Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804):  Question Authority.

"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another." - What is Enlightenment.

Maturity means never listening to someone else's opinion, but formulating ones own whether one is capable or not.  Immaturity the reverse.  If only it were so simple!  Given that errors come in far more varieties than truth, and Kant's formula prizes deviation for the sake of deviation, it would seem that his quest for enlightenment should be realized to the same degree that error increased.  Aristotle gave a three-fold split regarding opinion:  There is philosophy, sophistry and dialectic.  Sophistry is the deliberate fabrication of wordy but erroneous arguments, while dialectic is about being nitpicky to the point that nothing gets accomplished.  Aristotle believes only philosophy is valid, although sophistry and dialectic are by far the most common.  Kant doesn't seem to know about such distinctions.

There is another point of interest:

"In the same way, a clergyman is bound to instruct his pupils and his congregation in accordance with the doctrines of the church he serves, for he was employed by it on that condition. But as a scholar, he is completely free as well as obliged to impart to the public all his carefully considered, well-intentioned thoughts on the mistaken aspects of those doctrines, and to offer suggestions for a better arrangement of religious and ecclesiastical affairs."

Maybe I am reading too much into this, but given the surrounding words I understood Kant to mean that a clergyman, though employed for the purpose of imparting Christian doctrine, has a higher duty to teach atheism, destroy the faith and corrupt the morals of the congregation.  No doubt he would deny this, but I still see it as a call to seminary professors, preachers and other teachers to make war on Christianity and civilization in general while speciously claiming that they are under an unshakable moral obligation to do so.

To express it a different way, I would consider an Islamic cleric teaching Jihad.  I may think this wrong, but to the degree that the cleric's teaching and life were in conformance with his genuine belief, I would not condemn.  For an atheist to pretend to be a legitimate Islamic cleric for the purpose of gaining money and disturbing faith, however, I would consider more reprehensible than a deluded, but sincere terrorist. 

Enlightenment:  Enlightenment is the process of going around a town at dusk, pouring gasoline everywhere, soaking flammables into every structure, and then striking a match.

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