10.06.2024, 06:38 - Views: 88

Why is I. Kant modern and relevant?


Prof. Ilham Mammadzadeh
Director of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, ANAS

The 300th anniversary of I. Kant has been celebrated in many countries, and it has been also celebrated in Azerbaijan. In principle, conferences have been held, articles have been published, and it seems that now we need to figure out how and for whom it is modern and what ideas are relevant. For some people it can be the same thing, but, in our opinion, this is, first of all, a question of how we imagine modernity and how relevant our idea is for others. Essentially, this anniversary gives us the opportunity to once again think about what is the universality of philosophy and how the philosophies of different countries differ.
I remember that J. Habermas said that modernity is an unfinished project, but is it unfinished for everyone? The world now seems to us both multi-valued and multi-polar. Apparently, recognizing it as such makes modernity incomplete, but at the same time, for some, post-modernity has already arrived.
In our opinion, based on the fact that in the world there are too many wars, the imposition of other people’s standards and opinions, indifference to moral values, Kant’s ideas on enlightenment, religion and ethics, reflections on the rule of law and civil society, the categorical imperative, seem to be modern, and an appeal to eternal peace.
First of all, we are interested in his question about what enlightenment is. Enlightenment is understood differently by almost everyone. It is not for nothing that M. Foucault wrote an article with the same title in 1984, which meant for him that understanding the meaning of enlightenment did not satisfy him. In our opinion, many people now are not interested in this question as what is enlightenment, and therefore Kant’s question, as it were, is not modern. We would like to note that the question of enlightenment, on the contrary, is social, modern and relevant, as it is connected with how the relationship between training, education and reflection on how the search for truth differs from what the truth is and is possibly understood. The question of what enlightenment is in all this, apparently, will be key in order to understand why the categorical imperative does not work, why morality and religion lose their meaning and why wars break out.
In our philosophy, this question is recognized as modern, but not everyone will consider it relevant and effective. The problem here is what we mean by enlightenment. To learn - yes, but we continue to divide society into those who teach and those who learn. But the meaning of Kant’s question was different, in that the meaning of education is freedom and independent choice to be an adult, capable of making responsible decisions. Enlightenment is the choice of the ethics of duty and responsibility by a free individual. However, the ethics of duty and responsibility now turns out to be irrelevant. One can even record a loss of interest in individual ethics. Collective ethics, public and collective interest, memory are valued to a greater extent than individual ethics, but how can they exist without it.
We think that Kant is modern and relevant, first of all, because he dealt with the problems of epistemology, the problem of what knowledge, reason is, how reliable our knowledge about nature and society is, how verifiable it is. Philosophers often note that Kant made a “Copernican” turn in philosophy; some talk about a revolution. It would seem that it is necessary to indicate what it is.
In our opinion, this is a revolution, and it lies in the fact that Kant finds our human, and not an absolute point of view regarding what knowledge is, what is the path and method of searching for the meaning of being, the connection of human thought with being, how being created by the human mind. Kant subjectively strives for cognitive objectivity and this idea is the very essence of his relevance. Then, and no less important, he criticizes our ability to correctly use reasoned forms of judgment. Essentially, Kant criticizes empiricism, rationalism, and skepticism, trying to evaluate our own conclusions, our powers of judgment, finding the limits of our objectivity, of facing what lies beyond our capabilities. This, we think, is the meaning of what he called “critical philosophy.”
Essentially, Kant, through critical philosophy, defines how we can legitimately think, use language, and know through concepts, how we can break through to what a person thinks, believes, or judges about specific objects. He distinguishes judgment from what can be called a sufficient cognitive justification of knowledge, which he achieves with the help of so-called cognitive reasoning, “protocol sentences”, the meaning of which is precisely to check one’s beliefs, statements and knowledge about how and what a person thinks about specific objects when using certain concepts. Thus, he also tests what is called true freedom, equality, enlightenment and law.
In critical philosophy, Kant formulates his key questions, which represent the various areas of philosophy. In principle, we are talking about the fact that it reveals, in a certain sense of the word, the universal part of philosophy. This area, in our opinion, is relevant for many national philosophies, although, it is clear that the presence in each of them of that part that is interesting only for it is not excluded. Kant talks about only four questions: 1. What can I know? 2. What should I do? 3. What can I hope for? 4. What is a human-being? Thus, in the first question we are talking about metaphysics, about the relationship between science and metaphysics, about the metaphysical principles of natural science. In the second, we are talking about morality and ethics, the metaphysics of morals, in the third, about ethics, the relationship between reason and religion, and, in the fourth, about anthropology, which means education, pedagogy, aesthetics and politics.
It is clear that Kant’s legacy is enormous; his philosophy anticipated many teachings, schools and concepts that followed him later. In our short text, we tried to see what, in our opinion, makes some of its provisions both modern and relevant today. Let us repeat that the modernity of his ideas can be limited to individual philosophies, and the relevance of his ideas is associated with their universality.