Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week Eight: Romanticism, Idealism and Existentialism

Osborne: 95-130, 153-161
Robinson: 70-97, 116-125
Supplemental Reading:
Oxford: 166-238, 329-332, 337-362
Rousseau (1712-1778)
Goethe (1749-1832)
Kant (1724-1804)
Hegel (1770-1831)
Marx (1805-1900)
Nietzsche (1844-1900)
Heidegger (189-1976)
Sartre (1905-1980)


Jean-Jaques Rousseau (1712-1778) "First militant low-brow in history."
a) Feeling rather than reason should be the basis for an approach to theology and politics
b) Undermined the intellectual, scientific, mechanical/deterministic approaches to the Enlightenment.
Discourse on the Arts and Sciences
a) Art & science had degraded man.
b) Science and virtue were incompatible.
c) Before civilization men's morals were "rude but natural."
a) Subject is education: Liberation method of education aimed at developing the child without destroying the "natural state."
Discourse on Inequality (1754).
a) Introduces the idea of the "noble savage." Stressed feeling, emotion, imagination.
1) Primitive man lived in organic unity with himself and his environment. Modern man was cut off from himself.
2) Feeling, emotion, and awe were a kind of proof of God.
3) Heart before reason, poetry before science.
Social Contract (1762).
a) Became the Bible of the French Revolution: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity."
b) Argued for "direct democracy" rather than "elective democracy."
1) "Man is born free; everywhere he is in chains."
2) "General Will." Not the will of all, but an abstract expression of
what is best for all. Each individual subjugates himself to the collective General will.
3) No need for participatory democracy: the general will emerges as disagreements between individuals cancel each other out.
4) If a man acts against the general will, or sovereign, he must be forced to be free.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
a) German, great philosopher of continental idealism.
Critique of Pure Reason (1781, 1786)
a) The immediate objects of perception are due not only to the evidence provided by our senses, but also to our perceptual apparatus, which order our sense-impressions into intelligible unities. "Though our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it arises out of experience."
b) Knowledge of objects as such, as things in themselves (noumena), is impossible since we can only know our ordered sense impressions (phenomena).
c) Space and time are subjective, a priori institutions. Ordering of sense objects takes place in time, with the appropriate application of general concepts.
Critique of Practical Reason (1788)
a) The three principle ideas of reason--God, Freedom, Immortality--are known because pure reason leads us to them for practical, i.e. moral considerations. This forms discussion also in the Prolegomena.
Groundwork to a Metaphysics of Morals (1785).
a) Categorical Imperative: "Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."
Critique of Judgment (1790).
A Kant miscellany:
Aesthetics: Aesthetic Judgment is independent of personal, psychological and moral considerations, yet singular and universally valid.
Politics: Supported French Revolution, but not the terror. Liberal in politics & theology, which was interpreted as being anti-Lutheran, was asked to stop. He published his lectures (and his letters) after the death of William II.
Influence: Greater than any of the idealist schools to which he gave rise, though Fichte, Hegel and Schopenhauer were more widely influential. Why is he greater? Because the questions raised by Kant and his treatment of them are more interesting than the others.
Kant's idealism: We know only Appearance (phenomena). We cannot know Reality (noumena), the thing-in-itself.

