“Was Kant a Racist?” with Addendum on South Sea Islanders (29 Pages) 01 May 2017 – Rejection of Slavery, Colonialism, the Inhumane Treatment of Animals, and Wanton Destruction of the Environment

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Was Kant a Racist? Can Critical Idealism Contribute to Combating Racism? With an Addendum: On South Sea Islanders in Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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From “Perpetual Peace”

“Third defining article on perpetual peace.
“The right of universal citizenship shall be limited to conditions of universal hospitality.”

[…] [H]ospitality means the right of a stranger not to be treated with hostility because of his arrival on another’s soil [….] It is not a right of hospitality to which he can lay claim […] but a right of visitation to which all men are entitled to offer themselves for companionship by virtue of the right of common possession of the surface of the earth, on which, as a spherical surface, they cannot disperse to infinity, but must finally tolerate each other [….]

If we compare this with the inhospitable behavior of the civilized, primarily trading states of our part of the world, the injustice they show in visiting foreign countries and peoples (which they consider to be the same as conquering them) is shocking. America, the Negro countries, the Spice Islands, the Cape, etc., were, at the time of their discovery, countries which belonged to no one; for they counted the inhabitants as nothing. In the East Indies (Hindustan) they brought in foreign warring peoples under the pretext of merely intended trade defeats, but with them oppression of the natives (AA VIII: 359), incitement of the various states of the same to widespread wars, famine, rebellion, disloyalty, and whatever the litany of all the evils that afflict the human race may be.

[…] The worst thing about this (or, from the point of view of a moral judge, the best thing) is that they [the Europeans] are not even happy about this violence, that all these trading companies are on the point of near overthrow, that the sugar islands, this seat of the most cruel and ingenious slavery, yield no real profit, but serve only indirectly, and that for a not very laudable purpose, namely, to train sailors for war fleets, and thus again to wage wars in Europe, and this to powers that make much of piety and, drinking injustice like water, want to be considered the elect in orthodoxy.

(AA VIII: 360) Now that the (narrower or wider) community among the peoples of the earth, once it has taken over, has come so far that the violation of rights in one place on earth is felt by all: the idea of a world civil right is not a fantastic and exaggerated conception of law, but a necessary addition to the unwritten code of both state and international law to public human rights in general and thus to eternal peace, to which one may flatter oneself to be in the continuous approach only under this condition.” (Toward Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Project AA VIII: 358-260)

„On Anthropology“

Kant labels his reflections on “Race” as “anthropology”. One of the greatest barriers to entry into Kant’s work is what I have come to call “metaphor interference” (anachronistic reading). The reader assumes that what we currently take a metaphor to mean is exactly what Kant meant by the term. One can create a long list of such terms that contribute to great misunderstanding: autonomy, freedom, synthesis, reason, pure, metaphysics, self-legislating, etc., and among these metaphors are “anthropology” and “pragmatic”.

In Reflections on Moral Philosophy, Kant calls empirical knowledge “pragmatic” (AA XIX: 284) and contrasts it with practical reason. Kant speaks of the “pragmatic” as concerned with “teaching cleverness” (Lehre der Klugheit) and rules of cleverness” (Klugheitsregeln) (AA XIX: 104), which are the direct result of “arbitrariness”/liberty (freie Willkühr), not “free will”/autonomous freedom (Wille) (AA XIX: 171). Free will (Wille) is the capacity (Anlage) of autonomous, creativity “above” the blind causality of nature. Succinctly, “pragmatic” cleverness constitutes imperatives that lead to “welfare” (Wohlfahrt). Such pragmatic imperatives apply to “what everyone wants, not what s/he should do”. (AA XIX: 104) In the Groundwork (AA IV 414 ff.), Kant distinguished between two types of hypothetical imperatives (technical and pragmatic), which in turn are to be distinguished from the categorical imperatives of practical reason.

Attention to terminology is important when one reads the Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. The “Preface” to the Anthropology spells out what he is doing in the text. The term “pragmatic” means concern with the fulfilment of personal interest, and his use of the term here is intentional to make clear that “anthropology” is not “practical reason”. His account of humanity from a pragmatic point of view is “historical” in a “broader” sense than either theoretical or practical reason (Logic AA IX: r41) and “phenomenological” in the sense of “descriptive”, not “normative”!

