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BOOK REVIEWS 357 may be seen as parts of one larger enterprise. The main theme is that the argument is meant "to establish a peculiarly practical viewpoint distinct from the theoretical that includes both pure and empirically conditioned reason" (p. 300). The Deduction is important because it shows that we must shift from a theoretical to a practical "framework" (a central notion throughout the book), and Chapters 2 and 3 have the role of showing how this can be the case despite the facts that a will must always have an object and that human wills are not entirely independent of sensible conditions. One striking implication of Benton's account is that the second Critique really has little to do with moral philosophy as this is usually conceived. This view, most explicit in his critical appendix on Beck, would regard the second Critique more or less the way A. R. C. Duncan's commentary treats Kant's Grundlegung: that is, as a metaphysical study of the relation between several human faculties rather than as the presentation of an ethical theory. Not only does Kant not attempt to justify the moral law, Benton contends, he does not even intend to explain how the moral law can be used in practice. This means that the usual interpretation (e.g., Beck, Paton, Murphy) of the section called "The Typic" must be mistaken: its aim is not to make the moral law applicable to real moral problems but, more generally, to explain "how categories of the practical understanding can be a priori subject to determination by pure reason" (p. 84). This thesis, in my opinion, is best viewed as an illuminating exaggeration. The dispute with Beck might reasonably be mediated the way T. C. Williams mediated a similar dispute between Duncan and Paton regarding the Grundlegung in his book, The Concept of the Categorical Imperative: that is, admit that Kant had multiple purposes which, sometimes without full consistency, he tried to serve at the same time. Setting aside controversial points of interpretation, about which readers will doubtless differ, the disappointing features of Benton's book for me are, first, its all too frequent acceptance of Kant's abstract terminology without adequate examination and explanation and, second, the absence of philosophical criticism of Kant's views. Kant's more difficult works, which surely include the Critique of Practical Reason, stand in need of, but rarely get, a double translation. That is, beyond a faithful rendering of Kant's German into Enghsh, they require, for adequate understanding , a second translation of the technical philosophical language into other terms on which we have a handle independently of Kant's text. In fairness to Benton, it must be admitted that this second translation is rarely attempted and in any case runs a risk of distorting the original thoughts. But until it is done, one must to some extent withhold one's praise, as well as harsh judgments, for both Kant and his commentators. Benton obviously knows his way around in Kant's works and is familiar with the leading commentaries, but he does not, I think, put us in a position to make an adequate assessment of the argument that is the main concern of his book. Perhaps, after all, this is the explanation for the second disappointing feature. Repeatedly Benton writes as if Kant had successfully accomplished all that he set out to do, and if there are points about which one might reasonably have doubts one gets little suggestion of this from his account. The contrast in this respect with Robert Paul Wolff's commentary on Kant's Grundlegung could hardly be more extreme. History of philosophy, I suspect, would profit from a compromise between the two approaches. THOMASE. HILL, JR. University of California, Los Angeles James Steintrager. Bentham. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977. Pp. 133. $11.50. The great majority of studies of Bentham begin by taking for granted and reasserting the alleged nalvet6 and inflexibility of his view of social existence and mankind in general. Bentham's inflexibility , however, does not seem to have allowed him to put forward an orderly and clear body of 358 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY thought, and it failed to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 357-359
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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