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German Philosophy: Kant and Hegel

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1 German Philosophy: Kant and Hegel
Immanuel Kant ( ): Enlightenment philosopher Christian faith formed an important background to his philosophy “I knew there was a book on Kant and another on Hegel that my father had written…” (63) “I wanted to talk to the philosopher who had written about Kant and Hegel, and who had, as I knew, occupied himself with moral issues.”(139)

2 What can we know about the world?
Both rationalists (all knowledge comes from the mind) and empiricists (all knowledge comes from the senses) were partly right and partly wrong) All our knowledge of the world comes from our sensations, but our reason determines HOW we perceive the world.

3 Red Sunglasses Put them on. You will see red. The glasses determine HOW you see the world. But the world is not red even though that’s how you see it.

4 Time and Space Influence HOW we, as humans, perceive the world Modes of human perception, not part of the physical world Human reason perceives everything that happens as a matter of cause and effect Cats will chase a ball….humans look to see where the ball came from.

5 Because I see things through the lens of time and space…
I can’t know what the world is like “in itself”; only “for me” “The thing in itself” (Das Ding an sich) is different from “The thing for me” So there are clear limits to what we can know Faith fills the vacuum between reason and experience; weighty questions such as “Is there a God?” must be left to individual faith We cannot expect to understand what we are. Maybe we can comprehend a flower or an insect, but we can never comprehend ourselves. Even less can we expect to comprehend the universe.

6 Moral Law However, we all have access to the same universal moral law. Not situational; tells you how to behave in all situations Categorical imperative: meaning, applies to all situations and is imperative, or authoritative Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.

7 This means that… You must not exploit others; you also must not exploit yourself. Kant’s law of morals = human conscience Only when you do something purely out of duty can it be called a moral action: you do it because you know it’s right

8 Subject or free? As material beings we belong wholly to the natural world and are subject to causal relations As rational beings we are, however, able to exercise free will by conforming to moral law, since that moral law comes from us…it is innate.

9 Hegel Became a professor in Heidelberg, center of German National Romanticism, in early 1800s While Kant said there was an unattainable “truth” that existed, Hegel said “truth is subjective” All knowledge is human knowledge

10 History No “eternal truths” History is the only fixed point This means: A thought can be correct for now, but won’t be correct for ever Things can be right or wrong in relation to historical context

11 Slavery Would be foolish to advocate it today Was not considered foolish 2,500 years ago, although voices existed arguing for its abolition Ideas, thoughts, cannot be detached from their historical context

12 Reason progresses Ever-expanding knowledge Humanity is advancing toward “self-knowledge” and “self- development” Moving toward greater rationality and freedom Progressive

13 Dialectic: 3 stages of knowledge
Thesis vs. antithesis Synthesis (compromise) Hegel said history revealed this dialectical pattern. Whatever is right survives.

14 Objective Powers Romantics were individualists Hegel emphasized the “objective powers,” meaning the importance of family, civil society , and the state. One cannot resign from society

15 World Spirit Human life, thought and culture
Becomes conscious of itself in 3 stages: Individual (lowest level) Reaches higher consciousness in family, civil society and state Highest form of knowledge is philosophy, because in this the world spirit reflects on its own impact on history

16 Debate in the legal seminar…
“Was it sufficient that the ordinances under which the camp guards and enforcers were convicted were already on the statute books at the time they committed their crimes? Or was it a question of how the laws were actually interpreted and enforced at the time they committed their crimes, and that they were not applied to them? What is law? Is it what is on the books, or what is actually enacted and obeyed in a society? Or is law what must be enacted and obeyed, whether or not it is on the books, if things are to go right?” (90-91)

17 morality Consider how Michael wrestles with morality in Chapter 12. Also consider his relationship with his father and what that represents in the novel.

18 fairness Is Hanna given a fair trial? Whose fault is it that she ends up being blamed for the written report? What do you make of her question, “What would you have done?” (111, 128) What is the reader’s reaction to Hanna’s trial and how does Schlinck accomplish this? What do you make of her decision not to risk “exposure as an illiterate” (138)? How does Schlinck use nature in these chapters and in the novel?

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