The Kantian Imperative: Humiliation, Common Sense, Politics 9781442681576

The Kantian Imperative thus demonstrates that philosophy and political theory are as relevant to contemporary events as

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Table of contents :
Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality
Part I – The Kantian Imperative
1. Kant’s Imperative Image of Morality
2. Common Sense Recognition
3. Cultivating a Kantian Moral Disposition
4. Kantian Humiliation: The Mnemotechnics of Morality
Interlogue: Implications and Speculations
Part II – The Contemporary Kantian Imperative
5. Habermas’s Kantian Imperative
6. Taylor’s Common Sense Ontology
Epilogue: The Post-9/11 Kantian Imperative
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Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy is almost universally understood as an attempt to analyse and defend a morality based on individual autonomy. In The Kantian Imperative, Paul Saurette challenges this interpretation by arguing that Kant’s ‘imperative’ is actually based on a problematic appeal to ‘common sense’ and that it is premised on, and seeks to further cultivate and intensify, the feeling of humiliation in every moral subject. Discerning the influence of this model on historical and contemporary political thought and philosophy, Saurette explores its particular impact on the work of two contemporary thinkers: Charles Taylor and Jürgen Habermas. Saurette also shows that an analysis of the Kantian imperative allows a better understanding of specific current political issues, such as the U.S. military scandal at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and of broader ones, such as post-9/11 foreign policy. The Kantian Imperative thus demonstrates that Kant’s moral philosophy and political theory are as relevant today as at any other time in history. paul saurette is an assistant professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa.

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The Kantian Imperative Humiliation, Common Sense, Politics


U N I V E R S I T Y O F TO R O N TO P R E S S Toronto Buffalo London © University of Toronto Press Incorporated 2005 Toronto Buffalo London Printed in Canada ISBN 0-8020-3882-4 (cloth) ISBN 0-8020-4880-3 (paper)

Printed on acid-free paper

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Saurette, Paul The Kantian imperative : humiliation, common sense, politics / Paul Saurette. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-8020-3882-4 (bound). ISBN 0-8020-4880-3 (pbk.) 1. Kant, Immanuel, 1724–1804. 2. Kant, Immanuel, 1724–1804 – Contributions in political science. I. Title. B2798.S28 2005 193 C2005-900775-3 This book has been published with the help of a grant from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, through the Aid to Scholarly Publications Programme, using funds provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. University of Toronto Press acknowledges the financial assistance to its publishing program of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. University of Toronto Press acknowledges the financial support for its publishing activities of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP).

To My mom, Kathryn Saurette, for cultivating my passion for justice and for teaching me to always question and debate and My dad, Phil Saurette, for passing on his love of problem solving and his deep respect for education and My fellow wanderer, Kathryn Trevenen, for inspiring me, for pushing me, and above all else, for laughing with me

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To take scandal at what is merely unconventional (paradoxon) but otherwise in itself good is a delusion (since one holds what is unusual to be impermissible as well), an error dangerous and destructive to virtue. ~ Kant, Metaphysics of Morals, 6:464 Concepts are not waiting for us ready-made, like heavenly bodies. There is no heaven for concepts. They must be invented, fabricated, or rather created and would be nothing without their creator’s signature. Nietzsche laid down the task of philosophy when he wrote ‘[philosophers] must no longer accept concepts as a gift, nor merely purify and polish them, but first make and create them, present them and make them convincing.’ ~ Deleuze and Guattari, What Is Philosophy? 4 If one concept is ‘better’ than an earlier one, it is because it makes us aware of new variations and unknown resonances, it carries out unforeseen cuttings-out, it brings forth an Event that surveys us. ~ Deleuze and Guattari, What Is Philosophy? 28

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Acknowledgments xi Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality 3 Part I – The Kantian Imperative 1 Kant’s Imperative Image of Morality 25 2 Common Sense Recognition


3 Cultivating a Kantian Moral Disposition


4 Kantian Humiliation: The Mnemotechnics of Morality Interlogue: Implications and Speculations


Part II – The Contemporary Kantian Imperative 5 Habermas’s Kantian Imperative 6 Taylor’s Common Sense Ontology

161 197

Epilogue: The Post-9/11 Kantian Imperative Notes






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Sparking new thoughts is no mean feat in itself. Cultivating new modes of engagement is more difficult still. I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by friends and colleagues who have not only sparked new thoughts for me, but have embodied new modes of engaging with the world. First and foremost, thanks to Kathryn Trevenen. Kathryn has been central to my thinking since our first intense – and hotly contested – debates about Nietzsche, Rousseau, and feminism. It is only now – ten years later – that I am truly beginning to see what she saw back then. So, while her influence is scattered liberally throughout the book, I suspect she has not been able to save me from all of the new follies I manage to produce each day. Her support, her politics, and her integrity are indispensable sources of inspiration. Thanks to the three remarkable theorists who helped to usher earlier versions of this work into being – all of whom have been more than generous with their encouragement and advice. Thanks to Bill Connolly for sparking the entire work. He continually questions the limits of political theory, and his exemplary open mode of posing questions, exploring problems, and engaging interlocutors reassures me that there are approaches to political theory that do not follow the model of the Kantian Imperative. Thanks to Jane Bennett for (1) encouraging me to further explore an initial and very preliminary examination of humiliation and Kant, (2) reading the entire work and giving extensive and valuable feedback, and, of course, (3) always being more than willing to alert me when my lists multiplied beyond good sense. Her ethical generosity and theoretical insight are a rare combination. Finally, thanks to Richard Flathman for a critical and incisive introduction to



liberalism. Our shared worry that liberalism can also become altogether too fond of common sense made working with him a rewarding process. A number of people read parts of this work in earlier and later stages and offered insights that have substantially improved it. Thanks, first of all, to Steve Johnston for the generous, detailed, and thoroughly constructive critical feedback on the entire manuscript. His comments substantially transformed several key elements of the book – not least of which was convincing me that an epilogue might be worthwhile (though I’m not sure if I answered his questions in it ...). Marc Saurette’s ease with Latin and knowledge of monastic traditions of humiliation helped me in both early and late stages of this project. Andrew Curtofello took time at a very busy time of year to pose a number of stimulating questions that convinced me to flush out and to speculate on some key questions in chapter 4 and the interlogue. Similarly, Ian Hunter’s work – and his feedback – helped me to address several key questions towards the end of the project. Thanks also to Stephen White, Bonnie Honig, the editorial board of Philosophy and Social Criticism, and anonymous reviewers at Political Theory, Philosophy and Social Criticism, and the University of Toronto Press for comments that have influenced this book in a variety of ways. The School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada, has offered an ideal venue in which to revise and complete this book. With its bilingual culture, its warm and engaging faculty, its dynamism, and its energetic student body, the school is truly an oasis of critical thinking. This project has benefited in both general and specific ways from many discussions with my colleagues (especially those in the political-thought reading group) and with my students (especially those in ‘Modern Systems of Political Thought’ and ‘Séminaire de Synthèse en Pensée Politique’). Thanks, in particular, to Suzanne Gallant for exemplary research assistance with material that ranged from the abstraction of Habermasian theory to the minutia of military legal reasoning. Thanks also to a variety of institutions that have supported the development of this book financially, including the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Ottawa, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the many friends and families who make up the web of relations that has sustained me throughout. Thanks to the Saurette and Trevenen families for simultaneously keep-



ing me grounded and pushing me to go farther. My parents, to whom this book is dedicated, cultivated in me a variety of tendencies (perhaps most important a deep respect for learning and an intense love of debate) that have profoundly shaped this book. The camaraderie and unerring good humour of my brother, Marc, and my sister, Kathleen (who is never more full of good humour than after having been woken up by an early morning bell), are huge parts of my life and have sustained and shaped me for as long as I can remember. Brenda and Neville Trevenen have welcomed me into their family with more enthusiasm and Koala Springs than I could ever have expected. My two incredible nieces, Emma and Lily, and their parents, Paul and Anna Trevenen, continue to inspire me. They remind me about not only how fortunate we are but also how much joy, progress, and affirmation is possible even in a world that has more than its share of adversity and suffering. Thanks also to my extended family: to Judy Saurette and John and Pauline Friesen, who, every time I’ve been in Toronto over the last fifteen years, have provided an unending supply of comfy beds, great food, stimulating conversation, and cultural education; and to the Western Saurettes, who, whenever I made it out to the Rockies, both welcomed me and my fellow travellers with gourmet meals, good humour, and political debate and, equally important, took the time to lead us to and guide us down the treacherous ‘locals only’ steeps. The list of friends who have hosted me, visited me, debated and challenged my ideas, introduced me to perspectives outside political thought, helped to put things into perspective, sustained my conviction in the value of intellectual work, and generally made life much richer is far too wide and deep to allow me to name everyone. However, I want to particularly thank the diverse set of JHU friends who helped me to laugh my way through the camera obscura (and many other obscuras), especially Kelly Barry, Jacquie Best, Richard Dilworth, Spenser Friel, Siba Grovogui, Vicki Hsueh, Jane Lesnick, Patrick Peel, Jimmy Schaefer, and Paul Tyler. I also want to thank a few other friends, scattered throughout the world, who were equally important to the development of this project. Thanks to the Ben-Porats (Guy, Neta, Shira, and Talia), Shane Gunster, Morgan Harker, Drew Leyburne, Salim Loxley, Shelliza Mohamed, Emma Naughton, Jim Ron, Henrik Thune, Devin Tucker, and many others for keeping me both engaged and sane. When I first began to explore the role of humiliation in Kant, a

xiv Acknowledgments

reviewer once enquired rhetorically whether it was ‘not a little odd’ and ‘not a little strange’ to suggest that there was a more complex relation between Kant and humiliation than generally thought (the implied answer being an emphatic and dismissive ‘yes’). To me it is much odder and stranger that so many people would offer – and be able to provide – so much support, advice, and assistance over such a sustained period of time. While many strands of philosophy take these relations of community for granted, I continue to find it an amazing and hopeful phenomenon that we can cultivate such complex and strong webs of mutual support. This is why, despite all my concerns about his project, I can still admire those rare moments in which Kant’s thinking escapes the logic of the Kantian Imperative and instead exhorts us not to fall into the trap of rejecting the unconventional simply because it doesn’t fit with our common sense. For sometimes the odd and the strange need be not only something about which we wonder and remark – but also something that we find wonderful and remarkable.


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Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality

The seventh step of humility is that a man not only admits with his tongue but is also convinced in his heart that he is inferior to all and of less value, humiliating himself and saying with the prophet: I am but a worm, not a man, the lowest of men and despised by the people. (PS 21) I was exalted and then humiliated and overwhelmed with confusion. (PS 87) It is a blessing that you have humiliated me so that I can learn your commandments. (PS 118) ~ The Rule of St. Benedict1

Humiliation. A sick feeling in the pit of the stomach or heart. A rush of blood to – or away from – the face. Confusion. The shattering realization that your most dearly held self-perceptions and bases of selfrespect have been torn down and ripped to shreds. ‘If embarrassment lingers on the surface of the body, humiliation is located at its deepest center.’2 A complex experience and emotion in which conceptual and cultural expectations and meanings intertwine with powerful affective and bodily forces, humiliation is not something to be taken lightly. While few, if any, modern political and moral philosophical approaches would explicitly laud its edifying value, humiliation has been viewed as a crucial element of many other traditions of social and political thought. Humiliation, for example, played an important role in medieval thought. In fact, as we can see above, the Rule that governed one of the most influential medieval monastic orders (the Rule of St. Benedict) not only viewed humility as a virtue. It also viewed humiliation as a crucial and virtuous process. To modern eyes, this is almost inconceivable. For humiliation seems to destroy the autonomy

4 The Kantian Imperative

of the modern subject. Humiliation, moreover, by definition would seem to vitiate the essential dignity and respect that the modern subject is due. So why, in Benedict’s eyes, is this process and feeling of humiliation virtuous? Why is it a blessing to be humiliated? According to Benedict, humiliation is so important because it can be crucial to the attempt to cultivate a moral disposition. For Benedict realized that humiliation is not only a state of being (in which you acknowledge a more perfect state than your own). He also appreciated that humiliation is an intensely emotional process of becoming, where a subject’s unwarranted pretensions to superior worth are painfully stripped away and unmasked as false. On Benedict’s recounting, humiliation is the process of moving from a hubristic sense of exaltation, through overwhelming confusion, to the deep feeling of unworthiness and self-despising. For Benedict, this is the key to its moral value. For humiliation destroys the subject’s pretensions to self-sufficiency. Without humiliation there is only hubris – an elevated self-conception that closes you to the call of the Lord. With humiliation, there is an intense feeling of ‘lowliness’ and ‘confusion’ from which the moral subject will look for deliverance and fulfilment in the commandments of the Lord. According to Benedict, only the intensely affective experience of humiliation ensures that our moral disposition will transcend mere negative obedience and experience a deep, reverential, and affirmative love of the laws and the holy creator.3 Humiliation is thus an indispensable element of monastic moral orders. ‘Enlightened’ modernity has tended to strongly condemn the premodern employment of humiliation as superstition and authoritarianism. Many early modern thinkers claimed, in fact, that one of the central characteristics separating the two epochs is modernity’s categorical denunciation of humiliation. Kant’s oft quoted distillation of the enlightenment ethos, ‘Sapere Aude – have the courage to use your own reason’ is often taken as the paradigmatic expression of this contrast. To be enlightened is to break free of our humiliating ‘self-incurred tutelage’ and ‘monkish slavishness’ to illegitimate metaphysics and transcendentalism.4 Kant, of course, does not completely dismiss the value of humility. He does, after all, think that it is crucial that we critically temper the hubris of speculative knowledge.5 For Kant, however, the humility of theoretical reason should not be the result of our humiliation by a higher, heteronymous power. Rather, our theoretical humility

Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality 5

should emerge from our own ability to reason critically. In the practical realm of ethics and politics, moreover, it is the subject’s autonomy, not its humiliation, that is the basis of morality. In the realm of practical reason, humiliation is antithetical to modernity and enlightenment. Spinoza, though fundamentally diverging from Kant on many other dimensions, is in total agreement with Kant on this question. In his discourse on Ethics, for example, Spinoza completely inverts Benedict’s valorization of humility and the experience of humiliation. Far from being a virtuous end, for Spinoza, humility is merely ‘pain arising from a man’s contemplation of his own impotence, or weakness.’ According to Spinoza, those (like St Benedict) who teach a morality of humiliation are clearly the enemy of enlightenment. They are ‘the superstitious, who know how to censure vice rather than to teach virtue, and who are eager not to guide men by reason but to restrain them by fear so that they may shun evil rather than love virtue.’ They ‘have no other object than to make others as wretched as themselves.’6 In Spinoza’s view, far from inspiring ethical subjects, humiliation merely cultivates ressentiment-filled beings who seek to pull down all those around them. 1. The Pervasive Tactics of Humiliation There are, of course, very good reasons to share the ethical disavowal of humiliation and hope that it is a practice we are working to overcome. For, as anyone who has ever felt humiliation knows, it is an incredibly potent and painful emotion. It is thus not surprising that many contemporary theorists view humiliation as one of the most cruel informal punitive systems of society – and that some go so far as to name humiliation as the central vice of late-modern society.7 Nonetheless, humiliation continues to accompany us. William Ian Miller, for example, shows that humiliation remains one of the most important communal modes of maintaining social order and hierarchy.8 In fact, he argues that humiliation is becoming an ever more prevalent technique of order. According to Miller, as the formal and overt social markers of status erode, social humiliation (in front of valued peer groups) becomes increasingly employed to encourage obedience without resorting to physical compulsion. Academics can certainly empathize with this view. The threat of public humiliation has always been one of the more material ways that largely symbolic professorial power and status can be mobilized to

6 The Kantian Imperative

keep students and junior colleagues in line. Consider the uncomfortable silence that accompanies the oft-heard commentator’s reply to a theoretical paper: ‘While this is certainly a unique and unorthodox idea, if you read the passages in question closely, it is clear that your explanation is not nearly as persuasive as Professor X’s authoritative view on this subject ...’ Why does this phrase often inspire downward glances and shuffling among the audience and the paper-giver? Sometimes it is because everyone realizes that Professor X’s ideas are better. Often, however, the uncomfortable silence emerges even if most people are not familiar with Professor X’s ideas. For if the commentator is a well-respected professor, the audience generally does not wait to hear why Professor X’s ideas are better. Rather, the silencing humiliation is immediate, and the implications are clear to both the questioner and the audience. The authorities have determined that the paper is not worthy of our sustained attention. The paper has pretensions to rigorous scholarship, but in fact, it is only a poor replica. Both it and its author should recognize their proper (lower) place. A pervasive fear, and utilization, of humiliation is certainly not limited to academic circles. From high-school cliques to diplomatic relations, humiliation profoundly influences the way we behave. Moreover, humiliation is not merely a haphazard social dynamic. There are clearly identifiable ‘tactics of humiliation’ that are consciously mobilized by a various actors in a variety of contexts. Consider, for example, the increasingly influential and very popular ‘tough on crime’ approach to incarceration in North America. Not surprisingly, tactics of humiliation have become central tools used by the proponents of this approach. Take, for example, the case of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the head of the Maricopa County Sheriff Office (which oversees the fourth-largest county jail system in the United States). Arpaio – the self-appointed ‘Toughest Sheriff in America’ – has become wildly popular in Arizona and a national celebrity for his ‘tough’ approach to crime. What is particularly interesting about Arpaio is that he explicitly and systematically employs tactics of humiliation and extols their virtues. He has, for example, introduced (for the first time ever) chain gangs into the Arizona penal system. Another favourite tactic has been to force male inmates to wear pink underwear and socks – and then publicly revel in the fact that these tough inmates are wearing humiliatingly non-masculine clothing (Arpaio went on national television to promote the clothing and then decided to market it nationally – selling about $500,000 worth each year).9 Most recently, he has installed live webcams so that

Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality 7

the public can tune in twenty-four hours a day to view prisoners being booked, searched, and incarcerated in the jail. These tactics serve many purposes, but the idea that prisoners must be humiliated into obedience underpins all of them. This is especially true in the case of the pink underwear as Arpaio plays on inmates’ complex relationship with masculinity and heterosexuality. By implicitly portraying them as effeminate women without the power to choose their own clothing, Arpaio seeks to humiliate the implicit claims of (many) male inmates to be tough, macho men. The implicit humiliation of their pretensions to the male gender and to a heterosexual orientation is clear for all to see (and the public can even participate voyeuristically by purchasing the underwear as gifts to mockhumiliate the receiver).10 Arpaio clearly believes not only that we can humiliate people into obedience – but that we should. Tactics of humiliation, however, are not restricted to the domestic realm of punishment. They exist at virtually all levels of social and political interaction. Tactics of humiliation are frequently central to international politics. It is a virtual truism, for example, that humiliation played a central role in the interwar period in Europe and the eventual outbreak of the Second World War. Whether or not the desire to humiliate Germany and put down its pretensions to great-power status was a conscious goal of those who drew up the terms of the Versailles Treaty, the humiliation that was experienced and articulated by important elements of the German population was a critical factor that allowed for the growth of Nazism and the Holocaust.11 More recently, the importance of tactics of humiliation have been clearly demonstrated by the actions of the U.S. military in the most recent war with Iraq. The revelations of the use of tactics of torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib are simply the most spectacular evidence of the contemporary relevance of tactics of humiliation. However, there are many other examples – from the way the U.S. administration controlled and disseminated humiliating video footage of the members of the Hussein family to the way the United States explicitly and instrumentally employed humiliating posters to crack down on Saddam Hussein supporters.12 It is also worth noting that the results of the tactics of humiliation are highly unpredictable and rarely effective. Consider the (lack of) success of Sheriff Arpaio’s tactics of humiliation. Arpaio defends and promotes the common sense idea that tougher justice, more humiliation, and less compassion should be effective in deterring criminals. The evidence,

8 The Kantian Imperative

however, does not support this contention. Rather than outpacing the falling regional and national crime rates, Arizona’s crime rate has decreased less quickly. Although violent crime rates in the western United States fell by 3 per cent in 1997 and murders fell by 11 per cent, the violent crime rates in Phoenix, Arizona, dropped by only 1 per cent. Even rates that should be directly affected by Arpaio’s tactics – for example, recidivism rates – have resolutely failed to decline. In fact, a university study of the recidivism rate of the Maricopa County jail system commissioned by Arpaio (and directed by Dr Hepburn and Dr Griffin of Arizona State University) showed that his tactics had no measurable effect on inmate recidivism. Instead, they ‘concluded that the additional hardships don’t really register any additional deterrent effect.’13 Though the result surprised common sense tough-love advocates like Arpaio, we shouldn’t find it surprising once we reflect on the logic of humiliation. For humiliation is not only a cruel model of punishment; it also fails to create any conditions that could function to motivate obedience in the long term. Consider what happens when humiliation is successful: it destroys the self-respect of the subject and leaves little basis to refashion an affirmative subjectivity. Studies by clinical psychologists have shown that shameful humiliation typically results in ‘a sense of worthlessness and powerlessness. It steers people toward denial, anger and blaming others.’14 Rather than creating conditions for a healthy respect (or even fear) of the law, it merely creates conditions of ressentiment and scapegoating. The consequences of unsuccessful humiliation can be even greater. If we accept Nietzsche’s, Spinoza’s, or even Kant’s contention that the subject is characterized by a drive for sovereignty, a conatus, or a need for self-respect and autonomy, it is not surprising that an experience of humiliation could lead to a strong reaction against the perceived humiliator once the humiliatee is no longer immediately subject to the power of the humiliator. In fact, U.S. military forces counted on this boomerang effect when they flooded Iraq with ‘humiliating’ posters of Saddam Hussein (depicting his head on a variety of Hollywood bodies, including Zsa Zsa Gabor and Elvis) that mocked and challenged Hussein’s pretensions to being a fundamentally anti-American and allpowerful figure. For the strategy was not to humiliate Iraqis into obedience; rather, the hope was that the posters would ‘taunt Hussein loyalists into showing their colours’ by ensuring that ‘the bad guys will be upset, which will just make it easier for us to know who they are.’15 They would feel humiliated but not cowed. Instead, their anger and

Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality 9

resentment would ensure that they acted out against the posters, thus allowing the U.S. military to identify and capture them. We can think of numerous other practical examples that demonstrate the counter-productive boomerang dynamics of humiliation from the re-emergence of white supremacists in the former East Germany to the contemporary dynamics in the Middle East at the beginning of the new millenium. What is clear, however, is that humiliation is a model of discipline that rarely, if ever, can inspire an affirmative ethical, moral, or civic disposition. It only teaches its subjects to obey power – an obedience that tends to disappear the moment the fear dissipates and often is transformed into vicious spirals of revenge. Which means that tactics of humiliation are not merely cruel and unusual. They are also one of the least predictable and effective modes of motivation and discipline. 2. Kantian Humiliation I will analyse and evaluate the role of humiliation in contemporary politics (especially the tactics of humiliation employed by U.S. military intelligence in Iraq in the 2003 war) in more detail in the epilogue of this book. I hope, however, that the brief examples above help to illustrate how antithetical the tactics of humiliation are to most of ‘modern’ political and moral thought. Given the cruelty of humiliation, the fact that its effects are highly unpredictable and frequently counterproductive, and the fact that it is premised on the denial and denigration of the very idea of one’s dignity and autonomy, it would seem virtually impossible to erect a political and moral system that views humiliation as a core resource and value. It is true, of course, that the work of the Marquis de Sade demonstrates that a philosophy of humiliation is not entirely impossible within modernity – and modern reason.16 Yet the near unanimous dismissal of this line of thought by most of modern philosophy shows just how allergic modern philosophy is to a justification of humiliation. Most theorists would agree, moreover, that the philosophy of Immanuel Kant would harshly critique tactics of humiliation. Given its profound defence of deontological morality, individual dignity, and autonomy, one would think that Kant’s philosophy would be resolutely clear and consistent in its absolutely disavowal of all practices and tactics of humiliation. Yet in the crucial third chapter of the first book of Kant’s Critique of

10 The Kantian Imperative

Practical Reason, humiliation makes a rather surprising appearance. As he discusses the origin and validity of the famous ‘special moral feeling’ of respect, Kant explicitly links it back to a process of humiliation: ‘The moral law unavoidably humiliates every human being when he compares with it the sensible propensity of his nature. If something represented as a determining ground of our will humiliates us in our selfconsciousness, it awakens respect for itself insofar as it is positive and a determining ground.’17 The courage to use our own moral reason, it turns out, means at least partially the willingness – and capacity – to be humiliated by a suprasensible moral law we can practically recognize but cannot theoretically know. On Kant’s telling, it is, in fact, only the experience of humiliation that can awaken the crucial moral feeling of respect and dignity. Kantian autonomy thus not only fundamentally relies on a philosophical conception of humiliation to defend its theoretical cogency. Kantian morality requires practices that actively seek to cultivate an affective experience of humiliation as well. These are, to say the least, contentious claims. The idea that humiliation is a key theoretical concept, concrete tactic, and practical experience of Kant’s practical reason runs counter to virtually every accepted political and philosophical reading of Kant. Moreover, if humiliation does play a significant role in Kant’s practical philosophy, it both raises questions about how we understand the relationship between autonomy and humiliation in modern society and philosophy and encourages us to re-evaluate the ethical validity and desirability of Kant’s (and others’) moral and political systems. This book, then, began as an attempt to answer two questions: How does humiliation function in Kant’s thinking (e.g., What is the seemingly paradoxical relationship between autonomy and humiliation in Kant’s moral and political thought)? And what effect does this have on our evaluation of Kantian moral philosophy? Answering these questions remains a major part of this project. 3. The Kantian Imperative: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality This book, however, is not simply about humiliation. For the more I learned about how humiliation functions in Kant’s project, the more I wondered why it appeared at all. Indeed, it is difficult to answer the ‘how’ question without running up against the ‘why.’ Answering the ‘why,’ however, pushed me towards a much broader reconsideration

Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality 11

of Kant’s practical project. For Kant’s use of humiliation doesn’t seem to me to be merely an error, or an anomaly, that slipped into his otherwise systematic thinking. Rather, I believe it is part of another current that accompanies – but is not subsumed by – the more famous lines of argument in Kant’s official critical philosophy. In particular, I want to argue that alongside the more famous arguments of Kant’s practical philosophy (such as the analysis of autonomy), there are other, subterranean arguments and strategies that play an equally important role in establishing and cultivating Kant’s moral system. My hypothesis is that Kant’s thinking employs the concept and cultivation of humiliation at least in part in order to resolve a series of paradoxes that result from this series of frequently overlooked commitments, resolutions, and strategies in Kant’s work. I do not want to claim that the reading offered here is the only way to interpret Kant. I do, however, want to argue that, in addition to the more ‘official’ and well-known arguments and aims, there are other drives, strategies, and tactics that are just as crucial in establishing and defining Kant’s moral and political project. I believe it is important to highlight and understand these elements both because they deepen our understanding of the complexity of Kant’s project and because we need to understand them in order to identify and evaluate its contemporary influence. What does this subterranean Kantian logic – which I will call the Kantian Imperative – consist of? While I will argue that there are several elements to the Kantian Imperative, there are two main elements that are particularly important in explaining the appearance of humiliation. They are, first, the use of a specific argumentative strategy (the appeal to common sense recognition) and, second, a deep commitment to the belief that ethics must take only one specific form (the imperative image of morality). Explaining, tracing, and interpreting these elements and their relationship to humiliation takes up much of the first half of this book. In short, I argue (a) that a deep, visceral faith in the idea that every ethical system must take the form of (what I call) the ‘imperative image of morality’ is an important – and underappreciated – motivating concern of Kant’s work; (b) that Kant’s project attempts to establish this image of morality not only through an analysis of autonomy, but even more fundamentally by creating an argumentative and rhetorical strategy that seeks to derive moral necessity from our ostensible ‘common sense recognition’ of certain fundamental precepts; and (c) that Kant’s project explores the concept, and

12 The Kantian Imperative

cultivates the affect, of humiliation when it becomes clear that neither the strategy of common sense recognition nor the analysis of autonomy will practically establish the level of moral obedience the imperative image of morality requires. It would be difficult to offer a deeper portrait of my interpretation of Kant without sliding into the detail that is contained in the following chapters. However, perhaps a brief discussion of the way humiliation functions and is linked to common sense might help to clarify and make plausible the theoretical links I have suggested above. What do we mean when we say that we feel humiliated – as opposed to feeling ashamed, guilty, or self-loathing? The distinctions are not always clear, since these affects often operate simultaneously in many situations. Moreover these and other related affects are both powerful and slippery and can be quite difficult to disaggregate in our own experience. At a minimum, however, we might say that three conditions must exist to ensure that the specific feeling of humiliation can be experienced. First, the humiliated party must have pretensions to a higher value or position which are subsequently proved as false. Think of any of the concrete examples discussed above. In every case, the humiliated party presented him/herself as (and understood him/herself to be) deserving a certain position and respect. In each case, the feeling of humiliation arose when these claims and self-understandings were forcefully denied. For example, the academic paper giver implicitly claimed (by appearing in the setting of an academic conference) that his/her research was serious, scholarly work. S/he then felt humiliated when this was ‘revealed’ as false. If the ‘humiliatee’ did not have pretensions to a higher status, however, s/he would not feel humiliated. Consider what might have happened if the German population had not internalized the prewar pretensions to great power status and a ‘rightful’ place in the sun. Many elements of the population still would have felt anger, resentment, and possibly a need for vengeance, whatever the terms of surrender. But without the prior claim to great power status, the feeling would not have been one of humiliation. The first condition of humiliation, therefore, is that the humiliated party must have pretensions to a higher value or position that are subsequently revealed as ill founded. The second condition is that this unmasking of pretensions must be made publicly known to a larger audience. Imagine that our academic paper-giver had decided on his/

Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality 13

her own, before the conference, that his/her research was not sufficiently solid and, as a result, s/he would not present the material. If s/he came to this conclusion independent of any feedback, s/he might feel guilty. s/he might even be sent into fits of self-loathing and a crisis of self-confidence. But it would not be exactly right to say that s/he felt humiliated. If s/he did feel humiliation, it would be only to the degree that s/he was worried that others would come to the same conclusion – and that s/he would be publicly exposed as a fake. Thus, the second condition of humiliation is that the unmasking of pretensions happens under the gaze of a larger audience. Thirdly, in order for this public unmasking of pretensions to be forceful enough to effectively discipline individuals, there must be a recognized, common standard of judgment among all participants, including the broader audience. Consider the example of Sheriff Arpaio’s pink underwear. Sheriff Arpaio’s tactics assume that there are (a) commonly shared standards and values (e.g., those that privilege masculinity and hetero-normativity) and (b) commonly shared conceptions of how these values must be publicly performed (e.g., men do not wear pink and any men who do are clearly effeminate and unworthy of our respect). If these values did not generally characterize the American public and the inmates of his prisons, Arpaio’s tactics would not work. Obviously, there is nothing intrinsically humiliating about pink underwear. Being forced to wear pink underwear is humiliating only if the individual and the public immediately and virtually instinctually sense that men should be masculine and heterosexual; that wearing pink is a clear sign that the wearer is not masculine and heterosexual; and that this should make the wearers feel humiliated, since they are not something they clearly should be (and pretend to be). If the humiliatee and the audience do not share this common sense, humiliation cannot function. These three conditions mean that if humiliation is to function effectively as a disciplinary force, there needs to be a normative standard of judgment and aspiration that is deeply embedded and accepted (both instantly recognized and widely respected) by all participants of a given community. For only if both the ‘humiliate’ and the humiliating agent/group share an intense respect for a common standard can the public revealing of sub-standard behaviour (or attitudes, etc) immediately re-inspire a disciplined obedience. How does this discussion relate to the subterranean logic of the Kantian Imperative traced in this book? It is related because it helps to

