Thesis On Kant

Whatever concept one may hold, from a metaphysical point of view, concerning the freedom of the will, certainly its appearances, which are human actions, like every other natural event are determined by universal laws.However obscure their causes, history, which is concerned with narrating these appearances, permits us to hope that if we attend to the play of freedom of the human will in the large, we may be able to discern a regular movement in it, and that what seems complex and chaotic in the single individual may be seen from the standpoint of the human race as a whole to be a steady and progressive though slow evolution of its original endowment.

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It can thus be read productively in comparison to Hegel and Marx’s approaches to world history, and can in some ways be seen as setting a challenge which Hegel was to take up in his own philosophy, and which Marx was consequently to develop.

Of particular interest in relation to Hegel and Marx is Kant’s reference to man’s “unsocial sociability” in the Fourth Thesis, which seems to suggest something like a socio-historical dialectic.

This point of time must be, at least as an ideal, the goal of man’s efforts, for otherwise his natural capacities would have to be counted as for the most part vain and aimless.

This would destroy all practical principles, and Nature, whose wisdom must serve as the fundamental principle in judging all her other offspring, would thereby make man alone a contemptible plaything.

By “antagonism” I mean the unsocial sociability of men, i.e., their propensity to enter into society, bound together with a mutual opposition which constantly threatens to break up the society.

Thesis On Kant

Man has an inclination to associate with others, because in society he feels himself to be more than man, i.e., as more than the developed form of his natural capacities.

In the end, one does not know what to think of the human race, so conceited in its gifts.

Since the philosopher cannot presuppose any [conscious] individual purpose among men in their great drama, there is no other expedient for him except to try to see if he can discover a natural purpose in this idiotic course of things human.

But he also has a strong propensity to isolate himself from others, because he finds in himself at the same time the unsocial characteristic of wishing to have everything go according to his own wish.

Thus he expects opposition on all sides because, in knowing himself, he knows that he, on his own part, is inclined to oppose others.

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