This is a continuation (1, 2) of the bashing of anti-reason philosophers and philosophies. Rand didn’t respect too many philosophers. The only two she had any real respect for, it differed in degree, were Aristotle and John Locke, and this was because these two were the pro-reason philosophical force behind the formation of her beloved United States. And she shreds all other philosophers, one by one, in her book “For the New Intellectual” – some because of their views on metaphysics and epistemology, others because of those on ethics and politics. (You wouldn’t enjoy it if you were her target. She had a gift for vitriolic polemic.)
Among the three she singled out for attack are Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel and Karl Marx. She actually called Kant a “head-shrinker”.
The man who formalized this state [of battle between Witch Doctors and Attila-ists] and closed the door of philosophy to reason, was Immanuel Kant.
Kant gave metaphysical expression to the psycho-epistemology of Attila and the Witch Doctor and to their primordial existential relationship, shutting out of his universe the existence and psycho-epistemology of the Producer. He surrendered philosophy to Attila—and insured its future delivery back into the power of the Witch Doctor. He turned the world over to Attila, but reserved to the Witch Doctor the realm of morality. Kant’s expressly stated purpose was to save the morality of self-abnegation and self-sacrifice. He knew that it could not survive without a mystic base—and what it had to be saved from was reason.
Attila’s share of Kant’s universe includes this earth, physical reality, man’s senses, perceptions, reason and science, all of it labeled the “phenomenal” world. The Witch Doctor’s share is another, “higher,” reality, labeled the “noumenal” world, and a special manifestation, labeled the “categorical imperative,” which dictates to man the rules of morality and which makes itself known by means of a feeling, as a special sense of duty.
The “phenomenal” world, said Kant, is not real: reality, as perceived by man’s mind, is a distortion. The distorting mechanism is man’s conceptual faculty: man’s basic concepts (such as time, space, existence) are not derived from experience or reality, but come from an automatic system of filters in his consciousness (labeled “categories” and “forms of perception”) which impose their own design on his perception of the external world and make him incapable of perceiving it in any manner other than the one in which he does perceive it. This proves, said Kant, that man’s concepts are only a delusion, but a collective delusion which no one has the power to escape. Thus reason and science are “limited,” said Kant; they are valid only so long as they deal with this world, with a permanent, pre-determined collective delusion (and thus the criterion of reason’s validity was switched from the objective to the collective), but they are impotent to deal with the fundamental, metaphysical issues of existence, which belong to the “noumenal” world. The “noumenal” world is unknowable; it is the world of “real” reality, “superior” truth and “things in themselves” or “things as they are”—which means: things as they are not perceived by man.
Even apart from the fact that Kant’s theory of the “categories” as the source of man’s concepts was a preposterous invention, his argument amounted to a negation, not only of man’s consciousness, but of any consciousness, of consciousness as such. His argument, in essence, ran as follows: man is limited to a consciousness of a specific nature, which perceives by specific means and no others, therefore, his consciousness is not valid; man is blind, because he has eyes—deaf, because he has ears—deluded, because he has a mind—and the things he perceives do not exist, because he perceives them.
As to Kant’s version of morality, it was appropriate to the kind of zombies that would inhabit that kind of universe: it consisted of total, abject selflessness. An action is moral, said Kant, only if one has no desire to perform it, but performs it out of a sense of duty and derives no benefit from it of any sort, neither material nor spiritual; a benefit destroys the moral value of an action. (Thus, if one has no desire to be evil, one cannot be good; if one has, one can.)
Those who accept any part of Kant’s philosophy—metaphysical, epistemological or moral—deserve it.
While scientists were performing astounding feats of disciplined reason, breaking down the barriers of the “unknowable” in every field of knowledge, charting the course of light rays in space or the course of blood in the capillaries of man’s body—what philosophy was offering them, as interpretation of and guidance for their achievements, was the plain Witch-doctory of Hegel, who proclaimed that matter does not exist at all, that everything is Idea (not somebody’s idea, just Idea), and that this Idea operates by the dialectical process of a new “super-logic” which proves that contradictions are the law of reality, that A is non-A, and that omniscience about the physical universe (including electricity, gravitation, the solar system, etc.) is to be derived not from the observation of facts but from the contemplation of that Idea’s triple somersaults inside his, Hegel’s, mind. This was offered as a philosophy of reason.
While businessmen were rising to spectacular achievements of creative ability and self-confidently ambitious courage, challenging the primordial dogma of man’s poverty and misery on earth, breaking open the trade routes of the world, releasing mankind’s productive energy and placing in its service the liberating power of machines (against the scornful resistance of loafing, ex-feudal aristocrats and the destructive violence of those who were to profit most: the workers)—what philosophy was offering, as an evaluation of their achievements and as guidance for the rest of society, was the pure Attila-ism of Marx, who proclaimed that the mind does not exist, that everything is matter, that matter develops itself by the dialectical process of its own “super-logic” of contradictions, and what is true today, will not be true tomorrow, that the material tools of production determine men’s “ideological superstructure” (which means: machines create men’s thinking, not the other way around), that muscular labor is the source of wealth, that physical force is the only practical means of existence, and that the seizure of the omnipotent machines will transfer omnipotence to the rule of brute violence. Never had Attila’s psycho-epistemology been transcribed so accurately. This was offered as a philosophy of history and of political economy.
These three, along with Plato, the original idealist, totalitarian and communist – their “ideas” – are responsible for every major genocide carried out on the basis of an “ideology” in the 20th century. Ideas have consequences.