He acknowledges from the beginning that he is dependent upon the reports of others, that is, he is not giving his personal account of peoples, but he defends his project by insisting that “anthropology” presupposes an “understanding of humanity”. Without philosophy, “anthropology” is “nothing but fragmentary tapping in the dark without scientific understanding” (AA VII: 120). In other words: The reader must bring the insights of theoretical and practical reason as well as the reflecting judgment of aesthetics to his Anthropology – not read them out of the text. As a descriptive project, then, it should not be read as a set of moral conclusions about its subject matter. This is precisely confirmed by the far flung “negative” reports about all peoples, to which you refer, and it is important to point out that he is by no means partial to “Germans” (see for example, VII: 317-319). The Anthropology is a describing the “cleverness” that communities employ to pursue what they take to be their welfare and what the characteristic “wants” of a community are, not what the community morally should do. The latter comes not from anthropology’s pragmatic point of view but practical reason.

Revision Notes

Forward “On Anthropology” added 26 April 2020

Revised 10 April 2018 with the addition of documentation of Kant’s explicit rejection of slavery as well as rejection of colonialism, the inhumane treatment of animals, and call for the protection of the environment (page 12 and two first footnotes).

Revised 20 January 2017 with the addition of a quote (page 20 below) from the Metaphysics of Morals (AA VI, 467-468):  The statement here by Kant constitutes an explicit rejection not only of racism, ageism, sexism, power or weakness, status and prestige (e.g., aristocracy) as criteria for judging others, but it is also an implicit rejection of homophobia, nationalism, populism, and any other criteria for judging others, which are all based on merely empirical criteria of “theoretical reason” to the entire neglect of the capacities and moral significance of “practical reason.”  Thanks to Birgit Recki who cited the second of the two paragraphs of this “Remark” from the MM for a very different but equally laudable purpose in her Ästhetik der Sitten. Die Affinität von ästhetischem Gefühl und praktischer Vernunft bei Kant (Frankfurt a.M.:  Vittorio Klostermann, 2001):  255, n. 43.


Was Kant a Racist?
Can Critical Idealism Contribute to Combating Racism?

With an Addendum:  On South Sea Islanders in Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Overview: In which Kant’s comments on race are discussed in light of his philosophy of history, critiques of theoretical and practical reason, and his biological reflections on “evolution.” Humanity is seen as the “ultimate end” of nature. Although this sounds anthropocentric and suggests the justification of the indiscriminate exploitation of nature, it is manifest not by means of a culture of “skill”, but by a culture that promotes the individual’s assumption of moral responsibility for her/his decisions and actions.

Was Kant Anti-Semitic? With an Addendum on Duty (38 pages) – Revised 10 March 2020

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Was Kant Anti-Semitic?
with an “Addendum on Duty”[1]

 “It is a peculiar habit of our capacity of attentiveness to focus precisely on that which is flawed about someone else; and to do so unintentionally: to focus on the missing button on the coat of the other, or the gap in the teeth, or on an acquired speech defect and, consequently, to cause consternation in the other but also to debase ourselves in the process. – When in general it is a good thing, it is also not only proper but also wise to overlook the fault of the other and yes, to overlook even our own joy [in the matter]. However, the abstracting of this capacity involves a mental strength that can only be acquired by practice.” (Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View AA VII: 132)[2] (Trans. McG)


On this side of the Shoah, the discovery that Kant appeared to connect euthanasia with Judaism is horrific and deeply disturbing. However, with Kant nothing is as it simply appears to be. A careful reading of Kant discloses anything but a call for the physical annihilation of a social group, Jews. Kant speaks of Judaism’s voluntary (by no means from self-hatred) but gentle, spiritual death – as an historical religion, not as the violent murder of persons. He envisions that Judaism along with all other historical forms of religion will one day be renewed by a “pure” (or core) religion grounded in the dignity of all persons and a community committed to the internal commonweal of God to encourage moral effort. This God is no highest Being (ens summum) among beings but the Being of all beings (ens entium), as the unconditional condition of possibility for any and all reality and the origin of both the physical order that governs nature and the moral order that governs creative freedom. This core religion behind or above historical religion by no means removes humanity from history but is precisely what encourages humanity to exercise its incredible creative capacity in the world, responsibly.

“Critique, not Emotionless, Critical Thinking” (10 Pages) – Revised 2017, 2019

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Revised (2017/2019) version of “‘Critique,’ not ‘Criticism’” in response to Rob Jenkins’ “What is Critical Thinking, Anyway?”

