Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 6. Nr. Januar 2012

Kantian Europe

Endre Kiss (West-ungarische Universitaet Sopron-Szombathely | Jüdische Universität Budapest)

Kant and Europe – The comparison is either very easy or infinitely difficult. Very easy and problem-free, because - as not rarely evoked - Kant scarcely wrote down the word Europe in the sense of the nineteenth or twentieth century. Infinitely difficult - because numerous remarks must be read in his works and other comments, which coincided quite clearly with the priorities of the later European visions and categories. This second version would therefore also stipulate that way on which we break through, if this theme is concretized.

We choose another way. We want to demonstrate with some trains, that Kant cannot only be associated with the idea of Europe in numerous contexts and be identified as a true European thinker in the universality of historical-intellectual and ideological-critical generalizations. We want to prove that through his ideas, innovations, compromises, structural decisions and many other steps - he developped realities, which have belonged to realities of the later Europe. He has laid rails, that have become the rails of the later development of Europe. He has defined phenomena that have become, in his definitions, lasting European phenomenon. He has created discourses that have lived further, in constant form, in his style.

We can observe Kant from a perspective of the future intellectual and political Europe. We can however also look at the future intellectual and political Europe acting and from the perspective of Kant's life. We fight at this point with a perspectivistic difficulty emerging necessarily. We would prefer saying, that it is also possible to observe the future intellectual and political Europe from a Kantian central perspective. The term "central perspective" is however certainly not accurate and can also not be accurate. For it can never with Kant (and also not in the context of Europe) be question of an central philosophical perspective somewhat in the sense of the later Hegelian philosophy. While it is however not possible to talk, in the strict sense, about a central philosophical perspective by Kant generally, it seems no more further to be allowed, to name "familiarly" central perspective toward a future Europe,

The embarrassment that comes from the wealth begins already by the fact that the intellectual Könisgberg is already an anticipation of the future Europe.

Kant, Herder, and Hamann are three important figures of the modern philosophy. The same and simultaneous reference to an epoch of this triad, the amongst them resulting division of the philosophical work on the way of a future intellectual and political Europe, applies as an historical fact. We would support the thesis, that the Triad Kant-Herder-Hamann in its whole, mutatis mutandis, anticipates not only the overall future European development but also founds forwardgoing, so it maybe appears as a temerarious anticipation.

We see in Königsberg’s Kant the archetype of the criticist positivism or of the philosophical criticism. We identify in the Königsberg’s Herder the archetype of the universal-historical thinker, from whose universal philosophy of history, an historicizing of epistemology can also issue, as it also then happens in the formation of the post-Kantian transcendental philosophy. And finally, we identify in Königsberg’s Hamann the comprehensive and simultaneous critic of both previously mentioned orientations, that contend the criticism scientifically implemented as well on the basis of a possible disenchantment of the world like he knows very little how to start with an emancipatory philosophy of history of the liberation of the energies of the human genre.

Our anticipation does not say only that these three attitudes of the future development of the philosophy in Europe match in an almost provocative extent, it also says, that their conflicts and the polemical juxtaposition and opposition of these orientations are preserved for long. And these juxtaposition and opposition are straight one of the leading trains of Europe. Namely, Europe is far from homogeneous, it is from the beginning pluralistic and dialectic.

The ambivalence starts already with the double historical image of Königsberg. As European, the center and the periphery schematically are since then to be distinguished, where only the periphery cannot be more interesting and more productive than the center, but the center instrumentalizes also quite often the energies and initiatives of the periphery for its renewal phases. From a slightly wider historical distance, this mechanism can be even ascertained still in the process of the European unification before and after 1989.

The peripheral-negative Königsberg image appears mainly in two-cliché ideas. One of these clichés operates principally with Königsberg peripheral position. Against that, so significant facts would speak like the characteristic well-known openness and gregariousness as well for Kant as for the city, which reached their apogee, indeed not finally just at the time of the "liberally" Russian occupying offensive against the expectations.1 The other also negative cliché widespreads the theory of the peripheral position also on the university nature and perceives, in its reflections about it, an incarnation of the emerging Prussian politics on the university levels. Undoubtedly the traditions of the pietism of the Friedrich-College speak for this cliché, which originated from the "corruption of the human nature" and wanted to make accessible the "salvation" through rigorous education. This meant a constant vigillance, banning books, which could have corrupted the moral standards of the young people or hard institution, that students for the above reasons and because of the alleged threats finally obtained no vacation. 2

The positive image of Königsberg (rather a "center" in the European analogy) reveals also two variants. On the one side, the cosy town appears, in which the crucial new ideas at Kant's lunch table grow by themselves in a friendly building philisterium (Bildungsbürger), while on the other side, a rather miraculous city is visible, the unquestionable existing works of the philosophy emerge in the eternally productive creative culture, not dissimilar to the exceptional image of the philosophical ideas, on the basis of a very eastern environment and in the rule presented as provincial. Against this image of the miraculous productivity, we could rightly mention Friedländer's following characterization : "the war is now in its whole highly unfavorable to the development of a true comprehension of the art, Königsberg was moreover from all bigger cities in Germany at that time maybe at least appropriate to arouse the love for art (with the exception of the poetry); and Kant has almost not used the few resources and opportunities for the education to art, which somewhat presented to him. The city possessed no single important building; the cathedral like all that was received from the order of the time, applied as gothically unworthy of attention...Königsberg possessed no major sculptural works... 3

The dilemma of the real (and mythological) cultural productivity and the poverty of political and bourgeoise life of the world appears in the whole history of Europe with even the same relevance and power of determination. It is so, even if Europe has radiated, for many centuries, rather the positive than the negative image for the external point of view.

