Kantian Journal

2014 Issue №4(50)

Moral inscrutability and self-constitution in Kant (translated from the English by V. Belonogova and D. Khizanishvili, edited by V. Chaly)

Abstract

This article analyses the system of inferences used by Kant in Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason to demonstrate the existence of evil disposition (Gesinnung). The author be¬lieves that, in this work, Kant introduces two innovations in respect of the fundamental project presented in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. He emphasises that freedom is not justified and postulates a transcendental structure similar to the unity of transcendental apperception in order to unify all volitions of an agent and make the initial application of freedom possible. The first innovation gives rise to a number of questions as to the justification of maxims, whereas the second leads to the theory of moral self-constitution, which was not completed within Kant’s practical philosophy. Together, they create a voluntaristic image of Kant, which undermines the philosopher’s earlier comparison of freedom with morality (the so called “reciprocity thesis”) — a fact often ignored in secondary sources.

Download an article

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

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, 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 understanding of 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 re¬quirement 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. 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, or even 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

Kant between liberalism and conservatism

Abstract

Kant has a reputation of one of the chief proponents of political liberalism. However, some of his important ideas can qualify as conservative. Their consequences are reaching far enough to sug¬gest a reevaluation of Kant as an unconditional liberal. Kant's generally liberal understanding of aims and values of a political process (which is, however, quite remote from the pluralism and individualism of some contemporary theories) is balanced by his reservations concerning the prospects of their realization, based on his «empirical anthropology», which is remarkably close to conservative skepticism. Kant's liberalism lies in the domain that he called «pure» or «metaphysical», whereas his «empirical», «real-world» estimation of the prospects of liberal project is approaching conservatism.

Download an article