Immanuel Kant, revisited (Perspective)
by Dr. Parviz Dehghani
Immanuel Kant, revisited
What is it about this person, who has been capturing the imagination of millions of people all over the world? Kant (1724-1804) without exaggeration was the Beethoven of philosophy in the 18th century. He studied philosophy in Konigsberg, which is part of Russia today, where he was born, raised, and eventually died. He never left that small town. Well, you can read the biographical account of his life on your own, if it is very important to you. However, I rather listen to Beethoven’s music than worrying about the life he lived, although that is also important.
Who was he? He came from a protestant family, who were pietistic. He lost his mother early when he was 13 years old. He never got married and was single for the rest of his life. But what does all this have to do with his philosophy? Perhaps love of women was never developed in him, because he lost his mother when he was very young. Who knows? I’m not a psychologist. Nonetheless, Kant’s thoughts are worth studying in depth.
My philosophy is very much like the Copernican revolution, he said. Copernicus mathematically figured it was the earth, which revolved around itself and also around the sun. Where is the similarity here? I personally don’t see any. However, when we look a little deeper, we can understand why Kant used Copernicus’ achievement as an analogy. Kant argued that in the past our mind was treated like a mirror reflecting the world. But it is time to turn the table around and let the world be the mirror reflecting us and our mind’s categories. Just as Copernicus turned everything 180 degree around, I have also done something similar, he claimed. The difference, however, is in the fact that what Copernicus did was that he removed not only the earth from the center, but he moved man from the center of the universe too. Man, according to Copernicus, was no longer playing a central role in the world. Let us not forget that he didn’t down grade human being by so doing. After all, it was the mind of Copernicus who discovered what he did. This happened in the physical world. But Kant put man back in the center intellectually. What Copernicus did has, nevertheless, a mystical meaning. If we take the sun as the Ultimate Reality, then we as well as the planet, revolve around it in the manner of worship. We’re here reminded of the annual pilgrimage by the Muslims to Mecca in which they circumambulate around Ka’bah in a counter clock wise. The eye of the hurricane once observed from the above is like this cubic reality built by Adam as the house of God. Let us remember that our planet also revolves around the sun in a counter clock wise manner once is looked at from the north pole star Polaris. (The internet)
According to Plato, the whole universe is reflecting the Forms of perfection. Even Aristotle’s formal cause is reflecting Plato’s Form. In Aristotle’s project form needs matter and vice versa. For example, the statue of David is hidden in the marble until Michael Angelo brought it out. One might say Christ also was also reflecting God the father while he was in this world. Jesus said, whosoever has seen me, has seen my father too. Christ is a mirror reflecting the sun. But, according to Kant the world is reflecting our categories. For Plato, on the other hand, the world is reflecting the Forms. We can consolidate Plato and Jesus. However, Kant is very much Aristotelian even though he might not want to admit it. Although Protestants claimed Plato for themselves, Kant went after Aristotle in that he seems to have reduced reality to what mind has to offer. He had come from a very religious family. The starry, starry above was not Kant’s subjectivism. It was rather his mother’s faith in the natural law. By using Aristotle’s logic of either/or for ethics, Kant turned his back to the former’s virtue ethics. When he tried to bridge the gap between rationalism and empiricism he was still follower of the former. He showed the limit of pure reason as if he knew the unlimited Reason, namely the Intellect. The plane still is flying even with one engine while the other engine pieces were falling down. The pure reason is very much like those broken parts falling by way of gravity towards the dark earth, where as the plane which is flying above the cloud is touched by the sun which is always shining any way. The plane is the Intellect or the unlimited Reason.
Christ is the word or logos. The word became flesh and came among us. Plato’s Form of the Good also had its reflection in this word. The formal cause of Aristotle is reflecting the transcendent Form of Plato. By reflecting, we’re participating in Plato’s Forms. As we mentioned before, according to Kant the world is reflecting our mind’s categories. This mind is not purified like the minds of the saints. Through the participation in these categories, the world becomes my construct, because we’re seeing the world by way of these widows. In reality my mind is on the set of the theater. I am observing my mind and its categories. This world is not the objective realm of the natural law. It is the subjective manifestation of my mind. We’re in reality living in our own world, namely, in a bubble. I am basically looking at my mind in which there’s no true Self and no unlimited Reason. My knowledge doesn’t come from the experiencing of this world, because it is nothing but the projection of my own mind. If my knowledge came from this world, then it would mean it emerges from my reason, which put me back with the rationalist camp, because the world out there corresponds to my categories. It sounds like Kant failed to bridge the gap between mind and body, namely, Cartesian dualism. Descartes created a house divided against itself, which Christ and Abraham Lincoln both said shall not stand. It seems as if Kant opened the door to idealism, which put him back with Bishop Berkeley.
For Kant the world is like an empty room with several tall, narrow mirrors standing against the wall reflecting me. I make the world I live in. When Buddha said, “all the phenomena of existence… are made of mind”. (The Twin Verses—Canto I) he didn’t mean individual mind or my mind or your mind. What he must have meant was everything is made of pure consciousness.
When Kant argued that our knowledge starts with experience but doesn’t come from it, he must have been thinking of an objective world. However, the world out there is subjective, not objective for him. Either the world is my construct or not. If it is, then it must be subjective. How can he claim that he created a wedding between rationalism and empiricism, or mind and body for that matter? You cannot have your cake and eat it too. There’s a difference between saying the whole world is made of the Intellect than our unpurified reason or mind. This is modern rationalism, which means Kant was unable to bring empiricism and rationalism together. He, in fact, impoverished the real rationalism of Socrates and Plato, to put it mildly. One might think with a closed system like Kant’s subjectivism, Descartes’ dualism of mind and body is taken care of. However, this is not the case at all, because the noumenon realm is still unknown to us. We all create our worlds and live in them. We create our own Gods and worship them. We build our own houses and try to turn them into homes. We usually have hard time to look beyond the scope of where we’re. The world is our minds. What is my knowledge? It is definitely not a vertical one. If I say my knowledge begins with experience, then the question is, experiencing what world? If the world is nothing but the projection of my categories, then what I am experiencing is what comes from my own mind. Mr. Kant you have closed the door to the world beyond the room of your mind. We’re back to the world of Plato’s cave of opinions. Once God is removed from the main door through analytic statement, then there’s no way out of Plato’s cavern. The images on the wall of the cave now are our categories. We live in our own world chained. Here there’s no sea war commander to ask the guard to unchain Ben Hur. When Ben Hur was unchained, then he was able to reach the sea of the truth. Once he was unshackled, he freed as many as he could before he was out of the galley and dived into the sea. If one of Kant’s students had been able to free himself and get out, he would then have seen people walking in front of a bon fire creating images on the wall below. What he would have observed were the categories of his mind on the wall of the cave. If he could finally get out of the dungeon entirely, then he would see the sun shining. Kant seems to have kept us in the basement of our minds.
On the one hand, he makes use of Aristotle’s either/or logic in his ethics. On the other hand, he rejects the natural law and the virtue ethics Aristotle had advocated all his life.
Although Aristotle’s ethics was very much admired by the Catholic Church through St. Thomas Aquinas, the Pop was selling indulgences to build the saint peter church. This action went against the natural law teachings of Thomas called the double effect theory. In other words, Robin Hood’s action was wrong. Robbing the rich to feed the poor was not in accordance to the natural law. Martin Luther (1483-1546), the German protestant reformer rebelled against the Catholic Church over this issue and many others. The Catholic Church, however, had already started to reform the Church long before Luther.
Kant didn’t seem to care much for the natural law. Let us not forget, he came from a protestant family. No wonder he went against the virtue ethics of Aristotle.
What the protestant leaders did seems to have been more in sync with what St. Thomas Aquinas stood for. After all, Luther was a catholic to begin with. Selling indulgences was not something Thomas would have agreed with.
Kant was not involved with consequentiality. However, with the double effect theory of Thomas we still have regard for results. This is where we can say Kant had little respect for the natural law, because after all, the world is our construct beyond which is the noumenon realm to which we have no access. With the natural law we have objectivity but not with Kant’s project of subjectivism.
With Copernicus we don’t see things from the point of view of man, that is, the sun revolves around the earth, because the astronomical science tells us that it is our planet that revolves around the sun not the other way around. Immanuel Kant’s subjectivism brings man back from worshipping the sun to where he is worshipped by the sun. I get a sun tan, because I’m so important that the sun shines on me. But little do we know, too much of the sun would create skin cancer. The world is now acts according to my categories not the other way around. To see the sun revolving around the earth is a subjective way. Seeing the earth revolving around the sun is an objective way. To observe the reality beyond this world of phenomena is an objective way. Observing the world as we do is a subjective way. Falling into subjectivism couldn’t help Kant. It is like saying the world is flat or man never stepped on the moon. The world is my mind beyond which is noumenon about which I have no knowledge. Mr. Kant, the world of morality, doesn’t work on the basis of either/or logic. No wonder, being a follower of the natural law, Aristotle had a different view of ethics. There’re gray areas where the either/or logic just cannot handle. Science is the realm of facts, which can be subject to either/or logic. Ethics is the abode of ‘ought’. Science is about what is whereas morality is place of what should be. Practical science is about ‘ought’ while theoretical science concerns what ‘is’. Aristotle never mixed up the two. Perhaps, he knew from where the ancient Greeks got their moral values from. Aristotle was the child of the natural law. He understood that the area of humanity doesn’t fit into the rigid reality of science. Who knows, perhaps he had anticipated the discovery of quantum physics of the 20th century in which even either/or logic just does not work.
Professor Kant, when your former student asked you for advice regarding her infidelity she was involved in, you simply told her she should just have a talk with her husband about it. You remind us of some religious folks who have been celibate all their lives feeling qualified enough to give advices on family issues to married couples in order to solve their problems. My dear friend Immanuel with all due respect, you never got married yourself, then how did you know what she should have done in the case of unfaithfulness to her husband? When you measure moral problems by the criterion of either/or, then what do you expect? She talked to her husband subsequently, as advised by Kant. Her husband left her shortly after. As a result, she committed suicide, thanks to her former teacher. No matter how sagacious and shrewd you may be, human problems require more. Just telling the truth is not enough. She could have spoken with her lover and explained the situation hoping he would understand and go away from her life. However, it is also possible he wouldn’t change to leave her alone, because he loved her very much, even though she was married. He could threaten that he would tell her husband the truth.
Woody Allen came up with a movie, which resembles our story. This time a married man is having an affair and once he decided to stay with his family and tell her about his decision, she threatened him that she would blow his cover. He talked to his brother and sought his advice. His brother told him it was going to cost him 10,000 dollars to get rid of her. He agreed and the rest became history, that is, she was killed and her body disappeared. Imagine if such a thing had happened to Kant’s student.
Ethical issues are complicated and cannot be resolved by either/or logic. Some people cannot handle the truth. The truth or fact doesn’t make some free. The Truth Christ was talking about was not a logical one. If we have the knowledge of the Ultimate Reality, then we’re librated. Jesus was like the Avatar of Vishnu. If he was like the ray of the sun, then believing him was having faith in the Truth. This Truth, not the logical one, is the Reality which would make you free. Once we know and experience that Atman and Brahman are one, we have reached liberation or Muksha in Hinduism.
The whole universe is reflecting the Plato’s Forms. For Kant, however, the whole world is reflecting the categories of our mind. Can we see the difference between the two? Christ reflected God the father. God the father in turn reflects the Ultimate Reality at the pick of our tetrahedron.
With Aristotle Plato’s Forms became concepts in our mind. With Buddha the mirror of our mind had to be purified so it could reflect the Ultimate Reality. Purify your consciousness and remove all the images. This is what Buddha must have meant. This consciousness is not the one that is aware of something but it is pure awareness. To answer Kant, if my mind is purified, it doesn’t reflect the world. Once this mirror of mind is completely cleaned, it reflects nothing. This mind now sees nothing but Void, because the whole world is Empty, of course not like an empty room. Things and objects lose their substantiality. We’re no longer aware of things, because awareness or consciousness is the only Reality that exists. Of course, beyond this Reality is non-dualistic realm of the Ultimate Reality which doesn’t even exist. When I am conscious of myself and the world around me, it means I am aware of what is before me as objects. Pure consciousness is not of this or that object. It is pure and simple. The Ultimate Reality, however, is beyond even this. Duality doesn’t fit into it. It is the simplest, it is Reality. It is Oneness.