Through his description (somewhat hidden in the great philosophical work), Kant overcomes the differences, that are included in this dilemma : "A great city, the center of an empire, in which there are the national colleges of the government, that has a university (for the culture of Sciences) and still has the location for maritime trade, which favours a traffic as well through rivers from the interior of the country as with neighboring remote countries of different languages and customs, such a city like Königsberg, on the river Pregel, can already be taken for a appropriate place toward the expansion of both people skills and world knowledge, where they can be acquired also without travelling".4

Kant names here three elements, which designate already in their entirety an explanation for the importance of Königsberg in the development of philosophies, that can be representative, altogether, of the whole philosophical development. But these moments are such as they should be thematized in a similar characterization of Europe.

The first moment that Kant emphasizes is Königsberg's character as a "center", as a kind of capital, namely a "kingdom", in the various institutions of which a "government" is based. The second element posed here in the center is the one of the maritime commerce that we would readily designate as the hanseatic element. And the third moment is the indication that Königsberg is not only an important issue in the maritime commerce, but is also a center on the dry land at the crossroads of countries of different languages. It means a triple positioning, that we might actually regard even as an explanation. As in Europe: a center on the dry land, a center in the maritime commerce and a center of a (still expected) concrete political and cultural unit... A more deeply sitting "European" specificity is in this characterization, that the unique realities of the city are then designated, because they can show why we must not make further trips: "Travelling belongs in a great extent to the means of expansion of the anthropology, or only the reading of the trip descriptions. But we must however first at home through relations with our city and region fellows, have acquired human knowledge... The general knowledge always goes on ahead in this regard before the local knowledge..."5

Background and foreground, environment and historical actors unite namely straight in a way as it can be typically shown in this case. Königsberg (with all its above-mentioned realities and conditions) provided the conditions for this jump. No kind of ensemble of general conditions, and as usual, is in the rule sufficient in itself, if no historical actors appear and by their work, their courage and risk taking, complete the possible critical drastic change.

The first contribution taking shape with Kant was the idea of the Enlightenment, which was on the one side linked in deeper correspondence with both the other Enlightenments in France and England, on the other side however also fulfilled with a large number of philosophical and scientific projects, that did not exist in the other Enlightenments, in addition, also still standing in a staying-war with a politics, which wanted to be itself enlightening and sometimes however saw in the Enlightenment its deepest opponent.

Closely linked to the Enlightenment is this train, which is perhaps the most discrete, which importance however also personified in Kant is perhaps the most relevant. It is the English connection that distinguished Königsberg itself yet in the range of the hanseatic cities. We are now not thinking of Königsberg's complex interdependence with the English world. Hamann's English adventure pales compared to this shade, that England has thrown on those parts of Germany, that could step directly in contact with him. And it could not be different. England's position, in the eighteenth century, was with every other states in the world totally incomparable, mainly France also included. To know, let alone to understand what happens in England, there was a necessary condition, that we know, let alone understand, about what is really happening in the world. And Königsberg was, in the course of the eighteenth century, much closer to England than to Berlin. Quite typically, appears this unconceivable situation at the first glance in the description of Kant's intellectual orientation. On the one hand, the following picture results: "... Kant has been only superficially touched by the drastic change that had begun to accomplish itself in relation with the world formed to poetry already since the middle of the eighteenth century. The redemption of the German poetry from the chains of the French taste, the return to truth and nature from the straightforward, hedged rails of the convenience, the liberation of emotion and passion of the suffocating constraints of the usage - Kant experienced this whole great revolution, without which to get a lasting impression ... "6 On the other hand - and we regard this as the great contribution of the now intellectually apprehended Königsberg - it is however so : "From the recent literature he takes most into consideration the English one. In addition to Milton, that was also to him the greatest modern poet, he names occasionally the most important English writers and poets of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries : Swift, Fielding, Butler, Johnson, Richardson, Sterne, Young (whose Night Thoughts he however could appreciate little), and Pope, who was his favorite poet".7

Another dimension of the possible philosophical reform steps in and for Königsberg towards a future Europe, which took form in Kant's person and work, was the adaptation of the natural sciences, or of their methodology far beyond the own limits. On the line of the German Enlightenment, this reception of the new natural sciences did not reveal just as determinant. As it is known, the natural sciences did not provide at all this clear discourse limit, as it has been somewhat the case in the French Enlightenment. Elements of the Newtonian mechanics could set foot in the German Enlightenment, without making explode general-harmonistic or even universalistic concepts, as well as the revolutionary nature vision of a Leibniz also toward the universalistic philosophical approaches. The manifestly growing contribution in Kant is the technical and in general the bourgeois reality, which was missing in the reception of new natural sciences and their methodology in most parts of Germany. It was this complex reality which knew what to begin with modern natural sciences and their methodology and was much more dependent on the social practice in general as well even on the culture level.

