Why did Kant exit the “Golden Age of Philosophy”?
The study of foreign philosophy in our country has always attached importance to “internal history” and neglected “external history”. This creates a strange situation: although the doctoral students trained according to this tradition can know the internal structure of a certain philosopher’s ideological system, they are at a loss about the relationship between this ideological system and contemporary literature, painting, and political trends. Ignorant, appearing to be specialized but not knowledgeable, knowledgeable but lacking in knowledge. And if you want to make up lessons in the study of “foreign history”, quasi-biographical works that record a large amount of “gossip” information of philosophers are good introductory books. Wolfram Eilenberg’s The Age of Magicians: The Golden Decade of Philosophy: 1919-1929 is highly recommended. This book selects a “golden decade” in which great masters emerged as a slice, and describes the experiences of four German-speaking world philosophy masters, Heidegger, Cassirer, Benjamin and Wittgenstein, in job hunting, life, marriage and love. Many readers who are familiar with the thought systems of these thinkers have a sense of enlightenment. After reading it, I figured out an important question: Why did Kant’s influence ebb all over the world during the so-called “Golden Decade of Philosophy”? .
In fact, after the death of Hegel, the most mainstream philosophical school in the German philosophy circle is Neo-Kantianism. The overall feature of Neo-Kantianism is to be a “papier”, that is, to try to take into account the development of positive science and humanities within a dualistic ideological system, so as to maintain the hidden ideological needs of the Second German Empire: on the one hand, positive research should be encouraged In order to “enrich the country and strengthen the military”, on the other hand, it is also necessary to build the cultural self-confidence of the German nation through humanistic research. In addition, the abstract humanism that Kant’s philosophy inherited from Rousseau is also preserved in Neo-Kantism—for example, Cassirer, the last master of Neo-Kantism, advocated “re-enlightenment” through the study of semiotics in order to make the independence of personality Sex can be universally recognized. It is intriguing that, as the most loyal follower of German philosophy in Asia, Japanese philosophy also experienced a process of “Kantization” during the Meiji Restoration. For example, Xi Zhou, who was the first to introduce Western philosophers to Japan, studied Kant’s philosophy at Leiden University in the Netherlands; Fukuzawa Yukichi’s slogan of “independent self-esteem” is obviously a continuation of Kant’s Enlightenment thought; even the German word for “enlightenment” The Chinese translation of the word “Aufklärung” was also completed by the Japanese ethicist Onishi Zhu. Onishi’s own philosophy not only integrated Western Enlightenment thought, but also strengthened the content of social criticism. Toku Shusui echoed the spread of socialist ideas in the Japanese-speaking world. In addition, from the perspective of purely academic dissemination, most members of the Kyoto School were actually familiar with Kant and Neo-Kantian literature (and read the original German text) before they stayed in Germany, so that they really went to the neo-Kantian master Li When I attended classes with Kelt (that is, Heidegger’s doctoral supervisor), I was disappointed because I didn’t acquire new philosophical knowledge. As for the reason why post-Meiji Japan valued Kantianism, it is also similar to the reason why the Second German Empire valued Kantianism: Kantian ethics emphasizes individual freedom and dignity, which can not only be compared with the consciousness of the rising German and Japanese bourgeoisie. Formal appeals resonate, and can even provide a theoretical framework for left-wing socialists, which can be described as “both sides have their source”.
But strangely, by the 1920s, the influence of Kant’s philosophy began to ebb worldwide. In the German-speaking world, phenomenology and new positivism began to encroach on the territory of neo-Kantianism from different directions, while in Japan, the rise of the Kyoto School headed by Nishida Kitaro began to cover the previous generation of Japanese philosophers such as Inoue Tetsujiro and Ohnishi Ikuro Impact. The accompanying social trend of thought is the rise of nationalism and militarism in Germany and Japan, and the decline of bourgeois liberalism based on the awareness of individual equality. Then, during this period, what complex social and historical reasons caused Kantianism to be collectively abandoned by German and Japanese philosophers?