14 The Kantian Imperative

explain how humiliation, common sense, and a certain image of morality fit together in Kant’s moral project. Humiliation requires a community with a deeply inscribed and powerful common sense and the belief that this common sense should form the proper model for moral (and other) evaluations. It is thus not surprising that humiliation must be linked to a strong concept of common sense recognition and a certain conception of morality in Kant’s thought. How exactly are these three elements linked? On one hand, we might assume that an imperative common sense model of morality is simply a precondition – a necessary (but perhaps not sufficient) element for humiliation to function effectively. From this perspective, Kant’s project requires a concept and experience of common sense that allow for humiliation. I want to argue, however, that the logic also flows in the opposite direction. For I believe that the existence of, or yearning for, a deep and wide common sense and imperative image of morality can often inspire (while simultaneously enabling) the tactics of humiliation. It is the latter possibility that I think characterizes most occurrences of the tactics of humiliation. Humiliation is not always or simply the result of a drive to sadism, cruelty, or power.18 Rather, the exercise of humiliation tends to become possible and attractive when individuals and groups experience and understand their judgments as unquestionable and obvious common sense standards that necessarily take the form of an imperative image of morality. For once we translate certain standards into unquestioned, obvious, and normative common sense, it is easy to view anything or anyone who departs from it as deficient and deviant and thus deserving of humiliation. The offending subject should feel humiliated, since it is clear they should aspire to the common standards even though they have failed to achieve them. Moreover, the community should humiliate that person, since it is the natural and legitimate judgment of common sense (as well as one way of encouraging that subject to live up to the standards of common sense). This, at any rate, is how I will suggest humiliation functions in the subterranean logic of the Kantian Imperative. Kant’s moral project is often understood as being based on the analysis of individual autonomy, flowing, as it does, from the epistemological conclusions about subjectivity in the First Critique. In contrast, I will argue that Kant’s moral project (of establishing a specific image of morality), in fact, largely guides his overall philosophical project; that it relies heavily on a strategy of ‘common sense recognition’ to establish this image; and that, together, these elements inspire the cultivation and use of humili-

Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality 15

ation as a concept and as an affect. I will also suggest that the Kantian Imperative has highly questionable ethical consequences, which means that we should not accept it as a model for ethical and political deliberation. Kant, of course, never suggests that those who contravene the moral law should be forced to wear pink underwear. My concern, however, is that by legitimating humiliation as a central moment of moral discipline, by employing and strengthening the politics of common sense, and by making necessary an imperative image of morality, Kant’s project, despite its noble intentions, is insufficiently attentive to the risk that it might sustain and nourish cruel approaches to politics and ethics. 4. The Contemporary Kantian Imperative In the preceding pages, I have called this set of characteristics (e.g., the drive to establish an imperative image of morality, the appeal to common sense recognition, and the cultivation of humiliation) the ‘Kantian Imperative.’ Why do I make this series of philosophical strategies in Kant’s work into a proper noun? I do so because the pattern of aims, strategies, practices, and ethical consequences that make up the Kantian Imperative are reproduced, transformed, and/or contested in a range of contemporary theory. The Kantian Imperative, therefore, is not merely a subterranean logic in Kant’s thinking. It has also become a pattern that is echoed in a surprisingly wide variety of contemporary theory: from the strongest neo-Kantians to the most strident antiKantians. Kant’s legacy, it seems, is much broader than Kant’s official legacy. In this book, therefore, I also explore and challenge the influence of the Kantian Imperative – and its ethical and political consequences – on contemporary theory. For I am convinced that many types of contemporary theory have difficulty addressing some of the key ethical dilemmas of our day at least partially because they don’t first understand and challenge problematic patterns inherited from the Kantian Imperative. Demonstrating the Kantian Imperative’s contemporary influence, identifying the problems that flow from it, and suggesting how we might avoid it are therefore central concerns of the project and are the subject of the second part of the book. To illustrate the breadth of the influence of the Kantian Imperative, I examine the work of a highly regarded neo-Kantian liberal theorist (Jurgen Habermas) as well as that of a seminal non-Kantian communitarian thinker (Charles Taylor). I argue that both of these thinkers share some of the key ani-

16 The Kantian Imperative

mating concerns of, and make similar appeals to common sense as, the Kantian Imperative. I suggest, moreover, that even though Taylor and Habermas do not always explicitly mobilize the tactics of humiliation, their imperative common sense moralities lead to a variety of related ethical and political problems. 5. Outline While Kantian humiliation is where this project started, this is not a book only about humiliation in Kant. In fact, it is not even only a book about how to interpret Kant. Rather, it is a book that outlines a pattern of political thought initiated by Kant, traces its effect on contemporary theorization, and asks whether we should accept or challenge this model of ethics and politics. The book is therefore split into two parts. In part I, I offer a detailed examination of the Kantian Imperative in Kant, whereas in part II I explore the influence of the Kantian Imperative in contemporary theory by examining its role in the thought of several seminal contemporary thinkers. I also twice step back from these detailed investigations to speculate more broadly and tentatively on some of the implications these analyses might hold for political thought. Through the interlogue I pause to explore a number of further questions and issues that arise from part I. I also highlight some of the repercussions for contemporary thought in order to set the stage for the discussions in part II. The book concludes in this spirit with an epilogue in which I seek to consider the practical implications of my analysis for political and ethical thinking by applying the analysis of the Kantian imperative to practical questions of post-9/11 politics. Part I – The Kantian Imperative In the first four chapters of the book that make up part I I outline the Kantian Imperative (within Kant) in detail. Although I highlighted only the three most important aims, strategies, and practices above, there are four key elements to the Kantian Imperative: (1) a desire to ensure that we evaluate ethical and political questions through a single type of moral framework: what I call the ‘imperative image of morality,’ which views moral thought as necessarily following universal and necessary laws; (2) the use of a strategic appeal to common sense recognition in the attempt to render incontestable the Kantian imperative image of morality; (3) the employment of an argumentative sleight of hand designed to allow Kant’s philosophy to retain the appearance of

Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality 17

scepticism in the theoretical realm while securing the effects of dogmatism in the practical ethical realm; (4) the appreciation of the importance of moral cultivation and the willingness to cultivate and use the feeling of humiliation to discipline the common sense recognition of and obedience to the imperative image of morality. In chapter 1 I outline and explore the first element: the imperative image of morality. Challenging the widespread belief that Kant’s moral project flows from his sceptical epistemological investigations in the Critique of Pure Reason, I argue that Kant’s critical project is, in fact, oriented by a deep commitment to the moral goal of reducing ‘ethics’ to the imperative image of morality. This hypothesis is pursued by showing both that, architecturally, Kant’s first and second Critiques function primarily to establish this moral goal, and that Kant’s self-understanding also seems to view it as a critical goal of these two works. In chapter 2 I build on this foundation by exploring the strategies Kant uses to secure this image of morality. In contrast to the prevalent ‘morality of autonomy’ interpretation (which argues that Kant’s moral theory is developed and defended through his analysis of autonomy), I suggest that he also develops and employs the second and third elements of the Kantian imperative: covert appeals to common sense recognition and tactical slippages between theoretical modesty and practical dogmatism. Others have highlighted the role of common sense in Kant’s aesthetic theory in the Critique of Judgment and some (most notably Hannah Arendt) have attempted to use insights from the third Critique to create a contemporary political and ethical perspective. Few, however, have excavated the role that a theory of common sense recognition plays in Kant’s practical and ethical theory. In this chapter, therefore, the role of common sense in the third Critique is bypassed, and the focus is exclusively on the role that common sense plays in Kant’s practical moral theory. I outline in detail the function and importance of the appeal to common sense recognition in his work on practical reason, suggesting that this strategy, even when combined with an analysis of autonomy, fails to secure, conclusively and incontestably, Kant’s imperative image of morality. In the third and fourth chapters I argue that, in response, Kant’s thinking develops the concept, and cultivates the affective experience of humiliation in an attempt to discipline the potential subjects of its moral system. In contrast to a third prevalent reading (the formalist interpretation), which suggests that Kant’s project is radically formal and abstract, I argue that his moral project creates and relies on a variety of practices of affective cultivation not only to motivate the sensible

18 The Kantian Imperative

moral will, but also to create the very possibility of common sense recognition of the imperative image of morality. I explore these practices by examining the crucial role of humiliation and respect in Kant’s practical philosophy and conclude that his appreciation of affect, cultivation, autonomy, and humiliation is far more complex (and ethically problematic) than the formalist and other interpretations suggest. Before turning to part II, I pause for an interlogue in which, in a speculative manner, I identify and tentatively discuss a number of further issues and questions that arise from the first part. The interlogue also sets the stage for part II with an outline of a number of the conclusions and implications of the analysis in part I. In particular, the theoretical implications of the fact that the Kantian Imperative ultimately fails to apodictically secure its imperative image of morality (and thus remains deeply theoretically contestable and ethically problematic) are explored. Part II – Challenging the Contemporary Kantian Imperative The animating belief of the second part is that many contemporary political theories have been profoundly influenced by the Kantian Imperative. In particular, my claim is that a wide variety of seemingly opposed contemporary positions, in fact, rely on and reproduce similar elements of the Kantian Imperative and have inherited a variety of related difficulties and dangers. Because the contemporary Kantian Imperative is largely subterranean and has evolved and is echoed in ways that are not always obvious, the reconstruction of its influence requires detailed analyses that highlight and interpret tendencies and logics that are expressed in a diverse ways by a variety of thinkers. To be convincing, I must not simply point out a few common phrases or superficial parallels. I need, instead, to inhabit the thinking of contemporary authors and show how their overall spirit and their specific strategies parallel those of the Kantian Imperative. Rather than offer a broad overview of many theorists (which would sacrifice persuasiveness for breadth), I concentrate on two seminal thinkers in detail and leave readers to consider if similar traces might be found in other thinkers as well. To make plausible the case that the influence of the Kantian Imperative is not limited to a single type of contemporary theory, however, I have chosen to examine two prominent thinkers generally acknowledged to occupy opposite poles of the liberal communitarian debate.

Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality 19

In chapters 5 and 6, therefore, I examine the work of Jurgen Habermas and Charles Taylor in the light of the Kantian Imperative. I have chosen to investigate their thinking not only because they demonstrate the influence of the Kantian Imperative, but also because a critical excavation of their positions helps us to see the contemporary contestability of the Kantian Imperative and the importance of practices of cultivation. In chapter 5 I excavate Habermas’s contemporary articulation of the Kantian Imperative and, through an immanent and external critique of Habermas, attempt to disrupt its logic and highlight other, more promising, moments in Habermas’s thought. In chapter 6 I take a similar approach to Charles Taylor. I begin by challenging several prevalent understandings of Charles Taylor’s work and argue that Taylor’s thought might best be understood and assessed from a perspective that highlights the influence of the Kantian Imperative. As in the previous chapter, chapter 6 closes with my attempt to imagine what Taylor’s thought might look like freed from the imperative image of morality and the normative bias of common sense recognition. In the epilogue the Kantian Imperative is applied to post-9/11 politics and ethics in an effort to highlight some of the concrete and practical stakes of my analysis for political thought and judgment. While I develop an integrated argument, with each chapter building on the previous ones, some readers may find specific sections particularly relevant. Those who are primarily interested in my general interpretation of Kant’s philosophy, for example, may want to focus on the first part of the book and the interlogue. Those who are interested specifically in the role of humiliation in Kant will find the bulk of my argument in chapters 3 and 4 (though these chapters do rely on ideas developed in the first two chapters). On the other hand, readers who are more interested in the influence of the Kantian Imperative on contemporary thought will probably find the interlogue and part II of particular interest. Finally, those who are most interested in the broader theoretical and practical implications of my analysis will probably want to pay particular attention to the speculative discussions of the interlogue and the epilogue. Final Comments Before turning to the analysis of the Kantian Imperative itself, I want to make several brief comments about some of the assumptions and habits of my own perspective. First, I want to be clear about how I have

20 The Kantian Imperative

tried to critically examine and challenge the politics of humiliation, common sense, and morality. Some may assume that, because I sometimes draw on Nietzsche, Deleuze, and Foucault to challenge the Kantian Imperative image of morality, its strategies of common sense recognition, and its cultivation of humiliation, I must be a ‘deconstructionist’ who dismisses all universals and common sense a priori as the will to power. Amy Gutmann, for example, sees a real danger in what she sees as a deconstructionist approach: ‘Although deconstructionists do not deny the possibility of shared standards, they view common standards as masks for the will to political power of dominant hegemonic groups.’19 While I use the language of ‘subterranean and covert strategies’ and sometimes contrast them with the ‘official’ thought of some of the thinkers I consider, I neither assume, nor argue, that every claim to universalism is simply a grab for power disguised in normative language. In contrast, I examine the actual, concrete logic and writings of Kant’s, Habermas’s, and Taylor’s projects; I excavate the incomplete and contestable foundations of their projects; I highlight the political and ethical consequences that flow from the attempt to reduce this contestability to universality and necessity; and finally, I explore the implications of these consequences for ethics and politics. Rather than assuming the impossibility of an imperative image of morality, I show, through detailed analysis, that while all of these theorists claim imperative authority for their morality, none is actually able to establish it. Given this, I argue that we might legitimately view their claims to moral universalism as political – not because it originates from a will to power, but rather, because the consequences of these unjustified claims to moral authority are political. Second, I want to clarify the type of explanatory claims I try to make about Kant’s project. Some readers, after having read the first half of the book, might well want to ask why Kant’s philosophy insists on an imperative image of morality at all, since it leads to so many difficulties. Why do Kant’s texts present it as unquestionably necessary – even though contending models obviously existed? What drove Kant’s philosophy to outline and defend so intensively the imperative image of morality? It is tempting to speculate broadly to try to explain the origin of this need. Indeed, sometimes I suggest philosophical reasons that could help to explain the Kantian insistence that ethics be conceptualized according to the imperative image of morality (e.g., Kant’s texts assume that the imperative image of morality is the only model that

Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality 21

can guarantee consistent moral obedience). However, exploration of the deeper personal, biographical, or intellectual influences that might explain this belief and/or Kant’s attraction to the systematicity of that image of morality is not attempted here. For this book, it is not the specific origin of Kant’s faith in the imperative image of morality that is important. What is central is rather the impact that the unquestioned acceptance of the imperative image of morality has on the shape of the Kantian moral project and those contemporary projects that have been influenced by the Kantian Imperative. While I therefore consciously avoid forwarding an ‘intention-based’ interpretation of Kant, certain language used in the book may sometimes seem to veer into this territory. Sometimes, for example, I suggest that Kant (or Kant’s ‘philosophy’) ‘worries’ about the aporias and tensions highlighted by my analysis. Moreover, I also sometimes refer to Kant’s own reflections on his work (e.g., in prefaces to his books). If I am primarily interested in illuminating how the logic and strategies of Kant’s writings function (rather than explaining Kant’s own intentions), why do I sometimes use this language? I use these types of statements for several reasons. First, I use terms such as ‘senses,’ ‘worries,’ or ‘seems to suspect’ to suggest the ways in which the logics of Kant’s texts seem to react and speak to one another. I argue that a close reading of Kant’s texts does allow us to identify certain logics – sets of tactics, strategies, and guiding aims – in the ensemble of those texts. There may, of course, be multiple currents and threads in any given set of texts. Appreciating this, however, does not disallow us from showing how certain tactics, strategies, and arguments function – that is, how various currents seem to fit together and what sort of moral system they seem to create. Thus, when I suggest that Kant (or Kant’s project, or Kant’s philosophy, or the Kantian Imperative) might sense something, I am trying to suggest what the logic of those textual patterns and reflections might lead us to think (were we to accept and follow the logic of those patterns). I also use these phrases, as well as a consideration of Kant’s own commentaries on his own work (in introductions, prefaces, etc.), in order to create some common ground for debate between my reading and other, more intention-based traditions of interpretation. One last note on this project. If I do not conclude the book with a well-articulated political and ethical counter-vision to the Kantian Imperative, it is not because I am ethically indifferent or because I feel myself to be above the fray. Indeed, the idea that we need to foster eth-

22 The Kantian Imperative

ical sensibilities that depart from the Kantian Imperative model is one of the key conclusions of this book. Fully exploring and articulating such an affirmative sensibility, however, is a project in itself – a project, moreover, that is best undertaken after the ground has been cleared for it. This is one of the places where, despite all our differences, I fully agree with Kantian philosophy. For Kant’s philosophy argues that new forms of thinking and becoming can take root only after the assumptions, practices, and cultural soil of earlier systems have been identified, uprooted, and re-tilled. This book is aimed at taking that first step of identifying and challenging a powerful tradition that overemphasizes the value and solidity – and underemphasizes the danger – of tactics of humiliation, strategies of common sense, and the imperative image of morality in political thought in the hope that then we will be better able to construct an affirmative alternative.

PART I The Kantian Imperative

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Kant’s Imperative Image of Morality

I openly confess that my remembering David Hume was the very thing which many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investigations in the field of speculative philosophy quite a new direction. ~ Immanuel Kant1

Thus Kant famously remarks in the opening of the Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics. Many interpreters of Kant have taken this statement as explicit evidence that the origin of Kant’s project can be found in his appreciation of, but also his reaction against, Hume’s epistemological skepticism. A.C. Ewing, for example, suggests that Kant is here referring to his encounter with passages of Hume’s Treatise that ‘shattered his confidence’ in the possibility of rationalist a priori knowledge of the real world and led to his decade-long struggle to reconstruct a theory of knowledge neither sceptical nor dogmatic through the first Critique.2 Arendt claims that ‘we know from Kant’s own testimony that the turning point in his life was his discovery of the human mind’s cognitive faculties and their limitations, a discovery that took him more than ten years to elaborate and to publish as the Critique of Pure Reason.’3 In many scholars’ eyes, then, it was Kant’s epistemological disagreement with Hume that first sparked his ‘Copernican’ revolution in philosophy.4 Moreover, most of these interpretations further assume that the apparent chronological primacy of these epistemological questions also gives these concerns a logical primacy over Kant’s moral aims; that is, that the aims and arguments of Kant’s moral philosophy are derivative of the more ‘epistemological’ conclusions of the first Critique.

26 The Kantian Imperative

In contrast to these interpretations, I will argue instead that a very specific moral goal (that of establishing an imperative image of morality) profoundly orients Kant’s entire critical project (including the first Critique). While the Critique of Pure Reason chronologically set the stage for Kant’s critical moral project, we can better understand the logical architecture of Kant’s philosophical project if we appreciate his desire to secure an imperative image of morality. To pursue this argument, I will begin the chapter by briefly outlining the shape and prevalence of the ‘epistemological’ interpretation in philosophy and political thought. In section 2, I will then offer a contrasting interpretation of Kant’s project – buttressing it with a consideration of Kant’s own self-understanding of his project – that highlights the crucial role of moral concerns in defining the shape of his critical philosophy. I conclude the chapter by exploring the concept of an ‘imperative image of morality’ in section 3 and finally by outlining the reasons why establishing and defending such an image of morality might have appeared to have been a critical moral concern for Kant’s philosophy. 1. The Epistemological Interpretation Kant, of course, provides more than a few statements to give credence to the epistemological interpretation. In the preface to the first edition of the first Critique, Kant is explicit that it is the dangerous dialectic between the dogmatic assertions and rejections of knowledge of previous metaphysics and scepticism that motivates his critique. Consider how Kant describes the pre-critical dialectic of metaphysics and scepticism: ‘Her [metaphysics as the Queen of all sciences] government, under the administration of the dogmatists, was at first despotic. But inasmuch as the legislation still bore traces of the ancient barbarism, her empire gradually through intestine wars gave way to complete anarchy and the sceptics, a species of nomads, despising all settled modes of life, broke up from time to time all civil society.’5 According to Kant, the absence of a sufficiently critical metaphysics meant that society and science lurched from dogmatism to chaos and finally, in his age, to cynicism about the very possibility of metaphysics and reliable knowledge altogether. Kant claims that the goal of the first Critique, therefore, is to create a tribunal of reason: ‘to undertake anew the most difficult of all its tasks, namely, that of self-knowledge, and to institute a tribunal which will assure reason its lawful claims, and dismiss all groundless pretensions, not by despotic decrees but in accordance with

Kant’s Imperative Image of Morality


its own eternal and unalterable laws.’6 Such a tribunal, Kant claims, will dispel the twin dangers of dogmatic despotism and chaotic scepticism by allowing us, once and for all, to determine the limits of pure reason and give us solid epistemological grounds for theoretical knowledge. When making a historical claim about the original impetus of the first Critique, then, it does seem relatively plausible to argue that the first Critique should be primarily understood as an attempt to put scientific knowledge on more secure footing so that our substantive knowledge does not oscillate between dogmatism and scepticism. What many interpreters of Kant further suggest, however, is that the shape, assumptions, and conclusions/discoveries of the first Critique indelibly oriented the direction of Kant’s moral project. The narrative goes something like this: first, in critically resolving the antinomies of reason Kant discovers a new mode of sceptical metaphysics – one based on the double perspective of the sensible and intelligible – that allows a new form of critical, yet binding, synthetic a priori claims. This, in turn allows him to imagine the possibility of practical reason as a uniquely binding, yet non-theoretical, realm of reason that saves morality from the morass of dogmatism or relativism.7 These explorations in the first Critique are often taken to lead to a second moral conclusion. On one hand, the fact that the two-world metaphysic resides within the subject (which, as the unity of apperception, is the ultimate condition of knowledge) means that epistemology replaces ontology in the realm of theoretical reason and that this subject accrues an unprecedented epistemological value. Even more important, however, the discovery of the sensible/intelligible divide allows Kant to posit an intelligible freedom that, when combined with the epistemological centrality of the subject, gives the Kantian subject its unprecedented moral value insofar as the moral law, residing within the intelligible realm, must be understood as also residing within the subject, whose ethical decisions must therefore be internally generated and evaluated. Despite their disagreement on a variety of other dimensions, a surprising number of readings of Kant across moral and political philosophy participate in this general treatment of Kant. A wide variety of highly respected Kant scholars forward this interpretation. In his Immanuel Kant, for example, the noted Kant scholar Otfried Hoffe argues that Kant’s famous claim that he had ‘found it necessary to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith’ should be understood as Kant’s recognition that ‘pure practical reason is simply morality,’ which, in turn, is largely a deduction of the terms of freedom discov-

28 The Kantian Imperative

ered in the first Critique. According to Hoffe, in the Critique of Pure Reason ‘the traditional metaphysics of being gives way to a new metaphysics of freedom’ in which Kant’s sceptical epistemological reconstruction of metaphysics opens the door to a renewed deduction of morality/freedom on the basis of that reconstruction.8 Even Andrews Reath, in his introduction to the Cambridge translation of the Critique of Practical Reason seems to agree with this view when he states that ‘while Kant’s epistemology undermines traditional metaphysics it unexpectedly creates the possibility in principle of making assertions about what lies beyond experience, should we find sufficient grounds for doing so.’9 On Reath’s reading, it is not merely that Kant’s critical epistemology opens the door to practical reason, but that it ‘unexpectedly’ creates the possibility of practical reason – which Kant followed up in the Groundwork and second Critique. An equally impressive swathe of philosophers reproduce elements of this conception of Kant’s philosophy.10 Take, for example, one of Jurgen Habermas’s recent representations of Kant. In certain early works, Habermas’s vision of Kant appreciates the practical element of his philosophy and even suggests that Kant, like the Greeks, understood the importance of praxis.11 In recent writings, however, Habermas has tended to portray Kant as a paradigmatic instance of the philosophy of consciousness. In these works he suggests that ‘Kantian philosophy marks the birth of a new mode of justification.’ This new mode of justification attempts to analyse the transcendental conditions by proving ‘the nonsubstitutibility of certain mental operations that we always already (intuitively) perform in accordance with rules.’ In doing so, Kant founded ‘the new discipline of epistemology’ and, in fact, created a certain ‘foundationalism of epistemology.’12 According to Habermas, while Kant’s project refuses to be confined simply to epistemology, its authority is based in the necessity of its epistemological representation of the subject. The force of Kant’s project, according to Habermas, is that he not only ushered in a new mode of justification as epistemology, but that he managed to do so while still salvaging the claim to universal immutable certainty that had defined metaphysics: ‘the relation of the knowing subject to itself provided access to an internal sphere of representations, a sphere which is peculiarly certain and belongs entirely to us, and which is antecedent to the world of represented objects. Metaphysics had emerged as the science of the universal, immutable – and necessary; the only equivalent left for this later on was a theory of

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consciousness that states the necessary subjective conditions for the objectivity of universal synthetic judgments a priori.’ On Habermas’s reading, Kant’s philosophical project is founded on the discovery or creation of a knowing subject whose universality allows it to guarantee the universality and necessity of certain synthetic judgments a priori. Only if we understand Kant’s project as primarily a philosophy of consciousness, Habermas suggests, ‘is it also possible to explain Kant’s ambiguous relationship to metaphysics as well as the change in meaning that this term undergoes at the hands of Kant’s critique of reason.’13 In Habermas’s more recent views, then, Kant’s philosophy should be understood as issuing from and grounded by an epistemological conception of the subject. Political theorists are no less invested in this conception of Kant’s project. Michael Sandel, for example, explicitly argues that the basis of Kant’s (and ultimately, Rawls’s) moral project is a certain conception of the autonomous subject capable of giving itself pure practical laws by its own reason. He suggests, moreover, that this conception of the subject is largely the result of Kant’s transcendental deductions in the first Critique – in particular, Kant’s ‘epistemological [enquiries] into the presuppositions of self knowledge.’ Sandel argues that Kant’s model of the transcendental subject (which eventually, Sandel contends, grounds Rawls’s ethics of an unencumbered self) is primarily derived from the recognition, in the first Critique, that ‘I cannot know everything there is to know about myself just by looking or introspecting’ and the eventual conclusion that ‘we must presume something further’ – the subject – ‘if we are to make sense of self-knowledge at all.’ Sandel claims that Kant’s transcendental deduction of the autonomous subject is then used to forward a particular vision of morality as deontological ethics. The first Critique makes ‘the notion of a subject prior to and independent of experience, such as the deontological ethic requires, appear not only possible but indispensable, a necessary presupposition of the possibility of self-knowledge and of freedom.’ Kant’s argument, Sandel asserts, therefore ‘leads from the epistemological argument to a further, practical argument for the [moral] priority of the subject.’14 For Sandel, then, the critical epistemological metaphysics of Kant’s first Critique both defines the contours of Kant’s moral project and then, by injecting epistemological necessity and ethical freedom into the independent subject, grounds the infinite value of the individual and her right to unencumbered ethical choice. This is why Sandel spends so much energy challenging this theoretical presentation of the

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subject and much less time addressing Kant’s and Rawls’s other substantive arguments (e.g., Kant’s reliance on common sense and his rational faith). All of these engagements with Kant’s thought are premised on the idea that we need to start with Kant’s epistemological investigations of the first Critique, since they define, structure, and ultimately support the rest of his moral project. I certainly agree that Kant’s critical epistemological metaphysics support his moral project. But I am much less confident that they define and structure it so strictly that we must give it primacy when we interpret Kant’s overall philosophy – especially in the light of his frequent statements concerning the supremacy of practical over theoretical reason. In contrast to the epistemological reading of Kant, I want to suggest (a) that the aims of the first Critique are already oriented and defined by a commitment to an imperative image of morality and (b) that this understanding is actually more in line with Kant’s own retrospective evaluation of the first Critique and thus makes comprehensible (in a way the epistemological reading cannot) Kant’s later comments about the place of theoretical reason and the first Critique in his project. 2. The Moral Aim of the Critique of Pure Reason Let us return to the question of Kant’s own understanding of the first Critique. As we saw earlier, Kant seems to give credence to the historical, and perhaps logical, primacy of the first Critique in the preface to the first edition. It was, after all, the battle between scientific schools of thought and the periodic reappearance of scepticism in response that Kant suggests prompted his critical philosophical project. Yet it is interesting that his criticism of this situation is not primarily that this cycle has failed to advance knowledge (although that is part of it). Rather, Kant evaluates the influence of metaphysics and scepticism in political and moral terms. Dogmatism must be overcome not primarily because it is untruthful, but rather because it is ‘despotic,’ because it ‘still bore traces of the ancient barbarism,’ and because, ultimately, it leads to anarchy.15 The danger Kant sees in scepticism is equally political. It is not untruth, but rather scepticism’s disgust with ‘all settled modes of life’ that ‘broke up from time to time all civil society’ that led Kant to search for another, more secure ground beyond both dogmatism and scepticism. Kant’s language, far from demonstrating an exclusively and carefully circumscribed epistemological concern with

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the logical limits of theoretical reason for its own sake, intrinsically links these interests to broader political, social, and moral concerns even in the first edition of the first Critique.16 This suggests that theoretical and practical motives are already inextricably linked, even in the beginning of the first Critique. His somewhat nonchalant reflections on the devastating theoretical conclusions of the first Critique further suggest that Kant’s theoretical critique was already conceived of as serving larger practical aims. Recall, for example, how, in the Transcendental Doctrine of Method, he reflects on what has been achieved so far. He explicitly recognizes that the result of the critique of theoretical reason is to destroy theoretical reason’s pretensions to pure metaphysical knowledge and the right to judge on metaphysical and moral matters. According to Kant, ‘the greatest and perhaps sole use of all philosophy of pure reason is therefore only negative; since it serves not as an organon for the extension but as a discipline for the limitation of pure reason and, instead of discovering truth, has only the modest merit of guarding against error.’17 If we put all our confidence in theoretical reason and define reason exclusively through its theoretical manifestation (as Kant thinks Hume did), this conclusion is devastating. It is, according to Kant, ‘humiliating to human reason that it achieves nothing in its pure employment, and indeed stands in need of a discipline to check its extravagances, and to guard it against the deceptions which arise therefrom.’ For from a Humean perspective, this leaves us with nothing but superstition, interest, and custom to help us to determine our moral and political order. For Kant, however (in a move that will be echoed by his practical philosophy), it is precisely this humiliation of theoretical reason that leads from despair to hope. Rather than losing faith as a result of the limits of pure speculative theory, our ‘reason is assured and gains self-confidence, on finding that it itself can and must apply this discipline and that it is not called upon to submit to any outside censorship.’18 Why does reason gain in self-confidence? For the critique of pure theoretical reason allows reason to recognize and be guided by a pure practical interest in the moral law. It is not surprising, then, that in reflecting on the importance of his critique of theoretical reason as early as the preface to the Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (published two years after the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason), Kant begins to make explicit the idea that his critique of metaphysics, and his desire to put metaphysics on a sure

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footing, is motivated, or at least guided, by practical moral interests more important than simple epistemological concerns. In this work, Kant claims that the demand for metaphysics is understandable and legitimate ‘since the interests of human reason in general are intimately interwoven with it.’19 Less ambiguous than the metaphorical dramatizations of the preface to the first edition, Kant here explicitly states that his pursuit of the self-critique of reason is motivated and guided by its relationship to the ‘interests of human reason in general.’ But what does Kant mean by ‘the interests of human reason in general’? On one hand, the epistemological interpretation might understand ‘the interests of reason in general’ as referring primarily to the interest of human reason in knowledge and the exercise of its theoretical powers in completing its desire to formulate an exhaustive and complete conception of our experience – natural and metaphysical alike. After all, in Kant’s words, reason is ‘impelled by a tendency of its nature to go out beyond the field of its empirical employment and to venture in a pure employment, by means of ideas alone, to the utmost limits of all knowledge and not to be satisfied save through the completion of its course in [the apprehension] of a self-subsistent systematic whole.’20 As the energy and principle guiding and compelling the search for theoretical knowledge, this natural tendency is a legitimate interest of pure reason since it allows the comprehension of the laws of nature. As a compulsion that pushes reason to extend itself into the realm of speculative illusion, however, it is no less legitimate. Yet Kant is very specific as to why this excessively zealous interest – which leads theoretical reason to overstep its legitimate boundaries – is legitimate. It is legitimate not because its expectations are a realizable goal or even because it functions as a proper ideal towards which theoretical reason will eternally progress. Rather, its legitimacy stems from the opposite conclusion: it is the fact that this interest/compulsion of theoretical reason has finally led it, through the Critique of Pure Reason, to recognize its essential humility in relation to the speculative questions of metaphysics that gives theoretical reason its value. For only then does theoretical reason understand its properly subservient relation to the practical interests of reason. There must be, Kant claims, ‘some source of positive modes of knowledge which belong to the domain of pure reason and which, it may be, give occasion to error solely owing to misunderstanding while yet in actual fact they form the goal toward which reason is directing its efforts. How else can we account for