G.W.F. (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich) Hegel (1770-1831)
a) German (Prussian)
b) Main Ideas:
1) Everything is related; pieces only have meaning when they are seen as part of the whole.
2) The world is a dynamic process that connects the three-fold realities of: one, Absolute spirit; two, Nature; and three, Man's Mind.
3) This dynamic process is the movement of thought itself: the Dialectic, a process of logic by which we deduce from our experience the categories that lead to "The Absolute."
Logical idea
(unity of idea and nature)
Subjective Spirit
Objective Spirit
Absolute Spirit
Inner Workings of
the Human Mind
External Embodiment in
Social & Political Institutions
Art, Religion
& Philosophy
4) The notion of the "Objective Spirit" is taken up by other philosophers. The importance of understanding the totality, the system as the whole shaped Marxism and other abstract notions of "inevitable necessity."
5) Zeitgeist (time-spirit): interconnections between individuals, society and religion in a particular age.
6) History (existence) is a dialectical process leading (Marching! Hup! Hup! Hup!) to The Absolute!
c) Hegel's system:
1) It is a system in motion.
2) Contradiction (the dialectic) drives the system.
3) The system is all-embracing. Everything is included.
4) The appearance of things (at rest) is different to their reality (which is in a state of motion).
5) All history is the working-out of the Spirit through time. This is the March of Reason.
6) Logic = Metaphysics.
7) The Dialectic = Metaphysics; movement toward "The Absolute."
d) Mind and Reality:
1) Reality is constructed by the mind. People don’t know this at first; they think reality is "out there," and that they are independent of it. Thus, the mind is alienated from itself.
2) Then the mind realizes that reality is of its own creation, and through knowing reality as clearly as it knows itself, it at last becomes one with itself.
3) This process of self-discovery is what makes the system work--the system works through the process of developing self-consciousness.
4) World history is the great reflection of this pattern. Initially, individual beings across the globe developed through partial consciousness into the Greeks & Romans, and down through history until the mind ends with complete self-realization in the Hegelian system and the PRUSSIAN STATE--THE ABSOLUTE!
e) Hegel's legacy:
1) Interconnections of thought and society.
2) The Dialectic.
3) Absolute Idealism.
4) Glorification of the (Prussian) State.
f) Hegel’s influence: Impacted Marx, who replaces Hegel's "spirit" with a "real" understanding of nature, work, and economics: Dialectical Materialism. Influenced communists, socialists and fascist alike.
Karl Marx (1805-1900)
a) The mode of production is the determining force of history. All ill/evil is due to private
ownership of the means of production.
b) Three moments of Human Consciousness.
1) Self-awareness
2) Self-alienation
3) Self-realization
c) These correspond to a specific stage in human history where Man defines himself through his labor is a particular way:
1) First stage: Nature dominates Man.
2) Second stage: Private property grows and Nature becomes mainly an object for
3) Third stage: Private property is abolished and Man realizes himself fully.
d) Five epochs of human history, each dominated by a different mode of production:
1) Primitive communism: Hunting/gathering, primitive agriculture.
2) Slavery
3 Feudalism
4) Capitalism
a. Private property and alienation are characteristic.
b. Increasing polarization between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
5) Communism
e) Marx's criticism of Mainstream political economy (economics); particularly Adam Smith:
1) Political economy sanctified private property to justify the status quo;
2) Wrongly taught that human nature was fixed and abstract. Marx taught that human nature was variable, a reflection of and dependent upon environment.
3) The model of liberal Lassiez-Faire market economy allows the maximum
freedom was Rubbish to Marx. Free competition doesn’t free individuals--it merely sets capital free to exploit workers.
4) "Property is Theft" (Proudhon).
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
a) Marx said the future lay with the masses, Nietzsche said the future lay with great men.
Philosopher: "A terrible explosive in the presence of which everything is in danger."
Morality and Truth:
a) "There is no universal morality." Rational basis of morality is an illusion.
b) "Men are individuals and must be judged as such."
c) Christianity is the morality of the Herd. A slave morality.
d) Women, socialism, and universal suffrage belong to an inferior world.
e) A morality for all is ridiculous.
f) True virtue is only for the aristocratic morality.
g) Only the feelings and intentions of mighty men are important.
h) Perspective theory of truth: Truth, like morality, is a relative affair: There are no facts, only interpretations.
i) "Language falsifies reality." We will not be rid of God until we are rid of grammar.
j) "Is not life 100 times too short for us to bore ourselves?"
k) "The future influences the present as much as the past."
l) "Out of the death of God will come an active Nihilism and the rise of supermen.
There will be wars such as there have never been seen on Earth before."
m) "I teach you the Superman [Übermensch] . . . man is something to be surpassed. Man is a rope connecting animal and superman--a rope over a precipice. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal."
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Theme: The superman desires through his "Will to power" (the will to live), a higher, more powerful state of being. Through a total revaluation of all morals the superman will emerge--strong, hard, and, if need be, cruel.
Nietzsche's Psychological Orientation:
a) Nietzsche marked a significant shift in the history of philosophy. The rational subject was
rejected in favor of a complex view of man and morality based in a psychological description.
b) Attacked the need for metaphysics as springing from psychological weakness, from a refusal to confront the cosmos through WILL.
c) Nietzsche discussed the role of the passions and the psychological role of religion.
d) According to Nietzsche, this dynamic drives underlie artistic endeavor.
e) The repression of sexual instinct drives irrationality in Christianity, politics, and morality. The "will to power" is the other side of instinct and its suppression; will to power is the exercise and realization of man's base instincts.
Nietzsche and Art:
a) In discussing Greek tragedy, Nietzsche made the distinction between the gods Apollo and
1) Apollo: order, form, restraint.
2) Dionysus: frenzy of passion and vital forces.
b) Greek tragedy was the conquest of Dionysus by Apollo. Art is the product of this dynamic conflict.
c)19th century culture denied the Dionysian, smothering everything with life-denying
Christian pieties.
d) German colure was decadent and philistine: it could only be saved by Wagner. But Wagner became a Christian, and Nietzsche rejected him.
Nietzsche and Metaphysics:
1) Everything is in a state of flux (see Heraclitus). Upon the world of flux we impose,
through our will to power, our perspective, our interpretations, and our orderings.
Language and our weakness prevent us from imposing our "will" upon the world.
2) Eternal recurrence (see Penguin page 386).

No comments:

Post a Comment