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Introduction to Western Political Thought Professor Mithilesh Kumar Jha Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati Lecture No. 20 Kant-I: Intro & What is Enlightenment? Hello and welcome everyone. Today, we are going to start with a new thinker, Immanuel Kant. And on Kant also we are going to have three lectures. In the lecture today, we will briefly focus on his bio sketch or personal life, his intellectual context, and his views on enlightenment. Kant is a quintessential enlightenment thinker who believed that reason and rationality should guide our actions. That means the use of reason and rationality would create a society that would be enlightened and progressive. Kant joined a group of thinkers who argued about how to achieve enlightenment. Both at the individual and the level of society or community and how to create peace, order in the society by using reason and rationality which would be the basis of all kinds of knowledge and would save the actions of individuals. In this lecture, today, we are going to focus on his views on enlightenment. In the second lecture, we will discuss how he connected this idea of reason and rationality to the question of freedom, morality, and autonomy. In the concluding lecture on Kant, we will focus on his views on ‘kingdom of ends’, dignity, perpetual peace before looking at the critical assessment of Kant's political philosophy or political thought. So, that would be our division of lectures on Kant. (Refer Slide Time: 02:37)Now, we will start with today's lecture. Here, Kant appears to be a kind of quintessential figure of enlightenment and a representative thinker of ‘German Idealism’. The ‘German Idealism’ was a well-developed school of thought within the continental philosophy which believed in the primacy of ideas. And how ideas seep into human actions and determine all social collective actions in society. Kant was a representative thinker of that school of thought which we call ‘German Idealism’ different from materialism or practical thinking that was there in England. So, he remained a quintessential enlightenment figure. When we talk about reason and rationality, immediately Kant comes to our mind. And it becomes kind of synonymous with Kantian ethics, views on philosophy, epistemology, and metaphysics. Thus, Kant has remained the quintessential figure of enlightenment and enlightenment is something that gives primacy to reason and rationality as a source of knowledge. It also something that shapes or guides human action. Kant was a kind of synonymous figure with modes of thinking and also a representative thinker of ‘German Idealism’. He had a tremendous influence on nineteenth-century continental philosophy. So after Kant, every thinker needed to read his philosophy and engage with his philosophy. Whether they accept or challenge it that was a different thing. But Kant had a tremendous influence on the subsequent generation of philosophers throughout the continent. His major objective or primary concern was to understand what is called the limits and functioning of human knowledge. So, enlightenment, it was believed that knowledge is power so to say, Francis Bacon. Now, what should be the source of knowledge? How does it operate? And what we can know and what remains which we cannot know? So, there would be things in themselves that are very difficult for a human being to understand. What we understand is guided by our senses and our sense perception, and cognitive ideas. Kant's primary objective in many of his writings is to understand the limits and functioning of knowledge. What we can know? How we should know it? And what are the limits to our knowledge? That remains the primary concern of many of his philosophical treatises. His philosophy influenced the works of Schopenhauer, Hegel, Herder, and many other continental philosophers. And it is said that a philosopher, to be a philosopher, one has to be Kantian. And Schopenhauer used to say that all men are children unless he read or understood Kant. Kant had a determining influence on continental philosophy. He was a quintessential enlightenment thinker who emphasized the public use of reason. And what didhe mean by the public use of reason? We will discuss when we will discuss Kantian views on enlightenment. So, it is necessary to understand that for Kant, a kind of quintessential enlightenment thinker, reason and rationality is the basis of knowledge. However, what do we mean by knowledge? or in other words, what are the limits of knowledge that one needs to engage with or analyze? And that remains the major concern of Kant. In his philosophy, he combined the ideas like freedom, morality, and autonomy. So, he combined all of these three. And in doing so, he was guided by a kind of Rousseau's approach to freedom and how one exercises freedom by engagement in the public life of the community by following the ‘general will’ that is self legislated. When we will discuss Kant’s ideas on ‘categorical imperative’, in the second lecture, we will discuss more on how he combined freedom, morality, and autonomy to get this idea. And for Kant, the most important thing for an individual was to be guided by a sense of duty without any consideration for the consequence of one's duty. He developed a very distinct sense of duty for the individual which should be binding for them without any consideration for its consequences. Thus, through the use of reason or what he calls the ‘categorical imperative’, the human being will know their duty. And once they understood it and had the courage of following it, they should not be guided by the