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)||16|
|Section||Enlightenment, Politics and Education|
|Published online||08 March 2023|
What can Kantian philosophy do for humanity? From Leonard Nelson to phildialogues
Independent philosopher, The Contemporary Kantian Philosophy Project; Philosophy Without Borders, Boulder, Colorado, USA
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
In this essay, I argue that broadly Kantian philosophy – by which I mean philosophy inspired by Kant’s work, but neither dogmatically restricted to Kant’s own texts nor in any way committed to Kant’s own philosophical errors or personal prejudices – is profoundly relevant to the world of today, insofar as it can promote radical enlightenment. Radical enlightenment, in turn, is daring to think, write, speak, and freely act for ourselves, not only as individuals but also collectively via our social institutions, in order to change the world for the better. This should be sharply contrasted with enlightenment lite, or shallow enlightenment, which restricts critical thinking to narrowly-defined, coercively controlled social and political norms, according to Frederick the Great’s famous dictum: “argue as much as you like about whatever you like, but obey!” In effect, then, enlightenment lite or shallow enlightenment is nothing but “free thinking” inside a barbed-wire playpen. My argument has three parts. First, from the standpoint of Kantian radical enlightenment, I critically analyze the early twentieth-century neo-Kantian philosopher Leonard Nelson’s account of Socratic dialogical method. Second, I formulate a broadly Kantian, radically-enlightened conception of philosophical conversation, phildialogues, that corresponds constructively to my critical analysis of Nelson’s account. And third and finally, I argue that contemporary Kantian philosophers not only can but should implement and practice phildialogues, for the betterment of humanity.
Key words: Kantian philosophy / humanity / Leonard Nelson / Socratic dialogue / radical enlightenment
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2023
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