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The impact of science on man


To the question: “What does science give to a man?” – many people will answer: “It equips people with knowledge, new means of practical domination over the world and thus increases their self-confidence”. This statement seems indisputable, but, like any truism, it expresses the core of the matter and is therefore inadequate.

The impact of science on humans is twofold. Before offering him real knowledge, she destroys a mass of fictitious ideas, which for a long time seemed to be real knowledge. Before bringing to life new means of practical domination over the world, it mercilessly discredits the tools of fictitious influence on reality, the reliability of which for the time being was not in doubt. Science destroys false and naive confidence, often not being able to immediately offer a new, equally strong, broad, subjectively satisfying. And it is precise with the establishment of this fact that, in my opinion, the discussion on the relationship between science and morality should begin.


Almost all the scholars of antiquity noted with surprise that in the so-called “pre-scientific” epochs man did not feel at all surrounded by an unknown, problematic world.

On the contrary, the farther we go into the depths of history, the more resolutely does imaginary omniscience declare itself. Researchers in primitive societies, such as Shutts, Taylor, and Levy-Bruhl, differing in method and in their initial attitudes, unanimously recognize the striking “epistemological self-conceit” of the ancient peoples.

The native “knows everything”: there is no such question that would cast him into doubt or confuse. The world around him may seem hostile to him, insidious, filled with malice, but he does not exist for him as an unknown at all. The native is often afraid of what he really does not deserve fear (and in this sense, his reaction to the world is irrational), but he does not know the fear of the unknown.

Belief in the fact that the world, as well as the personal fate of each, is already known and you just need to find a way to get this omniscience, is an essential aspect of superstition (the occult worldview). In a systematic form, belief in the availability of ready-made universal knowledge is included as an obligatory component and in any developed religious world perception.

The emerging science does not grow in the atmosphere of acutely experienced ignorance. On the contrary, it everywhere invades the realm of already established confidence, comforting appearances, artificially smoothed contradictions.

Science brings not knowledge in general, but logically and empirically certified knowledge, at any given moment covering a fairly narrow circle of phenomena. The volume of explanations that she delivers is simply not commensurate with the volume of pseudo-explanations discards. And this is a situation not only of the emergence of science, but of each significant new discovery.

A solid scientific achievement can be compared with a small, good-sized building surrounded by the ruins of a “speculative city”, fragments of various kinds of “temporary thought” (naive confidence and false hopes) in which people could feel quite comfortable.

The relationship between scientific knowledge and imaginary omniscience is well conveyed by the concept, considering every fundamental theoretical position as a kind of prohibition imposed on known practical expectations (as the establishment of a new field of unsolvable problems). The fundamental laws of science, both natural and social, can almost always be translated into the form of negative norms that indicate what cannot and cannot be hoped for. Classical mechanics has vetoed a wide field of practical dreams (for example, the hope of creating a perpetual motion machine). Chemistry forced to part with bright expectations for alchemical experiments. The scientific theory of society imposed a ban on the utopian projects of a lightning restructuring of the existing social organization.

The development of science is, in this sense, the process of sobering the human mind, the discovery of new evidence of the objective non-compliance of being, of all new areas of the impossible at this level of development of knowledge and practice.

The relationship between what science provides and what it takes can be visualized using the following parable.

Imagine that a certain person (let it be a merchant) is the owner of 1000 coins, which he considers gold. Once a wanderer comes to the house of a merchant – a “fairy-tale guest”, sophisticated and generous. The stranger is able, firstly, to distinguish genuine gold coins from counterfeit ones and, secondly, to artificially manufacture gold.

After seeing a wealthy merchant, the wanderer informs him that out of 1000 coins that he considers gold, only five are true gold, and all the others are fake. Being a man not only sophisticated, but also generous, the wanderer manufactures and gives the merchant five more genuine gold coins (he does not know how to make gold faster).

Has the merchant’s real wealth increased? Sure. It has doubled. Formerly, the merchant had only five genuine gold coins, and now it has ten. But undoubtedly, what the merchant had previously felt, recognized himself to be 100 times richer. In a certain sense, a wanderer who blessed the merchant twice (once when he revealed that his wealth was false, another time when he increased the real state of the merchant by 5 gold coins), he also destitute him.

