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Philosophische Zeitschrift der Kant-Gesellschaft

Ed. by Baum, Manfred / Dörflinger, Bernd / Klemme, Heiner F.

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Der Kummer der Vernunft. Zu Kants Idee einer allgemeinen Geschichtsphilosophie in therapeutischer Absicht

Arnd Pollmann1


Citation Information: Kant-Studien. Volume 102, Issue 1, Pages 69–88, ISSN (Online) 1613-1134, ISSN (Print) 0022-8877, DOI: 10.1515/kant.2011.004, May 2011

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A cursory overview of the most recent studies on Kant's philosophy of history might lead one to suspect that Kant was so confident of the moral potential of human reason that the future could only lead to human progress. But in fact Kant was very much conscious of the disheartening picture that human development presented. In the conclusion to his Conjectures on the Beginnings of Human History he writes: “The thinking person is assailed by a melancholy that can even lead to moral corruption, something of which the unthinking person knows nothing: namely a dissatisfaction with that providence that rules the course of the world.” But Kant not wish to remain in a state of “melancholy”. He sees a possible connection between melancholy and the philosophy of history. In his relevant writings Kant addresses himself directly to the threat of this despair. The horrors of history can yield a philosophical meaning. Not history itself, but rather the philosophy of history has the capacity to console us. It can “heal” that which is lacking in wholeness through human progress. And because the history of philosophy contributes to the recovery of hope and conviction, it itself becomes an important movens of history.

Keywords.: philosophy of history; teleology; antagonism of unsocial sociability; progress and enlightenment; melancholy

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