Nature or Providence? On the Theoretical and Moral Importance of Kant’s Philosophy of History

Kant’s use of the terms ‘Nature’ and ‘Providence’ in his essays on history has long puzzled commentators. Kant personifies Nature and Providence in a curious way, by speaking of them as “deciding” to give humankind certain predispositions, “wanting” these to be developed, and “knowing” what is best for humans Moreover, he leaves the relationship between the two terms unclear. In this essay, I argue that Kant’s use of ‘Nature’ and ‘Providence’ can be clarified and explained. Moreover, I show that Kant’s use of the terms is symptomatic of a much more important and not sufficiently appreciated fact about Kant’s philosophy of history, viz., that it fulfils a function in both his theoretical and his practical philosophy.
Keywords Immanuel Kant  philosophy of history  nature  providence
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DOI 10.5840/acpq200175216
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Sam Duncan (2012). Moral Evil, Freedom and the Goodness of God: Why Kant Abandoned Theodicy. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (5):973-991.

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