Comparative Cognitive Processes and Systems
“Exploring Every Corner of the Cosmos in Search of Knowledge”
This essay explores the transcultural significance of ideas of 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant through a multidisciplinary lens represented by convergences between philosophy, religion, the visual arts and literature. The central framework through which this is done is the motion between inner space, the space metaphorically constituted by the mind, and outer space, the space represented by the human body and the material environment within which it operates, as this oscillation is demonstrated in Kant's meditation on the ''moral law within'' and ''the starry heavens above'' in the conclusion of his Critique of Practical Reason.
The piece responds to Bjoern Freter's private challenge to me
in which he argues that even though my multicultural reading of Kant is beautiful, I am misreading Kant as a multiculturalist, with particular reference to my last Kant essay before this one, "Kant and the Wonder of Existence : Multicultural and Multidisciplinary Resonances : A Very Brief Note.''
Dedicated to two humane and urbane scholars and teachers from my BA in English and Literature at the University of Benin, Fidelis Odun Balogun and Rasheed Yesufu. Balogun, as my teacher and later friendly senior colleague in the department, introduced me to an idea that underlies this essay, the idea of confluence, unintentional convergences between varied discourses, a central concept in
comparative literature, in particular, and comparative discourse generally.
Yesufu initiated me into the interpretive technique of finding conjunctions between literature and my own constellation of knowledge. This approach privileges an individualistic grounding of literary study in one's personal cognitive universe. It also encourages the unceasing expansion of that universe, multiplying prospective points of association between what one knows and what one encounters. The quest for a multidisciplinary and multicultural tapestry of knowledge, unified by associative logic, that shapes my work is catalyzed by that fundamental education from Yesufu, mentioned once, and never forgotten.
I also acknowledge Steve Ogude's inspiring presentation of the idea of inter-genre literary study and Dan Izevbaye-on sabbatical from the University of Ibadan- on synergy between literature and other disciplines, in private discussions during my time as their student and later junior colleague in the same department, descriptions of a style of building a scholarly career complementing the departmental curricula strategy in the study of literature.
From Ogude's library, I read George Steiner's Language and Silence, lighting the fire for me in comparative literature. The multi-disciplinary convergences represented by these encounters have become central to my work. These academic stimuli are strategic in distilling the culture inspired by my childhood and teenage roaming in my family's multidisciplinary library, that library being where I first encountered Kant, the artist Vincent van Gogh and the Japanese garden, all central to this essay.
Kant's Misogynistic and Racist Orientations
The Universal Significance of Kant's Thought Beyond Kant's Own Prejudices
From Kant on ''The Starry Heavens and the Moral Law'' to the Intercultural Significance of the Centrifugal and Centripetal Symbolism of the Circle
Image: Juxtaposition of a Picture of a Woman with Wenzel Hablik's Starry Sky, Attempt
Image: Wenzel Hablik's Starry Sky, Attempt
Cosmological Contexts and the Spark of Life in the Art and Thought of Vincent van Gogh
Image: Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night
Image: Vincent van Gogh’s last self portrait
Image: Vincent van Gogh's Road with Men Walking, Carriage, Cypress, Star, and Crescent Moon
Image: Collage of Vincent van Gogh’s works
Unity of Human Being and Cosmos in Sri Yantra
Image and Text: Sri Yantra
Image and Text: Benin Olokun Igha-Ede
Cosmological Radiations and the Japanese Garden
Image: Garden of Tofukuji Temple, Kyoto, Japan
Image: Garden of Tōkai-an, Myōshin-ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan
Texts of Transcendence
Kuba Oral Poem
Biblical Psalm 139
Kant on Self and Infinity
Nachiketas and Death in the Katha Upanishad
Epistemic Correlations Between Kant and the Katha Upanishad
Immortality in Yoruba Texts in a Comparative Context
Image and Text: The Barque of Dante by Eugene Delacroix
Comparative Kantian Hermeneutics and the Epistemology and Metaphysics of Ibn Arabi
Bjoern Freter, in the personal communication earlier referenced, states :
I am…fascinated, by how creative your interpretation of Kant is…. You are beautifully inspired by Kant, but I would think it would be hard to make the point that these ideas were implied by Kant! I am attaching you a piece I just wrote… in which I try to show how deeply Kant’s contempt for example towards Africa was. Your work is beautiful, but it seems to me because you are reading Kant AGAINST his [ intention ], not because you are agreeing with him.
