What, in your opinion, was Kant’s main mistake? Part. III

Hello. We wanna continue our discussion about Kant’s mistakes. Here you can find  five “famous” opinions. But you, what do you think? What was Kant’s main mistake?

Howard Williams:
Kant’s main mistake was not to be born a hundred or so years later so that he could take advantage of the developments in social studies, in particular political economy and social anthropology that would have enhanced his attempts to implement his practical philosophy.

In terms of things he might have been able to influence: he might have paid a little more attention to his style of writing in the second and third Critiques and given women a little more credit for intellectual ability and political wisdom than he does. His account of religion also leaves a lot of unresolved difficulties. He dispenses with any kind of empirical notion of a divine being, but what kind of being are we to imagine plays a role in practical philosophy?

Kenneth Westphal: Kant’s main mistake, I believe, can be stated simply, though its demonstration requires careful elaboration: Kant erred in thinking that his most important principles, regarding both cognition and practice, and their justification require Transcendental Idealism. In my new book I argue that: Kant’s arguments for Transcendental Idealism are invalid; they are shown to be invalid by some of Kant’s own key transcendental proofs in the Critique of Pure Reason; Transcendental Idealism cannot provide the justification, e.g., of causal judgments or of practical freedom that Kant claimed it alone could provide; and that Transcendental Idealism is not necessary for justifying either Kant’s key cognitive and practical principles, nor is it necessary for defending the possibility of free moral action. Dispensing with Transcendental Idealism enables us to understand and appreciate Kant’s genuine philosophical achievements.

Eric Watkins: In retrospect, there is much in Kant’s writings that one could take issue with–many contemporary philosophers, whether consciously aware of it or not, are, I take it, doing precisely that. However, to make a mistake is, at least in one important sense, to do something that one should have known is incorrect or improper, and given the difficulty and ambitions of Kant’s project(s), it seems unfair to attribute too much blame for the inevitable missed opportunities.

Andrew Ward: I should like to say, first, what I think is NOT a ‘great mistake’ committed by Kant. His embracing transcendental idealism is not, as so many anglo-american philosophers now think, a serious error. On the contrary.His greatest error, rather, was in supposing that he could defend the possibility of freedom of the will in the face of the thoroughgoing determinism that exists in the spatio/temporal world. Since his defense of free will is (in my view) unsatisfactory, his attempt to replace an empiricist theory of morality with a rationalist one is a failure. What is more, his practical arguments for the existence of God and the immortality of the soul must collapse (since they depend of our possessing free will).

Barry Stroud: Although it cannot be called simply a ‘mistake’, I think what led Kant disastrously astray was his idea that there is such a thing as Reason with its own fixed structure and in which all human beings participate. He thought he was studying and revealing the structure of just such an abstract thing or faculty, and it had a profound effect on how he understood his results. I do not think that assumption is essential to the enterprise of exploring the necessary conditions of the possibility of any human thought and experience or to appreciating the special relation in which human beings would stand to any of the truths shown to have that special status. The deep significance of the fact that we stand in that relation to certain necessary and pervasive features of human life is what is most distinctive of Kant’s philosophy.

What, in your opinion, was Kant’s main mistake?

One question, five answers.

And you? want do you think? What was Kant’s main mistake?

Henry Allison: Obviously, there are many things I wish that Kant had never said (for example, some of his statements about women, sexual morality, and the like) and many arguments which leave much to be desired. In addition, there are the areas (such as mathematics) where Kant`s views have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments. But none of these count as “mistakes” in my view. If I have to select one such mistake, I believe that the chief is his regrettable decision to publish his “Ueber ein vermeintes Recht aus Menschenliebe zu luegen.” Not only does Kant here misrepresent his own views on the matter, but it has made it all too easy for critics to attack a distorted picture of his moral theory.

Beatrice Longuenesse: I think Kant’s main mistake lies in the way he thinks about the relation between his theoretical and his practical philosophy. He thinks he can salvage the notion of freedom indispensible to his moral philosophy only by reintroducting as objects of faith the metaphysical truths he had denied as objects of knowledge. I think this is a confusing and unnecessary move, which sends him straight back into the pre-critical, metaphysical age he had wanted to break away from.

Lourdes Flamarique: The “anthropologization of philosophy”: In the Kritik der reinen Vernunft Kant builds metaphysics on the basis of the natural inclinations of reason and the recognition of the limits of the intellect. Accordingly, Kant outlines an ontology with consciousness as the central point.
To put it in Aristotelian terms, I think that Kant’s biggest mistake is his hylemorphic approach to human knowledge. For this amounts to think knowledge in terms of “poiesis” instead of “praxis” (in the Aristotelian sense). This is a huge mistake, whose only justification is Kant’s own interest in explaining the method of physical science against the background of an empirist tradition.

Paul Guyer: In my view, Kant’s chief mistake was to assume that we can have complete certainty about the most fundamental principles of nature, and to base his distinction between appearance and reality on this assumption, which distinction then allowed him to treat freedom of the will as something that automatically exists in the unknowable realm of noumenal reality rather than something that must be painstakingly realized within the limits of nature. One of Kant’s chief worries was that if the freedom of the will could not be demonstrated then people could use determinism as an excuse for the immoral actions they are all too naturally disposed to perform; but transposing freedom of the will from the sensible world of appearances to the supersensible realm of reality could have precisely the same effect. Kant did realize that people must learn to discipline their inclinations in the natural world, but he should have recognized that our freedom and rationality can be achieved only in the natural world and within the limits of nature, and that our chief task is precisely to learn how to do this.

Patricia Kitcher: One major mistake was assuming that scientific problems were amenable to philosophical solution. Despite his careful distinction between method in mathematics and in philosophy, he still offered transcendental idealism as as solution to problems such as the infinite divisibility of lines. Assuming that the problems raised by Newtonian mechanics could never be resolved by science, he again tried to offer philosophical solutions to questions about the nature of space and time.