Critique, Not Emotionless, Critical Thinking

When one encounters the word “critique,” one readily thinks of a negative strategy, frequently of negative dismissal, in the spirit of “criticism,” or perhaps one thinks of emotionless “critical thinking.”   As a consequence, it is easy to miss a profound difference between “critique” and “critical thinking.”  Given the difference in what each does with respect to the phenomena that initiates them, the difference is so great that one can even speak of “critique” as 180 degrees opposite to both “criticism” and “critical thinking.”

“Desiderata 2018” – 5 Pages

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Desiderata 2018

The page is blank. It turns into a “text” because there is an “animal” capable of “seeing” more than just a blank page. The page is a metaphor for a life, and this “animal’s” capacity to generate a “text” is what makes all the difference …

What follows seeks to unpack this difference in a way that enables the reader to grasp its transforming power as far more than the blind causality that, like leavening yeast, changes flour and water into a loaf of bread. This difference involves more, though, then just the individual because, as a communal project, it is grounded in dignity from which springs not the self- and social-destruction of mere self-promotion and material aggrandizement but the elevating joy of responsible creativity that improves us all. Make no mistake: The duty that accompanies dignity is no depressing weight that crushes the enjoyment of life but a call to do one’s best despite the inescapable and ineradicable limits that biology places upon us. It is precisely our imperceptible limits that make it possible for us to stretch the perceptible limits of the physical world. When we do so with a sense of insight and responsibility, we not only draw on the thrill of creativity but also commit ourselves to what makes our efforts truly worthwhile: the preservation of the material conditions of life as we creatively transform what are only merely apparent, perceptible limits of the material world.

“The Cyclops and the Philosopher’s Stone” (15 Pages) – 30 July 2017[1] – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

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The Cyclops and the Philosopher’s Stone[1]


Regardless of national, ethnic, religious, and/or gender identity, or commitment to/rejection of the natural sciences, we are all pragmatic, instrumental cyclops today.  Thankfully, we are not genetically cyclops, but we have so long ignored, and become so comfortable with blocking, our “second” eye that we are threatened with evolutionary mutation to a single eye.  With Homer’s “Cyclops” representing the mere empiricism of “opening one’s eyes” and the Bacchae Dionysian representing a portrayal of insightful rapture that is the “closing of one’s eyes” (the exact opposite to the Cyclops’ empiricism), Odysseus and Athena are taken to represent the power of pragmatic, instrumental reason over nature.  Nonetheless, the Cyclops, the Bacchae, Odysseus, and Athena are all various forms of monocularity.  In order to preserve our “second eye,” we need the “Stone of the Wise” or “Philosopher’s Stone[2]” (der Stein der Weisen) that reminds us of the importance of practical reason to complement mere empiricism and its pragmatic, instrumental reason.

Call for Papers: “Religion and Morality” – University of Cape Town – 27 Feb. – 1 Mar., 2019

Update of Presented Paper in Progress

Conference Call for Papers

Department of Religious Studies

University of Cape Town

Call for Papers

Moral and Ethical Frameworks and Performances

Convenors: Abdulkader Tayob; Andrea Brigaglia

In spite of deep-seated modernist suspicions, religions have been expected by the state and by societies to take some responsibility for morality and ethics. The close connection between moralities and religions has been recognized as an important part of social life. From Kant’s vision of religion rooted in ethics, to the challenges of globalization, ecological degradation and poverty alleviation in our time, religions are expected and often do respond with ethical values and virtues. This hope invested in religion is not always matched by social theory. Most contemporary and early modern scholars have not seen a close affinity between religion and true morality (ethics). The prevailing doxa is that the two are worlds apart. While freedom occupies an essential feature of a truly moral and ethical life, obligation and compulsion are believed to dominate religious life. The latter was characterised by very little scope for deviation and adaptation, which makes ethical choices difficult if not impossible. While closer attention to religious life has challenged these presuppositions, the prevailing prejudice is  hard to change. Religious moralities might be valued, but they are hardly regarded as truly ethical.

Recent interest in Aristotle’s virtue ethics has prompted a turn to the religious life worlds where ethics and morality are guided by a complex of beliefs, values and practices.  Theodicies (the justification for the persistence of evil) are only one among the many ways in which religious traditions frame human life on earth. Other ways of thinking about how religions frame ethics and ethical dispositions  might be conceptions of the nature of good or evil, conceptions of the human person, patterns of social and culture life that sustain moral life, or the future of the good in this world and the afterworlds. But conceptions of a moral life are not presented in clearly organized frameworks. They are embodied and lived through narratives and practices that sustain a moral and religious life for individuals and groups. And they are subtly malleable, but also resilient to winds of change.