The fictitious wealth of the merchant was completely real for him. It gave him the consciousness of his strength and power, allowed him to go to ventures, to be steadfast in his claims, etc. Thus, for all its fictitiousness, it could be the source of quite real life success.

The merchant has every reason to sue the wanderer: “I believed that I had 1000 coins, you took away this faith; take back your gift and return the confidence that helped me to live!” to do it. I don’t know how to make gold so quickly to fully replace your counterfeit coins with authentic ones, and I don’t know how to turn a exposed illusion into an illusion that has not yet been exposed. ”

The volume of destroyed illusions is always much higher than the volume of those authenticity and real possibilities that science currently delivers. Moreover, the destructive work that science does in relation to the already existing pre-scientific knowledge is usually greater, the more significant its creative constructive contribution to human ideas about the world. In order to understand this relationship more concretely, it is important to take into account that there is no pre-established correspondence between problems, worries, aspirations that stand in the foreground of everyday consciousness (which are priority for people) and those problems that are first solved by science (they become primary in the developmental logic) scientific knowledge).

For centuries, the first human need was easily obtained food. Hence the eternal aspiration of cheap (gratuitous) bread, which corresponded to the religious promises expressed in the legend of “manna from heaven,” of “many thousands fed with five breads,” etc. However, from the possibility of radical scientific intervention in food production, which would lead to a sharp reduction in their prices, society still stands far. The practical history of science does not begin with the question of bread, but with the question of mechanisms and engines — with the justification of technical civilization.

Perhaps people would have sacrificed countless conquests in this civilization if, in return, they were offered “three miracles”: a drug that cures all diseases; an enterprise synthesizing food products from inorganic substances; and a learning method that guarantees the full development of all the makings of a child.

But it is precisely these aspirations that are closest to the man himself for science to be the most remote and difficult to achieve.

Scientific research invariably gives answers to life-practical questions, but for the time being not for those that are associated with the primary needs of individual existence and from the fictitious provision of which the pre-scientific technique of “acting on reality” (spell, prayer, etc.) began .

But there is a sphere in which the “disagreement” between science and everyday consciousness is even more significant (strictly speaking, absolute). This is a sphere of individual life decisions and choices. From generation to generation, millions of people in the uniquely personal context of everyday experience are asked the following question: “Will I die from this disease or survive?”, “Should I marry this woman?”, “Should I initiate a criminal case in this case ? ” etc. Such questions (and at certain moments in life they occupy the whole person and often bring them to philosophically significant alternatives) scientific research will never be able to give an answer. And not because of the unique content that each of them assumes.

For science, the universal form itself of these questions, which goes back to the occult and religious worldview, is unacceptable, namely: “What is my destiny?” And “Should I decide on this?” In the first case, it is unwittingly assumed that a person’s life can be something independent of his free decisions. In the second one, it is hoped that the results of the decision that has not yet been made (perhaps it will not be made) can already be known – “to have it before our eyes” – as something accomplished. To answer questions that implicitly include this assumption and this hope, science has no right. The need for divination, for the satisfaction of which people from time immemorial turned to fortunetellers, soothsayers, astrologers and interpreters of dreams, science not only cannot, but categorically refuses to satisfy. She denounces any attempt to conduct it as charlatanry, and the place of this fictitious knowledge, which helped a person to escape from his own freedom, leaves empty.

Thus, science, paradoxically, makes life difficult for a prudent, prudent-prudent person, because it puts him in the face of the uncertainty of specific situations and requires that he make a decision freely, autonomously, without waiting for either earthly or otherworldly clues.

So, science brings to man not only new knowledge and opportunities, but also the first-born conscious ignorance – the understanding that there are objectively impossible events, practically unsolvable tasks, uncertain life situations.

This does not mean at all, however, that conscious ignorance immediately becomes widespread.

