Kantian Journal

2019 Vol. 38. No. 4

ARTICLES

Kant’s Philosophy

Kants praktischer Platonismus

Abstract

At the centre of discussion lies the reception of Plato’s philosophy, particularly his theory of Ideas, in Kant’s moral philosophy, his ethics and his doctrine of right. Kant saw himself as a follower of Platonism insofar as its anti-empiri­cist principles of human conduct are concerned, although his own version of practical rationalism differs considerably from Plato’s. This is also true of Kant’s conception of freedom and of human rights. The greatest impact on Kant’s moral philosophy is due to the doctrine of the two worlds, the mundus sensibilis and the mundus intelligibilis, which did not originate in Plato himself, but in the Jewish Platonist Philo of Alexandria. Kant reinterpreted this doctrine by taking the intelligible world as a moral world consisting of free rational agents who ought to transform the empirical world of human society and history according to the norms and standards of moral laws. This was meant to be a programme for a moral reform of the human world, both with regard to individual moral­ity and to the cosmopolitical task of the establishment of an international order of legal institutions. Kant’s practical Platonism insists on the creation of a moral world order through human actions that take their lead from pure practical reason.

Download an article

On the Role of Gesinnung in Kant’s Ethics and Philosophy of Religion. Part II

Abstract

The sources of Kant’s term Gesinnung and a review of the problems of its translation into English were presented in the first part of this article; the second part examines the novel features that Kant brings to the interpretation of this concept in the critical period. In the Critique of Practical Reason these include the questions of manifestation of Gesinnung in the world, apprehended through the senses, the method of establishing and the culture of truly moral Gesinnung, as well as the problem of the immutability of Gesinnung in the progress towards the good. The new theses that appear in Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason are Gesinnung as the internal subjective principle of maxims, on virtue as evidence of the presence of Gesinnung, on act as a manifestation of Gesinnung, on the unintelligibility of Gesinnung in its noumenal, suprasensible character, on the innateness of Gesinnung in the sense that it exists not in time, but in the form of its acceptance by free expression of the will, on the singleness of Gesinnung and its indivisibility into periods, on revolution in Gesinnung as distinct from empirical reform, on the creation of the new human being as distinct from the ancient one as a result of the revolution of Gesinnung, on the link between the revolution in Gesinnung and “conversion” or second birth. After discussing the problem of distinguishing the terms Gesinnung and Denkungsart in translation as well as a review of all the existing variants of translating Kant’s concept of Gesinnung into Russian (aspiration, inclination, intention, virtue, virtuousness, conviction, attitude, mode of thinking, thoughts, mood, disposition and umonastroenie), the author comes to the conclusion that the uniform variant umonastroenie is best suited for Russian translations of Kant’s works.

Download an article

Kant: pro et contra

Darwinism as the Missing Link in Kant’s Critical Philosophy

Abstract

I proceed from the hypothesis that the difficulties in Kant’s presentation of his plan and, accordingly, the implicit reason for the critical attitude to this plan on the part of many contemporary philosophers stem from the fact that he had no theoretical link at his disposal which would offer a more solid scientific grounding for his entire system. I believe that Darwinism is such a link which bolsters the central but ungrounded thesis of the Critique of Pure Reason on the existence of a priori synthetic judgments. The synthesis of Darwinism and critical philosophy dictates, however, a substantial restructuring of the latter since some of its key elements prove to be weak in the light of modern studies and need to be revised or even reversed. The first reversal explored in this article determines the origin of the categories which are now revealed not “from the top down” where Kant sought them, i. e. not in logical functions in accordance with metaphysical deduction and not in self-consciousness as transcendental deduction claims, but “from the bottom up” if one considers things in the evolutionary dimension, i. e. in the instincts. The second reversal shifts the freedom of will which Kant placed in the same ontological basket with things in themselves at “the top,” to another level of the pyramid of ontologies, by changing dualism to pluralism because dualism is too narrow to accommodate all the autonomous components of critical philosophy. Thus spirit and freedom find a new place separate from the sphere of physical nature; the category of adaptation explains how different ontologies can coexist; while the problem of two interpretations of transcendental idealism (two-world vs. two-aspect interpretation) finds a solution through their reconciliation.

Download an article

Neo-Kantianism

“The Turn towards Ontology” in Russian Neo-Kantianism in the Late 1910s and Early 1920s (Lev Salagov and Nikolai Boldyrev)

Abstract

The period between the late 1910s and early 1920s saw the emergence of onto-epistemological philosophical projects in Russia that was determined by criticism and attempts to overcome the domination of epistemology in philosophy which was the result of the intensive development of Neo-Kantianism and the influence of Husserl’s phenomenology. Attempts to turn towards ontology were made both by Russian religious philosophers and by Russian Neo-Kantians. I look at the little-studied philosophical projects of the Russian Neo-Kantians Lev Salagov and Nikolai Boldyrev. Their philosophical concepts share the tendency to transpose epistemological problems to ontology, and to identify and bring closer together epistemology and ontology. Russian philosophers ontologise the theory of cognition through the analysis of subjectivity, the complete elimination of psychological motives and the separation of transcendentalism from transcendentism. These principles enable Salagov to ground a three-part structure of cognition (consciousness, being, committing to consciousness) and to assert that the main task of genuine epistemology is exclusively the study of the cognitive relationship, committing to consciousness. They enable Boldyrev, proceeding from the separation of reflection and sensibility, to build a doctrine on the self-unfolding of being. Similar tendencies — a turn towards ontology — were observed in the same period in West European philosophy, including German Neo-Kantianism. However, the concepts of Russian Neo-Kantians, which imply a new orientation towards ontology, are fairly independent, and not only on account of the original interpretation of Kantian critical philosophy and Neo-Kantian epistemology, but also on account of internal discussion with the Russian philosophers belonging to other movements (for example, intuitivists). The analysis of the onto-epistemological projects of Russian Neo-Kantians makes important additions to the picture of the reception of Neo-Kantianism in Russia.

Download an article

EVENTS

Kant’s Ethics in the Context of the Enlightenment. Report of the 12th Kant Readings Conference (Kaliningrad, 21-25 April 2019

Abstract

This review covers the content of reports and discussions at the 12th Kant Readings Conference held in April 2019 and organised by the research unit of the Academia Kantiana of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Kaliningrad. Traditionally, Kant Readings have been thematically universal, embracing all the areas of Kant’s legacy. This time the conference focused on practical philosophy, i.e. the historical grounds and modern significance of Kant’s ethical thought as compared to other philosophical projects of the Enlightenment era. Due attention was paid to the reception of the ethics of Kant and the Enlightenment by philosophers in Russia and the West. Breakout groups discussed aspects of interconnection between the Enlightenment ethics and esthetics as well as interdisciplinary problems at the interface of philosophy of politics and philosophy of education, including ways to counter various forms of intellectual enslavement. The possibilities of applying Kant’s ethical principles were discussed in close connection with the interpretation of the latest trends in the development of science and technology. It was noted that the intellectual and social communication environment of today has much in common with that of the Enlightenment era, which makes the philosophical strategy proposed during that era amenable to adaptation and development.

Download an article

ANNOUNCEMENTS