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Blame David Hume


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#1 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 08:18 AM

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
אויב מיין באָבע האט בייצים זי וואָלט זיין מיין זיידע

#2 Nicholas Dykes

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 01:05 PM

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

#3 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 01:08 PM

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
אויב מיין באָבע האט בייצים זי וואָלט זיין מיין זיידע

#4 Nicholas Dykes

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 02:35 PM

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

#5 Daniel Barnes

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 02:41 PM

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, 05 August 2008 - 02:51 PM.


#6 Nicholas Dykes

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 03:30 PM

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

#7 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 03:59 PM

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

Know thyself...


#8 Newberry

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 04:26 PM

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

#9 Daniel Barnes

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 05:37 PM

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...;-)

#10 Daniel Barnes

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 05:44 PM

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, 05 August 2008 - 05:55 PM.


#11 Neil Parille

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 05:49 PM

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

-NEIL

#12 Daniel Barnes

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 05:56 PM

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


A bargain! :lol:

#13 Roger Bissell

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 06:08 PM

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
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#14 Neil Parille

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 06:13 PM

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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#15 Roger Bissell

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 07:50 PM

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
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#16 Nicholas Dykes

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 05:58 AM

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

#17 Dragonfly

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 07:47 AM

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).

#18 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 08:34 AM

Dragonfly,

Brooding?

Isn't that a bit presumptious?

Why not mulling, considering, etc.? Why the negativity?

Michael

Know thyself...


#19 Dragonfly

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 08:43 AM

Where is your sense of humour?

#20 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 09:15 AM

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

Know thyself...





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