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our inextinguishable desire to find firm footing somewhere beyond the limits of experience? Reason has a presentiment of objects which possess a great interest for it. But when it follows the path of pure speculation, in order to approach them, they fly before it. Presumably it may look for better fortune in the only other path which still remains open to it, that of its practical employment.’21 Kant argues, therefore, that in regards to the questions of metaphysics, reason ‘will not deal with the speculative but with the practical employment of reason.’22 According to Kant, there are therefore several interests of reason that ‘have a certain unity’ and are ordered such that they may ‘further that interest of humanity which is subordinate to no higher interest.’23 That interest of humanity is, as shown by his following derivations of the practical postulates of freedom, immortality, and God, our practical interest in the moral law. This explains why Kant, when considering theoretical reason’s natural compulsion to overextend itself into the realm of speculative metaphysics, rhetorically asks ‘is this endeavor the outcome merely of the speculative interest of reason?’ and concludes instead that we must ‘regard it as having its source exclusively in the practical interests of reason.’24 As such, these clues suggest that Kant’s philosophy was semi-conscious of the key guiding role of practical moral issues even in the first edition of the Critique. By the time Kant wrote the preface to the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, this awareness becomes far more explicit, as this version of the Critique increasingly notes that, while the critique of pure reason plays a key role in his philosophical system, it secondary to other concerns. Kant opens this preface, for example, not by suggesting that the Critique will end the conflict between dogmatism and scepticism once and for all, but rather with a less ambitious claim. While his critique will render a service to reason by putting it on more secure footing, this will be done only by ‘abandoning as fruitless’ ‘much that is comprised in the original aims’ of pre-critical theoretical reason.25 Kant acknowledges that from this perspective, it may seem that the conclusions first Critique ‘are merely negative, warning us that we must never venture with speculative reason beyond the limits of experience. Such is, in fact, its primary use.’ He suggests, ‘as our Critique limits speculative reason, it is indeed negative.’ But Kant is explicit about the positive value of this negative role: ‘since it thereby removes an obstacle which stands in the way of the employment of practical reason, nay, threatens to destroy it, it has in reality a positive and very important use.’26 The theoretical critique of pure speculative reason is thus of cru-

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cial importance, because only it holds back the dialectical and illusory use of theoretical reason – which in turn enables practical reason to assume its rightful role as authoritative in the moral realm. It is crucial to note that while theoretical reason requires practical reason to fill the void it opens once it recognizes its legitimate boundaries, practical reason, in contrast, ‘requires no assistance from speculative reason.’ All that practical reason requires of theoretical reason is that theoretical reason curb its own excesses so that speculative reason not hinder the legitimate functioning of practical reason by bringing ‘reason ... into conflict with itself.’27 Far from orienting, structuring, or defining the form of practical reason, theoretical reason restrains speculative predilections so that practical reason can claim its authoritative role. Which is why, even in the text of the first edition, Kant explicitly notes that the value of the attempt to put theoretical reason and metaphysics on a more secure footing is primarily moral. According to Kant, the necessary task the first Critique undertakes is ‘to level the ground and to render it sufficiently secure for moral edifices of these majestic dimensions. For this ground has been honeycombed by subterranean workings which reason, in its confident but fruitless search for hidden treasures has carried out in all directions and which threaten the security of the superstructures.’28 The epistemological ground must be secured only so that the moral edifices of Kant’s project might be stabilized. This is the aim that orients the first critique. According to Kant, in fact, the very development and progression of philosophy and human reason has been driven by humanity’s increasing attention to the primacy of practical reason. It is not epistemological scepticism or metaphysics that has advanced knowledge, but our concern with morality: ‘A greater preoccupation with moral ideas, which was rendered necessary by the extraordinarily pure moral law of our religion, made reason more acutely aware of its object, through the interests it was compelled to take it in. And this came about, independently of any influence exercised by more extended views of nature or by correct and reliable transcendental insight (for that has always been lacking) ... Thus it is always only to pure reason, though only in its practical employment, that we must finally ascribe the merit of having connected with our highest interest a knowledge which reason can only think, and cannot establish, and of having thereby shown it to be, not indeed a demonstrated dogma, but a postulate which is absolutely necessary in view of what are reason’s most essential needs.’29 It was not ‘epistemological’ scepticism that allowed pure reason to recognize its moral element. It was, in

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fact, a greater preoccupation with moral ideas that allowed reason to recognize the proper role for speculative reason. It is entirely understandable, then, that Kant, as he nears the end of his enormous critique of theoretical reason, quotes approvingly the ancients’ estimation that true philosophy is moral philosophy: ‘On account of this superiority which moral philosophy [i.e., its aim of considering the dictates of practical reason] has over all other occupations of reason, the ancients in their use of the term ‘‘philosopher’’ always meant, more especially, the moralist.’30 If the first Critique had not been guided by moral concerns, this view would seem to dismiss as trivial the entire work. But for Kant, as for the ancients, the moral is the philosophical and vice versa. Without a motivating moral concern, philosophy is but one occupation of reason among many. With the moral interest as its orienting force, however, philosophy is pre-eminent. Far from convicting Kant’s first Critique as menial, then, this estimation elevates his project to the realm of true philosophy and Kant to the realm of moralist. From this perspective, it is not surprising that Kant explicitly elevates the authority of practical interest of reason over the theoretical. The first Critique, when discussing the hierarchy of the various interests of humanity and reason, clearly elevates moral concerns as the supreme ends of human existence. According to Kant, ‘the highest ends are those of morality, and these we can know only as they are given us by pure [practical] reason.’31 This estimation of the relation between theoretical and practical interests of reason is reiterated in the section titled ‘On the Primacy of Pure Practical Reason in Its Connection with Speculative Reason’ in the Critique of Practical Reason.32 Practical and theoretical reason, though unified, operate according to different logics. Kant, moreover, makes it explicit that the moral logic governing practical reason has precedence over that of theoretical reason and traces the implications of this hierarchy for the relative roles of theoretical and practical reason in the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. There Kant states that the task of first Critique was to conceive a new version of the two-world metaphysic so that practical reason might realize its calling. Kant claims that ‘Speculative reason has the unavoidable task of showing at least this – that its illusion about the contradiction [between freedom and necessity in the subject] rests on our conceiving man in one sense when we call him free and in another when we consider him, as a part of nature.’33 It is interesting that although he has already achieved this, Kant

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does not describe it as a ‘discovery’ of the first Critique but rather as an ‘unavoidable task’ that must be done. For this description calls into question the very idea that the epistemological critique of the subject discovered the two-world metaphysic that then allowed Kant to deduce a certain form of morality. It claims instead that he understood the first Critique as a task that had to be undertaken for the sake of a preexisting moral and practical interest, which is why he suggests that ‘This duty is incumbent on speculative reason solely in order that it may clear a path for practical philosophy.’34 The first Critique might have been first undertaken chronologically, but here Kant clearly states that far from setting the shape of his later moral project, the very goal and form of the first Critique should be understood as defined by the duty it owes to practical reason. Humiliated by its own self-critique (in turn commanded by the dictates of practical reason), theoretical reason must respect the authority of practical reason and find its guiding orientation therein. 3. Kant’s Imperative Image of Morality By examining the architecture, and Kant’s own understanding, of the first Critique, I have so far tried to argue that Kant’s project should be understood as primarily motivated and guided by moral concerns. However, since I have not yet outlined the content of this ‘moral concern,’ the question I still face is the following: if Kant’s epistemological critique of metaphysics and scepticism doesn’t act as the sole logical anchor of his work, what is the precise moral concern that orients the Kantian project? My hypothesis is that one of the crucial – but rarely examined – moral concerns that orient Kant’s overall philosophical and moral project is the desire to articulate and establish a very particular conception of ethics – the ‘imperative image of morality.’ What exactly is the ‘imperative image of morality,’ and how does it influence Kant’s project? Answering these questions requires two steps. First, we need to briefly step back from Kant and consider the work of Deleuze and Guattari to help to outline the idea of an ‘image of morality.’ Second, only then can we return to Kant and examine what exactly characterizes Kant’s specific imperative image of morality and seek to understand why Kant’s project might have viewed the establishment and protection of that image should be a central guiding objective.

Kant’s Imperative Image of Morality


Images of Morality What is an image of morality? On this question, the thought of Deleuze and Guattari is crucial. In What is Philosophy, they claim that philosophy is necessarily characterized by a profound paradox: while philosophy claims to derive absolutely binding and consistent conclusions from rigorous logic, the very formulation of the question of philosophy is necessarily and irreducibly contingent.35 In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze suggests that much of traditional philosophy seeks to avoid any consideration of this originary contingency by relying on a prephilosophical image that claims to incontestably define the nature of its inquiry.36 Both of these contentions are relevant for Kant, I believe. For Deleuze and Guattari, the term ‘image’ is used to suggest that this original commitment is not simply a conscious assumption, a first principle, or a conceptual starting point. An ‘image’ is a (rarely articulated) pre-philosophical disposition (which includes, but is not exhausted by, cognitive reflection) that allows and orients the first moment of philosophical thinking. An image is thus similar to Charles Taylor’s ontological background ‘picture.’ Yet an image is not reducible to it if an ontological picture is simply understood as conscious or preconscious knowledge (as the ‘logy’ of ontology suggests).37 An image is a background of sorts, but it consists of practices, habits, affective judgments, tastes, and relations that, together with a variety of conscious commitments, make up a moral disposition.38 Images, moreover, have the power to expand into sprawling ‘planes of immanence’ that define the questions, methods, styles, and ends of philosophy. A plane’s concepts, standards, logics, and conclusions rely on the image, since they are unintelligible and appear radically contingent without it. That plane, however, by creating a philosophical system that makes sense of the world in terms that presuppose the image, embeds the image in its structures of thought and makes it appear as natural and beyond question. Deleuze and Guattari also depart in important ways from Taylor by suggesting that there are always multiple competing images even within communities with a variety of shared understandings. Deleuze and Guattari therefore suggest that philosophy is the clash of contending perspectives each of which is seeking to define the answers, methods, and questions of philosophy. On this view, then, philosophy is neither a continuous accumulation of knowledge nor a succession of immanently overcome systems. Instead, philosophical thinking oper-

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ates in a stratographic time in which old planes might resurface, renew their claim to the title of ‘philosophy,’ and displace more recent questions, concerns, and standards.39 The important point for this book is that this condition is also true for moral and political thought. For we might say that a similar contest characterizes political and moral thought – but that it is over what the proper image of ethics/politics/morality should be. For what are the questions that should legitimately be posed by ethics/politics/morality? And what are the acceptable methods to be used to resolve these debates? In political thought (and in everyday life), we often take for granted that the questions of ethics, politics, or morality are obvious. Kant certainly often acts as if the questions of ethics/politics/morality are commonsensical. According to Kant, morality must take the form of a universal, necessary law recognized and authoritative for all subjects. Indeed, most of modern western society shares this view and cannot imagine ethics/politics/morality in any other model. Yet are the questions of ethics/politics/morality so clear and obvious? Many don’t believe so. According to Bernard Williams, for example, ethical/political/moral questions have been (and continue to be) posed and answered in a wide variety of ways, according to various logics and models, and in response to multiple perspectives and institutions.40 The question ‘How should I live?’ does not naturally and necessarily reduce itself to the question ‘Which universal and necessary laws derived from pure principles should I follow?’ The idea that ethics/politics/morality can be reduced to a single pure form of morality (as Kant does) is, Williams argues, a very peculiar and historically specific rendering of social organization. Charles Taylor seconds this view by arguing that the specifically modern reduction of ethics to a single moral principle of evaluation in utilitarian and Kantian moral theory is possible only because of historical developments in western culture at that time.41 Political and ethical thought, therefore, is characterized by a struggle over images of morality as much as philosophy is characterized by a struggle over the images of thought. Kant’s Imperative Image of Morality An imperative is a practical rule by which an action in itself contingent is made necessary ... Hence an imperative is a rule the representation of which makes necessary an action that is subjectively contingent and thus represents the subject as one that must be constrained (necessitated) to

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conform with the rule. A categorical (unconditional) imperative is one that represents an action as objectively necessary. ~ Immanuel Kant42

I suspect that Kant’s project – either consciously or unconsciously – sensed this fundamental contestability and sought to establish a particular image of morality as incontestably necessary. Indeed, Alasdair MacIntyre suggests that Kant has had an enormous effect on defining a particularly modern image of morality. According to MacIntyre, ‘Kant stands at one of the great dividing points in the history of ethics. For perhaps the majority of later philosophical writers, including many who are self-consciously anti-Kantian, ethics is defined as a subject in Kantian terms. For many who have never heard of philosophy, let alone Kant, morality is roughly what Kant said it was.’43 Bernard Williams agrees with this – suggesting that the reduction of the questions of ‘ethics’ to a more narrowly conceived question of ‘morality’ is one of the most lasting impacts of Kant’s thought.44 But what, precisely, characterizes Kant’s specific ‘imperative image of morality’ as opposed to other visions? The authors cited above have their own perspectives, which differ slightly from my own. When I talk about Kant’s imperative image of morality, I want to suggest that it is an image that (a) believes that the ethical/political/moral questions of ‘How should we live?’ or ‘what should we do?’ must be reduced to the question of ‘what is the moral thing to do?’ and (b) that this question must be answered by reference to a universal and necessary set of laws (or law) that holds for every person, in every circumstance, at every time. Ethics/politics must be morality, and the only acceptable model of moral consideration is one that assumes and establishes universal and necessary imperatives. Hence the quotation that starts this subsection: an imperative image of morality must take actions that are merely contingent in the empirical world and re-represent them as imperative, so that subjects become constrained by the rule. Kant is explicit and insistent that this imperative image is the only possible legitimate image of morality. In every critical work he wrote on morals, this conception of morality is at the base of his thinking. Consider how he speaks of the character of morality in his first critical work on morals, the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. For Kant, the very essence of morality is that it be universal and necessary: ‘Unless we wish to deny to the concept of morality all truth and all relation to a possible object, we cannot dispute that its law is of such

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widespread significance to hold, not merely for men, but for all rational beings as such – not merely subject to contingent conditions and exceptions, but with absolute necessity.’45 Morality, if it is to be anything at all, must hold for ‘all rational beings with absolute necessity.’ According to Kant, it is (or should be) impossible to imagine morality in any other way. Kant, of course, recognizes the difference between these moral laws and the laws of nature we find in the natural, sensible world. ‘Reason gives us laws which are imperatives, that is objective laws of freedom, which tell us what ought to happen – although perhaps it never does happen – therein differing from laws of nature, which relate only to that which happens.’46 Natural laws describe what does and must happen. The moral law, however, contends with competing sensible drives. Thus, although it holds as a universal and necessary law, it is only imperfectly manifested in the sensible world. ‘For us, whose choice is sensibly affected and so does not of itself conform to the pure will but often opposes it, moral laws are imperatives (commands or prohibitions) and indeed categorical (unconditional) imperatives.’47 Yet this impure characteristic, according to Kant, does not impinge on its universality and necessity. It merely highlights the imperfection of the sensible world. ‘Accordingly, the moral law is for them an imperative that commands categorically because the law is unconditional.’48 Thus, Kant is adamant that moral imperatives (which, while only ‘oughts,’ are unconditional ‘oughts’) are categorically different from instrumental and hypothetical principles (which hold as oughts only in specific conditions): ‘The categorical imperative alone purports to be a practical law, while all the rest may be called principles of the will but not laws; for an action necessary merely in order to achieve an arbitrary purpose can be considered as in itself contingent, and we can always escape from the precept if we abandon the purpose; whereas an unconditioned command does not leave it open to the will to do the opposite at its discretion and therefore alone carries with it that necessity which we demand from a law.’49 The form and force of subjective maxims (say of prudence or happiness), therefore, differ in important respects from the moral law. They are neither universal (insofar as not all subjects hold them) nor necessary (for even if a subject held them at one point, she might easily give them up if she gave up the end to which they lead). In contrast to rules of skill or counsels of prudence, therefore, ‘only [moral] law carries with it the concept of an unconditioned and yet objec-

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tive and so universally valid, necessity; and commands are laws which must be obeyed, that is, must be followed even against inclination ... a categorical imperative is limited by no condition and can quite precisely be called a command, as being absolutely, although practically, necessary.’50 Morality, though it is never realized as such, is ideally a universal and necessary law towards which we must all strive: ‘The holiness of will is nevertheless a practical idea which must necessarily serve as a model to which all finite rational beings can only approximate without end and which the pure moral law, itself called holy because of this, constantly and rightly holds before their eyes.’51 A pure holy will that obeys the moral law is (even though we can never completely embody this ideal) the only ideal acceptable to Kant. Why? Because anything less would allow the possibility, even the likelihood, of deviation as a result of its contingent form. ‘If any action is to be morally good, it is not enough that it should conform to the moral law – it must also be done for the sake of the moral law: where this is not so, the conformity is only too contingent and precarious, since the non-moral ground at work will now and then produce actions which accord with the law, but very often actions which transgress it.’52 I have called this image of morality the ‘imperative’ image of morality because it represents morality as a set of universal and necessary – that is, imperative – commands, and it claims that any conception of morality that does not share this image is not morality at all. 4. Clashing Images of Morality It should be clear that Kant’s project is committed to a specific imperative image of morality. Yet why would articulating and embedding it have been one of the driving moral aims of Kant’s project? It was a key aim because Kant’s context was characterized by profound clashes between contending images of morality. For not only was the specific philosophical context of early modern German thought deeply split by contending images of ethics/politics/morality. The work of Kant’s great interlocutor – David Hume – also explicitly forwards a contending image of ethics/politics/morality. The history of the clashes between these contending images, however, has been virtually erased from the history of philosophy, since it has been severely underplayed and even denied by both Kant and post-Kantian philosophy. As such, before I turn to the examination of how Kant’s philosophy attempts to establish and cultivate this imperative image of morality in the follow-

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ing chapters, I will briefly sketch out this context to help in explaining why establishing the imperative image of morality could be a crucial aim of Kant’s moral project. Rival Enlightenment Images of Morality Ian Hunter’s recent work on the early German enlightenment helps to highlight just how contested Kant’s imperative image of morality would have been even within the philosophical and university context of eighteenth-century Germany. In his recent work, Rival Enlightenments, Hunter convincingly demonstrates that the German enlightenment itself was characterized by at least two rival traditions, which engaged in a profound battle to determine what would be accepted as (in my language) the correct image of morality.53 Hunter suggests that in the wake of the religious wars in Germany, there emerged at least two distinct ‘enlightenment’ answers to the question of how civil and religious authority and morality should be restructured. On one side, there was the tradition of ‘metaphysical philosophy’ – spearheaded by Leibniz, Wolffe, and eventually Kant. This metaphysical tradition was defined by its wary reaction to the split between the religious and the civil and by a desire to re-secure speculative ethico-theological authority over the civil/political realm. Leibniz and Kant, Hunter suggests, fundamentally mistrusted the civil realm and sought to reunite the two by seeking a moral reconciliation on higher metaphysical ‘rational’ grounds. Hunter reads this move to the transcendental (from the transcendent) as largely reproducing the sacralized terms of political engagement that attempted to answer ethical and political questions from the realm of absolute moral truths. On Hunter’s reading, then, establishing a certain type of moral system – and practices of cultivation to go along with it – was a central goal of this tradition. What is particularly important about Hunter’s work for this book is that it shows that there was significant – and explicit – contestation as to whether this image of morality was appropriate. In particular, Hunter shows that thinkers such as Pfufendorf and Thomasius had developed a contending tradition of ‘civil philosophy’ that offered a very different image of ethics/politics/morality. For civil philosophy was defined by its embrace of the split between the religious and civil spheres – and sought to outline an image of ethics that appreciated the plural realities of the civil world and did not try to reduce all ethical

Kant’s Imperative Image of Morality


and political questions to a narrow, imperative moral model. Hunter’s work, then, shows that these two traditions had two very different images of morality: they defined the question of ethics/morality differently; they forwarded contrasting anthropologies and different methods for answering the questions of ethics; and, importantly, they supported different methods to cultivate their images of morality in the citizenry.54 Hume’s Contingent Image of Morality If Kant’s imperative image of morality faced a significant challenge even within German enlightenment thought, it faced an even graver challenge from the philosophy of David Hume. Kant, of course, was not only stirred from his ‘dogmatic slumber’ by Hume. He also strove to overcome the morass that Kant believed resulted from Hume’s dogmatic scepticism. As early as 1771, Kant began to distinguish between a legitimate ‘sceptical method’ (which would characterize his critical philosophy) and ‘dogmatic scepticism,’ which he so forcefully derides throughout the first Critique.55 According to Kant, the problem with dogmatic scepticism was that, when confronted with the limits of speculative reason, it ‘threw up all investigation’ and illegitimately concluded that certain knowledge was never possible rather than correctly suspending judgment (as did the ancients) or critically investigating practical reason (as did Kant). Hume’s shortcoming, Kant claimed, was that he, too, slipped into dogmatic scepticism: ‘He [Hume] would have been certainly one of the best and most read-worthy authors, if only he had not had such an excessive bent of doubting everything but had tried to achieve a genuine certainty by means of testing and investigation of knowledge.’56 Yet Kant’s disagreement with ‘dogmatic scepticism’ was not only an epistemological disagreement about the logical coherence of that position and its impact on science. Kant’s concern was equally that scepticism, because it was dogmatic about its uncertainty, failed to appreciate that we needed to accept certain crucial ‘dogmata’ (or practical postulates, as he would later call them) that were based on belief, if not theoretical knowledge. What is notable is that even early on, Kant identified these crucial dogmata as moral certainties. What, according to Kant, is the essential danger of dogmatic scepticism’s inability to accept certain dogmata? That ‘whoever accepts no ‘‘dogmata’’ cannot indeed teach any morality.’57 He also pursues this same line of argument in the

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Critique of Pure Reason.58 For Kant, then, dogmatic scepticism is dangerous for not only epistemological, but also moral reasons. A perspective that shows such sensitivity to the moral dangers of scepticism could hardly overlook the moral ramifications of Hume’s scepticism and the fact that they seriously challenge Kant’s imperative image of morality. In A Treatise on Human Nature, for example, Hume refuses to ground a universal and necessary morality as the dictates of reason. Rather, he argues that ethics is grounded merely in custom and habit – ‘public interest, education and the artifices of politicians.’ He suggests, moreover, that morality can universally and necessarily command us only to the degree that we share these interests and customs, which Hume presents not only as contingent but also subject to frequent transformation.59 From Kant’s perspective, then, the challenge of Hume’s scepticism is that it establishes a contending image of morality. By supplying an analysis of morality as simply the result of habit, education, or selfinterest, Hume challenges the very image of morality as universal and necessary law and replaces it with a contingent and variable model that explicitly understands morality as conditionally grounded and thus subject to frequent revisions if those conditions change. From the perspective of one who is convinced that morality must be universal and necessary if it is to be morality at all, the danger of Hume’s analysis is not that he is an immoralist (who, as we shall see in the fourth chapter, might be humiliated into submission), but that he is a moralist whose very moral vision threatens to destroy everything Kant sees of value in morality. The brilliance of Kant’s response is that he attempts to trump Hume’s sceptical challenge through scepticism itself. He tries to show that Hume’s contingent image is a necessary corollary only if we (like Hume) fall into dogmatic scepticism, illegitimately reduce all aspects of reason to its theoretical manifestation, and then ignore the possibility that pure moral certitude might exist in practical reason. Hence the importance of challenging not only Hume’s contingent image of morality, but also the method by which he arrived at that image, and hence Kant’s description of the duty of the theoretical critique of reason. For the duty of this critique is nothing, in this light, if not the duty to defuse Hume’s dogmatic scepticism so that Kant might establish an imperative image of morality through our recognition of practical reason in the form of the moral law. From this perspective, Kant does not respond to Hume primarily as an epistemological threat and then

Kant’s Imperative Image of Morality


stumble onto practical reason from his investigations. Rather, he reacts to Hume primarily because Hume represents not only a contending image of morality, but a fundamentally contingent image of ethics/politics/morality that profoundly challenges the universality and necessity that is at the core of the imperative image of morality. Given this context and the overall architecture of Kant’s philosophical writings and self-reflections, articulating and defending an imperative image of morality seems to be a central, if often overlooked, goal of his moral project. But if Kant’s philosophy is committed to this as a goal, how does it achieve it? Some interpreters of Kant might well accept the idea that this moral goal forms the foundation of his critical project – but then argue that Kant’s philosophy grounds the imperative image of morality through a formal philosophical analysis and defence of autonomy. I agree that this is one strategy Kant’s philosophy uses to establish and protect the imperative image of morality. However, the Kantian Imperative also employs several other, less famous and highly problematic, strategies and tactics to achieve its goal. Excavating these tactics and strategies is thus the task to which I turn in the following three chapters.


Common Sense Recognition

Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’ – that is the motto of the enlightenment. ~ Immanuel Kant1

As one of the most frequently cited sections from Kant’s oeuvre, the above quote nicely captures the prevalent interpretation of his moral and political perspective.2 Kant’s philosophy is viewed as being one of the archetypal expressions of the enlightenment faith in our ability to employ autonomous reason. What Kant shows us, it is suggested, is that a modern moral and political system can be derived from, and erected upon, autonomous subjectivity itself. Among those scholars who examine Kant’s moral philosophy there is thus an overwhelming consensus that his practical philosophy is the defence and analysis of autonomy as the foundation of the modern moral and political system. In this chapter I do not deny that the analysis of autonomy plays an important role in Kant’s practical philosophy. However, I argue that the analysis of autonomy is not the only important argumentative strategy at work in Kant’s practical philosophy. I show that an overlooked strategy – the appeal to common sense recognition – also plays a central role in grounding his moral and political vision. I argue, moreover, that this strategy of common sense recognition is also an important element in explaining both how Kant seeks to secure the

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imperative image of morality (outlined in the previous chapter) and how and why Kant relies on and cultivates the affect of humiliation (as will be discussed in chapters 3 and 4). What is the strategy of common sense recognition? And how does it actually function? A detailed picture will emerge as this chapter progresses. Briefly, however, we might say that while the appeal to common sense recognition is not an argumentative logic widely identified in philosophy, politics, or rhetoric, it is a crucial strategy of philosophical persuasion. Essentially, it is a philosophical attempt to incontestably ground certain values, claims, or assumptions through the paradoxical idea that we all already recognize and accept the value, claim, or assumption in question. It is a philosophical technique of persuasion that assumes that we all share certain values or claims that we all recognize (even though this recognition is sometimes obscured), and that further implicitly asserts that this common recognition incontestably grounds itself and whatever normative values it holds. In particular, we might say that the appeal to common sense is characterized by five elements: 1. The implicit assertion that at base, ‘we all share’ a certain number of common values, beliefs, experiences, and so on that make up a shared common sense (or sensibility). 2. The belief that this common sense can sometimes be distorted, muddied, obscured, or otherwise corrupted by incorrect beliefs, habits, ignorance, and so on. 3. The conviction that once these distortions are revealed and exorcized, we all will recognize the basic values of common sense as self-evident. 4. The faith that this recognition alone justifies and valorizes the values of common sense. Common sense, in this view, tends to be represented as a good in itself (or as a sheer brute fact) that does not require further justification to be normatively authoritative. 5. The confidence, therefore, that common sense – once recognized – is authoritative and cannot be challenged within its sphere. Disaggregated into its various assumptions, the appeal to common sense seems highly problematic and unlikely to convince many people of its merits. When used as a rhetorical and philosophical strategy, however, it builds on so many positive connotations and affective associations that it can be highly effective. This is why we find it at those

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crucial moments in Kant (as well as Rawls, Habermas, Taylor, and many others) when logical, reasoned justification meets its limits but further persuasion is still necessary. As we will see in the following section, most interpreters of Kant would strongly disagree with the idea that this strategy characterizes Kant’s moral project. While no theorist has systematically and critically explored the role that the strategy of common sense recognition plays in Kant’s project, there are a few interpreters who have briefly noted elements of it in Kant. One of the few orthodox interpretations of Kant that considers the role of the ‘common’ in Kant’s moral work is Lewis Beck’s seminal Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason, which calls attention to the role that ‘common knowledge’ plays in Kant’s moral thought. According to Beck, the ‘moral judgment of every man is the true starting point of the Kantian moral philosophy,’ but he does not critically interrogate this point or explore the specific role of common sense recognition. He does not, for example, systematically trace how and when Kant relies on conceptions of ‘the common,’ nor does he critically consider the problematic role of ‘recognition’ and the implicit normative judgments contained in this methodology. Moreover, he does not critically interrogate this use of ‘common knowledge.’ Beck asserts, in fact, that the analysis of common sense is the only legitimate mode of contemporary philosophical thought: ‘Kant’s readiness to appeal to what the ordinary man thinks in moral matters does not strike the twentieth-century reader as being startling, for to us this is the only place to begin.’3 Many twentieth-century readers may well prefer that philosophy begin from the immanent world, rather than the transcendent world, but that hardly means that all readers would agree with the idea that there is a clearly evident ‘ordinary man’ (or woman) or common sense from which to begin. Other theorists have offered a more critical perspective on common sense recognition in philosophy. In Difference and Repetition, for example, Gilles Deleuze suggests that a wide range of philosophy has employed a model of ‘recognition’ to various ends. In particular, Deleuze suggests that the model of recognition forms the basis of many conceptualizations about the way the very act of thinking functions. On this account, recognition is the supposedly immediate ability of the various faculties of the self to sense, evaluate, compare, and identify objects with images previously ‘seen, touched, remembered, imagined or conceived.’4 Deleuze also thinks that, if recognition is to remain reliable and repeatable, this model further requires the assump-

Common Sense Recognition 49

tion that there is a common sense that unites the various faculties of perception, judgment, memory, and so forth, and allows them to function harmoniously. A theory of recognition supplemented by common sense thus allows for a conception of thinking that is systematically rational – and thus amenable to a systematic philosophy. Deleuze does not, however, expand his consideration of common sense and recognition into Kant’s moral realm.5 Yet this is precisely where I believe Kant’s philosophy makes the most extensive use of a strategy of common sense recognition. For Kant needs the imperative image of morality to be experienced as incontestable if it is to be as universal and necessary as it claims to be. According to Kant, we must recognize the ‘apodictic practical law’ and realize that the moral law (the imperative image of morality) is ‘apodictically certain’6 (i.e., ‘universal and necessary’7). Common sense recognition tries to create this apodictic certainty by convincing us that we all already recognize this image of morality; that this common recognition normatively grounds the recognized image of morality; and that, therefore, we cannot but accept it as the only moral model possible. The strategy of common sense recognition, then, attempts to render incontestable the imperative image of morality not by proving its worth through justification nor by demonstrating its necessity in the pre-conditions of subjective existence. Rather, the strategy of common sense attempts to render incontestable the imperative image of morality by pre-emptively disallowing any contending image of morality through an appeal to common sense recognition. As we will see, this strategy is much more nuanced than it might first appear and can be highly persuasive. Ultimately, however, the strategy of common sense recognition, along with several other argumentative strategies (such as the analysis of autonomy), fails to conclusively render apodictic and unchallengeable the imperative image of morality. And it is this failure, when combined with the internal logic of common sense, that explains why Kant’s project eventually seeks to cultivate the affect of humiliation. In this chapter I explore the role of common sense recognition and its relation to both the imperative image of morality and practices of cultivation in several stages. In the first section, I outline the prevalent ‘morality as autonomy’ tradition of interpreting Kant’s work and highlight the ways it would disagree with the portrait developed in this book. I then turn to a detailed examination of the key texts of Kant’s practical philosophy. In the second section, I show that the analysis of