To answer this question, we have to look at the characteristics of Kant’s philosophy from the perspective of psychology and mass communication. It should be pointed out that although many philosophers today believe that philosophy is an elegant science, in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, schools of philosophy such as Epicureanism and Stoicism had to pass “knowledge payment”. Therefore, the success of a school of philosophy at the level of communication, to a considerable extent, does not depend on the subtlety of its theory, but on the “psychological healing effect” of the theory on the audience. “. From this perspective, the “psychological healing” effect of Kant’s philosophy is shown in the following three aspects. First, Kant’s theory of knowledge’s exploration of the universal a priori conditions of knowledge acquisition can provide the following psychological comfort to the people in countries that are temporarily backward in science and technology: the mental conditions of East Asians, Africans and whites are completely the same, so as long as With the right scientific methods, any race can achieve great technological progress. Second, the exploration of abstract moral laws in Kantian ethics can provide psychological comfort to those who are economically and politically oppressed: since the first priority of ethics is to treat people as an end (not just a means) Look, then, everyone has the possibility to “turn over and become the master”. Third, the appeal of Kant’s political philosophy for “perpetual peace” will bring people’s expectations for future stability, because under normal historical conditions, no normal person would like war.
However, the above three psychological comfort effects will all contradict each other under specific historical conditions and thus become invalid. For example, if a nation that is temporarily backward does develop its intellectual potential and catch up with advanced European countries in technology, then Kantian egalitarianism will instead prompt them to demand greater political rights, and thus Pre-buried the fuse for a new war. Therefore, the above-mentioned first and third points conflict with each other. At the same time, if the pursuit of equal rights between people in the second point above is not fulfilled in reality for a long time, it will also lead to a decline in the attractiveness of the entire Kantian ethical system, and eventually the audience will begin to seek new spiritual comfort Taste.
Eilenberg’s discussion of Heidegger’s life in “The Age of Magicians” obviously provides a vivid commentary on the failure of Kantianism in the German-speaking world. On the surface, Heidegger’s family background belongs to the typical middle class (his father is a sexton, his father-in-law is an old Prussian military officer with a lot of family background), he should have expressed his loyalty to the core ideas of Kant’s philosophy . However, the poor economic situation of the Weimar Republic after the First World War made the young Heidegger immediately fall into the same mentality as the veterans and unemployed workers at that time: confusion and hatred. The defeat made the war bonds purchased by his father-in-law useless, and Heidegger himself, who was a young teacher at the University of Freiburg, had to rely on his mother in his hometown to mail potatoes to barely support his family. Speers even asked the other party to pay the travel expenses for academic exchanges. At the same time, he was so proud that he had to accept the financial aid provided by Zhou Zuo, who was studying in Germany at the moment (although it was in the name of tuition fees), and while getting the money, he could not resist the fact that Japan was the victor in World War I . This sense of humiliation made Heidegger fully doubt whether the neo-Kantian philosophy with the characteristics of “papermaker” can really explain reality. He became an ideological fighter: he hoped to subvert the mainstream German philosophy at that time through his academic efforts, and thus prove that a new Germany must use a new philosophy to arm its mind.
This mentality eventually led to the confrontation between Heidegger and the neo-Kantian master Cassirer in the “Davos Conference” in 1929. Cassirer, in a neat suit, is still trying to prove the effectiveness of Kantianism in the chaotic social atmosphere, and implements the dogma of Kantian ethics into all the details of his life: he is polite to everyone, meticulous in his teaching work, and Family loyalty and political loyalty to the Weimar constitutional system. During the Davos debate, he also showed some tolerance for Heidegger’s aggressiveness, for fear that the audience would think that he was using the title of “academic tycoon” to suppress newcomers in the academic circle. In contrast, Heidegger, who stayed in a high-end hotel for the first time in his life, deliberately violated various social etiquettes that were acquiesced in the academic world at that time. together; at the banquet, he deliberately did not wear formal clothes, but wore ski suits; after the meeting, he deliberately did not go to visit Nietzsche’s former residence with Cassirer, but went skiing with college students… Obviously, he tried to use this kind of performance art To express the meaning that he is the spiritual guide of impoverished college students, not the same kind of well-dressed Jewish philosophers.