A fourth component, which is advisable with Kant in a unique philosophical turn in the direction of a future general attitude identifiable as European, is really the particular, nevertheless not uncritical, let alone anticritic attention for logics, mathematics, and formal thinking. Since Leibniz's formal thinking, up to the more geometrico of a Descartes or a Spinoza, from Christian Wolff up to the never quite fading ideal of the Euclidean geometry, experienced in the wake of the Enlightenment, or of the eighteenth century, two roles, however always confronted to each other. Either we decided to afford, leaning on formal thinking, a radical resistance to the triumph of the empiricism becoming also philosophical, or we slided the formal thinking and the formal coherence radically aside. As symbolically, Locke's white page personifies the unique radicality of the overcoming of the logic, also in the form of a logic of research.

It is also symbolic, that this perfectly new vision on the formal thinking precisely in Kant's criticism its highest realization experienced, even if we sociologically also should give space to Eugen Dühring's irony, with which he regards the exceptional estimation and transcendental philosophical emphasis of the logic as a simple reflex of the German eighteenth century, without which we could come to no reasonable things.8

The moments becoming specifically European, anticipated by Kant, can be even still united, which reaction to the challenge of the new scepticism emerged with Kant mainly from Hume's one. Hamann's Hume-reception can be interpreted with its global philosophical dimensions but also with the help of Gilles Deleuze's distinction between the "old" and the "new" scepticism. This distinction, originally formulated for an explanation of Hume is as such: "Unlike the old scepticism, based on the variety of sensual phenomena and errors of the senses, the modern scepticism is founded on the status of relations and their exteriority. The first act of the modern scepticism consisted in discovering the belief as basis of the recognition, it means, to naturalize the belief (positivism). The second act consists only in exposing the unjustified beliefs rather than to unmask those which do not follow the rules, which really produce a recognition (probabilism, probability calculation). But through a final refinement, the unjustified beliefs of the world appear in the third act, the Ego and God as the horizon of any possible justified conviction or as the lowest level of conviction. Since if everything is belief, even the recognition, then everything is a matter of levels of the belief... "9

However, there is no doubt that Kant has also understood Hume's new scepticism as "old" scepticism. It is exactly at this level of discourse, and through that decision, that he founded the base for a philosophical synthesis, which in the form of the mentioned triad should have been already characteristic for the whole future European philosophical development (again, we should emphasize: these European trains are not understood as those of such or such school).

Since besides, Europe became a political and intellectual continent which, facing the horizon (and in its name) of a disturbed history and a contradictory civilizatory development, has opposed a determinant resistance against the new scepticism. And this resistance has again a whole range of various concrete facets. First of course, the substantive reason ("Does Hume's scepticism make the recognition really impossible?"). It cannot however be denied, that this resistance also reveals an identity, if not just a civilisatory and therefore regional component. Hume's criticism has versus the phenomenon and the category of the causality standing in the center of any empiricist conception of recognition, philosophically or even culturally, a double face. The first face of this criticism finds effectively a contestable point in this epistemology through the evidence of the ultimate non-justifiability of the causality. Besides, this criticism creates effectively a "new" scepticism. Our question is vice versa so: is something really new said through this criticism of Hume on the causality?

Hume has changed by his criticism the empirical philosophy or the philosophical empiricism. Kant has changed through his criticism of Hume, the empirical philosophy and the philosophical empiricism again.

Hume has shown, that a coherent empirical philosophy cannot establish philosophically, through its own legitimate means, the basic causality relation. He identified a lack that was seen, according to his own principles, in a logic and consistent manner. Since it was precisely the empirical philosophy itself which, in its fixation on empirical-sensualist events, excluded the possibility of the statements on future events and facts.

Would had gone Hume's criticism of empiricism in this sense beyond this basic tautological character („an empirical philosophy excludes the possibility of the statements on future events and facts”), so it would have been inevitable that the Enlightenment break apart the empirical natural sciences and their methodological mind. That was simply not the case. The problematic of the causality leads straight to the same way as the one of the epistemology and practical knowledge, which leads again with the same uprightness to the fundamental and now holistic questions of the Enlightnement, rationality and disenchantment.

To achieve the completeness of this discussion, the complex character of this tautological criticism of Hume belongs to the causality. So unambiguously this criticism has put the finger on a relevant point of this philosophy, so inconceivable it would have been to think that this criticism could have kept seriously in its development the future consolidation of the empirical methods and natural sciences, the empirically based techniques and measuring procedures. This criticism has in fact not at all been able to influence this practice, no engineer in England can imagine, wanting to think about it during the design of mine tunnel, that the causality reveals no longer founded predicting content.10

Appropriately, Metzke notices: "Hamann’s relation to Hume... (is) to understand only in the context of the global argumentation with the Enlightenment..."11 These already many times mentioned isomorphic relations entail, that the various concrete argumentations just could consolidate directly as global argumentations. It is just the reason why the Königsberg fundamental discussion has an inestimable typological and historical value for the future European development.

In this holistic context, opening in front of us step by step, the no longer in general pending, by the way also the no longer specified assessments about Hamann cannot be represented as no longer qualified "opponent of the Enlightenment". The philosophy of the "subjectivity" envisaged by Hegel also ceases to apply, but also the "philosophy of the language" in the sense of the successive constantly new waves of the philosophical linguistic criticism, at least in the sense, that the linguistic criticism might no longer be represented as the positive definition of Hamann’philosophy without this determinant element of the post-Hume’s homogenization of the discourse. Against that, amongst others, Bruno Liebruck’s comprehensive analysis wins in relevance (with the center of the sentence as understood by him : "reason is language"), maybe however in the general assessment, categorization and typologization of Hamann’s philosophy, the holism of comprehensive argumentations with the Enlightenment, the rationality and the scientism, the problematic of the "new" scepticism, the specific homogeneization of convictions and recognitions, as well as the attitude of the metaphysics criticism on the basis of a non-positive position will play an appropriate role.