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autonomy, highlighted by the ‘morality as autonomy’ interpretation, does not successfully ground Kant’s imperative image of morality. This failure, I argue, means that Kant requires another strategy to secure his guiding moral aim. In section 3, therefore, I outline the emergence of this strategy of common sense recognition in the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals and highlight its importance to Kant’s project. In section 4 I examine the evolution of this strategy in the Critique of Practical Reason and argue that, while the appeal to common sense recognition solves some pressing issues, it also creates new paradoxes that Kant must address. I therefore conclude that Kant’s project cannot be satisfied with the analysis of autonomy and the appeal to common sense recognition alone, but must also explore additional tactics and strategies to render apodictic the imperative image of morality. Before turning to some of the additional tactics developed by the Kantian Imperative, I briefly return to the secondary literature to consider one other important potential interpretation of the role of common sense recognition, specifically, whether Henry Allison’s ‘reciprocity thesis’ adequately identifies and explains the role of common sense recognition in Kant’s project. I conclude that, while Allison’s thesis is insightful, his interpretation neither sufficiently conveys the importance of the appeal to common sense recognition nor resolves the paradoxes Kant’s moral project still faces. I suggest, therefore, that even if Allison’s interpretation is correct, Kant’s analysis of autonomy and appeal to common sense recognition do not apodictically ground its imperative image of morality; Kant’s project thus is still forced to develop further strategies to secure its moral vision. In section 6 I return to the question of these additional strategies. I briefly identify several additional philosophical strategies developed by Kant’s project and then focus in detail on one: the tendency to slip between theoretical scepticism and practical dogmatism. I conclude that none of these additional strategies manages to apodictically ground the imperative image of morality, and thus that Kant’s project eventually attempts to cultivate humiliation in order to more robustly secure the imperative image of morality. 1. ‘Morality as Autonomy’ The idea that common sense recognition is a key strategy in Kant’s moral theory runs counter one of the most influential interpretations of Kant’s philosophy: the ‘morality as autonomy’ interpretation.8 This

Common Sense Recognition 51

literature, which seeks to explain and evaluate Kant’s moral theory in relation to his conception of autonomy (or theory of freedom), is enormous.9 There are, of course, a number of important differences between theorists who might be understood to be part of this perspective.10 Despite the diversity of these readings, however, there are a number of commonalities that most interpretations share. Most theorists, therefore, would agree with J.B. Schneewind’s estimation that ‘there is a distinctive Kantian position about morality and most commentators are agreed on its main outlines.’11 The prevalent ‘morality as autonomy’ story tends to read as follows.12 Hume’s sceptical enquiry into theoretical reason substantially problematizes the claim that theoretical knowledge alone can ground a moral vision. Kant agrees with this and believes that any attempt to do so merely leads to the return of dogmatic metaphysics. Yet he also wants to avoid the contingent image of morality Hume’s dogmatic scepticism forwards. Kant’s answer to this dilemma is to reject the common assumption that theoretical knowledge exhausts reason’s resources and to argue instead that we might find moral certitude instead in an exploration of practical reason. However, if Kant is to avoid both dogmatic scepticism and dogmatic metaphysics and to establish the imperative image of morality by appealing to the dictates of practical reason, he must somehow justify, deduce, or prove as apodictic (i.e., universal and necessary) (a) the existence of practical reason and (b) its nature as the imperative image of morality. According to Schneewind, Kant’s analysis of autonomy is the attempt to do just this. Schneewind claims that ‘the idea that we are rational beings who spontaneously impose lawfulness on the world in which we live and thereby create its basic order is, of course, central to the whole of Kant’s philosophy.’13 It is particularly crucial to his moral philosophy. ‘At the center of Kant’s ethical theory’ Schneewind suggests, ‘is the claim that normal adults are capable of being self-governing in moral matters. In Kant’s terminology, we are “autonomous.”’ According to Schneewind, autonomy for Kant had two meanings: ‘no authority external to ourselves is needed to constitute or inform us of the demands of morality’ and ‘in self-government we can effectively control ourselves.’14 Formulated in reaction (and sympathy) to a number of earlier theorists, this conception of autonomy shaped Kant’s vision and defence of morality. On one hand, it suggested to Kant that the problem of moral philosophy was to forward a conception of morality that was not underwritten by an external authority whose legitimacy

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the concept of individual autonomy undermined. On the other hand, in the structures of autonomy he found the rational necessity that transforms the ability to will into the necessity to obey certain selfimposed dictates.15 According to Schneewind, then, Kant’s concept of autonomy might be viewed both as the source of his image of morality (to use my terms) and as the crucial concept whose analysis justifies that image. Schneewind, more concerned with the concept of autonomy, does not explicitly lay out how the concept justifies Kant’s image of morality. Here, Christine Korsgaard’s consideration of Kant’s moral logic is helpful, for she explicitly suggests that Kant’s analysis of freedom and autonomy answers the two questions Kant’s examination of practical reason must address.16 ‘Freedom,’ Korsgaard claims, ‘enters Kant’s moral philosophy as the solution to a problem.’ The problem is that the moral law as the categorical imperative is not entirely analytically necessary yet ‘it is supposed to present us with a rational necessity.’ Kant’s analysis of freedom (as positive freedom, i.e. autonomy) is necessary ‘in order to show that morality is not a “mere phantom of the mind.”’ According to Korsgaard, ‘Kant seeks to provide a deduction of (or a credential for) the moral law: he must link being rational to acting on the moral law.’ The crucial idea ‘through which rationality and morality are linked is the positive conception of freedom.’17 While Korsgaard recognizes that Kant is less sure about the deductive value of his analysis of autonomy in the second Critique, she still wants to claim that ‘Kant was not in doubt about his success in making the first connection between morality and freedom.’18 To demonstrate this, she goes on to argue that Kant derives a conception of positive freedom (the laws of morality as the requirements of autonomy) from his theory of freedom of the will (i.e., freedom from sensible inclinations) and that this grounds his conception of morality.19 According to Korsgaard, then, Kant’s analysis of freedom shows that we are free only when our will is free from sensible drives; that this is possible only when the will is determined by the moral law; that practical reason therefore must take the shape of a universal moral law (and vice versa); and finally, that if freedom grounds/establishes the validity and character of the moral law, it is only the realization of morality that allows us to be free: ‘The idea of freedom motivates us to cultivate the virtues, and, in turn, virtue makes us free.’20 In the language of this book, the ‘morality as autonomy’ perspective seeks to explain Kant’s image of morality as a logical derivation from his

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primary commitment to autonomy. For, according to the ‘morality as autonomy’ argument, not only the existence of morality and practical reason is justified and/or deduced from Kant’s analysis of autonomy, but its very character as universal and necessary springs from it (or is justified by it). Thus, Schneewind suggests that his reconstruction of Kant’s thought has sought to show that for Kant, ‘in order to assure the autonomy of the moral agent, the moral law must be pure and a priori.’21 The overall argument is clear: from this perspective Kant’s image of morality rests on and emerges out of his primary commitment to the value/ existence of autonomy. Moreover, the analysis of autonomy is the only key argument he forwards to defend his conception of morality. 2. Kant’s Inconclusive Analysis of Autonomy This ‘morality as autonomy’ interpretation does highlight an important element of Kant’s thinking, and Kant’s texts do employ an analysis of autonomy to ground the imperative image of morality. Kant, for example, begins his analysis of practical reason in the Groundwork by outlining the first abstract principle of the moral law (‘that I ought never to act except in such a way that I can will that my maxim should become a universal law’22) and by acknowledging that a direct proof that this principle is universal and necessary would require a critique (as yet unfashioned) capable of grounding a synthetic a priori claim. He goes on to suggest that we can be relatively secure in the presentation of practical reason as the imperative image of morality, since it is the necessary conclusion of a deeper principle: that of autonomy. According to Kant, by ‘mere analysis of the concepts of morality we can quite well show that the above principle of autonomy is the sole principle of ethics.’23 Kant thus seems to suggest that his analysis of the principle of autonomy shows that the character of practical reason must be universal and necessary law. Yet even here Kant’s argument is more ambiguous than it first appears. For he does not exactly say that analysis of autonomy proves that practical reason must take the form of an imperative image of morality (as the categorical imperative). Rather, he says that an analysis of the ‘concepts of morality’ shows autonomy to be the sole principle of ethics. In fact, he goes on to suggest that it is the analysis of morality that proves the value of autonomy. According to Kant, ‘analysis finds that the principle of morality must be a categorical imperative, and this, in turn, commands nothing more nor less than precisely this

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autonomy.’24 I will return to examine this ambiguity more thoroughly later in the chapter. Here, however, I want to highlight that even if the ‘morality as autonomy’ reading is accurate, Kant’s work still fails to sufficiently ground the imperative image of morality, and this sets the stage for the development and employment of the strategy of common sense recognition. That Kant himself was unsure as to whether his arguments and analysis of autonomy successfully proved that practical reason must necessarily take the form of the imperative image of morality becomes clear in the important third chapter of the Groundwork. Korsgaard is entirely right in suggesting that, at times, Kant seems to imply that the existence and character of practical reason as the image of morality is justified or deduced from this analysis of autonomy. In the third chapter of the Groundwork, Kant suggests that his analysis of freedom combined with the two-world perspective allows us to understand that practical reason exists and necessarily takes the form of the imperative image of morality. He argues that a critique of pure practical reason shows that reason can view humanity from two perspectives: ‘He can consider himself first – so far as he belongs to the sensible world – to be under laws of nature (heteronomy); and secondly, so far as he belongs to the intelligible world – to be under laws of which, being independent of nature, are not empirical but have their ground in reason alone.’25 This, in turn, allows us to conceive of ourselves as free of any causal determination but the will; it gives us the Idea of freedom as autonomy. According to Kant, ‘to the Idea of freedom there is inseparably attached the concept of autonomy and to this in turn the universal principle of morality – a principle which in Idea forms the ground for all the actions of rational beings.’26 But even if we accept Kant’s view and agree that we can view humanity from two perspectives, it is not obvious why the intelligible world should give us a regulative ideal. He resolves this problem by assigning a hierarchy to the two perspectives, in which the intelligible world becomes the universally necessitating realm. According to Kant, ‘the intelligible world contains the ground of the sensible world and therefore also of its laws ... I shall have to recognize that, qua intelligence, I am subject to the law of the intelligible world – that is, to the reason which contains this law in the Idea of freedom, and so to the autonomy of the will – and therefore I must look on the laws of the intelligible world as imperatives for me and on the actions which conform to this principle as duties.’27 This hierarchization of the two worlds thus allows him to

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posit the existence of practical reason and its form as universal and necessary laws. At least two questions, however, confront this move. First, why is this hierarchization legitimate (and how does Kant know that to be the case)? Second, even if this hierarchization is legitimate, how does practical reason recognize the intelligible Idea of freedom and how is it able to deduce its necessary conditions? In relation to the first question, it is never entirely clear how and why this hierarchization is affected.28 One suggestion might be that only this hierarchization allows for the possibility for autonomy (by allowing the intelligible self free from sensibility to play the role of the legislating member). But since, in the Groundwork, the value of that autonomy is still unstable (only an uncritically assumed ‘if’), the grounding of the hierarchical relation by reference to the concept that hierarchization is aimed at justifying would merely make it a tautology and thus would not legitimately achieve its purpose. Kant’s response to the second question seems equally ambiguous in the Groundwork. For although we might think the intelligible world, it is unclear why it must necessarily have an imperative force. While Kant thus argues that practical reason can and should be understood as an imperative image of morality, he realizes that his analysis of autonomy has not yet proved this. He believes that he has shown that sceptics like Hume have not proved the impossibility of an imperative image of morality. But he also acknowledges that to claim that he has done more than ‘repel objections’ would be to go beyond the legitimate boundaries of practical reason. According to Kant, ‘the Idea of freedom can never admit of full comprehension ... It holds only as a necessary presupposition of reason in a being who believes himself to be conscious of a will ... But where determination by laws of nature comes to an end, all explanation comes to an end as well. Nothing is left but defense – that is, to repel the objections of those who profess to have seen more deeply into the essence of things and on this ground audaciously declare freedom to be impossible.’29 At the end of the Groundwork there is conviction, but not knowledge; belief, but not certainty; defence, but not definitive achievement. In Kant’s view, all further effort and labour to seek such an explanation is ‘wasted,’ mere flutterings about things that cannot be further known or justified in that mode. Kant’s strongest argument in response to the two problems raised by his hierarchization of the two realms and his reliance on the concept of autonomy seems to be that only the assumption of autonomy and the

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hierarchical relation between the two perspectives allows for the possibility of our morality at all. It is, in fact, the argument he eventually makes in the Critique of Practical Reason.30 But this is not exactly the argument Kant forwards in the Groundwork. Instead, he highlights the defensive and tentative nature of his conclusions, which is why he seems so conflicted about what he has achieved in the Groundwork. For although he thinks that ‘autonomy is the sole principle of ethics,’ he is ambivalent about what that means for his attempt to outline an image of morality. By the end of the Groundwork, Kant understands that his analysis of autonomy has not, in itself, proved that practical reason must take the form of the imperative image of morality. In fact, he admits that his analysis has not yet proved the necessity of his imperative image of morality: ‘That this practical rule [the categorical imperative] is an imperative ... cannot be proved by mere analysis of the concepts contained in it, since it is a synthetic proposition ... [and] this task does not belong to the present chapter.’31 While the analysis of autonomy might give philosophical support to Kant’s presentation of practical reason, in itself it has not proved its existence or its character. Kant further limits the conclusions we might draw from his analysis of autonomy several pages later when he recognizes that ‘in order to prove that morality is no mere phantom of the brain – a conclusion which follows if the categorical imperative and with it the autonomy of the will, is true and absolutely necessary as an a priori principle – we require a possible synthetic use of pure practical reason.’ He concedes, however, that this is not undertaken in the Groundwork. As a result, Kant admits that he has not ‘here asserted the truth of this proposition, much less pretended to have a proof of it in our power. We have merely shown by developing the concept of morality generally in vogue that autonomy of the will is unavoidably bound up with it or rather is its very basis.’32 What is clear to Kant is that while his analysis of autonomy might ‘repel the objections of those who profess to have seen more deeply into the essence of things and on this ground audaciously declare freedom to be impossible’33 (and with it the imperative image of morality), it cannot yet prove the imperative image of morality necessary to those, as he put it earlier, ‘who deride all morality as the mere phantom of a human imagination’34 3. Common Sense Recognition in the Groundwork Kant is thus deeply ambivalent about the conclusiveness of his analysis of autonomy in the Groundwork. Yet in that same work, he remains

Common Sense Recognition 57

relatively confident that he has shown his imperative image of morality to be indisputable. If his justification of the latter rests on the success of the former, as the morality as autonomy interpretation suggests, Kant should be much more worried about the legitimacy of his image of morality. Yet he is not. Why is this? I believe it is explained by the fact that even in the Groundwork, Kant begins to develop a strategy of common sense recognition (although a fuller, more mature articulation of common sense recognition is ultimately found in the Critique of Practical Reason). As we saw in the section above, Kant’s imperative image of morality relies heavily on the hierarchical ordering of the intelligible and sensible realms. In the Groundwork, Kant claims that ‘the intelligible world contains the ground of the sensible world and therefore also of its laws ... I shall have to recognize that, qua intelligence, I am subject to the law of the intelligible world ... and therefore I must look on the laws of the intelligible world as imperatives for me and on the actions which conform to this principle as duties.’35 As we saw, however, this claim faces two problems: (a) what legitimizes this hierarchization and (b) how we can know its faces transcendental conditions with absolute certainty. The importance of the strategy of common sense recognition is that it provides an answer to both of these issues. The Kantian Imperative resolves the first challenge by shifting from a method of justification, deduction, or analysis to a strategic mode of recognition. And it resolves the second by increasingly using common sense as the apodictic ground from which to solidify the imperative image of morality. We can see the emergence of ‘recognition’ as an argumentative strategy in the logic of the last section of the Groundwork. It is important, for example, that in the Groundwork Kant does not suggest that the hierarchization of the two realms is valid because we can know it. Instead, he suggests that it is valid because we recognize it as such. Why should we accept the intelligible world and its imperative image of morality as imperative? We accept it because I recognize being subject to this image. ‘Hence, in spite of regarding myself form one point of view as a being that belongs to the sensible world, I shall have to recognize that, qua intelligence, I am subject to the law of the intelligible world.’36 I recognize, therefore I am bound by the moral law. Theoretical knowledge has nothing to say in the practical realm – it cannot provide certainty. Recognition, however, is the Kantian Imperative’s practical mode of evaluation that seeks to create apodictic certainty without drawing on theoretical reason. Yet recognition as a mode of apodictic grounding is potentially diffi-

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cult to control. For what are the criteria by which recognition is to be judged legitimate and illegitimate? The importance of this would not have escaped Kant – since he understood the dangers of sectarian conflict and writes forcefully against the mode of revelation as a legitimate mode of practical judgment. So what anchors Kant’s recognition and ensures that it does not simply devolve into revelation? This is where common sense becomes crucial. For it turns out that valid recognition is one in which all ordinary people share immediately. Let us returning to the passage cited above: what is it that guarantees the validity of our recognition of the authority of the intelligible laws? According to Kant, it is the fact that we all share the same common sense recognition of ordinary human reason: ‘The practical use of ordinary human reason confirms the rightness of this deduction. There is no one, not even the most hardened scoundrel – provided only he is accustomed to use reason in other ways – who ... does not wish that he too might be a man of like spirit.’37 Common sense, as the conceptual expression of reason, confirms and underwrites the act of recognition we experience in relation to the intelligible law. But, some might argue, Kant is no friend of common sense. There are many passages where he vehemently decries the dangers of mass opinion and popular commonalities. True, he has an ambivalent relationship with common sense, but this ambivalence ultimately becomes disaggregated into two distinct orientations to common sense. One is his wariness of common opinion in the empirical world. The other, less acknowledged strain in Kant, however, is a profound respect for the common sense recognition of the imperative image of morality. This first orientation is frequently cited and well known. In the Critique of Pure Reason, for example, Kant often forcefully states that critical thinking has the right – and even the duty – to challenge the common opinions of the community. Arguing that one of ‘the original rights of human reason’ is to critique commonly held opinions, he criticizes the practice of labelling those who challenge common beliefs as troublesome. According to Kant, ‘we are very ill-advised in decrying as dangerous any bold assertions against, or audacious attacks upon, the view which already has on its side the approval of the largest and best portion of the community; in so doing we are ascribing to them an importance which they are not entitled to claim.’38 Indeed, Kant sometimes suggests that the appeal to common opinion is a sign of poor thinking: ‘To appeal to the common sense of mankind [is] an expedient which always is a sign that the cause of reason is

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in desperate straits.’39 It is, moreover, often the sign of sophistry: ‘To appeal to common sense when insight and science fail, and no sooner – this is one of the subtle discoveries of modern times, by means of which the most superficial ranter can safely enter the lists with the most thorough thinker and hold his own ... Seen in clear light, it is but an appeal to the opinion of the multitude, of whose applause the philosopher is ashamed while the popular charlatan glories and confides in.’40 For ultimately, there can be no real legitimate basis for it: ‘An appeal to the consent of the common sense of mankind cannot be allowed, for that is a witness whose authority depends merely on rumour.’41 Kant, it appears, is no friend of common sense and opinion. Yet although Kant sometimes critiques ‘common opinion,’ his thought also expresses a profound respect for another, more profound, variant of common sense. In fact, Kant suggests not only that common sense is valid, but also that it is especially necessary in specific circumstances. In the Prolegomena, after denigrating the use that ‘popular charlatans’ make of common opinions, Kant explicitly states that this does not mean that all elements of common sense are invalid. Indeed, he suggests exactly the opposite – that ‘common sense and speculative understanding are both useful, but each in its own way.’42 The distinction between legitimate and illegitimate uses of common sense turns on the way in which, and the purpose for which, common sense is employed. In theoretical knowledge and metaphysics common sense is explicitly disallowed as a ground of knowledge: ‘In metaphysics, as a speculative science of pure reason, we can never appeal to common sense.’ Kant concludes the Prolegomena, however, with a tantalizing hint that common sense might be important elsewhere. For we are allowed to appeal to common sense ‘when (in certain matters) we are forced to surrender it [pure reason] and renounce all pure speculative cognition ... for the sake of adopting a rational faith.’ This rational faith, it turns out, is the realm of practical reason. Outside of the realm of theoretical reason, ‘common sense may be used advantageously and justly, but on quite special principles, the importance of which always depends on their reference to the practical.’43 Kant’s estimation of common sense, then, changes dramatically depending on whether we are speaking of theoretical or practical reason. What is disallowed as a resource for theoretical reason becomes the staple of practical reason. For it turns out that common sense is used – to great advantage, if not necessarily with great justice – to render apodictic and unquestioned Kant’s imperative image of morality.

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Once we appreciate that Kant’s relationship to common sense is more complex than is often portrayed, it is less surprising to find that when Kant first discusses practical reason in the Critique of Pure Reason, he explicitly turns to common sense to ground his portrayal of practical reason as the imperative image of morality. When Kant first explores the possibilities of the practical reason opened by his critique of theoretical reason, he states that ‘I assume that there really are pure moral laws which determine completely a priori (without regard to empirical motives, that is, to happiness) what is and is not to be done ... and that these laws command in an absolute manner ... and are therefore in every respect necessary.’44 Kant’s ability to explicitly represent this image of morality as an assumption (rather than, as he increasingly does in the Groundwork and second Critique, as a recognized necessity) is rather surprising, until it becomes clear that Kant does not think that it is an assumption that is at all questionable. According to Kant, this assumption is so fundamentally justified that it hardly is worth commenting upon. Why? Because it is a common sense assumption shared by all. According to Kant, ‘I am justified in making this assumption, in that I can appeal not only to the proofs employed by the most enlightened moralists, but to the moral judgments of every man, in so far as he makes the effort to think such a law clearly.’45 As early as the Critique of Pure Reason, then, Kant appeals to the common sense of all ‘men’ as a legitimate way to ground the idea that practical reason exists and takes the form of the imperative image of morality. At this stage, however, Kant has not honed this appeal into the strategy of common sense recognition. Here, it still remains a strategy of argumentation from common sense. It is not surprising, then, that Kant speaks of the Groundwork as analysis – for this is the language of justification and deduction. The ‘morality as autonomy’ interpretation, focusing on the last third of the Groundwork as the most important, suggests that it is an analysis of autonomy that anchors the Groundwork. But if we appreciate the role that common sense might play, the first two-thirds are equally interesting. For examination of the first two sections makes it clear that Kant’s attempt to ground the imperative image of morality is based at least as much on his examination of common sense as on his analysis of autonomy. Consider the following. If Kant’s primary argument in the Groundwork was that a philosophical analysis of autonomy establishes the existence and character of practical reason, it would stand to reason that he would see the role of philosophy as one of critical justification and/or deduction. Yet he

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Kant does not articulate his position as such. Rather, he suggests that profound theoretical explorations are not particularly helpful: ‘there is not the same extreme necessity for the former critique [of practical reason] as for the latter [of theoretical reason] since human reason can, in matters of morality, be easily brought to a high degree of accuracy and precision even in the most ordinary intelligence.’46 Contrary to some versions of the ‘morality as autonomy’ interpretation, Kant suggests that the role of philosophy is not to justify morality but merely to analyse it – that is, to determine the logical implications of an already existing and commanding reason within common sense. What is therefore necessary is a reconstruction of the necessary presuppositions of this actually experienced, yet a priori, ‘given’ of practical common sense reason. According to Kant, then, ‘the method I have adopted in this book is, I believe, one which will work best if we proceed analytically from common knowledge to the formulation of its supreme principle and then back again synthetically.’47 His analysis of the existence and character of practical reason as the image of morality thus has as its foundation the common sense judgments of rational individuals. Philosophy merely clarifies what already finds expression in common sense: ‘In this way the common reason of mankind is impelled, not by any need for speculation (which never assails it so long as it is content to be mere sound reason), but on practical grounds themselves, to leave its own sphere and take a step into the field of practical philosophy. It there seeks to acquire information and precise instruction about the source of its own principles, and about the correct function of this principle in comparison with maxims based on need and inclination, in order that it may escape from the embarrassment of antagonistic claims and may avoid the risk of losing all genuine moral principles because of the ambiguity into which it easily falls.’48 Kantian analysis is therefore merely practical reason realizing itself by clarifying the principles of ordinary morality, dispelling metaphysical and sceptical illusions, and revealing the secure foundation upon which it is practically based. The ‘morality as autonomy’ interpretation might suggest that this analytic common sense method is not, in fact, contradictory to its estimation of the Groundwork. It might suggest, in fact, that the validity of Kant’s analysis of autonomy as a justification of the existence and character of practical reason is merely strengthened, since it is derived precisely from common sense. From this perspective, the ‘morality as

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autonomy’ interpretation might claim that Kant did start from the point of common sense – our common sense of our freedom of the will. Does this interpretation hold up? I don’t believe so. While Kant sometimes suggests that it is almost impossible for us to imagine a rational being without freedom, he never refers to this concept as the point of common sense from which he starts. It is not the assumption of autonomy that we all share from the start, but rather the experience of morality. Kant does not begin the Groundwork by evoking our common belief in the freedom of the will; he begins, rather, by evoking our common sense understanding in the form of the moral will. The ‘common knowledge’ from which the Groundwork starts, in fact, is the claim that it is ‘impossible to conceive anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be taken as good without qualification, except a good will.’49 Starting from this common sense and unquestioned understanding of the pure good will, Kant analyses its preconditions. The concept of the good will, ‘which is already present in a sound natural understanding and requires not so much to be taught as merely to be clarified,’ leads directly to the concept of duty.50 We all agree, he contends, that the pure good will is motivated exclusively by duty, but duty is nothing other than ‘the necessity to act out of reverence for the law.’51 Hence, ‘nothing but the idea of the law in itself ... can constitute that pre-eminent good which we call moral, a good which is already present in the person acting on this idea and has not to be awaited merely from the result.’52 Morality, starting from our common sense understanding of the will, thus is said to exist and take the form of the imperative image of morality. The product of this analysis of common sense, moreover, forms the ground on which the second and third chapters are based. For it is in the second chapter that Kant uses this analysis of common sense morality to make necessary his pure defence of the imperative image of morality. ‘Unless we wish to deny to the concept of morality all truth and all relation to a possible object, we cannot dispute that its law is of such widespread significance as to hold, not merely for men, but for all rational beings as such – not merely subject to contingent conditions and exception, but with absolute necessity.’53 Here, in contrast to his analysis of autonomy, the ‘unless’ (a conceptual cousin of the ‘as if’) is purely rhetorical. For Kant has already asserted that our own common sense gives rise to that concept of morality – and thus that his search for the supreme principle of morality (whose aim is to clarify and make more effective the morality inherent in common sense) is valid. From this

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perspective, then, his analysis of autonomy is designed to buttress common sense morality by offering a second a priori argument for it (and since common sense does not infallibly motivate morality, secondary arguments might prove useful). Autonomy itself, however, is not the primary ground rendering apodictic the imperative image of morality, which has already been achieved by his analysis of common sense. Ultimately, its apodictic nature rests not on the success of his argument from autonomy, but on the fact of our common sense knowledge of good will, duty, and morality. Yet the Groundwork, does not fully develop the strategy of common sense recognition. In addition to the one quotation discussed earlier (see n.36), Kant appeals to our recognition of the moral law only once: in the famous footnote whose ideas Kant would later amplify into the second Critique. In this footnote, Kant discusses the importance of our sense of ‘reverence’ of the law and is particularly concerned to show that while it is a feeling, it is distinct from empirical inclinations or fear. In what will later become a central tenet of the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant describes the relationship of reverence and the law: ‘Although reverence is a feeling, it is not a feeling received through outside influence, but one self-produced by a rational concept and therefore specifically distinct from feelings of the first kind, all of which can be reduced to inclination or fear. What I recognize immediately as law for me, I recognize with reverence, which means merely consciousness of the subordination of my will to a law without the mediation.’54 Here, recognition of the law is instantaneous. It is ‘self-produced by a rational concept’ and thus immediately gives rise to reverence, the pure motivation of morality.55 Kant does not yet claim that recognition plays the crucial role of rendering apodictic what is recognized. Yet in relation to the question of motivation, it is a crucial term, which allows Kant to imagine the immediately necessitating force of an imperative image of morality without relying on empirical inclinations (which would, by their contingent nature, threaten the universality and necessity of that image). The fact that Kant had not yet articulated recognition as the critical practical mode of judgment might explain why, if he is unsure about the success of his analysis of autonomy in the Groundwork, he still thinks it is necessary. For even while he believes that common sense needs only clarification, he also looks to an a priori deduction from autonomy in the hope that it will augment the appearance of necessity of the imperative image of morality. In the Critique of Practical Reason,

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however, the strategy of common sense recognition becomes fully operative and, in allowing Kant to ground his imperative image of morality through recognition, means that the analysis of autonomy no longer needs to claim to ground it even if it does reinforce it. This also explains why Kant, who remains relatively modest about his success in the Groundwork, becomes increasingly rigid in his insistence that the imperative image of morality is both exhaustive of and completely authoritative for the moral realm. 4. The Paradox of Common Sense Recognition in the Critique of Practical Reason Kant ends the Groundwork on an ambiguous note: since we can not know the Idea of freedom and thus cannot be speculatively certain of its ground, we cannot be certain that it justifies a priori what we already recognize in common sense. Yet, since we understand why we cannot know the idea of Freedom (we ‘comprehend its incomprehensibility’56) our reason should be satisfied, insofar as we can use this comprehensible incomprehensibility to repel the objections of moral sceptics who claim to know that morality has no legitimate ground. The analysis of common sense and autonomy, then, can be the ground for a defensive rational faith even if it cannot be the ground for dogmatic claims of moral knowledge. Kant begins the Critique of Practical Reason in a similarly modest manner. He starts with a preliminary definition and an ‘if.’ Practical principles, Kant asserts, take the form of the moral law. ‘Practical principles are propositions that contain a general determination of the will, having under it several practical rules. They are subjective, or maxims, when the condition is regarded by the subject as holding only for his will; but they are objective, of practical laws, when the condition is cognized as objective, that is, as holding for the will of every rational being.’ He then notes that this definition follows if we make an assumption. ‘If it is assumed that pure reason can contain within itself a practical ground, that is, one sufficient to determine the will, then there are practical laws.’57 By the end of the second Critique, however, the idea that practical reason takes the form of the image of morality is no longer qualified by an assumption and an ‘if.’ It has instead become an apodictic fact, which we all must recognize and which we cannot call into question. It has actually become the ground out of which all other practical postu-

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lates emerge. For those practical postulates, according to Kant, are based on our practical need of them. This need ‘is based on something that is indeed quite independent of these suppositions and of itself apodictically certain, namely the moral law.’58 How does Kant, in the space of one critical work, go from offering a legitimate, but by no means certain defence of the existence and character of practical reason to the assertion that its existence in the form of the moral law is so apodictically certain that it can anchor three further practical postulates? It is possible because the second Critique develops and relies on a strategy of common sense recognition. From the perspective of this book, Kant’s goal in the second Critique is to establish the existence of practical reason and demonstrate that it must take the form of the imperative image of morality. As in the Groundwork, common sense acts as a crucial resource in establishing the reality and validity of both throughout the second Critique. It is instructive that whenever Kant forwards a questionable definition or claim about the nature of practical reason, he justifies the act by an appeal to its plainness to the common eye and its obviousness to common sense. Why can we be confident that prudential statements (which would give rise to a very different image of morality) cannot be the ground of a moral system? Because we all recognize them as such: ‘So distinctly and sharply drawn are the boundaries of morality and self-love that even the most common eye cannot fail to distinguish whether something belongs to one or the other.’59 The clarity of common sense, moreover, is central to the legislative authority of morality: ‘What is to be done in accordance with the principle of autonomy of choice is seen quite easily and without hesitation by the most common understanding ... in other words, what duty is is plain of itself to everyone.’ The requirement that common sense must not only undergird, but also define, our image of morality is equally clear. According to Kant, in fact, we can be sure that self-interest is not a suitable form for morality because it is not easily available to common sense: ‘The moral law commands compliance from everyone, and indeed the most exact compliance. Appraising what is to be done in accordance with it must, therefore, not be so difficult that the most common and unpracticed understanding should not know how to go about it.’60 Kant suggests that both the substantive content of actually existing common sense and the very form of common sense seem prove that practical moral reason exists and that it must necessarily take the form of the imperative image of morality.

