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Social Authority of Reason, The

Kant's Critique, Radical Evil, and the Destiny of Humankind

Philip J. SJ Rossi

Publication Year: 2005

In The Social Authority of Reason, Philip J. Rossi, SJ argues that the current cultural milieu of globalization is strikingly reflective of the human condition appraised by Kant, in which mutual social interaction for human good is hamstrung by our contentious “unsociable sociability.” He situates the paradoxical nature of contemporary society—its opportunities for deepening the bonds of our common human mutuality along with its potential for enlarging the fissures that arise from our human differences—in the context of Kant’s notion of radical evil. As a corrective, Rossi proposes that we draw upon the social character of Kant’s critique of reason, which offers a communal trajectory for human moral effort and action. This trajectory still has power to open the path to what Kant called “the highest political good”—lasting peace among nations.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY Series in Philosophy (discontinued)


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pp. v

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pp. vii-x

The first elements of the argument that this book frames on behalf of Kant’s understanding of the social authority of reason and its value for contemporary discussions in social philosophy emerged during my tenure as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities....

List of Abbreviations and English Translations

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pp. xi-xiii

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1. The Moral and Social Trajectories of Kant’s Critical Project

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pp. 1-17

During the last twenty-five years, a number of scholars have undertaken significant re-examination of Kant’s critical project within its own historical context.1 There has also been a parallel reevaluation of the import that Kant’s critical project has for a range of issues in contemporary discussions of ethics, political philosophy...

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2. The Human Place in the Cosmos I:Critique at the Juncture of Nature and Freedom

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pp. 19-39

The principal goal of this chapter and chapter 3 will be to present a general interpretive framework for understanding the aim of the enterprise that Kant names “critique.” The main thesis for which I will argue is that the critical project has a fundamentally moral trajectory, which is focused upon the proper manner for humanity both to conceive...

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3. The Human Place in the Cosmos II:Critique as the Social Self-Governance of Reason

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pp. 41-65

Chapter 2 presented three main considerations in favor of taking Kant’s critical project to have its fundamental focus on the relationship between nature and freedom. The first was the shift in Kant’s thinking about the manner in which the reality of transcendental freedom could be established; this shift led...

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4. The Social Consequences of “Radical Evil”

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pp. 67-85

In order to see the full dimensions of Kant’s account of the social consequences of radical evil, it will be particularly useful to consider the way in which Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, the text in which Kant introduces this concept, functions against the background of other philosophical...

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5. The Social Authority of Reason:The Ethical Commonwealth and the Project of Perpetual Peace

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pp. 87-111

The preceding chapter presented a case for taking Kant’s treatment of the ethical commonwealth in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason to be an explicit effort to show how the social selfgovernance of reason is to be brought to bear upon human social relationships. A key part of that case...

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6. The Social Authority of Reason and the Culture(s) of Post-modernity

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pp. 113-138

The political, social, and cultural circumstances of Kant’s eighteenth- century world were considerably different from the ones that face humanity at the outset of the twenty-first century.1 Kant’s Europe was ordered by monarchy and mercantilism, a world in which class and gender were...

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7. The Unfinished Task of Critique:Social Respect and the Shaping of a Common World

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pp. 139-172

Chapter 6 sketched out elements of an emergent culture in which the processes of globalization take place within a landscape framed by horizons that manifest the fracturing of the hitherto dominant modern understandings of what constitutes us as human. I argued that this convergence of globalization...


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pp. 173-189


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pp. 191-204

E-ISBN-13: 9780791483367
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791464298
Print-ISBN-10: 0791464296

Page Count: 218
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: SUNY Series in Philosophy (discontinued)

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Subject Headings

  • Kant, Immanuel, 1724-1804.
  • Good and evil.
  • Social ethics.
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