Home of the Owl? Kantian Reflections on Philosophy at University

Tetsugaku. International Journal of the Philosophical Association of Japan 1:107-23 (2017)
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The focus of this paper is on Kant and on a text which has often been drawn upon when talking about the present situation of philosophy at university, namely his 'The Conflict of the Faculties' of 1798. Kant’s claims, though not applicable to the contemporary situation directly, can indeed be worked out in a way which can assign a distinct and clearly identifiable role for university-based philosophy. I need to emphasize, though, that I am not suggesting that this is the only way Kant’s thoughts in this respect can be adapted to and utilized for such an account. Quite the contrary, Kant’s text offers a manifold of highly important options here. In my article I will seek to establish the following claims: a) Kant, in his later years, which therefore amounts to something like his “mature” position, subscribed to a conception of a public use of reason which mainly referred to the Faculties of Philosophy at universities. b) Kant’s dismissal of philosophy according to the school conception of it must not be taken as a dismissal of academic philosophy altogether. Philosophy practiced at university by professionals is vital for Kant to build philosophy as a fully worked out discipline and to answer questions revolving around the issue of the compatibility of the theoretical standpoint and Kant’s own moral theory. c) Neither a) nor b) can be immediately applied to the contemporary situation we find ourselves in. Combining elements of a) and b), however, a possible route for the actualization of Kant’s ideas may open up. At least one of the functions for which university-based philosophy is uniquely qualified is the assessment of the implications of progress in the natural sciences for the conception of a moral standpoint in general, and as such for a core element of our self-understanding as rational beings.



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Wolfgang Ertl
Keio University

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References found in this work

On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Being Realistic About Reasons.Thomas Scanlon - 2014 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Justice for Hedgehogs.Ronald Dworkin - 2011 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Critique of pure reason.Immanuel Kant - 1781/1998 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Blackwell. pp. 449-451.

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