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As in previous works, Kant expresses an ambivalent attitude towards common sense that often seems to be critical of common opinion. Challenging Hume’s willingness to accord necessity to the common opinion of custom, for example, Kant claims that ‘it is an outright contradiction to want to extract necessity from an empirical proposition (ex pumice aquam) and to give a judgment, along with necessity, true universality ... I do not even mention here that universality of assent does not prove the objective validity of a judgment (i.e., its validity as cognition) but only that even if universal assent should happen to be correct, it still could not yield a proof of agreement with the object.’61 Here, Kant seems to disallow any strategy of common sense recognition. No common agreement about an empirical fact – even if it has universal assent – is sufficient to establish a necessary imperative. It is an outright contradiction to want to do so. Since he has explicitly disallowed common opinion as a resource for philosophy, his own appeals to common sense to ground the imperative image of morality seem confusing and suspect. If we look closely at Kant’s claim, however, we see that he does not disallow every form of common sense; only those forms of common sense that take as a starting point an empirical proposition or judgment and cognition are prohibited. Indeed, it is the empirical variability of those common sense starting points that mean that they are insufficient as a ground for an imperative image of morality. This does not disallow every strategy of common sense recognition – only those derived from an empirical starting point. This explains why Kant seems to deny the validity of common opinion even while the second Critique rests on a very specific appeal to our ‘non-empirical’ (according to Kant) common sense recognition. As we have seen, Kant employs common sense in a variety of works to buttress his claim that the existence and character of practical reason is the imperative image of morality. This is also true, as we shall see, of the second Critique. What is especially telling, however, is that the common sense recognition is the strategy that he uses to defend the most critical foundational moment in the second Critique. For on my reading, there is a key moment in the second Critique where Kant explicitly examines why practical reason must be apodictically accepted as the imperative image of morality. It is notable that the apodictic nature of the moral law is not guaranteed by argumentation, deduction, revelation, or even assertion. Rather, the apodictic nature of the moral law (on which the concept of freedom and the other practical postulates of

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reason rest) is guaranteed by an appeal to our common sense recognition of the moral law. This, I believe, demonstrates Kant’s profound reliance on the strategy of common sense recognition and suggests that we must appreciate its important role to fully understand how his moral project functions. Let us return to the Preface of the second Critique to explore this contention more fully. Kant suggests that the concept of freedom ‘constitutes the keystone of the whole structure of a system of pure reason ... and all other concepts (those of God and immortality) which as mere ideas remain without support in the latter, now attach themselves to this concept and with it and by means of it get stability and objective reality.’62 This passage is often taken to show that the concept of freedom plays as crucial a role in the second Critique as it does in the Groundwork, and thus that the ‘morality as autonomy’ interpretation encompasses both works.76 (I discuss this reading, most famously outlined by Henry Allison, in section 5.) Yet this same passage also shows that, while freedom is the logical keystone, it is not the ultimate stabilizing ground of Kant’s argument. In fact, if we return to that quotation and focus on the phrase that is often skipped over and represented by an ellipsis, it becomes clear that it is the apodictic fact of the moral law that guarantees freedom and thus acts as the ultimate ground of his argument. In that quote, Kant actually states that ‘the concept of freedom, insofar as its reality is proved by an apodictic law of practical reason, constitutes the keystone of the whole structure of a system of pure reason, even of speculative reason; and all other concepts (those of God and immortality) which as mere ideas remain without support in the latter, now attach themselves to this concept and with it and by means of it get stability and objective reality, that is their possibility is proved by this: that freedom is real, for this idea reveals itself through the moral law. But among all the ideas of speculative reason freedom is also the only one the possibility of which we know a priori, though without having insight into it, because is it the condition of the moral law, which we do know.’63

What this passage makes clear is that even if the concept of freedom is the keystone of Kant’s argument, it is a keystone only because it rests on a prior condition: our recognition or knowledge of the moral law. But the idea that we know that practical reason exists and takes the form of the imperative image of morality is exactly what the second Critique has to demonstrate. It cannot simply be assumed as a first prin-

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ciple, since its existence is what is in question. Kant’s entire practical theory, then, rests on whether he can convince us that the universal and necessary character of the moral law is apodictically necessary for us. This tension underlies the second Critique. In general, Kant tries to avoid addressing it, possibly because discussing it would only highlight the most contestable – and most potentially damaging – element of his project. However, Kant does explicitly address the tension at two points in the second Critique. The first instance is found in the seventh section of the first chapter of the first book of the Critique of Practical Reason; Kant introduces the categorical imperative as the ‘fundamental law of pure practical reason’ and argues that our recognition of this moral law proves the existence and character of practical reason. How does Kant prove that this law itself is valid? He does so by arguing that we all recognize it in our consciousness. Consciousness of this fundamental law may be called a fact of reason because one cannot reason it out from antecedent data of reason, for example, from consciousness of freedom (since this is not antecedently given to us) and because it instead forces itself upon us of itself as a synthetic a priori proposition that is not based on any intuition, either pure or empirical, although it would be analytic if the freedom of the will were presupposed; but for this, as a positive concept, an intellectual intuition would be required, which certainly cannot be assumed here. However, in order to avoid misinterpretation in regarding this law as given, it must be noted carefully that it is not an empirical fact but the sole fact of pure reason which, by it, announces itself as originally lawgiving.64

What is our relation to this fact of reason – this consciousness of the imperative image of morality? We do not exactly know it theoretically, though we cognize it as a ‘fact.’ We do not exactly intuit it, since it certainly isn’t merely empirical. Yet we do not simply pull it out of thin air. For not only do we all share it, but it ‘forces itself upon us of itself.’ It thus seems to have the authority and certainty of a synthetic a priori proposition – even though it is not (as synthetic a priori propositions are) ‘based on any intuition, pure or empirical.’ It is the brute fact that we do recognize our consciousness of the moral law, according to Kant, that makes it apodictic. Even here we see that Kant never entirely settles on any single term to describe this strategy of persuasion. The Groundwork sometimes uses the language of recognition – but does not always explicitly connect it

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with his analysis of common sense. In the Critique of Practical Reason, in contrast, recognition and the notion of common sense are usually found together, but the language he uses to express this moment of common sense recognition varies. In the quote above, Kant describes our common sense recognition of the moral law as a ‘fact of reason’ of which we are all ‘conscious.’ What is notable, however, is the degree to which he labours to distance this ‘consciousness’ from its intellectualist and theoretical connotations and how close the moment of ‘consciousness’ is to that of recognition. For example, he notes that we arrive at this consciousness not from any antecedent data, theoretical reasoning, or analysis. Instead, we sense it but cannot know it. Our ‘consciousness’ of the moral law, therefore, is an awareness, a recognized fact, but one that itself is not the result of self-conscious, intellectual deduction. Its authority comes from our recognition of it, rather than any justification of it. The important similarity is that each derives its persuasive force from the idea that our common sense recognizes the moral law and that this recognition itself compels us to obey/respect it. We can see their core similarity and reliance on common sense again in the corollary conclusion to that passage above, in which Kant not only asserts that our recognition of practical reason itself establishes the existence of pure practical reason but also that this recognition ‘gives (to the human being) a universal law which we call the moral law’ a fact that is ‘undeniable.’ How can we be sure that this recognition is legitimate? The fact that we all share it. ‘The fact mentioned above is undeniable. One need only analyze the judgment that people pass on the lawfulness of their actions in order to find that, whatever inclination may say to the contrary, their reason, incorruptible and selfconstrained, always holds the maxim of the will in action up to the pure will, that is, to itself inasmuch as it regards itself as a priori practical.’65 The existence and character of practical reason as the imperative image of morality, then, turns on whether we already share this vision/consciousness/recognition of practical reason. But this is not an argument, a deduction, an analysis or a justification. It is a different mode of philosophical persuasion, one that both asserts the existence of common sense recognition and assumes that this recognition is able to render apodictic and unquestioned the value and fact of the thing that is recognized: the moral law. The logic of this strategy thus amounts to one of two things. On one hand, if we actually do recognize, it merely records the fact of recognition; it thus amounts to an article of faith about our common sense. On the other hand, if we

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do not all recognize immediately (and I will argue in chapters 3 and 4 that Kant implicitly acknowledges that we do not) it is an attempt to invoke an experience of the moral law by deriving a normative claim from a description of common sense recognition. As I outlined in the opening of this chapter, then, Kant’s strategy of common sense recognition rests not simply on whether we experience common sense recognition. It also requires that we recognize the normative authority of common sense recognition. What is impressive about this strategy, however, is that once engaged, the description and invocation reinforce each other and actually work towards rendering apodictic the imperative image of morality. For if we begin to recognize Kant’s articulation of common sense in ourselves, we are predisposed to accept its normative undercurrent. And once we recognize the moral worth of common sense, we are predisposed to find, and perhaps even cultivate, common sense recognition within us. It might be that Kant does not naively assume the actual existence of common sense so much as design a self-perpetuating moral technique that assumes and explores common sense recognition in the hope of kickstarting the virtuous circle of moral recognition. If this is the case, it also helps to explain why Kant felt he had to make room for rational faith. For Kant acknowledges that common sense recognition can never be fully explained or proved. The most we can do is defend its possibility without claiming that defence can actively prove that we all must recognize: ‘How this consciousness of moral laws, or what is the same thing, this consciousness of freedom cannot be further explained; its admissibility can, however, be defended in the theoretical Critique.’66 Now Kant, it might be said, sees this recognition as inherent to the very nature of reason itself – a basic level of which he thought was uniformly distributed throughout humanity – and that common sense recognition is thus not merely an article of faith for Kant, but a starting assumption. It may well be an assumption. Yet it is one that (as Kant is well aware) can be only defended, not deduced or proved. And if it can be only defended, but not proved, then our recognition of the moral law must be the most profound element of rational faith if Kant’s philosophical system is to reach apodictic necessity. For since it is the linchpin that proves the necessity of the rest of the practical postulates, it cannot (as Kant sometimes tries to do) be granted necessity from them (e.g. autonomy), but must remain an article/fact of faith that undergirds the entire structure of practical reason. It is, in sum, a

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grounding condition of possibility, not just a neutral and incontestable practical assumption. Yet, since its aim is to establish unquestionably the imperative image of morality, the strategy of common sense recognition consistently encourages Kant to overstep the modesty of his defensive conclusions and extend his faith in recognition into a more aggressive moral project. As the second Critique unfolds, we can see the temptation become overpowering as this text increasingly gives the imperative image of morality an authoritative practical necessity, even though the moral law is grounded only by (contestable) common sense recognition. We can see the emergence of this more aggressive stance particularly clearly in the second key point in which Kant discusses the apodictic nature of the moral law. Just several sections beyond the first instance examined above, Kant’s thinking is increasingly unwilling to restrict itself to a ‘defence’ of the possibility of morality. Rather, in the second Critique he now claims that the moral law is clearly and firmly grounded in itself: ‘The moral law is given, as it were, as a fact of pure reason of which we are a priori conscious and which is apodictically certain, though it be granted that no example of exact observance of it can be found in experience. Hence the moral law cannot be proved by any deduction, by any efforts of theoretical reason, speculatively or empirically supported, so that, even if one were willing to renounce its apodictic certainty, it could not be confirmed by experience and thus proved a posteriori; and it is nevertheless firmly established of itself.’67 The moral law cannot be known, cannot be deduced, cannot be explained, cannot be empirically demonstrated. Yet it is nevertheless firmly established of itself because we recognize it in our a priori consciousness. That sounds a lot like an article of faith. But is it a defensible and imperative faith – as Kant’s philosophy now seems to represent it? According to Kant, rational faith is rational because there is a practical need for it. Faith in the practical postulates is rational because they are underwritten by the practical necessity of their assumption to allow our comprehension of morality (which is taken to be a priori recognized and apodictic). Since here it is the fact of morality itself that is in question, however, he cannot appeal to them for its necessity, lest it create a logical tautology worthy of the antinomies. Thus, Kant’s faith in the apodictic recognition of the moral law rests only on itself – that is, on our continued recognition evidenced by our inability to think

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morality as other than this imperative image. We must already share a moral consciousness if we are to re-cognize it and find moral/logical sustenance in this recognition. The Kantian Imperative seems to understand that analysis, deduction, or justification cannot forge an argument so forceful and coherent that it renders apodictic the imperative image of morality for those not already inclined to accept it. In response, it creates a strategy of common sense recognition in the hope that it would close the logical aporia of moral thought. What it discloses, however, is that common sense recognition itself leads to a paradox, whose resolution may be beyond the powers of Kant’s philosophical system (hence the importance of the tactics of practical cultivation we will examine in the next chapters). For either we do recognize – and common sense recognition merely tells us and reinforces what we already know apodictically; or we do not recognize – and common sense recognition must struggle to engender the experience of recognition through a normative and disciplinary description of itself. In both cases, however, the moral law is only as strong as – and is thus ultimately contingent upon – the fact of our recognition of the moral law. This explains why Kant is sometimes so careful to suggest that the moment of recognition is possible and defensible, but still speculatively inconclusive and thus only defensible. For ultimately the strategy of common sense recognition functions only if the agent subject to that strategy already accepts morality and thus shares the common a priori re-cognition of the moral law as a fact of reason. If I do not share that moment of recognition, if I do not see the moral law within me, Kant’s moral philosophical project loses most of its traction and has very few resources to convince me that (a) practical reason exists as morality and (b) morality is defined primarily as a universal and necessary law. For if I do not recognize its common sense, chances are high that I will also fail to recognize its moral authority and fail to be moved by its moral censure. A serious problem is thus created for Kant and the Kantian Imperative. The paradox of the strategy of common sense recognition is that while it is based on the idea that we all inherently share and obey certain common values, it is unable to guarantee this reverence if anyone should fall outside its system of recognition. While Kant sometimes seems to suggest that he cannot conceive of a person who doesn’t recognize the moral law and would rather be good than bad, as we shall see in the next chapter, he is well aware of the problems posed not only

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by weak-willed subjects who do recognize but also by strong-willed subjects who do not recognize.68 Kant’s moral system, then, might appeal to common sense recognition to capture and enhance the moral disposition of the bulk of the population who might share its moral recognition. It cannot limit itself to a strategy of common sense recognition, however, lest it give up its ability to universally discipline its subjects, including those strong-willed subjects who do not immediately share the experience of common sense recognition. What are these other strategies designed to universally and necessarily capture and discipline strong-willed subjects who do not share the experience of common sense recognition? I will return to this question in the last section, but before I explore it further, I want to briefly discuss an interpretation of Kant that offers a final important and contending interpretation of some of the issues I have raised so far in this chapter. 5. Common Sense Recognition and the Reciprocity Thesis Over the last two chapters, I have tried to show that the imperative image of morality and the appeal to common sense recognition are not errors, miscues, or random fragments of Kant’s thinking. Instead, I have suggested that these elements are central to the way his moral project functions. As we have seen, the morality as autonomy interpretation has a hard time explaining the existence and key role of common sense recognition in his work. However, Henry Allison’s interpretation of Kant’s moral thinking might be seen as an important contending vision to the one sketched out here; for Allison’s interpretation might be viewed as understanding the importance of the appeal to common sense recognition in Kant’s philosophy. Moreover, we could understand Allison’s work as arguing that Kant’s strategy of common sense recognition is part of a ‘reciprocal’ method that ultimately successfully and legitimately grounds his moral conclusions. As such, Allison’s interpretation might be viewed as a more orthodox explanation for some of the elements I have analysed. Essentially, Allison argues that the moral law and the deduction of transcendental freedom/autonomy are reciprocal arguments that ground one another adequately. Allison’s work begins from Kant’s famous statement that ‘freedom and unconditional practical law reciprocally imply each other’69 and suggests that a ‘Kantian justification of morality must move in one of two possible directions: (1) it can

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attempt to provide an independent proof of transcendental freedom and infer from this the validity of the moral law; or (2) it can attempt to establish the moral law and infer from this the reality of freedom.’70 According to Allison, Kant takes up the first direction in the Groundwork and the second in the Critique of Practical Reason, and the reliability of his arguments relies on the success of both. Allison acknowledges that Kant’s assumption of the ‘fact’ of the moral law means that his deduction cannot compel those ‘ethical non-Kantians’71 (‘amoralists’ is the revealing and problematic term Allison uses) who do not recognize the moral law as Kant articulates it. The importance of Kant’s analysis of freedom, then, is that while it does not prove the necessity of (or exactly justify) the moral law, it makes it more likely and more difficult for non-Kantians to contest his conclusions. For Kant’s analysis of freedom, Allison argues, shows that we cannot assume transcendental freedom and accept the importance of morality without accepting Kant’s conclusions. The argument is still an ‘if’ – if we accept the importance of morality and see ourselves as transcendentally free, we must accept Kant’s vision of practical reason. But Allison thinks that this if is a very small one.72 In fact, Allison is willing to bet that this argument is persuasive enough that most rational amoralists will be compelled to recognize Kant’s moral law – and is thus strong enough to secure Kant’s entire system.73 The importance of Allison’s interpretation for my argument should be clear. Where I have argued that Kant fails to ground his system unconditionally even with his strategy of common sense recognition, Allison would argue (a) that the analysis of freedom itself functions to ground the fact of the moral law; (b) that this allows Kant to view the moral law as legitimately apodictic towards the end of the second critique; and (c) that Kant’s further deductions of his rational faith in relation to god, the soul, and even politics legitimately flow from apodictic proof of the moral law rather than being (as I will argue in the next section) practical concepts that are created to support and strengthen common sense recognition. If, in other words, Kant’s work successfully creates a universally and necessarily binding justification through reciprocal analysis, it would thus be able to support its imperative image of morality, and this would challenge my presentation and implicit critique of the strategy of common sense recognition as a key element in the Kantian Imperative. While Allison’s interpretation is a nuanced and detailed rendering, whose creativeness and modesty embody some of the most admirable

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elements of the Kantian project, it does not succeed in this task. For if Allison’s reconstruction of Kant’s thought is to successfully portray and defend Kant’s project, he must show both that (a) freedom and the moral law are reciprocal and function to justify one another and (b) that this process of reciprocal justification is ultimately philosophically successful. When we examine each of these two points, however, it becomes clear that Allison’s portrayal and defence of Kant, while strong, is neither incontestable nor authoritative. Consider point (a) first. While Kant does, at times, suggest that freedom and the moral law imply one another, this is not necessarily the same thing as saying they justify or ground one another. In the Groundwork, of course, he is explicit (at times) that part of his aim is to use an analysis of freedom to ground the moral law (although, as argued above, I do not think this is his primary strategy). In the second Critique, however, he does not claim that his analysis of freedom justifies the moral law. Rather, he carefully states only that they imply one another. This fact alone should give us pause in attributing justificatory status to this reciprocal implication. I would think, moreover, that Allison’s interpretation bears an especially heavy burden of proof, given our discussion (p. 68) of the preface of the second Critique (in which it became clear that the postulate of freedom follows from our prior recognition of the moral law) and my examination of the role of common sense recognition (where it became clear that the analysis of autonomy is far from the only argument of the Groundwork). A second important problem with point (a) is that Allison’s interpretation does not take seriously enough the significant difference in status of the two terms (moral law and freedom). For this leads Allison’s interpretation to incorrectly argue that each term is equally able to justify the other. The crux of Allison’s belief that freedom and the moral law can reciprocally justify each other rests on Kant’s claim (quoted above) that ‘freedom and unconditional practical law reciprocally imply each other’74 However, it is far from clear that the second Critique actually creates an equal and reciprocal relationship between the two. Allison partially acknowledges the inequality by noting that freedom is the minor partner of the two, but his interpretation nonetheless argues that despite this slight disequilibrium, our experience (and analysis) of freedom is sufficiently robust that it can still justify the ‘fact’ of the moral law. In particular, Allison’s interpretation clearly suggests (a) that in the second Critique, the analysis of freedom does function to justify the moral law and (b) that, within that logic, an

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analysis of freedom could justify the moral law sufficiently to render legitimate Kant’s increasing practical dogmatism. Are these claims defensible? If we return to the context of the quotation Allison uses to begin his reconstruction, it turns out that Kant clearly states that it is only through our consciousness of the moral law that we have the concept of freedom at all. Allison’s presentation is accurate insofar as it notes that Kant does state that ‘freedom and the unconditional practical law reciprocally imply one another.’75 However, what Allison does not highlight and analyse is the fact that Kant immediately follows that statement with a question as to whether the cognition of practical reason starts ‘from freedom or from the practical law?’ On this point Kant is explicit: it ‘cannot start from freedom, for we can neither be immediately conscious of this, since the first concept of it is negative, nor can we conclude it from experience ... It is therefore the moral law, of which we become immediately conscious (as soon as we draw up maxims of the will for ourselves) that first offers itself to us and, in as much as reason presents it as a determining ground not to be outweighed by any sensible conditions and indeed quite independent of them, leads directly to the concept of freedom.’76 Kant states, in fact, that we would never have been able to conceptualize our freedom without our prior recognition of the moral law: ‘One would never have ventured to introduce freedom into science had not the moral law, and with it practical reason, come in and forced this concept upon us.’77 But if our concept of freedom is already dependent on our priori recognition of the moral law, can an analysis of the concept be said to add anything to that first recognition, other than to restate Kant’s belief/hope/faith that the moral law can never be deduced or proved, yet is still in itself firmly established? Does the analysis of freedom, then, offer an independent justification of the ‘fact’ of recognition? No. Our consciousness and conceptualization of freedom relies on our prior recognition of the moral law. Therefore, can Kant’s analysis of freedom in the second Critique be viewed as adequately justifying the moral law as an apodictic and necessary fact? This, too, now seems very unlikely, a point that, despite some of his stronger statements,78 Allison also seems to understand at times. For example, he acknowledges that even if Kant’s philosophy does make a reciprocal argument, it still offers only a qualified defence of the imperative image of morality at best. According to Allison, ‘even if sound, the argument offered here for the Reciprocity Thesis hardly suffices to establish the Kantian version of morality. It shows only that

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we cannot both affirm our freedom (construed in the transcendental sense) and reject the categorical imperative. In this respect it can be said to have established the price of moral scepticism. The problem of course, is that this price (the rejection of transcendental freedom) is one that the moral sceptic (or the rational egoist) is more than willing to pay.’79 While Allison’s reading is a creative and strong attempt to reconstruct Kant’s approach, it does not explain away and solve the issues highlighted by my reading of the Kantian Imperative. First, since Kant’s comments about the relationship between the moral law and freedom clearly show that the moral law is prior to, and in fact generative of, our consciousness of freedom, the analysis of freedom cannot be a sufficient justification of the moral law itself. As such, our common sense recognition of the moral law – while perhaps buttressed by the construction and analysis of concepts such as freedom – still ultimately stands and falls on its own. From this perspective, the strategy of appealing to common sense recognition itself must be viewed as a central and distinct strategy that is irreducible to more orthodox modes of philosophical argumentation – not even one as creative as reciprocal justification. In turn, this means that the Kantian Imperative faces the same problem identified at the end of the previous section. If analysis of autonomy, reciprocal justification, and the strategy of common sense recognition all fail to make incontestably necessary the imperative image of morality for all potential moral subjects, the Kantian Imperative must look to other strategies and tactics. 6. From the ‘If’ to the ‘Must’: Theoretical Scepticism, Practical Dogmatism I believe that Kant’s philosophy does develop a number of further philosophical strategies designed to buttress the apodictic appearance of the moral law and to disguise and underpin the contingent starting point of his universal and necessary moral system. Although I do not have the space to examine these strategies here, we might see the teleological logic of Kant’s various political and historical writings as an attempt to make common sense recognition appear as necessary by outlining a secular, rational faith whose narrative suggests that our apodictic recognition of the imperative image of morality is the logical end of our moral, cultural, and spiritual development insofar as we can know/think them. As we shall see in the next two chapters, Kant

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also creates a diverse array of practical arts of cultivation designed to create and cultivate the actual experience and authority of common sense recognition in his moral subjects. Before we turn to these practical arts, however, I want to identify one last philosophical tendency that remains important in contemporary theory as well: the slippage between a modest and defensive theoretical position and an aggressively dogmatic practical position. For I contend that this slippage is systematic enough that we should consider it a tactic that functions to minimize the contestability of the common sense recognition of the imperative image of morality. As we have already seen, Kant’s thinking contains both moments of careful modesty and moments of unqualified overconfidence about the status of his moral project. In particular, we have seen how the modestly defensive position of the Groundwork transforms into the far more authoritative tone of the second Critique, where the moral law is increasingly portrayed not only as defensible, but as necessarily authoritative, even through we have little corroborating proof other then our practical common sense recognition of it. While it might be defensible to conclude that Kant’s strategy of common sense recognition might be sufficient to obligate moral subjects who share that common sense recognition (though I don’t believe that common sense recognition achieves even that), it is a much greater stretch to argue that Kant’s strategy can support the assertion that even subjects who do not recognize (and for whom the logic of the second Critique would thus be a non-starter) must recognize and obey. The second Critique, however, ultimately makes exactly these claims and seeks to justify them by drawing a critical distinction between the theoretical and practical realms of reason. For the way this distinction is drawn and employed allows Kant’s philosophy to claim a theoretical modesty while simultaneously benefiting from the effects of a practical dogmatism. In discussing the practical postulates of reason near the end of final section (‘Dialectic of Practical Reason’) of Part I of the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant argues that these are not only defensible articles of faith, but necessary postulates of rational belief. According to Kant, their rational necessity and validity stems from their indispensability to our conception of morality. All three of the practical postulates, Kant argues, ‘proceed from the principle of morality, which is not a postulate but a law by which reason determines the will immediately; and this will, just because it is so determined as a pure will, requires these necessary conditions for observance of its precept.’80

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Since they cannot be theoretically understood, these postulates are not known objects but practical ideas, whose legitimacy depends on their necessary relationship with the moral law. Yet, according to Kant, ‘they receive objective reality through an apodictic practical law, as necessary conditions of the possibility of what it commands us to make an object.’ In this practical capacity, these ideas become ‘immanent and constitutive, inasmuch as they are grounds of the possibility of making real the necessary object of pure practical reason (the highest good), whereas apart from this they are transcendent and merely regulative principles of speculative reason.’81 Kant, of course, is careful to separate the practical certainty of these postulates from theoretical certainty – and thus preserve his claim to theoretical modesty. Yet what is remarkable is the degree to which these practical postulates have also hardened into constitutive and authoritative ideas in practice, even if they can be merely regulative in theory. These practical postulates, then, are no longer merely defensible articles of a rational faith, but necessary articles of belief that every moral subject must share. Again, Kant is careful with his presentation. He acknowledges that ‘it might almost seem as if this rational belief is here announced as itself a command, namely to assume the highest good as possible. But a belief that is commanded is an absurdity.’ The practical postulates themselves, therefore, do not command obedience. Viewing them as theoretically certain commands would be to reduce them to religious dogmata. Kant thus maintains theoretical modesty. Yet he can maintain this theoretical modesty because he creates a practical dogmatism. For Kant simultaneously argues that failure to believe the practical postulates would be to question the very possibility of the moral law: ‘Now with respect to the first element of the highest good, namely that which concerns morality, the moral law gives merely a command, and to doubt that possibility of the component would be tantamount to calling in question the moral law itself’82 (which the text clearly assumes is impossible). It is thus not religious doctrine, but rather the practical requirements of the moral law that guarantee the necessity of the practical postulates. Although the practical postulates are merely ‘subjectively necessary,’ Kant also notes that as a condition of the possibility of morality, they are derived from an ‘objective law of reason.’ Since the moral law is ‘objectively necessary (though only as a consequence of practical reason) ... it follows that the principle that determines our judgment

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about it, though it is subjective as a need, is yet, as the means of promoting what is objectively (practically) necessary ... a pure practical rational belief.’ These practical postulates are thus ‘not commanded.’ However, as ‘voluntary determination[s] of our judgment conducive to the moral (commanded) purpose’ that have ‘arisen from the moral disposition,’ we must obey them as unquestionable imperatives. According to Kant, our ability to embody these imperatives ‘can often waver even in the well-disposed,’ but we can never ‘fall into unbelief’ about the existence and shape of the moral law.83 There are a number of important issues here. One might ask whether the specific practical postulates Kant identifies are the only, or even the right, ones actually necessary to support the moral law. One might also examine in more detail the slippage in Kant’s language between subjective and objective necessity and interrogate the very coherency of the ideal of subjective necessity. The most crucial issue for our discussion, however, is the fact that, whatever term he uses (universal subjective necessity, objective practical necessity), Kant now wants to accord unconditional necessity to the practical conditions morality requires. Within the framework of the second Critique, it makes sense to accord necessity to the moral law – if we grant that the moral law is apodictic. Yet although in the second Critique he now ignores this point, it is important to remember that Kant has not determined that it is so (beyond the appeal to common sense recognition). In fact, we might recall that Kant’s discussion of the moral law left inconclusive the apodictic nature of the moral law and instead described it primarily as defensible position. By late in the second Critique, however, Kant has erased this irritating fact and, in fact, re-described our recognition of the moral law as necessarily apodictic, translating a can into a must. Commenting on the basis of the practical postulates, Kant suggests that ‘a need of pure practical reason is based on a duty ... This duty is based on something that is indeed quite independent of these suppositions and of itself apodictically certain, namely the moral law.’84 It might be defensible to argue that this claim is valid for those subjects who share Kant’s common sense recognition. But Kant is not willing to limit the pull of subjective necessity to merely those who recognize. Rather, he clearly claims that his argument pertains not merely to those who already share recognition, but to every rational being. The practical postulates force themselves upon all of us objectively, Kant argues, because we all necessarily start from the same

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imperative image of morality. The postulates, Kant claims, are made for the sake of a practically necessary end of a pure rational will, which does not here choose; instead it obeys an inflexible command of reason that has its ground objectively in the character of things as they must be appraised universally by pure reason and is not based upon, say, inclination, which is by no means justified in at once assume, for the sake of what we wish on merely subjective grounds, that the means to it are possible or that its object is real. This is, accordingly a need from an absolutely necessary point of view and justifies its presupposition not merely as a permitted hypothesis but as a postulate from a practical point of view; and granted that the pure moral law inflexibly binds everyone as a command, the upright man may well say ... I will not let this belief be taken from me; for this is the only case in which my interest, because I may not give up anything of it, unavoidably determines my judgment.85

There are a number of points worth considering in this passage. First, while Kant allows that the practical should be understood as subjective, he is also insistent that the moral law nonetheless ‘inflexibly binds everyone as a command.’ So the subjective now takes on some of the qualities usually reserved for the objective. Kant does not say that our practical wills should be bound inflexibly by moral reason as if it has its grounds objectively in the character of things as they are appraised universally by reason. Instead, he says that the inflexible command of practical reason is grounded in the character of things as they are universally appraised. He is careful to ensure that he is not making a theoretical claim about things in themselves. He is at pains, however, to shift from claims that are only subjectively necessary (from the perspective of the first Critique) to claims that now practically have the force of objective claims. I am not suggesting that Kant regresses to a pre-critical standard by confusing subjective and objective necessity. What I am suggesting is that Kant’s inclination towards the language of objectivity to describe what should really be called subjective necessity is symptomatic of his logic here. For he is attempting to create a practical mode of necessity to shore up the contingency of common sense recognition, central to which is the attempt to give the moral law an apodictic status it has not yet been legitimately proved to possess.86 This strategy of marrying theoretical modesty and practical dogmatism cannot be explained by either the morality as autonomy interpre-

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tation or even Allison’s reciprocity thesis. For even Allison appreciates that the best a reciprocity argument can hope for is a defensible justification – not a universally and necessarily compelling command. Yet Kant’s own thinking goes well beyond what Allison – and the Kant of the Groundwork – would authorize. From the perspective of our analysis of the Kantian Imperative, however, this move towards practical dogmatism is entirely logical. For if Kant’s moral project is guided by the imperative image of morality and is defended by a strategy that ultimately rests on the contingent fact of common sense recognition, even a strong faith in continued common sense recognition couldn’t hide the precariousness of the entire system. The mere existence of the ‘if’ challenges the universal basis of the imperative image of morality. The logic of the Kantian Imperative encourages those who accept its aims and arguments to worry that acts of non-recognition could easily infect other ‘weak wills,’ multiplying virally and threatening to upend the entire moral system at its base. In fact, the very logic of common sense recognition combined with the drive to universality and necessity of the imperative image of morality might well inspire a need for ever increasing dogmatic certainty and thus a desire to create multiple ‘back-up’ strategies designed to cultivate and reinforce recognition. The analysis of autonomy (and perhaps an argument from the perspective of reciprocal justification) are philosophical strategies designed to rationally inspire moral obedience. However, we can now also see that the strategy of common sense recognition and the practice of slipping between theoretical modesty and practical dogmatism are crucial strategies of persuasion aimed at disciplining moral obedience. We have also seen, however, that these strategies cannot guarantee universal and necessary moral obedience – especially in ethical subjects who do not ‘recognize’ themselves in Kant’s philosophical system. It is this failure, I believe, that explains why Kant ultimately creates a series of practices designed to capture and intensify the affect of humiliation. For the use of humiliation allows Kant’s system to cultivate and heighten the corporeal experience of common sense recognition of, and thus obedience to, the imperative image of morality. Kant’s complex culture of humiliation is thus the focus of the next two chapters.


