Self again

Self again

I went to an interesting lecture, Self Deception in Kant: If we are free, can we deceive ourselves?

A visiting professor from the University of South Carolina cleared up some stuff for me. I never thought of Kant as an idealist before, but he was. Kant “solved” the problem of moral law by dividing the will into two different dimensions: a “moral” will that must always act in accordance with an unknown, idealistic moral law and a separate “capricious” will which can act based in self interest. Morality, as Kant saw it, was a reciprocal of freedom: “Freedom and unconditional practical law reciprocally imply each other.” In other words, for Kant, without moral law there can be no concept of freedom. Kant takes a lot of flak about that, and the professor set himself up as a defender of Kant. Cool stuff; but the lecture was mislabeled. The promotional stuff said: “No philosophical knowledge required.” I don’t think so. I was struggling to follow it, and I’ve read huge amounts of Kant.

On another front, I was intrigued by the procession of concepts of self among the philosophers that the professor wrote his dissertation on. Kant saw the self as unknowable: “I have no knowledge of myself as I am but merely as I appear to myself.” He quoted a Police lyric, speculating that perhaps Sting was a Kantian: “In the desert that I call my soul, I always play a starring role…”

So lonely, indeed. Hegel evidently revised this position, proposing that the self arrives late. We start out without one, but as time goes on we have a chance to find it. Kierkegaard reverts back to Kant’s position, that the self is unknowable. The muck gets deep so quickly in all this. I just wanted to record a couple of notes. However, it seems interesting to me that both K’s actually agree on something.

I’m glad I’m not a philosophy major. I’d have a lot more headaches.

There’s been a disturbing trend at school lately though. Everyone keeps asking: “Have you picked out a Ph.D. program yet?” Christ, I’m not even halfway through my masters yet. Dr. Kleine said yesterday that he wished he could confer a Ph.D. on me right now so I could just get to work. It’s been really weird for me the last few years. Most of my professors treat me more like an equal than a student. I feel like arguing with them. Geez folks, I’m not that smart, just that weird.