This is a call for papers on the deep connection between religious traditions and morality as it is articulated in texts, beliefs, media, dispositions, practices, attitudes and emotions.

  • What are the conceptions of the good life and how are they formulated and framed in the foundational texts religious traditions?
  • How are ideas of religious ethics and morality embodied and sustained over a period of time. How do they meet the demands of change and challenges in political, economic or cultural contexts?
  • How are ethics and moralities sustained and transmitted through informal and formal educational projects?

If you are interested, please send a detailed summary of 1500 words to Abdulkader.Tayob@uct.ac.za  by 30 October 2018. A meeting will be planned for January 2019.



Critical Idealism’s Defense of Investment in the Liberal Arts: Précis (3 Pages)

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Critical Idealism’s Defense of Investment
in the Liberal Arts:  Précis

Doug McGaughey

Welcome to Critical Idealism!

A Critical Idealist begins by asking what are the (usually, unquestioned) presuppositions of the issue at hand.  Appropriately, in my humble opinion, the usual defense of the Liberal Arts builds on issues of change, skills, knowledge, and creativity.  However, these terms are employed as if they are self-evident.  Maybe they’re not self-evident!


Succinctly, rather than acquiring skills in order to create, we are a creating species that must acquire skills – our instincts are so lousy.  The symbolic (figurative language) and responsibility (morality) are not after-thoughts or “frosting-on-the-cake” but at the very core of what it means to be and become human.  Creativity, the symbolic, and morality all require education because they are not “natural.”

Design: A Heuristic Strategy, not a Metaphysical Doctrine (13 Pages) 11 July 2008 — Key Paper – Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019

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Because there’s only indirect access to causes, given effects can be understood to have multiple causes, and the same cause can produce multiple effects, the criterion for the evaluation of a causal explanation is neither empirical proof nor disproof. Rather, the evaluation must be in terms of the consequences of holding the cause for an adequate explanation of the event in relationship to laws of relationality necessary for the appearances. The Physico-Theological argument for design as a form of cause in nature cannot serve to give us any information about the noumenon (God) that it presupposes – certainly not any information about anthropomorphic characteristics of that noumenon. Rather, its value is to confirm our confidence in the intelligibility (the rule-governed character) of nature in contrast, for example, to the chaos of nocturnal dreams. Because all our capacities, which include theoretical (science) and practical (religion) reason are dependent upon the material conditions of experience, this criterion of intelligible necessity is important not only for the furtherance of the natural scientific enterprise but also for (moral) religion.  Drawing on pre-critical and critical writings of Kant in the spirit of H. Allison, I reject the Naturalistic reading of Kant by P.F. Strawson et al. to argue that Kant’s Critical Idealism is beneficial for an investigating of the meaning and role of design in experience without succumbing to anthropomorphic speculations about God.

Freedom! What’s It Good For? 17 Pages – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

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Freedom! What’s it good for?

In his 1979 essay “What’s wrong with Negative Liberty,”[1] Charles Taylor identifies Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts of Liberty”[2] as the archaeological heritage to which he appeals in order to engage a discussion of freedom.  However, Taylor employs Berlin’s concept of negative freedom (freedom from external interference) as the straw man for formulating an alternative notion of positive freedom to Berlin’s positive freedom.  Berlin’s positive freedom is “coercive freedom” in the sense of Rousseau’s Social Contract through which the individual subordinates her-/himself to a “higher authority” such as parents or the state in order to increase one’s, or to achieve a greater, freedom.  In contrast, Taylor’s positive freedom is not “coercive” but “purposive.”  In other words, Taylor wants to acknowledge that freedom involves not merely an alternative between radical independence and external coercion, but positive freedom is concerned with “internal” elements (the individual’s desires) that lead to our pursuing purposive ends.  For Taylor, then, Berlin’s notions of negative and positive freedom are inadequate to grasp the true character of positive freedom:  the pursuit of ends governed by our internal desires.  Because not all desires are moral, though, the desires that govern Taylor’s notion of positive freedom as “purposive” require a “second-order” reflection that invokes moral principles to govern our desires.  For Taylor, the source of these moral principles is religion.

God is Necessary to be Good (10 pages) – Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019

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Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies
Ioannou Centre
Oxford, UK
August 2, 2018

God is Necessary to be Good!


