Kantian Journal

2013 Issue №4(46)

In memoriаm

Kant’s practical philosophy

Kant’s way to the perpetual peace in the XXIst century

Abstract

This article presents the key ideas of the book Für den Frieden, in which the author scrutinises the basic principles of the Japanese constitution with the help of the works of Erasmus of Rotterdam, Kant, and Salomo Friedländer. The article develops the following theses: the human being has a right to pin their hopes on the future; the task of establishing perpetual peace rests with the human being themselves; as a result, everything depends on the development of personality, since it is that acts in the real world as an agent of freedom and ratio essendi of morality, whereas freedom is the ‘cornerstone’ for people striving for peace with all their hearts. The author of the article believes that the idea of perpetual peace formulated by Saint-Pierre, Rousseau, and Kant is always relevant for the humanity. At the same time, the author stresses that more significant results in establishing peace and politics were achieved in the second half of the 20th century than ever before. Kant played the decisive role in this process being the only philosopher who took the issue of philosophical justification of perpetual peace to the logical conclusion. One can say that the humanity is now firmly on the path towards perpetual peace, whose philosophical justification was given by Kant. It was Kant who gave the discussions the Archimedean ‘place to stand’, which made it possible to show the philosophers the possibility of perpetual peace.

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Kant on evil in the human nature

Abstract

This article focuses on the analysis of the problem of evil in Kant’s works. The author attempts at reconstructing the key stages of Kant’s logic of ethics and, on this basis, reconstructs his idea of evil. Of special importance is the analysis and criticism of the anthropology-focused study of the sources of good and evil in the work Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. The author sees the key to understanding Kant’s approach to the problem of evil in the differentiation of the levels of the existing and the due in his theory. The article has the following structure: first, the author emphasis that, for Kant, evil is a practical moral phenomenon unlike, for example, metaphysically interpreted evil. It is shown that the problem of evil is closely connected to that of the nature or essence of a human being. The article presents an analysis of Kant’s notion of human ‘nature’. It is emphasised that Kant understands ‘human nature’ as mere “subjective grounds” of the exercise of freedom. Further, the author analyses the factors determining the actions of humans as moral beings. First, the article addresses the “predispositions to the good”, which describes a human being as a natural being, cultural being, and a personality. In this connection, different types of reason identified by Kant are stressed and the features of “pure practical reason” as a necessary condition of human morality are analysed. Further, the article considers Kant’s definition of evil as a deviation of rules regulating the actions of a human being from their principle of morality. The author analyses the factors underlying the “predisposition” to evil. It is emphasised that Kant measures wickedness not by deeds but solely by the way of thinking. The author discusses the question as to whether the intelligible good, i. e. the critical verification of rules regulating the actions against the categorical imperative, necessarily entail the empirically good. The conclusion is made that, in Kant’s works, the problem of evil is transferred from the empirical to noumenal sphere, from the real to intelligible world. Since Kant formulates the problem of evil in relation not to the empirical but the “intelligible character”, his solution proves to be idealistic. The next step is an analysis of Kant’s notion of “radical evil” and its causes. Since Kant sees the source of radical evil in the wrong subordination of motives dictated by sensibility and reason when choosing rules for actions, which Kant calls the “reversal of incentives”, there arises the question as to the role of sensibility in justifying morals. It is emphasised that, on the one hand, sensibility — as well as reason — is a necessary element constructing the being of humans. In this context, it is interpreted as either ethically indifferent or even a “predisposition to the good”. On the other hand, he sees sensibility as a ground for “self-love” or striving for happiness despite the moral requirements. The author analyses the reasons behind Kant’s exclusion of sensibility as a possible ground for morals relating to its subjectivity. The negative effect of sensibility of human behaviour emphasised by Kant is critically analysed. When choosing between subjective and material sensibility and objective and formal reason, Kant gives preference to reason as the ground for morals. In this function, reason should be necessarily interpreted as reason connected with good will. The consideration of this principle of Kant’s ethical theory concludes the article. The author makes an assumption that the creation of a moral world based on the principle of the free legislation of reason, which consists in that the criteria for the significance of provisions of such legislation is the possibility of transforming them into a universal law, is possible only under the condition that the notion of freedom as relating to practical reason is necessarily understood as freedom aimed at the good. In the sphere of the ideal, i. e. the sphere of logical bases of ethics, there should be no freedom aimed at evil; such freedom exists only in the real, empirical world. One can assume that the notion of freedom of will as freedom aimed at the good, being a condition for the possibility of morals, relates to the notion of a sentient being in general, including the notion of ‘human being’, whereas the notion of freedom as freedom of choice relates to a real human individual. However, the latter is capable of moral improvement through a “revolution in the disposition” and can correspond to the human determination — the ideal — despite one’s weaknesses.

