Kant and the Culture of Enlightenment

By Katerina Deligiorgi

Subjects: Political Theory, Philosophy, History Of Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791464700, 260 pages, June 2006
Hardcover : 9780791464694, 260 pages, July 2005

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Table of contents

Note on the Texts Used
Introduction: A Critical Answer to the Question, What Is Enlightenment?

1. The Enlightenment in Question
Enlightenment as an "Age of Criticism"
Diderot, Rousseau, and the Tasks of Criticism
Diderot's Normative Impasse
Rousseau's Conception of Freedom and Its Problems
Mendelssohn, Reinhold, and the Limits of Enlightenment

2. The Idea of a Culture of Enlightenment
Kant's Answer to the Question, What Is Enlightenment?
A New Approach to Independent Thinking
The Culture of Enlightenment: Public Argument as Social Practice
Communication, Autonomy, and the Maxims of Common Understanding
Reason's Good Name and Reason's Public
Power and Authority: Hamann on the Immature and Their Guardians

3. Culture as a Historical Project
Kant's Attempt at a Philosophical History
The "Plan of Nature": History from a Political Perspective
Teleological Judgments of Nature and of Culture
Culture and Moral Progress: Two Perspectives on Rational Ends
The a priori Thread of History, Providence, and the
Possibility of Hope

4. Nature and the Criticism of Culture
Schiller on the Predicament of the "Moderns"
The Failures of Enlightenment
Nature Condemned: The Severity of Kantian Morality
Schiller's "Aesthetic State" and Its Criticism
Nature, Reason, and the Beginning of Culture

5. Culture after Enlightenment
Enlightenment and Its Discontents
Adorno and Horkheimer on Enlightened Thought
Foucault on the Origin of Norms
Gilligan on Mature Adulthood
Culture within the Bounds of Reason


Interprets Kant's conception of enlightenment within the broader philosophical project of his critique of reason.


Katerina Deligiorgi interprets Kant's conception of enlightenment within the broader philosophical project of his critique of reason. Analyzing a broad range of Kant's works, including his Critique of Pure Reason, the Critique of Judgment, his lectures on anthropology and logic, as well as his shorter essays, she identifies the theoretical and practical commitments that show the achievement of rational autonomy as an ongoing project for the realization of a culture of enlightenment. Deligiorgi also considers Kant's ideas in relation to the work of Diderot, Rousseau, Mendelssohn, Reinhold, Hamann, Schiller, and Herder. The perspective opened by this historical dialogue challenges twentieth-century revisionist interpretations of the Enlightenment to show that the "culture of enlightenment" is not simply a fragment of our intellectual history but rather a live project.

Katerina Deligiorgi teaches philosophy at Anglia Polytechnic University in Cambridge, England.