“The Human Condition,” by Thomas Whitaker/Prison Arts Coalition
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION is a five-part, four-book series, including:
PART 1: Preface and General Introduction
PART 2: Cognition, Content, and the A Priori: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge
PART 3: Deep Freedom and Real Persons: A Study in Metaphysics
PART 4: Kantian Ethics and Human Existence: A Study in Moral Philosophy
PART 5: Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism: A Theological-Political Treatise
Its author is ROBERT HANNA:
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 1
PREFACE AND GENERAL INTRODUCTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 2
COGNITION, CONTENT, AND THE A PRIORI: A STUDY IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND AND KNOWLEDGE
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Note on References
1. Introduction: Freedom, Life, and Persons’ Lives
2. Beyond Mechanism: The Dynamics of Life
3. From Biology to Agency
3.1 Two-Dimensional Rational Normativity
3.2 Kant’s Biological Theory of Freedom
3.3 Practical-Freedom-in-Life: Kantian Non-Intellectualism
3.4 The Rationality of the Heart: Principled Authenticity
4. Neither/Nor: The Negative Case for Natural Libertarianism
4.1 The Intuitive Definition of Free Will
4.2 The Four Metaphysical Horsemen of the Apocalypse
4.3 The Three Standard Options, Natural Mechanism, and The Fourfold Knot of Free Agency
4.4 Three Arguments for Classical Incompatibilism, and In-the-Zone Compatibilism
4.5 Three Arguments for Local Incompatibilism with Respect to Natural Mechanism
4.6 Sympathy for the Devil: Compatibilism Reconsidered
4.7 Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death?
4.8 Too Hard to Live With: Strawson’s Basic Argument, Hard Determinism, and Hard Incompatibilism
5. Either/Or: Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity
5.1 The Internal Structure of Deep Freedom
5.2 From Frankfurt Back to Kierkegaard: How to Have a Live Option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or, Without Alternative Possibilities
5.3 Psychological Freedom, Deep Freedom, and Principled Authenticity
6. Minded Animalism I: What Real Persons Really Are
6.1 From Deep Freedom to Real Persons
6.2 Real Persons
6.3 Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Real Personhood
7. Minded Animalism II: From Parfit to Real Personal Identity
7.1 Parfit’s Theory: Six Basic Claims
7.2 Against and Beyond Parfit 1: Two Reasons, and The Minded Animalist Criterion of Personal Identity
7.3 Against and Beyond Parfit 2: Four More Reasons
In the fullness of time, the complete, downloadable text of each part of THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION will also be made available on APP.
A NOTE ON REFERENCES
For convenience, throughout the five-part four book series, The Rational Human Condition—comprising 1. the Preface and General Introduction, 2. Cognition, Content, and the A Priori, 3. Deep Freedom and Real Persons, 4. Kantian Ethics and Human Existence, and 5. Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism—I refer to Kant’s works infratextually in parentheses. The citations include both an abbreviation of the English title and the corresponding volume and page numbers in the standard “Akademie” edition of Kant’s works: Kants gesammelte Schriften, edited by the Königlich Preussischen (now Deutschen) Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin: G. Reimer [now de Gruyter], 1902-). I generally follow the standard English translations, but have occasionally modified them where appropriate. For references to the first Critique, I follow the common practice of giving page numbers from the A (1781) and B (1787) German editions only. Here is a list of the relevant abbreviations and English translations:
BL “The Blomberg Logic.” In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Trans. J.M. Young. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 5-246.
C Immanuel Kant: Correspondence, 1759-99. Trans. A. Zweig. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999.
CPJ Critique of the Power of Judgment. Trans. P. Guyer and E. Matthews. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000.
CPR Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. P. Guyer and A. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
CPrR Critique of Practical Reason. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 139-271.
DiS “Concerning the Ultimate Ground of the Differentiation of Directions in Space.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 365-372.
DSS “Dreams of a Spirit-Seer Elucidated by Dreams of Metaphysics.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 301-359.
EAT “The End of All Things.” Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 221-231.
GMM Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 43-108.
ID “On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible World (Inaugural Dissertation).” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 373-416.
IUH “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim.” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Anthropology, History, and Eduction. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007. Pp. 107-120.
JL “The Jäsche Logic.” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 519-640.
LE Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Ethics. Trans. P. Heath. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
MFNS Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Trans. M. Friedman. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
MM Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 365-603.
OP Immanuel Kant: Opus postumum. Trans. E. Förster and M. Rosen. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993.
OT “What Does It Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 7-18.
Prol Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. Trans. G. Hatfield. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
PP “Toward Perpetual Peace.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 317-351.
Rel Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 57-215.
RTL “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 611-615.
VL “The Vienna Logic,” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 251-377.
WE “An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 17-22.