It seems to me you give Kant a beautiful humanist twist, when, according to his own words, he held deepest contempt against female human beings, homosexual human beings, non-white human beings, human beings working as servants and so on.
When Kant talks about the human being he does not talk about anyone who is [not] a heterosexual human being, a white human being [or who is] a female human being, a human being working as a servant and so on. All these [ other categories of ] human beings are excluded from philosophy and the project of the Enlightenment. The way you make Kant [ in your essays] a part of those who cared about all human beings is, as far as I can see, against his explicit intent ...Kant cared, indeed, but only about those whom he deemed to be significant, relevant human beings.
The tension between the immensity of nature and the fascinated attention of the human being to this vastness, within the range and limitations of human cognitive powers, is central to Kant's work. It drives his reflections on the scope of human cognition in his Critique of Pure Reason, his description of the Sublime in Critique of Judgement and his exultations on self and cosmos in Critique of Practical Reason.
The juxtaposition of a picture of a woman with Czech painter Wenzel Hablik's magical Starry Sky, Attempt, directly above, incidentally evokes this Kantian orientation. The aesthetic configuration that is the human being, represented by a gloriously flowing mane of hair and an erect poise, backs the viewer as she faces Hablik's visionary depiction of an equivalent of Kant's lines from his meditation on self and cosmos, ''the limitless magnitude of worlds upon worlds and systems upon systems... the boundless times of their periodic motion, their beginning and continuation.''
Hablik's original work, directly above, painted 1990, dramatizes the ubiquity of the circle and the spiral as images of cosmic motion and of human efforts at cognitive and perceptual synthesis, as developed in this essay in interpreting Kant's meditations on oscillations between self and cosmos in terms of the image of the circle as used in various disciplinary and cultural contexts.
Hablik's Starry Sky, Attempt itself resonates with and was likely inspired by Dutch-French artist's Vincent Van Gogh's inimitable The Starry Night, a work consonant with evocations of cosmic grandeur in classical Chinese painting in which the human presence is miniscule within spatial immensity, suggesting the comparative character of the human person in the cosmos, in the spirit, incidentally, of Kant's recognition that ''The... perspective of a countless multitude of worlds as it were annihilates my importance as an animal creature, which must give the matter out of which it has grown back to the planet (a mere speck in the cosmos) after it has been (one knows not how) furnished with life-force for a short time.''
In van Gogh's Starry Night, the human habitations, embowelled within the dynamism of mighty cosmic forces, are the only suggestions of human presence as the circle and another ubiquitous variant of this spatial form, the spiral, dominates the evocation of cosmic dynamism:
The power of van Gogh's The Starry Night is made even more emotionally resonant in relation to the context of its creation. van Gogh made this most famous and perhaps greatest work of his in the sanatorium at St. Remy, where he had checked himself in to address his psychological challenges. At this time, he also created another great work, perhaps his last self portrait, marked by the searching power of his eyes, against the background of spatial dynamism, evocative, in a quieter manner, of the swirling force of The Starry Night:
… to look at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots of a map representing towns and villages. Why, I ask myself, should the shining dots of the sky not be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? If we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. One thing undoubtedly true in this reasoning is this: that while we are alive we cannot get to a star, any more than when we are dead we can take the train.
So it doesn't seem impossible to me that cholera, gravel, pleurisy & cancer are the means of celestial locomotion, just as steam-boats, omnibuses and railways are the terrestrial means. To die quietly of old age would be to go there on foot.( Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, Arles, c. 9 July 1888. Translated by Robert Harrison,
How did those eyes in the self portrait, animated by the life force they incarnate, a vitality suggested by the animation of the painting in which eyes, body and spatial background come together to project an image of a vital human being, come to perceive in such an awesomely resonant manner the same night sky seen by everyone, yet depicting its incipient dynamism in a manner far from conventional perception, yet so inspiring to others it has become one of the world's most reproduced paintings?
Resonances of what Kant scholar Stephan Korner in Kant, calls ''the metaphysical moment,'' in which existence, in and of itself, the fact of being alive and aware of that aliveness, is the central consideration of the reflective mind, an attitude humans are able to enter into from time to time in the busyness of life, making them sensitive to the creativity of those who, like van Gogh, or Kant, pursue in depth the implications of such critical periods of awareness?
