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"The people will be led"

The freedom of philosophy
Forfatter: Immanuel Kant
Forlag: Oversatt fra tysk av Øystein Skar
Pax Forlag (Norge)
PHILOSOPHY: Is freedom of speech a matter for scholars? Are Trump and QAnon entitled to free speech? There is much to suggest that Kant would answer no to this question.

At a time when the big technology companies and political correctness are increasingly lowering the ceiling for what it is safe to say in public if you want to keep your friends, see Pax Forlag appears to have hit the plank. They are currently publishing the book of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant The dispute of the faculties (The dispute between the faculties) from 1798, where he defends freedom of expression on a principled basis. In Norwegian, the title has become The freedom of philosophy, and it is apt enough, for Kant believes that philosophy is in a special position in society, as it has unlimited freedom to express itself in public.

Freedom of expression as a scholar

Kant himself had problems with censorship in Prussia in the 1790s, and the king ordered him not to speak publicly about religion after he wrote Religion within the bounds of reason from 1793 had argued that religion had to be subject to reason, and that a literal belief Christianity was the same as superstition. Kant promised to keep his mouth shut, like the obedient citizen he was, but when the king died in 1797, Kant felt exempt from the promise and countered.

The bosses of Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft might have applauded.

Kant's argument i The freedom of philosophy is that since philosophy is committed only to truth and reason, and man's freedom and dignity lie in its sense, a free and sensible critique of society will be for the good of humanity. The other "faculties" – law, theology and medicine – are not only committed to reason alone, but also to the Bible, the law book and the established medicine, which are not necessarily sensible. They therefore have a lower rank and must find themselves being corrected by philosophy.

At the same time, Kant introduces some important restrictions on freedom of expression – as the bosses do Big Tech (Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and...

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Lars Holm-Hansen
Philosopher and publishing manager at the publishing house Eksistenz.

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