Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hume, Kant and Rand

Hume's Central Principles is an 8-part lecture by Dr. Peter Millican. Millican is sympathetic to David Hume, but in his lecture he is not defending Hume—he is explaining the key features of the Humean philosophy.

Hume is the originator of many of the ideas for which Ayn Rand blames Immanuel Kant. In comparison to Hume, Kant seems like a rational thinker.

Kant was motivated by good intentions. He wanted to develop a philosophy that would make the Enlightenment flourish. In his articles, he speaks in favor of free society, and he supports people’s right to determine their own life. He had a pro-science attitude. He believed that scientific knowledge is possible to man. Such ideas are not there in Hume.

The primary motivation for Kant was to find a solution to the philosophical problems that Hume had created.

In the Preface to the Prolegomena, Kant writes: “no event has occurred that could have been more decisive for the fate of this science [metaphysics] than the attack made upon it by David Hume.” In the later section of the Prolegomena Kant makes the claim that he is in possession of “a complete solution of the Humean problem.” But Kant didn’t have the solution to the Humean problem.

I think that without understanding Hume, it is not possible for anyone to understand Kant. One of the reasons for which Ayn Rand’s criticism of Kant is unconvincing is that she does not take into account the context of Hume’s work while talking about Kant.

Millican does not mention Kant and Ayn Rand in this lecture. His focus is only on Hume. Overall, this is an interesting lecture. One more lecture on Hume, by Millican is available on the Oxford website: Introduction to David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature Book One.

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