Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Journal of the History of Philosophy: Vol. 46, No. 2, April 2008

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Journal of the History of Philosophy: Vol. 46, No. 2, April 2008

Article excerpt

No Man Is an Island: Nature and Neo-Platonic Ethics in Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, TANELI KUKKONEN

Ibn Tufayl's story of the solitary philosopher Hayy who, aided only by the power of his natural reason, comes to his own on an uninhabited equatorial island, attractively portrays the neo-Platonic worldview of the Muslim falasifah. At the same time it forces to the foreground the most trenchant problem in any intellectualist ethics. If the highest virtue consists in the unmixed contemplative life, what good can a thinker do any longer, in any more mundane context? In this article, a reading is proposed that integrates Hayy's cosmological explorations with his relations towards nature and his fellow human beings.

Religion in Hutcheson's Moral Philosophy, JAMES A. HARRIS

It is shown that belief in providence and a future state are key components of Hutcheson's account of moral virtue. Though Hutcheson holds that human beings are naturally virtuous, religion is necessary to give virtuous dispositions support and stability. The aspects of Hutcheson's moral psychology which lead him to this conclusion are spelled out in detail. It is argued that religion and virtue are connected in this way in both the Dublin writings (the Inquiry and the Essay) and the later pedagogical texts, and that, therefore, there are reasons to question claims made by James Moore to the effect that Hutcheson had two distinct philosophical "systems."

Enlightenment and Freedom, JONATHAN PETERSON

Kant's main concern in his famous essay on enlightenment is the relation between enlightenment and the political order. His account of this relation turns on the idea of the freedom of public reason. This paper develops a new interpretation of Kant's concept of public reason. First, it argues that Kant conceives of public reasoning as a matter of speaking in one's own name to the commonwealth of the public. Second, it draws on Kant's republican conception of freedom in order to develop an account of the grounds of the freedom of public reason. It argues that the state's duty with respect to public reason is an aspect of its duty to protect the independence of citizens. Contrary to what is commonly thought, this duty is not an obligation to refrain from interfering in the sphere of public reason. The state may have a positive, though limited, role to play in enlightenment.

Race, Difference, and Anthropology in Kant's Cosmopolitanism, TODD HEDRICK

This paper explores the connections between Kant's theory of hierarchical racial difference, on the one hand, and his cosmopolitanism and conceptions of moral and political progress, on the other. Todd Hedrick argues that Kant's racial biology plays an essential role in maintaining national-cultural differences, which he views as essential for the establishment of the cosmopolitan union. Unfortunately, not only are these views racist, they also complicate Kant's ability to consistently think through the prospect of the human species' moral progress. …

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