Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2010 6:29 pm
darwin has shaped man in the present but it's an idea - what other ideas are there?
With only a moment's notice, I probably couldn't think of any alternatives to methodological naturalism, that had legs, other than what comes out of Kant's critique of theorectical reason -- that could allow humans to be "something else" and still leave evolution, nature, and science intact or unintruded upon while also providing a possible termination to the infinite regresses and antinomies of the empirical world. To a degree unlike anyone before him, Kant exhaustively argued from multiple contexts about his version of appearances and non-appearances, to the point of it being very tedious to read and remember and keep straight all the details. As Schopenhauer put it: ". . . knowledge of the nature of the world in itself and outside the idea, no step in advance was made, but one only moved like a squirrel in its wheel. Thus, all the dogmatists may be compared to persons who supposed that if they only went straight on long enough they would come to the end of the world [of experience]; but Kant then circumnavigated the world and showed that, because it is round [an endless process in terms of the substrates, causes, etc., generated], one cannot get out of it by horizontal movement, but that yet by perpendicular movement this is perhaps not impossible."
Note that when Kant refers to soul
in the quote below he is not referring to popular notions of the term. But to how humans would exist on the "things-in-themselves" side of this pseudo dual-aspectism for objects. In his framework, concepts like space, time, causation, substance, relation, etc., are only applicable to experience -- so all that can be said of a "soul" is that it is no more a positive or concrete object than how a set of scientific laws or abstract principles responsible for the universe and its behaviors could be located as such objects somewhere.
In this case, "soul" is a partly knowable thing in itself that engenders experience -- it represents and integrates the other things in themselves as causally connected components of a conditioned world (organized by its a priori categories of space/time, causation, etc. that are universal and coordinated in all or at least most humans: this provides the intersubjectivity, the empirical realism in Kant's scheme). But we're also like the other things in themselves whose "intrinsic constitution" is unknowable -- that is, the human "soul" has an unknowable "non-appearances side" that allows the possibility of freedom or free will, from the standpoint of practical reason. This is the only kind of reason ("ought") that can say something further about metaphysics once theoretical (speculative) reason has been banned from it in Kant's critique.
KANT: [p. xxvii] . . . Let us suppose that the necessary distinction, established in our critique, between things as objects of experience and the same things by themselves, had not been made. In that case, the principle of causality, and with it the mechanism of nature, as determined by it, would apply to all things in general, as efficient causes. I should then not be able to say of one and the same being, for instance the human soul, that its will is free, and, at the same time, subject to the necessity of nature, that is, not free, without involving myself in a palpable contradiction: and this because I had taken the soul, in both propositions, in one and the same sense, namely, as a thing in general (as something by itself), as, without previous criticism, I could not but take it.
If, however, our criticism was true, in teaching us to take an object in two senses, namely, either as a phenomenon, or as a thing by itself, and if the deduction of our concepts of the understanding was correct, and the principle of causality applies to things only, if taken in the first sense, namely, so far as they are objects of experience, but not to things, if taken in their second sense, we can, without any contradiction, think the same will when phenomenal (in visible actions) as necessarily [p. xxviii] conforming to the law of nature, and so far, not free, and yet, on the other hand, when belonging to a thing by itself, as not subject to that law of nature, and therefore free.
Now it is quite true that I may not know my soul, as a thing by itself, by means of speculative reason (still less through empirical observation), and consequently may not know freedom either, as the quality of a being to which I attribute effects in the world of sense, because, in order to do this, I should have to know such a being as determined in its existence, and yet as not determined in time (which, as I cannot provide my concept with any intuition, is impossible). This, however, does not prevent me from thinking freedom; that is, my representation of it contains at least no contradiction within itself, if only our critical distinction of the two modes of representation (the sensible and the intelligible), and the consequent limitation of the concepts of the pure understanding, and of the principles based on them, has been properly carried out."
-- CPR, Friedrich Max Muller translation