Note the label “Jewish”. Heidegger was a philosopher surrounded by Jewish philosophers. Regardless of whether Cassirer is Jewish, Husserl, the pioneer of thinking, is Jewish, and his own disciple (and lover) Arendt is also Jewish, and his students (or colleagues) Lovett and Ms. Stein who are not far away from him are still Jewish. Jewish. And “Jews” was easily used as a “punching bag” label in the era of the economically chaotic Weimar Republic: in an era when a large number of Germans lacked medical care and medicine, Jews who were good at business did indeed live a relatively much better life. Therefore, Heidegger’s struggle against the predecessors of philosophy should not only target Cassirer as a Jew, And also to target Husserl as a Jew. His tactics of struggle are: while respecting Kant as much as Cassirer, he tries to undermine the Neo-Kantian Enlightenment program by interpreting Kant as an “ontological thinker”; , but he tried to destroy Husserl’s efforts to establish phenomenology as a “rigorous science” by “ontological turn”. All in all, all philosophical concepts (such as the spirit of enlightenment and scientific spirit) that are conducive to maintaining the mainstream ideology of the middle class are things he tries to subvert at the philosophical level. From this perspective, the fact that he accepted the appointment of the Nazi authorities as the rector of the University of Freiburg in the early 1930s must not be explained by the term “following the trend”-perhaps in his opinion, this is “following the trend” .
However, how can this explain the distance from Kant’s philosophy in the mainstream Japanese philosophical circles during the Taisho and Showa eras? On the surface, Japan, as a victorious nation in World War I, had a much better economic situation than Germany in the 1920s, otherwise Shuzo Kuki would not have dared to spend as much money as he did on a study tour in Europe. Although the “Great Kanto Earthquake” in 1923 caused some economic problems, it had little impact on the academic world, and it was far less difficult for young philosophers to obtain teaching positions in the academic world than in Germany (for example, Kitaro Nishida only With the “Study of Kindness” written when he was a middle school teacher, he obtained a stable teaching position at Kyoto University, which is unimaginable in Germany). At the same time, there is no anti-Semitism problem in Japan (Shuzo Kuki even helped the Jewish philosopher Lovett escape to Sendai, Japan to escape the Holocaust), and almost no philosophers were persecuted because of racial issues—Miki Kiyoshi and Tosaka Jun mainly because He was brutally persecuted for his left-leaning thinking and died in prison. Therefore, in terms of the microenvironment of philosophy, Japan in the 1920s and 1930s was more conducive to academic development than Germany. Then, on what basis did the Japanese philosophical circles bid farewell to Kant at the same time? I think the main reasons are as follows:
First, the flourishing of national consciousness. For the Japanese, Kant’s philosophy is imported after all, and following it will weaken the self-confidence of the Japanese nation. If in Fukuzawa Yukichi’s era, his slogan “leave Asia and enter Europe” still had a certain market due to Japan’s backward national conditions at that time, then in Japan after the Russo-Japanese War, Japan’s native national self-confidence has made This kind of spiritual “apprentice” state is unsustainable (a fact that poses a serious challenge to the Westernization of Japan is that the famous general Togo Heihachiro in the Russo-Japanese War was just a student of Yangming Xinxue, not a follower of Western philosophy ). Therefore, a new national philosophy that integrates the resources of Eastern and Western philosophy has become the psychological expectation of the philosophical circle. The success of Nishida’s philosophy is also due to meeting the needs of this cultural psychology: on the one hand, his “A Study of the Good” did incorporate the latest Western thought materials from Wundt and James; It has obvious Buddhist characteristics and reflects a flavor that is completely different from Kant’s philosophy. This comprehensive feature strongly resonated with the Japanese cultural self-positioning at that time, which also led to the rapid rise of the Kyoto School.
