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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 16, 2008

Modern Philosophy

Günter Zöller
Pages 275-282

Pax kantiana
Kant on Perpetual Peace in Philosophy

The paper investigates Kant's usage of the legal-political symbolism of war and peace in his self-interpretation of the historical role of the critical philosophy. The focus is on Kant's late essay, "Announcement of the Imminent Conclusion of a Treatise on Perpetual Peace in Philosophy" from 1796. The essay is placed in the contemporary context of Kant's controversy with the historian and publicist, Johann Georg Schlosser, who had reduced Kant's transcendental philosophy to the mechanical operations of a "manufacturing industry for the production of mere form" and had misread Kant's moral philosophy as requiring complete cognition of nature for arriving at the formation of the categorical imperative. Kant's reply to Schlosser places the refutation of the latter's charges into the broader context of the cultural function of philosophy as an area for intellectual warfare. On Kant's view, neither dogmatic pseudo-victories nor skeptical pseudo-truces are able to assure a lasting peace in philosophical debates. Only the critical balance between the theoretical restriction of reason to possible experience and its practical enlargement to unconditional principles of action is able to pacify the world of thought into a peace of mind armed with strong arguments.

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