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Kant the Media Critic

While reading the new Kittler translation of Optical Media (trans. Anthony Enns), I found this little quote that originates from Critique of Judgment, by Immanuel Kant.

Read this as his form of media criticism — criticism of media and power. No, its not Adorno or any of the other writers of the broadcast era, but a writer of a much earlier media sphere:

“[W]here the senses see nothing more before them, and the unmistakable and indelible idea of morality remains, it would be rather necessary to moderate the impetus of an unbounded imagination, to prevent it from rising to enthusiasm, than through fear of the powerlessness of those ideas to seek aid for them in images and childish ritual. Thus governments have willingly allowed religion to be abundantly provided with the latter accompaniments, and seeking thereby to relieve their subjects of trouble, they have also sought to deprive them of the faculty of extending their spiritual powers beyond the limits that are arbitrarily assigned to them and by means of which they can be the more easily treated as mere passive beings.”

Categories: Kant, Kittler
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