Dissertation, University of Jyväskylä (2021)
AbstractThis study interprets the later texts of Immanuel Kant with the approach of conceptual history. The selected works include a number of texts that are not generally regarded as politically interesting or relevant. This study also highlights Kant’s role as a significant classic figure in political thinking who still benefits modern research. The selected texts are approached as political discourses in a contemporary dialogue, and no principal explanation is sought for these from Kant’s famous “major” critiques. The texts are read as part of Publicum, the public debate atmosphere during Prussia’s Late Enlightenment, in which the opinions of other debaters were criticised or further developed. The interpretation focuses on political problems in Kant’s production, many of which still confound researchers. Frequently asked critical questions include: Why does the Enlightenment philosopher name ownership and gender requirements for citizenship? Would not education or studies be suitable criteria? How is it possible that republicanism, an ideal raised as a guarantee of eternal peace, can exist in a monarchy, while a democracy is the most undesirable way to rule? Why should a tyranny or a bad ruler not be opposed, while the French Revolution is an admirable example? In this study, Kant’s way of thinking is interpreted by opening up the context of the era. Known as a reformer in many themes, Kant has a strong background in German theoretical history. For example, the value of the natural history theory cannot be ignored. This study presents a view of how Kant explains the social contract and the development that takes place through it from the natural state to a regulated social state. Furthermore, the definition of all the different aspects of citizenships owes to the heritage of natural law. This study demonstrates that Kant understood the Enlightenment as a political project, which was associated not only with the demand for a freedom of publication, but also with the debate over questions in the political sphere. In my interpretation, Kant’s Enlightenment theme also includes the demand to tear down universities’ horizontal division into faculties and to elevate the position of the philosophical faculty, free of external ties, to the level of other faculties, or even higher, to evaluate their scientific and philosophical grounds.
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