Kant and the Catgorical Imperative (Not Really)

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I don't know quite how to class this entry. It's something I off-handedly promised in an earlier post, but it isn't really about the title because frankly, I've mostly forgotten what the title means because it isn't a meaningful part of my existence.

I think what I wanted to point out is that there is a wonderful series of modern College courses available on CD. On the long drive down to Naples and then back up again, I finally had sufficient time to listen to a course by Peter Kreeft on Ethics. I didn't absorb everything upon listening, but I did learn some things and I was provoked to investigate a few philosophical works. Likewise, I was listening to the first lecture in a series called Masterpieces of Western Musice. The title of the lecture was "The Red Priest and His All-Girl Orchestra" and it featured a nice mid-level discussion of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. I recommend the series.

Now to Kant. I found Kreeft's observations on Kant and Sartre to be exceedingly helpful in sorting out some important differences and feelings. I find Sartrean existentialism utterly repugnant and, more to the point, just plain wrong-headed. Honestly, I'm not all that keen on any form of existentialism--I think the Medieval and Ancient Philosophers were closer to the truth with their essentialism.

My prejudices now defined, let's move on to the "discovery" I made in dealing with Sartre and his existentialism. This discovery was that in essntials Sartre was more honest at facing the consequences of his philosophy than was Kant. Kant basically tells us that he cannot prove and does not know for certain about the existence of God and the Afterlife, but even if we do not know, or even if we believe that they do not exist we should behave as though they do. In other words, we live a lie. This is deplorable, reprehensible philosophy. It does not seek a truth but posits a substitute truth. Sartre on the other hand simply says, "Cowboy up. There is no God, no purpose, no meaning, no essence, no value to life at all. Even suicide isn't worth it because it no more causes or defines meaning than any other action of the mass of the human population. The human being is absurd in his meaninglessness." Wrong, of course, from the get go and repugnant beyond the ability of words to express. Nevertheless, brutally honest and true to the nature of the proposed philosophy. There is something to be said for living the truth rather than pretending that existence is otherwise and living so.

Personally, Aquinas, despite his propensity for splitting hairs and remaining true to a construct to the point of absurdity, (see the discussion of "the vice opposed to drunkeness" over at Disputations--excessive sobriety as a vice?) presents a far more livable philosophy and ethics. Problem is--you must believe in order to accept it. Or perhaps in accepting it you can be led to belief--however it may happen the two go together. There is an appealing simplicity in the congruity of this notion. Man has meaning and that meaning is defined by a creator from whom we receive the understanding to pursue the good and the right.

Oh well, enough very amateur philosophizing. The point of this was to encourage everyone to take up some of this Modern College Courses. They're generally available from your library. There's one of the writings of C.S. Lewis. There's one by Joseph Ellis on Revolutionary American History. There's one on the Bible as the source of Western literature. And there's even one by Alexander McCall Smith.

Go, seek and enjoy!

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Where did you get these? Amazon?

Dear Julie,

I got them from the Library. When I get home I'll get you the more specific titles. I've seen them on Tables in my local Barnes and Nobles.



Oh, the li-BRARY! (you have to watch the Simpsons to get that one I thing)

The price is definitely right. Thanks for getting those titles when you get a chance as our library has odd blind spots sometimes and then I'll know just how to ask their very picky request system if they have it.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 27, 2005 9:29 AM.

She's Up!! was the previous entry in this blog.

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