Cultivating a Kantian Moral Disposition

There is no specific moral action that does not refer to a unified moral conduct; no moral conduct that does not call for the forming of oneself as an ethical subject; and no forming of the ethical subject without ‘modes of subjectivation’ and an ‘ascetics’ or ‘practices of the self’ that support them. Moral action is indissociable from these forms of self-activity. ~ Michel Foucault1

If Kant’s project develops a number of philosophical strategies to render apodictic the imperative image of morality (primary among them the appeal to common sense recognition), and yet none of them successfully renders that image incontestably apodictic, what is Kant to do? If Kant’s entire moral edifice ultimately rests on our common sense recognition of the moral law; if without recognition, the structure and persuasiveness of the Kantian Imperative crumbles; and if even the strategy of common sense recognition cannot assure him that everyone will recognize, what other avenues and strategies does Kant’s philosophy engage to resolve this crisis? One possibility is that Kant’s project could turn to the arts and practices of cultivation to attempt to create a moral disposition that would be more likely to experience this common sense recognition and thus accept as apodictic and authoritative the imperative image of morality. Given the predominance of the formalist portrait of Kant in political theory and philosophy, this hypothesis might sound slightly absurd. Yet theorists as varied as Augustine, St Benedict, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Montesquieu, de Tocqueville, Hegel, Michael Sandel, Robert Putnam, Michel de Certeau, Gilles Deleuze, and Michel Foucault all

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suggest that ethical, political, and moral systems require more than merely a set of principles. Each of these theorists also argues that ethical, political, and moral systems also need a thriving cultural soil of formal and informal practices, habits, and character that inspire its subjects to follow the principles, encourage them to accept the overarching spirit and justification of those principles, and ensure that they are reproduced in new generations. Foucault offers some contemporary, useful terminology that highlights what many of the thinkers named above appreciate. In The Use of Pleasure, Foucault claims that every functioning morality comprises two elements: ‘codes of behavior and forms of subjectivation.’2 The first element, which is often manifested in a series of laws, is the element of a morality that stipulates its legitimate and prohibited behavior. The second, which Foucault calls an ‘ascetics,’ is the series of practices and habits that a moral system uses to cultivate moral behaviour within its subjects. Foucault suggests that these ‘ascetics’ can range from the strict juridical punishment and prohibition of a highly codified morality to the voluntary practices of self-cultivation a more self-oriented ethics might seek to encourage. The key point is the idea that even highly codified moralities also seek to practically cultivate a certain type of subject, one whose disciplined second nature, as it were, affectively reinforces codified prohibitions. Why is this work of affective cultivation important? Because the subject is never a tabula rasa. Social practices, emotions, interests, instincts, and affective energies all push and pull the body and the mind, sometimes in tandem with a code, sometimes in contrast. It is for this reason that William Connolly suggests that an ethical system, if it is to be effective, must be part of and further cultivate an ethical sensibility: ‘An ethical sensibility, you might say, is composed through a particular layering of affect into the materiality of thought. A sensibility, thereby, is a constellation of thought-imbued intensities and feelings. To work on an already established sensibility by tactical means, then, is to address some of these layers in relation to others ... To foreground the importance of arts of the self, then, is to flag the insufficiency of argument to ethical life without denying its pertinence.’3 On this reading, a political and ethical sensibility is created by a vast array of forces on a variety of layers of the self. And although moral systems attempt to craft a subject’s sensibility in a particular manner, a sensibility is never simply the result of ethical practices. Rather, a sensibility is the result of the force of every type of moral, social, cultural, personal,

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and bodily experience, instinct, and learned habit. From this perspective, moral and political projects must not only outline principles and laws. They must also cultivate (through a wide variety of practices ranging from self-reflection to physical punishment) a broader political and ethical/moral disposition – for example, a sensibility of thoughts, thought-imbued intensities, feelings and affects. In a growing body of secondary literature the role that philosophical and religious practices can play in cultivating these dispositions has been investigated. In his famous Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique Pierre Hadot, for example, employs the idea of ‘spritual exercise’ to investigate the way that intellectual disciplines and practices were used to create ascetic dispositions by classical philosophy.4 Peter Brown and others have also examined similar trends in medieval philosophy.5 Given this context, it does not seem so strange to suggest that Kant’s moral project, too, might depend on cultivating a multi-layered moral disposition that can strengthen common sense recognition of the moral law – and thus motivate obedience to the imperative image of morality. Yet the overwhelming view in philosophy and political theory rejects the relevance of these questions in Kant’s project. While a few scholars have very recently begun to examine his work with an eye to the role of cultivation,6 the overwhelming majority of philosophers and political theorists continue to view it as entirely unconcerned with such practices. One of the most common perceptions about Kant’s moral philosophy continues to be the idea that it is profoundly formalist – that is, entirely unconcerned with the problem of how to cultivate a moral disposition that would connect abstract philosophical laws with the culture and habits of its subjects. In fact, many political theorists would argue that Kant’s formalism is the foundation of one of the central divisions in contemporary political thought. On this view, theorists either follow Kant in striving for a neutral and formal theory or they follow Aristotle and Hegel in appreciating the importance of virtue and moral and civic training.7 We can see how widely this formalist interpretation defines political theorists’ and philosophers’ conceptions of Kant through a brief examination of the way in which his philosophy is portrayed by prominent theorists on opposite sides of the liberal-communitarian debate. In many ways, elements of Hegel’s interpretation of Kant remain absolutely central for both liberal and communitarian interpretations. Hegel argues, most famously in the Philosophy of Right, that the Kantian

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moral philosophy is profoundly formalist and that the merit of Kant’s philosophy is that it was the first to emphasize the significance of abstract duty and the relationship of duty and freedom for the self.8 Hegel, of course, further critiques Kant by arguing that his philosophy incompletely realizes the promise of this insight and that its formalism leads to a variety of fundamental problems, including the essential ‘emptiness’ of the Kantian categorical imperative. In Hegel’s view, ‘to cling on to a merely moral point of view without making the transition to the concept of ethics reduces this gain to an empty formalism, and moral science to an empty rhetoric of duty for duties’ sake’ – which in turn leads to a number of other problems.9 While there is a wide diversity of contemporary neo-Hegelian interpretations of Kant, virtually all of them accept both Hegel’s portrait and his critical assessment of Kant’s formalism.10 They accept Hegel’s estimation that Kant’s philosophy is profoundly formalist, and they develop the charge that Kant’s formalism badly mis-describes or misunderstands the way that moral motivation functions, rendering Kant’s project incapable of sufficiently motivating the moral will.11 While prominent liberals challenge the neo-Hegelian critique, many liberal interpretations of Kant parallel, in important ways, Hegel’s basic interpretation of Kant’s philosophy as formalist. In fact, many contemporary political theorists and philosophers defend the Kantian project because of its formalism (which is viewed as creating a defensible universal and neutral model of morality). John Rawls’s interpretation of Kant and his perspective on the proper role of contemporary ethical and political theory cogently expresses this view. Rawls argues that Kant’s conception of the moral law, the categorical imperative, and what Rawls views as the ‘CI-procedure’ are three distinct elements (the moral law is a ‘pure idea of reason,’ whereas the categorical imperative, and the CI-procedure are concretizations appropriate for ‘finite beings with needs’).12 What is crucial is that Rawls, too, believes that Kant’s philosophy addresses all three elements (even the most concrete of the three – the CI procedure) from a strictly formal perspective. In fact, according to Rawls’s reading, Kant’s formalism is deeply embedded in his view of the moral and rational nature of all human subjects: ‘Kant is concerned solely with the reasoning of fully reasonable and rational and sincere agents. The CI-procedure is a schema to characterize the framework of deliberation that such agents use implicitly in their moral thought. He takes for granted that the application of this [CI] procedure presupposes a certain moral sensibility that is part of our

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common humanity.’13 Rawls’s own work follows this formalist path when he makes a set of similar assumptions about the nature of human reasoning in the original position14 and when he asserts that certain elements of public reason have now become sufficiently common (sensical) so as to be legitimately viewed as an authoritative overlapping consensus.15 My key aim in chapters 3 and 4 is to evaluate the sufficiency of this shared interpretation of Kant’s project as profoundly formalist and thus unconcerned with cultivating a moral disposition. In contrast to this prevalent interpretation, I will show that Kant’s philosophy appreciates the importance of arts of cultivation and, in response to the potential fragility of its philosophical strategies, develops a variety of practices that seek to cultivate a deep Kantian moral disposition. My reconsideration therefore attempts neither to support a neo-Hegelian critique nor to buttress a neo-Kantian defence. Rather, I seek to recover an overlooked richness in Kant’s philosophy on the question of cultivation, which, as we will see in Part II, has other important implications for contemporary theory. Recovering this richer conception of cultivation in Kant is not an easy task. Orthodox interpretations might pre-emptively dismiss my suggestion that Kant’s moral project harnesses and employs cultural resources by assuming that my reading fails to distinguish between various forms of motivation where his reading clearly did. Such critics might presume that my reading confuses pure moral incentives for sensible inclinations and thus badly misconstrues what is permissible to Kant’s project (i.e., pure incentives derived from the moral law) with impermissible elements (i.e., empirically and culturally variable affects). I want to argue, however, that Kant’s own distinction between these two realms of motivation is more complex than such interpretations allow. In particular, over the next two chapters I will show that a careful consideration of Kant’s thinking reveals that a deep appreciation of the role of affective cultivation and a willingness to use these powerful affects and emotions to cultivate a moral disposition (which recognizes the imperative image of morality) lie at the heart of his philosophy. I will outline in detail Kant’s concrete cultivation of the affect of humiliation in the next chapter. In order to answer some of the potential concerns raised above, however, and to make plausible the analysis contained in chapter 4, I will first undertake the necessary step of showing that Kant’s thinking is not reducible to the prevalent formalist

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portrait. As such, in this chapter I will focus on demonstrating three major points. In the first section the fact that Kant’s philosophy explicitly acknowledges the problem of moral motivation and the need for cultivating and training a proper moral disposition is shown. In the second section I challenge a related formalist portrait of Kant that argues that Kant’s solution to the issue of moral motivation and cultivation remains purely rational and intellectual. In contrast, I show that the Kantian approach to cultivation contains a profound, but complex, appreciation of the role that feelings and affect play in moral cultivation. The third section concludes the chapter by offering a brief explanation of why this interest in practical cultivation not only makes sense given the textual evidence in Kant’s writings, but is also quite plausible given a number of other contextual factors surrounding Kant’s project. 1. The Fragility of Common Sense Recognition and Moral Motivation To understand Kant’s peculiar relationship with moral motivation, culture, and affect, we need to briefly return to the problem that Kant’s strategy of common sense recognition leaves us with. When Kant’s official thinking describes the ‘fact’ of recognition as a ground that can never be in doubt, it seems unconcerned by, and even unaware of, the precariousness of his moral system. In this mood, the ‘fact’ of recognition is often described as something that can never fall completely into ‘disbelief’ (and thus non-recognition). At these moments, Kant’s writings suggest that recognition of the moral law, like conscience and moral feeling, exists in everyone, even the most hardened of criminals.16 As we saw in the Rawls quote, formalist readings focus almost exclusively on these moments. Kant’s writings, however, offer a series of other claims that problematize the idea that his philosophy is as optimistic as these official formulations suggest. Consider, for example, his description of the nature of immorality in Religion within the Limits of Reason.17 According to Kant, while humanity has an original predisposition towards good, it also has a ‘propensity to evil.’18 This propensity to evil cannot be located in the fact of our sensible inclinations or in the nature of practical reason; it must therefore be found in the nature of the Willkur – which does not, Kant is careful to note, exactly rebel against the moral law so much as it allows immorality to emerge by choosing sensible inclinations over the incentives of the moral law. What is fascinating

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about his description of this propensity towards immorality is that it is presented as self-reinforcing and dynamic, always threatening to grow into an uncontrolled addictive passion. This propensity towards evil, Kant suggests in a footnote, ‘is really only the predisposition to crave a delight which, when once experienced, arouses in the subject an inclination to it.’ The danger with this propensity is that it grows stronger each time it is satisfied and each time a new delight is discovered. If a ‘savage people,’ for example, samples intoxicants but once, their natural propensity towards it (which was previously only a potential) not only is activated, but grows into an ‘almost inextinguishable craving for it.’ The danger with our propensity toward evil, then, is not merely that we have sensible desires that challenge our attempt to will our moral duty, but rather that this propensity can grow ‘beyond inclination’ into a ‘further stage in the faculty of desire, passion...which is an inclination that excludes the mastery over oneself.’19 For Kant, then, the strength of sensible inclination, the natural propensity of our will to elevate these inclinations above moral duty (and thus towards immorality), and the constant danger that these inclinations threaten to grow into uncontrollable passion mean that the battle for morality is difficult, serious, and continuous. We cannot simply assume that our recognition of the moral law will translate into moral action, but rather that we must actively work to overcome this propensity to evil. The fact of the moral law assures us it must be possible to overcome this predisposition. However, the fact of the moral law does not assure actual realization in any specific case. To ensure this, we must work on our moral disposition. ‘In moral discipline [Ascetik] this postulate has more to say though no more than this: that in moral development of the predisposition of good in us, we cannot start from an innocence natural to us but must begin with the assumption of a wickedness of willkur in adopting its maxims contrary to the original moral disposition; and since this propensity [to evil] is inextricable, we must begin with the incessant counter action against it.’20 What sort of incessant counter-action is needed? The cultivation of virtue through long practice. According to Kant, ‘when the firm resolve to do one’s duty becomes habitual, it is also called the virtue of conformity to law; such conformity is virtue’s empirical character (virtu phenomenon). Virtue here has as its steadfast maxim conduct conforming to law; and it matters not whence come the incentives required by the willkur for such conduct. Virtue in this sense is won little by little, and, for some men, requires long practice (in observance of the law) during which

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the individual passes from a tendency to vice through gradual reformation of his conduct and strengthening of his maxims, to an opposite tendency.’21 The practice of conforming to the law is thus one type of counter-action designed to strengthen the good will. Yet this habitual obedience is not, in itself, a moral disposition. For a moral disposition is one that is inspired solely by obedience to the moral law free from other inclinations. While the cultivation of a disposition that habitually conforms to the law is a first step, a much more stringent level of character – one that accepts the moral law as the maxim of its choices – is required if it is to be judged moral. How is such a character inspired and trained? One way, according to Kant, is to be exposed to the moral law and to become practised in the consideration of its sublime awesomeness: ‘To excite in man this feeling of the sublimity of his moral destiny is especially commendable as a method of awakening moral dispositions. For to do so works directly against the innate propensity to invert the incentives in the maxims of our will and toward the re-establishment in the human heart, in the form of a unconditioned respect for the law as the ultimate condition upon which maxims are to be adopted, of the original moral order among the incentives, an so of all the predisposition to good in all its purity.’22 The continual and intense exposure to the sublimity of the moral law, Kant thinks, is a counter-action that should inspire, motivate and cultivate a love of the moral law and a deep motivation to recognize it and follow its command. Consideration of the moral law, then, creates an ‘unconditioned respect’ that functions to inspire the moral will to adopt its maxims. Here it appears that Kant’s awareness of the frailty of humanity in relation to morality only highlights the degree to which he assumes recognition as unproblematic and necessarily existing. For if Kant thinks that the mere idea of the moral law – and the feeling of sublimity it produces – is enough to inspire increased moral compliance in everyone, it hardly shows that he questions the security of recognition. Rather, it suggests that while Kant understands that the sensible actualization of the moral law is problematic, his project views recognition of the moral law as itself so apodictic and unquestionable that, standing alone, it has the power to inspire obedience to the law even in the sensible realm. If we look at what Kant says just prior to the passage above, he seems to explicitly make this claim: the recognition of the moral law means that ‘every man, even one of the meanest capacity, must feel

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most deeply’ respect for that law. Yet if we look more closely, it becomes clear that Kant qualifies this universal claim, actually claiming that ‘every man, even one of the meanest capacity, must feel most deeply – every man, that is, who previously has been taught the holiness which adheres to the idea of duty.’23 It is not every human that feels the weight of this sublimity, but rather only those who have ‘previously ... been taught the holiness which adheres to the idea of duty.’ What, exactly, this qualification means, however, is unclear. There are at least two obvious possibilities. On the one hand, the phrase might be taken to suggest that recognition is universal, but that it does not naturally create a feeling of sublimity sufficiently strong to inspire the moral will in the sensible realm. In this case, the ‘holiness inherent in the idea of duty’ that is taught would refer to the feeling of sublimity, not to the recognition of the moral law, which would mean that this passage acknowledges that cultivation is required for successful moral motivation, but does not call into question the universality of the initial recognition. On the other hand, however, the phrase might be taken to suggest that the feeling of sublimity flows necessarily from our recognition of the moral law, and it is the recognition of the moral law that must be taught. Here, teaching the ‘holiness of the idea of duty’ would refer to the process by which uncultivated minds (and bodies) are taught to recognize the moral law – after which the feeling of sublimity would necessarily inspire morality. On my reading, the passage could mean both, since I believe that Kant’s thinking tends to hold both positions at different times. In this particular passage, however, he seems to emphasize the latter – and more problematic (from the standpoint of most formalist interpretations of Kant) – position. For he claims that ‘there is one thing in our soul which we cannot cease from regarding with the highest wonder, when we view it properly, and which admiration is not only legitimate but even exalting, and that is the original moral disposition itself in us.’24 This seems to suggest that if we recognize our original moral disposition (i.e., the moral law), we ‘cannot cease’ from regarding it with the highest wonder and, presumably, respect, which, in turn, suggests that it is the recognition of the moral law that must be taught ‘so that we view it properly’ and thus engage our natural response of respect. At a minimum, then, Kant’s comments in Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone demonstrate that his project is concerned with the problem of moral motivation and that the links between this problem and our recognition of the moral law are complex and interrelated.

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2. Impotent Formalism or Robust Sensus Moralis? Kant’s Model of Moral Motivation So how does Kant’s project seek to address the problem of moral motivation? Much of what Kant writes appears to give weight to a rationalist interpretation of moral motivation. For example, he is explicit that morality cannot be based on mere feeling and that the moral will is not simply a habituated will. Consider his comments about the suitability of feeling for his moral system in the ‘Doctrine of Method’ in the Critique of Practical Reason: ‘All feelings, especially those that are to produce unusual exertions must accomplish their effect at the moment they are at their height and before they calm down; otherwise they accomplish nothing because the heart naturally returns to its natural moderate vital motion and accordingly falls back into the languor that was proper to it before ... [Moral] Principles must be built on concepts; or on any other foundation there can only be seizures, which can give a person no moral worth and not even confidence in himself ... In a word, the moral law demands obedience from duty, and not from a predilection that cannot and ought not be presupposed at all.’25 Feelings, according to Kant, might inspire fleeting conformity to the moral law – but if this conformity is inspired by feeling alone, it can last only very briefly until those feelings cool. For feeling, in this passage, is presented as fundamentally variable and contingent. Feelings not only come and go within the individual, but the strength and object of feelings vary drastically between moral subjects. Any analysis of feeling as the basis of a supreme principle of morality is therefore doomed by the contingency and variability of its starting point. If feelings can play no role in grounding Kantian morality, they can apparently play no larger role in moral motivation. According to Kant, ‘inclination is blind and servile whether it is kindly or not; and when morality is in question, reason must not play the part of mere guardian to inclination, but disregarding it altogether must attend solely to its own interest as pure practical reason. Even this feeling of compassion and tender sympathy, if it precedes consideration of what is duty and becomes the determining ground, is burdensome to right thinking persons.’26 Empirical inclinations, apparently, should have no influence in motivating the moral will. Since inclination is ‘blind and servile,’ it might just as well inspire the will to ignore the moral law as it inspires obedience. Once again, the contingency and variability of feeling and inclination make it completely inappropriate for Kant’s moral system in any capacity.

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If the use of feelings to buttress morality is disallowed in Kant’s system, reliance on the even less permanent force of semi-coded affective energies would seem to be even more strongly prohibited. According to Kant, ‘affects belong to feeling insofar as, preceding reflection, it makes this impossible or more difficult. Hence an affect is called precipitate or rash and reason says, through the concept of virtue, that one should get hold of oneself.’27 Kant does not even allow, as he did in the case of feeling, that affects might sometimes help to motivate moral action. Rather, the only advantage Kant sees in an affect is that, in contrast to a habitual feeling of passion, the tempest force of an affect ‘quickly subsides’ and allows for reason (i.e., the moral law) to reassert its authority. Given the instability and unreliability of feelings and affect, therefore, Kant goes so far as to argue that ‘moral apathy’ is the appropriate state of mind for truly moral individuals. Moral apathy is, according to Kant, ‘that absence of affects which is to be distinguished from indifference because in the case of moral apathy feelings arising from sensible impressions lose their influence on moral feeling only because respect for the law is more powerful than all such feelings together.’28 Empirical inclinations, feelings, and affects are not merely inappropriate to morality. They must be controlled and minimized for the realization of the moral will. Following this official logic, Kant is explicit that morality cannot be mere habit motivated by trained feelings of fear or commanded obedience. A moral disposition ‘from which actions ought to be done cannot be instilled by any command and because the spur to activity in this case would be promptly at hand and external ... most actions conforming to the law would be done from fear, only a few from hope and none at all from duty and the moral worth of actions, on which alone in the eyes of the supreme wisdom the worth of the person and even that of the world depends, would not exist at all. As long as human nature remains as it is, human conduct would thus be changed into mere mechanism in which, as in a puppet show, everything would gesticulate well but there would be no life in the figures.’29 A trained disposition motivated by fear is insufficient to morality because it functions only so long as the external threat exists and continues to instil sufficient fear to overcome other inclinations and because it reduces human freedom to mechanical gesticulation. Thus, a morality cannot be based on either the feeling of fear (of God) or the inclination towards self-happiness. For these feelings are contingent on the continued existence of the feeling in the individual. Moreover, Kant is quite certain that these feelings do not exist equally in all individuals.

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If we highlight only these moments, it appears that a rationalist portrait is accurate. Both Kant’s moral system and the form of motivation of that system must remain strictly a priori, formal, and abstract so as not to rely on the contingent existence of the object of desire/prohibition nor the pleasure/displeasure associated with it. Hence, Kant suggests that ‘the teachings of morality ... command for everyone without taking into account of his inclinations, merely because and insofar as he is free and has practical reason.’30 A reliance on feeling embeds contingency at the heart of morality, and this destroys the imperative image of morality Kant requires. In this presentation, then, Kant’s project seems fundamentally against the cultivation of moral feelings. Yet this is not the only possible portrait of Kant. For alongside dismissive claims about the importance of cultivation and feelings to moral motivation, there are also numerous statements that suggest a different view. We have already seen that in Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone Kant acknowledges the importance of the ‘feeling of sublimity’ in ‘awakening moral sentiments’ that ‘work directly against the innate propensity to invert incentives in the maxims of our will’ and thus reestablish the ‘original moral order among the incentives.’31 Moreover, he suggests that these feelings are not simply natural and factual; rather, they must be cultivated and we have a duty to cultivate them. Clearly, there is more here than first appears. According to Kant, the fact that we are mortal, and not holy, means that for us the moral law is ‘merely’ an imperative, rather than a necessitating law of nature. For holy beings, there would be no doctrine of virtue, only a doctrine of morals, since the moral law would describe what necessarily happens. But since we are mortal beings that possess the conscious capacity to ‘rebel against the law,’ ‘human morality in its highest stage can still be nothing more than virtue, even if it be entirely pure.’32 Virtue, then, is the ability to constrain our capacity to ‘rebel against the law’ and the ability to arrest non-moral incentives from defining the maxim of our will. Virtue, Kant suggests, ‘is the strength of a human being’s maxims in fulfilling his duty. – Strength of any kind can be recognized only by the obstacles it can overcome, and in the case of virtue these obstacles are natural inclinations, which can come into conflict with the human being’s moral resolution.’ Being a moral human being means having a virtuous will, which determines action in accordance with the maxims of the moral law by constraining the natural propensity of other inclinations to overthrow the moral maxim and replace it with a maxim designed to serve another passion, desire,

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or need. According to Kant, ‘since the moral capacity to constrain oneself can be called virtue, action springing from such a disposition (respect for law) can be called virtuous (ethical) action.’33 How do we achieve this virtuous will? This is where (moral) feelings become crucial. For how do we constrain our tendency to place empirical inclinations as the basis of our will, especially if, as Kant suggests, this propensity is natural and inextricable? One way would be to suggest that reason itself possesses some sort of motivational force and that this is sufficient to constrain the inclinations. But Kant has too much respect for the consequences of Hume’s sceptical empiricism to simply presume the motivational force of reason. Like Hume, Kant concedes that ‘an intellectual feeling would be a contradiction.’34 Yet to follow Hume and suggest that the realization of morality depends on contingent and variable empirical inclinations would be to destroy the very possibility of the imperative image of morality. So what, then, is the process by which virtue constrains empirical inclinations? Some interpreters might accept my claim that moral motivation and the question of virtue and ethical discipline are important, but they would argue that Kant addresses these issues without ever stooping to the cultivation of emotions and affects. Andrews Reath, for example, might be seen as doing exactly this insofar as he claims to show that Kant addresses the problem of moral motivation entirely within the parameters of his formal system. Reath argues that Kant, appreciating Hume’s critique of the motivational power of reason, outlines a theory in which the autonomous self steps back from the competing affects and desires, evaluates the relative worth of sensible feelings and the moral law and then judges which motivation should be taken as a maxim.35 Representing the process of moral motivation as an intellectual one, Reath argues that ‘since inclinations influence the will through the value which the agent supposes them to have, the Moral Law can limit their influence by showing that they do not have this value, and by presenting a higher form of value.’36 According to Reath, it ‘is not a question of countering one kind of affective force by another that is stronger. The appropriate metaphor is rather that of a competition between two parties for something like legal authority or political legitimacy.’ Reath, noting that Kant also frequently uses stronger metaphors of struggle, claims that ‘a close reading of the second Critique shows that legal and political metaphors dominate.’ The upshot of Reath’s exclusion of the metaphors of forceful combat is that it allows him to understood moral motivation as the

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result of an intellectual process in which the ‘respect’ emerging from our recognition of the moral law ‘operates by effecting a devaluation of the inclinations in the eyes of the subject. It shows that maxims of selflove do not have the value, or justifying force, that they are initially taken to have.’37 In Reath’s view, respect is a value that encourages the will to rationally evaluate and weigh the value and ‘justifying force’ of inclination against the moral law, with the almost inevitable result that it convinces the will to accept the moral law. On this reading, Kant both addresses certain Hegelian concerns (since he does take into account the problem of moral motivation) and manages to outline a formal approach that does not rely on unstable emotions. The problem with Reath’s presentation of Kant’s ‘moral sensibility,’ however, is that it strains out virtually all trace of ‘sensibility’ from that process and describes it as though it were a purely rational process of evaluation. By holding close to the rationalist terms of the formalist interpretation and attempting to protect and defend the purity of Kant’s moral system, Reath overestimates the intellectual nature of Kant’s moral motivation and thus ignores Kant’s profound understanding of the importance and danger of feeling and affect to his moral system and the creation of a moral subject. In contrast to Reath’s reading, I want to show that Kant’s approach is not so easily intellectualized and that Kant’s philosophy profoundly appreciates the importance of affect and emotion to moral motivation and cultivation. The complex role that emotion and affect play in Kant’s philosophy becomes particularly evident if we take seriously the stronger metaphors of struggle that accompany Kant’s description of morality motivation – metaphors that Reath too quickly dismisses as unimportant. Contrary to Reath’s claim, tropes of justification and evaluation are not primary in Kant’s discussions of virtue or in his descriptions of respect. Rather, tropes of struggle, battle, victory, force, and power are at least equally important in Kant’s discussion of moral motivation and cultivation.38 Moreover, the moral law is never described as immediately influencing the will by presenting a higher form of value in the sense that the Willkur considers the value of the moral law and sensible inclination and then chooses the moral law because it has calculated its higher worth. Rather, while the moral law plays a prominent role in a virtuous disposition, obedience to the moral law is always motivated by the mediating ‘moral feelings’ – not ‘moral values’ – and the language of power and struggle do accompany his descriptions. What happens if we take seriously these metaphors and tropes of

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struggle? I believe they help us to see that Kant’s philosophy understands the importance of emotion in moral motivation in a way that rejects both the pre-Humean rationalist faith in the motivational force of reason and Hume’s reduction of morality to empirical desire. We might even say that Kant creates a third form of motivation – one that combines the universality and necessity of a priori reason with the motivational and affective force of the inclinations. This third form of motivation is Kant’s special category of ‘moral feeling.’ To explore this point further, let us return to the section in the Metaphysics of Morals previously examined, in which Kant discusses virtue as moral apathy. Given Reath’s argument, this section might be understood as offering explicit support for his position. Kant’s denigration of the moral relevance of affect and his suggestion that virtue should be understood as moral apathy might be seen to show that his model of motivation attempts to neutralize all feelings so that reason might establish the value of its claim. Yet when we closely examine this passage, it turns out that Kant explicitly states that moral apathy is ‘not a lack of feeling and subjective indifference with respect to objects of choice.’ Moral apathy is, rather, the condition in which ‘feelings arising from sensible impressions lose their influence on moral feelings only because the respect for the law is more powerful than all such feelings together.’39 The moral law is realized not because respect for the law destroys all feeling, but because it produces a surfeit of moral feeling. This moral feeling, moreover, is victorious not because it is understood by the Willkur as more justified and valuable than sensible inclinations, but because it is felt more powerfully and overwhelms merely sensible inclination. Virtue is therefore not the elimination of sensible feelings (which, as we saw, Kant thinks is impossible), or the rational rejection of their value (which does not play a role here), but the control of those feelings and their proper ordering by a more powerful moral feeling. If the process of moral motivation were one in which recognition of the moral law caused the will to reconsider the value placed on its sensible inclinations, we would expect that a Kantian moral disposition would be one in which the ability to rationally evaluate contending value would be a primary characteristic. Yet once again, this is not the language Kant employs. Instead, he uses terms that suggest the importance of the motivational force of moral feeling. Moral perfection, Kant argues, ‘consists subjectively in the purity of one’s disposition to duty, namely in the law being by itself alone the incentive, even without the admixture of aims derived from sensibility.’40 Once again, the meta-