Everyday consciousness is rooted in prescientific experience; its general structure took shape in an era when man felt himself to be a “flock”, a being under the tutelage of an otherworldly force for which there are no unsolvable tasks or unforeseen events. From the consciousness of the trust, which corresponded to certain socio-historical conditions, the habit of asking for an answer, which would certainly have the form of instruction, advertisements, and warnings (in short, a form of ready-made, as if through the revelation of knowledge gained), grew.

This habit is experiencing the very belief in the supernatural and continues to exist in the heads of people who can no longer take seriously either the characters of religious mythologies or the wonderworkers, fortunetellers, soothsayers. The request for divination and miracles is now presented to science itself. In principle, it is expected (as knowledge) of what was expected from mystics, astrology, and black magic, that is, evidence of the “possibility of the incredible,” consolatory announcements, recommendations that would save you from the dangers of personal choice, etc. The transfer to a scientific study of the epistemological expectations that developed within the occult and religious worldview forms the basis of the ideology of scientism (faith in science as a human pastor).

The spontaneously folding scientistic attitudes of mass consciousness find support in the maximalist concepts put forward by the philosophy of science, and sometimes by the scientists themselves, in theoretical scientism.

Originating in the depths of educational ideology and developed in positivism by Comte, Huxley, Lester F. Ward and some modern Western philosophers, theoretical scientism recognizes science as the decisive force of progress, the new demiurge whose instruments are gradually becoming a social organization and its constituent individuals. It is assumed that the considerations of each person to the understanding that the issues for which there is no theoretical instruction should not be asked at all: people should consider every problem that is not subject to the competence of science “pseudo-problem”. Only after they deal with the ineradicable subjectivity of their personal worries, anxieties and expectations, will a state of epistemological holiness and bliss be achieved, when every question has a ready scientific answer and every business will be started on the basis of a prediction of its success.

It is not difficult to notice that the program of theoretical scientism and the expectations of scientism spontaneous, on the one hand, sharply contradict each other, on the one hand, they are in surprising consonance. Both recognize that science must be a shepherd, and people a flock; both believe that an individual problem is only a problem when there is hope of satisfying it with ready-made knowledge; both want the decisions and choices of a person to rely on reliable cognitive guarantees.

The false unity of science and everyday consciousness within the framework of scientistic ideology can be destroyed only if science abandons messianism, and everyday consciousness accepts the cognitive situation with which its scientific research actually confronts. The latter implies the willingness of a person to act at his own risk and risk, to act definitely in conditions of ambiguity, when the outside world lacks the necessary targets.

But where can such readiness come from?

A person has the ability “not to fall into behavioral uncertainty in the face of cognitive uncertainties”, because in him, as an individual, there is a kind of gyroscope, whose axes retain their constant direction with any changes in the external semantic context of life. This is a moral consciousness, stable inner convictions, forged in the coolest alterations of history. Science, free from scientist prejudices, presupposes the existence of this consciousness in an individual and, moreover, appeals to it.


The fact that science is a destroyer of fictitious omniscience (that scientific knowledge is at the same time ruthless awareness of the limits of cognitive authenticity) and that moral independence of the people addressed by science is a condition for preserving this intellectual honesty was deeply understood in Immanuel Kant’s philosophy. Kant once called his teaching “genuine enlightenment.” His essence (as opposed to “naive enlightenment”) he saw was not only to wrest a person from the grip of traditional superstitious hopes for the power of theoretical reason, from believing in the solvability of any problem that arises from the circumstances of human life. And above all, Kant demanded that the “theoretical reason” (the mind, how it is realized in science) did not give rise to these hopes and this faith.

Kant’s theory of the boundaries of theoretical reason (in contrast to the skeptical agnosticism of D. Hume) was directed not against the research audacity of the scientist, but against his unfounded claims to prophecy and the management of people’s personal decisions. The question of the limits of authentic knowledge was for Kant not only a methodological, but also an ethical problem (a problem of the “discipline of reason” that would keep science and scientists from scientistic conceit).

“With temperament and also talent …” wrote Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason, “some need discipline in some respects, everyone will easily agree with that. But the thought that reason, which, in fact, is obliged to prescribe its own discipline, Of course, it seems strange, and in fact he still avoided such humiliation precisely because, seeing the solemnity and serious posture with which he speaks, no one suspected that he frivolously plays with imaginings, instead of concepts and words instead of things ” . (*) Kant considered the typical form of such a game to be the attempts of a “scientific” construction of various kinds of universal regulatives, which could guide a person in his fundamental life choices.

