Kantian Journal

2017 Vol. 36. No. 2

In memoriam

Kant’s practical philosophy

Family ethics and philosophy of love in Kant’s Lectures on Ethics

Abstract

This article considers Kant’s deliberations on the essence and varieties of human love, based on the Lectures on Ethics. Kant distinguished between the love of benevolence (ethical love) — a commitment to the other’s wellbeing (discussed in Kant’s other ethical writings) — and a love of delight (aesthetical love), further divided into the sensual and intellectual love. The sensual love of delight is identified with sexual love. The intellectual love of delight eludes definition, since such delight is difficult to perceive. The collision between vital and moral love results in a need to examine under what conditions relations between the sexes are compatible with morality. Such an examination is taking the form of an ethical and legal deduction of matrimony. Kant’s proof of the moral unacceptability of concubinage given in the Lectures is based on the ethical (‘its purpose is merely that one party allows their person to the other for enjoyment’) rather than formal considerations (an allegedly unequal contract). The moral contradiction of mutual objectification and instrumentalisation of free persons in matrimony is on the surface of Kant’s deduction. The moral prohibition of instrumentalisation rules out family ethics and family law. However, the root of all evil is not solely this circumstance. A morally illegitimate union of concubinage is formed to attain the subjective ends of a hedonistic individual and it does not contradict the ends of the human race. Therefore, such a deduction (unlike that presented in the Metaphysics of Morals) has to make a transition from strategies to maxims. In effect, the deduction rests on the question as to which form of delight should lie at the foundation of a matrimony. The ethical problem is solved beyond the realm of ethics — a morally acceptable union of the sexes can be based only on aesthetic delight within the element of beauty.

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Kant on the rights of citizens in matters of religion: The concept of religious tolerance in the German Enlightenment

Abstract

The universal public law is a section of Kant’s lectures on natural right, which he delivered in 1784. A traditional part of the then natural right compendia, it might seem strange to us today. Kant distinguished between three branches of government. However, they were not identical in the name or function to the executive, legislative, and judicial powers. Of interest is the justification of the exclusion of certain powers from the monarch’s authority — the monarch must not dispense justice or rule in a way that is demeaning to his or her greatness. Moreover, the section covers the problem of the rights and obligations of the monarch and his or her subjects in religious matters. This problem was crucial to the Enlightenment. Kant’s deliberations on the issue include a long prehistory of formulating the concept of religious tolerance and modelling relations between the state and different confessions, based on the rules of natural law, which date back to the early Enlightenment. For the first time, it was discussed at length by Christian Thomasius, whose endeavours marked the beginning of the Enlightenment in Germany. Moreover, a number of important aspects relate Thomasius’s early Enlightenment ideas and Kant’s late Enlightenment concept. Firstly, this is the perspective on the role of the monarch in regulating interactions between different confessions. Thus, both thinkers stressed that the secular ruler had to pay heed only to the worldly happiness and wellbeing of his or her subjects. The major criterion for resolving theological disputes must be nothing else than upholding peace and order in the state. This article is supplemented with a translation of a section of Kant’s lectures on national law.

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Receptions of Kant’s philosophy

‘Back to Kant’ or ‘Back to Leibnitz’? A critical view from the history of Russian metaphysical personalism

Abstract

This article provides a comparative analysis of the influence of the two great German thinkers — Immanuel Kant and Gottfried Leibnitz — on the Russian philosophy of the 19th/20th centuries. The ideas of metaphysical personalists and neo-Leibnizians (E. A. Bobrov, A. A. Kozlov, S. A. Alekseev (Askoldov), N. O. Lossky, and V. Salagova) are invoked to demonstrate the main arguments of the critique of Kantianism and neo-Kantianism in Russian philosophy. It is shown that the ideas of Russian neo-Leibnizians are closely connected with those of the thinkers of the ‘late and mature phase’ of German idealism (A. Trendelenburg, R. G. Lotze, and G. Teichmüller). A historical and theoretical analysis of the neo-Kantian and neo-Leibnizian ideas helps to identify the similarities (criticism and the belief in ‘pure experience’ as the basis of science) and differences between the two concepts (the interpretation of ‘pure experience’ as personal and individual vs the propensity to ‘formalise’ and ‘objectify’ it). It is shown that neo-Leibnizian epistemology seeks ‘pure experience’. However, such experience is not interpreted as ‘bare’ cognition or its mere possibility but rather it is perceived as a combination of consciousness (Bewusstsein), knowledge (Erkenntnis), the consciousness of God (Gottesbewusstsein), faith, and free will. Thus, Russian neo-Leibnizians represented their epistemology as a complete sphere and viewed the Kantian and neo-Kantian teaching of ‘pure experience’ as a section of that sphere. However, Russian metaphysical personalists were not Leibniz’s epigones, since they denied one of the key postulates of his Monadology — the principle of pre-established harmony. It is concluded that neo-Leibnizianism or metaphysical personalism has spiritual kinship with Russian religious philosophy (the case of A. S. Khomyakov and V. S. Soloviev is used as proof). On the contrary, neo-Kantianism and Kant’s ideas were in the state of terminal confrontation within this school of thought.

