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Thread: The Categorial Imperative, but applied temporally and subjectively (more agreeable?)

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    creator kali's Avatar
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    The Categorial Imperative, but applied temporally and subjectively (more agreeable?)

    The categorical imperative, i.e. universal law, is very interesting because it is a logical corollary of Kant's transcendental idealism. His theory of morality naturally follows from his theory of metaphysics. I want to explain things, or at least my basic understanding of things in a very simple way so everyone can chime in, and maybe these airy abstractions can distract you from the mundane routines of trying to survive in the capitalist hellhole we evolved into

    1. The HUGE question in metaphysics, at least what Kant was concerned with, was HOW ARE OBJECTIVE FACTS ABOUT THE WORLD POSSIBLE?
    2. In other words, how can we have a priori synthetic judgements?
    3. We start off with the premise or axiom that there are objective facts about the world, like mathematical facts: 7+5=12.
    4. Yet, if knowledge is derived from experience, and experience is nothing but piecemeal aesthetic sensations of the world around us, how can knowledge possibly be UNIVERSAL, OBJECTIVE, and NECESSARY?
    5. How can objective facts seemingly precede or prime our experience of the world?
    6. How can we be so confident in our assertion that the sun will rise tomorrow, if the sun rising has not yet occurred?
    7. To Kant, it's clear that objective facts exist, and he wrote the Critique of Pure Reason to devise a Transcendental Deduction to demonstrate how a priori synthetic judgements can precede our experience of the world. Now I don't know how the fuck he does it because I can't even really comprehend the idea of figurative synthesis but we don't need to know that to talk about his theory of morality:::


    1. If we take his ideas of metaphysics to morality, and build in the same structure, a similar argument starts to form.
    2. How can we have universal laws that precede and thus condition our actions?
    3. The Pure Concepts of Understanding give birth to both categorial judgements and categorical imperatives.
    4. Now something needs to validate the categorical imperatives - something solid, unquestionable, and true-in-itself, otherwise it itself will suffer infinite regress.
    5. Here we introduce the dichotomy of TRUE-IN-ITSELF vs. INSTRUMENTAL. When an imperative is true-in-itself, it is its own end, rather than serving another end goal. It is never used instrumentally towards another end.
    6. Categorical imperatives are categorical because they are justified as being an end-in-itself.
    7. Yet, the contention here is what qualifies as end-in-itself - Kant from some interpretations seems to posit freedom of the rational agent as an end-it-itself... but that seems shaky


    1. BUT I was thinking, what if we apply the idea of a categorial imperative temporally & subjectively, rather than spatially & universally?
    2. Let's take Nietzsche's thought experiment of eternal recurrence. He asks: if you were to live out an action, or indeed your whole life, over and over and over again, for all eternity... would you be happy at the hypothetical prospect? Or would it fill you with mortal dread?
    3. This thought experiment provides a Kingdom of Ends to end the infinite regress that plagues most moral theories. The Kingdom of Ends is your own subjective joy to your moral actions.
    4. Now, I think there's something prima facie paradoxical about this. It's asserting the objectivity in subjective reactions. But really... there is nothing more authentic than our instincts and immediate emotional reactions.
    5. It is the Recursive Imperative.
    6. Thus, one can live according to a soup of their own unique value system as well as the social value construct they're encased in, as opposed to some universal imperative (commonly anthropomorphised as "God").
    7. The Recursive Imperative, where the Categorical Imperative fails, then accounts for the objectivity of each personal perspective in a multitudinous reality, instead of being dutiful to one universal law.


    So would you be happy living out the life you're living now, over and over again, for all eternity?
    "I fucking hate the cold!" - Wim Hof

    art and flowers: https://www.instagram.com/cloudlilt/

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    Utisz's Avatar
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    Spoiler: more like an aside
    Quote Originally Posted by kali View Post
    1. The HUGE question in metaphysics, at least what Kant was concerned with, was HOW ARE OBJECTIVE FACTS ABOUT THE WORLD POSSIBLE?
    2. In other words, how can we have a priori synthetic judgements?
    My problem with both of these questions is that they assume more than any answer could, both in terms of semantics and objective facts. Whether or not there are objective facts possible is purely axiomatic or semantic.

    But okay, so either we define objective facts as something that exists in our abstraction of the world or we define them elseways. But If someone takes the axiom that objective facts do not or may not exist, that in itself is a contradiction since presumably (depending on the semantics) that in itself appears to be an objective fact. (Whether we call them facts or claims or axioms or whatever though doesn't really matter.)

    As for a priori synthetic judgements, as I understand them, these are just subjective interpretations. They have nothing to do with "objective fact", for me.

    1. How can we be so confident in our assertion that the sun will rise tomorrow, if the sun rising has not yet occurred?
    Because basic inductive inference has predictive power. Why does it have predictive power? Because the reality we perceive has proven to follow certain laws and patterns. We can reason about those laws and patterns inductively (as we did in the past: the sun has risen every day I have been on this earth so it will probably rise tomorrow) or deductively based on lower-level inductive laws (the sun is a massive ball of burning gas, circling the earth at a distance of ...).

    If we take his ideas of metaphysics to morality ...
    That's for me where everything breaks down. The difference between metaphysics and morality is that whatever logic system you use to make claims and reason about metaphysics can at least be seen to be contained within metaphysics (e.g., if we aim for logically consistent arguments, that is itself metaphysics, so we can at least say that a certain theory of metaphysics is self-consistent or not), while morality is just completely different.

