Plumb Lines

February 27, 2009

Skimming Arendt

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Schaengold @ 12:22 am

I picked up Arendt’s Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy last night to woo myself asleep, but of course it had the opposite of the intended effect. Among the innumerable gems:

The most decisive difference between the Critique of Practical Reason and the Critique of Judgment is that the moral laws of the former are valid for all intelligible beings, whereas the rules of the latter are strictly limited in their validity to human beings on earth

The Critique of Judgment was intended to head off people like this guy, who wants to establish beauty on a firmly mathematically footing and thus make our aesthetic judgments “valid for all intelligible beings.” Per contra, said Kant, our mundane human plurality is the very condition of our judgment, which is neither the expression of mere preference nor the articulation of a categorical rule. He restricted this condition to aesthetic judgment, but Arendt dreamt of applying it to politics. This vanquishes the technocrats and the Fascists at one go: the technocrats because they think politics is all universals, and the Fascists because they think it’s just particulars.

Please consider this post the beginning of an oblique rejoinder to Keith and Matt, who (unprovoked!) called my rejection of torture on aesthetic grounds “breezy.”

David Schaengold

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