Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals of 1785 is one of the most profound and important works in the history of practical philosophy. In this introduction to the Groundwork, SallySedgwick provides a guide to Kant's text that follows the course of his discussion virtually paragraph by paragraph. Her aim is to convey Kant's ideas and arguments as clearly and simply as possible, without getting lost in scholarly controversies. Her introductory chapter offers a useful overview of (...) Kant's general approach to practical philosophy, and she also explores and clarifies some of the main assumptions which Kant relies on in his Groundwork but defends in his Critique of Pure Reason. The book will be a valuable guide for all who are interested in Kant's practical philosophy. (shrink)
SallySedgwick presents a fresh account of Hegel's critique of Kant's theoretical philosophy. She argues that Hegel offers a compelling critique of and alternative to the conception of cognition that Kant defended in his 'Critical' period, and explores Hegel's claim to derive from Kantian doctrines clues to a superior form of idealism.
In paragraph 135 of the Philosophy of Right Hegel formulates his well-known objection to the" empty formalism" of Kant's theory of morality:"[I] f the definition of duty is taken to be the absence of contradiction," he tells us,"... then no transition is possible to the specification ..
The author of this article challenges a central thesis of Robert Pippin's book, "Hegel's Idealism": namely, that Hegel's idealism is a "completion" or "extension" of an insight first discovered but inadequately developed and appreciated by Kant. It is argued that Pippin does not establish his claim that implicit in the very idea of the transcendental unity of a perception as it is presented in the Transcendental Deduction of the "Critique of Pure Reason" is the key to a form of idealism (...) which resolves the contradictions and dualisms of the Critical philosophy. (shrink)
In Moral Literacy, Barbara Herman informs us that she will defend an ‘enlarged version of Kantian moral theory’ . Her ‘enlarged version’, she says, will provide a much-needed alternative to the common but misguided characterization of Kant's practical philosophy as an empty formalism. I begin with a brief sketch of the main features of Herman's corrective account. I endorse her claim that the enlarged Kantianism she defends is true to Kant's intentions as well as successful in correcting the objections she (...) outlines. I then argue that there is another version of the empty formalism worry Herman does not address. Not only does she not address it, but her form of Kantianism provides fuel for its fire. (shrink)
The period from Kant to Hegel is one of the most intense and rigorous in modern philosophy. The central problem at the heart of it was the development of a new standard of theoretical reflection and of the principle of rationality itself. The essays in this volume, published in 2000, consider both the development of Kant's system of transcendental idealism in the three Critiques, the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, and the Opus Postumum, as well as the reception and transformation (...) of that idealism in the work of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. (shrink)
In Nietzsche's Justice, Peter Sedgwick takes the theme of justice to the very heart of the great thinker's philosophy. He argues that Nietzsche's treatment of justice springs from an engagement with the themes charted in his first book, The Birth of Tragedy, which invokes the notion of an absolute justice grasped by way of artistic metaphysics. Nietzsche's encounter with Greek tragedy spurs the development of an oracular conception of justice capable of transcending rigid social convention. Sedgwick argues that (...) although Nietzsche's later writings reject his earlier metaphysics, his mature thought is not characterized by a rejection of the possibility of the oracular articulation of justice found in the Birth. Rather, in the aftermath of his rejection of traditional accounts of the nature of will, moral responsibility, and punishment, Nietzsche seeks to rejuvenate justice in naturalistic terms. This rejuvenation is grounded in a radical reinterpretation of the nature of human freedom and in a vision of genuine philosophical thought as the legislation of values and the embracing of an ethic of mercy. The pursuit of this ethic invites a revaluation of the principles explored in Nietzsche's last writings. Smart, concise, and accessibly written, Nietzsche's Justice reveals a philosopher who is both socially embedded and oriented toward contemporary debates on the nature of the modern state. (shrink)
