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No. 12: More Against the Metaphysics of Civilization

  • Kantbot

  • July 5, 2014

I wrote this up as a comment to this post by Anarcho-Papist, thought I’d put it up here as well.

“This nobody, where is he?” – Euripides, “Cyclops”

Society isn’t a “metaphysically real being” though, and I think, philosophically, you have a lot more ground to lay before you can simply assert that it is by linking to that post. All you’ve done there is introduce an analogy, and again, I respond by saying that you’ve confused objective society, ie the state, and subjective society.

In your analogy, people, in the physical dimension of their existence, are cells comprising a ‘real’ body, that body being the physical-legal state, not Society, which is only the regulative idea of absolute subjectivity. You’re arguing essentially that because cells of the body constitute the physical person, therefore the soul must also be an object of possible experience. That simply doesn’t follow though. The state is the physical person, Universal Man/Absolute Subjectivity/The Psychological Idea of Pure Reason is the soul.

Your analogy then is a flimsy and altogether questionable basis for your whole Neo-Sociology/Metaphysics of Civilization stuff. Really you’re just repeating the logical error that gave rise to the ideologies you oppose, all you’re doing is creating Neo-Neo-Marxism, what’s the point?

I remember you saying once that Marx was right, he just got the actual classes wrong. As in, it’s not the proletariat and the bourgeois, but the BDH-OV. Schiller’s political analysis in many ways prefigures and I think is in a sense Marxist, he too derives two classes, the Savages and the Barbarians. What makes him superior is that he understands these classes not as objective ‘classes’ within society, but manifestations or aspects of the mind’s transcendental impulses to sensuous diversity and rational formality. It is not the conflict of these classes that give rise to history, it is the antagonism of the sensuous and formal impulses of the mind.

To turn these into objective classes or groups within society is to hypostatize the structure of the soul, to make the form, or structure of history part of the objective content of history, which it isn’t. History is a novel, and the form of the novel, or any genre of art, is merely the moral principle or law which directs our thinking in judging phenomena according to some whole or end.

This is where teleology comes into play.

“The final aim to which all the laws tend is called the end of any style of poetry. The means by which it attains this are its form. The end and form are, therefore, closely related. The form is determined by the end, and when the form is well observed the end is generally attained. Each kind of poetry having a special end must have a distinguishing form. What it exclusively produces it does in virtue of this special nature it possesses.”

-Schiller, “On the Art of Tragedy”

The end determines the form, or principle of judgement, in the determination of its own boundary. This is what Jarno means when he tells Wilhelm “Man is not happy until his unrestricted striving determines for itself its own limits.” The end, or whole, is merely the *idea* of the infinite number of possible ways in which the general concept can manifest itself. In that sense the idea is regulative only, not first-order, positive, constitutive. It is second-order, conditional, transcendental rather.

The idea of Kant’s Psychological Idea of Pure Reason is this, epistemologically speaking the “Therefore” proposition of a categorical syllogism represents a ‘new’ piece of knowledge. Kant derives the Psychological Idea (“Society”) as the First Idea of Pure Reason as the absolute subject of the categorical syllogism, meaning it is the ultimate category in which all other categories either real or possible are contained. In order for the synthetic judgement of the categorical syllogism to produce knowledge there must be some final knowledge forever outside of the sphere of what it can know. Setting something outside of that sphere is the only way to give that sphere existence, some limits to space must be defined, so the Absolute Subject then acts as that limit. In other words it is *regulative*.

The form or structure of the history of society must therefore be the principle restricting the ability of history to realize its end, which we must set completely outside of history as eternally regulative as all historical phenomena are manifestations of this idea and it would ultimately be paradoxical for the infinity of all possible manifestations to become a manifestation of itself…

“Scarcely has the philosophical observer commenced to dwell upon the materials of universal history, when a new impulse becomes active in his mind, which leads him irresistibly to trace events to a general law of development, and to determine the idea from which they flow as their generating principle. The more frequently and successfully he renews the attempt of uniting the past with the present, the more he will be disposed to unite in the relation of means to end what has manifested itself to his mind as cause and effect. One phenomenon after another ceases to stand before him as the product of blind chance, of lawless anarchy, and becomes an harmonious element in a concordant whole, of which he, it is true, only possesses an intellectual perception. Very soon he finds it difficult to persuade himself that this succession of phenomena which, to his mind, seems so full of regularity and design, does not possess these qualities in reality; he finds it difficult to resign under the blind rule of necessity what had begun to assume such a luminous shape under the borrowed light of the understanding. Out of his own reason he transfers this harmony into the order of things; in other words, he arranges the cause of things under a rational end, he introduces a teleological principle into universal history. In company with this principle he again wanders through the labyrinth of history, examining in its mirror every phenomenon which the great stage presents to his mind. He sees the same phenomenon confirmed by a thousand facts, and refuted by as many more; but as long as important links remain wanting in the series of the world’s changes; as long as destiny keeps back the ultimate explanation of so many events, he declares the question as undecided, and the victory is awarded to the opinion that offers more satisfaction to the understanding, and a higher degree of happiness to the heart.”

-Schiller, “On the Lawfulness of History”

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