Kantian Journal

2014 Issue №3(49)

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.

Download an article

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.

Download an article

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.

Download an article