Kantian Deeds (Continuum Studies in Philosophy)

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The material and cognitive irreversibility of this dynamics is an essential aspect of the situation. The material irreversibility is due to the fact that nonclassical processes are, by definition, irreducibly irreversible in relation to the individual events they produce as their effects, or the nonclassical correlations between such events. In "Kant and Schiller," de Man speaks of "[the] problem of the question of irreversibility, of the reversibility in the type of [nonclassical] models which I have been developing on the basis of texts.

And this is linked to the question of reversibility, linked to the question of historicity" AI It is true of course that history conceived on a classical model is also irreversible in actual sequences of events or occurrences that one considers. The nonclassical irreversibility is more radical epistemologically or cognitively by virtue of the nonclassical nature of the processes responsible for the events in de Man's sense.

For, while such processes are responsible for the events in question, they also, in principle, disallow one to trace back— cognitively , rather than only actually , "reverse"—a causal or continuous historical trajectory leading to these events or even to presuppose the existence of such a trajectory, in the way it would be done in classical historical or temporal models.

The nonclassical models of such situations are, de Man argues, performative , rather than cognitive AI As a result, the question of historical repetition of such events takes the new dimensions as well AI In other words, classically, while we cannot reverse history materially, we can, at least in principle, follow its trajectory back in order to arrange the events in question "sequentially, in a narrative.

This organization, however, is nonclassical and, as such, allows for no possibility to represent or even to conceive of, especially in continuous or causal terms causality is itself a form of conceptual continuity , the processes responsible for this organization, and hence no classical wholeness behind it either.

As other nonclassical models, these, too, necessarily involve classical elements or models at the level of effects, in accordance with the analysis given earlier. This historical model is applied by de Man to the very history of reception of the third Critique and reading or not reading Kant from Schiller on, specifically as the history of aesthetic ideology AI These applications carry certain inflections concerning the functioning cognitive, discursive, cultural, or political of the notion and practice of historicity and history.

Similar moves and inflections are found in de Man's reading of, among others, Rousseau, Kleist and Shelley, where the history of Romanticism is also at stake. These texts are, then, read by de Man as allegories of the processes in question. The model itself is, however, very general in nature.

Indeed, it may be applied to temporality which is given a more continuous meaning at the particular juncture in question and the rhetoric of temporality as well, as has been done by de Man himself from "The Rhetoric of Temporality" on, or aesthetics and politics, along the lines considered earlier. At the ultimate level, any event is either itself unique and singular in the nonclassical sense or, however ordinary or un-eventful it is or appears to be, is decomposable into the sum of such nonclassical events, whether nonclassically organized or not.

De Man makes his arguably strongest epistemological claim in the famous elaboration closing "Shelley Disfigured. In the present terms, we may speak of the radical, irreducible singularity and discontinuity of random events, into which any given event or historical trajectory would always ultimately decompose itself, just as, to use a fitting image here, any human body will ultimately do, at least after "death.

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Life is always death, but death is not always life. As it makes allegory irreducible in any representation, phenomenalization, knowledge, and so forth, death or life-death becomes a model for or, better, an allegory, and perhaps the allegory, of the ultimate structure of every event of life. Given de Man's "definition" of allegory in his essay on Pascal, cited earlier, it would, as elsewhere in nonclassical theory, be difficult to speak of the underlying efficacious dynamics of such random events as itself random, any more than causal, or any more discontinuous than continuous, or, again, in any given or even conceivable terms.

At the same time, this view leaves the space to the corresponding effects—such as these are often parallel those of randomness and causality or those of discontinuity and continuity, or any other we may or must need, in a way nearly all terms classical theories of the situations in question would use. Such literary texts as those of Kleist, Keats, or Shelley, or such philosophical texts as those of Kant and Hegel, offer us new—nonclassical—models of singular events or hence of un-patterning, unordering, and unlawfulness, and new ways in which these relate to patterns, order, and law.

But are order, organization, or coherence actually possible, given de Man's view of history, literary or other, as just outlined, or, returning to the Kantian situation considered above, in politics? Are they possible in the world, which The Triumph of Life analytically thematizes and in which we must live and die, where ultimately , " nothing [and not only certain things], whether deed, word, thought or text, ever [and not only sometimes] happens in relation, positive or negative, to anything that preceded, follows, or exists elsewhere, but only as a random event whose power, like the power of death, is due to the randomness of its occurrence"?