Königsberg is then the place of the highest and most important basic argumentations of its time. A basic argumentation inside the basic argumentations is however Kant’s criticism in itself. Since Kant doesn’t realize a philosophical criticism "only" of the philosophical empiricism or of the philosophical rationalism (or furthermore of the formal thinking). Kant’s criticism consolidates already the various criticisms and represents an homogeneous philosophical criticism of the (philosophical) empiricism, of the (philosophical) rationalism and of the formal sciences!

On this basis, Hamann’s romantism can be integrated in a great line (also) of the future European thinking. It is about a line of philosophical approaches, certainly not thoroughly continuous in its reactivity, that wanted to take position against the gradually progression of the "disenchantment of the world" (Max Weber). One fundamental enunciation of Hamann about this profound process is the following: "You make the nature blind…You want to dominate the nature and you tie yourself hands and feet through the stoicism, to be able to influence all the more touchy on the diamond-like chains of the fate in your mixed poems".12 In this thinkings, we find almost every motives, which make Hamann’s position in the articulation of the thinkings of the "disenchantment of the world" so pragmatic. The godless philosophizing is accused. "The blind-making of the nature" anticipates almost literally Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s thesis in the Dialectic of the Enlightenment.

Hamann’s philosophical effort is therefore not satisfied with the battle against the process of the disenchantment, it enlarges – in sign of the comprehensive argumentations generalizing quickly - which also become in the future European identity indeed constantly really typical – this mission also already in the direction of a deliberate new enchantment of the world.

When his contemporaries named him the "magician (magus) of the north", they understood him astonishingly as perspicace. 13 At a place, he absolutely requests god to "enchant" again the world : "You, that tore up the heaven and came down from it ! – before whose arrival mountains made up, like water hotly spirts out of the violent fire, in order your name amongst your enemies, that nevertheless learn to fear him, in front of the miracles, that you realize, which we don’t perceive! – Let new wisps rise in the East ! – Let the curiosity of their Magi be aroused through the new star, to bring us their treasures on the earth – Myrrh ! Incense ! and their Gold ! What interests us more als their magic !"14 It is certainly no simple, but a really complex irony from Hamann’s part, if he concludes his appeal on a new anthropomorphization of the thinking with a remark on "gold", i.e. on an all too evident symbol of the "disenchanted-rational" world.

Behind Hamann’s efforts, we can also recognize a general tendency in the future Königsberg discussion, becoming determinant for the whole Europe, which appears absolutely as a focus of the battle against the disenchantment. We could name this tendency as the one of a levelling of the already differentiated specifically scientist discourses in a little differentiated complex of all other forms of discourses, which is equivalent with a potential homogeneization, if not even a potential levelling of all forms of discourses. This means no opened anti-scientism or (at that time anyhow still unhistorical) anti-positivism, rather more the taking back of the qualification of the scientific relativizing the other forms of discourses, than the excellent criterion of the truth. The language of the science becomes a language amongst the numerous other possible languages. That Hermann Glockner takes, for the same reasons, Hamann for an "irrational hothead", for a member of the irrationalist current, is surely comprehensible, however cannot be considered, in our eyes, as a really concurrential expression for Hamann’s battle agains the "disenchantment".15

The very strict Königsberg discussion creates a range of philosophical reference points which, in this form or in a modified form, dominate the whole future European philosophy. A new detailed, but pre-scientist ontology emerges with Hamann against the epistemologic difficulty with Kant. The urge toward the immediateness emerges against the necessary providing of the human experience. On the one hand, a holistic thinking emerges against the analysis, on the other hand (as it will be still later evoked), a totally new historicism. A vision of the unity emerges against the analytical division and dissolution.16 A new philosophical global vision of the originality, not yet required until now, emerges against the constant mediation. And where the stipulated discursivity becomes the focus of attention, a rational idea of divulgation, philosophically new and also holistic and fundamental emerges. Besides, this philosophical discussion becomes also, in historical and civilisatory dimensions, a global argumentation. In the holistic generalization, Hamann’s positions win a pecular validity, what means also a lot, with regard to the Königsberg discussion, that the various positions can revendicate the truth for themselves, certainly not in the same way, none of them can however philosophically be named reprehensible. Like Höffding formulates it : "... Partly, his remarks are not only directed against Kant’s philosophy, but against all philosophies, indeed absolutely all researches"17. His attitude directed against all possible main currents is thematized and experienced even by himself. It was characteristic for the friendly and human Königsberg atmosphere, that he made mention not rarely to Kant18 in his attitude, and his meta-criticism against Kant cannot be publicized in his lifetime. Numerous contrary acts are visible, begun with Socrate, whose non-knowledge has interpreted Hamann in favour of the healthy human intelligence versus the alienated knowledge19.

In this universal argumentation of the disenchantment and of the recall of the disenchantment, Herder’s position appears as third position absolutely as well rightly, as the one of the philosophical historicism in a very general ideal-typical sense. Surely, Herder does not achieve explicitely the most mature form of the universal thinking, which Europe through Hegel, still more through Marx, will so durably imprint.20 Herder does not associate yet the epistemological with the universal-historical pole à la Hegel.

