Re: [quickphilosophy] Re: 1.12; 1.13; 1.2 & 1.21

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2010 19:43:22 +0100

Thanks for the quotation, Ron. Perhaps I overstated the case by calling 
Kant's treatment of God peripheral.  But I don't think this affects the 
original point, which was that Kant rejected metaphysical arguments 
purporting to prove the existence of God.

I'd also think Kant's writings on morality less successful than those on 
epistemology and ontology (primarily the Critique of Pure Reason). 
Although, having said that, the categorical imperative is highly 
significant as a carefully worked example of a particular kind of moral 

It helps to read on into the next few sections, and Kant quite 
specifically says in 5:126 "there can be no duty to assume the existence 
of anything".

Note that Kant talks of the existence of God as a postulate, and Howard 
Caygill (discussing Kant's use of the term postulate in "A Kant 
Dictionary") says "Kant follows Aristotle in regarding the postulates as 
indemonstrable.  In this way he sustains his critique of attempts to 
*know* such beings as God, the world and the soul".

Kant's critique of such things is found mainly in the "Transcendental 
Dialectic" of the Critique of Pure Reason.

On 08/09/2010 02:11, Ron Allen wrote:
> Hi Martin:
> First of all, welcome back! I'll comment on your points about the
> Tractatus later. But, I do think that within the combination of Kant,
> God, and morality, God is not peripheral:
> "Happiness is the condition of a rational being in the world with
> whom everything goes according to his wish and will; it rests,
> therefore, on the harmony of physical nature with his whole end and
> likewise with the essential determining principle of his will. Now the
> moral law as a law of freedom commands by determining principles,
> which ought to be quite independent of nature and of its harmony
> with our faculty of desire (as springs). But the acting rational being
> in the world is not the cause of the world and of nature itself. There
> is not the least ground, therefore, in the moral law for a necessary
> connection between morality and proportionate happiness in a being
> that belongs to the world as part of it, and therefore dependent on
> it, and which for that reason cannot by his will be a cause of this
> nature, nor by his own power make it thoroughly harmonize, as far as
> his happiness is concerned, with his practical principles.
> Nevertheless, in the practical problem of pure reason, i.e., the
> necessary pursuit of the summum bonum, such a connection is postulated
> as necessary: we ought to endeavour to promote the summum bonum,
> which, therefore, must be possible. Accordingly, the existence of a
> cause of all nature, distinct from nature itself and containing the
> principle of this connection, namely, of the exact harmony of
> happiness with morality, is also postulated. Now this supreme cause
> must contain the principle of the harmony of nature, not merely with a
> law of the will of rational beings, but with the conception of this
> law, in so far as they make it the supreme determining principle of
> the will, and consequently not merely with the form of morals, but
> with their morality as their motive, that is, with their moral
> character. Therefore, the summum bonum is possible in the world only
> on the supposition of a Supreme Being having a causality corresponding
> to moral character. Now a being that is capable of acting on the
> conception of laws is an intelligence (a rational being), and the
> causality of such a being according to this conception of laws is
> his will; therefore the supreme cause of nature, which must be
> presupposed as a condition of the summum bonum is a being which is the
> cause of nature by intelligence and will, consequently its author,
> that is God. It follows that the postulate of the possibility of the
> highest derived good (the best world) is likewise the postulate of the
> reality of a highest original good, that is to say, of the existence
> of God. Now it was seen to be a duty for us to promote the summum
> bonum; consequently it is not merely allowable, but it is a
> necessity connected with duty as a requisite, that we should
> presuppose the possibility of this summum bonum; and as this is
> possible only on condition of the existence of God, it inseparably
> connects the supposition of this with duty; that is, it is morally
> necessary to assume the existence of God." [Kant, /Critique of Practical
> Reason/ (5:125)]
> Thanks!
> --Ron
> --- On *Sun, 9/5/10, Martin N Brampton
> /<martin.lists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>/* wrote:
>     From: Martin N Brampton <martin.lists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>     Subject: Re: [quickphilosophy] Re: 1.12; 1.13; 1.2 & 1.21
>     To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>     Date: Sunday, September 5, 2010, 2:50 PM
>     Ron Allen wrote:
>      >
>      >
>      > Hi Martin:
>      >
>      > Well, you seem to want to draw the discussion away from
>     Wittgenstein and
>      > the TLP. My emphatic claims were not about me but about W and his
>     points
>      > in his early work. I don't see any basis for calling him an idealist
>      > here. I could see calling Berkeley, or Schelling, or Fichte, or
>     Hegel an
>      > idealist, or Whitehead, but not Wittgenstein. Not in the TLP.
>      > Rationalist? Yes. Idealist? No.
>     Do I? I'm not "calling" him an idealist, I'm simply looking for a
>     reading of TLP that makes sense. It seems to follow from the concluding
>     remarks that the TLP is not to be taken at face value, so that
>     leaves us
>     looking for an interpretation to show how the book can have
>     significance
>     without being so taken. Presumably the bulk of TLP is *not* W's view or
>     the closing comments would not be sincere.
>     Kant is certainly a self proclaimed idealist, although a transcendental
>     idealist, and therefore opposed to Berkeley as well as Hume. But the
>     point is more to do with whether any sense can be made of claiming a
>     relationship between statements and some unspecified other called
>     "facts".
>     Why do you think of W as a rationalist?
>      > But, it any case, I'm not opposed to metaphysics. It seems like
>     everyone
>      > is just itching to call someone a logical positivist. Kant
>     claimed that
>      > we must have God because without Him we would have no morality.
>     So, his
>      > efforts at dismissing metaphysics didn't quite clear the whole field.
>     I haven't called anyone a logical positivist, I mentioned LP only in
>     connection with Ayer as an illustration of another philosopher who
>     changed his mind quite radically.
>     Are you sure Kant said that? It's a while since I read the Critique of
>     Practical Reason. The involvement of God seems peripheral according to
>     the account given at
>      > If the TLP was truly the nonsense that Diamond asserts it to be,
>     then it
>      > would not deserve scholarly articles asserting it to be nonsense.
>     There
>      > must be, therefore, some intellectually motivating core within
>     the TLP.
>     That seems a non sequitur.
>      > The propositions of the TLP do not have sense, because they are not
>      > built up from logical operations from elemental propositions about
>      > states of affairs. It is an equivocation to say that they are
>     nonsense
>      > because of that.
>     I have never argued that, but why is it an equivocation? If the
>     standard of sense is (and I'm not saying that it is) that a
>     statement be
>     built up from logical operations from elementary propositions about
>     states of affairs, then what are things that are not so built? Unsense?
>     Not sense?
>      > I don't know how many different kinds of statements there can be. I
>      > haven't yet seen all the statements that are possible, so I can't
>     begin
>      > to put them into bins, let alone determine how many bins should
>     be set
>      > aside for the universe's propositions.
>     Why do we need to put them into bins?
>      > The history of science is an example of logical atomism at work. In
>      > designing a philosophical theory, it would be better to proceed
>     from how
>      > something works rather than from how you, or I, or Wittgenstein
>     might
>      > think it should work. So, epistemology doesn't have an exclusive
>     hold on
>      > philosophy; there is a spot for methodology too.
>     Why do you think that?
>      > I'll try to continue this later.
>      >
>      > Thanks!
>      > --Ron

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