In developing this topic, Kant spoke out against the basic form of scientism for his time, against scientific substantiation of the idea of the existence of God and the idea of the immortality of the soul (classes that were not devoted only to the theologians). “Criticism of pure reason” found that these rationales do not meet the requirements of theoretical evidence, that, being honestly deployed, they lead to the highest manifestations of uncertainty – antinomies, metaphysical alternatives.

A few years later, Kant showed in his work Criticism of Practical Reason that a developed person needs only knowledge, not ward knowledge, for with respect to “purpose” and “meaning” she already possesses an internal guideline – “moral law in us.”

Justifying the moral autonomy of a person, Kant decisively rejects the vulgar postulate of the indispensable “expediency” (“practicality”) of human behavior. In the works of Kant himself, the concept of “practical” has a special meaning, deeply different from that which is usually embedded in the words “practice” and “practicality.” By “practical action” Kant means not producing an activity, always having in mind some expedient result, but simply an act, that is, any event resulting from a human decision and intent. This is a manifestation of human activity, which does not necessarily have some “positive”, substantive completion (say, building a building, getting a new formula, writing a book, etc.).

“Practical action” in the Kantian sense can also consist in denying practical action in the usual sense (for example, in refusal to cost a house of a known purpose or to write a book of known content). A person commits an act and when he evades from any action, he remains on the sidelines. Examples of such self-exclusion sometimes cause no less admiration than samples of the most inspired creativity and the most hard work. People glorified themselves not only by the works of hands and mind, but also by the stamina with which they refused the unworthy enterprise, refused even when it looked fascinating and seduced by an abundance of creative tasks.

Many things, Kant liked to repeat, are capable of arousing surprise and admiration, but genuine respect is caused only by a person who has not changed his sense of due, in other words, he for whom the impossible exists: who does not do what cannot be done, and elects himself for what not to do.

Failure and personal resilience may be present in practical action in the usual sense of the word. Creative activity quite often includes them as self-restraint for the sake of a consciously chosen vocation. However, the final substantive product of creativity often hides from us that it was the result of a human act, personal choice, which meant giving up something else, deprivation, internal prohibition; The foreground of this product is the game of abilities, diligence, endurance, etc. In the facts of renunciation of action, the structure of the act, in its difference from the simple making of revealing, is revealed much more clearly.

The originality of Kant’s second “Critics” from the very beginning was determined by the fact that “practical action” was categorically and uncompromisingly opposed in it by prudent and practical action (action oriented on success, happiness, survival, empirical expediency, etc.) and illustrated by examples of evading an unworthy cause. Accordingly, the intellectual ability on which “pure practical action” rests has proved to be profoundly different from the intellectual tool that the “practitioner” uses. If the latter relies on “theoretical reason” as a means of calculating expediency or success, then the subject of “practical action” proceeds from the testimony of the mind, directly seeing the unconditional impossibility of certain decisions and the events resulting from them.

From this followed an important conclusion about the independence of the structure of a genuine human act from the state of a person’s ability to learn. A person would remain faithful to his duty (to his consciousness of the absolute impossibility to perform — or not to commit — certain actions), even if he could not have known anything at all about the objective prospects of unfolding his life situation.

Beyond the realm of uncertainties and alternatives, into which the Critique of Pure Reason was introduced, the realm of clarity and simplicity was revealed – a self-contained world of personal conviction. “Critical Philosophy” demanded an awareness of the limitations of human knowledge (and it is limited to scientifically reliable knowledge) in order to make room for a purely moral orientation, for trusting unconditional moral evidence.

Kant himself, however, formulated the main content of his philosophy in a slightly different way. “I had to eliminate knowledge, he wrote, – to get a place for faith.”

In my opinion, this frequently mentioned aphorism from the second preface to the Critique of Pure Reason is an example of a concise, but inadequate philosophical self-report.

First, Kant did not really claim to “eliminate knowledge”.