There is however no doubt, that Herder’s universal-historical thinking carries in itself already obviously this possibility, through which he can be rightly designated, near Kant and Hamann, as the third of the real Königsberg forerunners of the future European philosophy.21

The Königsberg discussion applies also, facing the whole future history of the European philosophy and of the philosophy teaching, as a very particular situation.22 Königsberg’s common ground is often thematical in the history of the philosophy without having wanted to draw from it really the conscious and ambitious consequences for the whole future European development. In this respect, there is an exception with Bertrand Russel, whose results we must absolutely not agree upon and behind whose opinion, the inner existing inequalities, intact until today, of the apparently so united European space have to be discovered in absolute clarity.23

Hermann Glockner formulates it so : Hamann, Herder (with Jacobi) achieved "a questioning", "which can become sufficient only through surely appropriate undogmatic-profane free-spirit of the present, limiting itself however no longer to a systematical new victory of the whole European inheritance of the problem... This question is still unresolved..."24 To solve this problem, we hope in the accomplishment of a certain contribution. Out of the previously mentioned moments, we would emphasize finally a context thematized by Hegel : "...After that the reason had imposed, now with also the study of the other sciences, anyhow of the mathematics, under this form, the general teaching and the scientific culture, it begins now to get out of the school and its scholastic form and to discuss, in a popular way, with its principles, all interests of the spirit, the positive principles of the church, of the state, of the right..."25

The destiny of the Kantian philosophy is however not only linked, in this negative relation, with the great Leibniz-Wolffian school-philosophical narrativum of his century. His philosophy establishes also positive alternatives to the official metaphysics.

In this context, Kant’s philosophy emerges and is surely linked, in a triple respect, with the school-philosophy. This triple link reveals also as determinant for the whole future European philosophy. On the one hand, Kant’s philosophy applies fundamentally (if not also exclusively), as a critical and extremely deliberate overcoming of Leibniz-Wolff’s metaphysics. On the other hand, Kant’s philosophy applies also as overcoming of Leibniz-Wolff’s metaphysics also as school-philosophy. And thirdly, Kant’s philosophy applies, mainly because of the systematically-complete discussion of the various questionings, because of the consequence of the hermeneutical and didactic aspects, as well as because of the excellent coherence of the new philosophical terminology of the semantics, also as a new positive school-philosophy alternative.

The context exists however also in the opposed direction. Teaching is therefore, under all circumstances, a theory. The needs of the school-philosophy transpose themselves to philosophical contents. Kant raises the pre-alloying logic of the school-philosophy toward an entire philosophical strategy. As well in the concrete (the characterizing description of the various knowledge forces builds also with him the spine of the ideology) as in the abstract (the differences of these forces form the real philosophical conception), he keeps this fundamental structure, also if he attributes perfectly new definitions to the miscellaneous contents.

The incomparable coherence of the Kantian philosophy of the criticism constitutes on the basis of the permanent transformation of the school-philosophical structures. One of the very illustrative examples of this relevant coherence, also under the sociological aspect of knowledge, is a comparison accompanying the whole future European discussion between opinions, convictions and knowledge (VI, 495). These distinctions found, on their side, again the dichotomy of rationalism and empiricism and even out of school-philosophical considerations, we could accept the thesis with comprehension, according to which the "historical" conviction, not so much the conviction, would rather more be a knowledge (VI, 408), whilst the reversal of this thesis would already be impossible (the conviction cannot become any subject of the knowledge of the reason).

The great philosophy coincides with the school-philosophy also in the questioning, if we can learn philosophy, and if yes, how (VI, 448, 449). The introductive thesis (every philosophy builds on the ruins of the precedent ones, and for these reasons, we cannot then learn philosophy, because there is yet no philosophy) wins unexpectedely concrete contents through the confrontation of the needs of the school-philosophy and Kant’s new philosophy. The distantiation of the school-philosophy position appears however identical with the response given to this question. It proves that the knowledge of a philosophy is not identical with the "learnt" philosophy, since the "true" philosophy (here the aspect of the philosophical needs!) is equivalent to the ability of the free and independent thinking !

Kant’s continual argumentation with the subject school-philosophy, during his whole life, attained its apogee in these definitions, in which he deliberately confronts the "school concept" of the philosophy with the one of the "world concept" (XI, 446). He explains the fundamental conceptual differences of both philosophies through social, sociological and pedagogical grounds, whilst he permanently informs on the "insoluble" and "eternal" dichotomy of "world" and "school". Whilst the definitions of the school philosophy are as a whole inside the conceptions of Leibniz-Wolff’s metaphysics, those of the world philosophy are outside. Because of this insoluble confrontation of these philosophies (world and school), these both philosophies – well European – cannot have a directly polemical and agressive relation. It becomes besides still more complex, that the three criticisms are not yet "world philosophies" according to this conception, they only apply as their critical grounds. It is nevertheless very clear until the emergence of the world philosophy, that we must at school proceed "socratically" by the constitution of the reason toward possibility (XII, 734)... 26

In April 1795, the peace has been signed in Basel between the republic of the French Revolution, come to power, and the Prussian monarchy with its hotile tendency towards this revolution. This act of peace appears as a true and solid bridge between the European historical tradition (time before the revolution) and the political Modern Age (time after the revolution). Immanuel Kant’s "Zum ewigen Frieden" experienced not only a resonance above the average in Europe, but has become also, even through his theses a strong component of what happened later in and through Europe.

