Allen W. Wood Quotes

In the mid-1960s as hard to believe as it may be now choosing to go into academic philosophy was not an imprudent career choice. There were lots of academic jobs in philosophy then.

It seems to me self-evident that it is worthwhile to understand the best thoughts of the past to appropriate them to criticize them.

Kant does represents a distinctively modern view of the human condition in contrast to that of ancient high culture found in ancient Greek ethics and also in ancient Chinese ethics.

The species of anti-Enlightenment religion we find among evangelical protestants is far more impoverished anti-intellectual and downright wretched.

Empiricist philosophy always tends to be anti-philosophy (and is often proud of it).

Hegel's theory of recognition is basically derived from Fichte who is its real author.

Kant says that we may regard ourselves as legislator of the moral law and consider ourselves as its author but not that we are legislators or authors of the law.

Kant attempted to work out a view of religion and religious belief according to which existing religions could be brought into harmony with modernity science and reason.

Kant's system of duties constitutes a Doctrine of Virtue because the duties also indicate what kinds of attitudes dispositions and feelings are morally virtuous or vicious.

Fichte takes an I or free will to be not a thing or being but an act which is not undetermined but self-determined in accordance with reasons or norms rationally self-given.

People are often most proud of precisely those things of which they should most be ashamed.

Freedom is an unprovable but unavoidable presupposition not an article of faith.

No theory about our bodies as mere objects of observation and calculation (as distinct from partners in communicative interaction assumed to be free) can comprehend human nature.

We can't coherently deny or even decline to affirm that we are free.

Kant does not regard freedom as an item of faith because it is too basic to our agency to be related to any end.

If being "iron headed" is to be lacking such feelings then Kant's position is that an ironheaded person could not be a moral agent because such a person would not be rational.

I do not know how much my own work has achieved and I must not pretend it has done more than it has.

There is a lot in Adam Smith that reflects the insights of Rousseau and anticipates those of Marx.

Adam Smith was aware of the way that economic interests could have a distorting and destructive effect both on the market and on politics.

Many who are committed to reason and science have turned against religion altogether and treat it with fear and contempt.

Marx's writings still have something to teach us about capitalism. They have little or nothing to teach us about any alternatives to it. Anyone who had read them knows that.

Teaching and writing about philosophy is about the only thing I've ever been really good at.

Consequentialist theories begin with a very simple and undoubtedly valid point: Every action aims at a future end and is seen as a means to it.

The relation of the law to the self is only a helpful way of thinking about the law that helps us better understand its validity for us.

Those who employ their modest talents as best they can do make a contribution to a better human future.

Kant was a rational theologian. He did not pretend to be a biblical or revealed theologian.

We usually can't know how and we probably should not even ask how our lives contribute to a better world.

Freedom is a permanent problem for us both unavoidable and insoluble.

Fichte is a necessary step to both Hegel and Marx.

Fichte would identify all states of our minds with states of our body - perhaps not merely of our brain but the whole body as an acting organism.

In general those who defend capitalism are basically out of touch with reality.

That Hegel's theory is derivative from Fichte's does not prevent it from being strikingly original and of independent value.

Notice that tearing oneself out of the insensible state is the opposite of remaining in it; the man who is beneficent from duty nevertheless acts with feelings if not with empirical inclinations.

Kant considers belief in God and immortality to be items of "faith" because he relates faith to the pursuit of ends - in this case the highest good.

We can make mistakes about what we ought to do and these are not the same as making bad decisions about what to do.

Virtues consist not only of acting in certain ways but in ways of caring and feeling.

We can never prove that we are free or integrate our freedom in any way into our objective conception of the causal order of nature.

What I most fear now is that within a century or so there may not be any human future at all.

Clearly no working class movement ever came about that was able to do what Marx was hoping for.

What is central to morality is rational self-constraint (acting from duty) in cease where there is no other incentive to do your duty except that the moral law commands it.

My own view is that Kant's conception of the duality of the good (morality and happiness the good of our person and the good of our state or condition) is a distinctively modern view.

Fichte is concerned with freedom as non-domination.

We can treat human responses to cognitions as involving law-like connections grounded on free choices which show themselves in our character.

We commit not only theoretical error but also moral wrong in objectifying ourselves or other rational beings ignoring their capacities for free action and communicative interaction with us.

Our procedures of deliberation are not ways of finding out independent moral truths but instead ways of "constructing" these truths in the process of deciding what to do.

I think the term "Kantian constructivism" as an oxymoron. Kant was a constructivist about mathematics but not about ethics.

Capitalism has not proven to be a transitional form a gateway to a higher human future.

Kant thinks we can show that there is no contradiction in supposing we are free.

I think the contribution people make is not proportionate to their fame or success. In fact I think the relation is often inverse.

As Kant says the contribution of any common laborer would be greater than that of the greatest philosopher unless the philosopher makes some contribution to establishing the rights of humanity.

We can establish empirical criteria for free actions and investigate human actions on the presupposition we are free.

Kant certainly was sympathetic with the metaphysical tradition of rational theology that he criticized.

Kant thinks of judgment as a special faculty or talent of the mind not reducible to discursive reasoning but cultivated through experience and practice.

Descartes recommended that we distrust the senses and rely on the ... use of our intellect.

Kant thinks that a free will is a will under moral laws and that freedom and the moral law are distinct thoughts that reciprocally imply each other. Fichte thinks they are the same thought.

The moral law is simply the way we think our own freedom as self-determination.

Reason necessarily expresses itself through emotions and emotions are healthy only insofar as they are expressions of reason.

Some empirical feelings such as sympathy are indispensable parts of certain moral virtues.

Since the Enlightenment popular religion has rejected the Enlightenment path and transformed itself into a bastion of resistance against reason.

Philosophy is about getting the facts right but it is also about thinking rightly about them. Philosophy is more about the latter than the former.

Not only our moral life but even our use of theoretical reason - on which we rely in rationally inquiring into nature - presupposes that we are free.

If the problem of free will is to see how freedom fits into the order of nature then Kant's basic view about the free will problem is that it is insoluble.

Kant can provide and has provided a good model for philosophers to think about the relation of metaphysics to science and scientific methodology.

It is probably not a good idea to ask someone to expound a position they do not accept and do not feel they even fully understand.

Leaders of nations and people whose wealth or fame gives them power over the lives of others quite often do more harm than good.

It is both theoretically mistaken and morally wrong to regard others as objects of investigation rather than partners in free rational communication.

We are generally forced to choose one way or the other of distancing ourselves from Kant. I suppose I tend to choose the irreligious way. But I regret that Kant's path has not been followed.

It would be nice wouldn't it? if we could get comfortable about the problem of freedom. Kant thinks that we can't.

I don't think Kant's approach to religion is any longer viable in its original form. But that does not mean it is simply wrong or that we cannot learn from it.

Kant takes a free will to be a being or substance with the power to cause a state of the world (or a whole series of such states) spontaneously or from itself.

Kant did think he had a moral route back to rational faith in God for those who need it and he thought that at some level we all do need something like it.

Fichte thinks that the mutual recognition of one another as free beings belongs among the transcendental conditions of self-consciousness itself.

The problem is that many who reject Marx do not read him or read him only by bringing prejudices to their reading that prevent them from understanding him.

I think it is clear that what we ought to do has to be independent of our decisions about what to do and independent of any procedures we might use in making such decisions.

In any matter of moral importance our first task before we plunge ahead and decide what to do is to figure out what we ought to do.

Sometimes when a philosopher's views are widely rejected by the world the fault is not with the philosopher but with the world.