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phor is one in which two similar forces contend and one is victorious. A pure disposition is defined by the purity of the moral incentive, not by the ability of the will to evaluate the value of sensible inclinations. It is important to note, however, that while moral feeling (as moral incentive) has a motivational force similar to that of sensible inclinations, moral feeling is something quite apart from sensible inclinations, owing to its source. On Kant’s telling, moral feeling is derived directly from our recognition of the moral law. Thus, he is careful to claim that this moral incentive is qualitatively different from empirical incentive: ‘A human being has a duty to carry the cultivation of his will up to the purest virtuous disposition, in which the law becomes also the incentive to his actions that conform with duty and he obeys the law from duty. This disposition is inner morally practical perfection. Since it is a feeling of the effect that the lawgiving will within the human being exercises on his capacity to act in accordance with his will, it is called moral feeling, a special sense (sensus moralis) as it were.’41 According to Kant, this moral feeling is different from normal emotions because, as an effect of the moral law, it is not variable and ephemeral. Instead it consistently motivates the will to follow the law because it is, itself, a universal affect/effect of the universal and necessary law. While it challenges the force of empirical inclinations, then, it is different in certain crucial respects that make it appropriate for morality. It is also important to note that, although Kant may describe this moral feeling (when activated) as necessarily leading towards moral decisions, however, he does not say that moral feeling is either immediate or necessarily successful, even when manifest. Rather, its strength varies between individuals and possibly even in the same individual at different moments. Why? Because individuals have varying degrees of virtue. Thus, according to Kant, we need to cultivate this moral feeling so that it is powerful enough to overcome contending inclinations. In fact, as we saw in the passage above, we have a duty to cultivate the strength of moral feeling. As Kant suggests in the Doctrine of Method at the end of the Metaphysics of Morals, ‘the very concept of virtue already implies that virtue must be acquired (that it is not innate); one need not appeal to anthropological knowledge based on experience to see this. For a human being’s moral capacity would not be virtue were it not produced by the strength of his resolution in conflict with powerful opposing inclinations. Virtue is the product of pure practical reason insofar as it gains ascendency over such inclinations.’42 Our very existence as mortal beings (characterized by a free Willkur)

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mean that our moral capacity is fallible and the strength of our virtuous disposition cannot be assumed as fully determinative. According to Kant, then, virtue and the strength of the moral feeling, even though they are the product of pure practical reason, are not operative unless they are acquired. How are virtue and this special moral feeling acquired? Kant believes that it must be taught. But since moral feeling is more akin to a force than an intellectual process, it cannot be instilled merely by conceptual instruction but must be cultivated through practice. He acknowledges that intellectual moral education is, of course, central: ‘That virtue can and must be taught already follows from its not being innate; a doctrine of virtues is therefore something that can be taught.’ Kant notes, however, that this conceptual knowledge is insufficient – and that moral education must also embody what the Stoics understood about the importance of practical cultivation: ‘[By saying that] one does not acquire the power to put the rules of virtue into practice merely by being taught how one ought to behave in order to conform to the concept of virtue, the Stoic meant only that virtue cannot be taught merely by concepts of duty or by exhortations (by Paranesis), but must instead be exercised and cultivated by efforts to combat the inner enemy within man (asceticism); for one cannot straightway do all that one wants to do, without having first tried out and exercised one’s powers.’43 He also believes, of course, that these exercises of cultivation must be guided by a single moral principle, lest the virtuous disposition gradually deteriorate. Yet this does not take away from the fact that Kant acknowledges that the cultivation of the force of moral feeling in a disposition is an equally necessary element of morality. 3. Kantian Cultivation It seems, therefore, that Kant’s relationship to issues of moral motivation, emotion, cultivation, and moral dispositions is much more complex than is often acknowledged. First, his philosophy explicitly acknowledges the importance of cultivation and exercise. Second, the idea that Kant’s project views moral motivation in purely intellectual terms seems far less likely than Reath’s interpretation would suggest. Third, Kant’s writings explicitly admit that moral cultivation should aim at fostering a special moral feeling that, since it is not always powerful enough to overcome sensible inclination, needs to be strengthened through practice and cultivation. In sum, Kant’s own writings

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seem to show a consideration concern with the question of how a Kantian moral system might best cultivate a robust, moral disposition. There are several other reasons that might also help to explain why Kant would consider it important to think explicitly about how to practically cultivate a moral disposition. First, we might consider Kant’s specific context; to this end it would be useful to consider Ian Hunter’s work Rival Enlightenments: Civil and Metaphysical Philosophy in Early Modern Germany. We have already seen that Hunter argues that early modern German philosophy was characterized by a duel between two rival images of morality and thus two rival modes of shaping the new ‘secular’ public order. It is pertinent to note that Hunter also convincingly demonstrates that both Kant and his philosophical rivals viewed their work as clashing modes of cultivation as well as rival philosophies. In particular, Hunter shows that in this context, Kant viewed his philosophical system as embodying practical exercises that influenced the moral disposition of students in importantly different ways than his rivals did – and that this was one of the most important stakes of the rivalry.44 As such, we can plausibly imagine that he would have viewed the question of moral cultivation as critically linked to his moral philosophical project. Secondly, and more speculatively, we might consider Bernard Williams’ sunderstanding of the limits of philosophical justification. According to Williams, philosophical justification and deduction have very real limits in relation to ethics. Williams implicitly questions whether ethical justification can have effects on those outside the ethical community, for instance, those who do not recognize the moral law to begin with. For Williams, the philosopher’s deduction ‘is in fact designed for the people who are largely in the ethical world, and the aim of the discourse is not to deal with someone who probably will not listen to it, but to reassure, strengthen and give insight to those who will.’45 This may be a little strong; for there may be many who are persuaded and whose actions are altered by ethical arguments – but certainly not everyone. It is too easy to pick apart arguments, to find contradictions and tensions, for any justification to be so coherent that it is absolutely impossible to disagree and (in an age of autonomy) agree to disagree. There are thus severe limits to the efficacy and range of ethical argumentation and justification. Kant, however, is not satisfied to speak to and compel only those who recognize his ethical world. The Kantian Imperative both yearns for universality and necessity in morality and requires it for the coher-

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ent functioning of its ethical system.46 Given the precariousness of common sense recognition and moral obedience even in those whose moral disposition seems otherwise secure, the Kantian project needs to find ways to continually cultivate it even within his community of recognition. Hence the practical importance of both philosophical justification and affective cultivation to Kant’s moral project. For practical cultivation might be able both to cultivate and to bolster moral subjects’ common sense recognition of (and obedience to) the moral law and to convert outlying subjects who do not believe/recognize. Given that Kant’s philosophy appreciates the importance of cultivation, that this project emerged in a historical context where the practical stakes that accompanied the clash of rival imperative images of morality would have been obvious, and the fact that philosophical strategies of justification face very real limits, it does not seem farfetched to believe that Kant’s project would seek to identify practical ways to strengthen its subjects’ moral dispositions by cultivating and employing a special moral feeling. So what is this special moral feeling? This sensus moralis that, while inspired by the moral law, isn’t equally powerful in all subjects and at all times and that, in fact, requires cultivation if it is to become forceful enough to effectively motivate morality? There is, of course, an obvious response. One could identify ‘respect’ as the primary instance of Kant’s moral feeling and then further argue that this might allow Kant’s theory of the special moral feeling of respect to remain consistent with Kantian autonomy. In the following chapter, however, it will be argued that a rigorous examination of Kant’s special ‘moral feeling’ reveals a much more complex and multifaceted situation. While ‘respect’ is part of the story of Kant’s sensus moralis, it is not the whole story. For in his philosophy, respect is actually predicated on a prior moment and experience of profound humiliation. Kant’s project, moreover, creates a variety of practices that seek to capture, intensify, and mobilize this feeling of humiliation in order to cultivate the common sense recognition of, and obedience to, the imperative image of morality. Thus, it is to the project of excavating the role of humiliation in Kant’s moral project to which I will now turn.


Kantian Humiliation: The Mnemotechnics of Morality

This precisely is the long story of how responsibility originated. The task of breeding an animal with the right to make promises evidently embraces and presupposes as a preparatory task that one first makes men to a certain degree necessary, uniform, like among like, regular and consequently calculable ... One can well believe that the answers and methods for solving this primeval problem were not precisely gentle; perhaps indeed there was nothing more fearful and uncanny in the whole prehistory of man than his mnemotechnics. ‘If something is to stay in the memory it must be burned in: only that which never ceases to hurt stays in the memory’ – this is the main clause of the oldest (unhappily also the most enduring) psychology on earth. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche1 The seventh step of humility is that a man not only admits with his tongue but is also convinced in his heart that he is inferior to all and of less value, humiliating himself and saying with the prophet: I am but a worm, not a man, the lowest of men and despised by the people. (PS 21) I was exalted and then humiliated and overwhelmed with confusion. (PS 87) It is a blessing that you have humiliated me so that I can learn your commandments. (PS 118) ~ The Rule of St. Benedict2

It should not be surprising that the Rule of St Benedict, the order that governed the majority of Christian monasteries between the ninth and twelfth centuries, speaks favourably of humiliation and humility. For although humiliation is generally viewed as anathema to modern ethi-

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cal systems, it played essential and indispensable roles in other moral and political systems of cultivation. Humility, for example, is central to both Old and New Testaments. We, of the earth, are imperfect copies, mere stick and mud. We are not men – we are barely worms. We exist and are saved but through the grace of God. Our existence is fundamentally imperfect: we live in sin, and we experience a radical inferiority to the perfection and purity that is God. What could be more appropriate than humiliation and humility in the face of such superiority? Modern definitions of humility and humbleness still reverberate with the Christian overtones of this two-world metaphysic. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, humility is ‘the state of being humble; an absence of pride or self-assertion.’ To be humble is both the objective condition of being ‘low, small, slight; low in condition, rank or position’ and of ‘having or showing a consciousness of one’s defects or short-comings.’3 According to the OED, the objective condition of being humble is defined by its essence as humus. To be humble is thus to be earth, lowly in relation to the heavens. To be humble is to recognize that our existence as this ‘organic part of the soil,’ ‘this black substance resulting from the decay of plant and animal matter’ necessarily defines us as having ‘defects or short-comings.’ We are but worms, not ‘men’ worthy of God. Sensible embodiment is humiliation. Sensible embodiment affects humility. If humility is ‘having or showing a consciousness of one’s defects or short-comings,’ however, what is the nature of this consciousness and how does it come about? On this subject Augustine and St Benedict are in agreement: we become conscious of our defects because we have been humiliated – that is, we have had our ‘dignity or self-respect lowered and depressed’4 – by His perfection. A comparison of our sensible lowliness to His divine nature necessarily inspires a sense of humility in us. The act of humiliation – and being humiliated – is thus essential to many (but certainly not all) versions of Christian humility.5 In fact, many Christian theorists explicitly strove to create techniques of humiliation that would cultivate a moral disposition of humility. Hence Augustine’s need to record his mortal imperfections in the hope that the comparison between his state and God’s perfection would humiliate him, inspire humility in him, and ultimately allow him to obey God’s law.6 Hence St Benedict’s twelve steps to humility, at the end of which we thank God for humiliating us so that we might learn and obey His commandments. Humiliation allows us to lower or depress our excessive pride and obey the law.

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But what, exactly, is the process by which we are humiliated? For we can imagine many ways by which someone’s ‘dignity or self-respect’ is lowered. Is humiliation purely a cognitive and rational process of careful evaluation at the end of which a weighed judgment is made based on all the available evidence? Is the creation of humility purely an intellectual and conceptual process? Or is the act of being humiliated also an affective and emotional one?7 The OED definition implicitly suggests that there is a complex relationship between feeling and cognitive consciousness in the act and experience of humiliation. To humiliate is ‘to make low in position, condition or feeling.’ It is, moreover, not merely to ‘lower or depress the dignity or self-respect’ but also ‘to mortify.’ While it is possible to intellectualize the process of lowering and depressing dignity, the idea that it would be akin to the act of mortifying someone clearly foregrounds the emotive element of humiliation. When we look at the examples given by the OED, both early and late uses of the idea clearly highlight the emotional aspect. To humiliate someone, then, might well be understood as an attempt to make the subject feel humiliated (i.e., low and less worthy) so that they then transform this feeling into some sort of semi-articulated sense that motivates them to obey and act in deference to the person or thing that humiliates. There are no doubt myriad ways of achieving this end. What is important to note, however, is that the success of each method depends heavily on the receptivity of the subject to a particular method, and an individual’s receptivity, in turn, depends heavily on the cultural sensibility (as the meanings, expectations, judgments, and affective and emotional reactions disciplined and enabled by a culture) and that individual’s relationship with those codes, affects, and habits.8 Thus, many charges, claims and slights that would have been understood as deeply humiliating fifty years ago would inspire no such emotional reaction today and would thus be entirely incapable of modifying behaviour or attitudes. Moreover, what would be taken as fundamentally humiliating in one culture might not merit comment or notice in another. Humiliation, in other words, is a complex experience and act made up of both specific conceptual understandings and strong emotional forces, which also relies heavily on the contextual location and strength of both elements for its effectiveness. It is not surprising, then, that what is supposed to inspire the depths of humiliation for St Benedict’s monks (prostration before God and the consideration of one’s humility before the divine perfection of God)

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would be far less effective for twenty-first-century agnostics and atheists (for whom that image of God is inoperative and thus for whom the consideration of that image would inspire little emotional and conceptual reaction) and even for most twenty-first-century western secular Christians (whose relationship to God is mediated by a wide variety of social conventions that reduce the visceral force of idea of the purity of God.) Yet, as we saw in the introduction to this book, humiliation functions no less effectively today – even if by different methods. No longer premised on a one-to-one relationship with God, humiliation still functions when our claims to dignity and self-respect are publicly shown to be illegitimate. While humiliation might be ethically acceptable in systems of morality based on strong authoritarian or hierarchical relationships, however, it is very difficult to condone it in liberal and secular ethical and moral systems.9 Few ethical theories would posit that consistent and thoroughgoing humiliation is a morally defensible strategy by which to order society. While we might still believe that a revised version of humility could be a private virtue appropriate in specific circumstances, it would be difficult to justify a contemporary philosophy of full-blown public humiliation. According to many theorists, it is especially difficult to support a philosophy of humiliation after Kant. According to the ‘morality as autonomy’ interpretation we saw in chapter 2, Kant’s philosophy plays a key role in rendering obsolescent a morality based on the humiliation of the autonomous individual. For a model of humiliation seems to directly contradict what both liberals and communitarians see to be the founding value of Kantian ethics – the equal value and dignity of every moral subject.10 Moreover, in the formalist view, cultivating humiliation is the last thing Kantian philosophy should do. Since humiliation is a complex manifestation of culturally and historically variable emotional force and (semi)conscious conceptualization, Kant’s formalist and universalist approach to morality should unequivocally disavow it. Many theorists, in fact, would argue that if Kant should be critiqued at all on the dimension of humiliation, it is with the charge that Kant’s subject lacks an appropriate sense of humility; that it sees nothing that can humiliate it from its hubristic drive for autonomous control over its world. For Kant’s subject undertakes, and alone is responsible for, the unity of its perceptions, the articulation of the moral law, and the harmony of the faculties. This is why thinkers as diverse as Heidegger, Adorno, Derrida, Lacoue Labarthe, Habermas, Sandel, and Taylor

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have argued that Kant’s overly confident sovereign subject always threatens to radically overstep its legitimate role and impose its own desires and judgments onto the world/nature and any non-Kantian subjects it encounters. Yet Kant’s (over)emphasis on the autonomous subject and respect exists simultaneously with (and in fact is predicated upon) the insistence that all moral subjects must experience profound humiliation. Humiliation is critical not only in motivating moral obedience, but also in grounding his entire moral system. Recall the quote we examined in the introduction to this book (see p. 10). In the middle of his Critique of Practical Reason, Kant suggests that the functioning of the moral law – and the origin of the moral feeling of respect – is intimately connected to the humiliation of every human subject: ‘the moral law unavoidably humiliates every human being when he compares with it the sensible propensity of his nature. If something represented as a determining ground of our will humiliates us in our self-consciousness, it awakens respect for itself insofar as it is positive and a determining ground.’11 A first glance at this passage suggests some interesting parallels between Kantian and Benedictine humiliation. Kant believes that it is no longer God, but rather the moral law (within and above us), that functions as the perfection which necessarily humiliates every human being. In both cases, however, humiliation arises ‘unavoidably’ from the comparison of our embodied existence with the intelligible nature of the moral law. As with Benedict, embodiment affects humiliation. For Kant, as for Benedict, this humiliation brings us closer to the law. Kantian humiliation creates a sort of ‘self-consciousness,’ which in turn motivates obedience to the moral law and creates a veritable love of the moral law within the will itself. In fact, humiliation no less than awakens Kant’s crucial moral feeling of respect; what becomes clear is that it is not merely a feeling of respect for the autonomous individual so much as it is respect for the individual insofar as s/he recognizes the moral law. We need to be careful not to over-emphasize these parallels, since Kant and Benedict are worlds apart on many dimensions. Kant, moreover, is aware that this employment of humiliation is fraught with tension: skating, as it does, on the edge of the twin dangers of heteronomous compulsion and sensible affect. He is therefore careful to describe the process of humiliation in a way that might allow us to argue that his system addresses these charges. In relation to the first danger (heteronomy), one could argue that far from undermining the

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self-respect of the individual, humiliation is actually the necessary condition of that respect, and therefore Kant’s philosophy of autonomy remains coherent and legitimate. In relation to the second danger (relying on sensible affect), because Kant portrays humiliation/respect as a feeling – but a very particular type of moral feeling that is pure and a priori, since it originates from the moral law itself – one could argue that this too falls within the legitimate parameters of his philosophy. Neither of these interpretations, however, holds up to sustained examination. On the first issue, the fact that Kant creates a theory of autonomy premised on an ontologically prior humiliation of the subject by an authoritative law (even if it is contained within the subject) raises highly problematic questions for Kant’s philosophy. For unless one can prove that every other theory of autonomous ethics/morality also relies on a prior moment of humiliation, we can legitimately ask why Kant was compelled to present humiliation as a necessary precondition and enquire about the political and ethical implications of his choice to use humiliation as the basis of respect. The second response (the idea that humiliation is a special ‘moral’ feeling that, unlike sensible affects and feelings, can universally inspire moral motivation and recognition of the imperative image of morality) is no more compelling. For, as I will show in this chapter, Kant’s cultivation and employment of humiliation undermine both the idea that humiliation is purely and internally self-produced and the idea that it does not require sustained, sensible cultivation. The morality as autonomy interpretation is unable to persuasively explain why this is the case: why (in the light of other theoretical possibilities) Kant chooses to employ humiliation and why he actively creates concrete practices designed to cultivate and employ the affect of humiliation. Both of these moves, however, are altogether understandable from a perspective that sees the Kantian Imperative as a key element of his moral project. First, if Kant relies heavily on an argumentative strategy of appealing to common sense recognition, it makes complete sense that he chooses to employ humiliation to theoretically describe and explain moral motivation. For his description of the moral law as humiliating every autonomous subject into obedience fits nicely within a logic that sees common sense recognition of the moral law both as actually existing and as normatively authoritative and imperative even when it doesn’t exist. For, if common sense recognition is authoritative, we should feel humiliation both when we recognize its pure authority (because we are humiliated by its perfection)

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and, especially, when we don’t (because we are humiliated both by its perfection and by our intensified inability to immediately recognize it). As such, the fact that the Kantian Imperative employs a strategy of humiliation as a central element of moral motivation further supports a reading of Kant’s project that sees the imperative image of morality and the concomitant strategies of common sense recognition as central elements. Second, the fact that even Kant’s project is compelled to address the question of how to create moral dispositions and ultimately employs affective cultivation to resolve this issue underlines my contention that the philosophical strategies of the Kantian Imperative are profoundly unstable and ultimately fail to render apodictic our recognition of, and obedience to, the imperative image of morality. This fact also reinforces the idea that it is important to carefully explore the role that these practices of affective cultivation play in a wide spectrum of historical and contemporary theory. It also encourages us to consider – in a more explicit way – what the appropriate role of these practices should be. How would political and moral thought change if practices of cultivation were viewed as indispensable? If practices of cultivation are, in themselves, ambivalent and neither necessarily positive nor negative, how can we determine their ethical and political value and judge some more worthy than others? How can we identify and encourage the most ethically and politically defensible modes of cultivation? Discussing these questions and implications is slightly premature, since I have yet to excavate in detail the role of humiliation. I will return to some of these issues in the interlogue and in the epilogue. In the rest of this chapter, however, I will concentrate on examining the role of humiliation in Kant. In particular, in section 1, I will explore in detail the conceptual role that humiliation (and specifically the idea of humiliation/respect) plays in Kant’s critical philosophy. Once this has been fully outlined, I examine the practical role of affective humiliation in Kant’s moral system. I begin this in section 2 by developing a perspective on the role that affective cultivation can play in moral and political projects through an examination of practices of affective cultivation in monastic culture. In the balance of the chapter this perspective is applied to Kant’s project. By looking at a wide variety of Kant’s ‘practical’ doctrines, I excavate the ways in which the cultivation and employment of humiliation form a critical part of Kantian ‘moral mnemotechnics.’ In section 3 I examine Kant’s view of education and show that the cultivation and employment of a variety of affects – especially

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humiliation – is a central component of the educational practices and exercises he advocates. I argue, moreover, that Kant’s philosophy does not restrict its cultivation and employment of humiliation to the education of children and young adults but also develops practices to regularly cultivate and reactivate humiliation throughout adult life as well. In section 4, therefore, I examine his concept of ‘respect for ourselves’ and argue that many of the philosophical exercises of moral self-evaluation of Kant’s project function to reactivate, re-embed, and redeploy the affect of humiliation to shore up the common sense recognition of the imperative image of morality. In section 5 I continue this examination by studying several other practices that Kant explicitly advocates, owing to their ability to cultivate certain affects and feelings. I show, once again, that these extra-philosophical practices also function to reactivate, re-embed, and redeploy the affect of humiliation to secure recognition and obedience. The chapter concludes with a tentative and speculative discussion of why, according to the logic of the Kantian Imperative, the cultivation of humiliation might seem to be a viable and attractive option. 1. Kant’s Nexus of Moral Motivation: The Moral Feeling of Humiliation/Respect Let us review the question with which we were left at the end of chapter 3: What role does humiliation play in Kant’s theory of moral motivation? As we saw in chapter 3, in the Critique of Practical Reason, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, and the Metaphysics of Morals Kant acknowledges the problem of moral motivation and attempts to understand how it is possible and how it might be strengthened. There we saw that recognition of the moral law does not necessarily and universally lead to the successful determination of the sensible Willkur because the will has a propensity to evil. We also saw that the moral law overcomes this propensity not by intellectually weighing the options, but rather by creating the counterweight of moral feeling. If we were to use a modified version of Andrews Reath’s perspective (examined earlier in chapter 3) to answer this question, we might be able to hypothesize that humiliation plays an important conceptual role in Kant’s theory of moral motivation and to argue that that hypothesis remains consistent with orthodox interpretations of Kant’s project. From such a perspective it might be forwarded that ‘respect’ alone is the pure moral feeling that acts as a counterweight to sensible


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inclinations – and thus secures our obedience to the imperative image of morality. It also could be argued that ‘humiliation’ is merely a concept that allows Kant to describe the process of intellectual moral evaluation whereby our moral will elevates the categorical imperative and rationally defuses the call of our sensible inclinations. The short quote from Kant on humiliation that we examined above does not make clear whether this revised Reathian perspective is accurate. There are a number of clues, however, that suggest that the story is not as intellectualist and straightforward as that hypothetical reading of Kant might suggest. Thus, it might be worth examining the issue in detail. One of Kant’s most sustained considerations of the process of moral motivation occurs in the second Critique. There are moments in the second Critique when he seems to suggest that in a truly moral human will, the moral law immediately determines the Willkur.12 However, a far more complex picture emerges at several other moments – especially in the most extended and detailed consideration of moral motivation in the Critique of Practical Reason: the chapter entitled ‘On the Incentives of Pure Practical Reason.’ In this chapter, Kant does not begin his description of the ‘special’ moral feeling by discussing it as a positive respect for the law. Rather, according to Kant, the pull of sensible inclinations is so powerful that moral motivation cannot begin with an affirmative power inspiring obedience: ‘The effect of the moral law as incentive is only negative’13 – a negative feeling that is, in fact, akin to the feeling of pain. As Kant states, ‘we can see a priori that the moral law, as the determining ground of the will, must by thwarting all our inclinations produce a feeling that can be called pain.’14 Like Benedict, Kant believes that before we can learn the commandments of the moral law, we must experience the pain of giving up our hubristic inclinations. But if this sense of pain is the resulting feeling of the moral incentive disallowing the will to choose sensible inclinations, it is still unclear how the moral incentive motivates the will to be moral (and thus feel the pain of sensible renunciation). In fact, if this moral overcoming creates a feeling of pain, it seems that it would be even harder to motivate the moral will. For now it not only has to control sensible inclinations, but also overcome the pain it feels as a result of limiting those inclinations. Kant’s response is brilliant. For, on his telling, the experience of humiliation creates, explains, and justifies this pain. Our propensity to allow sensible inclinations to determine the Willkur is, Kant claims, self-conceit based on self-love: ‘This propensity to make oneself as hav-

Kantian Humiliation: The Mnemotechnics of Morality


ing subjective determining grounds of choice into the objective determining ground of the will in general can be called self-love; and if selflove makes itself lawgiving and the unconditional practical principle, it can be called self-conceit.’15 Kant’s description of the act of raising sensible inclinations to a practical law as morally inappropriate ‘selfconceit’ is possible, of course, only through an assumption of the prior hierarchical definition of practical reason as an authoritative imperative image of morality. As we have seen in the previous chapters, the legitimacy of this ordering rests squarely on the problematic fact of common sense recognition. But if this initial moment of common sense recognition is accepted, then the equation of sensible ‘self-love’ with ‘self-conceit’ is entirely rational. The Kantian description of self-love as self-conceit is important because it authorizes and explains the legitimacy of the feeling of humiliation. For what is the appropriate treatment for a diagnosis of unjustified ‘self-conceit’? The humiliation of that conceit. Thus, Kant claims that ‘the moral law strikes down self-conceit’ by ‘humiliating’ our pretensions to sensible self-determination.16 And how are these pretensions humiliated? By being exposed to the purity of the moral law (its moral universality and necessity) in comparison with our merely sensible existence. As we saw earlier, Kant argues that ‘what in our own judgment infringes upon our self-conceit humiliates. Hence the moral law unavoidably humiliates every human being when he compares with it the sensible propensity of his nature,’17 and this experience of humiliation, ‘in opposition to its subjective antagonist, namely the inclinations in us, weakens self-conceit.’18 The first moment of moral motivation, then, is the act of the moral law humiliating the Willkur in the attempt to bring low its conception of self-worth and encourage it to obey the cause of that humiliation – the moral law. What is most remarkable about this employment of humiliation as a moral feeling is that through it, the Kantian Imperative not only can explain how the moral incentive produced by the moral law can overwhelm the sensible inclinations. It also can claim that this specific type of moral feeling explains and makes logical the experience of pain we feel when we act morally. We should feel pain, the Kantian Imperative might be seen to argue, because we deserve to be humiliated. For even though our sensible nature is not immoral, our propensity to will it is. Any attempt to will against the moral law not only is met with pain and humiliation; it also deserves to be met with pain and humiliation. The Kantian model of humiliation not only causes the pain, it justifies


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it. In explaining/justifying the pain, Kant’s employment of humiliation appropriates what would initially strengthen resistance to the moral law (pain) and instead uses it to support the Kantian articulation of moral motivation. One especially valuable (from the perspective of the Kantian Imperative) characteristic of humiliation is that it is much more nuanced, and thus more effective, than mere pain. For although humiliation has an important negative emotive and affective component (analogous to pain), it also has the ability to codify itself into a positive moral feeling that, because it is partially conceptual, employs that emotive energy towards universal and necessary effects. Respect, then, is the secondary positive moral feeling that grows out of humiliation. According to Kant, ‘inasmuch as it even strikes down self conceit, that is, humiliates it, it [the moral incentive] is an object of the greatest respect and so to the ground of a positive feeling that is not of empirical origin.’19 Thus, ‘in relation to its positive ground, the law, it [humiliation] is at the same time called respect for the law ... Because of this feeling can now also be called a feeling of respect for the moral law, while on both grounds together it can be called a moral feeling.’20 Respect is not merely a positive appreciation. It is a feeling of obligation motivated and underpinned by the threat of pain and humiliation. Kant, in fact, describes it as something wrest from us by a victorious conqueror. ‘Respect,’ he comments, ‘is a tribute that we cannot refuse to pay to [moral] merit, whether we want to or not.’21 The crucial moral feeling of Kantian morality, then, is not merely respect. It is really a double moral feeling of humiliation by / respect for the moral law, and it is this double nexus – perhaps better preserved in the commanding overtones of the original German term ‘Achtung’ – that orients Kant’s description of moral motivation. In this view, Kant’s thinking shares some rather surprising similarities with a philosophy that is generally viewed as its antithesis: Nietzsche’s critical genealogies. By linking humiliation and respect so tightly, for example, Kant seems to acknowledge the charge that so many neo-Kantians despise in the Genealogy of Morals: the idea that even the noblest moral systems seek to cultivate an obedient moral disposition by burning the dictates of the law onto the subject through humiliation, shame and pain. In the Genealogy, Nietzsche speculates that the human being is not by nature an animal prone to remembering (nor, in the terms of this book, recognition); every attempt to create a moral system therefore requires the cultivation of the capacity for

Kantian Humiliation: The Mnemotechnics of Morality


moral memory and responsibility so that moral motivation and recognition is possible. According to Nietzsche, however, the cultivation of this memory is very difficult – in fact, the oldest and most enduring clause of moral mnemotechnics is the principle that ‘if something is to stay in the memory it must be burned in: only that which never ceases to hurt stays in the memory.’22 While most interpreters of Kant would argue that he could never agree with such a statement, it now appears that his moral economy understands and trades on this realization as well. For it seems that the pain of Kant’s moral humiliation forms part of a sophisticated moral mnemotechnics in which humiliation and renunciation are not only felt, but also (semi) conceptualized as a deserved and reappearing ‘moral’ affect that continually threatens to return and discipline the will unless we remember to recognize and respect the moral law. The obvious Kantian counter-position would be to suggest that, since humiliation emerges from the pure moral law, its similarities with Nietzsche’s understanding of moral cultivation and motivation are superficial at best. When we examine the Kantian Imperative’s relationship with affect, culture, and arts of cultivation later in this chapter, however, the difference between the two positions will appear far less important than the profound similarities. Here, however, I simply want to point out the initial similarity. It is also interesting to note that Kant, like Nietzsche, seems to believe that the Willkur (almost naturally) rebels against this humiliation. We hate the experience of humiliation so much, Kant thinks, that we are willing to avoid recognition of the imperative image of morality altogether and instead misinterpret it, as did Hume, as the pursuit of self-interest simply to avoid feeling its humiliating wrath. Once again building on the metaphor of authoritative rule, Kant suggests that ‘Even the moral law itself in its solemn majesty is exposed to this striving to resist respect for it. Can it be thought that any other cause can be assigned for our being so ready to demean it to our familiar inclination, or that there is any other cause of our taking such trouble to make it out to be the popular precept of our own advantage well understood, than that we want to be free from the intimidating respect that shows us our own unworthiness with such severity.’23 In contrast to Nietzsche, however, Kant does not consider that this continuous rebellion might encourage us to question the image of morality as universal and necessary. Instead, he clings to the hierarchical ordering of the sensible and intelligible worlds and claims that such humiliation is both natural and