The depiction of outer space and its framing of the human person is a central technique used in art in evoking the cosmic scope of existence, as evident in van Gogh's The Starry Night, Hablik's Starry Sky, Attempt and the classical Chinese artistic forms referenced above.
These spatial immensities, however, are being viewed by a human intelligence, a consciousness able to appreciate their grandeur, a consciousness, that, in the Kantian sense, as depicted in his meditations on inner and outer space in Critique of Practical Reason and on the Sublime in Critique of Judgement, may feel both humbled and elevated by the experience.
How may this oscillation between the perceiver and the perceived be further evoked? Kant depicts himself as reflecting on both his own personality, his ''invisible self,'' and the ''starry heavens'' above him, in terms of their interrelationship within the intersections of temporality and infinity. The collage artist juxtaposes a picture of a woman with Hablik's painting to suggest her gazing at the painting, a humanoid form imaginatively placed within the motions of celestial bodies and the grandeur of cosmic dynamism.
Integrating and distilling such orientations towards sensitivity to human consciousness as the primary enabler of awareness of cosmic power is the Hindu yantra, shaped by centuries of reflection on the nature of consciousness and its relationship with the cosmos, reflections distilled in the image of a dot at the centre of interlocking triangles surrounded by concentric circles enclosed in a square, the dot representing consciousness, and the entire structure the cosmos, a basic form central to all examples of the cosmographic geometric structure that is yantra, as described, among other sources, in Maddhu Khanna's comprehensive, Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity.
Consciousness and cosmos, the perceiver and the perceived, are abstracted in geometric terms, and consciousness evoked as the centre, the motive force of the cosmos, within the dynamism of its being and becoming, its coming into existence and its permutations across cycles of being, rhythms of possibility again evoked through the symbolism of the circle, that ubiquitous analogue of both celestial motion in physical space and cognitive dynamism unifying human perceptions.
A detailed description of Sri Yantra symbolism is provided by Douglas Renfrew Brookes in Auspicious Wisdom: The Texts and Traditions of Śrīvīdyā Śākta Tantrism in South India (SUNY 1992), complemented by Jeffrey Lidke, The Goddess Within and Beyond the Three Cities: Sakta Tantra and the Paradox of Power in Nepala Mandala ( D.K. Printworld, 2017).
The Sri Yantra evokes the unfolding of human consciousness. It also symbolises the expansion of the consciousness that enables cosmos from its own interiority into the dynamism of cosmic being and becoming in its metaphysical and material coordinates, coordinates identified with the nature of the human being as an expression of this cosmic intelligence and its creative schematisations.
Kant's Critical thought deliberately steers clear of such grand assertions of cosmic wholeness in its metaphysical form, preferring to express a sense of wonder at the intersection of the grandeur of the physical cosmos with the glory of the human mind, at the point of the perceiver and the perceived, operating through both ambivalence and fascination with the idea of immortality of the self in relation to possibilities of cosmic infinity, as represented by his denial of claims to knowledge of immortality of the soul in Critique of Pure Reason and yet invoking an idea similar to that in his meditation on self and cosmos in Critique of Practical Reason.
In spite of such ambivalence, however, his kinship, as with yantra symbolism, with other sensitivities to the human location within cosmic immensity and dynamism, of human consciousness as a beacon within this grandeur and with aspirations of subsisting into infinity beyond the temporality of the body, are clear.
''The igha-ede design represents a crossroads or junction, duality in nature, and the balance between positive and negative elements in the face of constant change. It is believed that spirits congregate at junctions to either bless humans or tempt them into wrongdoing or misfortune. The Edo say, "Uhien, avbe ada mwen aro" (Even the junctions have eyes). A simple cross configuration may symbolize the intersection of the earthly and otherworldly realms. A person who stands in the center of the image can "cross over" and speak in erinmwin [the spirit world]. (49)
The small crosses [ in a particular igha ede ] are symbols for "201 junctions" (ada n' uri). The number 201 is traditionally associated with infinity, and the design describes the infinite power of spiritual beings.Two common salutations are offered during prayer. One is I ye erhunmwun na tue ebo okpa yan uri no bie mwen (With this prayer, I salute 201 deities who gave birth to me). (51)
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Please excuse me, that I am joining the discussion so late. I have read through to some of your messages, but please forgive me should I repeat something which has already been said or should I have missed that the discussion has long moved on!
