The Subject of Freedom: Kant, Levinas

By Gabriela Basterra | Go to book overview

2
UNCONDITIONED SUBJECTIVITY

Pure trace of a “wandering cause,” inscribed in me.

—EMMANUEL LEVINAS, OTHERWISE THAN BEING, OR BEYOND ESSENCE

Solely the concept of freedom permits us to find the unconditioned and
intelligible for the conditioned and sensible without needing to go out-
side ourselves.

—IMMANUEL KANT, CRITIQUE OF PRACTICAL REASON

Kant’s introduction of freedom in the third antinomy of pure reason is momentous.1 In this antinomy reason famously rehearses the tension between freedom and determinism, between spontaneity and receptivity, and thus the paradox whereby the thinking I of transcendental apperception must present itself as a passive empirical consciousness subjected to natural causality. If we compare this first dynamic conflict with the mathematical failure to form the idea of the world, here reason succeeds in forming a synthesis of causal linkage. And unlike the fourth antinomy, whose synthesis presupposes the transcendent idea of a necessary being unrelated to the empirical world, the third antinomy manages to form a dynamic system immanently, without having to presuppose a transcendent outside. Even if we did not take into account the obstacle Kant’s explanation of this antinomy removes for reason’s practical use by proving freedom is a non-contradictory idea, what theoretical reason accomplishes here without trespassing its bounds is im mense.

But Kant’s solution to the third antinomy has usually been considered to trespass reason’s bounds. After all, should the transcendental idea of freedom

-47-

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The Subject of Freedom: Kant, Levinas
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction - The Subject of Freedom 1
  • 1 - Negation and Objectivity- Methodological Prelude 20
  • 2 - Unconditioned Subjectivity 47
  • 3 - Causality of Freedom 66
  • 4 - Affect of the Law 91
  • 5 - Autonomy, or Being Inspired 111
  • Notes 135
  • Bibliography 183
  • Index 189
  • Commonalities 199
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