The Role of the Holy Will

Hegel Bulletin 35 (2):163-184 (2014)
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It is well known that Kant uses the notion of the holy will in theGroundworkso as to contrast it with the finite wills of human beings. It is less clear, however, what function this contrast is supposed to perform. I argue that one role of the holy will is to illustrate transcendental idealism’s account of the relation between moral knowledge and moral practice. The position is one intended to negotiate between ostensibly competing traditions. Kant uses the holy will as a way of endorsing the metaphysical picture of the scholastic tradition’s so-called ‘ethics of freedom’, whereby the ideal of moral perfection is conceived as the perfection of one’s power of freedom to the point where one is constitutively incapable of immoral action. This position is married however with the claim that the holy will’s inaccessibility to human cognition motivates a subject-oriented moral epistemology more usually associated with Enlightenment humanism. I conclude by claiming that the nuanced role for the holy will can be understood as part of Kant’s expansion of the value of religious faith [Glaube] to the domain of practical inquiry in general.



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John J. Callanan
King's College London

Citations of this work

Kant and the Problem of Recognition: Freedom, Transcendental Idealism, and the Third-Person.Joe Saunders - 2016 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 24 (2):164-182.

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References found in this work

Belief in Kant.Andrew Chignell - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (3):323-360.
New Essays on Human Understanding.R. M. Mattern - 1984 - Philosophical Review 93 (2):315.
Kant on Transcendental Freedom.Derk Pereboom - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (3):537-567.
Three kinds of rationalism and the non-spatiality of things in themselves.Desmond Hogan - 2009 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (3):pp. 355-382.

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