Kant's account of the self / Julien Wuerth.
x, 307 p. ; 29 cm.
- Local subjects:
- Penn dissertations -- Philosophy.
Philosophy -- Penn dissertations.
- As the paradigmatic Enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel Kant grounds his entire system of philosophy in his account of the self. Kant's most direct engagement with questions of the self occurs early in his career, but much of this early work remains untranslated, and many invaluable student notes on Kant's anthropology lectures were not available until 1997. Consequently, the vast Anglo-American literature on Kant's philosophy lacks a systematic study of Kant's philosophy of the self over Kant's career. This dissertation fills this gap. It considers Kant's main published works, but also the rest of Kant's recorded thought from his early and later periods. Kant ascribes to the self three main powers, the powers of representation, desire, and pleasure, each of which is a part of our intellectuality when active, and sensibility when passive. Before 1781, Kant argues that immediate consciousness of ourselves as things in themselves yields knowledge of our substantial, simple, and free nature, although he recognizes the incommensurability of this species of knowledge with that concerning phenomena, thereby ruling out inference to our immortality. After 1781, Kant still holds that we have immediate consciousness, or pure apperception, of the self as a simple and substantial thing in itself, but now he designates terminologically the previously recognized incommensurability of these conclusions with those regarding phenomena by writing about our "consciousness," not "knowledge," of the self. Although our immediate consciousness of ourselves is of being a simple substance in itself, these conclusions are wholly negative and indeterminate, and so in this sense identical to our negative conclusions regarding other things in themselves, making them merely logical forms of consciousness from which we cannot infer our immortality. This unknowability of the self extends to the moral self: both our thoughts and our actions are merely phenomenal manifestations of our real character, and so neither provides knowledge of our real character. Because our actions over our lifetime are less vulnerable than our thoughts in inner sense to self-deception, inadvertent distortion, and the problem of missing maxims, our actions over our lifetime, not our thoughts, provide us with the best estimation of our moral worth.
- Supervisor: Paul Guyer.
Thesis (Ph.D. in Philosophy) -- University of Pennsylvania, 2000.
Includes bibliographical references.
- Local notes:
- University Microfilms order no.: 9989671.
- Guyer, Paul, advisor.
University of Pennsylvania.
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