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BaalChatzaf

Blame David Hume

238 posts in this topic

For those who believe Kant is the Most Evil Man Whoever Lived, consider that Kant, the Evil One, the Prince of Insufficient Light, deviated from the path of sanity because of his reaction to David Hume's skeptical demolition of metaphysics. Kant both admired and loathed Hume's philosophy and the -Critique of Pure Judgment- is an attempt to refute the skeptical position of David Hume. Had David Hume not lived, it is very likely that Kant, The Evil One, would be more than a minor footnote in the history of philosophy.

So why not blame Hume?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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For those who believe Kant is the Most Evil Man Whoever Lived, consider that Kant, the Evil One, the Prince of Insufficient Light, deviated from the path of sanity because of his reaction to David Hume's skeptical demolition of metaphysics. Kant both admired and loathed Hume's philosophy and the -Critique of Pure Judgment- is an attempt to refute the skeptical position of David Hume. Had David Hume not lived, it is very likely that Kant, The Evil One, would be more than a minor footnote in the history of philosophy.

So why not blame Hume?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Ba'al this is a good point, as far as it goes. But the implication that Hume should take over the mantle 'most evil man...' is way off beam. David Hume was by all accounts one of the most charming men who ever lived. He was also so kind and generous that the street where he lived in Edinburgh is still called St David's Street -- not after some saint, after ~him~.

This whole business of calling Kant 'evil', or Hume or Marx or whoever is a load of rubbish. They were ~thinkers~. Poor ones, mistaken ones, blinkered ones, vindictive ones maybe; but none of them set up concentration camps, murdered millions or raped children. The word 'evil' is totally out of place in discussing thinkers. Rand surely did create an enormous red herring with the wildly inappropriate, theatrical label she coined for Kant.

Nicholas Dykes

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This whole business of calling Kant 'evil', or Hume or Marx or whoever is a load of rubbish. They were ~thinkers~. Poor ones, mistaken ones, blinkered ones, vindictive ones maybe; but none of them set up concentration camps, murdered millions or raped children. The word 'evil' is totally out of place in discussing thinkers. Rand surely did create an enormous red herring with the wildly inappropriate, theatrical label she coined for Kant.

Nicholas Dykes

It was Rand who called Kant the Most Evil Man.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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This whole business of calling Kant 'evil', or Hume or Marx or whoever is a load of rubbish. They were ~thinkers~. Poor ones, mistaken ones, blinkered ones, vindictive ones maybe; but none of them set up concentration camps, murdered millions or raped children. The word 'evil' is totally out of place in discussing thinkers. Rand surely did create an enormous red herring with the wildly inappropriate, theatrical label she coined for Kant.

Nicholas Dykes

It was Rand who called Kant the Most Evil Man.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Precisely. I just said that.

Nicholas

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Had David Hume not lived, it is very likely that Kant, The Evil One, would be more than a minor footnote in the history of philosophy. So why not blame Hume?

I've long argued this very point, and now consider the answer rather simple: Rand just doesn't know what she's talking about. She hasn't studied Hume or Kant in any detail, and doesn't really know - or want to know - the main problems involved that these men were wrestling with. Recall in the ITOE (p304-5) what she called "the big question of induction" - the problem central to Hume's critique, and therefore Kant's - she admits she "couldn't even begin to discuss - because...I haven't worked on that subject enough to even begin to formulate it...". That's right: for all her overwrought invective aimed at Hume in her writings, she can't even begin to formulate a response to what is considered his central question! Further, with breathtaking naivety she adds "...it would take an accomplished scientist in a given field to illustrate the whole process [of induction] in that field." Rand doesn't seem to realise the problem of induction is a logical problem, not something "a scientist in a given field" can "illustrate the whole process in that field." With that in mind, what more do you need to know about Rand vs Hume - and by extension, Rand vs Kant?

Edited by Daniel Barnes

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Had David Hume not lived, it is very likely that Kant, The Evil One, would be more than a minor footnote in the history of philosophy. So why not blame Hume?

I've long argued this very point, and now consider the answer rather simple: Rand just doesn't know what she's talking about. She hasn't studied Hume or Kant in any detail, and doesn't really know - or want to know - the main problems involved that these men were wrestling with. Recall in the ITOE (p304-5) what she called "the big question of induction" - the problem central to Hume's critique, and therefore Kant's - she admits she "couldn't even begin to discuss - because...I haven't worked on that subject enough to even begin to formulate it...". That's right: for all her overwrought invective aimed at Hume in her writings, she can't even begin to formulate a response to what is considered his central question! Further, with breathtaking naivety she adds "...it would take an accomplished scientist in a given field to illustrate the whole process [of induction] in that field." Rand doesn't seem to realise the problem of induction is a logical problem, not something "a scientist in a given field" can "illustrate the whole process in that field." With that in mind, what more do you need to know about Rand vs Hume - and by extension, Rand vs Kant?

H.W.B Joseph solved Hume's 'problem of induction' in 1916 in his ~Introduction to Logic~. I pointed this out in two essays on Popper (1996 & 1999) and reiterate it in my recent book ~Old Nick's Guide to Happiness~. Blatant plug? Absolutely!

