SHS Web Conf.
Volume 161, 202312th Kant-Readings International Conference “Kant and the Ethics of Enlightenment: Historical Roots and Contemporary Relevance”
|Number of page(s)
|Kant and the History of Enlightenment Ethics
|08 March 2023
A Haskalah story: Kant and Maimon on rational faith
University of Oxford, Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA, UK
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
In 1789 Salomon Maimon sent Kant, via Markus Herz, the manuscript of his Essay on Transcendental Philosophy (Kant, 1999, pp. 291-294). A surprised Kant replied to Herz: “None of my critics understood me as well as Herr Maimon does” (Kant, 1999, pp. 311-315). Kant’s praise of Maimon makes him a singular figure in the Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment. But while the theoretical aspect of Maimon’s criticism of Kant has received increasing attention in recent years, its practical implications remain under-examined. In what follows, I use the notion of rational faith for the purposes of a tentative reconstruction of Maimon’s reading of Kant’s transcendental philosophy that brings together theoretical and practical aspects of the thought of both philosophers. Kant and Maimon shared a project of devising a form of faith that would express rational rather than religious-based morality. Kant argued for a rational moral freedom that is vouched by an infinite intellect that cannot be attributed to humans but more appropriately to God. For Maimon, the answers to the questions What can I know? and What should I do? involve a cognitive and affective process of striving to expand our finite consciousness. This process is the rational expression of God in us.
Key words: transcendental / lawfulness / rational faith / infinite understanding / affects / morality / consciousness
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2023
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