Kant was born in Konigsberg, grew up, went to university, and died there. He never left his town. He must have loved that little town. This was his world, a small town, which is now part of Russia. His life in this small place reminds us of the world he constructed for himself called his subjectivism. We live in our own mind. This is true for a lot of people. We live in our own world. It is the world of our own mind. St Augustine said: when I introspect, I enter the empty room of my mind. When I look up, my eyes are suddenly dazzled. It was so beautiful that I didn’t want to shut my eyes. I desired more but I believe I could be with that light after I die. (Not exact quotation) We ought to climb the Jacob’s ladder. Augustine didn’t find God in the empty room. He just looked up and glanced at the dazzling light. In Zen Buddhism such an experience is reached by those who open themselves in order to experience enlightenment.
Kant without doubt was a brilliant thinker, not only of his time but throughout the history of philosophy. Nevertheless, he had his own moral and philosophical shortcomings. His position on categorical imperative is remarkable. But it is based on either/or logic of Aristotle. You either lie or you don’t. There’s no shade of gray, called ‘white lie’. There’s no middle path or golden mean for him. It looks like everything is black or white. Black and white would give you color gray. However, Kant was about black or white. However, life is not black or white. The objective world of the natural law is absent from Kant’s philosophy or that is the way it looks like. The objective world is outside of Konigsberg. He had locked himself up in that small town. The real world was the one Aristotle lived in. Nature mattered in the realm of the natural law. Moral laws are not strict. Consequences and results still matter as in St. Thomas Aquinas’ double effect theory, which was based on the natural law. Kant’s absolutism had no place in the natural law. There’s nothing absolute in the universe. Perhaps Hitler realized that at the end. Everything is relative, imperfect, changing, and many. In this world multiplicity governs, not Oneness. The world out there is the realm of opposites. But just because there’re opposites doesn’t mean they’re contradictory. Contradictions are opposites. But their home is our mind. Our mind is the abode of either/or logic. Ethics doesn’t fit in our mind. Morality functions outside our mind. Mind is a divider not joiner. ‘Divide and conquer’ is what mind is all about. That is exactly why Buddha said, purify your mind. In the past our mind, like a mirror reflected the world we live in but in fact it is the world that reflects our categories, according to Kant. However, once our mind is purified, we find out there’s nothing out there. How can ‘nothing’ reflect my categories? Images imposed on our mind are gone once our mind is purified. At the end of the day, before the Ultimate Reality we and the whole world are nothing.
When God created the world in 6 days, He said it was good. How could He have said that, unless there were other worlds, which had been created by Him to compare with assuming time was a factor for God? The word ‘Good’ used by God doesn’t mean perfect. We leave in this imperfect world and expect perfection of it. What a joke? To put it mildly, this is simply absurd.
Either something is or is not. If it is, then it is. If it is not, then it is becoming, like our world. If it is becoming, then it is nothing. This is perhaps why some philosophers, both in East and West, argued that there was no river to step in. Chain of beings and non-beings could be an illusion as Parmenides claimed. Hindus had talked about it thousands of years ago. They believed time and motion were nothing but illusions. Finally before the Ultimate Reality we’re all nothing like 0 + 1 is always = 1.
Did Kant really bridge the gap between Rationalism and Empiricism? Did ‘synthetic a priori’ project fail? Some scholars believe Kant was unable to bring the two together and other great minds argued that he did. Either way, we believe He was a remarkable thinker of the 18th century whose influence has been spectacular to this day. His categorical imperative is a reminder of the discussion between Krishna and Arjuna in ‘The Bhagavad-Gita’, which is a master piece of Hindu literature. As far as we know there was no connection between him and the Hindu Religion. There’s no mention in his writings concerning the fact that he knew anything about Hinduism. Nonetheless, it is possible that he read something regarding this ancient Religion in the library of Konigsberg. Hemingway never referred to himself being influenced by Jack Landon. Freud is also said to have denied he was either familiar with or influenced by the Western philosophers, although at one time he admitted, if he had read everything Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, there never would have been anything for him to say.
Kant’s categorical imperative is not without problems. After all it was based on either/or logic of Aristotle. In ethics, black or white cannot help us with our moral quests. Aristotle by far had a much better insight into the essence of practical wisdom. Being a follower of the natural law, Aristotle believed in the balance between the two extremes. He had realized that the objective world of the natural law was not based on either/or logic. The reality outside of our mind doesn’t follow what is in our mind necessarily. In other words, the objective world doesn’t fit the Procrustean bed of our mind. If you didn’t fit the Procrustean bed, according to the legend, you either lose your two feet or die while being stretched out. Although it may sound very graphic, it sure conveys the message very well. For Kant the objective reality must fit into our subjective Procrustean bed of our mind. As long as they reflect our categories they’re accepted to sleep in the bed of our mind. If they don’t fit, they’re left unknown by us. Only God knows noumenon realm, if there’s such a Reality, which according to Kant it is there to be known but not through our pure reason. Realities of the unknown are like Plato’s Forms of perfection. How can a God who is only a postulate know those realities? This Santa is not St. Nickolas. Kant’s God is not what was worshipped in the nearest church to his house in Konigsberg. In fact Kant had anticipated what Friedrich Nietzsche announced, namely, the death of God in the second half of the 19th century. Of course, by this declaration Nietzsche was warning us concerning the coming to an end of Christian theology. Given his prediction, millions fell to their death in Europe alone in the 20th century. From the heart of Germany, the home of Kant and Nietzsche many ideologies emerged such as communism (Marx) and Hitler (Fascism) and their battles were fought on the soil of Russia in the Second World War. Let us remember that Marx was not the father of communism. When German soldiers attacked Russia for the second time but this time as Nazi, they faced a Marxist nation capable of defending itself against Hitler’s army. The result was the defeat of Hitler’s troops and his Italian version of Fascism. History repeated itself very much like what had happened to Napoleon decades ago. Cain (Marx) and Abel (Hitler) of Germania went to war and Marx; the older son killed Hitler and became victorious. Hitler learned his Fascism from Mussolini. However, Marx’s ideology rooted in Ludwig Feuerbach and Hegel, the German philosopher. After all, Hitler was from Austria. However, we can consider this an ideological civil war.
Did Immanuel Kant have something to do with weakening of the fabric of German culture? This textile was ripped apart during the first and the second wars. Hegel, who came after Kant was not able to repair the damage by philosophically proving the belief in the Holy Trinity; Consequently existentialism and Marxism, came to reality. By the end of the 19th century Hermeneutics of suspicions emerged. The actors on the set were chronologically Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. All three suspected the authenticity of the Religions of Judaism and Christianity. Had they known anything about Islam, they perhaps would have included this last Abrahmic Religion too. However, do you think they would have? Both Marx and Freud were Jewish whereas Nietzsche was Christian. Let us not forget Islam had a lot to do with the formation of the Western intellectual culture.
With Schopenhauer Hinduism and Buddhism entered the European philosophical milieu. Nevertheless, they were not able to change the tide or create a major effect on Western philosophy.
Are we condemning Kant here? Not really. What we’re doing, however, is to show how Western thought moved away from being a religious culture. Kant’s philosophy, I believe, opened the door to the investigation of the historical Jesus, which started with scholars from the United States of America, Great Britain, and Germany. There was a return to the past in order to find out who Christ was. They called themselves revisionists. It was also named Jesus seminar.
Immanuel Kant passed away in 1804. 19th century, however, perhaps Hegel and his philosophy of history had a lot to do with this phenomenon. When God became part of the historical events and eventually immersed in the flow of time for Hegel, the whole of the 19th century was geared to pave the way for the 20th century Europe in which millions of people were killed as a result of several wars. Yes, ideas have their consequences. To prove the Holy Trinity, Hegel went out of his way and took a risk, gambled and lost, because it failed to make sense of the idea of one and many. Transcendence of God was compromised. The revisionist Scholars concluded that there was a discontinuity between the historical Jesus and Christ of faith. Western thought was devoid of major religious philosophers to lift up the European culture from the chaos of secularism. Islamic religious philosophies, who had helped Catholicism through St Thomas Aquinas were absent from the battle fields of Europe and America.
When Christ enters the events of our world as an Avatar or incarnation of God, the Father, time and history become so important in Hegel’s philosophy of history. In this show, life becomes and changes as the synthesis of being and non-being. Being is one of the highest Platonic Form so much so that we divide Plato’s philosophy into Being and becoming. In reality the Form of Good shouldn’t be the highest in the chain of Forms. Being, is in fact the highest. We’re first and then are good or bad. In other words, our beings come first. If I’m good and you’re also good, we both participate in the Form of Good. But to be good, you must ‘be’ first. This is similar to like Jean- Paul Sartre’s famous statement ‘existence precedes essence’, except the fact that in Plato’s realm of immutability time has no meaning. Before and after only make sense in this world. Nonetheless, ‘being’ of this world is nothing or it is non-being. The reality is neither being, nor non-being. It is a combination of the two, which is becoming. Thus, motion is a series of being and non-beings. This chain of beings and non-beings is the structure of change we see in the world. But nonetheless, we’re still struggling with the same thing Aristotle did when he denied the existence of Platonic Forms of perfections. Hegel resolved the basis of Aristotelian logic of contradiction. Jesus being fully man and fully God was on his mind while he was looking for a rational foundation for this contradiction. So Christ is neither fully man, nor fully God. Buddha answered the same question by saying he was awaken. I’m enlightened being or Buddha. What was Jesus’ answered? My kingdom doesn’t belong to this world, when he was questioned by Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea. Jesus was speaking Plato’s language. Plato’s Republic didn’t belong to this world of change and becoming. But where is Hegel’s unchangeable Reality against which the world was becoming? I’m neither fully God, nor fully man, Jesus could say. I’m only an incarnation of God the Father. I’m only an Avatar. It is possible he said the same thing Buddha said, but we have no records of it. Buddha was also regarded as an Avatar by the Hindus. In some sense Buddha ascended the Jacob’s ladder, while Christ descended it. Angels were both ascending and descending the ladder. With Hegel, according a scholar, God became history. This made it very easy for those who were searching for the historical Jesus. After all, how would you know who the historical Jesus was and why he became Christ of faith and God to worship? With the tool of history, which was God, they tried to find out who the man really was. Only through God can we identify God, who was Jesus. After years of studies the revisionists reached a conclusion that there was a great gap between who the man was and what we made him to be, namely, God, or the son of God. 19th century Christian West was in darkness, because theology was dead according to Friedrich Nietzsche.
With Hegel, the transcendent God almost disappears. On the cross, Jesus said, Father why have you forsaken me. (Not exact quotation). One wonders whether this was the voice of Christ crying out once he became time in 19th century. Besides, how could Hegel account for the becoming of the historical events, when the source of immutability was absent from the river of change and movement? Even Aristotle had no choice but come up with pure Form, which didn’t need matter to reach its actuality. Where was Hegel’s pure Form? How was he able to define motion? Holy Spirit later became the spirit of ages. For the Hindus time was cyclical and finally an illusion but for Hegel it was a linear phenomenon. It was based on the Biblical idea of the providence of God, which moved forward so one day lions and lambs sit together. It sounds like Hegel was paving the way for Darwinian evolution, namely things are getting better as time marches on. Perhaps, there would never have been a Darwin, if a Hegel had not existed. When God became time and history, the former gained a lot of value in the 19th century. Being timely became significant, because time, the measure of motion was God. From the Hindu perspective, therefore, God is an illusion, because time is an illusion. Reflection of the moon is everywhere but the moon is absent. The water of the ocean is golden while the sun is nowhere to be seen. How can Christ be reflecting God the Father, when there’s no Reality resting, while the whole world is in the process of change and becoming? No wonder why Rabi Kushner, the author of ‘When bad things happen to good people’ suggested we should remove God from the equation when it comes to what happened to 6 million Jews, gypsies, and gays who were murdered in the hands of the Nazis. The world is imperfect, so let us not put the blame on God. With all due respect to Rabi, God created this world in six days and said it was good, not perfect. We’re being punished for the original sin. May be we shouldn’t take the story literally. The fundamental question is why were we created to begin with? If it is the case that without the world of possibility, perfection of God wouldn’t make any sense, then why are we put through torture? Why do we have to pay a price for what we did in our passed life, if there was one?
