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Kant and the Concept of Community

Kant and the Concept of Community

Charlton Payne
Lucas Thorpe
Volume: 9
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Kant and the Concept of Community
    Book Description:

    The concept of community plays a central role in Kant's theoretical philosophy, his practical philosophy, his aesthetics, and his religious thought. Kant uses community in many philosophical contexts: the category of community introduced in his table of categories in the 'Critique of Pure Reason'; the community of substances in the third analogy; the realm of ends as an ethical community; the state and the public sphere as political communities; the 'sensus communis' of the 'Critique of Judgment'; and the idea of the church as a religious community in 'Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason'. Given Kant's status as a systematic philosopher, volume editors Payne and Thorpe maintain that any examination of the concept of community in one area of his work can be understood only in relation to the others. In this volume, then, scholars from different disciplines -- specializing in various aspects of and approaches to Kant's work -- offer their interpretations of Kant on the concept of community. The various essays further illustrate the central relevance and importance of Kant's conception of community to contemporary debates in various fields. Charlton Payne is postdoctoral fellow at Plattform Weltregionen und Interaktionen, Universität Erfurt, Germany. Lucas Thorpe is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Bogaziçi University, Turkey. Contributors: Ronald Beiner, Jeffrey Edwards, Michael Feola, Paul Guyer, Jane Kneller, Béatrice Longuenesse, Jan Mieszkowski, Onora O'Neill, Charlton Payne, Susan M. Shell, Lucas Thorpe, Eric Watkins, Allen W. Wood.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-781-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: The Many Senses of Community in Kant
    (pp. 1-16)
    Charlton Payne and Lucas Thorpe

    In recent years groundbreaking work has been done in Kant’s philosophy of science, his practical philosophy, and his aesthetics. Unfortunately, due to the vast amount of specialized research, it has been difficult for scholars to keep up with developments in all of these distinct fields and Kant studies are fragmented. Kant was, however, a systematic philosopher, and so while this specialization is absolutely necessary, it makes it very hard for any one individual to grasp Kant’s work as a system. This volume focuses on a single concept, the concept of community, which plays a central role in Kant’s theoretical and...

  4. 1 Kant’s Standpoint on the Whole: Disjunctive Judgment, Community, and the Third Analogy of Experience
    (pp. 17-40)
    Béatrice Longuenesse

    Kant claimed that the representation of the world by human beings depends on a system of fundamental categories or “pure concepts of the understanding.” He also claimed that these categories are originally nothing other than elementary logical functions, which find expression in logical forms of judgment. Kant expounded these functions in a systematic “table” that then became the architectonic principle not only for the Critique of Pure Reason but also for the Critique of Practical Reason and the Critique of Judgment. In a famous footnote to the Metaphysical Foundations of the Science of Nature (1783), Kant claimed that as long...

  5. 2 Making Sense of Mutual Interaction: Simultaneity and the Equality of Action and Reaction
    (pp. 41-62)
    Eric Watkins

    The notion of community (Gemeinschaft), or mutual interaction (Wechselwirkung), has experienced a rather ambivalent reception in the scholarly literature devoted to Kant’s thought. On the one hand, one must acknowledge that it is a central principle of Kant’s entire Critical project. It is a pure concept of the understanding, or category, that he uses, along with the other categories (B109), to confer a distinctive formal structure onto both his theoretical and his practical philosophy in the Critique of Pure Reason, Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, and Critique of the Power of Judgment, as well as in the Critique of Practical...

  6. 3 Kant on the Relationship between Autonomy and Community
    (pp. 63-87)
    Lucas Thorpe

    The central idea behind this paper is the claim that Kant’s moral idea of a realm of ends is modeled on the category of community examined in his theoretical works, and that understanding Kant’s account of the category of community helps us understand certain features of the idea of a realm of ends, and in particular the fact that a member of a realm of ends must be an autonomous agent. For Kant the idea of a community is essentially the idea of a multitude of individuals in interaction and in this paper I will attempt to show why Kant...

  7. 4 Kantian Communities: The Realm of Ends, the Ethical Community, and the Highest Good
    (pp. 88-120)
    Paul Guyer

    In his practical philosophy, Kant employs a number of conceptions of community among moral agents, the meanings of which and the relations among which are contested. The realm of ends that Kant introduces in his third formulation of the categorical imperative in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals is clearly a conception of a community of moral agents of some sort: a realm is “a systematic union of various beings through common laws,” and a realm of ends is a “whole of all ends in systematic connection (a whole both of rational beings as ends in themselves and of...

  8. 5 Religion, Ethical Community, and the Struggle against Evil
    (pp. 121-137)
    Allen W. Wood

    In part four of Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, Kant states his more or less official definition of religion: “Religion is (subjectively considered) the recognition of all our duties as divine commands” (RBMR, 6:153; cf. MM, 6:443).¹ To be religious, for Kant, is to view all of one’s duties as commands issued to oneself by God. Kant’s wording of this definition, apparently restricting the definition to religion “subjectively considered,” might suggest that there could be another, “objective” way of considering religion, and this “objective” consideration might present a different definition of religion. But in fact Kant never offers...