The conceopt of autonomy, also in this work, has been many times chosen as basis of the political sphere. The "honour" and the "dignity" of the man appear as independent pole and cornerstone, without this one can be thought as developped system of the political. In there, Kant’s philosophical ability constituting in a great extent the rare and future ideal Europe clearly expresses, with the help of which he can lead the fundamental human and moral basic values and attitudes on a quiet and straight way in the space of the social and political action. This exceptional ability, and until today never repeated, allowed him to distinguish the various philosophical fields, strictly shaping the discourse (which we would today prefer to describe as "subsystems"), not to mix up politics with morals, ethics with aesthetics, religion and right and to carry out, perfectly and without errors, the categorization of the various representational contents unter the category of the individual subsystems.

In which extent, this ability has increased the analytical potentials of this philosophy also in the political, can be easily observed. And this conception of the various forms of discourse reveals as determinant for the genuine European development. Morals do not oppress politics. Aesthetics is in any respect liberated by ethics. The specific problematic of the political power can also be investigated and described in a refreshing clarity and evidence, without that its clear definitions had been shadowed by the conceptuality of other subsystems or modified in an undesirable way – demonizing or minimizing.

If we systemize the thought process of the Kantian Zum ewigen Frieden, we are then confronted with a profoundly uniform and perfectly coherent train of thought. The first preliminary article leads already to the center of the problematic of peace. That Kant conceives this thesis "with the experience of the past", goes without saying. He would have however surprised himself most intensively, if he could have perceived the validity of this first preliminary article in the only still coming future for him. Since a considerable range of peace acts of Europe’s post-Napoleonic wars, of the revolution wars after 1848-1849, of the Versailles peace work in 1871, without speaking at all of the Versailles’ peace of the years 1918-1919, provides as well a tragical as also ironical confirmation of this first thesis of Kant, according to which no peace work may contain in itself the "material" for "a" (future) war.27 If we have a look on this list of the peace works having failed, under this aspect, then emerges the correction of this thesis in the form, that these peace treaties contained in themselves "material" not for "a" (future) war, but also for "several" future wars. An evident relation to the present can be established also with the information on the nuclear arm technology, that had eliminated the military solutions for the whole historical age.

Other relations to the present can however also be emphasized from the Kantian preliminary article. The preliminary article has somewhat a multiple relevance, that puts the question about the legitimity of the permanent armies in principle as practically in an evidence, that might experience the same evident echo maybe mainly only in 1989, in which historical moment the sense of any whole metasystems of the permanent armies is put in question, that has been built hypertrophically by the world divided in two parts, erected after 1945.

Maybe, the fourth preliminary article of the work acts still more prophetically today, which thematizes the expected indebtedness of the state due to the warfare. We would not have to take only in account the fact that the problematic of the state finances is mostly drawn illegitimately from the whole problematic of the state and politics, but also, that Kant associates in an unequivocal way certainly the expected indebtedness of the state with a criticism of the political elite conducting the war. This idea is one of those, that Francis Fukuyama, maybe because of the criticism of his penchant for Hegel, finds again in and with Kant. 28

The sixth preliminary article, as also the whole work, contains however also other relevant informations on the problematic of the globalization or on the problematic of the war and of the peace of our days. In the field of the problematic of the globalization and of the worldwide peace politics, nothing has however changed as it should have changed according to usual ideologies. And if we had previously to mention Francis Fukuyama, it is then imperative to speak of Samuel S. Huntington, whose theory on a "Clash of Civilizations" chooses the same notion of the hospitality, as starting point, as Kant also demands in the frame of the preliminary article. Since straight and only then, a true conflict of civilizations can absolutely appear, if the hospitality demanded by Kant does not develop and besides if the geographical-topographical sharing of the earth already becomes alone a potential minefield. The hospitality is clearly with the civilization, the one that makes possible the true globalization through the sharing of the geographical space motivated by the hospitality. The exceptional importance of the year 1989 for the acceleration of the globalization process has also to be explained partly with this question complex, since this year brought that the globalization dynamics could cross over the really hard boarder of the Iron Curtain. Again in confrontation with the Kantian ideas about the "eternal peace", it can be made clear what the element of the "information society" means for the today worldwide situation. Since the technical elements of information and networks make possible for the world the perfect consolidation of the global network.

Another relevant line can be drawn between Kant and the today problematic in the context of the possibility or the impossibility of a world state. In Kant’s universally historical attempt, it is (also) clear that a world state is essentially not possible, even if his idea might have indeed been in principle the most adequate solution for a global world (or, as it is the case with Kant, for an "eternal peace"). It results from it, that the remaining solution is a (world) federation, which remains however rather in the principles. Since only states of roughly same size or force can evolve to a real federation, a federation of unequal force states is namely, in the true sense of the word, no federation.

Another relevant dimension of the common ground between two historical situations (which are indeed always 200 years away from each other) results from Kant’s demand, that "maxims" agree only with right and politics together, if they "require publicity", i.e. if they are public in the general sense. 29 That right and politics "combine" the public, i.e. support and legitimize, politics legally and right politically, can be considered as a specificity of the global process. New and of new type problems arise on the soil of the realized universality of the public, as for example, the private property, democratically and finally although the appearance however not legitimable, of global and widespread on the earth electronic mass media.