Let us give Immanuel Kant the benefit of the doubt by looking at what he did to the concept of God. Perhaps, he wanted us to renew our mind in what and who we have been worshipping. 18 people lost their lives brutally and for no reason. The theological question arises as to why God didn’t prevent this from happening? The Hindu and Buddhist belief in karma or action and its consequences tells us these folks paid a painful price for what they had done in their past lives and perhaps this life. However, our interpretation of what karma is all about couldn’t be the right one. Kant showed the limitation of reason and in so doing he created room for faith. But how can I have faith in the God I have no knowledge of? It is possible that Kant cleared the ground for raising the bar on Jacob’s ladder. By manifestation of Being or God, we’re led to seek the Ultimate Reality, which doesn’t even exist. Literally God is not standing out there, namely ‘ex’ and ‘standing’. However, the reason why the Ultimate Reality doesn’t exist is because it is beyond existence and non-existence. These chains of beings and non-beings are of this world. The vertical rungs of the Reality leads to Being. All these steps are the primary ways to reach the Ultimate Reality. Kant, knowingly or unknowingly claimed that this God that his own parents had believed was Being, which was the closest rung to the Ultimate. As Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet once said, ‘The legs of the rationalists are wooden.’ (Not exact quotation) He had anticipated Kant who was a philosopher of the 18th century. Rumi (1207-1273) has only recently become known in the West. His poems are all in Persian and they’re unbelievable master pieces. The legs of the rationalists are made of wood is what he said. “Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your own being.” “Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” (Rumi, the internet) Once your mind is purified, it can reflect Plato’s Forms of perfection. Did Kant know that? Did he know that it is not through ethics that we get to know God? Did he realize that the serpent still coiled the cross until Jesus was crucified on it? He removed and destroyed the evil by his presence. The snake of the psyche couldn’t harm you, if you have faith in Christ. The cross was also a tree once. Kant was not a Christian thinker like St. Augustine and St. Aquinas. When Jesus said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”, by knowledge here he didn’t mean what Kant had in mind. Christ was expressing what Socrates and Plato taught and called it pure knowledge. This is achieved by vertical ascent not horizontal one. Turning God into a postulate was not something that would have made his parents proud.
Hinduism and Buddhism were introduced to Germany through Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860). There was a clash between him and Hegel. Was this the result of what he had learned from Hinduism and Buddhism when it came to time and history? We really don’t know what happened then. Schopenhauer seems to have hated Hegel. This was a turning point in the Western philosophy in the 19th century. Schopenhauer had realized what Hegel was struggling with was fatal. The linear concept of history was a trap Hegel fell into. St. Augustine is the person who came up with this philosophy of history in 400 AD. The cyclical notion of time would have saved Hegel in trying to make sense out of what an Avatar was. For Hindus, time and change were illusions. However, for Hegel, who wnet all the way back to St. Augustine, time was linear. Time was a river, which went straight and horizontal and gradually moved up but not a vertical way, very much like the surfs when they’re about to break on the shore. How can transcendence enter the river of time? Perhaps Schopenhauer was himself shaken by this discovery through studying these two Eastern Religions. He by passed Hegel and went back to Kant and even there he doesn’t seem to have found solace. He instead discovered Santa, not St. Nicholas. Further dawn the past he faced skepticism of David Hume. He didn’t find Religion in Bishop Berkeley. He saw idealism, nominalism, and the denial of Plato’s Forms with Berkeley instead. In John Locke he saw Aristotle with his concepts rather than the Forms of Plato. In Saint Thomas Aquinas he confronted Christianized Aristotle. In St. Augustine he found Plato revisited. He must have stopped there. May be not! He must have gone straight to Plato and his idea of reincarnation, which must have reminded him of
When we study Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings, we can find something strange called ‘eternal return or recurrence’. “It is the theory that existence recurs in an infinite cycle as energy and matter transform over time. Stoics believed the Universe went through repeating stages.” (The internet) Apparently for the ancient Greeks time was cyclical. What did Schopenhauer think after reading about Hinduism and Buddhism? If it is true that St. Augustine knew about Buddhism, then why did he come up with his linear sketch of the movement in history? The straight line of history is divided by a cross. The past was the rule of God the Father and in the middle we have the cross and after that till the end of time the rule of the Holy Spirit. 200 years after St. Augustine Muslims emerged as the greatest force both in East and West. They had their own philosophy of history. Islam was the third Abrahamic Religion, which had a great influence on Catholicism through St. Thomas Aquinas.
The word “Solipsism” is “The claim that an objective world independent of human thought does not really exist. Solipsists believe that what appears as an external world is really just a projection of the human mind.” (John Marmysz, ‘The path of philosophy’, glossary, page. 416) For St. Thomas Aquinas, however, the objective world existed independent of our mind. He believed in the natural law, being Aristotelian philosophically. By rejecting Thomas’ proofs for the existence of God he indirectly got rid of Islamic influence on Catholicism. Thomas never regarded ‘Solipsism’ as a viable idea. In fact Kant’s subjectivism, it seems, made him fall into it. Immanuel Kant argued that our mind is not like a mirror reflecting the world. In fact, it is the world that mirrors the categories of our mind. But did he realize what he was about to fall into? What Descartes was afraid of, was ‘Solipsism’. If the world is but a projection of our mind, then Kant thought perhaps he had bridged the gap between mind and body or perhaps the world is made of mind or body. By swaying to the right and left, we’re not solving the Cartesian dualism of mind and body, if this was on his mind. Descartes made use of St. Anslm’s proof of the existence of God to pull himself out of the quake sand of solipsism. However, Kant refuted this proof too. Therefore, Kant is left with his closed world of the mind. In this world God, that is nothing but a postulate or an assumption is like Santa during Christmas time. The real St. Nicholas is missing in action. This saint would never have left gifts under trees for children. He was protector of them. He would go around and feed the poor. He would have perhaps presented them with empty boxes symbolizing the great Emptiness or filled them up with the words of Christ. “Raise your words, not your voice; it is rain that grows flowers not thunder.” (Rumi) The word in flash was raised after three days.
Absolutism of Immanuel Kant means nothing in the world which is not absolute. There’s so much resemblance between Rene Descartes’ philosophy and Kant’s. However, when the former was reaching for the proof of the existence of God in order to escape solipsism, the latter having no proof ended up with a postulate who knows the world of noumenon. Kant, like Descartes, never denied the existence of the Reality beyond this world independent of our mind. Nevertheless, both had no knowledge of this world of noumenon. By refuting Descartes’ proof of the existence of God, Kant was not able to show us what behind this Berlin wall separating us from noumenal Reality is. How can Santa know who Saint Nicholas was? Finally we had to wait till Hegel came around to bring the Berlin wall down. To Kant, the unlimited Intellect is not the God who is a postulate. The former or ‘Atman’ in Hinduism, is beyond the dualism of the phenomenon and noumenon. The Intellect is beyond the dualism of rationalism and empiricism. It is also beyond the dualism of mind and body of Descartes. The water was in the jar and we were looking for it all over the world. (Persian)
How can transcendence enter the flow of change and becoming although they’re not proportional? How can Being become part of becoming? How can infinite join finitude? Even with Hegel we were not able to solve the problem of how the word become flesh and come among us. This unresolved mystery must have also been a difficult issue for the Hindus thousands of years ago. Nonetheless, the most important matter for them was the Ultimate Reality or Brahman. It is the Oneness of this Reality in which there’s no division or duality. This is exactly what Jesus said more than two thousands year ago: A house divided against itself shall not stand. (Not an exact quotation) “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” (St. Matthew 12, 25-26) Once we lose sight of the Oneness of the Ultimate Reality, then we have the problem of separation, namely, divide and conquer. Descartes shouldn’t have turned the psyche or the soul in Greek, into the mind. Having done that, he then distinguished between mind and body. There was no distinction between the two in the early Hebrew belief. It was not like the mixture of salt and water. We’re already aware of the two before mixing the two. They just called it the soul or the body. We’re the soil or the earth. We’re a combination of Spirit and earth or land or clay or dirt or ground. The opposite of Earthy is spiritual. For example, we say, we didn’t see a soul or poor soul. We use the word ‘soul’ for a person. Body has been of great significance. Christ had a bodily resurrection. As a matter of fact, today is the Easter Sunday, 4/4/2021 and it is 11:40 pm. We confuse Spirit and soul even in our dictionaries. Soul ages but not Spirit. The soul is like the emptiness of your room, which is nothing. The room is the body. That is the reason the two are in reality one. St. Augustine entered the empty room of his mind and looked up and his eyes were dazzled by the light, which disappeared suddenly. That light was the Spirit. I believe this is the Spirit Aristotle was talking about when it came to happiness. He named it, Eudemonia, which means ‘in good Spirit’. In Hinduism and Buddhism we’re not to get attached even to this stage. Hindus believe we’re to focus on the Ultimate Reality, which is the goal. Kant was locked up in Augustinian room without having access to the dazzling light shining from the ceiling. St. Augustine used his unlimited reason or Intellect and saw the light. Kant’s room was dark and all he could see were the images on the wall, which were nothing but the categories of his mind. This was his world, the world he had constructed. While Buddha taught, ‘purify your mind that this is what the world is made of’, Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) said, “don’t squander time, this is the stuff life is made of.” It is as if he must have been under the influence of Hegel’s philosophy. The former, however, was older than Hegel when we check the dates of their births. Anyway, what a difference between the two, that is, Buddha and Franklin! Of course, once your mind is completely purified, the world is nothing but an illusion. Remember, Plato’s Forms only have their reflections in the world of becoming. They never entered the flow of change and time. With Hegel’s idealism, Holy Spirit has already fallen into the river of becoming events. Even Hegel was not able to explain how transcendence could enter time and history. Perhaps, because motion was not an illusion for Hegel. He was unable to explain how such a thing was possible. In Hinduism the world of change and becoming as well as time is illusion. Time is a cyclical phenomenon, not linear. An Avatar doesn’t enter this world of linear movement. When things are bad here, Vishnu changes form and becomes Avatar or incarnation. This change of forms be it for Vishnu or Shiva tells us that in essence the Ultimate Reality manifests itself in different shapes. From our points of view, there’re two aspects to this non-dualistic Reality: Nir-guna and Sa-guna. The former teaches us that there’s no human quality to this Reality. The latter, on the other hand, tells us that there’s human quality to this Reality. When time, as a measure of motion, was so important to Hegel, it was totally immaterial in Hindu philosophy. Time and change are but illusions. At best, time is cyclical, as we mentioned before not linear. I personally believe Schopenhauer having discovered Hindu and Buddhist philosophies came up with the conclusion that the Western philosophy was on the wrong track, thanks to Hegel. Hegel had risked proving the Christian Holy Trinity philosophically by derailing the path of reaching the Ultimate Reality. He let theology dictate his philosophical thoughts.
The sundial shows how time must have become the measure of motion. However, if time and change were illusions, then we wouldn’t have to go through Hegel’s whole philosophical system to prove something that was in dispute among the great minds of the 19th century. Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55) completely disagreed with Hegel over this issue. He was a Danish philosopher and theologian. Of course, Kierkegaard didn’t take the same position we took here in terms of a comparison we made with Hinduism. This Danish thinker tried to show us that Christianity is not about rationality but faith. He discussed existence and being as Aristotle did in his ethics, something Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) also did in 20th century. Saint Paul said: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being…” (The ACTS 17, 28) We’re like fishes in the ocean of the Ultimate Reality. This Reality is beyond the God of Hegel. This Reality is in the pick of the geometric sketch of tetrahedron. It transcends time and history. Change reflects the changelessness. Had Immanuel Kant just taken time to look at the life and works of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), the Swedish scientist, philosopher, and mystic, he would have perhaps come up with a totally different result in his philosophy. There were many great rationalists in the world that used to consult mystics in their search for true knowledge. Synthetic a priori of Kant, I’m afraid, is not capable of letting us taste and smell the perfume of what a true knowledge is.
