Sense-Dependent Rationalism: Finding Unity in Kant's Practical Philosophy

Dissertation, University of Chicago (2017)
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My dissertation covers a number of different topics in Kant scholarship, but is driven by one central question: how do our sense-based capacities to perceive, desire, and feel relate to our capacity to reason? I take the answer to this question to be key to understanding much about Kant’s philosophical system. For topics as diverse as the role that sensation plays in practical knowledge, the character of moral motivation, the nature of evil, or Kant’s theory that we are morally required to believe in our immortality and God’s existence, I claim that the correct reading turns on a novel approach to the relation between our rational and sensitive capacities. To properly understand this relation, we must overcome the deeply entrenched thought that Kant inherits his conception of reason from the rationalists, and his conception of sense experience from the empiricists. This would be to adopt a fundamentally dualistic philosophy, on which reason and the senses are independently intelligible and sometimes even diametrically opposed. On Kant’s actual view, our capacities to perceive, feel, and desire are metaphysically interdependent with and thus not intelligible in isolation from our capacity to reason. Developing the details of this more unified position leads to satisfying philosophical accounts of a number of controversial issues in Kant scholarship that have suffered under a dualistic framework



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Jessica Tizzard
University Tübingen

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References found in this work

Anthropology from a pragmatic point of view.Immanuel Kant - 2006 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Robert B. Louden.
Additive Theories of Rationality: A Critique.Matthew Boyle - 2016 - European Journal of Philosophy 24 (3):527-555.
Two conceptions of the highest good in Kant.Andrews Reath - 1988 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 26 (4):593-619.
Kant on Moral Sensibility and Moral Motivation.Owen Ware - 2014 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (4):727-746.
Understanding and sensibility.Stephen Engstrom - 2006 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 49 (1):2 – 25.

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