Post-Kantian European Philosophy Seminar Week 2 MT17

Post-Kantian Seminar

Immanuel Kant

Speaker: Anna Wehofsits

Title: 'Kant on Passions and Self-Deception'


Kant’s radical criticism of the passions has a central but largely overlooked moral-psychological component: for Kant, the passions promote a kind of self-deception he calls ‘rationalizing’. In analysing the connection between passion and rationalizing self-deception, I identify and reconstruct two essential traits of Kant’s conception of the passions. I argue (1) that rationalizing self-deception, according to Kant, contributes massively to the emergence and consolidation of passions. It aims to resolve a psychological conflict between passion and moral duty when in fact, it does not resolve but perpetuates this conflict. I then argue (2) that rationalizing does not necessarily aim to devalue moral duty, as Kant seems to suggest in the Groundwork. By analysing Kant’s presentation of several individual passions in the Anthropology, I demonstrate that rationalizing is rather concerned with elevating these passions and make them pass for being morally (or at least prudentially) justified.


Convenors: Dr Joseph Schear and Dr Manuel Dries

Webpage: Post-Kantian European Philosophy