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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 56, Issue 1, March 2016

Tom Spencer
Pages 23-43

The Root of All Evil
On the Monistic Implications of Kant’s Religion

In Religion Within the Bounds of Reason Alone Kant claims that human beings are radically evil and that this evil is to be regarded as both freely chosen and universal. Scholars have long struggled to makes sense of this paradoxical notion. In this paper I propose that the regulative concept of the supersensible as presented in the third Critique can be legitimately extended to cover the mysterious “subjective ground” of radical evil. More specifically, I argue that the symmetry between radical evil (the appearance of law-like universality within the realm of freedom) and purposive nature (the appearance of self-determination within the realm of natural law) warrants the notion of a common supersensible principle underlying both phenomena that is neither nature nor freedom but that motivates their mutual incursions. I call this doctrine of reflective judgment “supersensible monism.”

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