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putting Kuhn and Kant in some context

Reader comment on item: Immanuel Kant vs. Israel

Submitted by myth (Germany), Aug 19, 2010 at 09:54

Kuhn's perspective of paradigm shifts applied only to scientists views of "the bigger picture" in natural science. It never trickled down to the wider public. Even today no school would start teaching quantum mechanics first. Second the paradigm shifts played very much in the world of physics alone, even chemistry and biology are "a different ball game". The rules are similar, but the game looks different. So I do not see the paradgim argument as a big one that can be applied in a powerful way to different areas. As for Kant, in his time there were no nation states in the way we think about them. Maybe with the exception of Switzerland or Holland. He was from a european class of privileged people, communicating in french regardless of native tongue, that essentially ran europe. That was a time when in Germany there was no law applicable to everyone. In that context I doubt that his ideas of an international state went as far as the article suggests.

In fact continental europe in 18th century was very much a territory governed by some nobility that had little ties to national origin. In that sense the paradigm shift is a sort of restauration process, not a progress of some kind. After the French Revolution it was Napoleon who defeated the rest of Europe with a drafted national French army vs more or less mercenaries ( there were not that many germans in the prussian army except for the officers ) and brought his lawbook to the rest of Europe. This "Code Civil" was in use in the far western part of Germany until 1900. Oddly, this European conquest of Napoleon establishing a common law across Europe sparked the national movements in Germany ( which did not exist as such ) and many other countries. Not to forget Vienna, shocked by the success of Napoleon using the power of the people , the political elite of the time tried to restore the order of the international nobility ruling the continent. Looking at the context of 1815 I see a question of where is the political power shifting on a level of society, which group will gain power, not so much on a level of nation/international paradigm.

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