Friday 13 January 2006

Do you agree?

“Our age is, in an especial degree, the age of criticism, and to criticism everything must submit.”

—Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 1787 edition (London: Macmillan, 1927), p. 9.


Fred in Brussels said...

Yes, the age of Kant saw a lot of criticism, which I believe is good, since it allows for progress.

Criticism should however be reasonable, constructive, and thoughtful of the consequences.

The aim of criticism should be to improve; not merely to tear down.

Equally important as being considerate while delivering the criticism, is being open to receiving it.
Dialog is constructive.
Arguements with people entrenched in their positions, unable to project themselves into the others position, lead to nothing but hate and violence, and thus loss.

I'm not sure if OUR time (2006) is any good at thoughtful delivery of criticism, or openly receiving it.

This worries me greatly.

T.B. Vick said...

When Kant makes these types of declarations the reader of today can know two things:

First, Kant was a vehement skeptic.

Second, anything that would be considered beyond criticism would be considered speculative, and Kant did not like that which was speculative.

So, I agree but only to a small degree. Which means I disagree to a larger degree.

Ha! How's that for weaseling out of that question?

Anonymous said...

I thought "Our age is, in an especial degree, the age of post-criticism, and to post-criticism everything must submit". Or is post-criticism simply criticism in fancy dress?

Fred in Brussels said...

What do you mean with "post" criticism?

Chris Tilling said...

"and to criticism everything must submit"

... so long as along with a hermeneutic of suspicion, one can also employ a hermeneutic of trust (or ‘love’ as Wright calls it).

Chris TerryNelson said...

Why does Kant think this? Surely, for Kant, it isn't because we must simply go along with the current age.

Thought experiment:
I do find the language of submission to be rather humble. Yet to think that EVERYTHING must be under the scope of OUR criticism is not very humble at all. But, then again, where do I come off saying that humility is a virtue with which to measure these ideas in the first place? Damn Kant . . . you're the man.

Anonymous said...

"Post-criticism", John, refers to the postmodern turn against the hegemony of "reason" as understood by the enlightenment. i.e. a value-free Archimedean point from which to view and judge the world. In other words, post-criticism offers a critique of criticism.

Among other observations of serious-minded postmodern thinkers (not just the ironic or nihilistic kind) are these: the cracks in foundationalism (observed from all quarters); the social location of ideas and practices, and the tradition-situatedness of "reason" itself (MacIntyre); the role of language in the mediation of reality; the instability of texts (Derrida); the volatile relationship between knowledge and power (Foucault); the marginalisation of dissenting voices by prevailing epistemological paradigms (hence, feminist and post-colonial studies); and - more positively - certainly for faith (in line with Chris' point about a hermeneutic of trust/love/retrieval), the point (as Wittgenstein put it) that "Doubt plays black".

That should get you started!

Fred in Brussels said...

Many thanks for this feedback.
Unfortunately, I am no longer in my student years, and should get back to work from holidays on Monday. :-(

I am convinced that many of those you quote simply deny the Philosophies of Reason, because pure Reason is feared to lead to a nihilistic worldview; and hence is psychologically unbearable for mankind.

I consider myself a man of reason (I hold an MSc in applied sciences - magna cum laude), but personally (and now I'm not talking for the Scientific Community here) I still see "reasonable doubt" for modern science to fully understand "the whole truth".

Currently, my philosophy sees three things in the universe :
1. Reality itself (and I do assume that it exists)
2. The Reflection in our mind of reality, as filtered through the senses. This Reflection is composed of Concepts (or Ideas, Words, Symbols,... pick a word).
3. Logical Statements which help us to "reason" about the Reflection of reality in our minds.

My "reasonable doubt" is currently situated in the following areas :

1. If we admit that the only thing our mind manipulates, is the Reflection of Reality; not Reality itself; then how can we "Know" Reality? How well CAN the Reflection reflect Reality? Maybe there is a limit somewhere, which cannot be crossed by mere continuous and elaborate observations. Because each observation has "dirtied" itself in the way that it has merely converted Reality into Reflection of Reality.

2. If we admit that "understanding" is the manipulation of the Reflection of Reality in our mind, with the help of Logic, then why would we assume that our mind would also be capable of "understanding" for instance the "Logic" itself? I mean that maybe the "understanding-function" only applies to "Reflections of Reality" and does not apply to "Logic".

It strikes me that Logic itself does not seem to obey laws of physics, and is very different from our mind's Reflection of Reality.

E.g., the statement "IF A>B AND B>C THEN A>C" is "TRUE"!!!
Appreciate for a minute how powerful this is. There is no Reflection of Reality that we know in our mind, which can be sure to be "True". All of these Reflections are "assumed" to be True, until a new observation proves otherwise.

Yet the logical statement
- is TRUE and remains TRUE
- does not have a speed or mass, or fall with gravity
- it "is" not in the time-space continuum, since it has no physical location, or time.

With these characteristics, how can we understand how it fits into "Reality" through the scientific empirical method Observation? We can't. We don't have to. The logic statement IS TRUE in an absolute way.

Not sure if this makes any sense to you, though...

Fred in Brussels said...

I'm not sure if you all appreciate what I just did in the previous entry.
What I believe I have done, is, through the use of Reason, shown that there should be "reasonable doubt" about the fact that Science based on Observations will be able to lead to the Truth.

A critique on Science, through Reason.

I believe I have given you a "knife" to stab at me.
Me, being a forefighter of scientific methods.
And even more dramatically, it is the very knife of Reason that I have worshiped all my life, which I point at Science, which has supported my livelyhood up till now.

The question at hand is now, whether you feel you need to use this knife, or rather find the Christian Compassion in your heart, and decide not to stab me, but rather return the courtesy by acknowledging that the Christian Religious Dogmas should also allow itself to be subject to reasonable doubt.

Ben Myers said...

Hi John. Yes, I'd certainly agree very happily that "Christian dogmas should be subjected to reasonable doubt." In fact, this is one of the basic functions of theology: to think as sharply and as critically as possible about the basis of Christian belief-statements. And, like all other fields of study, theology is in a constant state of change, development and self-correction in light of new theological insights, and also in light of new knowledge in other disciplines (e.g. history, philosophy, the natural sciences).

Theology also seeks to provide a verification of its truth-statements, and it is thus a "scientific" (or "academic") enterprise. But since the object of theological study is very different from the object of other disciplines, it follows that theological verification will differ from the kind of verification that is sought in philosophy or physics. (The nature of theological verification is what I was talking about in the post entitled "Is Theology True?", which you mentioned earlier).

I hope this helps!

Fred in Brussels said...

I could not agree with you more when you say "the object of theological study is very different from the object of other disciplines". This is probably the same conclusion I have come to myself it the entry above.
The method of Scientific Observation has its limits; something atheist people seem to forget - becoming "fundamental" in their turn.

Fred in Brussels said...

As an addition, I think the only difference between your appraoch and mine, is that, although I acknowledge the "gap" in the powers of modern science, I do not fill the gap with a Religious Belief. I merely acknowledge the gap, and direct my mind at it in an attempt to seek its closure.

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