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The legitimation and criticism of violence in international law. A po¬litical science perspective

Abstract

This article considers the practice of justification of arbitrary use of force, which poses a paradox and was not foreseen in Kant’s peace project. It is paradoxical because modern international law — unlike classical law — is aimed not at regulating wars but maintaining peace. However, the UN Charter provides for the right to self-defence before the collective resolution is adopted. Despite rather strict legal restrictions and international court procedures, cases of abuse of this right occur on a frightening scale. A considerable threat is posed by that it is ‘indirect’ self-defence manifested in interventions, be it ‘humanitarian’ interventions to protect a diaspora (human rights) or the fight for the sphere of influence (in the name of sovereignty) wellknown since the Cold War. Thus, both variants considered by Kant proved to be vulnerable; the ambiguities, which were almost unnoticeable in his ban on intervention, have come to the fore. An attempt was made to justify humanitarian intervention through the ban to use force for the purposes contradicting the goals of the UN Charter, whereas human rights protection is one of them. Thus, any formulation of conditions for admissible violence can be used for its justification, since exceptions come hand in hand with rules. This article considers the advantages and disadvantages of the concept of “responsibility to protect”, which proves to be dominant today. The author also poses the question about the transition to a new focus of international law — from maintaining peace to meeting social requirements.

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The receptions of Kant’s philosophy

Schopenhauer and I. Kant in A. A. Fet’s philosophical and political worldview (conclusion)

Abstract

The concluding part of the work focuses on the independence of A. A. Fet’s philosophical worldview strongly emphasised by the poet himself and his close friends. Although he quotes Schopenhauer and Kant, he criticised them and demonstrates an independent worldview. The author analyses the critique of Schopenhauer given in A. A. Fet’s letters. Three aspects are criticised: firstly, A. Schopenhauer’s idealism, secondly, agnosticism, and, thirdly, inconsistency, contradictions in the philosopher’s reasoning. A special section of the work is dedicated to the analysis of the poetic triptych consisting of three poems written in 1879—1880: “Nothingness”, “That is not why the Lord is mighty…”, and “Never”. Fet dedicated the triptych to criticising the principles of A. Schopenhauer’s philosophy. It is demonstrated that, although A. Schopenhauer finds mistakes in Kant’s works, A. A. Fet does not accept this criticism and criticises Schopenhauer from the perspective of critical philosophy. The author makes a conclusion that A. A. Fet was closer to Kantianism than Schopenhauerism.

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Logic and argumentorics

The principle of sufficient reason in German philosophy of the Enlight-enment

Abstract

In the 18th century, a philosophical dispute over the Principle of sufficient reason arose in Germany. Despite the fact that this Principe was explicitly formulated by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz only at the end of the 17th century, a major dispute about it was triggered by Christian Wolff who had considerable influence on the German philosophy of Enlightenment. In German Metaphysic, he presented the “strong” definition of the principle and its proof. As a result, freedom was restricted, because the principle of sufficient reason implies the unlimited necessity of all things and excludes the possibility of any happenstance, at least in the real world. It had an adverse effect on philosophy in general and ethics in particular. However, the total elimination of the principle of sufficient reason was impossible. Thus, the main focus of the dispute was the maintaining of freedom without abandoning the sufficient reason. These efforts resulted in various interpretations of this Principle. The most prominent perspectives developed within this dispute were those of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Christian Wolff, his main philosophical opponent — Christan August Crusius, and Immanuel Kant. The aim of this article is to demonstrate the differences between these perspectives and identify the philosophical problems arising from the Principle of sufficient reason in metaphysics and practical philosophy.

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Research. Archives. Documents

A Königsberg society of friends without Kant

Abstract

The legends about dinner parties of Immanuel Kant’s friends have been known since the times of his first biographers and other contemporaries. However, there were other communities of friends in Königsberg. Gathering friends at a dining table for the purpose of intellectual communication became a tradition in Königsberg in the 17th/18th centuries. This tradition created a sub-system of creative communication and leisure bringing together both nobility and aristocracy and ordinary curious citizens. The reasons behind this phenomenon were the geographical, geopolitical, and cultural and historical position of Königsberg — a large provincial trade and cultural centre of East Prussia. The focus of the article is the historical and documentary analysis of the group ‘portrait’ of the participants of Königsberg meetings described in the novel Lebensläufe nach aufsteigender Linie by Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel, who served as a longstanding burgomaster of Königsberg, anonymously authored several books, and held friendly meetings at home. The author juxtaposes the epic portrait of Hippel as one of the novel’s characters — the host featured in the Lebensläufe — with the picture of Emil Doertsling showing a dinner party held by Kant, which brought together local celebrities, among whom Kant’s friend Hippel is depicted in the foreground. A copy of this picture is exhibited in Kant’s Museum at the Kaliningrad Cathedral. The article makes an interesting and convincing attempt at identifying the historical figures shown in both group portraits —Lebensläufe and the picture by Emil Doerstling.

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