Where are we and how much have we been removed from the original goal of what philosophy was to be? After Saint Thomas Aquinas we seem to have fallen into darkness when it comes to what philosophy was all about. The love of wisdom has become the love of language, linguistic analysis, and clarification of our ways of communication intellectually. When Thomas Aquinas wrote, he was very clear about expressing philosophical meanings for the readers of not only his days but the future generation. Averroes (Ben Rushed) 1126?-98, Arab philosopher in Spain, wrote commentaries on Aristotle’s works so accurately as if he was a chemist or a physicist. In the presence of two eminent professors of Religion and philosophy, one Jewish and the other Muslim, we witnessed how precise Averroes wrote his commentaries on Aristotle about 900 years ago. We used to gather in the conference room at Temple University for the whole semester.
Gradually philosophical language lost its clarity and transparency. A group of scholars in the 20th century focused their attention merely on language in order to get rid of all the contaminations, which had been imposed on it throughout the centuries. Others like Martin Heidegger, in contrast, concentrated on being and time in the same century. Although Heidegger’s aim was to become a Jesuit priest, he felt he was closer to Plato than Aristotle. Plato was a philosopher of being and the Form of Being. Remember, the beings of this world reflect the Ultimate Being of the realm of perfection. According to Kant, we no longer reflecting the world like a mirror but the world is now reflecting the categories of our mind. Nevertheless, I believe we’re still reflecting the world. When I deal with a person in my life, I look at myself in terms of what that individual thinks of me. The image formed of me in that person’s mind becomes me when I’m in contact with him although I know I’m not that person. Here I’m reflecting his thoughts of me whether I like it or not. I have to struggle to clear my image in his mind so he would start reflecting who I really am. The world I live in is the battle field of either I’m the mirror reflecting the others or the other have the mirror reflecting me. For Immanuel Kant’s Copernican revolution the world is reflecting my categories and this is one way street. I argue that this process of reflection is both ways. With Plato the world reflects the Forms of perfection and it is not the other way around. The Forms don’t reflect the world. However, at this stage of human life in this world we tend to reflect each other. I have my own opinion of my friend just as he has his own image of who I’m. Here we’re both reflecting one another. I’m reflecting the world as much as the world reflecting me. We’re both stuck in opinions and desire for true knowledge. Is it possible that the sun begins evolving around the earth? May be Kant missed this point and went to a wrong direction.
If the world is reflecting our mind categories, then this indicates Kant’s subjectivism. But what if we’re reflecting the world, as we had done long time ago in the history of philosophy? When I go with the first option or the former, I’m imposing my categories on the world and consequently I get from the world what I can receive through the windows of my mind. When we purify our mind, we’re able to see the whole Reality. When I let my mind become a mirror, then it reflects the objective world, even Plato’s Forms. I believe this is what Thomas Aquinas meant by our Intellect reflecting the Forms of perfection. David Hume seems to be telling Kant to let the factual world of empiricism be reflected in his mind. However, Kant insists that it is through his categories that he can experience the world. Kant’s knowledge, which starts with experience, is later interpreted by the categories of his mind. Kant didn’t realize he was locked up in the world of opinions. Even though he pruned the tree of reason and rationality, he still was a rationalist. David Hume’s skepticism teaches us neither Rationalism nor empiricism can help us to gain true knowledge. Kant didn’t trust empiricism enough to provide him with true knowledge. He could have let his mind reflect the objective world of objectivism or the natural law. It is only by subjectivism that you can have absolutism of either/or logic. When he says moral is rational and vice versa, he is in the realm of his mind. There’s more to morality than making it the servant of rationality. The actions of some companies, which down size are not necessarily rational but “what works is right” of William James (1842-1910), the American philosopher and psychologist of the 19th century is the one at work here. This action, which is based on pragmatism doesn’t have anything to do with rationality. According to David Hume, ‘ought’ is not to be inferred from ‘is’. Logic is in the realm of ‘is’. Then how can it be used in ‘rational is moral and vice versa’? This is like saying, ‘is’ is ‘ought’ and vice versa. Kant’s subjectivism is one Way Street, that is, the world is reflecting the categories of my mind. What if we’re back to the way it was, namely, our mind reflected the world like a mirror, as we asked before? When our mind reflected the world, it was doing so in terms of the natural law. The world reflects Plato’s Forms of perfection. Our mind was reflecting the objective world. Of course, it doesn’t mean it was reflecting Plato’s Forms automatically. Given Plato’s allegory of the cave, we’re not out of the caves yet.
Freud’s idea of ‘transference’ could help us clarify this issue at hand. His patient is this woman, who interrupted Freud’s talk by saying he was so talkative and wouldn’t let her tell her story. She loaded him with guilt feelings. Freud felt very bad and went to the next room. He didn’t like himself. This is what we mean by saying he reflected what this lady said like a mirror. He failed to be a good professor, because he took it upon himself being blamed and became what she thought of him. He struggled with her opinion of him. This also worked when a gentleman praised him. He felt very good about himself after being regarded as a wonderful person. He felt he was none of them. But what changed? He reflected their opinions of himself and he became those. They could also reflect Freud’s opinions of them. As you know, what we have here is still subjectivism, even if the people reflect your views of them. In other words, when Freud’s patients express their opinions of him, we’re still in subjectivism. We’re in this paint balls battles together, that is, we put blames or praises on each other all the time. In the mean time, we’re changing constantly. But nevertheless, we know, like Freud knew, we’re not this person, which is projected on us. These images are imposed upon us. Our opinions are still opinions. Queen Elizabeth and her husband lived together more than 70 years and yet it is possible they never knew one another in a true sense of the word. No matter how sincere we try to be on a daily basis we’re still subject to accusation and of having ulterior motives. We’re struggling to prove that our motives were not what they thought they were. The people out there could be religious, but there’s a difference between going to Temples and practicing the teachings accordingly. We’re still locked up in the prison of our subjectivism. We’re still in the dark room with the elephant. We find ourselves alone surrounded by all these opinions injected to us. With the assistance of the Intellect within us, we ought to purify our mind or soul. They are as sticky as fly catchers tapes or any other tapes for that matter. If the soul or the mind is not washed, then it catches everything out there. We’re suffering until we rid ourselves from the glue on it. Once our mind is clear, it boomerangs. The individual who loaded Buddha with all sorts of profanities experienced the same things. Buddha said to him, now that got everything back, collect them and leave me in peace. All his accusations and blames bounced back. The people did the same thing to Jesus, when he began reflecting the faults of the crowd. When he tried to correct their mistakes, being offended, they made an effort to get even with him by finding faults in him. When being a mirror made them angry, they tried to hit him. This is when he told his followers, turn the other side of your face, namely, show who you really are and no longer who they thought you were.
Freud had hard time getting out of his own subjectivism and the subjectivism of his patients. They were both locked up in their own worlds. Freud didn’t have any room for Spirit in his dual reality of mind or psyche (soul) and body. The triad didn’t exist for him. Kant was also unable to reflect the reality of the natural law, the objective world beyond his mind. Instead he let the world reflect the categories of his mind. Once this was established, then he lived in the world he had constructed, which was his mind. It seems he was still struggling to free himself from the entanglement of Descartes’ philosophy. If our mind was acting like a mirror reflecting the world in the past, it was doing so in terms of the objective world. The ancient Greeks regarding themselves as part of nature reflected the values in their life. Their thinkers believed they were one with nature, because their souls were purified. Kant, I believe, separated himself from nature through his subjectivism. He painted the objective world of nature with the color of his mind, which was not purified. Kant was chained in the underground cave of Plato and couldn’t get out of it. He only saw the fire and people walking in front of it, which is a demonstration of Kant’s mind. The images on the wall of the cavern were his categories. He was observing the process of the world reflecting his mind. This was his subjectivism. He never made it out of the cave completely to see the sun. Like Aristotle in Raffaello Santi’s painting, the School of Athens, his left hand is holding the book on his ethics stretching his right hand forwards with open fingers. Whereas Plato is holding also with his left hand his book on knowledge pointing towards the sky, which is the ceiling. Plato is telling Aristotle that without the knowledge of the Ultimate Reality ethics is only a children’s play. This analogy explains what Kant did in his philosophy by grounding his ethics in the vacuum of God as an assumption or postulate. 19 century Europe became Godless and 20th century following that became the stage of wars, which had been predicted by Fired Nietzsche. When there is no God, anything is morally possible. Dostoyevsky said to that effect, without God anything is possible. Of course, when the Bible says, with God all things are possible, we know this logically, because God is necessary existence, namely, it cannot not exist. Thus, it must exist. However, everything else is possible or contingent. Morally, however, Dostoyevsky was right but not metaphysically or logically.
Christ was a mirror reflecting the sins and faults of the people around him. We say he took our sins to the cross. Those who were honest with themselves responded to him appreciating his concern. Those who had thought of themselves as almost perfect got angry with him, because they could see their wrong doings in him as a mirror. Instead of reflecting the reality of Jesus in them, they looked at him as if he was a criminal. We would feel very bad about ourselves, because we were not Christ. But the man whose heart and mind were pure, would turn the other cheek, that is, he would reflect the sun. He said who so ever has seen me, has witnessed the Father. He stopped reflecting their sins and instead showed them the goodness of the sun. He is quiet and no longer shows them what they do and who they are, because the crowd began getting even with him. When my actions of love and charity for my loved ones or fellow men and women are misinterpreted, instead of getting revenge, I show my other cheek, I reflect Plato’s Forms of perfection. The reason I’m who I’m is you, they say. I ought to correct myself based on the mirror, which doesn’t lie. However, I get angry with the mirror. If I have purified my mind, their opinions of me boomerang and bounce back like what happened to the man who had cursed Buddha. A Holy man like St. Francis of Assisi or a woman as mother Theresa were mirrors by their behaviors. They were not locked up in their minds and categories. They were reflecting Plato’s highest Forms, the Good. The paint balls shot at them by the ordinary people wouldn’t leave stain on their bodies. Kant’s mind is reflecting the content of his mind, not the objective world. No wonder he was in dark when it comes to the natural law. The world reflects Kant’s categories, because he doesn’t have the Intellect or the Atman shining through him or if he has, it has been suffocated. Rationalism was so important to him that he looked down on the animal kingdom and thought only of their utilitarian functions or usefulness. Fried Nietzsche, while in Italy proved him wrong by shouting at a man who was whipping a fatigued horse that was on the ground and couldn’t move or get up. Man, where is your compassion and mercy for this poor animal, who is dying and you’re still punishing him? Is this the result of your philosophizing Mr. Kant or Rene Descartes? Are animals only good to be used? Was there an iota of care in the cold hearts of those who led seven and a half millions mostly Jewish crowd, women and children, grand parents to the gas chambers? The ethics you formulated for your people Mr. Kant was administered by a God, who was a postulate or assumption. This ethics of yours suits Santa, not St Nicholas. Santa worries more about the things, during Christmas time than their existence. The objective world doesn’t reflect Kant’s categories. Nevertheless, it is Kant’s mind that reflects the realities of the objective world. However, since Kant’s mind is not purified, he tries to impose his categories on the world. The purified mind reflects Plato’s Forms of perfection. Kant didn’t think it was necessary to work on him. By ethics alone we can never reach the Ultimate Reality. The result of his philosophy, I believe, was the disaster of the 19th century Europe. When you become a mirror, you reflect the ugliness, faults, and sins of the folks in front of you. Jesus crucified himself so their sins would be also destroyed. A prostate which has become the home of cancer cells is either surgically removed or treated by radiation. Christ reflected their cancer cells and became crucified so their bodies would be clear from this deadly disease of ignorance. Since they don’t like what they see, they look at you as if you posses all the darkness belonging to them. The mirror holder, who is there to help people, immediately turn the other cheek and stop showing their shortcomings. Instead, he manifests who he really is. The crowd no longer see themselves in that mirror. They rather see beauty in the mirror. They try to become the mirror reflecting the man before them. This is real teaching. He quits showing their wrong doings. In its place he projects his good qualities reflected in their mirrors. Those bad qualities are not mine, she says. Those are yours. Not really, I’m only reflecting you as a mirror. I quit and will not show you any longer. Now you see I’m not what you are.
