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Kant and the Big Three

Submitted by on January 26, 2009 – 11:54 pm 113 views No Comment

Good overview of Kant and the Reenchantment of the world from Wilber’s Marriage of Sense and Soul (pg. 86):

“Critique of Pure Reason (written in 1781)
relentlessly exposed the inadequacies of
monological reason to grasp metaphysical
truths, and it basically marked the dramatic
and historical end of that type of metaphysics.
The death of traditional metaphysics: this was
the virtually unarguable conclusion of Kant’s
first critique.

But for Kant, this was just the opening act.
He demonstrated that monological reason
cannot prove the existence of Spirit, freedom,
or immortality. But he also demonstrated that
reason could not disprove their existence either.
So science was not allowed to do two things:
(1) it could not say that Spirit existed; but (2)
it most certainly could not say that Spirit did
not exist! Kant’s point was that, as he put it,
he wanted to demolish knowledge (it-
knowledge) in order to make room for faith.
Only as objectivistic, positivistic, mono-logical
reason stopped trying to get its hands on Spirit,
could other types of knowing step in to take up
the fight.

Thus, in his second critique (Critique of
Practical Reason, 1788), Kant attempted to
show that where monological reason fails to
prove (or disprove) Spirit, dialogical reason can
succeed, at least in certain suggestive ways.
For if scientific reason (it-rationality) cannot
grasp God, dialogical reason (moral, ethical,
practical reason) does tend to show us a
type     of   transcendental      and     spiritual
knowledge. Moral reason (not it-knowledge
but we-knowledge) can, he believed,
operate only under the assumption that
Spirit exists, that freedom makes sense,
and that there is a type of immortality to
the soul. His argument, basically, is that the
interior “ought” of moral reasoning could
never get going in the first place without the
postulates of a transcendental Spirit: the
stomach would not hunger if food did not
exist. And where monolog-ical it-knowledge
can tell us precisely nothing about this
spiritual domain, dialogical we-knowledge
operates with its postulates all the time1.

We can already see that Kant has begun
to differentiate clearly the Big Three value
spheres (art, morals, and science; I, WE, and
IT), and he has dramatically taken spiritual
knowledge out of the merely it-domain of
science and placed it squarely in the we-
domain of moral reasoning and yearning. He
wants      to    limit  it-science     (and     “it-
metaphysics”), but only to make room for
“we-metaphysics” and dialogical reason and
spiritual faith. Morals, not science, point
most clearly to God.

What remained to be done was to find
some way to integrate this moral we-wisdom
with scientific it-knowledge, and in his third
great critique (Critique of Judgment, 1790),
Kant attempts this integration, in part
through the expressive-aesthetic dimension
(or art in the most general sense). In other
words, he wants to introduce the aesthetic I-
domain in order to integrate we-morals and
it-science. He wants to integrate the Big Three.”


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