This post follows up on yesterday’s.
There is another fold in A and H’s interpretation of Kant. As we’ve been emphasizing, the system of the Enlightenment sacrifices what we want to be true to what is true. The oddity of this transaction is that the truth of psychology, with its dense casuistry of material motives, leaves little place for the unmotivated desire for truth. How, THEN, does the discovery of the truth account for itself within the Kantian system?
Interestingly enough, there is a space in the Kantian system for this apparent contradiction. It is a moment of abasement and glory, a moment of reflection on wanting what we don’t want. This crops up in a sort of Kantian baroque – self annihilating phrases, like purposive non-puposiveness [in the Critique of Judgment]. In the Critique of Practical Reason, this is sussed out by elevating one feeling, and one only, to a primary moral status: humility.
But Kant’s interpretation of the background sacrifice that makes the organization of science, and thus Enlightenment, possible, even if it rises to the surface in humiliation or the notion of the sublime, is never explicitly laid out in sacrificial terms. Sade, on the other hand, magnifies the sacrifice, until the enormous details are burned into his pornographic universe. This will form the substance of our last post about the Dialectic of the Enlightenment. Although we don’t promise not to continue writing about this subject from other angles: in particular, the difference between the Enlightenment as Kant saw it and the Enlightenment as Smith and Hume saw it. Hey, and we have comparisons between Hayek and A & H... Life is long, writing is short.