The today topical sharing of the diverse political systems on the earth creates a new and also still theoretically provocative context for Kant’s fifth preliminary article, that enunciates the principle of non-intervention of a state in the constitution of another state. The modern formulation is not accidental, since straight with the French Revolution, appeared in Europe only the possibility, that in Europe states or entities live close to each other with "different constitutions", or „different social orders” besides emerges only also the possibility, that a state, in the frame of the international interactions, can modify also the constitution of another state. The real core of the future problematic itself is with Kant already clearly thematical. To reach an "eternal peace", all states must (should) be also republican. This does not even mean with Kant that, for such a peace work, all states become at once "republican" (in the present language usage: "democratic"). It means that, for peace projects, some states are temporarily "republicanized", in order the peace work can be realized.30

The three definitive articles following the preliminary articles are of the same relevance for the future European thinking as well as for the future European structures. The first definitive article enunciates the necessity for the civil constitution to be in each state "republican", the second contains the idea of the federalism of the free states, whilst the third expresses about "world civil right" as limited to the conditions of the general hospitality.

The first definitive article has no direct relation with the universally historical problematic, it is all the more important, in an indirect way, for a permanent democratic-theoretical profound investigation of the European present. It is about the Kantian distinction between the persons, "who hold the highest governmental authority” and the government type "of the people through its head leader".31 To summarize, emerges from this distinction a matrix, in which state forms as "autocratic republicanism", "autocratic despotism", "aristocratic republicanism", "democratic republicanism" and finally "democratic despotism" can be defined. This whole matrix can reveal through the analysis of the democracy of our days as a totally useful horizon.

It is however a significative and theoretically challenging confrontation, if Kant’s last argument for a development in the direction of the eternal peace is compared with the fundamental and evident contents of our days. In this dilemma, Kant adopts a position, that can take its place only between Adam Smith and the Hegel of the "List der Vernunft". It means, that he pleads for a spontaneity which, "as the nature does it", deploys also against the intentions of the individual actors in the good direction.

The fundamental types of the ethical judgement formation go very often also over into the ideological-religious field and as such become fundamental components of the modern European history. In the course of the European historical process, the ethics built up materially in a typological point of view transformed in a formal one, however, so that the constitutive role of the material elements marking the christianity are also preserved.

If we want to define generally the "formal" judgement formation, then the moments of the individual moral autonomy, those of the operatively and autonomously executive constitution of the ethical decision and of the necessity of the universally valid formulability of the various ethical contexts as well as those of the transparency of the formal regulation of the right judgement formation must be emphasized. On the contrary, the type of the "material" ethics defines the ethical judgement formation in pursuing generally recognized values and goods defined in front of the ethical community, where the current life-world events have to be related in correlation with this previously defined values and goods. From these definitions, it follows that the material ethics is already hierarchized from the beginning since "values" and "goods" stipulate as necessary a coherent and hierarchical order.

Any great school of the ethical judgement formation has its hidden social-ontological conditions.

The formal type of the judgement formation contains the social-ontological moment of the human freedom, which uncomprimising emphasis, forgetting completely the so-called "realities" with Kant, produces many times resistances and amazements. It is different in the case of the type of the material ethics. In this case, the values and goods centralized in the ethical judgement formation accept already, in the purely ethical context, the social-ontological dimensions, since without these real ontological or quasi-ontological relations, no "material" hierarchy of the values and goods could absolutely exist.

As "material" in the future systems of the philosophical ethics in Europe (for instance with Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx or Nietzsche), it reveals that, from an ethical point of view, they all come clearly from identifiable material values. These material components reveal however as non-apriori, as non-without conditions, as heteronomous and as products of specific intellectually-constructivist operations.

In the main current of the philosophical ethics in Europe (for instance with Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx or Nietzsche), "formal" trains manifest themselves however also. All four contained the affinity toward the general validity, a kind of contextual autonomy. All four consider each other as the optimum genre, what is certainly firstly not ethical optimum, can however also in a secondary way be adequate to grant the various actions their general validity, taken in the formal sense.

It pleads for Kant’s importance, that the examplarily dealt with philosophical schools of the European main current all preserve the most essential element of the "formal" ethics, while they persist with the general validity and the personal freedom and sovereignty. They however do not construct directly the leading maxim corresponding to these conditions (i.e. not as it should happen really in the pure type of the formal ethics). Between the perception of the concrete situation and of the ("formal") construction of the leading maxims, they engage the act of an intellectual-constructive operation, which is dedicated, on the basis of a specific reflexion, to definitely decide, if the concerned fact effectively does or does not correspond to the "formal" conditions of the ethical judgement formation. This intellectual-constructive operation contains undoubtedly the element of the meaning and interpretation, which in many cases can be realized through extremely demanding and complicated intellectual steps.

