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Kant and the Internet

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We use the internet for many things, one of which may be the aim of being reasonably well-informed. Well – it’s worth a try isn’t it? Yet as always, human judgment has a role to play in being well-informed. Suppose we edit a quote from old Kant –

…the faculty of judgment is a special talent which cannot be taught, but must be practised. This is what constitutes our so-called mother-wit, the absence of which cannot be remedied by any schooling the internet.

Immanuel Kant – The Critique of Pure Reason (1781)

It is easy enough to take this further. If we use the internet to be well-informed, the obvious question arises – well-informed about what? Fashionable nonsense? Inside or outside the nonsense? To be well-informed is not a worthwhile end in itself. To be well-informed within a misleading consensus such as the orthodox climate narrative is to be misinformed at best.

In our digital age there is another dimension to being misinformed. Misinformed drones swarm through internet media, adding their misinformed mites to their favoured consensus. This may develop into many millions of mites so that even the most absurd consensus becomes socially impregnable. As we know – we’ve seen it.

Where does that take us? Perhaps towards Kant’s mother-wit. Towards scepticism outside the consensus but grounded in what already works and what we already know.

This in turn brings out a digital age problem – scepticism does not grow as vigorously as consensus. It does not swarm through internet media in the same way. The internet seems to hamper the role of sceptics whenever they try to prick the balloons of digital absurdity. But we knew that.


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