much stronger assertion of reason than had been
evident in the first phase of its development."("Conjectures
on the beginning of human history").

Theexampoles from
Kant's political writing on this topic are numerous. let me
just list soem of hte principles from the "Idea for a
universal history":
1. "All the natural capacities of a creature are destined
sooner or later to be developed completely and in conformity
with their end."
2. In man, those natural capacities which arwe directed
toward the use of his reason are such that they could be
fully developed onkly in the species."
3. (skip)
4. The means which nature employs to bring about the
development of innate capacities is that of antagonism
within scoeity.'
5."The greatest problem for the human species, the solution
of which nature compels him to speak, is that of attaining a
civil society which can administer justice universally."
6. "Man is an animal who needs a master."
7. (skip)
8. The history of the human race as a whole can be regarded
as the realisation of a hidden plan to bring about an
internally...perfect political consitution as the only
possible state within which all natural capacities of
mankind can be developed completely."

The "teleological unfolding" of reason in history is righte
here in Kant. Teh problem, though, is that this unfolding
is not only "rational," but it is an unfolding of "reason"
as that faculty which uniquely distinguishes homo sapiens
from any other species. Not only that, but according to
Kant, the unfolding of reason takes place on the social
level (pr. 2) through the antagonist interplay of reason and
the "irrational" elements within society (pr. 3).

As my Hegel quote was meant to demonstrate, the "irrational"
is always "other" - whether it be "negroes" "Asians" or
"natives". The "other" is monstrous; like sexuality, it
needs to be mediated ("tamed" in Nietzsche's school) through
reason to become part of teh social-universal.

A while back, I mentioned that there were two points which
Foucault gets out of Kant. Teh second comes from Kant's
reflection on the present. According to F., this is what
distinguishes the "modern" mentality from that of the
classical period. Kant held that the "signs" of the
principle of progress, if thye truly are immanent, could be
read from the present situation. The most universal "sign"
of progress is the distribution of rights to the common man;
the ratioanl state regocnizes the humanity (rationality0 of
its citizens, and, as the "concept" of a right indicates,
treats its citizens as ends.
Signs like this can't be read in just any modern state -
only in the "nordic climes" where demcracy flourishes.

Well, I'll catch up with y'all later; I've got to go.


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