Dear Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju, you wrote: “The ironic truth is that Kant is one of the world's greatest universalist thinkers. As I explained to Freter, what I'm trying to point out is the significance of Kant's insights beyond the limitations of Kant's personal cultural horizons. Beyond the ridiculousness of those views on Black people, women and perhaps other demographics, his explorations strike to the heart of the meaning of what it is to be human.”
I do not think, it is ironic that Kant was a universalist thinker. In fact, I would argue, that he is indeed a universalist. However, he is not a universalist in the sense that he found what unites all human beings, but in the sense that anyone who can be considered a (relevant) human being has to have. His philosophy prescribes universality instead of describing it.
Again, there is, esteemed Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju, an artistic beauty in your Kant lecture. And it would be quite anti-philosophical to deny that. However, your philosophical ideas are in very loose accordance with Kant. The questions for me are:
Why it is so important to attach your ideas with Kant?
Why is it so important to glorify Kant?
Why is it so important to defend the racist, antisemitic, misogynist etc. Kant? How is saving him relevant for your philosophy?
The “West”, wrote Richard Wright, “has never really been honest with itself about how it overcame its own traditions and blinding customs.” We need to find this out. If we ignore this task, we are working towards the continued existence of the violence of superiorism. We need to ask us: Have we taken, for instance, the elitism in Kant (or Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Hegel, Nietzsche etc.) seriously? And most importantly:
Have we made sure that when we adopt ideas from their philosophies we are not – involuntarily – continuing to philosophize in an elitist, superiorist way?
It is about 150 to 200 years ago, that the modern Western idea of human rights was brought to intellectual reality. However, the reality of the idea of human rights is still awaiting its practical realization. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that (Western) philosophers are constantly being excused for their superiorist ideas?
One of the most prominent excuses, which I read here in this exchange as well, is that Kant needs to be excused because it would be unfair or anachronistic to ask him to adhere to modern standards?
First of all: The philosopher who was able to revolutionize a nearly 2000 years of epistemology could not be asked to not be contemptuous towards those who are not like him? Is this really too much for a philosopher of this caliber?
And, secondly, and more importantly: It is simply not anachronistic to ask this of Kant. Theodor von Hippel was one of the regular guests in his house. Perhaps the most important German advocate of the rights of female human beings! And what about the abolitionist movements? Just think of what the Quaker David Cooper wrote in 1783 about the Declaration of Independence in his “Serious Address to the Rulers of America, on the Inconsistency of Their Conduct Respecting Slavery”:
“IF these solemn truths, uttered at such an awful crisis, are self-evident: unless we can shew that the African race are not men, words can hardly express the amazement which naturally arises on reflecting, that the very people who make these pompous declarations are slave-holders, and, by their legislative, tell us, that these blessings were only meant to be the rights of white men, not of all men.”
Jefferson owned a copy of this text! It WAS possible to think in a non-white supremacist, non-misogynist way!
We need to stop excusing the Western canon. And, we need to stop condemning it in a non-productive way. There might lots to find! But we need to find out if it is possible, and if so, how to do this first!
It might be possible, to avoid the superiorism of our past, but, perhaps, it might not be possible.
Perhaps one of the reasons why racism, sexism, speciesism and so many forms of superiorism are still so widespread, because we are fighting them while we – unbeknownst to ourselves – defending them by continuing our superiorist past?
But there is more we need to be aware of: We need to understand that, again and again, we decided to become violent, be it physically, psychologically, or epistemologically. We need to understand, that we decided to do so, because we wanted to do so. This is, no doubt, a tragedy, but we are not necessitated to want this, we are not necessitated to do this.
“The questions for me are:
Why it is so important to attach
your ideas with Kant?
Why is it so important to glorify
Kant?Why is it so important
to defend the racist, antisemitic, misogynist etc. Kant?
How is saving him relevant
for your philosophy?” B. Freter
The sentence: “and if not forgive, at least learn to marginalize the parts we dislike” might be one of the most dangerous philosophical statements I have heard in a while. I certainly do not want to learn to marginalize the marginalizing forces without having ensured before that by doing so I will not continue to marginalize those who have been marginalized by these very forces before.
