HUMAN DESTINY – PART VIII – PHILOSOPHY – KANT

“Five great enemies to peace inhabit within us: viz., avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride. If those enemies were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace.” ­– Petrarch.

We have now looked at the destiny of man from the vantage point of science and history. Next we look at man’s future as seen by three philosophers starting with the 18th century enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel Kant. In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant says all interest of his reason is concentrated on the following questions: “1. What can I know? 2. What ought I to do? 3. What may I hope?”1 Hope is directed towards happiness and hoping refers to something that ought to happen, just as morality is acting as one ought. Unfortunately we cannot know exactly what will make us happy, therefore the moral imperative is to “do that which will render thee worthy to be happy.”2 But pure reason tells us that anything which ought to take place must be capable of taking place.3 Happiness in exact proportion to moral worthiness of happiness constitutes the highest good, but is not the case in the world of sense. Thus pure reason leads us to belief in an intelligent world with a single supreme will that comprehends moral law; from which he derives his indirect proof of God and of a future life, which underlie his ‘transcendental theology.’4

Kant’s hopes for human destiny are outlined in his treatise, Perpetual Peace. Fundamental to his thinking is the meaning of ‘peace’ which in the case of states implies permanence, otherwise the correct term is ‘truce.’ He sees such peace as (1) prohibition of individual states to subjugate others, (2) abolition of standing armies, (3) non-interference of states in the constitution or government of others, and (4) universal republican government. He proposes a federation of free states into a ‘league of peace.’ Perpetual peace also requires a law of world citizenship – the universal hospitality of individuals.5

Kant also argues a ‘predictive’ history can be a priori if the diviner creates and contrives the events he announces in advance. Current politicians, like the biblical prophets, fail by virtue of their failure to create the tenable constitution of that future.6  The underlying principle must be moral which reason presents as pure – a duty of the human soul – concerning mankind as a whole.7  This will occur not by revolution, but by evolution of a constitution in accordance with natural law, republican in form. He sees history as “progress toward the better” which will continue unless we enter “an epoch of natural revolution which will push aside the human race to clear the stage for other creatures.” Meanwhile the treatment of humans by sovereigns as tools of their designs is “subversion of the ultimate purpose of creation itself.”8

Enlightenment of the masses in the moral law of the individual and the state, that is, the creation of good citizens appears to be the means to a future of perpetual peace. Concordance of legal and moral principles will lead to gradual reduction in violence, the rise of charity, and the realization of a cosmopolitan society.9

1Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Pure Reason, Penguin Books Ltd., London, 2007. ISBN 978-0-140-44747-7, page 635.

2Ibid. Page 638. (Bolding is mine)

3Ibid. Page 636-7.

4Ibid. Page 642.

5Beck, Lewis White, editor, Kant On History. Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing, Indianapolis, 1980. ISBN 0-672-60387-X, pages 85-105.

6Ibid. Pages 137-138.

7Ibid. Page 146.

8Ibid. Page 148.

9Ibid. Page 151.

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