Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kantian Calamity

An introduction to western humanities says:
The immensely influential German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) spent his entire life in Koenigsberg, in the northern part of East Prussia, and is now known as Kaliningrad, in Russia. 
There are many problems with the ideas advocated by Kant, a cornerstone of western revival, but in this note we shall focus on enlightenment in the sense that prevails in the west. His famous essay has been translated by many and the opening paragraph reads:


An Answer to the Question: "What is Enlightenment?"

Konigsberg in Prussia, 30th September, 1784.

Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another.This immaturity is self-imposed if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!

 On the face of it the assertion looks deep, which it is, as well as full of wisdom and insight and that is only partially true. No wonder that as a reaction Germany lapsed into idealism from which it has yet to emerge.
Western psychotherapy and much before that Islamic mysticism were striving precisely for this maturity.

But where did he get it wrong then? Answer is simple - there is no God in the picture painted by Kant. When you try to build an edifice without God then you shall get something deep, profound, effective in some vague manner, even successful as well as remunerative and much more but it shall always be deficient in an essential way to the limit of being ultimately harmful - any benefit ensuing from it will be only temporary.

If you look at the statement then it is clearly an invitation to revolt against the authority - the Church for the intended audience. That is what it engendered - a comprehensive walk out from the Church.

Now that is a relief and that is a tragedy. It was relief because Christian Church had lost its direction -much before that, to say the least, and enlightenment should be taken as a reaction only. But this so called enlightenment is a tragedy of gigantic proportions for it removed the whole continent of Europe away from God.

Ensuing European revolution as well as European prosperity should be taken God's absolute disregard for the riches of this world - He (SWT) give it to whosoever He (SWT) wishes and there is not consideration of deserving and undeserving at all.

 The Kantian calamity had repercussions for Islam and Muslims too. Not in the form of increased opposition from Europe which too is there in the following sense. They might not say it in so many words but a western person does have on the back of his or her mind, "I have kicked my religion why don't you?"
But we are talking about a different affect. The matters concerns when a Muslim starts questioning the authority at the drop of a hat. This only the first step in the journey that the west has already made.

A Muslim should be wiser.