The Postmodernism of Social Justice

post-modernismIn my last post on the philosophical foundation of SJWs, I quickly outlined the differences between two of the major schools of philosophy that sprung from the enlightenment, namely analytic philosophy and continental philosophy. Continental philosophy being a reaction to the perceived issues of enlightenment philosophy, and the veneration of reason as being “cold“, “calculating” and overly “individualistic” to name a few. One could say that men like Immanuel Kant, who laid much of the foundation for postmodernism is his works “Critique of Pure Reason” and “Critique of Practical Reason“, were men who were comfortable letting reason kill religion and gods, but not comfortable without faith. In a sense, they wanted Religion without Religion.

Kant’s question is quite simple, can reason give us all the answers? The answer he arrived at in Critique of Pure Reason is embodied in the quote:

“I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.” Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason)

In a sense, the world to the continental philosophers appeared empty without religion, without the duty that had been, and still is central to the German spirit. A third criticism of the enlightenment was the application of cold-blooded reason and evidence to humans and the human condition. In the same manner that homo economicus is an abstraction that imbues an average human with above average reason and below average emotion, the enlightenment view of humans appeared to the German cadre as being cold and unrealistic. Continue reading

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When ideas (should) die.

The concept of falsification is central to ideas in the sciences. To prove something true is much more difficult than to prove something not true. If we adopt this principle when dealing with ideas, and systems of thought, how would we go about determining when an idea can be dismissed and should be removed from the toolbox of ideas?

If we use Marx’s communism as a baseline, as this is a system that has on multiple occasions been implemented fairly in line with the conditions laid out in “Das Kapital”. In each case the implementation has resulted in tyranny, mass murder and a lack of rights for the individual. This holds true in the Soviet Union, Cambodia and North Korea, plus many of the less well-known communist states in Eastern Europe and Africa. In every case there has been a tendency that progress towards the ideal state Marx describes stops with the dictatorship or rule by the revolutionary committee.

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Kant: Reconciling subjective and objective

Immanuel_Kant_(painted_portrait)This article is on Kant and research philosophy after ontologicalrealist asked me if I knew of the revolution that Kant had brought to research philosophy. You can read his take on it here

My primary challenge was that I hadn’t read Kant in quite a few years and even when I did, my primary focus was on his ethics, not on his work to unite the objective and the subjective.

The core of Kant’s argument (which ontologicalrealist also speaks of) is a statement that what perceive to exist in the outside world, is interpreted and influenced by our own perspective. In embryo it is an argument that is echoed by Thomas Kuhn in that even in the pure sciences, every researcher will interpret evidence based on their subjective view of a topic. A computer without software is a paperweight, once we add an operating system, we can tell the computer to do things, the things we can tell a computer to do, depends on the software.

Kant’s argument is that human beings through existing develop a software that is similar enough that we can see that a certain atomic structure, in linear time perception and using the English language is a chair.

So, to Kant nothing can be objective because everything is interpreted by the subjective. So to Kant my argument in this post is not sound because when I describe the objective what I’m really talking about is a subjective perception of something that exists.

To structure Kant as a syllogism:

Major premise: Objective reality exists regardless of perception

Minor premise: Human perception is always subjective

Conclusion: Therefore, human beings can never observe objective reality.

Conclusion

My subjective perspective on this is that we have to accept that humans are subjective creatures, we are the sum of our experiences, our knowledge and our biology. However, in order to make progress, mind-independent standards of epistemology have to exist. I agree with Kant, we will never know if our way of perceiving the world is the only one, or if there are beings that perceive reality in a different manner.

True objectivity is not attainable, but objectivity in this is defined as “A view of reality that is entirely perseption-independent”. Objectivity as used in my post, is taken as being “Human-mind independent” as in “can be proven by logic and evidence”. This is the human standard of objectivity. There are 2 definitions, beware of which is used.

 

Kant’s argument is in a sense the opposite of “cogito ergo sum”. Descartes statement “I think therefore I am” is the statement that lays the foundation for metaphysical solipsism. In many ways Kant’s argument is solipsism in epistemology.