Thursday, October 18, 2007

"III . . .manuel Kant was a real piss ant who was very rarely stable" M. Python

I would be remiss not to call attention to a couple of posts over on Deep Furrows that are right up the Καθολικός διάκονος alley. The first is entitled reading Francis Schaffer and the second, on the same book, which is called a brief note on unfallen reason.

I would introduce one note of caution regarding Schaffer's treatment of Kant and Hegel: anybody who seems to be cutting through the clutter of German Idealism usually does not understand German Idealism, as in those who would conflate Kant and Hegel. Kant's project is very different from that of Hegel and is something of a synthesis of Continental Idealism and British Empiricism, especially Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, which is the foundation of his philosophy. The best existing philosophical critique of Hegel are the writings of Søren Kierkegaard. Anybody who would reduce Hegel to thesis+antithesis=synthesis has clearly not studied Hegel closely and even misunderstands Marx in an important manner.

Fred does an excellent job of defending Aquinas from some of Schaffer's wilder assertions, though I am not much of a Thomist myself.

2 comments:

  1. I left some cleverness out of my original post, mainly my sense that Schaeffer is similar to Eric Hoffer (whom I haven't really read). I mean, here you have a guy from evangelicalism and somebody with a real difference in class status from academia - and he walks into the museum and manhandles the exhibits.

    What's the consequence of Kant? That truth no longer matters. That's good to know.

    Now regarding Hegel, didn't Barth and Balthasar discover a lot of good in him? Although I seem to recall Balthasar objecting to the method of synthesis when overused.

    I confess I kind of enjoy Schaeffer's puncturing several of the intellectual celebrities of the 60s: Kierkegaard, Picasso, etc folks who at times have been the objects of uncritical adulation. I do take it with a grain of salt.

    What Schaeffer says about 'the leap' and the irrationality of religion is still accurate enough. It still is the basis of much Catholic religious education...

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  2. The consequence of Kant is that knowledge Wissenschaft not only matters, but is available. The question he sets about answering in his first Critique (i.e., Of Pure Reason)is not "Can we obtain knowledge," but how knowledge is obtained.

    For Kant it is all about epistemology. I would say that with Kant we begin to see Heidegger's project of the destruction of traditional Western metaphysics. I do not know much about Barth apart from Balthasar's little book on his theology in which he brilliantly shows that Barth's analogia fidei is really the analogia entis cleverly disguised. Balthasar found something in everybody and in everything. He makes fun of himself for doing just that in one of the chapters in My Work in Retrospect. Balthasar, I think liked the phenomenological aspects of Hegel's take on history.

    Kierkegaard's leap represents the final stage of the Protestant initiated divorce between faith and reason. As compelling as Kierkegaard can be in many respects, he is still the subject of too much uncritical adulation. Such a divorce has no place, other than to be critiqued and dismissed, in Catholic thought and should play no role in Catholic religious education.

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