Yes, but with a price, the price that one always pays in the epistemological economy of gains and losses of nonclassical theory. De Man does not close "Shelley Disfigured" with the randomness of death as the final warning of Shelley's poem. Instead, he adds:. In accordance with de Man's view of history in "Kant and Schiller," considered earlier, there is a complex stratification, with interactive classical and nonclassical strata, to the historical or, interactively, aesthetico-ideological processes in question. As in de Man's reading of Kant, this multi-component and multi-level machinery is also applied to the history of reading Shelley's poem itself or, via Shelley, Romanticism.

All of these are "analytically thematized" by Shelley's poem, which as a reading of the figure of Rousseau, among others, and the history of literature and culture, is already a history of Romanticism and reading Romanticism, a nonclassical history and, as such, is more reliable than its classical alternatives. Shelley's reading of Rousseau, especially cum de Man's reading of Shelley or of Rousseau elsewhere in his work , thus, also transforms into a nonclassical register our understanding of biography as well, or how biography and history are related nonclassically, conjunctively or disjunctively.

Finally, there is a history, in turn nonclassical, of "reintegrating in a historical and aesthetic system of recuperation that repeats itself regardless of the exposure of its fallacy," in a process that "differs entirely from the recuperative and nihilistic allegories of historicism. These effects or other classical elements nonclassical approaches involve sometimes lead to an ideologizing misreading of the analysis or enactment of these processes in such texts as those of Kant, Hegel, Kleist, and Shelley.

It is, then, by this multileveled nonclassical process that a more reliable history, including as is clear from the passage in its classical sense may be achieved, and is achieved by Shelley's poem. In other words, by rigorously putting the irreducible "loss" in historical accessibility, representation, knowledge, or conception into play both a greater richness of historical representation, knowledge, or conception and a greater reliability of a "guess" become possible as well.

Kantian Deeds

One can of course only speak of "loss" here if one applies a classical concept of representation. For, we also gain in terms of knowledge that now becomes possible and was not possible classically. But then, as de Man's last sentence suggests, each nonclassical reading may itself be unique, singular.

The lessons of such texts or of their grouping together are complicated accordingly. The allegory of the human body in the form of the fragmented statue, introduced at the outset in de Man's epigraph courtesy of Thomas Hardy is, again, a decisive vehicle of de Man's analysis RR The essay also alludes to the body of Romanticism, conjoined with many a dead body found in key Romantic texts, and with the disfigured dead body of Shelley himself RR I would like, in closing, to link the preceding discussion, via the question of the body, to the question of "linguistic understanding" of Kant's argument on the sublime according to de Man.

This understanding brings Kant's third Critique even closer to nonclassical epistemology, at least at the textual level, if not in terms of its logical argumentation to the degree that we separate these. This, epistemologically more radical, reach of Kant's text is suggested by de Man's reading of Kant's architectonics, via the question of the body, toward the end of "Phenomenality and Materiality in Kant. We must, de Man says, consider "our limbs," formally, "in themselves, severed from the organic unity of the body.

Any arrangement of such parts, phenomenological, conceptual, or linguistic is ultimately a form of allegory and is subject to its nonclassical epistemology with inevitable and indispensable classical effects , just as is the body of a given text, history, or aesthetic field, as discussed above in the context of "Shelley Disfigured. The initial wherever we begin "parts" or "limbs" are already such allegories, derived from the classical view, and hence as supplementary as the body itself. Accordingly, a more radical disarticulation and disfiguration in either sense of the un body is at stake, even at the level of manifest effects.

The efficacious processes behind these effects is, again, inaccessible in any way, no more by means of disarticulation, however radical, than by means of articulation. With respect to these processes, the dismemberment and disarticulation in question at the level of the effects itself reflects only this inaccessibility, not the character of the processes themselves. This disarticulating dismemberment of the body will be linked to the linguistic understanding of materiality and specifically to the disarticulation of tropes, as indeed the term figure?

De Man's reading of both Kant and Kleist, or, as we have seen, of Shelley, puts this machinery of disarticulation to work. This is, in present terms, a classical description, and as is such also a classical philosophical concept of political community. The resulting conception is, by definition, non-dialectical, since it is not grounded in the synthesis in which the parts and the whole are harmonized after dialectically negating each other.

But, as the preceding analysis suggests, it is more radical and complex than only this. De Man juxtaposes both Kant and Kleist, especially Kleist's nonclassical allegories as against Schiller's "symbol" and the classical aesthetical-political ideology it entails to Schiller's vision, and to Schiller's reading of Kant, along the aesthetic, epistemological, and political lines of singularity and nonclassicality.