Yes, I know that Toyin has answered with scenarios, but, perhaps, I still do not understand why this needs to be attached to this very person of the historical Kant. And, of course, it is upon Toyin to answer to that or not. By answering him I wanted to do two things: Certainly, to make my point, but, as perhaps even more importantly (as Toyin knows my standpoint), to honor my colleague and to thank him for the honor of mentioning my position.
Here’s a little by that trusted soul: Bryan Magee on Kant
I had promised myself and my Creator that I would do my level best to stay out of this, difficult as that may be.
BTW, I can’t stand listening to Carmina Burana for the nth time...
Judah Halevi ( 1075 - 1141) is highly regarded as a Spanish Jewish physician, mediaeval poet and philosopher. No doubt, relatively speaking - i.e. relative to today, he and his thinking were also a product of his times. In some contemporary Orthodox Jewish circles his seminal Kuzari //Kitab al Khazari in which he eloquently argues his case for Judaism being inherently superior to e.g. Christianity and al-Islam, is compulsory reading for the prospective convert.
I remember being slightly taken aback when I first encountered the sentence that went something like this : “ Now take the primitive African for example, out there in the jungle, his rudimentary language skills barely above that of an animal…”
As Ken has told us and as we all know, in some - relatively speaking, civilised quarters these were popular notions held in high esteem about the people of the Dark Continent - South of the Sahara , a good seven hundred years/ 700 years before the emergence of blokes like Immanuel Kant the racist and the birth and proliferation of folks like Mister Hitler and his Nazi offspring.
A very contemporary reassessment of our man, poses the question, not if he was but if he is:
Should the rest of Halevi’s well-laid out mediaeval arguments be regarded as so contaminated by his view of primitive/ pre-technological savages/ children of God, as to render all of his arguments null and void?
Would devalue scientific, technological, engineering medical, and pharmaceutical prowess because of the moral deficiencies of the great inventors, and scientists?
Baba Kadiri should at least be in essential agreement with Halevi about the language question :
6. Said to him the Khazari: "If anyone is to be guided in matters divine and to be convinced that God speaks to man, whilst he considers it improbable, he must be convinced of it by means of generally known facts, Which allow no refutation, and particularly imbue him with the belief that God has spoken to man. Although your book may be a miracle, as long as it is written in Arabic, a non-Arab as I am, cannot perceive its miraculous character; and even if it were read to me, I could not distinguish between it and any other book written in the Arabic language."
What a relief to follow your well measured responses to the eternal hatreds. man's inhumanity to man , ona daily basis.
At the moment , of uttermost relevance would be to hazard a conjecture or two at least by his tribal descendants and some of his apostles like Adepoju as to how they imagine Immanuel Kant // Professor Immanuel Kant and his categorical imperative would be in synch or at variance with their own hypothetical imperative/s in response to the savage categories enumerated in this thread, by Professor Gloria in Excelsis Emeagwali : Nazism, Apartheid, slavery and his countryman, Mister Hitler…
Also the countryman of the Great German Composers, including the Great Austrian Composers ( Austria once the heart of Germany) , not to mention the great German, the great Austrian writers, and last but not least other fellow great German Philosophers, and Austrian Philosophers , men of science and medicine etc, enough to make some of us humble and to use words such as “ genius” and “brilliant “ with more circumspection.
(When somebody tells me how “brilliant” kp is, it tells me more about that person than it tells me about kp…)
Fast forward to The Nuremberg Laws which, up till today some people have never heard of and need to be informed aboutN.B. Today, Sweden is the best country there is. In the Whole world. Trust me.
In the world of symbols in which we live, the last straw was last week and it happened in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where $124 trillion worth of minerals are buried. It happened in the wake of King Philippe of Belgium's visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo:
Great thanks Bjorn.
Are you not importing your own attitudes to how you think I should study Kant into your reading of my Kant work?
I place your central questions in bold in what follows:
Why is it so important to attach your ideas with Kant?
I'm puzzled as to why you think I'm attaching my ideas to Kant, like trying to graft something on to something that is foreign to it.
I see my reading of Kant as simply that, a reading of Kant.
I examine his words closely, demonstrating what I understand to be their immediate significance and its broader implications.
