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Kant's not so universal universalism

Reader comment on item: Immanuel Kant vs. Israel
in response to reader comment: Kant's Revolution

Submitted by Elliott A Green (Israel), Aug 20, 2010 at 09:03

The so-called Left or Progressive movement has always been firmly within the Western Judeophobic tradition. This goes back, in my view, to the intellectual roots of Leftism/Progressivism, the French and German Enlightenment movements, particularly Kant, Hegel, Voltaire, d'Holbach, whereas Rousseau tried to view Jews more equitably. Kant in fact wrote about Jews at length from his position of ignorance and prejudice about them. Kant, Hegel and others wrote that Jews were incapable of reason. Thus, they were also enemies of Progress, which is a function of reason. This attitude persists among today's "Left" and many "liberals" too, although many who espouse it have a weak grip on reason themselves.

Some are "more progressive than others" in the view of the "left," whereas Jews are by nature --in the Judeophobic "Left's view-- enemies of Progress. To be fair to the Left, however, we have the common origins in Kant and Hegel's philosophy for much of both the Right and Left. Total conceptual confusion.

Marx took a great deal from Kant and Hegel who believed that Jews were incapable of civilization and phoolosophy. This view derives ultimately from Marcion and Luther and various medieval Christian attitudes/responses to the Jewish refusal to accept the Christian dogmas. So the Marxists as well as the non-socialist Voltaireans [of similar philosophical provenance] had to be hostile to Judaism, Zionism, Jews etc. Kant, Hegel & Voltaire held that the Orient was incapable of Progress and of really rational thought. Since the Jews were Orientals, they were necessarily incapable of reason, science, and progress. In fact, Kant held that even within the Oriental sphere, Jews and Judaism were on the lowest rung of civilization and reason. Ironically, Kant wrote --inter alia-- that the German Jews were: "The Palestinians who live among us."
So Kant's touted "universalism" was not universally universal. It certainly excluded, defamed and degraded Jews. Kant's claims cannot decently be used against Israel and Zionism.

See my article in Nativ [Hebrew] for January 2007:
http://www.acpr.org.il/nativ/2007-1-contents.htm#Reason, Science and Progress

The link above is to the summary, the link below is to the full article.
http://www.acpr.org.il/ENGLISH-NATIV/10-issue/green-10.htm

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