    All that said, I haven't read anything of Kant or metaphysics, mainly because whatever I've read admittedly just sounds like drivel to me. There is no attempt to create a theory from axioms or to reason in any principled way. Most of this stuff just reads like a sequence of leaky pseudostatements, one after the other. Like just taking a quote from Wikipedia:

    Kant in his critical phase sought to 'reverse' the orientation of pre-critical philosophy by showing how the traditional problems of metaphysics can be overcome by supposing that the agreement between reality and the concepts we use to conceive it arises not because our mental concepts have come to passively mirror reality, but because reality must conform to the human mind's active concepts to be conceivable and at all possible for us to experience.

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    creator kali's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Utisz View Post
    My problem with both of these questions is that they assume more than any answer could, both in terms of semantics and objective facts. Whether or not there are objective facts possible is purely axiomatic or semantic.

    But okay, so either we define objective facts as something that exists in our abstraction of the world or we define them elseways. But If someone takes the axiom that objective facts do not or may not exist, that in itself is a contradiction since presumably (depending on the semantics) that in itself appears to be an objective fact. (Whether we call them facts or claims or axioms or whatever though doesn't really matter.)

    As for a priori synthetic judgements, as I understand them, these are just subjective interpretations. They have nothing to do with "objective fact", for me.
    That's why no one here is taking the axiom that objective facts don't exist, it's self-contradictory.

    How are they subjective interpretations? By definition they aren't because a priori synthetic judgements are both universal and rooted in experience. They have everything to do with objective facts - our descriptions of the world around us that is all at once true, necessarily, and universal.



    Quote Originally Posted by Utisz View Post
    Because basic inductive inference has predictive power. Why does it have predictive power? Because the reality we perceive has proven to follow certain laws and patterns. We can reason about those laws and patterns inductively (as we did in the past: the sun has risen every day I have been on this earth so it will probably rise tomorrow) or deductively based on lower-level inductive laws (the sun is a massive ball of burning gas, circling the earth at a distance of ...).
    That was just an example of a piece of knowledge that is both a priori and synthetic. Yet predictive power does not adequately explain mathematical facts or laws of logic, since they are necessarily true AND rooted in experience. That is to say mathematical laws are true independent of human perception.



    Quote Originally Posted by Utisz View Post
    That's for me where everything breaks down. The difference between metaphysics and morality is that whatever logic system you use to make claims and reason about metaphysics can at least be seen to be contained within metaphysics (e.g., if we aim for logically consistent arguments, that is itself metaphysics, so we can at least say that a certain theory of metaphysics is self-consistent or not), while morality is just completely different.
    That's the thing, it's not different according to the transcendental idealist framework. I've already kinda argued why it's not different, but it'd be interesting to hear why you think it's different.

    Quote Originally Posted by Utisz View Post
    All that said, I haven't read anything of Kant or metaphysics, mainly because whatever I've read admittedly just sounds like drivel to me. There is no attempt to create a theory from axioms or to reason in any principled way. Most of this stuff just reads like a sequence of leaky pseudostatements, one after the other. Like just taking a quote from Wikipedia:



    Oh my god. Kant is the closest a continental can get to an analytic. His WHOLE TREATISE on transcendental idealism is to create a hermetic almost-Theory of Everything starting from first principles/axioms and then working your way up from there. Trust, I'm almost convinced he's the greatest philosopher to have ever lived (besides Nietzsche )
    "I fucking hate the cold!" - Wim Hof

    art and flowers: https://www.instagram.com/cloudlilt/

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    (╯□)╯︵ ┻━┻ Deckard's Avatar
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    I think any philosophy of objective morality (or objective epistemology for that matter) is never going to be more than glorified apologetics. But working with you here:

    The idea I think you're getting at is that a moral principle can be bootstrapped by putting a version of you through infinite variations of lives and inferring statistically whether it's true to your nature. Or putting you through the same scenario infinite times with hindsight to see whether it holds up. Other than being an untestable hypothetical, how does this confer any more objectivity to the moral principle than, say, scanning your brain meat to see what the neurons say? It might be a way of factually determining, "this is a moral principle that kali holds", but that's not the same idea as it being an objective moral principle in the usual sense. That is to say, it only applies to you and others who happen to share that principle. It doesn't demonstrate that the moral principle exists independent of us.
    Last edited by Deckard; 09-26-2016 at 12:53 PM.

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    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    The interesting thing to me about Kant's ethics is that, the way I read him, he's positing that morality consists not so much in the rules one follows as in the act of rule-following itself, seemingly regardless of the nature of the particular rules involved in any given case.

    I.e. you're behaving morally when you're simply applying the same logical maxims in the same way to similar relevant cases, and behaving immorally when not doing so, and it also matters what your motives are. (Moral actions are by definition motivated by the desire to follow a logical maxim consistently, as opposed to all actions which incidentally happen to be consistent with one even if this isn't why one is acting this way.)

    It strikes me as fairly subjective to begin with. Rather than positing the existence of moral categories as objective attributes of actions (a la Plato), he's seemingly more interested in distinguishing between moral and amoral types of wills or intentions. It's the intent to behave morally (defined as the intent to follow a rule regardless of what the outcome will mean for oneself or others) which is the core essential attribute of moral actions, and which distinguishes moral action from amoral (e.g. instrumental) action.


    If I was going to be glib about it and oversimplify it, I'd almost say that his point seems to boil down to an argument that the "root of all evil" or the one fundamental sin is hypocrisy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

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