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European Critical Tradition


                                                      Philosophical roots of Critical Theory

The birth of the modern european critical tradition can be traced back to the Enlightenment and in particular the german philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)  and his most influential book " Critique of Pure Reason " or in german word " Kritik der reinen Vernunft " . Kant’s revision of the liberal humanist tradition replaced metaphysics – in his own word : speculation about external reality – with critique . For Kant, critique consisted of tracing the origins of experience back to the faculties of the mind . Before Kant, stated simply , science described the world passively,but after Kant , science was seen to write onto the world what human categories imposed upon it . afterwards specially for Kantians , science no longer extracted knowledge from the proverbial ‘ thing – in – itself ( namely something which remains fundamentally unknowable ) ; rather in the Kant’s mind science produced knowledge of the phenomena of the world .

Kant’s analysis of the human mind attempted to understand cognitive faculties in order to determine the proper usage and limits of reason ; hence his critique of pure reason was boundary setting . His work built a structured architecture of the mind in order to address important questions like : What can I know? How can we act morally? What can I hope for? IF we want to speaking broadly , we have to refer to this important point that Kant divided the mind into three components or faculties . First , the faculty of sensiblity organizes the raw and chaotic manifold of sense  materials in accordance with the forms of sensibility namely space and time . these forms are an a priori possession of the mind rather than observed phenomena . Understanding , the second faculty of the mind , takes these appearances and files them under categories just like unity , cause  , etc . producing objects of cognition . Reason occurs when the understanding no longer applies itself to appearances or sensory objects . The result of reason is the production of ideas in the noumenal realm . Because ideas cannot be experienced directly , they do not have causes and are positioned in the a-temporal or metaphysical dimention . As such no one can properly know that ideas such as god , freedom , or even immortality exist , they cannot be subject to understanding .

Therefore at the end , Kant’s critique of metaphysics does in fact rehabilitate a supersensible reality . But only now universals exist within the interior of the human mind rather than in external , objective reality . These ideas are not simply flights of fancy or chimeras .Although we cannot experience them , they nevertheless follow logical rules of thought , and we can reasonably act as if they exist . According to Kant acting as if freedom were possible is not delusional . In fact it makes us act morally to conceptualize  and act upon the ideas of god or freedom .

Kant’s humanistic side is most clearly articulated in his theory of freedom . For Kant humans are’nt simply the aggregate of natural forces . Humans are distinctly unique because we freely give to ourselves an imperative to follow . To be moral is to act in accordance with a universal law . There are essentially two versions of this categorical imperative which can be found in Kant’s writings : act according to maxim which can be universal principle and act in such a way that you treat humanity as an ends not as a means . To be moral is to act  beyond the contingency and particularity of everyday life and to act in unison with transcendentally possible imperative . Society as a whole must be measured against this imperative to see if it is rationally and thus morally true . In the end , by using reason properly and not confusing the faculties of the mind , Kant believed that pre-enlightenment superstition , crulty , and ignorance would be replaced by both individual liberty and universal peace . Therefore as Kant writes in the influential essay " An Answer to the Question : What  Is Enlightenment ? " (1784) enlightenment is the courage to use our individual understanding properly to critique the irrationality of the world .

Apparently Kant’s intentions were progressive for the time , but the results of his liberal humanist tradition of critique are always to be questioned . As liberal humanism became a dominent cultural logic of western society , it became increasingly problematic . For many later critical theorists , liberal humanism led to elitist , colonialist , and  Patriarchal ideologies . In this way many of the central figures which  henceforwards , we can continue will responding to the crisis in Kant’s universalizing position , either attempting to reconstruct reason , or reject it completely.

After this short introduction on european tradition of  critique which was begun really with Kant ,we have to continue our discussion whith Hegel’s critical dialectics , Nietasche’s genealogy and his ideas on power and critical theory , psychoanalysis and Freud’s thoughts , and in our time Foucault , Althusser , Lacan , Gilles Deleuze and so forth .

Why do I choose such a subject-matter for my blog? To understanding the core of subject is very important for me . And since I want to have an exactly review on Iran’s events , cultural at first sight, as a philosophy educated I introduce the beginings of critique as a serious discussion . Thus we can understand that ‘ why a term like Islamic Republic is contradictory ! Islam as a religion cannot accept republic because republic does mean so many ideas which must be heared while Islam has one single idea ! Or revolution , which does mean  wave , or a great change in hope for achiving   a better situation , that is a childish hope !

A.H.Randjbar

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