Kant Help Myself

I certainly hope this is true.

KantMOSCOW (AP) — An argument in southern Russia over philosopher Immanuel Kant, the author of “Critique of Pure Reason,” devolved into pure mayhem when one debater shot the other.

A police spokeswoman in Rostov-on Don, Viktoria Safarova, said two men in their 20s were discussing Kant as they stood in line to buy beer at a small store on Sunday. The discussion deteriorated into a fistfight and one participant pulled out a small nonlethal pistol and fired repeatedly.

The victim was hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening. Neither person was identified.  —AP

Study Questions

1.  Which of the following do you suppose they were arguing about:

  1. The categorical imperative
  2. The reality of ding an sich
  3. Kant’s on-base percentage and batting average
  4. Women?

Defend your answer, and prepare to die.

2.  Can you imagine a circumstance in the United States where a discussion of German philosophy would lead to a fight, let alone as shooting?  Can you imagine a circumstance where there would be a discussion of German philosophy anywhere in America where beer is served?  Why or why not?  What happened to “American Exceptionalism”?

3.  Imagine taking a poll among the first 100 Americans you meet in the street outside your home or place of business in which you asked them to tell you Kant’s first name or first initial .  Which do you suppose would be mentioned most:

1.  I.
2.  U.
3.  Hashtag
4.  Clark

Defend your answer and prepare not to sneer.

4.  If Kant were alive today, would he be happy or unhappy that anybody, let alone Russians, would become violent over his interpretation?  If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (or plagiarism, as Oscar Levant suggested), where does violence fit in?  Make the case that violence is merely unbridled intellectual passion.  Then turn yourself in.

5.  Immanuel Kant wrote: “From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned.”   (Uh-huh-huh — he said “wood!”)  Explain the meaning of his observation without referencing sexual orientation.  Do you think this sounded better in the original German?  Is it likely this is what those two idiot Russians were arguing about?

Extra Credit:  Discuss the following statement: “The world would be a better place if more people argued passionately over the works of the great philosophers.”  Don’t worry that you haven’t a fucking clue who the great philosophers actually were — after all, none of them ever blogged.

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9 Responses to Kant Help Myself

  1. Beardsley says:

    When it came to Kant, the only fight I ever observed was my students struggling to stay awake.

  2. Hose B says:

    Those are good questions, but you left out something important — What brand of beer did they buy?

  3. Private Partz says:

    Once — just once — I was in a barroom discussion when the term “the great philosophers” came up. One of us insisted on Sigmund Freud. That about wrapped it up for the term,.

  4. I am a completely biased observer, I love Kant’s imperfect map of ethical action —- his Categorical Imperative. He is oh-so-Prussian wordy and puts the modern hashtag mentality completely to sleep; but I found this story hilarious! Kant absolutely would have blogged, but he would not have twittered!

  5. Dawgbowl says:

    So in barbaric Russia the fight over an 18th century philosopher results in one of the adversaries getting shot multiple times by a cap gun. In “exceptional” America, some crazy person shoots up a military installation with an automatic weapon for no discernible reason and kills a dozen innocents. This country needs more philosophers and fewer guns.

  6. Sharpo says:

    So when is the paper due in professor?

  7. Sharpo says:

    So all the research time I invested on this project has been wasted? All the sleepless nights I spent reading are for naught? Is that what you are saying?

    • Squathole says:

      Aah, my friend, with deep regrets I can only say, “I Kant help you.” (Fortunately you’re not Russian so you won’t shoot me.)

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