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Time in Sergey Trubetskoy’s and Boris Chicherin’s metaphysical concepts: A discussion on Kant

Abstract

This article analyses the controversy between Sergey Trubetskoy and Boris Chicherin, which followed the publication of Trubetskoy’s monograph the Foundations of Idealism. This analysis focuses on the philosophers’ understanding of the metaphysical nature of time. The relevance of the work is that the philosophical reflections of the opponents took place against the backdrop of an impending change in science and philosophy — the transition from the classical to neo-classical paradigm. This transition encouraged philosophers to revise the traditional approaches (Kant’s teaching of time as an a priori form of sensibility, the post-Kantian idea of time as a manifestation of the absolute spirit, and the empiricist concept of time as an ordered flow of events), on the one hand, and to seek new criteria for the philosophical understanding of time, on the other. Chicherin suggested that metaphysics resort to the methods of natural sciences. He believed that the rigour and logic of natural sciences would rule out subjectivism and help to marry the temporality of the phenomenon and the object. For Chicherin, time is both an attribute of the absolute spirit and a scientific and philosophical category that is used in both exact physical calculations and natural-philosophical descriptions. Loyal to classical metaphysical traditions, Trubetskoy placed emphasis on the role of the subject, stressing that ‘there is no object (phenomenon) beyond the perceiving subject’ and that time (in a purely metaphysical sense) is possible only as a form of sensory perception of phenomena. At the same time, Trubetskoy argued that, due to the sobornost of consciousness, the subject is not an individual person but the humanity as a community of sentient and intelligent beings. In addressing Platonism, the Kantian tradition, and the philosophy of all-unity, Trubetskoy argued that the purpose of metaphysics was not to search for and formulate the laws of nature but rather to uncover new levels of the understanding of the interaction between thinking and being.

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Kant and the Enlightenment

The apologia of reason in J. Chr. Gottsched’s classicistic system: On the 250th anniversary of the philosopher’s death

Abstract

This article revisits the ratio-centric system developed by the prominent exponent of the German enlightenment J. Chr. Gottsched (1700—1766). The authors examine the problem of the ontological argument in the context of the current civilizational crisis of consciousness, which arose against the background of the 20th century crisis of objectivist methodology of modern natural sciences. Such a methodology is incapable of solving the problem of an accurate description of the reality, in particular, as regards the ontological status of a wave function. This poses a serious ontological challenge to the entire scientific paradigm of today’s natural science standard. It is stressed that, in the context of the problem of consciousness and being symmetry/asymmetry, the ontological argument brings to the fore questions about the current place of modern civilizational process, which shows distressing symptoms of existential foundation deficiency. The authors reconsider the historical and philosophical significance of Gottsched’s Enlightenment classicism to estimate the danger of the de-ontologisation of reason, which leads to the loss of reality. The phenomenon of Gottsched is considered within the hermeneutic discourse of the so-called mystery of the German spirit. It is stressed that Gottsched was committed to a well-reasoned apologia of reason as a mediator between the reality and the spirit — a mediator that acts through the mystery of imagination and the psychology of unconscious interest. The authors examine relevant aspects of Gottsched’s rational aesthetics in his struggle against pre-Romanticism theories. Attention is paid to the ideational proximity between Gottsched’s ideas and Kant’s regulative principles of practical reason. The authors emphasise the significance of Gottsched’s philosophy of language and his connection with the tradition of ontological theory of language in the context of modern hermeneutic research.

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Neo-Kantianism

The philosophical and legal content of Sergey Hessen’s concept of personality

Abstract

This article aims to consider the concept of personality proposed by the prominent exponent of Russian neo-Kantianism Sergey Hessen and its philosophical and legal content. The frame of reference used to achieve this aim is determined by the personality-culture-the general will-the state coordinates. The author compares Hessen’s ideas with Bogdan Kistyakovsky’s legal concept. Hessen distinguished between several layers of meaning in the notion of culture — civilizedness, level of education, and civic virtue. He stressed that the personality and culture existed in a dialectical relationship. Hessen emphasised the primacy of personal freedom and the need to distinguish between freedom and power of choice. Acts of choice are random and unpredictable — they do not have a solid foundation, whereas acts of freedom are a prerequisite for creativity — an integral characteristic of personality. The creative essence of personality suggests individuality and uniqueness of each person. Personality has a historical dimension. In analysing the problem of the relationship between a person and society, Hessen considered Rousseau’s concept of general will. Hessen proposed a dynamic understanding of general will as a continuous process of establishing and re-establishing that involves the general population. Hessen counterposed law against the notions of nature and morality and interpreted law as an insufficient but necessary prerequisite for harmonizing relations in a society. Hessen developed an original understanding of the ideal of state organisation — a democratic state that incorporates the principles of liberalism and socialism.

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