This paper proposes that, although one best avoid invoking an anthropomorphic deity, belief in God is, nonetheless, a necessary assumption for the exercising of humanity’s moral capacity.  This invokes the notion of the “good,” which will be parsed according to an amoral, a categorical, and a hypothetical good that grounds (or is necessary for) autonomous freedom’s ability to intentionally initiate sequences of events that, otherwise, nature on its own cannot accomplish, which, in turn, makes moral effort possible.  Denial of this set of themes is, of course, conceivable, but methodological skepticism’s Copernican Turn points out that such scoffing amounts to misanthropy.

Letter to a Misanthropic Idiot (5 pages) 1 May 2020

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A Letter to a Misanthropic Idiot[1]

Dear Fellow Human Being,

Please don’t get me wrong! I am not writing about the degree of your intelligence or cleverness. I am employing the word “idiot” in the etymological sense of the Greek word “idiot” (῎ιδιος), which means “one’s own, personal, and private”. Its secondary meaning is “peculiar, separate, distinct” from which is derived “strange”. Hence, I am not using idiot in the derisive sense of stupid or moron that it has come to have in English and German. I take the term’s etymology to be a call for a more nuanced analysis of the human condition.

Particularly in democratic societies, humanity thinks of itself as “free” in contrast to tyrannies, autocracies, and oligarchies. The license plate from the state of New Hampshire states: “Give me liberty or give me death!” The USA is sung of as the “sweet land of liberty” for whom “our fathers died”. What follows is an examination of freedom and liberty.

Mea culpa – Anachronistic Metaphor Interference: Synthesis as nexus and compositio 28 October 2018

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Mea culpa – Anachronistic Metaphor Interference:
Synthesis as nexus and compositio
28 October 2018

The postings on https://criticalidealism.org make no claim to perfection because the limits to reason are so ubiquitous and pervasive.  Furthermore, because the postings are (and must be) reflections stimulated by Kant’s writings, they make no claim to know what Kant “really meant.”  To make such a claim would be to succumb not only to the arrogance of hermeneutical certainty denied by the very limits to reason so central to Kant’s project but also to the illusion of the intentional fallacy.

Nonetheless, it is painful to have to acknowledge that one has made the same error that one has pointed out in the writings of other interpreters:  anachronistic, metaphor interference.  This is a label for the assumption that what a metaphor means today (or at the point in time of an interpreter’s writing) is what the metaphor meant for Kant.  Jean Paul wrote in his Vorschule der Aesthetik in 1804 in Sämmtiche Werke, Vol 42 (Berlin:  S. Reimer, 1827):  24-25 that “each language is a dictionary of faded metaphors.”   Given that all language is metaphorical, not literal, it should come as no surprise that the meaning of a term for a particular author must be arrived at through careful attention to its context of usage.  However, interpreters pro and con of Kant have acceded to metaphor interference with respect to core elements in Kant’s terminology:  a few examples are autonomous freedom, Enlightenment, a priori synthetic judgment, radical evil, Anlage  and Hang, critique, Copernican Turn, subreption, Ding an sich, Noumenon and Phenomena, regulative and constitutive ideas, “pure”/rein, Anschauung, etc.

Navigating Through Climate Change: Beware of the Metaphors

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Navigating Through Climate Change:
Beware of the Metaphors

[The following are reflections inspired by the reading of
Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen, An Inconvenient Apocalypse:
Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity
(Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2022)]

[Note to the Reader: There are no themes here that are original to this author. Their source is, for the most part, Immanuel Kant. I have merely re-figured what he con-figured. My personal definition of the ‘life of the mind’ is the expectation that one not only understands what another thinker said within the coherent context of her/his works but also knows where s/he said it. However, I have chosen not to provide citations to avoid any possible distraction from the flow of themes. One can find the relevant citations by searching my other writings.]


While by no means challenging the reality of the crisis, this author finds that Jackson and Jensen present an analysis of the origins and required response to the apocalyptic collapse of the earth’s climate that invoke key metaphors inappropriately. In agreement that the core response involves humanity acknowledging its ‘limits,’ but Jackson and Jenson treat limits only as imposing limitations on behavior. Furthermore, their account of ‘evolutionary adaptation’ is materialistically reductionistic and profiles humanity’s ‘carbon nature’ as a genetic condition driving the development of fossil fuel energy. Foremost, their materialistic reductionism treats ‘mind’ as merely a product of the brain’s synapses. The author claims that a more adequate understanding of, and response to, climate change requires careful attention to these key metaphors of ‘humanity’s limits,’ ‘environmental adaptation,’ and the ‘mind’ without succumbing to speciesism.

