Kantian Journal

2017 Vol. 36. No. 1

Back to the list Download an article

Kant, Nietzsche, and the Enlightenment: A comparative analysis

DOI
10.5922/0207-6918-2017-1-4
Pages
41-51

Abstract

This article provides a comparative analysis of I. Kant’s and F. Nietzsche’s critical approaches, which is carried out in the context of the thinkers’ attitudes to the problem of the Enlightenment. In spite of a rather peculiar understanding of the Enlightenment, which differed significantly from that of their contemporaries, Kant and Nietzsche have remarkably similar ideas. The author reconstructs the essence and purpose of the Enlightenment, as well as the difficulties faced by philosophers on the way to enlightenment. Another focus is the functional status of the ‘guardian’ and the new interpretation of the ideas of maturity and freedom in Nietzsche’s understanding of the Enlightenment. This becomes possible after Nietzsche’s renunciation of Romanticism and experience of the death of God. Nietzsche extends Kant’s list of possible problems in achieving enlightenment — egoism, guardianship, sloth, and cowardice. For Nietzsche, the central problem is the dominant role of reason in the Enlightenment. Nevertheless, reason is not denied but rather it is limited and supplemented with the integrating power of myth, which is considered by Nietzsche not as a prejudice but as the origin of thought correlating with life. Moreover, confidence in culture disappears. The ‘warped wood’ is replaced by the ‘rope over an abyss’ and the immature majority by masses. Inasmuch a person should never be treated as a means, the thinkers avoid the gap between enlightenment and the current process of realisation of the Enlightenment by a person. Similarly to Kant’s idea that enlightenment eludes realisation becoming a benchmark or a regulative idea, Nietzsche’s works do not distinguish between the source and the end and persons overcoming themselves become the only meaning of existence.

Reference

1. Breifman, B. V. 2015, Sumerechnaya sova… [Twilight owl…], Voprosy Filosofii [Questions of Philosophy], no. 1, p. 139—150.
2. Volkova N., Ivanov M. 2014, Svobodnoe myshlenie i otvet I. Kanta na vopros: chto takoe prosveshchenie? [Free thinking and Kant’s answer to the question: What is Enlightenment?], IX Kantovskie chteniya… [IX Kantian reading…], p. 238—241.
3. Gerlakh, G.-M. 2010, Kant i berlinskoe Prosveshchenie [Kant and Berlin Enlightenment], Kantovkiy sbornik [Kantian collection], no. 4, p. 13—20.
4. Camus, A. 1999, Nitsshe i nigilism [Nietzsche and nihilism], Buntuyushchiy chelovek [The rebel], Moscow, p. 168—179.
5. Kant, I. 1966, Ideya vseobshchey istorii vo vsemirno-grazhdanskom plane [Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitian Purpose] in Kant, I. Sochineniya v 6 t. [Collected works in 6 volumes], vol. 6, Moscow.
6. Kant, I. 1966, Otvet na vopros: chto takoe Prosveshchenie? [Answering the question: what is Enlightenment?] in Kant, I. Sochineniya v 6 t. [Collected works in 6 volumes], vol. 6, Moscow.
7. Kant, I. 1966, K vechnomu miru [Perpetual Peace] in Kant, I. Sochineniya v 6 t. [Collected works in 6 volumes], vol. 6, Moscow.
8. Kruglov, A. N. 2014, Nesovershennoletie i zadacha istoricheskogo preobrazovania obraza myshlenia [Minority and the problem of historical transformation of the way of thinking], IX Kantovskiechteniya… [IX Kantian reading…], p. 73—79.
9. Kumpf, F. 2007, Ponyatie razuma u Kanta i ego videnie permanentnogo Prosveshcheniya [Kantian concept of the reason and his understanding of permanent Enlightenment], Immanuil Kant: nasledie i proekt [Immanuel Kant: the heritage and the project], Moscow, p. 321—330.
10. Mironov, V. N. 2005, Filosofia istorii Fridrikha Nitsshe [Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy of history], Voprosy Filosofii [Questions of Philosophy], no. 11, p. 163—174.
11. Nietzsche, F. 1996, O polze i vredeistorii dlya zhizni [On the Use and Abuse of History for Life] in Nietzsche, F. Sobranye sochineniy v 2 t. [Collected works in 2 volumes], vol. 1, Moscow.
12. Nietzsche, F. 1996, Rozhdenie tragedii iz duha muzyki [The Birth of Tragedy] in Nietzsche, F. Sobranye sochineniy v 2 t. [Collected works in 2 volumes], vol. 1, Moscow.
13. Nietzsche, F. 2011, Chernoviki I nabroski vesna 1884 — osen 1885 gg [Posthumous Fragments spring 1884 — autumn 1885] in Nietzsche, F. Polnoe sobraniye sochineniy v 13 t. [Collected works in 13 volumes], vol. 11, Moscow.
14. Pavlov, V. L. 2014, O spetsifike ponimaniya prosveshcheinya I. Kantom [On specific character of Kantian understanding of Enlightenment], IX Kantovskie chteniya… [IX Kantian reading], p. 104—107.
15. Rumyantseva, T. G. 2014, V chem slabost prosveshchennogo razuma? [What is a weak side of enlightened reason?], IX Kantovskie chteniya…[IX Kantian reading], p. 218—227.
16. Salikov, A. N. 2006, Evolutsyia filosofii Nitsshe skvoz prizmu ego vospriyatiya ucheniya Kanta [The evolution of Nietzsche’s philosophy through his reception of Kant’s philosophy], Argumentatsyia I intertretatsii: issledovaniya po logike, istorii filosofii i sotsialnoy filosofii… [Argumentation and interpretations: researches in logic, history of philosophy and social philosophy…], p. 150—165.
17. Frank, S. L. 2001, Nitsshe i etika lubvi k dalnemu [Nietzsche and ethics of “love for distant”], Nitsshe: pro et contra [Nietzsche: pro et contra], p. 598—648.
18. Foucault, M. 1999, Chto takoe Prosveshchenie? [What is Enlightenment?], Russkiy filologicheskiy portal [Russian philological data portal], available at: URL: www.philology.ru/literature3/fuko-99.htm (accessed 02 February 2015).
19. Habermas, U. 2003, Filosofskiy diskurs o moderne [The philosophical discourse of modenity], Moscow, 416 p.
20. Heidegger, M. 2006, Nitsshe [Nietzsche] in Heidegger, M. Nitsshe: v 2 t. [Nietzsche: in 2 volumes], vol. 1, St. Petersburg.