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Imagination in Kant's Critique of Practical Reason

Bernard Freydberg

Publication Year: 2005

With particular focus on imagination, Bernard Freydberg presents a close reading of Kant's second critique, The Critique of Practical Reason. In an interpretation that is daring as well as rigorous, Freydberg reveals imagination as both its central force and the bridge that links Kant's three critiques. Freydberg's reading offers a powerful challenge to the widespread view that Kant's ethics calls for rigid, self-denying obedience. Here, to the contrary, the search for self-fulfillment becomes an enormously creative endeavor once imagination is understood as the heart of Kantian ethics. Seasoned scholars and newer students will find a surprising and provocative view of Kant's ethics in this straightforward and accessible book.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Studies in Continental Thought


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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xii

Philosophy has the delightfully paradoxical quality that while the writing is done in solitude, every philosophical work is dialogical in many ways. This book, of course, is no exception. Imagination in Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason owes its initial impetus to my two great Kant teachers, John Sallis and the late Lewis White Beck. The...

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Note on the Text and on Page References

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pp. xiii

All page references to the Critique of Practical Reason (Kritik der praktischen Vernunft) are drawn from Kants Werke. Akademie Textausgabe, Band V. Berlin, 1968. These will read, both in the main text and in the notes, “V, page number.” Page references to the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft) are made to both editions...

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Prologue: From the Critique of Pure Reason to the Critique of Practical Reason

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pp. 1-17

Between Kant’s two “larger” critiques, the Critique of Pure Reason (884 of Kant’s pages for the 2nd edition) and the Critique of Judgment (482 pages), sits the quantitatively meager (163 page) Critique of Practical Reason. Despite the proportionally greater attention paid by scholars to the quantitatively larger critiques, it could not be clearer...

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Introduction: Weapons of War: Preliminary Reactions on the Practical in the Critique of Pure Reason

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pp. 18-45

The goal of the book is nothing less than to establish the fidelity of the interpretation, first propounded by Fichte and Schelling, more recently and controversially by Heidegger, and advanced by Sallis within his own more radical interpretive framework,1 that any judicious reading of Kant’s critical philosophy must conclude that imagi-...

Part 1. Analytic of Pure Practical Reason

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pp. 47

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One: Principles of Pure Practical Reason: Imagination and Moral “Derivation”

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pp. 49-78

In his brief but crucial introduction, Kant goes on to say that his treatment in the Doctrine of Elements will reflect this reversal. It will proceed from principles, to concepts, and only then to sensations, because the concern here is reason’s relation to the will and not to objects. Objects must have a sensible component...

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Two: The Concept of an Object of Pure Practical Reason: Imagination, Good and Evil, and the Typic

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pp. 79-83

The central move in the section entitled “The Concept of an Object of Practical Reason” requires close attention. The concepts of good and evil are not given but constructed. Guided by the moral law, imagination constructs them. The fault of all previous moral philosophy, both ancient and modern, both rationalist and empiricist, is...

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Three: The Incentives (Triebfeder) of Pure Practical Reason: Incentive Creating Imagination and Moral Feeling

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pp. 84-91

An incentive1 is a subjective ground of the determination of the will. Clearly, only the moral law itself can qualify as a moral incentive in any sense, for it is the sole incentive that is also an objective determining ground of the will. The latter must be “the exclusive and subjectively sufficient determining ground of action if [the will] is to fulfill...

Part 2. Dialectic and Methodology of Pure Practical Reason

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pp. 93

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Four: Dialectic of Pure Practical Reason in General and Imagination

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pp. 95-105

The short chapter with this particular title structures all that will follow. Its peculiar title signals its content: the phrase “a dialectic in general” refers to an unavoidable illusion that occurs when the bonds to the sensible condition to which we human beings are given over are transgressed, and reason strives to reach the unconditioned basis of...

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Five: Imagination and the Postulates of Immortality and God

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pp. 106-112

Kant’s employment of the term “postulate” here coheres with its use in the Critique of Pure Reason. There, after distinguishing his use from the use to which the term is put by mathematicians (i.e., as intuitively certain propositions), he writes, “[postulates] do not increase our concept of things, but only show the manner in which it...

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Six: Imagination and the Moral Extension of Reason

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pp. 113-117

It is clearly possible in a formal-logical sense to think the extension spoken of in the title to this section. Mere non-contradiction is sufficient for the thinkability of any proposition (Bxxvin). However, the question concerns possibility in a transcendental-logical sense, i.e.,as pertaining a priori to the possibility of experience. Clearly, only...

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Seven: Methodology of Pure Practical Reason: Images and Ecstasy

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pp. 118-123

The Methodology (Methodenlehre) of pure theoretical reason concerned itself with “the determinations of the formal conditions of a complete system of pure reason” (A707–708, B735–36). This determination concerned itself primarily with reason’s general task of holding itself within the limits prescribed by the nature of the...

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pp. 124-130

The “ever new and increasing admiration and awe” (V, 161) provoked by the starry heavens and the moral law require philosophy for direction. Without them, the former becomes the subject for astrology, the latter for fanaticism and superstition. Both require philosophy in order for that primordial wonder to be properly chan-...

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Epilogue: From the Critique of Practical Reason to the Critique of Judgment

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pp. 131-146

Both in its Dialectic and in its Methodology, the Critique of Pure Reason provided a clear textual path to the Critique of Practical Reason. In the Dialectic, the early “denial of knowledge to make room for belief” was no mere personal renunciation and affirmation. Rather, it was shown to have its roots in the nature and limits of reason itself....


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pp. 147-170


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pp. 171-174

Index of Subjects

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pp. 175-178

Index of Persons

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pp. 179-180

E-ISBN-13: 9780253111586
E-ISBN-10: 0253111587
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253346414

Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 2 figures, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Studies in Continental Thought