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
Chapter 2 Beyond Mechanism: The Dynamics of Life
Section 2.7 Conclusion
For all the reasons I have given in this chapter, the dynamicist model of life, when taken together with a neo-Aristotelian and contemporary Kantian theory of immanent structural properties, representational anti-mechanism, and Kantian Non-Conceptualism as applied to the representation of life, jointly provide the basis of a very powerful cognitive-semantic and metaphysical argument for explanatory and ontological anti-physicalism which, if it is sound, shows that the causally efficacious fact of biological life, as organismic life, does not strongly supervene in any way on the fundamental physical world, and correspondingly, shows that not only is Natural Mechanism is false, but also any version of anti-physicalist, anti-mechanist dualism about life is also false.
Above all, however, organisms are not machines, animals are not machines, minded animals are not machines, and you are not a machine. So LaMettrie,[i] the ultra-Darwinian biologist Thomas Huxley,[ii] Sam Harris,[iii] Daniel Dennett,[iv] and scads of less-well-known contemporary philosophers, too numerous to mention, are all “dead wrong” about that too.
Nor are you a ghost, with essentially mysterious causal powers. So Descartes and defenders of Classical Agent-Causal Libertarianism are equally “dead wrong” about that, too.
This leads to one last important thing in this connection—perhaps even the most important thing, at the end of the philosophical day. This neo-Aristotelian and contemporary Kantian anti-mechanist, dynamicist approach to biology and the phenomenon of life can significantly inflect or even radically modify our philosophical concept or picture of physical nature itself in a deeply non-Newtonian and non-Cartesian way, by representing the causal behaviors, functions, operations, and/or states of fundamental physical properties and facts themselves as inherently open to the real possibility of organismic life, consciousness, intentionality, caring, deeply free agency, and real personhood.[v] In turn, as the later Wittgenstein and Jonas both forcefully remind us, a change in form of representation is also a change in our cognitive and practical attitudes, which in turn directly affect or even motivate intentional action.[vi] As human animals, we are ineluctably embedded in physical nature. So to change our philosophical concept or picture of physical nature along the liberalized lines proposed in this chapter is not only to change our cognitive and practical attitudes towards the universe, but also to change our cognitive and practical attitudes towards our own lives. That is the ultimate upshot of the natural piety approach to the philosophy of nature and natural science.[vii]
According to natural piety, neither are you alienated from nature (a Cartesian ghost-in-a- machine) nor are you a “lord and master” of nature (a Baconian/Cartesian technocrat). To believe both of these at once was Victor Frankenstein’s tragic mistake, repeated endlessly and magnified infinitely in the deeply misguided epistemic and metaphysical doctrines, and scientistic-technocratic ideology, of Natural Mechanism:[viii]
Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of [naturally mechanistic] knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.[ix]
Or as Prigogine puts it, jumping forward from early 19th century European intellectual culture to late 20th century European intellectual culture:
The attempt to understand nature remains one of the basic objectives of Western thought. It should not, however, be identified with the idea of control. The master who believes he understands his slaves because they obey his orders would be blind. When we turn to physics, our expectations are obviously different, but here as well, Vladimir Nabokov’s conviction rings true: “What can be controlled is never completely real; what is real can never be completely controlled.” The [naturally mechanistic] classical ideal of science, a world without time, memory, and history, recalls the totalitarian nightmares described by Aldous Huxley, Milan Kundera, and George Orwell.[x]
As against Natural Mechanism, according to natural piety, the physical universe as a whole and in all its parts, in its basic mathematical and thermodynamic structures—and especially the localized versions of all these structures that are realized on planet Earth—is “our town.”[xi] And in “our town”—in this actual physical universe and on this very planet—you just are your minded animal life, as I will argue in chapters 6–7 below. Therefore you are morally, metaphysically, and epistemically at home in nature, for better or worse.
[i] See J.O. de La Mettrie, Man, A Machine (Chicago, IL: Open Court, 1912), available online at URL = <https://archive.org/stream/manmachine00lame#page/n9/mode/2up>.
[ii] See, e.g., T. Huxley, “On the Hypothesis That Animals are Automata, and Its History,” in D. Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002), pp. 24-30.
[iii] See Harris, Free Will.
[iv] See, e.g., Schuessler, “Philosophy That Stirs the Waters.”
[v] See Thompson, Mind in Life; Hanna and Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action; and Nagel, Mind and Cosmos. In turn, roughly a century ago, four brilliant books all said basically the same thing: Alexander’s Space, Time, and Deity; Bergson’s Creative Evolution; Dewey’s Experience and Nature; and Whitehead’s Process and Reality.
[vii] See Hanna, “Kant, Natural Piety, and the Limits of Science.”
[viii] See Hanna, “Kant, Scientific Pietism, and Scientific Naturalism.”
[ix] Shelley, Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus, vol. 1, ch. 3.
[xi] See T. Wilder, Our Town: A Play in Three Acts (New York: Harper & Row, 1938), available online at URL = <http://www.aasd.wednet.edu/cms/lib02/WA01001124/Centricity/Domain/74/Our_Town_full_text.pdf>.
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