The world trade center was hit yesterday, I tell a friend. What did you say? I can’t get a job at the World Bank? No silly, that is not what I said. You can’t hear well. You need to wear your hearing aid. Are you telling me I’m going deaf? No, I just said you have hard time hearing. The problem is you, because you’re not articulate and don’t speak well, even though you’re a professor. I reflected my friend’s problem. He saw himself in my mirror. He didn’t like what he saw. To get even with me, he said in fact you’re the problem not speaking clearly. At this time my friend is reflecting me in his mirror. In a situation like this I stop my conversation with my friend and don’t show that he can’t hear well. When he stares at me, this time he doesn’t see himself in me. He rather sees who I really am though he is still mad at me for finding faults in him. This world reflected back at me. He loaded me with guilt feelings and judging me from his opinion of me. Instead of reflecting my values, according to Kant categories, he reflected back and said, look at you, go clean up your own acts. I decided not to criticize my friend any longer. I let him leave with his problem at hand till one day he’ll lose his job, due to the fact that he didn’t wear hearing aids at work. Just as Kant thought the world reflects our categories, we also reflect the objective world. This world is not the projection of his mind. Kant now has no control on it. If Kant were outside of the movie theater of his mind looking at what the real world of facts is, he wouldn’t have been stuck in his subjectivism. Perhaps there was more to the world of experiences than what Kant made use of in bringing rationalism and empiricism together. The objective world is not perfect. God having created the world said, it was good, but not perfect. “Let life be perfectly imperfect” was printed on one of the Truvia, the sugar substitute little bags. Kant wants to control the world through his unpurified mind. “Do you want to improve the world? I don’t think it can be done. The world is sacred. It can’t be improved. If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it. If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it. Tao Te Ching, chapter 29) The world is not an ‘it’. It is alive and growing. It is our mother. The world doesn’t necessarily have to reflect our categories. It is our mother. We seem to have forgotten to reflect the natural law and its values. Only with pure mind can we see through the world of our mind into the objective world of the natural law. Kant couldn’t break through the Berlin wall of his mind and rationalism. He had no answer to what noumenon was, because of the limitation of his pure reason. What about his unlimited Intellect, which is as natural as the natural law? If you know your pure reason is limited, then you should also be aware of your unlimited Reason. In other words, unless we know the unlimited, we can’t know the limited. Unless I have an idea of tallness, how can I know about shortness? When the Persian poet Rumi spoke of the same thing, he knew what he was talking about. He said, the legs of the rationalists are wooden. (Not an exact quotation) He definitely knew what healthy legs looked like. Mr. Kant if you knew what an unlimited Reason or Intellect was, then why didn’t use it in your ethics? You used either/or logic of Aristotle in the realm of morality, which had no business to be there, but didn’t bother to make the natural law part of the practical science. When his mother talked about the starry above and moral law within, she must have been referring to the natural law believed by the ancient Greeks, Aristotle, and Thomas Aquinas. Those folks were not speaking of the limited scope of man’s mind. I’m afraid Kant struggled not to fall into solipsism but he had no choice getting locked up in it. I’m repeating, Solipsism is “The claim that an objective world independent of human thought does not really exist. Solipsists believe that what appears as an external world is really just a projection of the human mind” (The glossary, JOHN MARMYSZ, The path of philosophy) No wonder why Hegel had to remove the wall separating this world of phenomenon from the world of noumenon. With him, East Germany and West Germany were finally united, by way of analogy of course. How can Plato’s Forms, Being, the Good and others become united with the realm of becoming? Aristotelian logic preferred over Hume’s causality for certainty, is compromised for his faith in the Holy trinity in which Jesus is fully man and fully God. Of course, given the quantum physics and sub atomic level, Aristotle’s logic became challenged in 20th century. But not because of the Christian theology of the 300 A.D. established by the church fathers. Heisenberg was a quantum German physicist. He was neither a philosopher nor a theologian. Long before him Hegel, who originally wanted to be a religious man challenged Aristotle’s either/or logic. Perhaps he preferred logic over causality because of its certainty and yet he tried to alter even the state of either/or logic to prove the church fathers’ belief in Jesus being both fully man and fully God at the same time and in the same relationship. Being and non-being, which are bases of the law of contradiction are now present in the becoming of the river of time and history. Let us not forget that time is an important element in logic. Hegel tampered with Aristotle’s logic, however, in order not to deal with time from God’s point of view. Just as in determinism St. Augustine must have regarded time as a factor to deal with. Did God know whom He was going to give His Grace? This question must have been in the mind of St. Augustine. Can God be in the process of time He created? God is beyond time and space. Hegel should have done the same thing. Remove God from the equation, then time doesn’t become God, because of the entrance of the Holy Spirit into history and time. After all God is the author of time from our point of view. We don’t have to break the structure of logic so that neither being, nor non-being, but becoming would become the picture we desire. All we had to do was look at the whole map from God’s point of view. This happened in the physics of subatomic reality later on in the 20th century. Time doesn’t play a role in reality. For Einstein time was relative though he was against quantum mechanics physics. In metaphysics time should be immaterial. For Kant time was one of the categories of our mind. Transcendence doesn’t have to enter time when there is no river to step in. Motion and time are but illusion, according to Hinduism. No wonder why Hindu thinkers didn’t have to find a way out of this intellectual anomaly. As we mentioned before, it was simply because time and motion were illusions or MAYA. The Ultimate Reality or Brahman is beyond time and change. We can never say in Hinduism God created the world, because this would mean He or She did so in time. Aristotle knew something about this when he said the world has always been here. Time and causality go together hand in hand. Why didn’t church fathers, with all due respect, think that time was going to engender major theological as well as philosophical problems for Christianity later on. If they had just studied Neo-Platonism in depth, they would have realized Plotinus must have believed in the Ultimate Reality, which was at the apex of the hierarchy of his system. Church fathers, knowing about tetrahedron in geometry, should have noticed that at the bottom of this pyramid looking phenomenon, they could have placed God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Why Hegel didn’t catch that reality? May be he was so immersed in the Biblical records that didn’t understand what Philo, the Jewish philosopher of the 1st century A.D. had said. He wrote we should not take what we read in the Bible literally. We ought to note that if lose sight of the symbolical, metaphorical, and allegorical aspects of the Bible, we would miss a lot in interpreting this sacred scripture. This was a brilliant assessment of understanding the meaning of the scripture. We take the story of creation literally, that is, God created the world in 6 days and on the 7th day He rested. God tells Abraham, for example; take your people to the Promised Land. This latter saying of God could be interpreted as, guide your followers to the direction of their heart, because that is the abode of God’s Spirit. The land is where other half of Adam’s is made with, namely, the earth. When you cross the river Jordan, you move from the lower part to the higher part of your being, which is the Spirit. Move from the lower part of your body to the higher part where the heart is, not that go to the Promised Land and then worship me. The water is in the jar and we’re going around the world looking for it. (Persian) The water of life is in heart and we’re searching for it all over the world. We become baptized by being in the water of river Jordan. As far as the former example, without rest the movement, change, and becoming have no meaning. Interpreting the Scripture otherwise will give us anthropomorphism. Christ asked, is Sabbath made for you or you are made for Sabbath? Freud didn’t take his patients behaviors literally. When he was treated rudely, he came up with the fact he called ‘transference’. You’re mad at your boyfriend or fiancée, and you take it out on your father. It is possible that Jesus became the victim of this when he was accused of the things he had never committed. The crowd was mad as hell with the Emperor of Rome, so they took their anger somewhere else, namely, Jesus. We let the other go free, and we decide the other, that is, Christ to be crucified. Instead of the Emperor, we murder Jesus. Why not? It is easier to get rid of an innocent man than the most powerful man in the world. We crucify one another on this cross on a daily basis. Christ was a symbol of our blames, accusations, and sins for everything happening to us. Since it was difficult to repel our faults and sins, instead we shoot the other with our paint balls of our darkness and ignorance. Jesus died not for our sin, but as a result of our wrong doings and injustices. He took our sins to himself by reflecting us. Based on what Jesus said, I would say, in the past you have been told not to lie to one another. But today I tell you not to lie to your body. In other words, don’t fantasize and expect your body to perform based on your fantasies. Lying to yourself is as bad as lying to people. A lot of times we take pride in having not lied since we were kids. However, as we grow older, we keep lying to our bodies while reaching the age of maturity. Our bodies take what is not real for real and what is real for unreal. (DhammaPada or the selected teachings of Buddha) If your bodies are fooled, your Spirit is not. Your Spirit is the judge like Solomon before two women. The lying woman is dismissed while the other woman leaves with her baby. Someone once said Kant believed in the natural law. Another person said Kant didn’t believe in the natural law absolutely. If he did, then why was he against St. Thomas Aquinas’ double effect theory, which was based on the natural law? Perhaps he thought the projection of his mind on the world was the natural law. I believe he took the unreal, namely, the world reflecting his categories, as real. Little did he know he was still sitting in the room of his mind? Being induced by the world of experience doesn’t mean you have your hands on the fact of life. By just saying our knowledge begins or starts with experience but doesn’t come from experience, we have not achieved much. Mr. Kant you’re still left with your impoverished rationalism, which doesn’t give us any true knowledge concerning the objective reality, beyond our mind. If you had worked on your soul or mind and tried to purify it, then perhaps you would have had a chance to see the truth beyond the Berlin wall. Kant still believed in his rationalism to deliver him the true knowledge. Transcendental idealism could open the door to the other world but it doesn’t mean you can get through it. Rumi, the Persian poet and a thinker knew the legs of the rationalists were wooden but he didn’t choose empiricism to solve his problem. Rumi was a Muslim mystic or a Sufi, who knew reason and experience were not going to give him the gift of true knowledge. They both have their shortcomings. He must have been in Hume’s position. He rejected both rationalism and empiricism. However, skepticism was his option. Rumi rather chose the inner aspect of Islam, and became a Dervish (poor in Persian) He meditated while practicing his 5 times prayers every day. He performed his orthodox religious rituals and also reaching deep within himself for the real and sacred knowledge. His ‘Masnavi’ or couplet-poems have been read for centuries. Long before him, Al-Gazzali (1058-1111), a Persian philosopher and theologian also chose the path of Sufism. Rationality and empiricism can go so far but at the end we need more than what these two can offer. It seems we ought to reach the uncreated Reality or Atman (Hinduism) or the Intellect within us to find out the true knowledge.
Johannes Eckhart (Meister Eckhart) c 1260-1327 was a Dominican theologian who established the school of German mysticism. (The Random House, Biographical Dictionary) He believed there was some Reality in us that is uncreated. The synthetic a priori of Kant, bridging the gap between Rationalism and Empiricism, is not providing us with true knowledge. What gives us true knowledge is the infinite, eternal, uncreated Reality, which is beyond any duality, being and non-being, existence and non-existence, rest and motion, life and death, time and eternity, and essence and existence. Apparently we all carry this Reality within us. Buddha reached it and became enlightened. “Since before time and space were, the Tao is. It is beyond IS and IS NOT. How do I know this is true? I look inside myself and see.” (Tao Te Ching, chap 21) 2000 and 500 years ago Lao Tzu, one of the founders of Taoism, wrote this. Knowledge of God is the key to having faith in Him. It is through this knowledge that I can penetrate the Berlin wall in order to find out what is on the other side. Faith alone is not enough.