Everyone surely wants to be ‚on the right side of history’ – at least, mostly. When it comes to climate change, the pathway to the ‘right side’ is complicated by humanity’s limits. However, those limits include not only applying limits-to self-interest that, clearly, we must do to avoid further devastation of our planet. However, they also include limits-for that make possible experience, understanding, and responsible agency in the world. These universal limits-for precede our establishing limits-to our personal agency. In other words, to talk of limits does not mean determining merely what one ‘can’t do’ or ‘shouldn’t do.’ Paradoxically, limits are also inescapable for determining what one ‘can do’ and ‘ought’ do. In fact, were there no limits, there would be no species that could remotely expect to creatively respond to the climate crisis (or any other crisis) much less hold itself responsible for its agency.

Off-Print of “Freedom on This and the Other Side of Kant” from Proceedings of the XIIth International Kant Congress in Vienna, Austria (September 2015) – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

This abridged version of the paper “Freedom on This and the Other Side of Kant” was presented at the XIIth International Kant Congress in Vienna, Austria, September 21-25, 2015. This abridged version is published in Natur und Freiheit, Akten des XII. Internationalen Kant-Kongresses, hrsg. v. Violetta L. Waibel, Margit Ruffing und David Wagner (Berlin/Boston, 2018: 1959-1966 – Proceedings of the 12th International Kant Society Meeting at the University of Vienna, Austria (September 21-25, 2015

The unabridged version is available under “Categories: Freedom on This and the Other Side of Kant at https://criticalidealism.org

Pdf version of the Off-Print:

On the Value and Lack of Values of Artificial Intelligence (9 Pages) – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

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Presented in Prof. Otfried Höffe’s
12 January 2019


On the Value and Lack of Values of Artificial Intelligence[1]


An examination of the claims made on behalf of “artificial intelligence” (AI) that it can and will replace human rationality.  Whereas AI has the potential to be beneficial (as the case with any product of autonomous freedom), it also has the potential to be extremely destructive.  However, the core thesis of the paper is not simply one of a critique of AI by practical reason but a rejection of the materialistic reductionism on the part of the blind defenders of AI.  Already in the 18th Century, Critical Idealism pointed out that there is far more to reason than the “hypothetical” imperatives and “culture” of technical skills.  We lose humanity when we overlook the a priori synthetic structures of theoretical and practical reason, the reflecting judgment of “aesthetics,” and “pure” religion.

Original German Materials of the “Historical Reader” in David Friedrich Strauß: A Reading of His Gospel Criticism and Metaphysics

Original German Materials in the Order of Their Appearance

in the ‘Historical Reader’ for

David Friedrich Strauß, A Reading of his Gospel Criticism

and Metaphysics

Schultheß, Aufzeichnungen über die Straußische Bewegung und den 6. September 1839

Beschreibung des 6. Herbstmonats 1839 in Zürich

Paulus, Ueber theologische Lehrfreiheit

de Wette, Dr. Strauß und die Züricher Kirche

Strauß darf und soll nicht kommen!!

Strauß, Sensschreiben an die … Herren Bürgermeister Hirzel, Prof. Orelli und Prof Hitzig in Zürich

Antwort eines Laien auf das Sendschreiben des Hrn. D. Strauss an Hirzel, Orelli und Hitzig

Henne, Sendschreiben an den Großen Rath des Kantons Zürich

Meyer, Der Werth des geschriebenen Wortes an Henne

Kottinger, Doktor Strauß und seine Lehre. Ein freies Wort an die freien Züricher

Wirth, An dem Verfasser der Schrift: “Doctor Strauss und seine Lehre,” und das Zürichische Volk

Scherr, Ein freies und belehrendes Sendschreiben des züricherischen Seminardirektors an die Herren

Bericht über die Wirksamkeit des Hülfvereins zum Besten der am 6. September 3829 Verunglückten

Post-Update Project Underway

(Summer 2019)

A “Post-Update Project” has been underway here at criticalidealism.org since mid-July, 2019. All posts with an “Updated” line at the beginning have been completed.


    1. The post has been reviewed and edited.
    2. A pdf file download button has been added so that the paper is available with page numbers and footnotes. All posts are Copyright Protected over Creative Commons.
    3. A “Works Cited” page has been added at the end of (most) posts.
    4. All citations to Kant’s works have been changed to the Akademie Ausgabe (AA) convention as follows:

AA indicator, plus Volume #: Page #s (e.g., the Critique of Judgment
citation is AA V: page #(s).