Second, indifference and cowardice towards political issues. If it is said that Heidegger’s behavior of joining the Nazis was based on his anti-Semitic political private goods in his philosophy, then the Kyoto School’s complicity with Japanese officials during the war was based on their political indifference and cowardice . Whether it is Zen Buddhism in Nishida’s philosophy, or Kuki’s “Geisha Philosophy”‘s pursuit of bourgeois sentiments, in fact, it reflects the characteristics of Japan’s “townman culture” without obvious populist overtones. Therefore, as far as the psychological motivation for philosophical construction is concerned, the Japanese Kyoto School does not contain the hidden ideological goal of “revenge on the middle class”—at the same time, the North Korean school that provides spiritual morphine to the fanatical Japanese soldiers at the grassroots level who are always “down and up” Ikki is not considered a member of the philosophical community. However, compared with Cassirer and Jaspers, who insisted on humanistic ideals, the Japanese middle class and its philosophical representatives—the Kyoto School—have a very indifferent sense of political right and wrong. In other words, although they are not necessarily populists, they often passively show a tendency to cooperate with the general trend of history against the background of the rise of populism, or quickly adopt new political expressions when the situation changes again. A typical case in this regard is Moto Tanabe’s philosophical defense of the “Co-Prosperity Sphere” during the war, and his confession of his wartime actions that began immediately after the war. And Shuzo Kuki’s defense of the Japanese war of aggression against China in “Thoughts on the Current Situation” full of personality split characteristics (that is, he said he hated the war while saying that the invasion of China was reasonable) can also constitute another persuasive commentary. From the perspective of historical materialism, the general “political hypochondriac” of the Kyoto School can also be explained from Japan’s own capitalist development path after the Meiji Restoration: Unlike the development of Western capitalism with the United Kingdom as a typical example, Japan At the beginning, the industrial revolution had a strong color of “state guidance” and lacked the autonomy of the bourgeoisie itself; at the same time, the funds for Japan’s industrial upgrading were highly dependent on the wars waged by the state (especially the Sino-Japanese War of 1899-1895, which brought Japan large sums of money to be paid). Therefore, even if the weak Japanese bourgeoisie has an internal tendency to be war-weary, it lacks the courage to challenge the state power spiritually, let alone philosophers who “eat the emperor’s food” in universities.
However, although Heidegger and the Japanese Kyoto School’s political mistakes in wartime each had their own psychological motivations, they shared a similar psychological mechanism at a deeper level: the maintenance of self-esteem. After World War I, both Germany and Japan encountered a “self-esteem crisis” to varying degrees: Needless to say, Germany as a defeated country, even Japan as a victorious country also lost its relationship with Britain and the United States at the “Washington Conference”. A level of shipbuilding qualifications caused an uproar among populists across Japan. Although the philosophers of the Kyoto School are not populists themselves, it is impossible that this xenophobic social atmosphere will not have a negative impact on them. The signature slogan of the Kyoto School – “Modern Overcoming” – was released here, which is also related to this. The Chinese character combination “chaoke” is more offensive than the word “sublation” commonly used in the philosophical circles, because the latter’s dual meaning of “retaining and giving up” at least includes the meaning of actively learning from modern Western civilization . In contrast, “chaoke” only means “surmount and overcome”, and has no sense of “modest learning”. As such, it is a term heavily tainted by xenophobic populist ideology.
