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The Enlightenment of SympathyJustice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today$
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Michael L. Frazer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195390667

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390667.001.0001

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Kant’s Abandonment of Sentimentalism

Kant’s Abandonment of Sentimentalism

(p.112) Chapter 5 Kant’s Abandonment of Sentimentalism
The Enlightenment of Sympathy

Michael L. Frazer (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Few today are aware that Immanuel Kant embraced moral sentimentalism at one point in his philosophical career, only to later reject it. This chapter argues that Kant's reasons for rejecting sentimentalism need not lead us to do the same. Although the later Kant is willing to endorse many emotions that enable finite creatures to better conform to duty, he nonetheless argues that no form of fellow-feeling must ever be allowed to threaten the rational self-control which he identifies with autonomy. Yet once we see sentimentalism as dependant on a harmony of all the faculties in a reflectively stable psyche, rather than advocating the slavery of reason to passion, we see that the distinction between rationalism and sentimentalism is not between the autonomy of reason and the heteronomy of feeling, but rather between two competing theories of what reflective autonomy involves.

Keywords:   Immanuel Kant, precritical, critical, inclination, affect, passion, autonomy, reason, compassion

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