All the passed thinkers and philosophers, whether in the West or the East, have been making great effort to explain the predicament we’re in. As beautiful as this world may be, it is so in comparison to what is not. Even if we choose to always be in the bright side, darkness is in the neighborhood. In the most exotic places we still see night and day and the change. The richest person in the world observes this reality. Pain and pleasure are our best friends. Sad and happy days are allied. There’re those who make you feel miserable by the way they perceive you. There’re also people who make you feel happy. We’re constantly mistaken for what others do. Others have been hurting them and you and I pay a price fir it. They’re angry at the mirror and not their images in the mirrors. They don’t see themselves in those mirrors, but they see plenty of faults in others. Their eyes are wide open to see the sins of others but their own. They see small pieces of hair in the eyes of others whereas they can’t see objects, which are in their own eyes blinding them. They never take responsibility for their actions. Blames are always thrown at other people. They instigate and yet stay clear acting innocent. They contradict themselves on a regular basis and yet they see contradictions in others while accusing them of things they haven’t done. Wow, what a mess of immoralities? Their mouths are full of profanities and later they treat you like, you were the causes of all that. Honesty, such a lonely word! This was the lyric in a song one singer once sang. When she insists in being right, don’t become confrontational. You were a mirror to her; she doesn’t like what she sees. Then the best you could do is let her be the way she is. When we correct and right what is wrong, we’re teaching. Then for once we ought to stop teaching and let the person be right all the time.
Freud’s patient in his office didn’t want to be taught. When she sees herself in the mirror, she feels this is not her. Therefore, she thinks Freud is the person who has all those abnormal behaviors. She is upset with him. Once Freud leaves the room and walks to the other room, she realizes it is not him, because Freud is now quiet. As long as Freud was talking about her issues, he became her. Once he comes back to the office, by being quiet, he is correcting her. She doesn’t see herself now, because Freud is no longer the mirror. Freud has changed his method from changing her to changing himself. All what she said to him boomeranged. Freud is now himself. Freud no longer reflects me. For a moment I felt he was the one with all my faults. I got angry with him, but little did I know he was showing me to me. I was upset with someone else any way and tried to take it out on him. He called this transference. You might argue with me as the definition of this word. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the message I’m trying to convey. Freud at one time stopped to be an educator. Before he told a liar, you have lied to me. He or she gets very mad saying, how dare you call me a liar. You were trying to teach or educate this person. Madam, I talked only a few minutes and you tell me I have been speaking all the time. Why are you lying to me? Freud is about to lose a patient, which is bad for him economically. Freud, then decide not to correct the lady by being silent and let her talk. I moved the mirror to the side. In the past we have been reflecting the world but from now the world will be reflecting our categories. Freud is quiet and she is reflecting him, which means she sees nothing but hear silence. Doctor Freud why did you follow Kant’s Copernican revolution? The world, doesn’t like to be corrected. Repeating, “You want to improve the world? I don’t think it can be done.” Lao Tzu (Chap 29, Tao Te Ching) But who are we as teachers, if we can’t educate the people around us? Freud decided to leave the woman to herself. Did he reward her for her behavior? No he didn’t. An idiot saw a wise man passing through. He jumped and slapped his rear end. The wise man immediately turned around and gave him a few coins. The fool became so excited and repeated the same act on a person being carried by 4 strong men. Little did he know he was the governer. He was arrested for what he did to the governor of the state and as a result he lost his head. Freud didn’t do such a thing, but instead he let her reflect his silence. She didn’t lose her head but instead learned an unforgettable lesson in her life. What was that? It was to be humble and quiet in the presence of a great mind and show reverence to his knowledge. There’re many ways to teach. It is not about cutting the baby in half to do justice. I can’t always impose my categories on the world. I ought to let the world reveal itself to us by purifying our mind. By purging and cleansing of its impurities my mind becomes the mirror reflecting the world. The objective Reality, not the world as it is, but as it could be, would fill my being. (Latest Cinderella movie) Ironically the story of this drudge defies Freud’s psychoanalysis project. Coming from a bad childhood, she shouldn’t have had such luck to marry a prince. However, prior to the death of her father she must have had a relatively good childhood. Something else that happened to her was the interference of the fairy mother in her life, which makes a tremendous difference in her later life. No such a thing occurs in Freud’s determinism. Freud expressed silence and his patient realized she was wrong by attacking Doctor Freud. Freud also learned to listen to his patients more. Madam you look at me by your subjectivism, namely, you impose your judgment as to who I’m upon me. But I don’t believe I’m what you think I’m. I’m in the same position, that is, I also try to impose my judgment on you. Perhaps we’re both wrong. However, the only difference between us is that I realized I was once a mirror for you so you could see yourself in me. When it didn’t work, I put the mirror aside and now I’m silent. You’re on your own reflecting my silence through your mirror. This perhaps called teaching without teaching by Lao Tzu. I worked on my mind and became silent and behaved in a different way. I noticed that you changed too. When we entered the church, you didn’t seem to know what to do. I never tried to teach you except by lighting a candle. You saw me, and then you followed me. I lose it sometimes when it comes to 10% and my 90% reaction to it. Nevertheless, I quickly get myself together and get back on the right path.
We badly need to get out of Kant’s subjectivism. We have to get out of this room Kant calls it our mind. This is not the natural law Aristotle and before him the ancient or classical Greeks spoke of. The subjective world of Kant is never the objective world of the natural law. The objective world of the natural law is the sun around which the earth revolves. Kant should unchain himself and move up from Plato’s cave to see the sun. The images on the wall in front of him are indeed those categories of his mind. To see the sun, he has to be out of the cave. How can you consider the projections of your mind on the wall of the cave the natural law? They say, unlike Hegel, Karl Marx adopted the law of causality. But was this causality the one prior to David Hume’s criticism or it was what Kant did with it? Marx seems not to trust the Aristotelian logic and its certainty in his dialectical materialism and philosophy of history. The likelihood is that he didn’t follow Kant’s notion of causality, which was one of his categories. Hegel wanted to use Kant’s rationalism in his philosophy of history. Hegel’s idealism could have come from Kant’s subjectivism. Marx’s materialism seems to have demanded causality as believed before Hume. However, though Hume became skeptical when it came to empiricism, Marx seems to have accepted the facts of the real world rather than the world of the mind. Kant’s synthetic a priori didn’t bridge the gap between rationalism and empiricism the result of which naturally was the fork created with Hegel and Marx, Religion and economy. Leftist Hegelians produced Karl Marx and Rightist Hegelian brought about existentialism. With the latter, being and existence were given importance and with the former body, matter, and economy became significant. What happened to Cartesian dualism between mind and body? We were thinking Kant finally joined mind and body but apparently he was unable to do so. When Marx used causality, by passing Hume’s problems with it, he was bound to run into what Hume had predicted, namely, you can never predict the future based on the past and presence, knowing that he was himself a historian. Marx got caught in Hume’s web like an insect. Hegel worked on the logic of Aristotle and was still a rationalist and an idealist. Marx became an empiricist. Hegel brought the Holy Spirit into history while Marx used the economic factor in it. Avatars or incarnations enter our world when things are bad. However, for the Hindus they don’t come into the river of time and change, because these two are illusions. Time is a cyclical reality in Hinduism. But for Hegel time and change matter a great deal. For the Hindus Avatars descend vertically but for Hegel horizontally. Time and eternity are not proportional. Did Hegel fall into Pantheism or Panentheism at the expense of losing the transcendence? History and time had never gained so much importance than with Hegel when time, the measure of motion, becomes God as one scholar once said. In the Gospel of John we just read that the word became flash and came among us but without any explanation as to how. There’s no rational basis set by John. By 300 AD we were told by the church father to just accept it by faith. Schopenhauer and Hegel were contemporaries. At the University they were a heart bit away from each other, namely, they were teaching in the same department and at one point their classes were scheduled at the same time. The former became aware of the Hindu and Buddhist philosophies and his imagination was set on fire as a result. Hegel let his Religion of Christianity dictate his philosophy. Kant also did something similar when it came to his categorical imperative. He must have had the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments on his mind when he came up with it. Kant didn’t want to become a preacher. Nonetheless, we can’t forget the fact that he came from a religious pietistic family. He kept his Religion apart from his philosophy as much as possible. I personally believe his categorical and hypothetical imperatives are based on the story of genesis. Don’t eat from the fruits of that tree is a commandment, like thou shall not commit adultery. Why, because, if you do, you shall be punished by death? The former imperative is the categorical and the latter imperative is the hypothetical. Life is not about either/or. It is both, this and that. (A tarot reader) Both are where Aristotle went to when it came to his ethics. Neither/nor ends up with both in some sense. You must not be a rash person, nor must you be a coward one. You ought to be brave and courageous. (Have courage and be kind, Cinderella, the advice her mother gave her) In courage you have a balance of the two. Either/or logic is good for science but when it comes to ethics, it is neither/nor, which finally gives you a little bit of both. Kant didn’t have that. He brought either/or logic of Aristotle into the realm of morality. ‘Both’ falls into the territory of the natural law. Mind is a divider. Heart is a unifier. The nature law exists in the heart whereas Kant’s reality existed in his mind. Aristotle’s ethics was all about the natural law. The Intellect corresponded to the natural law. Purified mind responds to the natural law. We’re part of nature and nature is part of us. Kant argues that we’re autonomous moral beings. But on what basis am I a moral being? For Hume our feelings and sentiments were the foundation of ethics. What does Kant base his morality on? How can we base our morality, on a God that is a postulate or assumption? Is it rationality he ground his ethics on? Well, he said moral is rational and rational is moral. Is categorical imperative sufficient enough to guide us through our moral journey? In his second and third principles he shows how he follows Hume’s separation between ‘is’ and ‘ought’.