After a complex analysis, which has to be omitted here, de Man arrives at a dance that is very different from the "strictly-ballroom" dance of Schiller:. The invocation of Newton's law of gravity, the paradigmatic classical physical law, is of much interest and significance here. Both the question of the classical laws of physics and, hence, the formalization of nature, are at stake. A more Newtonian Kant, against himself, makes Kleist and it is easier after Einstein de Man think beyond Newton, who is about to appear next.

I shall return to the question of falling, physically defining gravity. At stake, then, is the possibility of organization, aesthetic or other, under the condition of the radical singularity and deformity—monstrosity—that are manifest, materially and phenomenally, as effects. De Man further explores the economy of "the mutilated body" in his analysis of the Kantian architectonics in "Kant's Materialism" and "Phenomenality and Materiality in Kant.

Then, he proceeds to a reading of Kant's architectonics and its self-de-architectonization in terms of a mutilated body. He writes:. It may be argued that de Man is here moving beyond Kant in the radical degree of disarticulation that he proposes, insofar as Kant suspends only "the unity of purpose," while de Man severs the parts from any organic unity. Indeed, a still more radical linguistic and conceptual disarticulation of such "parts" as body parts is at stake.

De Man continues:. This nonclassical epistemology and aesthetics or anti-aesthetics are, again, applied by de Man to the text of Kleist's essay itself, as well as to Kant's third Critique , which unexpectedly, but more logically than paradoxically, brought together. Kant's text, too, is now seen in terms of radical textual materiality, structured through "a dismemberment of language.

One, thus, encounters the workings of radical materiality in de Man's sense in the textual working of Kant, or still more radically or at least more deliberately in Kleist and Shelley. This materiality, I argue, corresponds to the nonclassical efficacious dynamics of the effects in question, and the accompanying singularities, constituting and disfiguring in constituting, constituting in disfiguring—both in the body either as the human body or whenever the signifier applies and in the text.

It would, however, be a mistake to see them as merely mirroring or mapping each other although this happens, too, sometimes , as de Man's usage of "corresponds" here might suggest, but should not. As one approaches the world by way of a text or a body of the text by way of reading, one encounters the dismemberment or, we may say, "decoherence" of language—the irreducible and uncontrollable divergence of the meaning of figures, tropes, signifiers, and so forth, of whatever carries meaning.

This decoherence, however, signals the irreducible inaccessibility of the efficacious processes that give rise to the body or the text through certain nonclassical configurations of material or phenomenal effects. Accordingly, the nonclassically dismembered, decohered language or representation i. However, decoherent representations or allegories appear to be better suited to relate to the world and life, and whatever bodies one finds there, or to read the kind of texts in question here. In de Man, this model is developed "on the basis of [reading] texts," in other words, on the basis of an enactment of a decoherence of figures and tropes, or of all language, in a nonclassical text, such as Kleist's, or Shelley's, or Kant's, if in the latter case, against other forces, conceptual or textual.

They give the materiality of the signifiers a formal structure we encounter in nonclassical theory. Or rather the materiality of the signifier in de Man's sense is this structure, which then requires a very different form of formalization able to handle the organization of singularities, each of which is random if considered in terms of the history of its emergence.

De Man writes:. This dance, regardless of whether it occurs as mirror, as imitation, as history, as the fencing match of interpretation, or in the anamorphic transformations of tropes, in the ultimate trap, as unavoidable as it is deadly. RR In introducing "the dismemberment of the body" in "Phenomenality and Materiality in Kant," de Man speaks of the word Glieder in Kant as "meaning members in all the senses of the word, as well as, in the compound Gliedermann , the puppet of Kleist's Marionettentheater" AI It is curious, however, that, perhaps focusing on "The Analytics of the Sublime," de Man missed the Fall-sequence at the outset and setting up, at least at the level of linguistics understanding, of "The Analytics of the Beautiful" and thus the very concept of judgment.

The initial sections, in particular, section 5, with which I began here, of the third Critique contain virtually all of these signifiers and hence entail the critical epistemology in question, although one might need Kleist and his reading of Kant all Kleist's works are readings of Kant to see it. On this point, one would need to undertake yet another "Romantic" rereading of Milton's attempt "to justify the ways of God to man" in Paradise Lost, which brings together, now in English, the Fall and judgment, or justice, and the modern post-Copernican world, defined by the incessant fall of planets toward the Sun.

