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Kant and the Culture of Enlightenment

Katerina Deligiorgi

Publication Year: 2005

Katerina Deligiorgi interprets Kant’s conception of enlightenment within the broader philosophical project of his critique of reason. Analyzing a broad range of Kant’s works, including his Critique of Pure Reason, the Critique of Judgment, his lectures on anthropology and logic, as well as his shorter essays, she identifies the theoretical and practical commitments that show the achievement of rational autonomy as an ongoing project for the realization of a culture of enlightenment. Deligiorgi also considers Kant’s ideas in relation to the work of Diderot, Rousseau, Mendelssohn, Reinhold, Hamann, Schiller, and Herder. The perspective opened by this historical dialogue challenges twentieth-century revisionist interpretations of the Enlightenment to show that the “culture of enlightenment” is not simply a fragment of our intellectual history but rather a live project.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY Series in Philosophy (discontinued)


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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p. vii

I would also like to thank Stephen Houlgate, Bob Stern, and my colleagues at APU for their support, Onora O’Neill for making available to me some of her unpublished papers, Stephen Mulhall and Tom Baldwin for their encouragement during the early stages of this project, and the students at York, Essex, and APU, where I taught some of the...

Note on the Texts Used

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pp. ix-xi

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Introduction: A Critical Answer to the Question, What Is Enlightenment?

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pp. 1-12

This book presents an argument about Kant that can also be read as an interpretation of a particular Enlightenment project. Kant’s philosophy belongs to an intellectual context in which the meaning, orientation, and possible limits of “enlightenment” were the subject of intense debate. Kant sought to answer the increasingly pressing questions...

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Chapter 1. The Enlightenment in Question

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pp. 13-53

One of the difficulties encountered when reflecting about the Enlightenment is to determine first of all what the object is. This is not just a demand for geographical and historical precision, but also, importantly, for identifying the set of ideas under discussion, the content so to speak of the term. But therein lies the difficulty...

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Chapter 2. The Idea of a Culture of Enlightenment

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pp. 55-98

Kant’s essay “An Answer to the Question, What Is Enlightenment?” is often read as a loosely argued manifesto that defends the “original imperative” of the freedom of thought.1 My aim in this chapter is to show that Kant does much more in this short essay than merely restate this familiar Enlightenment topos. What he undertakes is nothing less...

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Chapter 3. Culture as a Historical Project

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pp. 99-131

The ideal of rational autonomy spelled out in Kant’s argument concerning a public use of reason opens up a unique perspective on existing social practices of communication and participation in public argument, for these are both presupposed and viewed as in the process of developing. When Kant states that we do not “at present live in an...

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Chapter 4. Nature and the Criticism of Culture

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pp. 133-157

In the concluding paragraph of his essay on “Perpetual Peace,” Kant points at encouraging signs of political progress, arguing that “as solutions are gradually found,” the task of promoting justice and peace “constantly draws nearer fulfilment” (VIII:386, PP 130). In 1795, the same year in which this essay first appeared, Schiller published...

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Chapter 5. Culture after Enlightenment

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pp. 159-185

“In what darkness has our daylight sunk.”1 Herder uses this phrase from Lucanus’s Pharsalia to warn his contemporaries against viewing enlightenment uncritically as the summum of human achievement and aspiration. He alerts his readers to the darker incarnations of the ideals of sociability, tolerance, and intellectual independence: superficiality...


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pp. 187-230


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pp. 231-242


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pp. 243-248

E-ISBN-13: 9780791483145
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791464694
Print-ISBN-10: 0791464695

Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: SUNY Series in Philosophy (discontinued)
Series Editor Byline: Robert Cummings Neville See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 63168391
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Kant and the Culture of Enlightenment

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Subject Headings

  • Kant, Immanuel, 1724-1804.
  • Enlightenment.
  • Philosophy, Modern -- 18th century.
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