From the perspective of Kant’s philosophy, the true meaning of “modern transcendence” is actually the transcendence of the Kantian enlightenment spirit. Whether it was Moto Tanabe during the war, Kiyoshi Miki who worked in the “Showa Research Society”, and Tetsuro Watsuji who criticized the American spirit, they all undoubtedly expressed such an idea: Kantian social ethics based on atomic personal assumptions The picture is irreparably flawed, so it must be replaced by an “East Asian synergy” of super-familial tenderness. However, the practical political cost of advocating “East Asian synergy” has been ignored by these thinkers. In a nutshell, if this ideology, which disregards the right of individual free choice, is amplified on the international stage, it will lead to the destruction of international relations based on the Westphalian system, because an “East Asian “Synergism” will inevitably bring about ruthless trampling on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of neighboring countries. However, the mainstream of the Kyoto School did not express enough guilt for the international war that would inevitably result from such trampling.
From the perspective of social psychology, the lack of guilt of the Japanese middle class and its philosophical representatives for launching a new war is largely related to the long-term victory record of the Japanese army after the Meiji era. In contrast, the lack of guilt of German populists for launching a new war in the same period was based on the collective consciousness that “Germany was not really defeated in the ‘World War I'”. From this point of view, the lack of a convincing fiasco was an important historical reason why the pacifist trends in Japan and Germany were unable to gain the advantage of communication studies. Or the reverse is also the same: the revival of Kantian thought in Germany and Japan after the war is precisely because the undeniable defeat of the two countries in “World War II” made the charm of the war option rapidly fade-at the same time, the two countries were The strong economic performance under post-war peaceful conditions made Kant’s communication model based on universal humanitarianism quickly gain persuasiveness. Pay special attention to the social variable “peace”. Identifying this variable itself has two major dividends:
First, prolonged peace fosters calm habits of mind and allows room for the kind of enlightenment that Cassirer suggests—specifically, every Individuals can have sufficient time to reflect that they are just a product of a specific “totem culture” or “symbolic system”, and through this reflection realize the existence of “others”, thus abandoning the thinking of national chauvinism model. In contrast, frequent war thinking will strengthen the individual’s totemic behavior, while a strong sense of enemy and self will obscure Kant’s universal humanitarian thought, making it impossible for individuals to calmly regard the “enemy” as a “person”. think.
Second, the awareness of war itself will induce individuals to use all kinds of tricks and tricks to achieve a one-time game success, and thus constitute a prisoner’s dilemma between the warring parties. In contrast, long-term peace enables market transaction subjects to conduct multiple and stable game behaviors, thereby eliminating the prisoner’s dilemma and achieving a win-win situation—and in the process of achieving this win-win situation, each transaction subject does not have to Care about the closeness of blood and cultural relationship between oneself and the other party, and thus enable the trading circle to expand to the world, and ultimately further promote the proliferation of social wealth.
The dominant position of Kantianism in today’s world is thus not so much a doctrinal triumph as an outgrowth of a popular belief in the validity of the global market division of labor. However, at the time of writing this article, the world’s general trade and exchange method based on peaceful assumptions is once again threatened by the rise of various chauvinism, populism, and retro-ism trends. Various “decoupling theories” and “Cold War “Restart theory” is gaining momentum. Will Kantianism survive this attack? I think this is not a theoretical question, but a practical question. Therefore, this question can only be answered by real historical games. But in the long run, in order for human society to progress, the complex division of labor system must abstract each individual into an independent personality in order to reduce transaction costs—and only Kant can provide a good philosophical defense for this division of labor system Philosophy or its variants. Needless to say, such a high degree of philosophical simplification will certainly bring about a lot of theoretical problems (otherwise there would be no fierce criticism of Kant’s philosophy from Hegel’s philosophy), but if our goal is only to provide a market economy If operability provides an underlying logic, the abstraction of Kant’s philosophy will instead become an advantage. From this point of view, if any philosophy (whether it is Hegelianism, Heideggerism, or Kyoto School philosophy) that attempts to criticize the disadvantages of formalism and abstraction in Kant’s philosophy cannot propose a more comprehensive view of the actual human economic interaction Feasible solutions must keep the critique of Kant’s philosophy strictly within the scope of the academy, and should not have irresponsible interactions with various social trends of unknown origin.