Kantian Journal

2014 Issue №3(49)

Kant’s theoretical philosophy

Kant’s philosophical system and the principles of its interpretation

Abstract

Kant’s philosophical system has had a strange history: from the moment of its inception, it exhibited critical contradictions; however, later, it was demonstrated that the contradictions existed not in the system of the Königsberg philosopher, but rather in the mind of the interpreter, and the system proved to be even more solid than before. This process has taken more than two centuries and seems to be endless. It is akin to a rock that waves break against and then recede falling into myriads of splashes. This article analyses the hermeneutic principles suggested by Kant, which would make the critical waves peacefully lap against the rock. Kant draws special attention of the reader to some of them — these are the principles of system integrity and noncontradiction, as well as those closelyconnected to the structural content of the system: 1) the principle of purity; 2) the principle of system openness; 3) the principle of ultimate end; 4) the principle of historicity; 5) the principle of activity; 6) the transcendental principle, and 7) the principle of the unity of the world. All these principles are designed to prove that a system is the answer to the question “What a human being is”, as well as a representation of transcendental anthropology.

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Kant's practical philosophy

Immaturity and the objective of a true reform in ways of thinking. Part I.

Abstract

The originality of Kant’s answer to the question of the Enlightenment in a 1784 article consisted not in addressing the words of Horace, which was commonplace in Germany of the time, but in linking it to the revised legal notion of immaturity, which is now interpreted from the philosophical and theological perspective and has become one of key philosophical notions. However, Kant’s view is fraught with certain complications: firstly, it is dominated by negative characteristics; secondly, unlimited use of one’s understanding can lead to logical egoism (and other forms thereof) consisting in denying the necessity of verifying one’s judgements with the help of the understandingof others. In the Critique of Judgement and Anthropology, Kant describes his position in more detail supplementing the negative maxim of independent thinking with a positive maxim of thinking oneself in the position of others and the maxim of consistent and coherent thinking. Moreover, the requirement of independent thinking is limited by the idea of universal human reason, although Kant is not always consistent in distinguishing between reason and understanding in this context. Independentthinking as a search for the ultimate touchstone of truth within one’s reason/ understanding is supplemented with a thought about common human reason as a touchstone oftruth that is equally available to everyone. Reflecting on the ways to facilitate enlightenment and overcoming the state of immaturityleads Kant to contradictions and paradoxes. After 1970, coercion to abandon coercion by each individual was closely linked to the topic of social and political transformational advancing progress. Although, in the article on enlightenment, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, and Anthropology, Kant provides a deep philosophical and existential interpretation of revolution as a true transformation of the way of thinking (Denkungsart), disposition (Gesinnung), the inner world of the self (Innern), and transformations relating to the formation of noumenal nature. Nevertheless, in the 90s, under the influence of “enthusiasm” aroused by the French revolution, he emphasises a restricted social and political meaning of revolution, however, interpreting it as a sign ofhistorical progress and progress in implementing natural law.Unstinting support for the French revolution, despite acknowledging the illegitimate nature of social and political revolutions per se, made Kant revise the ideals of enlightenment, which he pursued earlier. It affected even the philosopher’s attitude to his contemporaries. Observing the revolutionary “experiment” with an open heart, Kant refused to notice that the apparent “progress” is the forcible “happy-making” of people in accordance with the idea of happiness promoted by those in power at the moment, whereas the others are reduced to the position of children or the immature, oreven the mentally challenged. Such protests were voiced by some of Kant’s contemporaries, who were closer to his ideals of the 1780s than he himself in the mid-1890s.

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The antinomy of political reason. Some deliberations on Kant’s “Answer-ing the Question: What is Enlightenment?”

Abstract

This article analyses Kant’s work “Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?” It is shown that Kant’s enlightenment is a political project. The author focuses on the philosophical prerequisites and the essence of this project and analyses the difference between the “public” and “private” use of reason. The article emphasises the major significance of this difference for developing the ideal of enlightenment in the field of politics. It is suggested that this ideal be seen in the evolutionarydevelopment of society based on the transformation of public consciousness. Kant’s view that the key discourse for social development consists in a comprehensive critique of social reality by a citizen capable of self-determination is considered against the background of Rousseau’s ideas, who defended the right of people to revolution. The reconstruction of Kant’s position is followed by a discussion of possible theoretical problems relating to the implementation of this project. It isstressed that the project can function only when the interests of government and citizen coincides. Russian history is addressed to illustrate that even “common interests” of the ruler and the citizen leave room for a conflict between them. The author analyses Kant’s paradox stating an inversely proportional connection between the level of civil liberties and that of spiritual freedom. The article proposes a hypothesis about the dissident movement as a possible political form of implementingthis paradox. This dilemma helps to formulate the idea of antinomy of political reason, as well as develop its solution based on the notion of clear conscience. The author analyses the notion of clear conscience and uses example to illustrate that an adequate understanding thereof requires consideringKant’s practical philosophy. It is concluded that, unlike the Copernican system of theoretical reason, Kant’s system of practical reasons remains Ptolemaic, where a human is the only centre and constitutive quantity of this sphere. It is argued that the essence of Kant’s enlightenment lies in defending human freedom and dignity.

