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What is Kantian Gesinnung? On the Priority of Volition over Metaphysics and Psychology in Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 June 2015

Stephen R. Palmquist*
Affiliation:
Hong Kong Baptist University

Abstract

Kant’s enigmatic term Gesinnung baffles many readers of Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason. This study clarifies the notion in Kant’s theories of both general moral decision-making and specifically religious conversion. It is argued that Kantian Gesinnung is volitional, referring to a person’s principle-based choice to live a certain way. More specifically, interpreted as principled ‘conviction’, Kantian Gesinnung is a religiously manifested, moral form of Überzeugung (‘convincing’). This is confirmed by a detailed analysis of the 169 occurrences of Gesinnung and cognate words in Religion. It contrasts with what is suggested by translating Gesinnung as ‘disposition’, which reinforces a tendency to interpret the notion more metaphysically, and also with Pluhar’s translation as ‘attitude’, which has too strongly psychological connotations.

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Articles
Copyright
© Kantian Review 2015 

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