Santa Monica College The Enlightenment Philosophers Hume Kant and Emerson Discussion


Discussion Question

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Hume, Kant, and Emerson – The Enlightenment Philosophers. Reminder: Hume, Scottish, Empiricist, Kant, German, Transcendental Idealism (brought together rationalism and empiricism), Emerson, American Transcendentalist, a philosopher, essayist and poet.

How can these philosophical frameworks help us to address the hate that is infecting people in everyday experience as it shows itself in mask wearers and anti-mask wearers, systemic racism, the fears and challenges that come from social distancing, etc?

Extra credit – “Parasite.”

‘Parasite’ examines socioeconomic disparity in South Korean culture but we can find a similar disparity in our own backyard, in Los Angeles. How might a return to Hume’s moral feelings, moral sentiments help. Or, perhaps Kant’s moral law within, synthetic a priori principle written into the very cognition of the human mind? Emerson’s guidance that we ought to listen to the music of our souls, the divine gift of genius?

JACOB student 1

Reply Thought minimum 300 words

A lesson can be learned from enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel Kant in regard to the morality of our decisions. In today’s world, COVID-19 has ravaged the globe, leaving governments confused and people dividing into groups of extreme polarization. People are finding themselves also infected by a second disease, hate. Much of the polarization and hate that has begun to spread is the product of stubborn people with conflicting ideas. The lines of morality are becoming blurrier. In order to find our morals in such a chaotic climate, we can look to the philosophers of the past. A perfect example is Immanuel Kant. Kant believed that morality and moral decisions were rational. Kant thought that it was one’s civil duty to behave in a fashion that forced one to believe only with good intentions. In order to prove if your intentions were good you had to ask yourself if other people may have behaved in the same way and if your behavior respected the goals of others around you. Unlike Hume who claimed, “the rules of morality are not the conclusion of our reason”, Kant disagreed. He believed morality to be rational. Kant proposed that if we used rationality and a method he called The Categorical Imperative, we could then establish a set of rules for which we could follow. The two main rules involve respecting the goals of other people instead of using them for personal gain as well as assuring yourself that it would be just for another person to perform your desired action. If as a society and people, we follow this goal, we may notice ourselves being kinder to those around us as we allow for them to pursue their own goals in life and strive for satisfaction. By following Kant’s philosophies, we can pursue our own goals while leaving others in peace, therefore neutralizing hate. Now, we can follow our heart and inner morals and still use logical thought to assist us in our moral decisions.

Matthew Student 2

Reply Thought minimum 300 words

The philosophical frameworks of the Enlightenment philosophers can help us address the hate in the world in many ways. One way that these philosophies can help is for example Emerson in his essay about self reliance saying, “ for nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure” (Emerson 4). First of all what he is saying is that if you don’t conform the the majority or many people, you will be scolded with hate and will be displeased. How this addresses hate is that when for example someone is not wearing a mask in a shop and you tell them to please put one on they come back and say that they don’t believe in it because they know many others that don’t and someone who is more popular like a role model telling them that they don’t need to wear a mask. They are conforming to the community that doesn’t wear masks and they feel that they are correct because many do the same and thinking you are the nonconformist and then you are getting the hate for saying they should wear one. Emerson is saying that you should man your own star and don’t follow others and instead rely on what you think is right and stick to it not what others say. Another example is Kant saying that people who take too much direction from others is what can make so many people follow bad trends like racism and anti masks because, “ self incurred is this tutelage when it’s cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another” (Kant 1). With people being stuck in tutelage and getting their choices made for them and directions from others addresses where the followings of anti mask and other bad actions come from because once someone starts a movement of anti mask, many other in tutelage will follow and hate between opposing views will continue on. With Kant they can learn Sapere Aude!, and start to have courage to use own reasonings first what they think is right in this situation. If they truly believe that masks are important but others don’t, they will follow their own reason and therefore make better choices and address the problems with not wearing a make for example. When people start to follow Kant and stop relying on teachers and preachers about wrong things the hate will become less and more enlightenment with pursue creating a better environment. Another example is from Hume explaining how analytic priori and synthetic posterioriori can help determine what people should do and think about when they make the decisions they do with racism or not wearing a mask. In Humes Standard of taste he notes, “ blaming the opposite qualities” ( Hume 3). This is talking about how people who wear masks for the safety of others blaming the ones who don’t wear masks for the longer quarantine. Besides logic and reasoning to why wearing a mask is important, there are different opinions about whether to wear one or not and that the opposing views create share between each other. What people should learn from Hume is casual reasoning to determine what is better or right and ease tensions on opinions. They should focus on the relation of ideas and the matters of fact. They should test their opinion that the predicate is contained in the subject and does the opposite result in contradiction. Through this they can determine if their opinion is before or after experience and is analytic or synthetic. Through this casual reasoning one can better determine what is right.


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