Heythrop Journal 52 (1):52-75 (2011)

Lucas Thorpe
Bogazici University
In this paper I examine the genesis of Kant’s conception of a realm of ends, arguing that Kant first started to think of morality in terms of striving to be a member of a realm of ends, understood as an ideal community, in the early 1760s, and that he was influenced in this by his encounter with the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. In 1766 Kant published Dreams of a Spirit Seer, a commentary on Swedenborg’s magnum opus, Heavenly Secrets. Most commentators take Kant’s attitude towards Swedenborg to have been entirely negative, and argue that, at the most, Kant’s encounter with him had a purely negative impact on Kant’s development, inducing him to reject certain of his early metaphysical positions. I argue, in contrast, that Swedenborg had a positive influence on Kant’s development, particularly on his ethics, for Kant’s conception of a realm of ends is modeled on Swedenborg’s conception of heaven as a community of spirits governed by moral laws.
Keywords Kant  Swedenborg  Blake  Interaction  Leibniz  pre-established harmony  angels  kingdom of ends  space  precritical
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-2265.2010.00614.x
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