Nicholas Dykes

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I've long argued this very point, and now consider the answer rather simple: Rand just doesn't know what she's talking about.

Daniel,

That is not accurate. Rand looked at the is-ought issue differently that you do. We have been over all this before.

Given Rand's premise that philosophy is the controlling influence of society, and given her definition of good and evil, the logical extension of her permises led her to say Kant was the most evil man. This conclusion did not arise from ignorance.

I disagree with her premise about philosophy being a kind of metaphorical puppetmaster of society. I do agree with her that value must be rooted in fact and the law of identity. But those are other issues than her so-called ignorance.

Michael

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This thread is under "aesthetics"? Perhaps some Hume quotes on the topic would be enlightening.

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That is not accurate. Rand looked at the is-ought issue differently that you do. We have been over all this before.

Mike, Ba'al's initial comment has little directly to do with the "is/ought" problem, but instead relates to the problem of induction. You have your Humean problems confused...;-)

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H.W.B Joseph solved Hume's 'problem of induction' in 1916 in his ~Introduction to Logic~. I pointed this out in two essays on Popper (1996 & 1999) and reiterate it in my recent book ~Old Nick's Guide to Happiness~. Blatant plug? Absolutely!

Hi Nick,

I disagree that H.W.B. Joseph answered Hume, just as I disagree with much of your critique of Popper, which I am familiar with. However that is beside the point, which isn't whether Nick Dykes or H.W.B. Joseph or Karl Popper solved or even properly understood the problem (of induction) that Hume put forward, but whether Ayn Rand did...;-)

The clear, verbatim evidence is that she did neither.

Edited by Daniel Barnes

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Don't you people know, Leonard Peikoff solved the problem of induction. You can get the CDs for $205.

-NEIL

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Don't you people know, Leonard Peikoff solved the problem of induction. You can get the CDs for $205.

A bargain! :lol:

Actually, it is. Compared to shelling out a comparable amount just to listen to them ~once~ at a conference. Though not compared to reading a book or a transcript of them and taking them apart and digesting or rejecting them, argument by argument. I have shared snippets from these lectures and gotten absolutely nowhere with the folks here, so I'm not going to try again. I'll just say that I got a lot of insight from the lectures, and I think that Dave Harriman's forthcoming book will be very interesting and well worth the money to buy and read and critically think about it.

Carefully looking at such products of the leading Objectivist clique is an important part of holding their feet to the fire and making sure that Objectivism champions the truth and not hare-brained theories about it. Personally, I couldn't be happier that Harriman has two books coming out soon, Peikoff one, and Binswanger one. The next five years (or less) will be a very busy time for those of us who look at the ideas of such folks with at least one eyebrow raised at times.

REB

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Roger,

My benchmark is The Teaching Company, which sells slickly produced coursed for hundreds less. Also, with TTC you can download courses and avoid the shipping. They sell 16 hour course for $49.95 (download).

-NEIL

____

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Roger,

My benchmark is The Teaching Company, which sells slickly produced coursed for hundreds less. Also, with TTC you can download courses and avoid the shipping. They sell 16 hour course for $49.95 (download).

-NEIL

____

Neil, I think that The Teaching Company does a fine job. In addition to the quality production and modest price, another really good aspect of them is that they are put out in fairly digestable chunks, quite a bit shorter than the typical Objectivist lecture, which runs for 90 to 120 minutes. (TAS has wisely shepherded presentations at their Seminars to approximately 60 minutes, which is headed in the right direction.)

TTC's courses are in the same category, IMO, as a good general history of philosophy such as the 5-volume set by W. T. Jones, which the Objectivists recommended in the 60s, in the absence of a thorough, Objectivism-informed course such as that provided (in two series) by Peikoff in the early 70s. However, without knowing the orientation (and possible ax to grind) of the philosophers used by TTC, I would tend to favor some critically digested combination of Jones and Peikoff, until something better comes along.

You can't just say: eat this and expect that it will all come out all right. It might be helpful for motivated skeptics and/or Objectivists to dedicate a bit of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors to purchasing the most pivotal of TTC's courses and scrutinize them with the same raised eyebrow that they direct toward the output of the Objectivist movement. Then publish those critical studies as a guide for those who want a heads-up on what they are osmosing when they (or their children) see it on the screen.

REB

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H.W.B Joseph solved Hume's 'problem of induction' in 1916 in his ~Introduction to Logic~. I pointed this out in two essays on Popper (1996 & 1999) and reiterate it in my recent book ~Old Nick's Guide to Happiness~. Blatant plug? Absolutely!

Hi Nick,

I disagree that H.W.B. Joseph answered Hume, just as I disagree with much of your critique of Popper, which I am familiar with. However that is beside the point, which isn't whether Nick Dykes or H.W.B. Joseph or Karl Popper solved or even properly understood the problem (of induction) that Hume put forward, but whether Ayn Rand did...;-)

The clear, verbatim evidence is that she did neither.

