Kant versus Hume -- A Showdown Icon

May 26, 2020

Hume was very much against shallow, unenlightened philosophers who wrote a lot of nonsense.

Kant is one such philosopher.

Hume already said that there was no such thing as a priori knowledge, but Kant refuted this by saying some were a priori. In reality, Kant was referring to belief and not knowledge.

Major Difference 1: A Priori; Belief Versus Knowledge

There are a priori beliefs that you do not know where it came from (like why Person 1 likes chocolate instead of crisps, but Person 2 likes crisps instead of chocolate)

There are a posteriori beliefs that are instilled in you.

Belief is not knowledge, but Kant confounds belief and knowledge as one, just as John Locke (the other shallow philosopher) used the word ‘idea’ to mean both ‘ideas’ and ‘feelings’.

Holding for true, or the subjective validity of a judgement in relation to conviction (which is, at the same time, objectively valid), has the three following degrees: opinion, belief, and knowledge. Kant

But a priori or innate beliefs creates a problem because Person 1’s innate beliefs might be opposite the innate beliefs of Person 2. The proper and traditional solution is dialectics which takes into account the feelings and viewpoints of all parties, since all parties are a cognition unit of everything in existence. Examples of dialectics are:

  • The prosecution and defense questioning each others’ witnesses, with the judge overseeing
  • An academic submitting a paper for peer review which debate with each other on publishing

But since Kant is shallow, he creates a concept of synthetical judgment and cites the mathematical way of how all the beliefs of mathematicians agree. The problem with synthetical judgements is that math deals with non-feeling non-thinking objects.

  • Everyone can agree what a triangle is because the triangle cannot protest to it.
  • Everyone can agree to call 10 raised to 100 as a googol because a googol has no choice but to accept it.

I can make a synthetic judgment that “Donald is an idiot” and under Kant’s system I would see him as an idiot forever. But under Socrates’ dialectics, Donald can argue with me and prove that he is not an idiot, which would then correct my belief and harmonize our ideas and feelings.

  • If there is fellow-feeling between us, then we both can conclude that Donald is not an idiot. In this case, the process is dialectic.
  • If there is no fellow-feeling, then I can reject his argument and either argue forever or not have the issue resolved. In this case, the process is debate.

Kant’s intellectual dictatorship then manifests as the funny concept of the Transcendental Logic and Transcendental Analytic and the destruction of dialectics.

As a safe and useful warning, that general logic, considered as an organon, must always be a logic of illusion, that is, be dialectical, for it teaches us nothing whatever respecting the content of our cognitions Kant

In a nutshell, Kant has the same dark ages mentality that created the intellectual dictatorship of the Roman Catholic Church. The main difference is that instead of God and miracles, Kant uses a priori and logic. He uses ‘transcendence’ which no one can explain, just as the Church used God which they couldn’t explain.

Kant selfishness policy

So we can say that Kant brought back the natural darkness that was temporarily removed by the Enlightenment, and so Europe went back to war as usual, manifesting as World War I and II afterwards.

Seek ye first the kingdom of pure practical reason and its righteousness, and the object of your endeavour, the blessing of perpetual peace, will be added unto you.” For the science of morals generally has this peculiarity,—and it has it also with regard to the moral principles of public law, and therefore with regard to a science of politics knowable a priori,” Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, Kant

Hitler thought of himself as pure and righteous too and used his pure and practical reason to start a war: Was Hitler a Christian, an atheist, or neither ?

Major Difference 2: Morality

The shallowness of Kant leads to his moral system being based on the categorical imperative or the golden rule: Do unto others as what others would do for you. Doing this would be rational or reasonable.

In contrast, Hume believed that morality is not based on reason. To him reason is just the effect, and feelings are the real cause.

The flaw in Kant’s categorical imperative is that if a person has low morals from the start, then he can spread low morals to all*. Kant failed to dig deeper into his own reasoning and did not realize that the golden rule is really based on ego and the ego’s natural tendency to impose itself on other entities. It is your ego that makes you feel that you want the other person to feel as you do.

*This weakness of this moral policy is corrected by Jesus saying ‘Love God with all your heart.’ This step corrects the arbitrariness of the ego. However, this is not doable with Kant because he replaced God with the Transcendental Whatever.

Adam Smith explained this fully in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, which itself is his addition to the moral system began by Hume. We add to their reasoning by saying that this tendency to hurt others is caused by the fact that humans have to get energy by ingesting other living entities. Plants do not have this tendency as they get energy from the sun which they use to suck in water and minerals.

This is why religions practice fasting. Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims fast during certain moons — to reduce the immoral effects of the ego.

Hume explained that ego is merely a feeling of the self (a collection of perceptions by consciousness). So if you exhaustively chase down Kant’s reasoning, it will still end up into Hume’s maxims.

The differences in the quality of moral understanding between Kant and Hume leads to totally different policies:

  • A Kantian would probably argue that the solution to Islamic terrorism would be to destroy all terrorists, since they cannot be reasoned with. Kant even advocates a moral or just war, which has the same metaphysical absurdity as an Islamic jihad, since war and morality are naturally opposite.
  • A Humist would do the opposite. He would realize that the cause of terrorism was the hurt feelings of the terrorist. For example, maybe the terrorist’s parents were tortured by a dictator who was propped up by a Western country. A Humist would then try to discover what is causing the terrorist’s pain and try to fix it. In this way, the terrorist will stop looking for refuge in the militant interpretations of the Quran, which is what hurt people might expectedly do.

Thus, a Humist would find ways to relieve such hurt in a better way, eliminating the possibility of war and the added hurt that it causes. This prevention of hurt will prevent the cycle of violence. For example, the Germans were hurt by their defeat in WWI so they simply created WWII to relieve themselves of the hurt and humiliation that they carry in their hearts.

World peace is not possible with Kant, but it is possible with Hume and Smith, because the latter’s policies are based on pure metaphysics.