Secondly, he would have been much closer to the objective content of his own teaching if he had spoken not about faith, but about moral conviction, a sense of responsibility and the need for a moral decision.

Why did Kant not do this; Is it accidental that in the final formulation of the essence of “critical philosophy”, which received the meaning of a kind of Kantian password, the notion of faith replaced the notion of morality?


In the teachings of Kant, there is no place for faith, replacing knowledge, complementing its insufficiency in the system of human orientation, and in this sense, Kant is an opponent of fideism. He criticizes all kinds of faith stemming from the need to reduce the ambiguity of the world and remove the feeling of insecurity in human life. Thus, Kant, voluntarily or involuntarily, comes into conflict with theology (both contemporary and future), as well as non-religious forms of blind faith.

Kant was a sincere Christian, irreconcilably related to atheism. And at the same time, without any reservations, he should be called upon by one of the critics and destroyers of the religious worldview. Kant did not destroy religion as an adversary, but as a serious and sincere supporter, who presented moral demands to his religious consciousness, defying his passionate protection for such a god, whose faith would not limit man’s freedom or deprive him of his moral dignity.

Kant pays close attention to the fact that faith, as it in the vast majority of cases found itself in history – in superstitions, in religious (religious) movements, in blind obedience to the prophets and leaders – is an irrationalistic calculus. The inner conviction of a fideist to check always turns out to be a craven belief in revelation (to the fact that someone somewhere has or possesses a mind that exceeds the real capabilities of the mind). The faith of fanatics, holy fools, authoritarianists is unconditionally excluded both by the “Critique of the Pure” and the “Critique of the Practical Reason”: the first is because it (faith) represents a bet on the “supra-rationality” of some selected representatives of the human race (an attempt to find that which cannot be given at all in experience); the second is because it provides the individual the opportunity to escape from an unconditional moral decision.

At the same time, Kant retains the category of “faith” in her teaching and tries to establish her new, proper philosophical understanding, different from the one she had in theology, on the one hand, and in historical psychology, on the other. Kant wrote that his three basic essays are based on three fundamental questions: “What can I know?” (“Criticism of pure reason”), “What should I do?” (“Critique of practical reason”), and “What am I I dare to hope? “(” Religion within the limits of reason only “).

The third of these questions precisely outlines the problem of faith, as it stood within Kantian philosophy itself. Kant would have acted sequentially if he had completely excluded the category “faith” from his teaching and put the concept of “hope” in its place.

The latter differs from faith in that it is never an internal animation that precedes action and determines the choice. Where hope becomes a source of practical solutions, it is either a hope or a blind confidence illegally put in place of purely probabilistic knowledge. Hope is forgivable, since it is a matter of consolation, but, as the driving forces of actions, they require a wary and critical attitude towards themselves.

The three fundamental questions by which Kant dissects the content of his philosophy have a mandatory (irreversible) sequence. A necessary prerequisite for conscious orientation in the world is, according to Kant, not only the honest formulation of each of these questions, but also the very order in which they are put. To ask the problem “what should I do?” Is legitimate only when you find any convincing answer to the question “what can I know?”, Because without an understanding of the limits of reliable knowledge it is impossible to assess the independent knowledge of obligation and unconditional moral choice. An even more serious mistake (a kind of “misconduct in orientation”) would be to turn the answer to the question “what dare I hope?” Into a condition for solving the problem “what should I do?”, That is, an attempt to preface faith with duty.

This is a crucial point in the Kantian (philosophical) understanding of faith. The object of faith (whether it is God or, say, the meaning of history) cannot be an object of calculation, a kind of guideline, but to which an individual could verify his actions in advance. In practical action, a person must rely entirely on the consciousness of the “moral law” that is present in him. Faith as a condition of individual choice spoils the purity of the moral motive — Kant insists categorically on this; if it has the right to exist, it is only as a consolation mentality of a person who has already made a decision at his own peril and risk.

The need for genuine faith arises, according to Kant, not at the moment of choice, but after it is done, when the question is posed – does the maxim of behavior that was followed unconditionally, that is, without thinking, have a chance of success (for approval in the future)? about success.