consequences of their duty in performing what they think is their duty. More we will discuss this idea when we will discuss the ‘categorical imperative’. So, Kant combined freedom, morality, and autonomy, and developed a very distinct sense of duty for the individual that is binding on them. And Kant in his personal life practiced this kind of philosophy as well. So, he emphasized the individual’s dignity and envisaged a society where everyone should be treated as an end in themselves and not for the means. In society, many problems occur. Because human beings treat each other as their friends, fellow beings, and colleagues as a means for him or her to achieve certain ends. And that leads to the instrumental use of human relationships or human association. In contrast to that, Kant argued that all individuals had dignity and every other member of the society must acknowledge and respect that dignity. By that, he meant individuals should be treated as an end in themselves and not as a means for one to achieve certain other ends. Among the nation-states also, he advocated a theory of perpetual peace and freedom without recourse to violence. And this we will discuss in the third lecture. He was also a strong advocate of republicanism and cosmopolitanism. However, there is a challenge in understanding or reading Kant as a complex thinker. Almost impenetrable even for the advanced learner, not to say what the beginners and the ordinary people. So, once you start reading Kant, you may find his idea, the way he developed his arguments somewhat cloudy in the sense of range or vastness of the subjects that he dealt with. He remained somewhat an impenetrable thinker. And in most of the universities, certainly at the undergrad level, you hardly find Kant being taught to the students. Kant remained an impenetrable thinker even for the advanced learners, not to say what the beginners and ordinary people. In this sense, he was truly a philosophers’ philosopher. That is for the advanced philosopher, Kant wrote these treatises. For our purpose in this course, we are going to focus on the secondary works of Kant and a few of his newspaper articles and essays. And one of them is his newspaper article, “What is enlightenment?” or what is Aufklarung? (12:05). An answer to the question, what is of Aufklarung? (12:08). That article, we are going to discuss today is the second part of the lecture. But many of our discussions on Kant would be guided by the secondary literature that is available besides a few of his writings, essays, and articles in the newspapers. And also, one of his texts, “Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals”. We are going to deal with these texts on Kant. And through these texts, we will try to understand Kant's views on enlightenment, categorical imperative, state, politics, individual freedom, autonomy, and morality, and the theory of perpetual peace or ‘kingdom of ends’. These are some of the themes that we are going to discuss Kant by looking at these texts. (Refer Slide Time: 13:04) Now, if you look at the intellectual context of Kant, he was developing his philosophy in the context of enlightenment that was already started with the scientific revolution in astronomy, physics, mathematics, new modes of thinking about organizing individual and collective life. Kant was developing his philosophy in the context of enlightenment and scientific revolution in Europe. The French Revolution had a tremendous influence on the political discourse across the continent. So, most of the European states were ruled by the monarchy. And the French Revolution had established the desire for a republican form of government. It was a transition time from one mode of thinking and organizing one's life individually and collectively to acquiring new modes of thinking, and theorization about knowledge, self, others, society, and politics as well. So, there was a kind of growing belief in science and reason for solving the challenges that humanity faced. It was also a time when human beings began to believe in the value of science and reason. And that saved our modernity. In belief, faith, or in religious dogmas or spirituality, in contrast to those modern ways of thinking began to know about knowledge, self, society, community, politics, economy, science, progress. Thus, one is guided by a kind of limitless faith in science and reason. So, human beings for the first time during this era of enlightenment began to believe in the value of science and reason as the source or tool for solving all the challenges that humanity faced. Francis Bacon established the authority of science by arguing that knowledge is power. It is believed that to lead a good or dignified life, one needs to know. And knowledge empowers. Knowledge gives power to the individual, society, and there has to be a kind of scientific basis for all forms of knowledge. So, Francis Bacon started this movement which is called establishing the authority of science. Similarly, Rene Descartes established the authority of reason by arguing that human beings are rational and thinking subject. And there lies a kind of differentiation of the human species from other species on the planet. In comparison to animals or other species, human beings are considered to be endowed with reason and rationality. Thereby, human beings are thinking about being and that enables them to control or save the prospect that is there in an individual’s life. Descartes believed that human beings are rational and thinking subject. They can think and reason out their existence too. Human beings are capable of through the use of reason, setting the prospect of his life, for