Reality, Reason, and Religion in the Early Development of Kant’s Ethics

Karl Ameriks

in Kant's Elliptical Path

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693689
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745584 | DOI:
Reality, Reason, and Religion in the Early Development of Kant’s Ethics

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This chapter explores the anti-empiricist dimension of Kant's early work by arguing that the recent publication of a new edition, by Kuehn and Stark, of Kant's early (1770s) ethics lectures need not be taken, despite appearances, to imply a temporary inclination on Kant's part toward an empiricist ethical view that would encourage an emphasis on sensibility and happiness rather than purity and absolutely strict moral demands. Although, as Schwaiger has shown, Kant takes much of the framework of his discussion from Baumgarten, it can also be argued that already in this period he is working toward a pure and realistic conception of morality that can connect positively with religion in a non-heteronomous way. The chapter concludes that the main difference between this early period and Kant's Critical philosophy is not so much a matter of content as the fact that Kant has not yet worked out his full theory of freedom.

Keywords: happiness; moral realism; religion; heteronomy; freedom; Baumgarten; Kuehn; Stark; Schwaiger

Chapter.  12294 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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