Kant als Mystiker? Zur These von Carl Arnold Wilmans’ dissertatio philosophicaAbstract
Carl Arnold Wilmans received his degree of doctor in philosophy in Halle in 1797 for a bold thesis. He claimed a latent similarity between Kant’s enlightened philosophy of religion and the pure mysticism of some so-called separatists — and sent his work to Kant. The fact that and how the latter reacted to it, makes the matter all the more interesting. Could Kant have been a secret mystic? The following study attempts to give a differentiated presentation of Kant’s intellectual relationship with mysticism, which was not as unambiguous as it may seem, by first elaborating the historical background as well as the philosophical and theological contexts of Wilmans’ dissertation. Furthermore, the focus of my study is directed towards Kant’s essay On a Newly Arisen Superior Tone in Philosophy. I show that the central Kantian theorem of the fact of reason converges with his doctrine of respect to the moral law as intelligible feeling. This rapprochement allows the latter to play an argumentative role that, by serving as ratio cognoscendi of freedom, is also of epistemic value. Kant’s practical philosophy turns out to be based on a quasi-phenomenological intuitionism of finite reason in which aesthetic elements are of such importance that Wilmans’ assertion of its latent similarity to pure mysticism may be justified.