This revision means that the Kant citations are not tied either to a non-Akademie Ausgabe German edition or to a particular English translation. Because the citations to Kant in the posts was most frequently to the Weischedel edition from the Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, access to the citations was limited to German readers with access to that edition. This update project allows particularly English readers to find the passages referred to in the notes. The reader will only need to find English translations with The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy Edition page numbers in the columns.

As a translator, I know painfully well that there is no “perfect” translation so that the citation to the Akademie Ausgabe allows the reader to quickly check the original German. Twenty-three volumes of the Akademie Ausgabe are available on-line at https://korpora.zim.uni-duisburg-essen.de/kant/verzeichnisse-gesamt.html

Please share with me any errors that you find! I would deeply appreciate your suggestions at dougm@mail.de

Reason Suppresses Feelings? Or Moses Mendelssohn’s Influence on Kant’s Project of Three Critiques (20 Pages) – Updated August 2019

Updated August 2019

Reason Suppresses Feelings? Or Moses Mendelssohn’s Influence on Kant’s Project of Three Critiques by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Pdf version with footnotes (rather than endnotes) and page numbers:

Originally Presented at Stellenbosch University
in Stellenbosch, South Africa,
24 April 2017
Revised 27 June 2018


Reason Suppresses Feelings?[1]
Moses Mendelssohn’s Influence on Kant’s Project of Three Critiques

Abstract.: A common claim is that the proper functioning of reason requires the suppression of feelings because feelings are a debilitating, merely subjective pathology that cloud and/or distort clear thinking. Frequently, as well, it is claimed that Enlightenment reason’s suppression of feelings is exemplified by Kant. This paper proposes to the contrary that a more appropriate understanding of the role of feelings (not emotions, generally) for Kant’s Critical Idealism, rather than being a pathological hindrance to reason, as well as an understanding of the centrality of the third Critique is served by examining Section VII of Mendelssohn’s Morning Hours – Lectures on the Existence of God. The feelings of awe and respect are positive and ubiquitous to theoretical and practical reason as they, not by their content but by their function, motivate creativity and the assumption of moral accountability for the decisions driving, and the actions deriving from, such creativity.

Studying Religion: More and Less than Mapping Territories (33 PAGES) – Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019

“Studying Religion: More and Less than Mapping Territories” by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Pdf version with footnotes (rather than endnotes) and page numbers:

 “Studying Religion:  More and Less than Mapping Territories”


Rather than portray Religious Studies by J. Z. Smith’s metaphor of mapping territories, here the metaphor is extended to cover Kant’s description of the human condition as consisting of three regions of experience: fields (Felde), territories (Böden), and domains (Gebiete). All three regions involve clarity of conceptualization.  Fields constitute regions of experience where there is conceptualization without rules (e.g., dreams, fantasies, hallucinations), territories regions where rules are possible but not universal (e.g., civic laws), and domains regions where rules are necessary and universal (e.g., nature and creative freedom). Concerned with all three, RS is grounded in the necessary conditions of possibility for experience where there is self-legislation (because imperceptible) of rules for its understanding and action. This paper contrasts this grounding in domains with eleven territories of RS. Neither a mere perspective on life nor limited to a single region of experience, RS focuses on pure religion at the core of all historical religion.

The Human Spirit: Groundwork

Co-authored with James R. Cochrane (Available as of January 2018)

Title Page, Endorsements, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, and Introduction:

Click Here

Available as Kindle e-book at Amazon.com.  The link to download the free Kindle App in order to read Kindle e-books on a PC (or other media) is


The e-book is in pdf format, which gives page numbers that make citations accurate.

The Petri Dish Only Confirms that Kant was Correct: Or Technical, Teleological, and Practical ‘Purposiveness’ in Science and Morality (15 Pages)- Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019


The Petri Dish Only Confirms that Kant was Correct by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Pdf version with footnotes (rather than endnotes), page numbers, and proper formatting of the table portraying Newton’s Laws of Motion and Kant’s Laws of General Mechanics:

Presented at: “Religion, Society, and the Science of Life” Conference at the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion of St. Anne’s College, Oxford, 21 July, 2017

The Petri Dish Only Confirms that Kant was Correct:

Or Technical, Teleological, and Practical ‘Purposiveness’ in Science and Morality[1]

“The most important issue is to know how one properly fulfills one’s place in creation and correctly understands what one must be in order to be a human being.”  (Immanuel Kant, Handwritten Comments to ‘Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime’), ed. by Marie Rischmüller [Hamburg, 1991] 36 [McGaughey translation])

