Kantian Journal

2016 Issue №3(57)

Kant and Hegel, an alleged right and the ‘inverted world’

Abstract

The category of power is one of ontological predicates discussed by Kant in lectures on metaphysics. This concept expresses relation of substance to its attributes and plays an important role in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Law is a simple form of unity incorporating an idea of the play of powers, whereas power is a category that makes it possible to understand the supersensible as a realm of laws. This interpretation is inherent in the system of not only theoretical but also practical reason. Freedom is the ‘substance’ of human existence. The unity of freedom is an idea, whose unity is presented in the diversity of actions in the sensible world. A condition for cognising freedom is the categorical imperative. Apparently, applying the moral law formula may lead to contradictions. One of these contradictions is contained in the famous question regarding the alleged right to lie out of love of humanity. Kant's theory of impossibility of total delusion makes it possible, on the one hand, to prove that Kant is right to insist on inadmissibility of lying. On the other, in controversial situations, polemics focus on the necessity to conceal information to save a human life rather than lies proper. The idea of ‘inverted world’ is not a formal abstraction but the principle behind the movement of historical life. A phenomenological analysis of the polemic between Kant and Constant shows that the problem of alleged right to lie out of love of humanity is a result of an incorrectly posed question.

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Knowing humanity without knowing the human being: The structure of polemic in Kant’s political argumentation

Abstract

Kant’s treatises on political problems form a loosely structured text corpus. However, due to its passionate polemic, it can be rewritten in the form of dialogues. The most dramatic instalment is the authoritative treatise Toward Perpetual Peace, which is full of memorable phrases that used to excite the very first readers. Kant’s opponents are both concrete authors — either living or dead contemporaries (Garve, Mendesohn, Frederick the Great) — and generalised characters representing entire classes. The two opposing parties are Kant and his favourite philosophers (Saint-Pierre and Rousseau) against the ‘government’ and ‘lawyers’. Kant’s philosophy of law, which is believed to rest on a metaphysical foundation, is constructed using a minimum of anthropological premises, which is often viewed as a virtue. However, Kant’s political teaching is closely connected with moral anthropology, which is considered as another virtue. Justifying their actions with empirical observations, politicians violate legal rules. Thus, they are subject to the same propensities that they find so frightening in the population. The philosopher, although agreeing with the grim opinion of human nature, tries to dissuade politicians and instil moderate optimism in them. The article collates and systemises politicians’ and lawyers’ ideas of humans, the world, and politics. According to Kant’s philosophy of law, the model of an ideal society can be pictured as a mechanism. However, his philosophy of history and politics claims the opposite, inclining towards organicism. The methodological framework for argumentation analysis is V. Bryushinkin’s ‘cognitive approach’. The author identifies the historical and ideational sources of decision-making criteria, which Kant assigns to his opponents. The article summarises relevant findings reported by H. Williams, G. Cavallar, R. Brandt, and others.

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