Monday, November 20, 2006

There He Goes Again (IV)

In session 9 of his 2004 DIM lectures, Leonard Peikoff concedes that many of his listeners will be surprised to learn that Kant supported the US in its war for independence against England. However, LP (as he is known) claims that Kant's opposition was merely an example of nihilism. According to LP, Kant supported the US only because it was opposed to the leading power of the time, England.

I've employed all the internet search techniques I know, but can't find any information on the reason for Kant's support of the US. Does anyone have any information on this?


ObjectiBlog said...

From Fred Seddon (with permission):

None of the sources I've checked confirm Peikoff's claim. Did he give a source?

Off the top of my head it doesn't sound like something Kant would say. I don't think he was either nihilistic nor anti-big.

The latest biography of Kant by Keuhn has this:

"It has been said that Green and Kant first met each other at the time of the American Revolution, and that their relationship started with a heated dispute about it. Kant took up the side of the American and Green that of the English. This cannot be true, of course, though it may well be that their dispute was about an earlier episode that ultimately led to the
American Revolution, namely The Stamp Act of 1765."

The "This cannot be true" line has to do with the fact that Green and Kant were friends long before the American Revolution started. The probable year of the beginning of their friendship being 1765.

ObjectiBlog said...

The Cambridge book Kant: Political Writings (the blue series) says Kant admired the US revolution because it stood for independence and free thought. The citations are to German studies. Bancroft in his history of the US cites an 1868 German collection of Kant’s works (VIII, p. 594 and VI, p. 419) for the claim that Kant was pro-US.