Cultural Differentiation and Moral Orientation: Taking an Interest in History

4144 WordsJun 25, 201817 Pages
Cultural Differentiation and Moral Orientation In contrast with his major ethical works, Kant’s writings on history are replete with the theme of the social character of moral development and the interdependence of individual and community. I argue that historical-moral progress is an important part of Kant’s comprehensive ethical theory. However, in order to link the moral goals of humanity with the moral goals of individuals, judgement must have a dimension that can apprehend the purposiveness of those human achievements which are social in their significance and socially transmitted. In other words, such achievements transcend individual intention. The ‘historical signs’ of such moral purposiveness provide moral orientation through…show more content…
Cultural differentiation soon leads to conflict but Kant, unlike Hobbes, does not portray primitive man as inherently jealous, malicious or murderous. In Kant’s version conflict arises out of the unforeseen and unintended consequences of equally legitimate but different uses of nature, originally communal property (in the sense that the earth originally belongs to all). Labor intensive agriculture for instance, depends upon secure and permanent possession of land, which for the purposes of herding should remain open to the needs of the herd. Unwittingly, the herdsman’s cattle trammels the farmers crops. The herdsman, Kant notes, being "conscious of no wrong doing" stands his ground while the angry farmer removes himself from this "nuisance" and establishes a separate community. (4) Cultural differentiation, intrinsic to practical reason’s development, then precedes and conditions ideological conflict. Separate development will in time lead to distinctive views of the nature of property with different conceptions of "rights" and law, different types of social organization, views of the deity, and different "languages". These ideological differences will make the negotiation of conflicting-purposes more difficult for a human reason which is yet immature.
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