Some years ago there was a famous song concerning how we use and abuse one another and also are used and abused, which explains Hume’s ‘is’. Kant doesn’t base his ethics on ‘is’ but on ‘ought’, namely, we shouldn’t use and abuse each other and vice versa. Kant didn’t infer ‘ought’ from ‘is’ as Hume had advised us not to. However, while Hume rests his morality on sentiments and feelings, which are universally true like Confucius and his follower Mencius, Kant wants us to rise above our human nature and be autonomous moral being. Why didn’t he consider the unlimited and uncreated Reality within to base his morality on? How can pure reason be the ground of my ethics? It is the unlimited Reason, which must have been the source of what his mother had told him about, that is the moral law within. The head cannot be the source. It is the heart, which is the basis of morality. Did the Nazi soldiers use their hearts when they were murdering innocent people? Was this massacre rational? At least Hume used the universal human feelings as the basis for morality rather than rationality. Kant couldn’t accuse Hume of relativism. Hume was too clever to let that happen. Kant didn’t worry about feelings and sentiments when it came to ethics. Rationality seems to be the foundation of morality. Lying is not rational, thus it is not moral. Once we dissect lying, we realize it is contradictory by nature. If I told you a lie, I myself know the truth. How can I tell the truth and not tell the truth at the same time and in the same relationship? Lying in and of itself is irrational. Is that why we’re told in the Ten Commandments thou shall not bear false witnesses? All depends what we mean by rationality. Kant’s pure reason is a failure in terms of the knowledge of God, the true Self (Atman in Hinduism), and the world of Noumenon. How can this crippled reason be good enough for ethics? Did Kant know rationality had already been impoverished and the tree of rationalism had been weakened once it was pruned by him? After all, they don’t call him ‘Shiva figure’ for nothing, Shiva being the destroyer god in Hinduism. ‘The irrational man’ is the name of the movie directed by Woody Allen. It is about the life of a philosophy professor. I’m not about giving the movie away. You can do that for yourself through your smart phones. We learn from this movie what happens when we’re no longer intellectual. I purposely made use of the adjective ‘intellectual’ here. This rationality is not about using the pure reason of Kant. If you’re truly intellectual, namely, using your Intellect not your reason, you’re not irrational. In fact irrational is the person who is not using his Intellect properly. Woody was indeed rational by using his Kantian pure reason. I don’t expect Woody Allen understand this point. The criminals who were in charge of the genocide committed in the Second World War, that is, the Nazis used their pure reason, because it could go either direction. Reason by itself cannot be trusted. Irrationality is when we don’t use our Intellect, which is an uncreated Reality in us like the ray of the sun within us. The Intellect controls the pendulum of pure reason. Irrationality doesn’t mean we don’t use our ordinary reason or pure reason of Kant. To gain the knowledge of the truth we don’t need pure reason, as Kant himself claims. Kant’s ax comes down on rationalism when he said with pure reason we’re unable to know God, true Self, and Reality beyond appearances. In this sense it is good to be irrational but not what Woody Allen had in mind. I much rather be called irrational while I’m using my Intellect. If you’re irrational, then you wouldn’t do what the professor of philosophy did in the movie. If Martin Heidegger was irrational using his Intellect, he never would have had an affair with one of his students. He was rational using his Kantian pure reason to decide what to do with Hanna Arendt (1906-75) and he did what he did to her. Aristotle was also a rationalist and the organizer of logic. However, he used his either/or logic for science and not for ethics and theology. Aristotle was an advocate of the natural law. He made use of the Intellect to deal with the metaphysical matters like God, unmoved Mover, uncaused Cause, and morality. Rationalism after Descartes was no longer what it was for Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Kant wanted to make philosophy the hand made of science. What science? Isaac Newton’s physics was the only science he knew given the 18th century discoveries. Little did he know that Newton’s physics was rejected by Albert Einstein in the beginning of the 20th century? You cannot make metaphysical realities be like exact sciences like physics. Kant died in 1804 and it took Germany to cultivate his ideas for a century after his death. 20th century gave rise to a morality, which was based on pure reason of Immanuel Kant. Kant’s philosophy like the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) shook the whole of Europe and later on the entire world. However, as the philosophy of the former descended from Jacob’s ladder, the music of this great German composer ascended the vertical ladder and became a medium between this world and the one beyond as he said himself. Kant’s subjectivism disconnected him from the moral values of the natural law. Although his categorical imperative resembles the teachings of the Avatar Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, it was not taught by an incarnated god. Moses didn’t come up with the categorical imperative, neither did the Avatar Christ. Only the mind of Kant created such a formula for our morality, which was based on the logic of either/or. Even in Christianity Jesus doesn’t seem to have said expect when you give. When Job said, I wish I had never been born to go through all the tortures I’m experiencing, there seems to be an underlying sense of expectation. Christ asked his disciples to bring everybody to the table and feed them. This was an act without any expectation. Where is Jesus in Kant’s categorical imperative? I understand that Kant was not a religious thinker like Augustine and Aquinas. Nevertheless, he came from a religious family. Why Krishna or Christ was not there to teach these moral principles? Instead of Kant Jesus should be teaching Kant what to do. How can you come up with the categorical imperative without the presence of God? What is the authority here? Kant cannot be an authority so we bow before him in respect as a saint. His rationality failed in his first principle. There seems to have been a spiritual vacuum in the fabric of German culture at the time of Kant in the 18th century. How about in Scotland where Hume was nurtured? Was something wrong with Catholicism or Protestantism?
Bishop Berkeley turned his back to Plato’s Forms and while an empiricist became an idealist and a nominalist. John Locke was later criticized by Berkeley for believing in the reality beyond the appearances. Locke was also a political philosopher and influenced Thomas Jefferson. Was the foundation of Christianity shaking? There were a number of Hindu thinkers and Buddhist philosophers who expressed their ideas about their Religions but none of them really rebelled against them as it was done after St. Thomas Aquinas. However, who was the saintly philosopher in Protestantism? It looks like there was none except Bishop Berkeley, who happened not to believe in the world beyond the phenomenal world. Well, let us not forget there’s no belief in Judaism concerning the hereafter, namely Heaven and Hell either. Christ was a Jew, if you remember. There was no major religious thinker after St. Thomas in the West. “
Relinquishing the fruit of action, the disciplined man attains perfect peace; the undisciplined man is in bondage, attached to the fruit of his desire.” (The Bhagavad-Gita, The Fifth Teaching, Renunciation of action # 12) Attachment is slavery. Karma yoga is disciplined action in Hinduism. How Immanuel Kant came up with his categorical imperative is still a mystery to me? May be Kant didn’t find any trace of giving without expectation in the Bible at all. So he had to rationally come up with a criteria or measuring rode for testing our morality. Apparently there was nothing regarding Hinduism and Buddhism in the libraries of Germany of those days. But this amazing similarity baffles us still. Of course, it is only a similarity and nothing more. The categorical imperative of Kant soon went through a philosophical grand rapid. It sounded as if Kant’s rationalism collapsed without ever being criticized by the great mystics of Europe or any around the world. We create our own world based on our categories and live in it. However, do we get out and see what is going on in the objective world? I have been giving a dollar to the one who fills up my gas tank for a number of years. However, my wife asked him last time, can you clean the wind shield please? He hesitated for a moment and said I don’t know where the soap bucket is. He then realized it was right behind him. Once he finished, I gave him a dollar. When I get a free dollar, why should I bother to earn it? How about Karma Yoga in Hinduism? That was regarding reaching the Ultimate Reality. However, does his categorical imperative work? If you noticed in the case of the gas pumper didn’t. So Kant’s categorical imperative has its own shortcomings. It is, in other words, not identical with the karma yoga of Hinduism at all. Karma yoga is a vertical reality. Kant’s is a horizontal one.
By just saying Jesus, the Avatar is among us we’re not solving the problem of the Noumenal realm. Hegel argued that there’s no barrier between the world of phenomena and beyond it. But if he considers Christ as God, or one of the members of the Holy Trinity, then we have problem. Why? because this Avatar or the incarnation of God has entered the flow of the world of change and time. For the Hindus time and change are illusions but not for Hegel. Avatars in Hinduism don’t enter the realm of becoming, because becoming is an illusion like what Parmenides had said long time ago. Avatars are here and now vertically. It was difficult for Hegel to go beyond what had come out of the Nicene Creed in the 13th century regarding the nature of Jesus. He let theology dictate his philosophy, in other words. He became the slave of time and history. Conflict between thesis and anti-thesis became the cause of motion as synthesis for him, whereas it was the reverse in ancient Greek philosophy. In other words, it was motion, which became the cause of conflicts not the other way around. Change is the cause of thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis or Being, non-being, and becoming.
After God rested, the whole created world began moving, because motion makes sense when it is contrasted with rest. When we look at being, it is nothing. Being is thesis and anti-thesis is nothing or non-being. Becoming is synthesis of the two, which is neither, being, nor non-being. Becoming is a combination of the two. Change is a chain of beings and non-beings. Being comes out of non-being, which is logically impossible, according to either /or logic of Aristotle. Only nothing comes out of nothing and something emerges out of something. Therefore, we cannot accept motion. Was Parmenides right by saying that change is an illusion? Did Hegel catch this at all or he just brushed aside this logic of certainly? If he had just noticed this, the whole 19th century philosophy would have been put on a different platform. If he had just thought of Parmenides, who said movement is only an illusion, the whole history, not only Europe, but the entire world would have been a different phenomenon. However, he sided with Heraclitus and regarded becoming a reality where God, son, and the Holy Spirit were one with the moving river. When God is in the world, then we have no choice but consider Pantheism or Panentheism realities to wrestle with. The former is about the fact that it is all a big ocean and we’re like the fishes and other marine sea creatures in it. The ocean is God and indeed everything is God. In other words, the whole universe is divine. Here “the universe is identical with God”. According to the followers of Penentheism, “the universe is only a part of God.” (The path of Philosophy, J. Marmysz) As you know, Spinoza, the Jewish rationalist philosopher while trying to solve the problem of Cartesian dualism of mind and body, slipped into Pantheism and was shunned by the Jewish community of his day. Kant was in a better position than Hegel. Nonetheless, he ended up with a God who was nothing but a postulate. Let us not forget he was doing all this with his pure reason. Kant with his pure reason is telling us it is limited. My reason is limited but by what criterion? It is the unlimited Reason or the Intellect should say this not a limited reason. Rationality of pure reason is unable to help us to figure out this the puzzlement of the mystery of life we mentioned earlier. Kant said moral is rational and vice versa. How can we do ethics with such a crippled reason? No wonder we ended up with the giving without expectation at the gas station. Ethics also is incapable of showing the way to the Ultimate Reality though it can pave the path to it. But Santa cannot replace St Nicolas; neither can a postulated God over look my morality. Aristotle’s ethics was rooted in the natural law. Was Kant’s ethics entrenched in the natural law? I don’t think so. The objective world of the natural law belongs to the noumenal realm. The Berlin wall already separated this world and other world. No wonder the natural law was the source of moral values among the classic Greeks. Would subjectivism of Kant allow him to believe in the natural law? According to St Thomas Aquinas being a believer in the natural law means results also matter in our moral theory of the double effect theory. But Kant is a non-consequentialist philosopher not Thomas. In the natural law, consequences matter. When it comes to the hypothetical imperative, Immanuel Kant warns us concerning the short comings of this moral theory. Results, he argues, are shaky grounds for judgments. On the other hand, he believed in the science of his day, namely, Newtonian physics in which hypothesis was very important. However, when it comes to ethics, Kant worries about the ‘If’/ ‘Then’ reality, that is, the conditional base for morality. We cannot even predict the future based on the hypothetical imperative. Hume argued that we can never predict the future based on the past and the present. The reason being there’s no connection between cause and effect. How about Kant for whom causality is a synthetic a prior category? If causality matters for Kant, then scientific predications are possible. Does this mean that David Hume also avoided the hypothetical imperative like Kant? Perhaps Kant learned about the hypothetical imperative from Hume, because when it comes to prediction, they both seem to shy away from it. I see a connection here between the two thinkers. Hume argued that we can never have a direct perception of causality. This gave him the opportunity to say that we cannot predict the future based on the past and the present. This was an attack on the rationalists even though he fell into skepticism later on in his philosophy. For Kant causality is a must for scientific progress. However, he made it part of the property of our mind. Hume going back to Bishop Berkeley didn’t believe we have access to the world beyond our mind. Kant inherited this and didn’t believe we can reach noumenal world rationally. But Kant didn’t deny the existence of a connection between cause and effect. Al-Ghazzali (1058-1111) the Muslim thinker argued that there’s no relation between cause and effect. He believed there’s a gap between the two. However, this disconnect is filled with the vertical presence of the Divine. Do we have such a presence in either Hume or Kant? The answer is ‘NO’! According to Al- Ghazali not even an apple falls off unless God wants. God is not absent from the universe. God may have rested on the 7th day but it is present here and now. You could be at rest and still be present. St. Augustine once said, evil is the absence of good. However, I argue that since Good (God) is always present, thus evil has no meaning what so ever. “Why have you forsaken me” on the cross doesn’t mean God was absent while Jesus was suffering on the cross. For a shark to move from one point to another, he has to do so in the water of the ocean. “For in him we live, and move our being;…” (The Acts 18, 28, St. Paul) If God is the ocean, then the sun is the Ultimate Reality. God is a necessary Being, which is the first manifestation of the Ultimate Reality. We’re moving in the ocean of Being. In God we live, move, and have our beings, said St Paul. We Live, move, and we’re. The verb ‘to be’ is used here. We either are or not. We’re contingent beings. Our beings are not necessary. We’re possible beings. We move, because God is at rest. God, by way of analogy, is the ocean, solid and immutable. We along with the rest of the universe are moving, because God rested on the 7th day of creation.