The postulates of religion (belief in the existence of God and personal immortality) are needed by the Kantian subject not to become moral (in this they can only hurt), but in order to become morally efficient.

Kant himself feels, however, that this distinction in the psychological sense is difficult to achieve. Belief in the existence of God and belief in personal immortality, since they are inseparable from the feeling of divine omnipotence, transcend the boundaries into which their pure practical postulation enters. Instead of consoling himself with faith (using it only as hope), the individual unwittingly turns it into a rationale for his decisions: he begins to feel himself a soldier of the sacred army, universal success that is guaranteed by the providence; turns into a religious ascetic, blindly relying on the necessarily favorable outcome of the struggle between good and evil, etc.

The assessment of the religious hopes of the righteous is found to be ambiguous for Kant: it is difficult to establish whether he considers these hopes to be mandatory or only venial for a moral person; sees in them a source of moral stamina or, on the contrary, a crutch on which people are forced to rely because of their weakness. This ambiguity is obviously opposed by the categoricalness with which Kant rejects the primacy of faith in relation to the moral decision.

“It still seems to us,” he wrote back in the “subcritical” period, “that … it is more consistent with human nature and moral purity to base the expectation of the future world on the sensations of a virtuous soul than, on the contrary, good behavior on hopes of another world.” In The Critique of the Practical Reason, this idea will be cast into a laconic formula: “Religion is based on morality, and not morality on religion.”

Kant’s philosophy reveals an amazing fact: a prudent and prudent individual and individual. professing the revealed faith is essentially the same subject. Prudence turns into superstition wherever it experiences a lack of knowledge. It is under these conditions that the inability of the prudently prudent person to endure his own freedom, the cowardice and self-deprecation, which since ancient times has been the natural basis of any “liturgical religion,” is exposed.

The essence of the Kantian philosophy of religion can be conveyed by the following brief formula: God is pleased with the moral independence of people, and only she is alone, he is sickened by any manifestation of cowardice, humiliation and flattery; accordingly, only he who truly has no fear of God, never drops his dignity before him and does not shift his moral decisions to him.

Kant wished or did not want to, but this idea corroded the existing religion, like acid. She put the believer in front of a critical question that flickered weakly in many heresies: besides, I actually address when I fear, hesitate, seek guidance, beg for it, ingratiate, bargain?

To whom did millions of people turn and appeal, whose plea is a cry of powerlessness?

If God is pleased with spiritual weakness, cowardice and humiliation (it is precisely those states in which people who believe that they communicate with him usually exist), then is this not what the “prince of darkness” pleases? And if so, then (the question that was once thrown by Luther to the Catholic Church) is not the city of the devil the temples in which everyone is in fear, shame and helpless ingratiation?

Kant himself did not formulate an alternative with such harshness.

However, he quite definitely said that all known forms of religion (including Christianity) were idolatry to the extent that they allowed human humiliation and flattery, indulgent understanding of God’s mercy and comforting lies, faith in miracles and divine service sacrifices.

Kant confronted religion and theology with the deepest inner contradictions of religious consciousness. Thus, he put not only religion and theology, but also himself, as a religious thinker, before insoluble difficulties. The main question, embarrassing Kant’s religious conscience, was the following: Is not faith in God a temptation on the way to the complete moral independence of a person?

Indeed, as an all-powerful god, one cannot but tempt believers to seek his mercies.

As an all-knowing being, God cannot but tempt believers to seek his mercies.

As a being, an all-knowing god seduces to pleading for prompting and guidance where a person must make a free decision in the face of uncertainty.

As a permanent creator of the world, he leaves the believer hope for a miraculous change in any circumstances.

The highest manifestation of the moral force of man is the stoic courage in a situation, the hopelessness of which he realized (“the struggle without hope of success”). But for the believer, this position is simply inaccessible, for he cannot but hope that God is capable of allowing the unbelievable. Faith itself excludes for him the possibility of that rigoristic behavior and the inner purity of the motive, for which the unbeliever has no obstacles.

