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Kant's "Monopoly of the [Scholastic, Thomistic?] Schools"

Started by Geremia, May 25, 2017, 09:50:08 PM

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What was Kant's "Monopoly of the Schools" (cf. Critique of Pure Reason, intro. B32-5)? It sure seems like he was referring to the Scholastics and maybe even the Thomists or the Magisterium, at least initially in the quote below; toward the end the meaning of "schools" seems to change to public education.

Tell me if this doesn't sound like the philosophical analogue of what the Modernist, New Theology, Vatican II "theologians" argued for Catholic theology (from Guyer's translation):
QuoteWith this important alteration in the field of the sciences, and with the loss of its hitherto imagined possessions that speculative reason must suffer, everything yet remains in the same advantageous state as it was before concerning the universal human concern and the utility that the world has so far drawn from the doctrines of pure reason, and the loss touches only the monopoly of the schools and in no way the interest of human beings. I ask the most inflexible dogmatist whether the proof of the continuation of our soul after death drawn from the simplicity of substance, or the proof of freedom of the will against universal mechanism drawn from the subtle though powerless distinctions between subjective and objective practical necessity, or the proof of the existence of God drawn from the concept of a most real being [ens realissimum] (or from the contingency of what is alterable and the necessity of a first mover), have ever, after originating in the schools, been able to reach the pub­lic or have the least influence over its convictions? If that has never hap­pened, and if it can never be expected to happen, owing to the unsuitability of the common human understanding for such subtle speculation; if rather the conviction that reaches the public, insofar as it rests on rational grounds, had to be effected by something else namely, as regards the first point, on that remarkable predisposi­tion of our nature, noticeable to every human being, never to be capa­ble of being satisfied by what is temporal (since the temporal is always insufficient for the predispositions of our whole vocation) leading to the hope of a future life; in respect of the second point, the mere clear exposition of our duties in opposition to all claims of the inclinations lead­ing to the consciousness of freedom; and finally, touching on the third point, the splendid order, beauty, and providence shown forth every­where in nature leading to the faith in a wise and great author of the world then this possession not only remains undisturbed, but it even gains in respect through the fact that now the schools are instructed to pretend to no higher or more comprehensive insight on any point touching the universal human concerns than the insight that is accessi­ble to the great multitude (who are always most worthy of our respect), and to limit themselves to the cultivation of those grounds of proof alone that can be grasped universally and are sufficient from a moral standpoint. The alteration thus concerns only the arrogant claims of the schools, which would gladly let themselves be taken for the sole ex­perts and guardians of such truths (as they can rightly be taken in many other parts of knowledge), sharing with the public only the use of such truths, while keeping the key to them for themselves (quod mecum nescit, salus vult scire videri). Yet care is taken for a more equitable claim on the part of the speculative philosopher. He remains the exclusive trustee of a science that is useful to the public even without their knowledge, namely the critique of reason; for the latter can never become popular, but also has no need of being so; for just as little as the people want to fill their heads with fine-spun arguments for useful truths, so just as lit­tle do the equally subtle objections against these truths ever enter their minds; on the contrary, because the school inevitably falls into both, as does everyone who raises himself to speculation, the critique of reason is bound once and for all to prevent, by a fundamental investigation of the rights of speculative reason, the scandal that sooner or later has to be noticed even among the people in the disputes in which, in the absence of criticism, metaphysicians (and among these in the end even clerics) inevitably involve themselves, and in which they afterwards even falsify their own doctrines. Through criticism alone can we sever the very root of materialism, fatalism, atheism, of freethinking unbelief, of enthusiasm and superstition, which can become generally injurious, and finally also of idealism and skepticism, which are more dangerous to the schools and can hardly be transmitted to the public. If governments find it good to concern themselves with the affairs of scholars, then it would accord better with their wise solicitude both for the sciences and for humanity if they favored the freedom of such a critique, by which alone the treatments of reason can be put on a firm footing, instead of supporting the ridiculous despotism of the schools, which raise a loud cry of public danger whenever someone tears apart their cobwebs, of which the public has never taken any notice, and hence the loss of which it can also never feel.
(Also, Norman Kemp Smith's translation sometimes capitalizes the "S" in "Schools", which is always capitalized in German, as all nouns are.)
It's thus "criticism" and "the multitude" versus the "schools" and, ultimately, "clerics"; and solipsism results, despite Kant's claim that "criticism" is an antidote to idealism and skepticism.

cf. also this answer to the Christianity StackExchange question "Did reformation leaders throw out the Summa Theologica?"

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