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Kant and the Constitution of Russian Federation

Abstract

This article is an attempt to give I. Kant “credit” for the Constitution of Russian Federation. Of course, the articles of Constitution require significant improvement so that they adhere to the letter and the spirit of Kant’s ideas on state and law. The article stresses the need to take into account two provisions of Kant’s philosophy: the complementarity of morals and law and support for traditional family values. The legal discussions on the essence of constitutionalism, supremacy of law, and constitutional state lack philosophical depth and consideration of the sources of these phenomena. Without a philosophical interpretation of the phenomenon of law, lawyers will be able to neither understand Kant’s “idealism”, nor explain the connection between this idealism and legal practice. The article presents two strategies corresponding to the spirit of Kant’s constitutional state in the modern Russian conditions: the principle of developing a moral (rather than competent) personality and the principle of population preservation. A necessary condition for the effectiveness of constitutional provisions is an increase in the moral and cultural level, which can be facilitated by examples of moral conduct shown by the authorities and changes in the educational policy. Thus, at the moment, the moral state of society — the moral climate and imperatives of public consciousness that largely affect the formation of personal morality — seems to be more important than a legal reform. Another important public strategy is orientation towards developing a selfreliant and moral personality, i. e. humanitarisation rather than juridification of education.

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Problems of social philosophy and philosophy of culture

Lessing’s Hamburg Dramaturgy in the “codes of hope” discourse of the Enlightenment

Abstract

This article considers Lessing’s theatrical project of establishing a German National theatre aimed at founding a “school of morality” in Hamburg. In the 18th century, Hamburg was considered a stronghold of freedom in the opposition between the two forms of being — the feudal and burgher’s ones — having become a capital of the new system of values. Philosophy and arts served as a means in this struggle against dogmatism and feudal absolutism. In this atmosphere, a newconceptual culture emerged. This culture, warmly welcomed by the society, rested on reason, virtue, justice, and tolerance, which reflected the common attitudes of burgher Germany towards apparently natural human inclinations. It contradicted both Augustine’s teaching of human corruption and Hobbes’s misanthropic anthropology. This German sensitivity served as the basis for Lessing’s philosophy of hope. Lessing’s “code of hope”, whose ideas developed in the “pre-critical” period of the Elightenment is based on trust in human sensibility, within which, probably unconsciously, in the conditions of newly established autonomy, he discovers the heteronomous orientation of the “compassion” and “fear” existentials underlying his theory of catharsis. In Lessing’s system, these “vertically” positioned psychological states prove to be bridges to nature, in which he seeks the truth. It explains his theory of realism in Hamburg Dramaturgy, which differs radically from Kant’s philosophy.Lessing’s theory of art is characterized by aesthetic hope for the sensible ability of people to unite in moral intersubjectivity through existential purification in the realm of beauty. This hope is based on Lessing’s pantheistic belief in the unbreakable unity between nature and the truth manifested in the code of the category of the beautiful. In the stress field between the rust of greed and the gold of sensible heart, Lessing relies on the pedagogical power of catharsis of morals under the influence of true art.

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Research. Archives. Documents

Moral theology and the cosmological argument. Comments and delibera¬tions on a little-known Reflection of Kant

Abstract

This essay concerns an unusual note of Kant’s that has been available in Hamburg since the 1920s but otherwise neglected in the Kant literature. This small 8 x 6.3 cm sheet belonged to the manuscript collector Oskar Ulex (1852—1934), who appears to have bought it from a dealer in France. Writing covers both sides of the sheet, with moral theology discussed on one side, and the cosmological proof on the other. A transcription and description of the sheet is provided, followedby a “Question & Answer” with the goal of dating the notes describing the two separate arguments for the existence of God. The use of the expressions ‘Moraltheologie’ (moral theology) and ‘Endzweck’ (final purpose), as well as the discussion of ‘an object of the moral will’ — all of which touchupon a central point of Kant’s developing moral philosophy — show that the text on both sides of the sheet could not have been written before the last third of the 1780s. Finally, it will be shown that the term ‘moraltheologie’, and the positive connection between moral philosophy and theologycontained in it, is a relatively late innovation in the Kantian corpus. A central reflection bearing on this point, R 4582 (AA, XVII, S. 601), will also be used to clarify several features of Erich Adickes’s methodology in preparing the Nachlaß volumes of the Kant-Ausgabe published by the former Prussian Academy of Sciences.

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Kant studies in Königsberg: 1784—1949

Abstract

The article provides, for the first time in the philosophical literature, a general description of the Konigsberg Kant studies as a special local direction in the history of philosophy. Core activities in this direction formed the Society of Kant’s Friends, as well as "archival Kant studies" — the work of collecting, annotating and publishing the manuscript heritage, correspondence and lecture notes Kant. Given the large volume of primary and secondary sources, we propose a variant ofspecification of structure of Kant Studies in Königsberg — four lines of activity: popularization; biographical research and publications; collection and publication of manuskript heritage and conspects of lectures; the interpretation and reception of Kant's ideas. Detailed presented is the history of the first line — popularization of Kants philosophy. The activities of K. Rosenkranz and Society of Kant’s Friends, as well as history of creation of books of J. Schulz and K. Stavenhagen, articles,reports and brochures of R. Brückmann and O. Schöndörffer are described, their content is characterized. There are formulated some conclusions about the main value of this work for Kant studies, for the birth and development of the Kantianism, about the relationship of popularization with otherlines of Kant studies in Königsberg, about cooperation of Königsberg researchers of Kant's life and philosophy with each other, and about continuity in their work. It is shown that the popularization work in all its forms has been conducted to date and the first to the last years of this trend, has played a major role in the emergence and development of other lines of activity. An author's translation of a number of fragments of the above publications. The prospects of the development of indepth and detailed analysis of the described compositions, for which this article can serve as a reference point.

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