It would not be possible to address the subject here or consider the relevant physics, for example, the way gravity bends even light itself, which would bring all these figures and texts together in yet another way. These connections must be relevant to de Man's reading, even if only because from Newton, who is uncircumventable in Kant, to Einstein and beyond they changed our sense of fall or they are ultimately the same the world, via Kant, the creator of the first modern cosmology.

One would need to reassess the passages on stars and heaven in Kant's "Analytics of the Sublime," which de Man considers in his essays. I shall only comment on the passage on, as it may be called, the galactical colossal, which refers to Kant's cosmology. While it may be imagined as the mathematically sublime in nature, this picture is not very likely to correspond to the universe on our present knowledge of it, even though Kant deserves much credit for guessing, arguably for the first time ever, that the Milky Way is merely one of many galaxies in the universe.

As we see it now, this picture resembles very little the universe, whatever its ultimate geometry will prove to be, consistent with the data we have The universe, although expanding, may or may not be infinite. This is a universe or un-universe that cannot ultimately be articulated as a body and, rigorously, has to be allegorized otherwise. Kant's figure can offer only a particular, if also aesthetically universal enough and boring enough , model.

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By contrast, the materiality of the actual universe, as it appears to us at the moment, cannot in fact be visualizably presented universally, either as beautiful or as sublime, in part because it may not be presented at all. The sublime, in Kant, appears to correspond to a vision of that which always escapes the architectonic, geometrization, and so forth, while appearing to be available to them. We recall that, in contrast to the beautiful, this vision cannot be seen as having an object, but rather as making such an object impossible.

Kant's concept of object, Gegenstand , however, and the overall economy, including political economy of the beautiful would complicate the beautiful as well, to the point of the " material vision" in question in de Man's analysis of the sublime AI Once made "more intelligible," "understanding [the materiality of the sublime] in linguistic terms" also reveals the un-architectonic un-sublime of the beautiful.

This also amounts to saying that, rather than following Kant's cosmology, we might as well conceive of the universe on the Kantian model of the political, conceived on his aesthetic-epistemological model of aesthetic judgment. This model allows us to bring singularities into an assemblage or, at the human level, assembly and community, if not unity, as the effects of the unfigurable, the unrepresentable, the unknowable, the unthinkable—ultimately unfigurable even as unfigurable, unrepresentable as unrepresentable, unknowable as unknowable, unthinkable as unthinkable.

It allows us to do so in spite and because of the radical limit it thus places upon our power of figuration, representation, knowledge, and thought. But it also adds to this power. Blanchot, Maurice. The Infinite Conversation. Susan Hanson. Minneapolis, Minn: University of Minnesota Press, Bataille, Georges. Paris: Gallimard, Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque.

Tom Conley. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, De Man, Paul. Aesthetic Ideology.

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Kantian Deeds, Continuum Studies in Philosophy by Henrik Joker Bjerre | | Booktopia

New Haven: Yale University Press, The Rhetoric of Romanticism. Minneaplis, Minn: University of Minnesota Press, Margins of Philosophy. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Of Grammatology. Gayatri C. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, Geoff Bennington and Ian MacLeod.

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Now since this propensity must itself be considered morally evil, hence not a natural predisposition but something that a human being can be held accountable for, and consequently must consist in maxims of the the power of choice contrary to the law, and yet because of freedom, such maxims must be viewed as accidental….. We bring evil upon ourselves and suffer the consequences and to the extent that our lamentations do not recognize our own responsibility they are inauthentically projecting upon the world a fault that lies uncognized within us.

Animal life and human life in a state of nature obeys the call of sensibility and therefore cannot be praised or blamed for the presence or absence of a moral personality. Human life in a Hobbesian state of nature is not yet sufficiently conscious of its moral personality to be a subject of moral evaluation. Rousseau also in his process of comparison devalues the virtues of civilization and culture, he devalues, in other words, the worth of a moral personality.

There is, for Kant, no freedom in a state of nature if that is defined in terms of the ground of a moral personality which in turn brings with it the discourse of praise and blame in accordance with the idea of responsibility. The Garden of Eden allegory can be interpreted in accordance with the vision of a world progressing toward a future better Kingdom of Ends that are physically instantiated in the physical world— a secular world inhabited by free individuals freely exercising their responsibility and leading happy lives because deeds of moral worth constitute not just flourishing lives but just and ordered societies.

The issue of the origin of evil is discussed in terms of the theoretical idea of the relation of an origin or cause to its effect. Such a discussion requires the postulation of particular events in relation to other particular events that have dubious noumenal status. Kant also postulates a cause that causes itself in the sphere of practical reason under the law of freedom and postulates a being that causes itself to constitute its deeds by constructing maxims that are universal and necessary. Acts may be theoretically construed as events but deeds defy this kind of theoretical determination and therefore fall under the practical law of freedom rather than the theoretical law of causality.

