Subj:   Re: Kant and History (formerly War and Conquest)    
Date:   1/28/2003 8:48:51 AM Eastern Standard Time  
From:   <A HREF="mailto:Nemonemini">Nemonemini</A>  
To: <A HREF="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]</A>   

John Landon
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The question of Kant and History, in relation to the history of War (Kant, of 
course, the author of Perpetual Peace, beside Hegel's tendencies here as to 
war), can be considered in relation to the theme of 'asocial sociability', a 
term that arises in his essay Idea for a Universal History. This little essay 
is the source in the high mountains of the stream that turns into the river 
of Hegelian philosophy of history.  

One of the difficulties here is the apparent assumption by Kant or his 
commentators that asocial sociability is the 'mechanism' driving history, 
versus the clear indications in the essay that Kant is really asking a 
question, what is the mechanism of history? This question taken, as shown in 
the first paragraph of his essay, as a question about some kind of large 
scale history. 
See my webpage, Kant's Challenge, <A HREF=""></A>

We see that there is a macrohistorical process, in answer to Kant to Kant's 
question, that voids the claims of secondary processes like warfare as 
asocial sociability to  be the 'drivers' of history. It should be obvious 
from general overall inspection that warfare is a indeterminate, in theory, 
on this question. Any theory that affirms warfare as an historical driver of 
first proportions will simply nosedive and crash. It won't work, for a reason 
Kant's system makes clear in its altogether obscure double shift between 
causality in the first critique and teleology in the 
third. The point is that we cannot project a teleological generalization onto 
the future. 
We can only say, with respect to the past, that warfare has had some place in 
There can be no teleological conclusion as to warfare, the mere thought is 
disastrous. Has been disastrous. Even Hegel is a fallen warrior here. (Cfr. 
Harry Van der Linden's Kantian Ethics and Socialism)

The literature, even leftist (cf. Allen Wood's Kant's Ethical Thought), tends 
to adopt the 'asocial sociability' interpretation. 
Marx was righter than he knew! The left missed a nice move here. Marx smelt a 
rat, but tends to get into the Hegelian teleological problems Kant's thinking 
should obviate.
  Kant could have been 'critiqued' as one source of the 'conflict ideology' 
that is concealed in Adam Smithian histories. 
In fact, that would have been unfair to Kant. The problem Kant had is that 
his system clearly warned him in the middle of this essay that there was 
something wrong with his tendency toward the asocial sociability 

His essay isn't really promoting 'asocial sociability' at all. Or perhaps we 
cannot grasp what he meant by that. Cf. Hans Saner's Kant's Political 
Thought. 'Asocial Sociability' doesn't really have anything to do with 
conflict or war necessarily. 
Look at it this way, the individual in evolutionary terms appears in a group 
context, and that generates the 'asocial sociability' that we see in history 
as the individual and group evolutions mediate. Look at the facts of 
libertarians and Marxists with Feuerbachian species being!!!!  Conflict 
indeed, but the conflict itself is not the driver of history, but simply one 
of its aspects. 
That's such a simple, almost obvious, interpretation that it is hard to see 
how warfare ever got mixed up with the question. 

The essay at my Kant's Challenge page adopts a streamlined approach, and 
makes use of the first paragraph of Kant's famous essay (or should have been 
famous, since Hegel starts here but never says so), and that paragraph alone. 

We see in that paragraph the emergence of the shark's fins, the Third 
Antinomy, whose dread antinomous effects are the ruin of all theories, all of 
them, and without exception. 
The 'solution' adopted in my eonic model is an empirical tracking device that 
is 'semi-theoretical', and uses a discrete-continous model to divide history 
by sections, thus 'reconciling'  the contradiction in practice if not in 

In any case, the question of warfare is not in any one to one association 
with historical advance. Therefore any generalization to that effect is 

John Landon
Website for
World History and the Eonic Effect