I don't import ideas into his work to see how they might fit with Kant's thought, even though such comparative exercises have their value.
I start with Kant as my foundation and expand from that point.
Does my Kant scholarship not read Kant closely, rather than grafting ideas unto his work? Are the extrapolations I make not grounded in what Kant is saying, implications it can clearly be shown to demonstrate, even though Kant would not have had the cognitive elasticity, on account of prejudice, or the cultural breadth, on account of limitations in access to knowledge of various cultures, to enable him make those correlations?
I write about African, Western, Asian and Islamic thought as well as doing significant writing that can't be limited to any of those categories, such as my work on female centred aesthetics.
When developing new approaches to extant systems of thought, such as the Yoruba origin Ifa and Ogboni, the Cross River Nsibidi and the Benin Olokun, the divisions as well as connectivity between the traditional system and my extrapolations are not opaque.
Why is it so important to glorify Kant?
Is Kant's work not worthy of glorification in its cognitive force? I glorify other scholars and creatives. Any particular reason there should be a focus on my doing the same with Kant?
I’m responding to the superlative force of a creative achievement, whatever limitations are demonstrated by that force in it's essential nature or in it's less than central expressions.
I celebrate the work of Toyin Falola, Nimi Wariboko, Abiola Irele, Ibn Arabi, Bruce Onobrakpeya, etc.
Why should my celebration of Kant be singled out as questionable glorification of a particular scholar?
Is Kant's work not worthy of the sublimity in terms of which it may be seen?
If it is, should those populations he discriminated against not also be among those who recognize and celebrate that sublimity?
Why is it so important to defend the racist, antisemitic, misogynist etc. Kant?
I’m puzzled. I would appreciate being shown aspects of my work that defend those negativities in Kant's work.
There are various sides to Kant. All Kant scholars don't have to address all of them nor address them in the same way or from similar perspectives, for their work to be valid.
Different views also exist as to the relative significance of those various sides, in terms of their weight in the structure of Kant's thought or in the level of insight they demonstrate.
I'm not really interested in Kant's racism or sexism. I'm also not convinced it's central to his thought. I'm yet to see how they impact his metaphysics, epistemology and ethics, the three poles of my current focus on his work.
Those who are so motivated may address those aspects of Kant, while people like myself who are keen on other issues may address what motivates us.
My being one of those populations whom Kant is described as discriminating against does not imply that I need to address that aspect of Kant when others have done or are doing that.
I’m also not particularly interested in addressing the racisms or other forms of superiorism in the various bodies of knowledge I study, Western and non-Western, unless it's necessary to do so in the course of my analysis, since others are addressing those issues.
I'm not defending Kant's racism or sexism, I'm simply not interested in them. I am free to ignore them because others are already addressing those subjects, and, as far as I can see, those negativities do not impact my areas of interest in Kant.
How is saving him relevant for your philosophy?
I am not aware that Kant needs saving in any way. Kant scholarship is a robust and many-sided enterprise recognizing both his strengths and limitations.
That recognition frames his power rather than negates it. It shows him as participating in the imperfections that define humanity, even as ideally human beings move towards narrowing the range of those imperfections.
Kant's place in the canon of great thinkers is assured and possibly timeless, and perhaps not open to erosion by any developments in human thought.
Kant Was a Universalist Thinker [but] Not a Universalist in the Sense that he Found What Unites all Human Beings
Kant's demonstration of universal value is in precisely what you say he does not do, emphasis mine-
‘’However, he is not a universalist in the sense that he found what unites all human beings, but in the sense that anyone who can be considered a (relevant) human being has to have. His philosophy prescribes universality instead of describing it. ‘’
When Kant writes about the power of perceptual interiority and exteriority , for example, are his ideas relevant to the populations he privileges alone? No.
His not being aware of this universal significance does not invalidate that value of his work. A particular ethnic group in the Amazon, I think, was shown in pictures trying to shoot an arrow at an aircraft. Kant, however, never saw an aircraft.
Various primitivisms, both moral and intellectual, are evident in Western history, till the present time, and same for various people.