Kant claims the following:.

Three Minute Philosophy - Immanuel Kant

To look for the temporal origin of free actions as free as though they were natural effects is therefore a contradiction: and hence also a contradiction to look for the temporal origin of the moral constitution of the human being, so far as this constitution is considered as contingent, for constitution here means the ground of the exercise of freedom which just like the determining ground of the free power of choice in general must be sought in the representations of reason alone. Kant also points out in a footnote the temptation to use cause-effect reasoning in order to characterize deeds as events instead of as a representation of reason and therefore launch the inquirer into a search for a beginning in time an intuition of sensibility.

Psychology at this point in time was not yet taught as an independent subject at University but one can perhaps see an attempted synthesis of a number of the various themes above in the work of Freud the doctor, philosopher, and psychoanalyst. At the same time in the practical task of therapy, Freud assumes the consciousness of the power of our free choice over our actions and the traumas of the past: he assumes that is the power of reason to free us from our past.

Freud would argue that his theories have primarily therapeutic intentions and therefore contain both archeological and teleological elements: archeological events and teleological deeds—things that happen to us in our childhood, for example and things we do in the name of practical reasoning.

There is no trace of inherited sin in either the Freudian accounts because the history of conscious understanding and reasoning insofar as our species is concerned is shrouded perhaps irrevocably in the mists of the past. It is then left to a hylomorphic reasoning process to make theoretical assumptions of a continuum of processes and states from animalhood to manhood. Mythology aims via a special use of symbolic language to speculate upon the origins of manhood and evil with its own very special set of sometimes contradictory assumptions and whilst these speculations are fascinating and have helped to awaken us from a slumbering state of consciousness they have no doubt benefited from the critical Philosophy of Kant and its sketch for a theory of theoretical and practical reason.

Kant clearly articulates his position on the role of free action in relation to evil:. For whatever his previous behaviour may have been, whatever the natural causes influencing him, whether they are inside or outside him, his action is yet free and not determined through any of these causes: hence the action can and must always be judged as an original exercise of his power of choice. He should have refrained from it, whatever his temporal circumstances and entanglements: for through no cause in the world can he cease to be a free agent. Mythology could have interpreted this action as either an event or a deed.

Interpreting the action as an event means interpreting it either from the point of view of a God who is the first cause of everything, all knowing, all powerful and all good or from the point of man, the being who is but a speck of an event in an infinite chain of events in a sublimely massive universe. A more philosophical interpretation might, in the spirit of Kant, look upon the idea of God as all powerful, all knowing and all good as something in the mind of the animal that dares to use his reason, knowledge, and understanding in accordance with another idea of reason, namely freedom, and consequently building better and better civilizations until we reach the point of the secular telos of this process: a Cosmopolitan Kingdom of Ends.

The core of Biblical mythology, it should also be noted, is the idea of an external law given by a divine lawmaker but which man fails to fully understand in the attempt to lead a flourishing life and it is this state of affairs that leads man instead, to a life of suffering. In response to this envisaged outcome man begins to install external laws prohibiting murder and other evils that stand in the way of the progress of civilization. In this account, God is not yet dead simply because he is not yet, so to say, alive since the idea of God has not yet been installed in the mind of a man emerging from a state of nature.

Once the idea of God is active and combined with the idea of external law we are on the way to creating the idea of the original sinfulness of man. Freud, perusing the world around him in , asks himself whether all the work we put into civilization is worth the effort and suggests a negative answer: an oracular judgment given the fact that his words were written on the eve of the Second World War and in the light of the atrocities that would follow.

Enlightenment man could well identify with a character who did everything he ought to do but still led a life of fear and trembling because of uncontrollable external events and the uncontrollable consequences of his own deeds. Job, of course, hoped for a flourishing life but experiences the opposite. This can lead one to embrace the speculative hypothesis that man is in essence good and only evil if tempted away from that which expresses his essence:.


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Man finds himself on this road to the Kingdom of Ends where his condition gradually moves from the worse to the better the further along the road he journeys. Kant evokes the importance of moral education on this journey where the aim is the transformation of the mind of man and an establishment of a good character from latent predispositions. Christianity is, for Kant, an example of a moral religion:. This leaves man in a strange situation in which standing at the boundaries or our understanding, knowledge, and reason, standing, i.

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