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Colloqium: Lara Ostaric

Friday, October 29, 2021 - 3:00pm

Cohen Hall, Room 402

As with his discussion of reflective judgment’s representations in the third Critique, in his writings on our philosophical representations of human history Kant offers both epistemic and moral justification for the use of teleological principles. Following his epistemic justification, in order to make human history intelligible to ourselves we must represent the individual events in human history under the Idea of ‘nature’s aim.’ By the latter Kant understands the formation of civil society to be based on the principle of right within which the “ultimate end” (der letzte Zweck) of nature, the formation of culture, would be possible. Kant’s moral justification is his argument that our representation of human history as progressing teleologically reinforces our moral disposition insofar as we see the world as a place where our moral efforts can have an effect and where our vocation, the realization of the highest good, is possible. Notwithstanding the latter, I shall further claim, that Kant’s notion of our historical progress should not be understood as a “moral progress,” that is, the history that shows how passing onto next generations gradually accumulated moral knowledge results in more individuals with a virtuous disposition. I shall argue instead that Kant’s philosophy of history is limited to the history of the human being as a natural or phenomenal being and thus should be narrowed to a political history and the history of culture.

Paper Title

Kant's Teleological Philosophy of History