College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

11-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

College/Department Conferring Degree

Philosophy

Keywords

Immanuel Kant, philosophy of history, regulative principles, political philosophy, perpetual peace

Abstract

My dissertation offers the following three benefits with regard to a renewed interpretation of Kant's political philosophy:

1)I will demonstrate that Kant's essays on history and politics are not dogmatic, unimportant, or of minor significance, but employ a critical principle of teleology, following on the critical-regulative method developed in the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of Judgement.

2) Such a holistic and systematic reading of Kant's historico-political writings will reveal that Kant's political philosophy cannot be construed as a mere extension of his moral theory. There is a distinction between how Kant theoretically justifies his normative assumptions about history and politics and how he posits teleogical practical goals based on theses assumptions. Thus, I will question whether we can read any of Kant's historico-political writings in unambiguously moral terms. In addition, I will show that cosmopolitanism, and idea that is often considred to be the centerpiece of these short writing, is not the only legacy of Kan'ts political thought.

3) Finally, I will show that by means of his critical-regulative method Kant is able to reflect on his own historical circumstances with a view to propose a teleogical universal history, and a political theory based on such a philosophy of history. Thus, a regulative teleological understanding of his own socio-historical reality is crucial to Kant's political philosophy. This suggests that a philosophy of history is always already pragmatic in orientation and that for Kant there is a close relationship between history and politics. Thus, Kant's political thought builds on this critical-teleological account of history, and finds its confirmation in such a regulative ground.

In short, in this project as a whole I uncover the contemporary legacy of Kant's philosophy of history and political theory through a close analysis of what I label his critical-regulative method. I argue that Kant's often ignored writing on history and politics are closely connected to this method that he develops in his three Critiques; thus these minor writings are not dogmatic or insignificant but squarely fit in with his critical system. Then I show that his critical-regulative method has implications for Kant's contemporary political legacy.

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