Hi Daniel,

I'd be very interested to learn about your disagreements, but perhaps you could send them to me privately. I'd like time to consider them before commenting in a public forum.

Best wishes,

Nicholas

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I'd be very interested to learn about your disagreements, but perhaps you could send them to me privately. I'd like time to consider them before commenting in a public forum.

Why not a public discussion? I think this forum is eminently suited for that, this isn't an election campaign where you have to present immediately your definite views on the matter or else. Thinking aloud can also be instructive and perhaps other members of the forum can make useful contributions to the discussion (even if you're still brooding silently about your reply).

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Dragonfly,

It's still around.

If your thing was humor, I take it all back. But I do suggest you look into how to set up a joke. Nothing you stated before in that post prepared for a humorous comment. For humor to work in that context, the sudden comment needed to border on the absurd. Subtle humor works only when humor is already present.

Michael

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I'd be very interested to learn about your disagreements, but perhaps you could send them to me privately. I'd like time to consider them before commenting in a public forum.

Why not a public discussion? I think this forum is eminently suited for that, this isn't an election campaign where you have to present immediately your definite views on the matter or else. Thinking aloud can also be instructive and perhaps other members of the forum can make useful contributions to the discussion (even if you're still brooding silently about your reply).

OK, Daniel,

fair enough. But let it be a new thread and one topic at a time. I'm currently stressed and pressed and wouldn't be able to devote a lot of time to it. Also, it's a dozen years since I finished researching Popper, I've no desire read him all all over again. So please can we stick to my critique. The ~Reason Papers~ version began with Popper's Humean premise, so why not start there?

Nicholas

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Apropos of Peikoff, we should just ... (I couldn't resist ...)

BlameCanada.jpg

No, "seriously" (but what fun is that?) ... What's the point in assessing such "blame" in the first place?

Part of what's deeply pernicious about the "Fact and Value" viewpoint is that one is encouraged to proceed from assessment of ideas to moral evaluations for someone's holding them ... without any intervening step of acting upon them.

Kant is the most evil man in history, quoth Rand? (The Objectivist, September 1971) Was he responsible for the murder of millions, like Stalin? Hitler? Mao? Rachel Carson (indirectly)? Did he pull the triggers? Gin up hysteria and bans for life-saving insecticides? No.

Others, such as Hegel, chose to build on his connections (or obfuscations) and rationalize the State and other marauders. Still others picked up those rationalizations and used them as excuses for actually pulling the triggers.

Human beings were free to reject Kant (and Hume, and Augustine, and Plato). They didn't have to drink in the poisoning of the conceptual faculty. It's ironic, to me, that Rand and Peikoff end up assuming that human beings are mindless automatons who will suck up "evil ideas," but have to actually work to adopt "good ideas." That works against their view of the heart of the rational process.

Rand had more of a Manichean — or, if you adopt a popular-culture take, superhero-comic — view of morality than many want to admit. It's not enough that human beings make suboptimal or less rational choices. Some supposed Evil Genius has to be behind it all, directing the Forces of Darkness and taking all the blame.

She said that she saw value in Mises' and the Austrians' takes on distributed knowledge in a free-market economy. When it came to moralizing, though, she was a "central planner," if only by dint of feeling she had to name and denounce villains.

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I'd be very interested to learn about your disagreements, but perhaps you could send them to me privately. I'd like time to consider them before commenting in a public forum.

Why not a public discussion? I think this forum is eminently suited for that, this isn't an election campaign where you have to present immediately your definite views on the matter or else. Thinking aloud can also be instructive and perhaps other members of the forum can make useful contributions to the discussion (even if you're still brooding silently about your reply).

OK, Daniel,

Eh.. perhaps I'm misinterpreting your post, but I'm not Daniel...

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I'd be very interested to learn about your disagreements, but perhaps you could send them to me privately. I'd like time to consider them before commenting in a public forum.

Why not a public discussion? I think this forum is eminently suited for that, this isn't an election campaign where you have to present immediately your definite views on the matter or else. Thinking aloud can also be instructive and perhaps other members of the forum can make useful contributions to the discussion (even if you're still brooding silently about your reply).

OK, Daniel,

Eh.. perhaps I'm misinterpreting your post, but I'm not Daniel...

Sorry, I thought I was addressing Daniel Barnes. Last time I contributed to an O'ist forum was on OWL in 2001. Things move on. But I do find this site bewilderingly complicated by comparison. All this endless repetition and quotes within quotes within quotes. Isn't there an easier way of carrying on a debate? It's still fun tho', just hard for a newcomer to find his way around. Nicholas Dykes

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Sorry, I thought I was addressing Daniel Barnes. Last time I contributed to an O'ist forum was on OWL in 2001. Things move on. But I do find this site bewilderingly complicated by comparison. All this endless repetition and quotes within quotes within quotes. Isn't there an easier way of carrying on a debate?

Just remove the quotes that are not relevant. You seldom need to use nested quotes, I did it only in my last post to make the context of your reply clear. You have to take care that the

- [/quote ] pairs are balanced, otherwise they don't work (you can check that with the preview option). You see, I got rid of all those nested quotes in my reply!

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