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Kant’s cosmological writings from the mid-1750s to mid-1760s have important implications for Kant’s concept of autonomy. A fuller understanding of Kant’s early cosmological resolution of the tension between a new mathematical science and traditional notions moral culpability and divine power sheds unexpected light upon certain underlying issues that framed his reception of the British Moralists and – above all, Rousseau –issues that continued to preoccupy Kant in the years leading up to and beyond his presentation of the principle of autonomy as the “supreme principle of morality” in the mid-1780s. And it gives rise to a number of doctrines, including the formula of universality, and the priority of morality to religion, that would remain virtually unchanged in his later writings. Kant’s cosmological experiments before and after reading Rousseau suggest that that a “political” conception of worldly interaction centered on laws of freedom may have captured Kant’s attention earlier than is generally recognized.
This chapter deals with Immanuel Kant's remarks on touch and vision into the context of his pragmatic anthropology, by considering his views of the scope, aims, and methods of that fledgling discipline. Kant supports his discussion with appeals to observation and experience that form a kind of everyday phenomenology of sensory experience. The chapter considers Kant's notion of the relation between the pragmatic and the theoretical, including his remarks that a pragmatic anthropology does not present theoretical or scholastic knowledge but focuses on worldly knowledge. Kant derived the framework for his discussion of the five external senses from his lectures on metaphysics, especially those on empirical psychology. In both empirical psychology and anthropology he categorizes the senses into those that are comparatively objective and those that are comparatively subjective: the objective senses provide more cognition, and provide occasion for reflection, but the subjective senses have more sensation than reflection.
The antiquarian controversy about the intention of Jean-Jacques Rousseau conceals a political controversy about the nature of democracy. The contemporary critics of Rousseau's praise of ignorance were quite understandably under the impression that he had denied all value to science or philosophy and that he had suggested the abolition of all learning. In accordance with the general character of the Discours Rousseau maintains the thesis that the scientific or philosophic truth (the truth about the whole) is simply inaccessible rather than that it is inaccessible to the people. According to Rousseau, civil society is essentially a particular, or more precisely a closed, society. To say that science and society are incompatible is one thing; to say that science and virtue are incompatible is another thing. The second thesis could be reduced to the first, if virtue were essentially political or social.