achieving progress individually and also at the collective level by organizing the society in a better manner on rational principle. Thereby, achieving prosperity and bringing about all around enlightenment in the life of humanity. So, these ideas of human beings as rational or thinking subjects are encapsulated in his famous dictum. Rene Descartes said, “I think. Therefore, I am”. The very definition or understanding of human being is based on this idea that human existence and identity is based on the fact that they are thinking being. And the ability to think makes a man what they call themselves as rational and enlightened men. The French philosopher, Voltaire, similarly was synonymous with enlightenment thinking. Kant was developing his philosophy in this context where there was excessive reliance or trust in the value of science and reason. Although, enlightenment had many traditions within. One of the thinkers, we have discussed in this course, Rousseau was very critical of the excessive use of reason, belief in science, and arts as the basis of human progress. He was very skeptical of those kinds of values and regarded as an enlightenment thinker. Kant, similarly, while acknowledging the rule of reason and rationality, also established the limits of human knowledge. His critique of pure reason, practical reason, and judgment, all addressed the question of human reason, rationality, and knowledge, and the way it operates or functions and there are limits too. However, they all argued that all knowledge should be subjected to rational scrutiny. And what does it mean by rational scrutiny? Particularly, in the time of social media let us say, where are all kinds of facts are presented to us. And it is very difficult for us to separate fact from fiction. And it is easy to believe the prevalent dogmas or strong beliefs that exist in society. Now, these enlightenment thinkers argued, it was there when there were religious modes of thinking about the planetary system, human life, and earth, etc. In contrast to that mode of knowledge and thinking, these enlightenment thinkers believed that all knowledge must be subjected to rational scrutiny. That means, challenging every belief, dogmas, practices in society in the light of reason. And the knowledge is based on this critical rational scrutiny of all forms of knowledge. Now, parallel to the rationalist, some empiricists proclaimed that all knowledge emanated not from independent human reason. But what they called the human experience. Thus, the major figures of these empiricists school were David Hume, Locke, and many others. And Locke argued that all knowledge began with the human experience. And if you recall our lecture on Locke, we have discussed how human understanding is based on the human experience. So, contrary to the rationalist belief in human reason and rationality, Locke and other empiricists argued that the individual mind was a blank slate (or tabula rasa), made to rationalize the self and the world based on the human experience which human acquired throughout his life. Human understanding and knowledge was not something that emanates from his reason independent of his context or experience rather it was based on the empirical existence or experience of human beings. Thus, David Hume was the major proponent of this empiricist’s school of thought. Thus, they argued about the limits of reason alone as the source of knowledge. In contrast to the rationalist, empiricists thus argued that the role of human experience is the source of their knowledge or understanding of self or others in society. So, there is a kind of clear divide between the rationalist and their focus on reason and rationality, and empiricists, there focus on material context and human experience as the source of knowledge. It led to a kind of growing demand for unity or the wholeness of the human subject, their context, source, or true knowledge. And rationalists following Descartes created many distinctions or differences between the soul and body. So, the mind and body is a kind of distinction or reason and feeling. In modernity, there is also this divide to know that to be enlightened, one needs to be rational. And to be rational is to do away with feelings, emotions, or passions. This kind of dichotomy created a divide in human subjectivity that led to many contradictions in society. So, there is a kind of demand for unifying these differences, and categorical differentiation between mind and body, soul and the body, reason, and feeling, reason from the imagination, thought from senses, desire from the cold instrumental calculation through reason. Thus, the rationalist engagement with reason and subjecting all forms of knowledge to this rational scrutiny led to kinds of differences. And against that, there was a demand for a kind of a unified or whole understanding of the human subject and society. So, excessive reliance on reason led to skepticism. That means, you doubt everything like every prevalent custom, traditions, values, norms in the society. You are skeptical about everything. And you accept only those things which pass the rationality test subject to the dogmas, practices, prevalent in the society through reason. And once it passed that test, then you accept it. That means you are skeptical of all forms of authority, orders, norms in society. So, the excessive reliance on reason led to skepticism. And similarly, exclusive focus on experience had led to materialism that what existed is only matter. Kant and his transcendental philosophy of ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics transcend such dichotomies between the two. And it is encapsulated in no matter and mind. There cannot be a kind of sharp distinction between the mind and the body, matter, and the reason. There is a kind of dialogic relationship between the two. So, on the one hand, you have in Kant, a kind of decisive establishment of reason as the only source of knowledge. And at the same time, it is explaining the limits of that knowledge. There would be a world inaccessible to human perception or human imagination. That world is called a phenomenon. That is things in itself and this we will discuss in the next class. So, what one needs to understand that Kant's transcendental philosophy tries to transcend the dichotomies that exist between the materialists and empiricists, and the rationalists.