Kant and the Crusians in the Debate on OptimismAbstract
n this article, which completes a two-part series on the problem of optimism in Kant’s works, I explore in detail the arguments advanced by the Crusians A. F. Reinhard and D. Weymann against the actual world as the best of all possible worlds and in favour of the actual world as one of the good worlds, Kant’s counterarguments put forward in the mid-1750s drafts and in An Attempt at Some Reflections on Optimism (1759), and further polemical attacks on this topic against Kant by D. Weymann in his works of 1759—1760. I trace the evolution of Kant’s views on optimism from the mid- to the late-1750s, when this concept — once characteristic of the partly unacceptable position that G. W. Leibniz defended in the Theodicy — came to describe Kant’s own views. Leaving aside Voltaire’s resonating works on the Lisbon earthquake, the generic opponent to Kant’s position is an amalgam of Crusians (C. A. Crusius, A. F. Reinhard, D. Weymann, and others), reduced to a caricature with regards to certain theses. I address Weymann’s polemic with Kant to show that, in the pre-critical period, the early Kant advocated beliefs in sphere of practical philosophy that he later radically changed in the critical period, in particular those with regards to freedom and human dignity. The obvious bias of most Kantian scholars against Kant’s opponents prevented researchers from seeing the validity of Weymann’s criticism of Kant for ignoring the problem of freedom. To prove his point, Weymann addressed the difference between the freedom of contradiction (libertas contradictionis) and the freedom of contrariety (libertas contrarietatis). Apparently, Kant himself noticed to a certain degree the validity of Weymann’s criticism, since, after 1759, he abandoned the term “optimism” and, in his later years, distanced himself from his early work An Attempt at Some Reflections on Optimism.