“At many places my presentation would have had far more clarity, if it hadn’t needed to be so clear.”  (Immanuel Kant, Reflexion #16 von Reflexionen Kants zur Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Leipzig, Fues’s Verlag (R. Reisland), 1884):  7 [McGaughey translation])


The “Call for Papers” of our conference begins:  “’There will never be a Newton for the blade of grass,’ Kant wrote in 1784, a quarter-century before the birth of Charles Darwin, and less than a half-century before the first synthesis of an organic compound in a laboratory.”  Proof texting must be called-out wherever it occurs.  What does Kant say?  “[…] [I]t would be absurd […] to hope that there may […] arise a Newton who could make comprehensible even the generation of a blade of grass according to natural laws that no intention has ordered […].” (Critique of Judgment AA V: 400 ; emphasis added) He also said:  “We can by no means prove the impossibility of the generation of organized products of nature through the mere mechanism of nature, because […] we have no insight into their primary internal ground, and thus we cannot reach the internal and completely sufficient principle of the possibility of nature […].” (Critique of Judgment AA V: 388) Kant’s point in the third Critique:  because we directly experience only effects, not causes, we must presume that a lawful order purposefully governs theoretical reason (nature) and practical reason (morality).  In the first introduction to the third Critique, Kant writes: “The special principle of judgment is […]: Nature specifies its general laws into empirical ones, in accordance with the form of a logical system [i.e., intentionality (McGaughey)], in behalf of judgment” (“First Introduction” – Critique of Judgment AA XX: 216).  This heuristic strategy of  presumed purposiveness is incapable of proof/disproof (here we have no teleological proof of God), but without its assumption nature is “a raw chaotic aggregate” (“First Introduction” AA XX: 209), not a system, and both an understanding of nature and ourselves is impossible.  The paper proposes that reflecting (not determining) judgment (i.e., a special, internal, motivating feeling) governs, but does not ground, theoretical and practical reason to make both the natural sciences and morality (as “religion” at the core of all historical religions) possible.


Trump’s Utilitarianism: Placing the Economy First is Anti-Democratic and Immoral (4 Pages) 26 March 2020

Trump’s Utilitarianism: Placing the Economy First is Anti-Democratic and Immoral by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Pdf version with footnotes (rather than endnotes) and page numbers:

Trump’s Utilitarianism: Placing the Economy First
is Anti-Democratic and Immoral[1]

Trumps call to cease social distancing and “rev up the economy” is the most blatant confirmation of his anti-democratic and autocratic mentality. Such “Utilitarianism” claims that it seeks “the greatest good for the greatest number”. Despite the appeal to the “majority”, though, Utilitarianism is not only anti-democratic but also arrogantly immoral. It is anti-democratic because it denies the dignity owed to every citizen and treats persons as mere means for achieving “the greater good”. It is arrogantly immoral because, under the assumption that only consequences count (“we know a tree by its fruit”), it claims to know in advance what the fruits are going to be of a decision/action. Both assumptions ignore the limits to human reason and elevate the agent(s) of such decision taking to the throne of God.

„Sternenstaub und Seelenvogel“ Animationsfilm zu Analytic Theology: A Review (2.5 pages) 1 June 2020

Sternenstaub und Seelenvogel Animationsfilm zu Analytic Theology: A Review by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Pdf version with page numbers:

„Sternenstaub und Seelenvogel“
Animationsfilm zu Analytic Theology: A Review
Film Available at https://www.analytic-theology.de.devweb.mwn.de/
Hochschule für Philosophie München


A review of the Animation Film in Analytic Theology, “Sternenstaub und Seelenvogel” (“Stardust and Soul Bird”), from the University of Augsburg, the Catholic Facults of the University of Innsbruck, the Munich School of Philosophy, the Univerfsity of Regensburg, and the School of Philosophical Theology of St. George (Frankfurt a.M.).

On the So-Called Conundrums in Kant’s Philosophical Theology (37 Pages) – Updated July 2019

Updated July 2019

On the So-Called Conundrums in Kant’s Philosophical Theology by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Pdf version with footnotes (rather than endnotes) and page numbers:

On the So-Called Conundrums in Kant’s
Philosophical Theology 7

Overview: In which three conundrums of Kant’s pure religion—the good will, radical evil, and grace—are addressed, and three strategies employed for understanding the role of the afterlife in religion (noting that pure religion is concerned with the moral improvement in history of the species generally and not merely the moral improvement of the individual). We conclude with an examination of the question of Theodicy in Kant’s pure religion.

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