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Youve probably realised by now that I do a lot of philosophical
reading - or at least try to!
As is the case with Honore de Balzac and Friedrich Nietzsche, I
first discovered Immanuel Kant wh...
Youve probably realised by now that I do a lot of philosophical reading - or at least try to!
As is the case with Honore de Balzac and Friedrich Nietzsche, I first discovered Immanuel Kant when reading biographies on Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors.
In the same independent bookstore as I had chanced upon The Atheists Mass and Aphorisms on Love and Hate, I found Kants Critique of Pure Reason. Needless to say, it was not a pocket-sized tome, and cost me a great deal more to purchase. But, as I had been on the lookout for a copy (and it was the only one they had available too!), I coughed up my food budget for the week and survived off of leftovers.
Its very heavy reading, more so than the other two philosophical works Ive reviewed so far. But its also incredibly insightful, and has helped me develop a more positive approach to life.
In the first part of the book, Kant sets about explaining his theory that the way we experience life is formed on two of three major stimulants: the senses and logic. Its an interesting concept to say the least, and Kant both accepts and promotes the idea that we know the world as we see it, not as it truly is. What this implies, on a very basic level, is that we create our own reality (no matter how similar or different to the reality of another person or the collective human race) based on what we experience and how we choose to respond.
Kant then continues to state that the metaphysical or spiritual realm - an important factor in most religious beliefs, including his own Christian faith - can be neither conclusively proven nor disproved: we cannot even acquire probable evidence for or against [it]. This thought goes against the philosophical view known as fideism (that religious belief is justified by faith and does not require intellectual evidence), and has since come to be challenged by quantum physics and the metaphysical teachings of more modern philosophical thinkers such as Terrence McKenna. (Ill expand on quantum physics and some of McKennas teachings in separate posts, as they both deserve their own platform.)
Kants interest was essentially in marrying morality and religion with science. Human nature plays a huge part in this - because we experience our own reality, how we choose to understand, accept, and act on morality, religion, and science shapes how we interact with those around us.
Although it can be (and is) incredibly difficult at times to act with compassion, understanding, and sincere gratitude, it truly is up to us to decide how we interact with the world around us. Kant argues that, because we humans are unique in terms of reason and free will, it is our duty to act out of love and kindness rather than purely selfish desires.
Of course, this brings up the question of whether it is acceptable to stand up for yourself when being taken advantage of. Its a question Kant seems to have over-looked, but if we consider the fact that you cannot pour from an empty cup, Kants philosophy indirectly tells us that in shaping our own reality, we have to defend ourselves - all the better to extend our compassion to others.