Customer Review

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is man?, January 24, 2004
This review is from: Kant's Theory of Freedom (Paperback)
The Kantian treatment of the idea of freedom, and its relation to Kantian morality and the theme of practical reason, is one of the great moments in both world philosophy and world history, but is virtually banished from discourse now as Darwinism, pragmatism, analytic philosophy, or pop freudianism recycled rule the waves. The subject as seen here seems a lost treasure hunt story for an outsider, standard fare of course for this field, and very well done, linking together different stages of Kant's development where too many discussions finesse one part in isolation. Allison's restatement of something like the original Kantian view taken straight, after the analytic era and the modified Kantianism of commentators like Strawson, is as interesting as it is complicated, yet starkly clear in outline, if not always easy to follow. The broad outlines are majestic, even if we thought the result unsuccessful. Who was successful? The thicket of problems is so difficult most philosophy simply gives up and takes to a simplified myth,often dressed in science jargon. The subject needs a trail guide steeped in the literature of the two great critiques, to connect them together, and the author does a good job digesting this legacy, much of it in German, stretching over two centuries. The book starts with Kant's Third Antinomy and proceeds through the whole terrain, including a discussion of radical evil.
It is worth noting how E.O. Wilson in Consilience decided sociobiology is going to have to start a holy war for science and Darwinism against books like this, with their keynote of transcendental freedom, the noumenal and phenomenal aspect of agency, self, and freedom. Why anyone would be dumb enough to wish such a fight is hard to comprehend. Even in the midst of the obvious difficulties of the now classic Kantian approach it stands like the Himalayas beyond the pretenses of later philosophy with its curious claims to have progressed beyond this point, when in fact they have mostly forgotten their own tradition, content with the pragmatism of the couch potato.
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