In this book Peter Sedgwick puts forward a new case for viewing Nietzsche as an economic thinker, worthy to rank alongside Marx. Analysing Nietzsche's conception of economy, Sedgwick shows how it is taken by him to constitute the basic condition under which the 'human animal' developed. Economy, Nietzsche argues, endowed us with futurity: the ability to live with a view to long-term future possibilities rather than impulsively, as do other animals. Economy, in other words, is a defining aspect (...) of human behaviour, underpinning the ways in which we estimate value, relate to others and attain self-understanding. (shrink)
In response to Henry Allison's and Sally Sedwick's comments on my recent book, Kant and the Capacity to Judge, I explain Kant's description of the understanding as being essentially a "capacity to judge", and his view of the relationship between the categories and the logical functions of judgment. I defend my interpretation of Kant's argument in the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories in the B edition. I conclude that, in my interpretation, Kant's notions of the "a priori" and the (...) "given" are more complex and flexible than is generally perceived. Nevertheless, Kant maintains a strict distinction between receptivity and spontaneity, the "passive" and the "active" aspects of our representational capacities. This separates him from his German idealist successors, most notably Fichte and Hegel. Contrary to Sedgwick's and Allison's suggestions, I do not think that my interpretation tends to blur this distinction. (shrink)
In her book Kant and the Capacity to Judge, Be ´atrice Longuenesse makes two apparently incompatible claims about the status of the categories in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. On the one hand, the categories, in her words,?result from [the] activity of generating and combining concepts according to logical forms of judgment? and are thus?in no way prior to the act of judging?. On the other, they guide the unity which must be produced in the sensible manifold before any combination (...) of concepts into judgments can occur. Longuenesse?s strategy for rendering these two claims compatible is to draw our attention to the various roles the categories play as conditions of empirical judgment. This paper suggests that her arguments do not support the thesis that the categories themselves are generated out of acts of judging. Her insistence upon the priority of the capacity to judge may therefore claim more than is warranted. (shrink)
This paper explores Nietzsche’s approach to the question of illness. It develops an account of Nietzsche’s ideas in the wake of Arthur W. Frank’s discussion of the shortcomings of modern medicine and narrative theory. Nietzsche’s approach to illness is then explored in the context of On the Genealogy of Morality and his conception of the human being as “the sick animal”. This account, it is argued, allows for Nietzsche to develop a conception of suffering that refuses to reduce it to (...) modernist restitutive conceptions of well-being. Instead, Nietzsche advocates a more nuanced conception of varying degrees of health. This, it is argued, can be developed into a model that allows for a more satisfying conception of the relation between medical practitioner and patient. (shrink)
Surprisingly, when Laurence Sterne’s Yorick sets his head toward Dover, it is with no developed motive of connoisseurship or curiosity: the gentleman dandy ups with his portmanteau at the merest glance of “civil triumph” from a male servant. Perhaps we are in the world of P. G. Wodehouse, with a gentleman’s gentleman who happens, like Jeeves, to be the embodiment of all the prescriptive and opportunistic shrewdness necessary to maintain his master’s innocent privileges—but it is impossible to tell; the servant (...) utters his five words, glances his glance, and disappears from the novel. The prestige that has lent force to his misprision—or is it a sneer?—seems to belong not to a particular personality but to a position, a function , a bond between gentleman and gentleman’s gentleman that, throughout this novel, makes up in affective and class significance what it lacks in utilitarian sense. Yorick’s bond to another valet is the most sustained and one of the fondest in the novel; and, for most of the novel, the bond is articulated through various forms of the conquest and exchange of women.In the discussion ahead, I will be using the “exchange of women” paradigm taken from Claude Lévi-Strauss and, for example, René Girard and Gayle Rubin, to focus on the changing meanings of the bonds between men in a seventeenth-century play and an eighteenth-century novel.1 These discussions are part of a book-length study of what I am calling “male homosocial desire”—the whole spectrum of bonds between men, including friendship, mentorship, rivalry, institutional subordination, homosexual genitality, and economic exchange—within which the various forms of the traffic in women take place. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is associate professor of English at Amherst College. She is the author of Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire. (shrink)