The Role of Feelings in Kant's Account of Moral Education

Journal of Philosophy of Education 50 (4):511-523 (2016)
Alix Cohen
University of Edinburgh
In line with familiar portrayals of Kant's ethics, interpreters of his philosophy of education focus essentially on its intellectual dimension: the notions of moral catechism, ethical gymnastics and ethical ascetics, to name but a few. By doing so, they usually emphasise Kant's negative stance towards the role of feelings in moral education. Yet there seem to be noteworthy exceptions: Kant writes that the inclinations to be honoured and loved are to be preserved as far as possible. This statement is not only at odds with Kant's general claim that education should not encourage feelings, but more importantly, it encourages a feeling that is in many ways paradigmatically un-Kantian. How are we to understand the fact that of all feelings, the love of honour should be preserved? To answer this question, I begin by clarifying the reasons behind Kant's negative stance towards feelings in moral education. I then turn to his account of the feeling of love of honour. After distinguishing between its good and its bad forms, I consider two ways of making sense of the positive role Kant assigns to it. The first, modest reading will suggest that the feeling of love of honour is morally useful because it has two functions: an epistemic one, and a motivational one. The second, more ambitious reading will suggest that the feeling of love of honour enables the child to experience her inner worth as bearer of value.
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DOI 10.1111/1467-9752.12161
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Practical Philosophy.Immanuel Kant - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Anthropology, History, and Education.Immanuel Kant - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
Religion and Rational Theology.Immanuel Kant - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Lectures on Ethics.Immanuel Kant - 1980 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), International Journal of Ethics. Blackwell. pp. 104-106.

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