The Criticism of Kantianism from the Left and from the Right
The principal feature of Kant’s philosophy is the reconciliation of materialism with idealism, a compromise between the two, the combination within one system of heterogeneous and contrary philosophical trends. When Kant assumes that something outside us, a thing-in-itself, corresponds to our ideas, he is a materialist. When he declares this thing-in-itself to be unknowable, transcendental, other-sided, he is an idealist. Recognising experience, sensations, as the only source of our knowledge, Kant is directing his philosophy towards sensationalism, and via sensationalism, under certain conditions, towards materialism. Recognising the apriority of space, time, causality, etc., Kant is directing his philosophy towards idealism. Both consistent materialists and consistent idealists (as well as the “pure” agnostics, the Humeans) have mercilessly criticised Kant for this inconsistency. The materialists blamed Kant for his idealism, rejected the idealist features of his system, demonstrated the knowability, the this-sidedness of the thing-in-itself, the absence of a fundamental difference between the thing-in-itself and the phenomenon, the need of deducing causality, etc., not from a priori laws of thought, but from objective reality. The agnostics and idealists blamed Kant for his assumption of the thing-in-itself as a concession to materialism, “realism” or “naïve realism”. The agnostics, moreover, rejected not only the thing-in-itself, but apriorism as well; while the idealists demanded the consistent deduction from pure thought not only of the a priori forms of perception, but of the world as a whole (by magnifying human thought to an abstract Self, or to an “Absolute Idea”, or to a “Universal Will” etc., etc.). And here our Machists, “without noticing” that they have taken as their teachers people who had criticised Kant from the standpoint of skepticism and idealism, began to rend their clothes and to cover their heads with ashes at the sight of monstrous people who criticised Kant from a diametrically opposite point of view, who rejected the slightest element of agnosticism (skepticism) and idealism in his system, who demonstrated that the thing-in-itself is objectively real, fully knowable and this-sided, that it does not differ fundamentally from appearance, that it becomes transformed into appearance at every step in the development of the individual consciousness of man and the collective consciousness of mankind. Help! – they cried – this is an illegitimate mixture of materialism and Kantianism!
V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 179-180
Part one/to be continued…
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