Tuesday, March 08, 2016

"That explains it."

Leiter: "...but given that she's an assistant professor in a field with no discernible wissenschaftlich standards..."

Rauchway, repeats of repeats, originally here
[A] traditional defense of academic freedom... goes something like this: Academic freedom predates free speech. Although Prussia gave constitutional protection to Lehrfreiheit in 1850 (“science and its teaching shall be free”), academic freedom generally does not enjoy legal protection outside of contractual guarantees; rather, it rests on the authority and ability of a community of competent scholars to police their own discourse and on the willingness of universities to affirm this authority and ability.
Kant and de Maistre (start here)
Kant, What is Enlightenment?
Thus we observe here as elsewhere in human affairs, in which almost everything is paradoxical, a surprising and unexpected course of events: a large degree of civic freedom appears to be of advantage to the intellectual freedom of the people, yet at the same time it establishes insurmountable barriers. A lesser degree of civic freedom, however, creates room to let that free spirit expand to the limits of its capacity. 
de Maistre
Everything that constrains a man, strengthens him.
Joshua Yoder: The Case Of Human Plurality: Hannah Arendt's Critique Of Individualism In Enlightenment And Romantic Thinking [pdf]
According to Leonard Krieger, the concept of individual freedom, or "individual secular liberty," characterized political thought in Western Europe as early as the seventeenth century. The freedom of the individual depended on maintaining some kind of distance from political authority. In Germany, however, "individualized freedom", or Freiheit, had to contend with another notion of freedom already present: Libertaet, which referred to the rights of German princes within the Holy Roman Empire. After 1650, as German princes began to exercise more political control, they interpreted Libertaet as the freedom to rule without Imperial interference. The idea of Libertaet, along with centralized administration and growing bureaucracies, changed the German principalities into sovereign territorial states. Yet, within these states the individual, and individual rights, still occupied an ambiguous role. Krieger argues
The German princes never ceased to feel themselves aristocrats as well as monarchs, not only personally because of their family origins and connections, not only socially because of their special dependence on the nobility worked by the peculiarities of the German economic and social structure, but even institutionally, because the social and constitutional structures were so integrally intertwined that the very development of the German princes toward absolute sovereignty in their own territory was at the same time a development of their aristocratic rights within the [Holy Roman] German Empire. It was this institutional connection between sovereign power and aristocratic liberties... that made this kind of Libertaet the representative expression of German political liberty in the old regime.
From 1650-1750, as the more individualistic ideas of Freiheit spread into Germany from enlightened thinkers in Western Europe, they were transformed to fit the prevalent ideas of Libertaet, resulting in the notion of enlightened absolutism. German thinkers "adopted western assumptions which made individuals the primary units of society and individual rights the basis and the limitation of the state, but they interpreted these assumptions in a way compatible with the preservation of the peculiar German corporate rights and made the prince arbiter over all." Using natural law, German thinkers were able to combine inalienable rights and political obligation in the form of an absolutist state. After 1750, political ideas in Western Europe continued to further reflect notions of "material individualism,"but in Germany "natural law absolutism" held sway in both theory and practice until the French Revolution.

[Leonard Krieger, The German Idea of Freedom: History of a Political Tradition]
What is Enlightenment?
I have emphasized the main point of the enlightenment--man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage-- primarily in religious matters, because our rulers have no interest in playing the guardian to their subjects in the arts and sciences. Above all, nonage in religion is not only the most harmful but the most dishonorable. But the disposition of a sovereign ruler who favors freedom in the arts and sciences goes even further: he knows that there is no danger in permitting his subjects to make public use of their reason and to publish their ideas concerning a better constitution, as well as candid criticism of existing basic laws. We already have a striking example [of such freedom], and no monarch can match the one whom we venerate.

But only the man who is himself enlightened, who is not afraid of shadows, and who commands at the same time a well disciplined and numerous army as guarantor of public peace--only he can say what [the sovereign of] a free state cannot dare to say: "Argue as much as you like, and about what you like, but obey!" Thus we observe here as elsewhere in human affairs, in which almost everything is paradoxical, a surprising and unexpected course of events: a large degree of civic freedom appears to be of advantage to the intellectual freedom of the people, yet at the same time it establishes insurmountable barriers. A lesser degree of civic freedom, however, creates room to let that free spirit expand to the limits of its capacity. Nature, then, has carefully cultivated the seed within the hard core--namely the urge for and the vocation of free thought. And this free thought gradually reacts back on the modes of thought of the people, and men become more and more capable of acting in freedom. At last free thought acts even on the fundamentals of government and the state finds it agreeable to treat man, who is now more than a machine, in accord with his dignity.
When I first read it the contradictions annoyed me; they were obvious and stupid. I didn't have the patience to read for context. Later it made sense, but I'm just disgusted that the contradictions are simply ignored.
Although he took a keen interest in the great British philosophers - he later discovered and edited some new letters by Hume - he shared Cassirer's dismay at the blinkered approach of the analytical philosophers who dominated the Oxford scene: ignoring the historical context of thinkers such as Leibniz, the only thing they wanted to know was whether his statements were true according to their own criteria.
Formalism and anti-humanist pseudoscience in the age of Weber: the age of plumbers.

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