Sorry, Ayn Rand, it was David Hume, not Immanuel Kant

A major topic that Ayn Rand brought up and has been repeated often by Objectivists is that German philosopher Immanuel Kant is the man soley responsible for the damage done to Western philosophy. Consequently, it is assumed that Kant’s influence has resulted in the creation of terrible ideas such as Marxism and its nasty stepchild postmodernism.

Not so, says one blogger, who cites Oxford philosopher Dr. David Millican. Anoop Verma claims the primary culprit for the bad state of academic philosophy is Scottish philosopher David Hume. Immanuel Kant, Verma says, tried to fix what he saw as the damage done by David Hume’s ideas. Anoop Verma also points out many of the things Ayn Rand accuses Kant of were really committed by David Hume.

Ultimately, Kant and Hume were men of the Enlightenment tradition and thinkers like the ones before and after Ayn Rand. A philosopher’s high stature in academia does not immunize them from human qualities everyone of us has, including errors in thinking. On a personal level, Hume is said to have been a wonderful, generous man whose reputation as such earned him the honor of having St. Davids Street in Edinburgh, Scotland named for him.

Let philosophers and their mistakes be understood, reviewed and criticized so people can learn and not repeat them. Truly evil philosophies such as Marxism, Fascism and Nazism, their thinkers and followers are the ones who truly deserve constant scorn and condemnation due to the results of their track records.

The lecture series Dr. Millican has done about David Hume is very thought provoking and should be cause for Objectivists to check their premises.