Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Immanuel Kant, dubbed as 'one of the most influential figures in Western Philosophy' took me for a ride with his fundamental premise of thought.

A summary of his theory on reason and freedom.
He presupposed freedom as the centre point which holds reason together since he believed that reason can only be fulfilled with assumptions that empirical observation cannot support.( as paraphrased)
In his own words, "Reason creates for itself the idea of a spontaneity that can, on its own, start to act--without, i.e., needing to be preceded by another cause by means of which it is determined to action in turn, according to the law of causal connection". In its intellectual domain, reason must think of itself as free.

I beg to differ on this, though. I cannot help but to be reminded by Jonathan Edward's allegory on free will, so to speak. To put it simply, if we were to look in retrospect, we would find ourselves consistently behaving in a certain way due to a past event, which then affect the way we react in our present situation. "I cannot help but to be reminded..." indicates that though I have the inclination, a tendency to be reminded of Edwards' philosophy on Man not having free will, I am actually inclined to think this way because I have read his views on why Man do not, in any real sense; own absolute free will at all.I read his views on free will because it provides the reason as to the doctrine of divine election. The chain, goes on; leading to more retrospective causal effects that lead me into thinking and behaving in this manner. My course of actions, thoughts, and Reason therefore; are not independent of the events which happened prior to the way I am acting or thinking now. If so, then I can safely say that reason does not own freedom in any real sense.

On motive of doing good deeds.
Kant said that we can control the will that direct the motives of us doing good deeds. "The kind act of the person who overcomes a natural lack of sympathy for other people out of respect for duty has moral worth, whereas the same kind act of the person who naturally takes pleasure in spreading joy does not. We might be tempted to think that the motivation that makes an action good is having a positive goal--to make people happy, or to provide some benefit. But that is not the right sort of motive."

On the contrary, Jonathan Edwards' differing view is this - "In some sense the most benevolent, generous person in the world seeks his own happiness in doing good to others, because he places his happiness in their good. His mind is enlarged as to take them, as it were, into himself. Thus when they are happy, he feels it; he partakes with them, and is happy in their happiness. This is so far from being inconsistent with the freeness of beneficence, that, on the contrary, free benevolence and kindness consists in it.

Both preached freedom in two different senses, one presupposes freedom as the centre that holds reason, whereby without it; reason cannot stand; our faculty of reason would fail. The other; disregard Man as having any absolute freedom in any real sense, despite us perceiving the act of being 'willing' to do something as an indication of freedom.

However, I couldn't help ( no free will, perhaps?) but to think that the latter must have been a more joyous and much happier man than the former.