The notion of the Gesinnung plays a crucial role in Kant's late moral philosophy. An individual's Gesinnung constitutes the most fundamental level of her moral character, for Kant. Moreover, the ultimate moral quality of her actions is determined in his view by whether they are done from a good or evil Gesinnung. Kant's notion of the Gesinnung, however, raises a host of questions. Most importantly, it is unclear what kind of thing the Gesinnung is. While it is tempting to interpret it as a disposition which causally determines the choices an agent makes—along the lines of an Aristotelian hexis prohairetike or a folk-psychological character trait—such an interpretation turns out to be incompatible with Kant's conception of the freedom of the power of choice (Willkür). This paper discusses these problems in light of Kant's account of the Gesinnung in his Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. I argue that we should understand Kant's notion of the Gesinnung as pointing towards a holistic conception of moral character that radically diverges from the Aristotelian and folk-psychological one.


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pp. 497-518
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