But the people in Calabar whose used to kill twins, the Europeans who engaged in recurrent Jewish pogroms, the Indians who practiced wife burnings, all these people , demonstrate Kant’s description of the fundamental coordinates of human consciousness, ''the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me'' and, within this context, they also dramatize, in their own ways, the hunger for knowledge of fundamental realities and the cultivation of ultimate values, demonstrated by Kant’s works, realities from ideas of the existence of God to questions about the ultimate fate of the human being in the face of death to sensitivity to beauty, orientations evident in their texts and social and other creative practices.
My Epistemic Mission
We need to be careful about sliding down the slippery slope from legitimate concerns about sensitivity to the positive and negative range of bodies of knowledge to pigeonholing how non-Western thinkers should approach Western scholarship, particularly in it's controversial aspects.
If I was not an African, I don't expect Gloria, for one, would be so resistant to my Kant scholarship, since she seems to see Kant as an-Black, anti- women bogeyman whom none of those populations should identify with, yet the speaker at the talk you have been advertising is a woman, seems non-Western and is a prominent Kant scholar, though I'm not sure how she'll see my idea that non-Westen Kant scholars do not all need to address his racism or sexism.
I'm interested in a global grasp of human thought and artistic creativity, in it's specificities and interconnections.
I encountered Kant in circumstances that make his work intimate to me. First in my family library's encyclopedias in Benin-City and later in the library of the University of Benin, where my first reading of a Kantian text, the section on the Sublime, from Critique of Judgement, led to a visionary experience in which I seemed to vanish from the library under the impact of those words.
These intimate contacts, first in the comfort of domesticity, in the library that initiated me into scholarship in a loving manner, as well as through entry into horizons of mental experience marking my encounters with cognitive forms from various cultures, brings Kant for me into the interiority represented by my most powerful encounters with various forms of being, from sacred forest to works of art, even the erotic at it's most intense, since powerful cognitive encounters may also demonstrate an erotic flavour, as the intensity of the erotic may resonate with the palpitating force of intellectual and imaginative creativity.
Great thanks Bjorn.
How much is a trillion?
We are to assume that it should be very difficult to arrive at an accurate estimate of how many trillions of dollars worth of mineral wealth is buried in the Congo.
$24 - 35 trillion must be a deceptive, conservative estimate.
Nor do we know how much oil has left the shores of Nigeria since oil was first discovered in that country, or how many trillion dollars worth of gas has been flared since 1970…
Equally unrealistic for anyone to claim that they know how many diamonds have left Sierra Leone since diamonds were first discovered in that country in 1934 and the natives of the area were told by massa, “ Now you listen good - you see this stone, it is evil; if you find one, bring it to me” .
In the 1950s to the end of the 1960s some of the great mansions in Beirut were owned by Lebanese diamond merchants in Sierra Leone. One of them Jamil Sahid Mohamed Khalil had his own bank. The Lebanese of Sierra Leone. The speaker of Lebanon's parliament Nabih Berri, was born in Sierra Leone.
I still haven’t seen Blood Diamonds … too bloody
Immanuel Kant is buried on “Kant Island” at Königsberg Cathedral, Kaliningrad, Russia ( Perhaps a pilgrimage site for enthusiasts , to pay homage, your last respects ?)
Karl Marx is buried at Highgate Cemetery, London…
Why Kant? vs Why not?
When the professional philosophers speak, if our ears are not tuned or adjusted to that wavelength, we do not hear the grass singing.
Thank God, it was not about how many angels are dancing at the head of a pin or a literary appreciation of Auguries of Innocence to tease out more of what has been euphemistically described in this thread as “artistic beauty”
That was a delightful if not entertaining or illuminating questions and answers session featuring Freter asking some of the questions on everybody’s lips and rock of ages Adepoju in the mode of “Is that a question ? Then this is my answer!”( And I don’t have to justify anything. As a freewheeling Independent Scholar unconstrained by academic conventions, I’m free to do as I please - and to hell with the rigours or demands of e.g. Routledge publishing )
In my view, should Adepoju ever get around to transferring his philosophical peregrinations and other mighty cogitations into universal popular print “The Self-Consciousness of the Anti-Kantian Consciousness” would be a very catchy title indeed, hopefully to be matched by the contents of the improbable three hundred page tome - a title and contents not to be outmatched by the tittle-tattle of Averroes’ The Incoherence of the Incoherence. But why compare or contrast ?
To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/usaafricadialogue/9d811ce8-98c8-4419-b598-9521f4f596dan%40googlegroups.com.