Schiller on Evil and the Emergence of Reason

History of Philosophy Quarterly 35 (4):337-355 (2018)
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Schiller was one of many early post-Kantians who wrestled with Kant’s doctrine of radical evil, a doctrine that continues to puzzle commentators today. Schiller’s own explanation of why we are prone to pursue happiness without restriction is, I argue, subtle and multilayered: it offers us a new genealogy of reflective agency, linking our tendency to egoism to the first emergence of reason within human beings. On the reading I defend, our drive for the absolute does not lead us directly to moral autonomy; rather, it misleads us to seek the absolute in the field of our own impulses and inclinations. However, since this detour is the result of cognitive error, it involves no willful subordination of the moral law to self-love, and so nothing that bears the guilt of evil.

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Owen Ware
University of Toronto, Mississauga

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References found in this work

Critique of judgment.Immanuel Kant - 1790 - New York: Barnes & Noble. Edited by J. H. Bernard.
Kant’s Ethical Thought.Allen W. Wood - 1999 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kant's Theory of Freedom.Henry E. Allison - 1990 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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