An Entire Nest of Contradictions

Abstract
Defending Kant against the charge that his ethics is formalistic has prompted some prominent interpreters to stress the “humanity” formulation of the categorical imperative. In this paper I argue that this more sophisticated account of Kantian ethics generates a deeper and more philosophically interesting Hegelian criticism (located primarily in the Phenomenology of Spirit). Hegel’s claim that the moral worldview is rife with dialectical conflict serves as a criticism both of Kant’s conception of the moral self and of his more basic assumptions about the proper philosophical reply to the challenges posed by dogmatism and skepticism. As I will argue, the moral worldview unselfconsciously preserves elements of dogmatism and skepticism, even as it claims to be self-critical. Hegel’s strategy, then, is to accuse Kant of falling into a kind of practical antinomy that
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