As noted above, philosophically understandable faith, according to Kant, differs from vulgar, divinely revealed faith as hope from hope and blind confidence. But God, as it were, was not depicted in various systems of religion and theology, he always has such power over the future that one cannot simply hope for him. He condemns it to hope, to providential optimism, in the atmosphere of which true morality can neither develop nor exist.

Kant considered unselfishness to be the most essential characteristic of moral action. But in order for selflessness to be born, somewhere in history, a situation had to take place, for the participants of which any self-interest, any bet on profitability and success of the action would make it problematic and even impossible.


One of the main contradictions of Kant’s philosophy was that it was quite clearly understood the genetic relationship between selflessness and the devaluation of self-interest in critical situations and at the same time it was assumed that morality could arise from religion and within religion (the question of the origin of morality was identical for Kant’s development of Christianity from Judaism).

But morality could not ripen inside religion precisely because religion masks the desperateness of critical situations, protects its adherents from collisions with “nothing”, with “a world without a future.” Insuring against despair, she insures against the crisis of prudence.

With all its contradictions, the moral concept of Kant in its main sections is most consonant with the ethics of Stoicism. At first glance, this may seem strange. Indeed, where would the stoic mood come from at the very end of the 18th century, in the epoch of expectations and hopes, pre-revolutionary revival and faith in the triumph of reason?

The main works of Kant, which set forth his moral doctrine — Criticism of the Practical Mind ”and“ Religion within Mind Only ”— appeared in 1788 and 1793, respectively. between these time stamps lay the Great French Revolution.

The ethical teaching of Kant is imbued with a sense of the tragedy of the revolution, speaking first as a premonition, and then as a bitter consciousness of what is happening and accomplished. At the same time, Kantian philosophy is not only far from the pessimism that has seized after the Jacobin terror and Thermidor those who were animated by the hopes of the Enlightenment, but also directly hostile to this pessimism. The genuine pathos of Kant’s ethics is the pathos of personal loyalty to the educational ideals of loyalty, even despite the history that discredited them. It was not the ideas of personal independence, justice and human dignity that were confounded, but only hopes to build a society based on these ideas.

After the defeat of the revolution, loyalty to the educational ideals could be maintained only decisively rejecting the utopian and naive progressivism with which they were merged in the ideology of the 18th century. This is precisely what determined Kant’s attitude toward the philosophical sermon of the Enlightenment. He seeks to show that as a revelation of the mind itself, it is indisputable; its indispensable obligation for every rational being cannot abolish any social experience, no “lessons of history”.

At the same time, Kant strongly opposes the naturalistic, progressive spirit of enlightening ideology, against her inherent belief in a quick triumph of reason, against portraying the ideal state of society as some kind of hidden “human nature” that “destined” to prevail over inappropriate forms of community life, against image the duties of the individual as his “rational needs”, moral requirements – as “genuine interests”, etc.

The liberal Kantianism of the second half of the 19th century, which sought to give Kant’s ethics an “undoubtedly secular character,” placed at the forefront exactly what was most closely associated with his religious way of thinking, the hope of the kingdom of justice in the finale of history. Kant’s ethics came to be called the concept of an “infinitely distant social ideal,” which relied on the temporary infinity of human existence. The “scientific” and “secular” interpretation of Kant’s moral teaching turned, in other words, with the scientific and secular reinterpretation of the postulate of the immortality of the soul.

It seems to me that the main thing in Kant’s philosophy is just the opposite setting – the desire (albeit not fully accomplished) to distinguish what is due (unconditionally obligatory for the individual) and that should take place in the future (a special dimension of existence).

In this sense, understood moral action solely as an action for the future (self-restraint at the moment for profit in perspective, injustice today for justice tomorrow, trampling personal dignity in the interests of the future, where it will be respected) is, from Kant’s point of view, morality in the boundaries of prudence and greed. He sought an ethical concept that would lead to one denominator and cynical practicality, far from any inner orientation towards the ideal, and progressive fanaticism. This dual critical-polemical orientation explains the uniqueness of Kant’s moral doctrine, which links anti-historicist stoic devotion to unconditional and the pathos of disinterestedness, the idea of loyalty to moral law and the idea of spiritual autonomy of the individual.

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