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BOOK REVIEWS 573 ans of logic; it will also be useful for logicians, linguists, historians of philosophy, and philosophers of science. For those still believing German philosophy begins with Kant, Burkhardt stresses that "Leibniz stands for another tradition of German philosophy besides Kant and German idealism, for unlike these he was also acquainted with the Latin-Roman tradition, so important for European culture..." (pp. 2o-1). Walter Redmond Universidad Aut6noma de Puebla, Mexico Rex P. Stevens. Kant on Moral Practice. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, x981. Pp. x + 188. $15.95 The argument of Stevens's book builds toward "A Kantian Moral Biography", the intent of which is to explain "the kind of life, and not just the kinds of actions, that should be expected of someone who is moral in Kant's sense of the term" (p. 127). The moral practice that emerges from this analysis is much more than a list of discrete right actions that could be endorsed by a Kantian--more even than such actions coupled with a willingness to perform them. As Stevens says, there is a "reciprocity between the actions in a life and the conception of what that whole life is about. Actions transform the conception of the goals of a whole life, and the goals of a whole life charge particular actions with a significance they would not otherwise have" (p. 128). Moral experience, then, is a dialectical process of direction-finding, the goal of which is to introduce the good will, in ever more comprehensive ways, into the world one is helping to make. But if a lifetime of personal development is the framework for explaining moral practice, then Kant's notion of such practice cannot be captured in the standard, sharp division between right action (external conformity of actions to the moral law) and virtue (an inward condition of will)however much Kant may have encouraged this sort of bifurcated thinking. If a "whole life" is the only adequate context for discussing moral practice, morality must exist in the historical nexus between motives and actions. In other words, morality is "the progressive expression in conduct of a good will" (p. 1o2). The governing principle throughout this process is of course the moral law. Stevens's main interest is in explaining how the moral law can enter into, and be the determining factor in, personal moral decisions. He focuses on the moral subject as decision-maker---disputing the notion that an abstract subject simply accepts or rejects objectively correct actions. The point of sketching out a Kantian moral biography is to show what this involves. Among other things, it involves coming to terms with the influence of habit on conduct, becoming aware of the intimate connection between freedom and honesty, and creating a moral discipline that will sensitize the agent to issues otherwise conveniently ignored. The theme of "the chains of habit" runs through much of the literature of Kant's time. Because Stevens is familiar with the variations on this theme, he is able to show that what appear to be random remarks by Kant are actually the elaboration of a critical understanding of character. This character unfolds in relation to natural 574 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 21:4 OCT 1983 inclinations, which can threaten development and undermine commitment to principles by providing resistance to arduous courses of action and by reminding the agent of familiar, agreeable alternatives. Habits are the agreeable routines one is inclined to remember when a moral course of action becomes difficult. Yet a relapse into a life of such habits is never as satisfying as one imagined it would be. Stevens compares Kant to Samuel Johnson who describes the course of those who "retreated from the heat and tumult of the way: . .. as they advanced, the flowers grew paler, and the scents fainter; they proceeded in their dreary march without pleasure in their progress , yet without power to return; and had this aggravation above all others, that they were criminal but not delighted" (p. 139). In Stevens's view this is one of three typical "pathologies of retreat" from the moral life; it is the empiricist strategy of seeking pleasure among things already...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 573-575
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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