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By George di Giovanni

The theologians of the past due German Enlightenment observed in Kant's Critique of natural cause a brand new rational defence in their Christian religion. actually, Kant's serious conception of which means and ethical legislation completely subverted the spirit of that religion. This hard new research examines the contribution made by means of the Critique of natural cause to this transformation of which means. George di Giovanni stresses the innovative personality of Kant's serious proposal but in addition finds how this notion used to be being held hostage to unwarranted metaphysical assumptions that brought on a lot confusion and rendered the 1st Critique prone to being reabsorbed into modes of inspiration standard of Enlightenment well known philosophy. among the notable gains of this booklet are nuanced interpretations of Jacobi and Reinhold, a lucid exposition of Fichte's early idea, and a unprecedented, certain account of Enlightenment well known philosophy.

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Extra info for Freedom and Religion in Kant and his Immediate Successors: The Vocation of Humankind, 1774-1800

Sample text

The whole of moral language – such concepts as ‘responsibility’, ‘obligation’, ‘guilt’, or ‘merit’, all of which are essential to such language – depends precisely on the assumption that, in any given situation, moral possibility as defined by an ‘ought’ trumps whatever motivation for action the de facto natural content of the situation might otherwise warrant. 41 Here is, however, where the difficulty lay. Kant was working with two ideas. One was that of a community of intelligible beings acting autonomously in an attempt to establish nature as it ‘ought to be’ – a corpus mysticum, as Kant occasionally calls it,42 based on possibilities opened up by the idea of a pure reason.

The distinction allowed him to treat the ought (but, of course, only ideally, in the manner of a regulative principle) as an end toward which nature is internally 22 Introduction directed to realize. ‘Internally’ is the key word here, since interiority of direction is the necessary condition for any genuine idea of teleology. Spinoza, according to Kant, lacked the conceptual basis for attributing such an interiority to nature in any way, even if only ideally. In one of his earlier critical essays, Kant had also employed a similar strategy when suggesting the principle of a possible critical philosophy of history.

The fact is that the Critique needed both the Leibnizian model of experience, the kind that the popular philosophers instinctively presupposed, and the kind of phenomenology of experience that the same popular philosophers were pioneering – provided, of course, that both (the model and the phenomenology) were played in a critical key. How to hit this new key was precisely the problem. This last point is the more important and will emerge only at the end of the present chapter. But first, to the Critique of Reason itself.

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