Did God create the world in time? In other words, did He create time along with movement? However, time has no substantiality. We cannot see, smell, hear, taste, and touch it. But we can see change, becoming, and movement. Now does it make sense to say that God brought the whole world into existence in time? I believe we’re wrong about time as much as we were wrong about the sun revolving around the earth before Copernicus. I don’t understand why Kant even considered time as one of his categories. Perhaps he thought time had no reality outside of our mind. We have organized our events in history and in the present time according to time. Time is an abstract reality. Therefore, when Aristotle argued that there was no beginning in time for the world to have been created, he was thinking regarding the eternity of the world. Here time and history don’t have to go hand in hand. History is a record of things passed. However, even in this definition the element of time is present. Past, present, and future are immersed in time. Cyclical reality seems to get away from this fact. This linear perception of historical events seems absurd at times. After all, what is straight in the universe any way? Nothing is bent in the universe according to the modern mathematicians. May be Pythagoras knew about this fact and passed it on to Plato. Let us not forget that both Pythagoras and Plato believed in reincarnation. Does this ring the bell in your mind? Yes, the Hindu philosophers had known this fact thousands of years ago. When we think about the Ultimate Reality, time and space have no meaning. Time being a property of mind alone tells us that Kant must have known something about the nature of time not being a factual reality. It was Hegel who badly needed the fact of time and history in his philosophy to the extent that he made the Holy Spirit be in the river of change and becoming. The Holy Trinity became the subject of time and change. God like salt entered the running water of the river and thus the value of time and history was like the value of God. The water is salty. God is now as valuable as time and history. Once God only existed as an assumption or postulate, it became an event in history, according to Hegel. No wonder why American, British, and German scholars began searching for real Jesus in their Jesus seminars in the 19th century. History became very significant for them. After all, history is now either God or part of God. What better tool than history whereby we can find out who this man was about two thousand years ago. Remember, history is now sacred. Who was this historical Jesus? Christ believed by faith is different from the man, the prophet, or a teacher who was walking on the streets of Jerusalem. The revisionist scholars came up with the conclusion that there’s a grand canyon or discontinuity between the two figures. In fact what these scholars have been doing has brought Christianity closer to Judaism and Islam. As we speak, the historical Jesus subjects have been taught at many colleges and universities in the United States of America and perhaps in the world. The Christ worshipped by faith belongs to the body of bliss like what the Mahayana Buddhists believed. This Jesus lives in Heaven just like Buddha. The historical Buddha and Christ died, but in case of the latter, he resurrected after three days. Although the Society of Jesus or Jesus seminar was somewhat right in their historical research, the fact of the body of Jesus in Heaven remains intact. This is what Hegel failed to realize and Schopenhauer discovered. Let us not mix up the two. Who was Socrates but Plato’s project? However, the question remains as to who he really was. Christ of faith should refer to Jesus in Heaven not the historical one. We’re here to get involved in the theological controversies, which have been following Christianity like a shadow for more than two thousand years. 600 years after the crucifixion of Christ, Islam emerged on the stage of the Abrahamic Religions on the stage of humanity. In the Holy Qur’an, the sacred book of the Moslems, God speaks in a monologue fashion to His prophet addressing the issue of the Holy Trinity. 1500 years have passed and Islamic philosophy has not been able to reach the intellectual atmosphere of the Western thoughts. Islamic philosophy has a better chance of cooperating with the Western thought than even Hindu and Buddhist thinkers, because firstly this Religion is Abrahamic, secondly it has challenged and was challenged by the Greek philosophers. Although Alexander the Great made it to India for a short time the Eastern intellectual world never had a direct contact with the Greeks. A statue of Buddha wearing a toga rather than the ancient Hindu robe is to show us the influence of the invasion of the great conqueror. Apparently there was no exchange of ideas between Alexander’s companies and the Hindu or Buddhist philosophers. Abrahamic thinkers alone had to confront the Greeks without any help from the Eastern world. Muslim philosophers were able to penetrate Europe intellectually and helped St. Thomas Aquinas tremendously, to the extent that their names are mentioned by this great 13th century Christian thinker. Unfortunately after the Crusaders the cooperation among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam came to an end. This war among the children of Abraham ignored the contribution of the Islamic thinkers to the Western religious thought. Never again did the world see a collaboration among the Jewish, Christen, and Muslim scholars, which had taken place in Iberian Peninsula centuries ago. Emmanuel Kant’s philosophy is a turning point in the West. When his philosophy was taught at the Muslim countries for the first time it was faced with a great force of Islamic philosophy, because a non- religious thought had no meaning in the Muslim world. Unfortunately the modern political power of the West, with the exception of few countries, has tried to suffocate the rising flame of the Islamic intellectual strength. Through a sound philosophical thought we can assist the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists in solving many problems people are confronting today. Caduceus is made up of a vertical rod with two wings at the top and a snake or two coiled around it. Snake symbolizes the psyche, in Greek means the soul, not Spirit. Spirit is the uncreated Reality symbolized by the winged rod. Once the rod or Jacob’s vertical ladder becomes shaky, the psyche is unable to hold on to it. Unprotected psyche has now broken loose. This limited reason is not supported by the unlimited Reason or the Intellect. This limited reason shows up in Kant’s ethics supported by a postulated God figure. There’s something missing here. There’s a vacuum in my being. There’s a void and emptiness in me. “Father why have you forsaken me” was what Jesus asked while bleeding on the cross? When the statement like “God exists” becomes analytic, God turns to be only a name corresponding to nothing unless it is refereeing to the Ultimate Reality. Being just a name is limited in our mind. Thus, we need to go higher, to the Realm of the Ultimate Reality. Kant brings us so close to say that, but unfortunately he exited to another direction, namely, to ethics with no solid foundation. We need more than morality to know about God. The followers of Buddha, for example, were very ethical but they were lacking the sacred knowledge required to know the truth regarding the Real. Therefore, Saint Nicholas becomes Santa for us in Christmas. Concerning the crucifixion of Christ, the Holy Qur’an says he resembled him but it was not him. Buddha had said almost 1200 years ago; don’t take the real for unreal and vice versa. “Those who take the non-real for the real and the real for the non-real and thus fall victims to erroneous, never reach the essence of reality.” (Dhammapada) It is also possible the Holy Qur’an meant to tell us that, don’t take a dead person for real person and vice versa. A dead person is not a real person. He or she is not a whole. A dead Jesus was not Christ, in other words. Glaucon told Socrates in Plato’s dialogue there’re people who pretend to be just but they’re not. So let us not mix up the appearances with the hidden facts, the exterior with the interior. This is mentioned in the Qur’an. There’s a difference between the phenomenal world and the noumenal world. People by and large fall for the appearance than the hidden Reality. Philosophers throughout centuries have been seeking for the hidden Reality or the nature of things. Kant had a choice to which direction he was to turn. This is very much like the end of a movie, I forgot its name, maybe it is called ‘forsaken’. It is the story of a FEDEX worker abandoned in an Island. The movie ended with him in the countryside standing on an intersection. There were 4 roads before this survivor, but which one would he take? He just delivered a package, which he had carried with him throughout his trip back to his home in the United States. A young country girl stopped by and gave him directions. Apparently the package belonged to her. She drove away towards the same house. Even though we don’t see this in the movie, he must have followed her. He lost the love of his life but he found where he should go. Perhaps, Kant missed this great point. Later on, in the first half of 19th century Kierkegaard, who was a Danish thinker and theologian (1813-55) argued that Christianity is not about either/or logic of Aristotle. It is rather a matter of leap of faith. Friedrich Nietzsche went beyond the contradiction and defied this gift of rationalism. On the one hand, he was a follower of Darwinian evolution, on the other hand, he predicted the 20th century would be experiencing wars after wars. On a Catholic channel this early morning 6/24/21, I watched a show about Ayn Rand (1905-82), the Russian Jewish novelist and thinker. This controversial figure fled Communism to embrace Capitalism. However, she is known for her ethical egoism. She so proudly said that she was influenced by Fried Nietzsche’s philosophy, no wonder she lived with contradictions all her life. Did she? Perhaps not, who are we to judge her any way? To be a philosopher is to seek the truth regardless. When Socrates decided to go around Athens challenging great minds, he didn’t have the intention of criticizing those folks to show how intelligent he was. He simply claimed they think they know, but they don’t. They don’t even know they don’t know. All he said was: I know this much that I don’t know, which means I’m always seeking to know. I know this much that I’m ignorant, but willing to learn. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Christ on the cross) We’re all ignorant having only opinions. We ought to seek true knowledge not necessarily information. Our computers are there to inform us. However, they just can’t give us knowledge. Knowledge is not information. Socrates was searching for pure knowledge, the one not contaminated by information. Some think Kant believed in the natural law. Personally I wonder how he could have. In natural law results still matter. Kant was not an advocate of Consequentialism, therefore he couldn’t have possibly believed in the natural law. Kant’s subjectivism wouldn’t have allowed him to even have a notion of it. Kant can’t have his cake and eat it too. In other words, he can’t be a subjectivist and claim to acknowledge the existence of the natural law. Natural law is about objectivity, openness to a world beyond the scope of the mind. By purifying our mind we make it transparent. This transparency allows us to see the real world through the opaqueness of the mind. Their hearings and hearts are sealed. Their eyes are covered. (Qur’an, chapter ‘cow’, not exact quotation) Great saints see through the eye of the heart. It is through this third eye that we can see the real essence of reality. Kant was chained in the cave of his own hearing and seeing. He couldn’t have been able to see the reality. Just being a rationalist is not enough, even though its tree is pruned. By severing himself from the tree of knowledge of St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest mind of the 13th century he divorced himself from Catholicism and ironically his town fell into the hand of Russian orthodoxy of Christianity. Konigsberg is no longer part of the former Prussia. It is now a Russian town. Thomas was a strong believer in the natural law. He acknowledged the existence of results and consequences in his double effect theory. Kant was absolutely against Consequentialism. Did he believe in the natural law? Perhaps he did after he died. Someone like Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90), I believe was a lover of the natural law. He was not content with the appearances he faced. He looked beyond them and painted what he had experienced. I watched how the wind was moving the pine trees overlooking a green land in May. It was still cold but beautiful, such that I didn’t want to go anywhere else. Pine trees were standing a few feet next to each other in a row. The spring breeze was singing as it was going through them. I think I experienced the objective Reality. A composer expresses his feelings through his music. A poet, like Walter Whitman does the same thing in his poems. A writer manifests his observation in his writing trying to convey the message in most eloquent way. Why Kant was unable to see this simple fact? He said, pure reason is limited, how did he know that? If pure reason were limited, then why did he make use of it in ethics? Besides, how can he, with his own pure reason, come up with such a statement? If either or logic of Aristotle is limited, then why he didn’t go for the shade of gray in morality? Aristotle knew the capacity of the ordinary reason used in science. If he believed in the natural law, he would have based his morality on it. Moral is rational and vice versa is what he claimed to be the case. Then how can I know God through a limited ethics? With the advent of Protestantism, ethics became very important. Kant, as we know, was part of that tradition of separation from Catholicism. Protestant reformation was a turning point in the history of Christianity. There’s a relation between morality and rationality. However, when it comes to the credibility of our ordinary reason, namely, Kant’s pure reason, we need to pause. There’s no shade of gray in the either/or logic of Aristotle when it is used for science. Once we enter the realm of the practical reason, the Intellect or the unlimited Reason rules. This is where the natural law shows up. If I’m given a choice between the life of one of my children and telling the truth, I definitely choose the former. Logical truth is not what Jesus said when he said the truth shall make you free. Death is not the freedom for one of my children. There’s a difference between logical truth and ontological Reality. The former goes very well with Kant’s subjectivism. The Intellect sits well with the metaphysical Reality, which is connected to what ethics is all about. How are you going to have a morality, which is based on a God, who is nothing but a postulate? This is a created God, not the true one.The struggle to come to a conclusion through the maze of the logical spider web is turning God into an assumption is a wonderful acrobatic show. However, if Kant had led us to the Ultimate Reality like the Hindus, then we would have been in a better shape than we are now. At least we wouldn’t appeal to ethics to reach the postulate God. Perhaps Kant should have paid more attention to the unlimited Reason or the Intellect than what pure reason was capable of. We stand on the shoulders of our great thinkers, but I’m afraid Kant was not able to carry us and as a result we fell and now we need to go to the physical therapists for help. In spite of all the criticisms of Kant’s philosophy, he was a great mind in the history of thought.