Selected Literature:




1 Even Hamann is concerned with the fact that his great adversary, Kant, enjoys too much the social pleasures : "Really at that time Master Kant was the gallantest man of the world, wore laced clothes, a postillon d'amour and visited all the coteries" Quoted by Höffe, 1983, 29
2 Zippel, 1898, 113-114.
3 Friedlaender, 1874, 4.
4 Kant, 1977, 400. (Restriction in the original)
5 Kant, 1977, 400. (Restriction in the original)
6 Friedlaender, 1974, 6.
7 Ibidem, 6-7.
8 "He took the material, with which he (Christian Wolff - EK) filled his episodes and paragraphs, eclectically from the next sources, i.e. from the existing Aristotelian school traditions and from the collection already gathered from Leibniz... The philosophy had in Germany still remained a too exclusively matter for the universities, rather than a freer type of movement and investigation could be determinant. The removal of the pedantic forms would have had immediately against itself the prejudice of the enigmatic, and yet a Kant would not have considered at the end of the eighteenth century, his own system as fully valid, if the core of his critical ideas would have been submitted to him in a simple essay without the affectations of the scholastic flourish works" (Duhring, 1869, 380).
9 Deleuze, 1972,62.
10 S. about it Hume's following sentence : "The philosophy would make us radical sceptics, would it not be our nature, which allows us to be realists" (v. Streminger, 1994, 326). Here there is another crossroad between Hume and Hamann. Hume confesses here what we called the "tautological" character of his criticism, whilst Hamann creates his real philosophical discourse. Here, we can also say, that straight during the post-Hume turn, Hamann’s philosophy comes back, at a high and specific level, also to the structures of the everyday consciousness. Amongst others, this philosophy can transpose any representationality, any distinct discourse in its own language and can express it in its "homogeneized" form. An explicite example of Hamann for this polemic content clearly beyond the positive vision of the everyday consciousness : " ...the philosophical goddess ... is a proven reliable friend of the stupid (!)..." (Hamann, 1968, 43).
11 Metzke, 1934, 195. - This also indirectly explains why Hamann often identifies himself with Hume, and just as often can dissociate himself from him. S. for example Metzke, 1934. 196.
12 Socratic Memoirs - Aesthetica in nuce, 1968, 119. (Restrictions : Endre Kiss).
13 One of the numerous Hegel’s interpretable texts sounds as follows : “It rather more comes from Hamann’s above mentioned opinions about Kant’s criticism and the various remarks of his writings and definitions, as well as from his whole specificity, that this spirit becomes indeed aware of the necessity of the scientific nature, the necessity of the content and to see it developping and proving just as much in this form, when the thinking was for him far from satisfying. The Enlightenment, which Hamann fights against, this evolution, the thinking and its freedom to make valid in all interest fields of the spirit, is evaluated only by him, as well as the freedom of the thinking carried out by Kant, even if (also) at first only formal and if also rightly the conceptions, to which this thinking led, could not be sufficient, then he grumbles so, to say the word, at random indeed against the thinking and the reason, that can be alone the true mean of any known deployment of the truth and its growing up to the state of philosophical tree.” (Hamann’s writings, 331).
14 Aesthetica in nuce, 131. (Restriction : E.K.) - And here again, an appeal to the new enchantment of the world : “Virtuosi of the present Aeon that make GOD THE LORD fall in a deep sleep ! Their few nobles! Take advantage of this sleep and build from a rib of this Endymion the new task of the human soul, that the bard of the midnight hymns in his morning dream, - -however not close. The next Aeon is waken up like a giant from its inebriety to embrace your muse and to exult the testimony : This is bone from my bone, flesh from my flesh !' (Ibidem, 93-94).
15 Glockner, 1958, 606 and 620.
16 S. Vorlaender, 1932, 342.
17 Höffding, 1896. 120
18 He compares himself at a place with a man, whose illness attributes to his passion the force to think and feel, what somebody healthy does not own” (Letter to Kant – Juli 27th, 1759).
19 Another striking example : “The reason is not given to us to become wiser, but to recognize a folly and ignorance...” Ibidem.
20 If we define Marx culturally-sociologically and civilization-critically (then in the first range not immanently philosophically) as the thinker, who has defined the agenda of the social discussion on the long term, then the true historical importance of the historicism can clearly realize in the European specific thinking.
21 About the infinite quantity of Herder’s creative innovations in the historical thinking or in the philosophy of the language, we could only account for it in a specially constructed monography. Herder is besides several times a victim of the future philosophical development. On the one hand, his innovations disapppear, so that we forget quickly that they had their origin with him. On the other hand, he is the victim of the future and ideological argumentations, which also clearly simplified him farther.
22 Schneider, 1993, 197.
23 “The fourth metaphysical argument is chiefly concerned to prove that space is an intuition, not a concept. Its premiss is ‘space is an infinite given magnitude.’ This is the view of a person living in a flat country, like that of Königsberg; I do not see how an inhabitant of an Alpine valley could adopt it. It is difficult to see how anything infinite can be ‘given’ “.Russel, 1947,742-443.
24 Glockner, 580
25 Hegel, 1956, 278.
26 We mention Kant’s remarks in the following work : Immanuel Kant, Works in 12 volumes. Frankfurt/ Main, 1968. Published by Wilhelm Weischedel.
27 Immanuel Kant, Zum ewigen Frieden. In : I.K., Schriften zur Anthropologie, Geschichtsphilosophie, Politik und Paedagogik 1. Work issue, Volume XI. Published by Wilhelm Weischedel. Frankfurt/Main, 1977. 196.
28 Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man. New York - Toronto, 1992. 262.
29 Zum ewigen Frieden, 248.
30 The most important example was, taken in the exact Kantian sense, the "republicanization" of the Soviet Union in the second world war.
31 Zum ewigen Frieden, 206.

© Endre Kiss (Budapest)

home.gif (2030 Byte)buinst.gif (1751 Byte)        Inhalt: Nr. 6

Webmeister: Gerald Mach
last change 2012-01-08