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)||8|
|Section||Enlightenment Ethics and Aesthetics in Correlation|
|Published online||08 March 2023|
Kant on the use of poetry for moral culture
Georg August University of Göttingen, Philosophisches Seminar, Humboldtallee 19, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
While in his early writings Kant offers positive evaluations of fine arts as a suitable means of moral culture, in his texts on critical moral philosophy he considers poetry an obstruction in the formation of moral character. However, in the third Critique and in the Anthropology Kant also speaks of the fine arts as having a special, vivifying, and “strengthening” effect on the human mind, which may be of some relevance to moral education. Kant’s observation here, which gives the impression of an inconsistent (or at least immature) position, demands some scrutiny in order to find an initial, preliminary answer to the question of whether (and to what extent) poetry contributes to moral culture. First, I identify Kant’s comments on poetry and, second, I present his conception of moral culture. This allows me then in the third part to consider the question of the contribution of poetry to moral culture. It becomes clear that poetry may be attributed a useful function within the framework of the Kantian conception regarding almost all aspects of moral culture. In each case, Kant presents a sophisticated position which, although it gives poetry the character of a suitable means of moral culture, is sensitive to potential risks and exaggerated expectations.
Key words: poetry / culture / character / moral disposition / anthropology
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2023
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