(Refer Slide Time: 25:48) Now, if you look at the personal life of Immanuel Kant which is very boring if you like or a kind of dull life. It was all set beforehand and Kant subjected himself merely to following those daily routines. Kant was born in Konigsberg in Prussia in 1724. He had a humble origin. And his family was settled in Prussia migrated from Scotland, 100 years before the birth of Kant. And except for a brief period of tutoring in a nearby village, Kant never left his native city that is Konigsberg. He had his education and he spent all his life in the city without moving out of that city even for once. And he had a great interest in anthropology, geography, territories, different lands, countries. But never in his life, Kant moved out of his native city, where he died in 1804. Kant’s parents were pietists who believed in the strict observance of religious practices and beliefs. And it was perhaps this influence on Kant in his early childhood, particularly from his mother, that Kant although outgrew the religious teachings in his adult life. But never lost trust in faith even when he argued that reason is the basis of true knowledge. And that we will see how he developed those ideas while Rousseau had not rejected the faith or intuitive understanding of human passion. So, Kant in that sense was a complex thinker to frame him either as a rationalist or someone like Rousseau counter the enlightenment thinker. Kant remained a quintessential enlightenment thinker. But in his way. In many complex strains of thought is there in his critique. The most famous like a critique of pure reason, practical reason, and judgment. In 1755, Kant was appointed as a private lecturer at the University of Konigsberg, the same city where he lived and he studied. He was made a full professor of logic and metaphysics in 1770. And he turned out to be a great teacher and the most distinguished professor at the University. And there used to be a great admiration for his teachings. The way he used to explain concepts, thinkers, and ideas in the class. Herder wrote about those things in his memories of Kant and his method of teaching. He was a great teacher. And he developed his philosophical articulation much later in his life at the age of 57. He was a good conversationalist who loved to surround himself with friends. But he led a kind of isolated life and feared any kind of intimate relationship or interference from the other. Kant lived a meticulously organized and disciplined life. And every activity in his life had a fixed timing. One of the biographers wrote that his daily routine was like a series of verbs ‘rising, coffee-drinking, writing, lecturing, dining and walking’. So, most of his life, Kant followed this routine meticulously without deviating from it. He used to rise early in the morning, had coffee, used to prepare the notes or write his lectures, then giving the lecture, dining, and walking. That was the daily routine of Kant. He was so punctual in following this routine that it said his neighbor used to set their clock by observing Kant's activity. So, at 3:30 he used to go for a walk. And everyone in his neighborhood would know by looking at Kant or his work that it is 3:30. He was so meticulous and disciplined in following the routine. Chief of them was his post-dinner works among the linden trees (which is still known as ‘philosophers walk’). His life was exclusively devoted to the pursuit of knowledge. And he was trying to understand and explain the limits, and functions of knowledge as I said at the beginning of this lecture. The primary concern for Kant was to understand what is the functioning or operation of knowledge and what are its limits? So, what are the things that human beings can know? And what are the things that will remain outside the domain of human knowledge? He used to accomplish the tasks he set for himself by sheer perseverance. Once he started a task, no matter how much time it would take. But he would accomplish it. He was so preoccupied with the pursuit of knowledge, its sources, limits, and functioning that he considered marriage as a distraction and source of corruption. And therefore, he never married.