Kant and the question of meaning

Philosophical Forum 30 (2):115–131 (1999)
This paper discusses Kant’s problematic attempts to come to grips with the question of meaning. The first section sets out the problem as Kant discovers it, under the idea of a ‘Categorical Imperative.’ The second looks directly at his thoughts on the question of meaning, in connection with individual dignity, personal fulfilment and hope for our common future. Third, I examine inadequacies in Kant’s account, while the fourth part suggests that these arise through a lack of faith in the practical fruits of reason. In conclusion I raise a lasting concern belonging to post-Kantian philosophy, whether Kant’s equation of autonomy with ‘the moral law’ may not threaten both freedom and meaning in human affairs.
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