Subj: Re: Kant and History (formerly War and Conquest) 
Date: 1/28/2003 8:48:51 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: Nemonemini
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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,

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 history.
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 interpretation.

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 theory.

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 false. 

John Landon
Website for
World History and the Eonic Effect