(Refer Slide Time: 32:04) In fact, on two occasions, he came close to have it. But he took so much time. So, every action in Kant’s life was based on thorough consideration and reflection about the consequences of those actions. He used to take a long time before he committed to something or set a task for himself. And once he set it, without consideration of its consequences, he used to accomplish it. It was about the marriage that he took so much time that it never materialized. During Kant's times, Konigsberg became a center of enlightenment, particularly, during the reign of Frederick the Great, and his able minister of education Von Zedlitz. However, there was a kind of decisive shift from this enlightenment approach of Frederick the Great and his education minister Von Zedlitz. During the time and reign of his successor, Frederick Williams II, and his minister of education, Woellner who believed in the role of religion and religious beliefs in organizing life. The successor of Frederick the Great wanted to re-establish religion and censored any publication which was critical to religion or faith. So, the enlightenment thinking if you like which believed in the reason, their main target was the religious dogmas and beliefs. It wanted all forms of religious dogmas and beliefs to be subjected to rational and critical scrutiny. Now, these successors of Frederick the Great wanted to re-establish the religion and therefore censored any publication that was critical to religion or faith. So, his education minister, Woellner was against Kant who forced Kant to take a pledge that he would not engage in any discussion on religion publicly- through writings or teaching. Kant lived the life of the mind truly and passionately. He overcame many of his physical frailties and continued to give lectures towards the end of his life. He lived his life, according to the principle that is mentioned in his ‘Critique of Practical Reason’, that is- “Two things fill the heart with the renewed and increasing awe and reverence…these are the starry firmament above and the moral law within’. Thus, the source of moral law for Kant was not outside. So, there is a starry firmament above and the moral law within. These are the two major sources of guiding human acts and human knowledge, human understanding, and how society organizes its life collectively. And how peace can be maintained or achieved among the community of the nations or states. This idea of the two principal sums of his philosophy of morality, autonomy, and freedom, we are going to discuss in the next lecture. Despite living under a monarchy, Kant was a great admirer of the French Revolution and republican values. Kant wrote his first major work that is philosophical work which we called ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ in 1781 at the age of 57. So, no philosopher took so much time to articulate and write, his first treatises at the ripe age of 57. And in the next 10 years, he wrote epoch-making works in philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics such as ‘Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals’ which was a preparatory work to other works on morality. That he wrote in 1785. The ‘Critique of Practical Reason was written in 1788. And the ‘Critique of Judgment’ was written in 1790. He contributed to other areas as well. But his major concern was this ‘Critique of Pure Reason’, ‘Critique of Practical Reason’, and ‘Critique of Judgment’. These are the three major works which outlined the functioning and limits of knowledge, and human reason and rationality. Besides them, Kant also contributed to other areas such as politics, arts, religion, and faith. However, his chief concern was to examine the operation and limits of reason, rationality, and human knowledge. And in doing so, he rescued reason from skepticism and faith from blind worshipping and submission. So, for religion or faith, he provided a kind of rational basis, rather than blindly following or blindly worshipping. He did not write any major political treatise and most of his political ideas that we will discuss are scattered in his numerous newspaper articles and essays. (Refer Slide Time: 37:52) Now, let us discuss this idea of enlightenment or the age of reason. The term enlightenment is usually referred to as the age of reason. So, what is enlightenment? It is the age of reason. That means reason, rationality is the only source of knowledge or only basis of any true knowledge. However, when you look at the enlightenment tradition in Europe, it covered several ideas and intellectual traditions that were made up of various and often conflicting strains of thought. There was a difference between German enlightenment from the french enlightenment to Scottish enlightenment. And there were various strands of thought within this overall project of enlightenment. However, what bind these enlightenment thinkers together was an attitude of mind and mood rather than a common body of ideas in which human reason and self-actualization were given primacy over other things. So, in all the enlightenment thinkers, what you will find is the primacy of the individual and how that individual will actualize his or her self through the use of reason. And that was given primacy to everything else. Even the political organization, state, nation, community, the economy should pave the way for the individual to actualize himself or herself. And that is in a way, some sort of the whole modernity project. That is the state, market, economy, community everything is there for the self-actualization of an individual. And only that individual is capable of actualizing himself or herself who is capable or daring enough to use his/her reason rather than guided by the reason or other guarding classes. And this we will discuss when we discuss Kant's views on enlightenment.So, that sums up the varied strains of thought in the enlightenment that they gave primacy to the human reason and self-actualization over everything else. The growth of self consciousness, increasing awareness of the power of man's mind to subject himself in the world to rational analysis were the dominant features of enlightenment. If you try to understand what was enlightenment? It was this growing self-awareness or increasing understanding or faith in the human mind that would subject himself or the world to rational analysis. The faith in the power of reason to