  9. 6 Kant’s Conception of Public Reason
    (pp. 138-149)
    Onora O’Neill

    The idea that public reason provides the basis for justifying normative claims, including fundamental ethical and political claims, has acquired new resonance in recent decades. Yet it is not obvious whether or how the fact that a process of reasoning is public can contribute to fundamental justification. Indeed, since conceptions of reason, of the public, and of the boundaries between public and private are various and strongly contested, any claim that public reason justifies is multiply ambiguous. Moreover, some popular conceptions of public reason are quite ill-suited to any justification of fundamental norms. I offer three contemporary examples.

    First, reasoning...

  10. 7 Original Community, Possession, and Acquisition in Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals
    (pp. 150-182)
    Jeffrey Edwards

    Kant’s theory of private law (or private right: Privatrecht) is presented in part 1 of The Metaphysics of Morals, the Metaphysical Foundations of the Doctrine of Right.¹ The theory treats the conditions under which external objects of the power of choice (Willkür) can be rightfully “mine and yours.”² The Metaphysical Foundations of the Doctrine of Right is divided into three main parts, all of which concern the principles that ought to govern the power of choice in relation to anything that can be acquired as externally mine or yours.³ The first part, the doctrine of possession (§§ 1–9), determines...

  11. 8 Community and Normativity: Hegel’s Challenge to Kant in the Jena Essays
    (pp. 183-208)
    Michael Feola

    Historians of philosophy face a difficulty in conceptualizing the relationship between Kant and his Idealist successors, for the latter offer a wide range of options—from completing the architectonic of reason (by offering a single principle from which it could be deduced), to overcoming entirely what they take to be the deep contradictions of the critical project. This ambivalence is nowhere more evident than in the writings of the young Hegel, which swing from one pole to the other within the span of a few years. In his Berne (1795) essay on Christianity, Hegel attributes to Jesus a thinly veiled...

  12. 9 Paradoxes in Kant’s Account of Citizenship
    (pp. 209-225)
    Ronald Beiner

    What are we to make of Kant as a philosopher of citizenship? In order to begin answering this question, we need to determine how exalted Kant intends the status of citizen to be, especially in relation to the forms of moral experience that for Kant are decisive in conferring moral worth upon us as rational beings; and clarifying this turns out to be anything but a simple matter. In a very direct sense, our status as citizens constitutes a nonmoral status, for the domain of politics per se refers to forms of civic behavior that can be regulated by laws...

  13. 10 Kant’s Conception of the Nation-State and the Idea of Europe
    (pp. 226-244)
    Susan M. Shell

    Conceptual and moral difficulties surrounding the question of Europe are often both signaled by appeals to Immanuel Kant. From the ambiguously Kantian “ode to joy” that the European Union has made its anthem, to Derrida’s and Habermas’s joint reference to what they call “the Kantian hope in a global domestic politics,”¹ to the invocation by Joseph Weiler, Gerald Delanty, and others of the Kantian principle of “autonomy” as a grounding norm of European commonality—one is constantly encountering what one good European famously called the “the great Chinaman of Königsberg.”² Indeed, political analyst Robert Kagan has gone so far as...

  14. 11 Kant’s Parergonal Politics: The Sensus Communis and the Problem of Political Action
    (pp. 245-259)
    Charlton Payne

    In Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy, Hannah Arendt advances a number of convincing arguments for why Kant’s discussion of aesthetic judgment provides the basis for a kind of political reason.¹ However, once we begin to read the third Critique as offering a theory of political community, I contend we find that Kant’s emphasis on judgment would reduce political agency to the role of the spectator, and thereby exclude creative activity from this model of communal interaction. Using Arendt’s reading as a starting point will lead us through Kant’s discussion of taste and genius to demonstrate how productive action only emerges...

  15. 12 Aesthetic Reflection and Community
    (pp. 260-283)
    Jane Kneller

    In an essay addressing communities of philosophers outside the European context, Juan Revueltas outlines the difficulties of self-definition and the construction of a uniquely Latin American philosophical community.¹ The problem as he explains it is to find a way between the horns of the dilemma of a colonizing universalism on the one hand and of a “false particularism” on the other. Revueltas argues that in describing or constructing a uniquely Latin American philosophical community it is necessary to avoid the occupation of indigenous communities by dominant European systems, since the latter tend to normalize and mask their own built-in cultural...

  16. 13 Social Demands: Kant and the Possibility of Community
    (pp. 284-302)
    Jan Mieszkowski

    Virtually every account of the history of Western political philosophy accords Immanuel Kant a prominent place among the thinkers responsible for our conceptions of liberty, justice, and the social contract. Although best known as a metaphysician or aesthetician, Kant remains at least as central to ongoing debates about rights and equality as Locke, Rousseau, or Mill. His commitment to deontological ethics and to a substantive link between morality and reason, his insistence on treating people as ends rather than means, and his affirmation of individual autonomy as a key to understanding human praxis are all widely accepted positions that seem...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 303-316)
  18. List of Contributors
    (pp. 317-318)
  19. Index
    (pp. 319-322)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 323-323)