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justified, since, in stark contrast to the ‘morality as autonomy’ interpretation, the hierarchical ordering of the two worlds means that the personal worth of an individual, ‘in the absence of agreement with the moral law, is reduced to nothing.’24 In fact, Kant’s entire consideration of the importance and efficacy of humiliation/respect is deeply dependent on the validity of his separation and hierarchical ordering of the sensible and intelligible realms. For he can describe the natural propensity of the will to elevate sensible inclinations as determinants of the will as ‘self-conceit’ only because he already accords superiority to the moral law of the intelligible world. But we have already seen (in chapter 2) that the practical validity of this estimation of the two worlds relies on our common sense recognition of the moral law. Kant’s model of moral motivation is thus an effective model only for someone who already recognizes it. If a subject recognizes the moral law as apodictic and grants its superiority from the start, then Kant’s description of humiliation/respect flows naturally from it. In fact, if felt as a feeling analogous to moral pain, it would actually reinforce the ‘fact’ of recognition, since any empirical deviation from obedience engages the moral feeling humiliation/respect and thus offers both a threat against reneging common sense recognition and a positive incentive to reconfirm recognition. And the creation of a virtuous circle of reinforcement is exactly what Kant thinks does happen. Once we are laid low and feel our humiliation, ‘once one has laid self-conceit aside and allowed practical influence to that respect, one can in turn never get enough of contemplating the majesty of this law and the soul believes itself elevated in proportion as it sees the holy elevated above itself and its frail nature.’25 This circle is actualized, however, only once we experience true humiliation and have laid self-conceit aside. And this, according to Kant’s own description, happens only if we recognize. This creates a serious danger for Kant’s project. For as Rousseau recognized well, the double edge of a virtuous circle is that it can easily flip into a cycle of ever increasing vice if any of those virtuous steps fail, a pattern that is especially true of Kant’s model. Given Kant’s description of humiliation/respect as resulting from recognition of the law, his model of moral motivation puts even more pressure on the ‘fact’ of recognition. If we don’t share the common sense recognition of the moral law, we will neither feel nor fear humiliation (since we wouldn’t recognize the authority of the intelligible, wouldn’t view our sensible inclinations as self-conceit, and thus wouldn’t feel the pain of humiliation) nor find ourselves forced to

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pay a respectful ‘tribute’ to the moral law. As a result, we would not ‘feel’ those crucial moral incentives, that our Willkur would unproblematically raise sensible inclinations to the determinant of our wills, that this would become increasingly addictive, and, in sum, that recognition would become increasingly difficult to instil. If Kant’s model of moral motivation as humiliation/respect is taken at face value, then, it only increases the weight that the initial moment of common sense recognition must carry – a moment, we should remember, that Kant sometimes claims is apodictic, but never quite proves to be so. Is Kant’s faith in recognition so unproblematic that he is willing to wager the success of his entire moral system on the ‘fact’ of common sense recognition? I don’t believe so. The Kantian Imperative doesn’t employ humiliation simply because it explains our moral motivation in such a way that it preserves the interior and theoretical coherence of his moral system. Rather, it employs it because the historically and culturally powerful affect of humiliation exists outside his system and thus not only offers the possibility of helping to motivate moral action in those who do recognize. It also holds the promise of helping capture those subjects who do not share common sense recognition and who thus fall outside the orbit of Kant’s reinforcing philosophical system. To defend and explore this thesis further, however, I again need to depart from Kant’s own thoughts on humiliation/ respect and consider a different conception of moral training and the importance of humiliation. 2. Humiliation and the Affective Moral Disposition of Practical Reason The means employed by the ascetic priest ... all involve one thing: some kind of an orgy of feeling ... hence priestly inventiveness in thinking through this single question: ‘how can one produce an orgy of feeling’ – has been virtually inexhaustible. This sounds harsh; obviously it would sound more pleasant and be more ingratiating if I said: ‘the ascetic priest has at all times made use of the enthusiasm that lies in all strong affects.’ ~ Friedrich Nietzsche26

Kant’s official thinking tends to describe the process of moral motivation as entirely contained within his philosophical system. If we look more critically at Kant’s theory of motivation in the light of a non-Kantian understanding of the affective element of cultivation, however, it


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seems that Kant’s employment of humiliation also plays a uniquely practical role. For a consideration of the affective dimension of cultivation reveals that Kant’s moral system of humiliation/respect does rely on culture – not as a provider of values (as a neo-Hegelian might suggest) so much as a sea of partially coded emotional and affective forces that, if appropriately disciplined and guided, motivate the moral will and help to ensure our common sense recognition of the moral law. As we have seen, according to Kant’s description, humiliation both emerges out of the hierarchical separation of the intelligible from the sensible and then reconnects the two by supplying the imperative force and authority of Kant’s logic of recognition. This vision suggests that the feeling of humiliation is both a natural state of affairs and a natural feeling – located as it is in the necessary and universal (double) conditions of subjectivity and morality. But humiliation might be one of the least ‘natural’ or universal feelings or subjective states of consciousness. While there is an enormous literature that examines the universality of various ‘visceral’ emotions, humiliation rarely figures as a feeling that scholars would point to as giving evidence for the case of universalism.27 For humiliation requires a vast array of historically and culturally particular understandings and associations. The western experience and understanding of humiliation, for example, might well be seen as historically tied to a two-world metaphysic and, in particular, to the cultural background of Christianity. For humiliation to function in the generalized way Kant desires, both a specific type and depth of subjectivity and an entire assemblage of civilizational codes are necessary. After all, the absence of humility as a virtue and humiliation as a practice is what Nietzsche so admires in pre-Socratic Greece.28 It is beyond the scope of this chapter to offer a sustained consideration of the historical nature of humiliation. A brief comparison of several aspects of Kant’s model of morality and The Rule of St Benedict, however, might help to suggest the degree to which Kant relies on a historically specific Christian tradition of humiliation to help him establish the authority of the moral law.29 According to St Benedict, we are worms, not men. Our fallen existence is by definition one of humiliation under God. The recognition of our state of humiliation is humility, and the gradual attainment of this recognition is the ladder by which we can attain salvation. The first step of humility is therefore absolute and ‘unhesitating obedience’ to His will30: ‘This obedience will be acceptable to God and agreeable to men only if compliance is

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not cringing or sluggish or halfhearted.’31 Only if one ‘keeps the fear of God always before his eyes and never forgets it’ will a monk be acceptable to God.32 For God sees all – every desire of the body and impure thought: ‘We must be on guard against any base desire’ and follow the Scripture in its warning, ‘pursue not your lusts.’33 It is only once the steps of humility have been followed that the initiate will have transformed his moral disposition from one of inequity to one pleasing to God: ‘After ascending all these steps of humility, the monk will quickly arrive at that perfect love of God which casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Through this love, all that he once performed with dread, he will now begin to observe without effort, as though naturally, from habit, no longer out of fear of hell, but out of love for Christ, good habit and delight in virtue.’34 The parallels with Kant are notable. For St Benedict, one’s proximity to humility is measured primarily not by external compliance, but by one’s inner state. For Kant, it is not compliance but one’s inner disposition to duty that measures morality. For St Benedict, grudging action is seen by God as prideful. For Kant, half-hearted legal compliance (as it is determined by motives other than duty) is, in fact, less moral than one who sins out of weakness despite a good will.35 For St Benedict, true morality means that obedience is immediate. For Kant, perfect duty would be perfect and immediate obedience to the moral law. Finally, according to St Benedict, the steps of humility and the fear of God eventually create what might be seen as a pure, moral feeling of love leading to perfect obedience. For Kant, humiliation creates the respect for the moral law that leads morality from the immature form of prohibition (of ecclesiastical religion) to the freely accepted determination of practical reason. Narcissistic Humiliation versus Edifying Humiliation36 But does Kant not explicitly dismiss the value and legitimacy of monastic practices? Does not Kant, like most modern philosophy, disavow monastic practices as slavish and primitive efforts to propitiate God through symbols?37 And does this not suggest that Kant would utterly reject the practical cultivation of humiliation? It is true that Kant does forcefully and explicitly dismiss what he viewed as the monastic model of cultivation and, in particular, the use of techniques of humiliation, but once again, the story is much more complex than it first appears. For on close examination we can see that his rants against


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‘monastic ascetics’ (a) do not necessarily accurately portray monastic practices of humiliation and (b) do not rule out particular uses of humiliation. Given the predominant view of monastic practices as ones of selfflagellation and superstitious propitiation, it is not surprising that Kant forcefully dismisses what he understood to be the monastic model of moral cultivation and the cultivation of humiliation. In the Metaphysics of Morals, he explicitly broaches this issue, acknowledging, once again, that practices of cultivation (or ‘ethical gymnastics’ as he calls them) are necessary to his moral project insofar as they help train a virtuous disposition. One of the key elements that his system must cultivate is a ‘valiant’ and ‘cheerful’ frame of mind: ‘The rules for practicing virtue (exercitiorum virtutiuos) aim at a frame of mind that is both valiant and cheerful in fulfilling its duties (animus strenuus et hilaris).’38 Specific practices of cultivation are thus required to create this disposition. On Kant’s telling, the ‘ethical gymnastics’ of monastic cultivation are antithetical to this approach: ‘Monkish ascetics, which from superstitious fear or hypocritical loathing of oneself, goes to work with selftorture and mortification of the flesh, is not directed to virtue but rather to fantastically purging oneself of sin by imposing punishments on oneself.’39 Slavish monastic ascetics, Kant claims, cultivate the opposite of what his model requires: loathing rather than cheerfulness; hypocrisy rather than moral honesty; superstition and fear rather than critical reason and love of the moral law. Slavish monastic ascetics must therefore be rejected by any modern moral system. On the face of it, this dismissal of monastic cultivation seems to suggest that Kant would disavow any model of cultivation that had commonalities with monkish asceticism. This, in turn, might suggest that Kant’s project could never develop practices of cultivation that employed the affective force of humiliation. If we closely examine the way in which he critiques and rules out monkish ascetics, however, it becomes clear that the use of humiliation is not ruled out as long as it is employed in a very different way than Kant saw it used in monkish ascetics. In fact, it seems that his philosophy actually allows us to identify two contrasting modes of employing humiliation – a narcissistic version and an edifying version – and to judge one as illegitimate and the other as acceptable.40 For what distinguishes acceptable Kantian practices from those he dismisses as illegitimate monkish ascetics? In Kant’s view, it essentially boils down to three elements: (1) the source of the practices; (2) the

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objectives of the practices; and (3) the effect of those practices. On each of these dimensions, Kant believes that there are clear differences between the two models of humiliation. In relation to the first criteria – the source of the practices – Kant claims that monkish ascetics are driven by ‘superstitious fear or hypocritical loathing of oneself’ whereas the motivating source of Kantian gymnastics emerges from (and reproduces) the ‘consciousness of one’s restored freedom.’41 We might be less willing to grant the categorical distinction between the two in the light of the fact that Kant’s own description of the consciousness of our freedom and self-respect emerges out of a prior sense of humiliation. Kant, however, believes it is an important difference. On the second axis – the objectives of the practices – Kant also asserts that there are important differences between the two. What are the objectives of slavish monkish practices? They are to ‘fantastically purging oneself of sin by imposing punishments on oneself. Instead of morally repenting sins (with a view to improving), it wants to do penance by punishments chosen and inflicted by oneself.’42 According to Kant, monastic ascetics are not only motivated by superstition and illegitimate beliefs, they are also fundamentally backward looking. The objectives are to do penance for deeds already done, to propitiate an external God who sits in judgment and tabulates the net good/evil quotient of a given individual. In contrast, the Kantian approach is forward looking. All practices must be aimed at improving oneself morally in the present and future. It can, of course, accept the idea of ‘repenting’ and supports the idea that moral subjects must reflect on the morality of their actions. But the primary objective of this is to ensure that it is done with a ‘view to improving’ ones moral disposition – and hence one’s future ability to act morally. Perhaps the most important problem with monkish ascetics, however, is the consequences of these monkish practices (in Kant’s estimation). What are the results of Kantian gymnastics? According to Kant, these gymnastics cultivate a ‘cheerful’ and ‘valiant’ spirit that can overcome the fact that the self-renunciation required by morality can sometimes ‘make ones’ mind gloomy and sullen.’43 The result of Kantian gymnastics is thus a moral disposition that is not only cheerful and open to the moral law, but is also more likely to obey that moral law. In contrast, Kant thinks that monkish practices actively undermine an effective and robust moral disposition. The problem is not merely that monkish ascetics ‘cannot produce the cheerfulness that accompanies virtue’ and thus fail to create a moral disposition that love the moral

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law.44 The problem is that monkish ascetics actually foster the immoral rebellion of the will by cultivating ‘a secret hatred of virtue’s command’ at the heart of moral subjectivity.45 And this means that monkish ascetics ultimately cultivate a moral subject which, rather than embracing the law, ‘shirks as much as possible occasions for practicing virtue.’46 Nothing in Kant’s discussion, therefore, rules out the use of cultivation or humiliation itself. Rather, Kant’s dismissal of ‘monkish ascetics’ rules out a very particular type of humiliation. We might thus argue that Kant’s thought develops a sophisticated and nuanced set of criteria that allow Kant (and us) to identify two distinct and separate types of humiliation: one acceptable and one unacceptable. On this view, we might call the first, monkish mode one of ‘narcissistic humiliation.’ It is ‘narcissistic’ for a variety of reasons, but especially because its source is a reflection of inner fears and superstitions, its objective is to desperately salve these inner psychological (and philosophical) wounds, and its result is utterly reducible to the satisfaction of these inner masochistic desires (and thus devoid of any morally ‘progressive’ function). Kant’s critique of narcissistic humiliation, however, leaves open the possibility that there might be another version of humiliation, one that passed Kant’s three criteria. This version – one we might call ‘edifying humiliation’ – would find its source in the commands of the moral law, have the objective of strengthening and developing the moral disposition of its practitioner, and have, as an effect, the creation of a much deeper, more profound recognition of (and obedience to) the moral law.47 There are thus two important points to take from the examination of Kant’s critique of monastic ascetics. First, Kant’s critique of monastic practices of humiliation does not rule out the possibility that Kant’s project might employ a version which plays a morally edifying role. As such, it would not necessarily be contradictory for Kant’s philosophy to critique monastic, narcissistic humiliation while simultaneously employing an edifying version of humiliation. Secondly, we should also be highly critical of Kant’s assumption that all monastic ascetics uniformly employed narcissistic humiliation as a mode of humiliation. For, if we return to the rule of St Benedict, what is remarkable is the degree to which Benedict’s practices of humiliation bear all the hallmarks of edifying humiliation and virtually none of narcissistic humiliation. First, while St Benedict saw our objective state as one of undeniable humiliation in relation to God, he did not see humility as the natural consciousness of

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man. Rather, like Kant, he appreciated that it was a virtue that had to be painstakingly crafted through careful cultivation and a wide variety of ethical gymnastics. Second, as we saw above, the source of Benedict’s practices of humiliation seems to be less superstitious fear or self-loathing and more a profound love of the moral law of God – something that Kant might allow places his version of Christianity closer to rational faith than Kant’s representation of monasticism might allow.48 Third, the objectives of these practices are profoundly forward looking. The Rule of St. Benedict is explicit in this: ‘For observant and obedient monks, all these [rules] are nothing less than tools for the cultivation of virtues.’ The twelve steps of humility are actually practices designed to create, and then cultivate, a moral disposition of humility that would better allow them to love and obey the word of God. Finally, the effect of these practices was not to create a fearful crushed moral subject who secretly hated the law. The effect (in theory, at least) was the exact opposite. As we saw earlier, Benedict clearly believes that ‘after ascending all these steps of humility, the monk will quickly arrive at that perfect love of God which casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Through this love, all that he once performed with dread, he will now begin to observe without effort, as though naturally, from habit, no longer out of fear of hell, but out of love for Christ, good habit and delight in virtue.’49 Benedict’s edifying model of humiliation aims at creating the same pure and robust love of the moral law as does Kant’s. Cultivating Monastic Moral Dispositions Given these parallels between Kant and Benedict, it might be worthwhile briefly to explore further the role of practices of cultivation in monastic cultivation before we return to Kant. How does humiliation actually create this love of God or recognition of the moral law? What is the nature of these practices of humiliation? Are they purely intellectual? Or do they have an important emotional element that can be cultivated and deployed to inspire recognition and obedience of the moral law? Here, recent scholarship on the character of monastic practices is helpful. Modern secular thought has tended to understand monastic practices as fundamentally symbolic – deriving from belief in, or fear of, God – and thus dismiss them as slavish and primitive efforts to propitiate God through symbols.50 Talal Asad has challenged the modern understanding of monastic practices as symbols expressing a pre-exist-

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ing faith. He suggests instead that these practices constituted an entire disciplinary regimen designed to create faith. According to Asad, while various elements of the Church might now (within a secular modernity) appear purely symbolic, this was not necessarily their dominant character in pre-modern Christianity and certainly not in monasticism. Hugh St Victor, for example, clearly recognized this when he stated that the sacraments, far from being a representation of belief, had their origin in their ability to participate in the creation of this faith. ‘Sacraments are known to have been instituted for three reasons: on account of humiliation, on account of instruction, on account of exercise.’51 For Asad, this suggests that a fundamental reconsideration of the practices and aims of monasticism is necessary. The steps of humility do not simply flow out of doctrinal faith, but themselves are crucial to the cultivation of a moral disposition appropriate to Christians. Monasticism does not despise the body and dream of escape so much as work upon the body in order to reconstruct its desires and habits. For Asad, monastic rites ‘are not representations of cultural metaphors, they are part of a Christian program for creating in its performers, by means of regulated practice, the “mental and moral dispositions” appropriate to Christians.’52 They are ‘programmes for forming and reforming the moral dispositions (that is, for organizing the physical and verbal practices that constitute the virtuous Christian self), in particular, the disposition of true obedience.’53 These programs were not so much an attempt to teach cognitive beliefs as they were attempts to train an entire assemblage of desires, habits, actions, and beliefs that together created the ‘moral disposition’ of monks. They assumed and worked upon this assemblage without being able to precisely delineate the exact lines of causality between the body and the mind, affect and intellect, conscious decision or trained character. Rather, the programs acted upon all these levels at once. As Asad suggests, ‘the formation/transformation of moral disposition (Christian virtues) depended on more than the capacity to imagine, to perceive, to imitate – which, after all, are abilities everyone possesses in varying degrees. It required a particular program of disciplinary practices. The rites that were prescribed by that program did not simply evoke or release universal emotions, they aimed to construct and reorganize distinctive emotions – desire (cupiditas/caritas), humility (humilitas), remorse (contrito) – on which the central Christian virtue of obedience to God depended ... historically specific emotions that are structured internally and related to each other in historically determined ways.’54

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Equally crucial was the fact that this training was not coerced indoctrination but voluntary techniques of self reconstruction predicated on a somewhat paradoxical assemblage of freely accepted authority between monk and monastery. According to Asad, ‘the abbot neither coerced nor negotiated with the monks he addressed in sermons. His ritual discourse played a complex role in the self-restructuring of contradictory religious subjectivities. The primary object of transformation was the development of the Christian virtue of willing obedience.’55 Monastic rites did not merely prohibit certain activities and discourage them through surveillance, punishment, or guilt. They also worked to transform one’s moral disposition at the level of affect and desire. What is particularly pertinent is that this work of transformation was not merely instrumental and defensive. Monastic rites did not simply enlist certain affects, emotions and desires (such as fear and love) against others that were ruled immoral. Rather, monasticism created new levels of affect, refracted old emotions, and transformed immoral drives. Asad suggests that it was the historical specificity and mobility of desire and affect that fuelled some of the crucial transformations to monastic life in the twelfth century. For in the twelfth century nobles and knights began converting en masse to monkhood for the first time. Monasteries had to create new disciplines and practices to deal with and transform not only the desire, but the secular experience of these new initiates. Bernard de Clairvaux, according to Asad, ‘is not [merely] manipulating desires (in the sense that his monks do not know what is happening to them) but instead is creating a new moral space for the operation of a distinctive motivation.’56 Crucial to the success of the monastic rites, then, was their ability not just to counteract illicit desires, but to alter, redirect, and transform them into a moral disposition acceptable to Christianity. Kantian Moral Cultivation Now that we have a clearer picture of the difference between narcissistic and edifying humiliation and the fact that monastic practices were not simply narcissistic self-flagellations, we are better placed to address the question of what Kant might be doing in that important third chapter of the second Critique. Does Kant’s moral project enact what some monastic orders put into practice: the idea that cultivating an edifying version of humiliation was not only possible, but also highly effective? From this perspective, Kant might be seen to be intri-

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cately involved in a parallel project of creating a new moral space and cultivating historically and culturally specific moral disposition by recovering, reworking, and redeploying the affective force of humiliation. Might the logic of the Kantian Imperative apply the insight that humiliation is not only an objective condition of our being and a moral feeling derived from that consciousness, but also a critical affect that can be actively coded and cultivated to help create both an obedient moral disposition and the recognition of the moral law? For with humiliation, Kant’s project is dealing with powerful forces. As William Ian Miller suggests, modern humiliation draws on potent affective force with critical social effects. ‘With humiliation ... the center of the feeling is the gut. The stomach goes queasy, the bowel contracts. One may even feel the sudden urge to defecate which fear produces with the attendant efforts of tightening in the bowel to prevent oneself from doing so. If embarrassment lingers on the surface of the body, humiliation is located at its deepest center.’57 I suspect that humiliation’s affective force helps explains why Kant employs it at such strategic points. For as Nietzsche (and Augustine, Rousseau, Foucault, etc.) understood, both religious and secular moral projects employ the power of affect to form moral dispositions. ‘Fundamentally, every great affect has this power, provided it explodes suddenly: anger, fear, voluptuousness, revenge, hope, triumph, despair, cruelty; and the ascetic priest has indeed pressed into his service indiscriminately the whole pack of savage hounds in man and let loose now this one and now that.’58 Humiliation too has this depth and force.59 Thus, part of the appeal of cultivating a reworked model of humiliation (modified slightly to fit his moral system) might be that it would allow Kant’s system to draw upon and capture some of the affective power of its Christian predecessor – even as it alters the affect itself and the purposes for which it is being employed. From this perspective, then, the third chapter of the second Critique (and possibly much of Kant’s larger project) seems to be profoundly involved in a project of cultivation that is not so distant from that of monastic practices. We might say, in fact, that an important element of Kant’s project is the attempt to use a series of historical emotions and newly recoded affective forces to foster a distinctively Kantian moral disposition that is characterized by a robust recognition of, and obedience to, the imperative image of morality. Other important elements of Kant’s critical philosophy might also be seen as intrinsically involved in this project. For, as was the case with monastic doctrines, Kant’s phi-

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losophy might be seen as creating a new language (of rational moral law), new modes of certain judgment (practical reason), new incantations (categorical imperative), and new practices designed to capture and redefine certain affects, desires, thoughts, and faculties that elicit and foster a new moral disposition. In this view, Kant’s project not only designs a series of intellectual strategies that seeks to render apodictic the moral law and employs the concept of humiliation in the attempt to explain and render coherent and authoritative the conceptual scaffolding of Kant’s philosophy. The Kantian Imperative also employs the cultural force of humiliation in order to cultivate the critically important moral disposition of its subjects. If this is an accurate assessment, however, I face a significant challenge in substantiating it. For Kant’s project has an important and powerful incentive against explicitly acknowledging the role of humiliation and cultivation. Acknowledging the profound importance of cultivation would call into question, by collapsing the strict division between the sensible and intelligible, the authority, universality, and necessity of the moral law and ultimately reveal the entire moral system as contingently (and precariously) dependent on that first (and now contingently motivated) act of recognition. Therefore, how can I test my claim that, far from ignoring the affective resources of culture, Kant’s philosophy not only understands the import of affect but also but tries to intervene and shape them in order to establish a particularly modern disposition? If affective cultivation is a crucial, but necessarily opaque, practice in Kant’s project, we might expect that he would acknowledge and outline the importance of practices of moral cultivation in other places: works and sections that, because they are not directly involved in the attempt to secure the philosophical coherency and necessity of the system, would be able to discuss more explicitly the importance of cultivation to morality. If the cultivation of a moral disposition is as crucial to Kant’s project as I want to suggest, we might expect him to have practical works devoted to the ‘how’ of cultivating just this disposition through the employment of the key affects of humiliation/respect. I believe that Kant’s Lectures on Education is just such a text. I want to suggest, moreover, that if we then return to his thinking in the Critique of Practical Reason and the Metaphysics of Morals after we examine the lectures, we will find that in these works also (a) practices are crucial Kant’s critical moral project and (b) several of the most important critical practices inextricably rely on and rework the affective force of humiliation.

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3. Education as Discipline: Kant’s Early Mnemotechnics of Culture Culture, however, is an involuntary adventure, the movement of learning which links a sensibility, a memory, and then a thought with all the cruelties and violence necessary ... to provide a training for the mind. It is from ‘learning,’ not from knowledge, that the transcendental conditions of thought must be drawn. ~ Gilles Deleuze60

Kant offered lecture courses on education on four separate occasions between 1776 and 1787 (after which time the course was taken over by his successor).61 In 1803, largely at the urging of his students, Kant agreed to have his loosely structured lecture notes published as Immanuel Kant, Uber Padagogik. There is some debate about when Kant wrote most of this material. However, there is good reason to believe that he revised them continually between 1776 and 1787.62 As such, even if he developed the material for these lectures solely between those dates, they would have been produced during the same period that he wrote the first and second Critiques. However, the notes also contain additions and alterations that seem to indicate that Kant revised them until at least the 1790s and possibly even as late as 1802.63 This means that they were not only taught, but also revised during and after much of his critical writings on practical reason. As such, they are not a remnant of his pre-critical period. Rather, they are fundamentally connected to his critical project. The disadvantage of these lecture notes, of course, is that they are a series of speaking notes and thus are not as systematic as his other works. The advantage, however, is that they are a series of speaking notes and thus are are not as systematic as his other works. Since they are not explicitly framed in the context of his philosophical defence of the self-sufficiency of the moral law, they are more open about the profound importance Kant accorded moral cultivation. The lectures give us, then, a very succinct glimpse into his views on the practical activity to which his philosophical work was intimately tied. It is not surprising that education would be important for Kant.64 Enlightenment requires education. On the traditional reading of Kant we would expect him to argue that education allows us to see the rational basis of the moral law and follow the categorical imperative more consistently, but this is not the model of education that emerges from his lectures. In these lectures, education is not the discovery of knowl-

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edge but is, instead, a process of experimentation in modes of cultivation and learning.65 What is most surprising is the degree to which Kant thinks this pedagogical and experimental education is crucial to the very possibility of common sense recognition and a moral disposition. In the lectures, morality is not a natural, innate capability active from birth, but is only a potential that must be cultivated for it to become determinative: ‘Providence has not placed goodness ready formed in him, but merely as a tendency and without the distinction of the moral law.’66 This is why children are such ambivalent beings for Kant. On one hand, as natural beings they have a tendency towards the good. But as uneducated and uncultivated beings, they do not have a reliable disposition towards duty. They have a propensity for good, but they have no apodictic and immediate recognition of the moral law. Hence, when Kant asks, ‘Is man by nature morally good or bad?’ he replies that ‘He is neither, for he is not by nature a moral being. He only becomes a moral being when his reason has developed ideas of duty and law.’67 But what is education and how does it ‘develop’ these moral ‘ideas’ of duty and law? According to Kant, moral education is not a process of gradual enlightenment in which, once exposed, a child simply ‘recognizes’ and follows those ideas. Moral ‘uniformity’ is not the result of knowledge. Instead, a moral disposition is possible only when ‘these principles would have become with them a second nature.’68 It is the immediacy of instinct, not the reflexivity of understanding, for which Kant strives. This requires a process of cultivation that engraves and inscribes these principles in the heart of these adults-to-be, a regimen of training that consists of repetition, exercise, and discipline. In these lectures, therefore, Kant spends no time discussing the content of what ‘knowledge’ must be taught, but instead concentrates on the effects of certain exercises and practices. Given our examination of Kant’s work on affect in the second Critique, most notable is the degree to which he believes that desire and affect should be employed to create a suitable moral disposition. According to Kant, the only lasting effective punishments are those that act on the level of desire: ‘by taking into consideration the child’s desire to be loved and respected, such punishments may be chosen as will have a lasting effect upon its character.’69 Here, desire and affective emotional forces are the material from which a moral disposition and the recognition of the law are forged. It is no coincidence, I think, that Kant identifies the affective force of humiliation as a particularly effective moral discipline.

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According to Kant, an excellent form of moral discipline is when ‘we do something derogatory to the child’s longing to be honored and loved (a longing which is an aid to moral training); for instance, when we humiliate the child by treating him coldly and distantly.’70 It is interesting that although this example parallels the process of humiliation through the moral law, here the moral law (and the child’s recognition of it) cannot be assumed. There is a longing to be ‘honored’ and ‘loved.’ But this does not spring from the child’s recognition of the moral law and the value it gives their person (as Kant thinks the adult longing for self-respect does), nor does its humiliation rely on a recognition of their lowliness in comparison with the purity of the moral law. For children, there is no pre-existing recognition of the moral law that necessarily humiliates them and inspires the moral will. Rather, Kant relies on certain cultural relations of authority and emotional force (i.e., parent-child, student-teacher) in which the contingent, circumstantial, and temporary relations of superiority-inferiority create the feeling of humiliation that is then used to create a common sense recognition of the moral law in the child. It is not surprising, therefore, that Kant thinks that youth is an unpleasant time.71 The childhood surfeit of unconstrained natural imagination and fantasy must be transformed into a reliable recognition of the law.72 Only strict and sustained intervention on the levels of desire and affect are forceful enough to forge this moral disposition, and only this work creates the conditions of possibility for the recognition of the moral law, the effective functioning of humiliation in adult society, and the force of the moral feelings of respect and reverence: ‘Man can only become man by education. He is merely what education makes of him.’73 This is why Kant singles out as the two most difficult and intricately linked human inventions (a) the art of government and (b) the art of education.74 For, if the art of politics establishes the conditions of civil order, only education allows for the possibility of morality at all. These comments give us a rather different view of Kant’s comments in the ‘Doctrine of the Method of Ethics’ in the Metaphysics of Morals. While the importance of culture and cultivation (and the affective force of humiliation) is less explicit, it nonetheless seems to underlie Kant’s comments on the moral method of education. Certain sections of the ‘Doctrine’ seem to suggest that common sense recognition of the moral law is natural. Returning to the language of common sense recognition, Kant claims that the basic outlines of the system of virtue can ‘be developed from ordinary human reason and (as far as its content is

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concerned) can be developed from ordinary human reason and (as far as its form is concerned) it needs only to be adapted to rules of teaching suited for the earliest instruction.’75 Teaching morality seems to be only a matter of clarifying the common sense inherent in every individual. Yet even here Kant distinguishes between two possible methods of tutoring: Socratic dialogue and a pure moral catechism. If moral education merely analyses and clarifies an already existent common sense recognition inherent in every subject, we might suppose that a Socratic dialogue, a more equal method of teacher-pupil exchange, would be appropriate, since the teacher would merely be helping an able subject understand the necessary conditions of her own ideas.76 Yet Kant explicitly rules out this method: ‘for the beginning pupil the first and most essential instrument for teaching the doctrine of virtue is a moral catechism ... The formal principle of such instruction does not permit Socratic dialogue as the way of teaching for this purpose, since the pupil has no idea what questions to ask ... But the answer which he [the teacher] methodically draws from the pupil’s reason must be written down and preserved in words that cannot be easily altered and so be committed to the pupil’s memory.’77 Socratic dialogue is inappropriate because the pupil’s own moral reason does not recognize sufficiently to allow a derivation of the conditions of morality from the pupil’s own common sense. In fact, in Kant’s moral catechism, the teacher must not only ask but answer for the student at the beginning: ‘the teacher elicits from his pupil’s reason, by questioning, what he wants to teach him; and should the pupil not know how to answer the question, the teacher, guiding his reason, suggests an answer.’78 It is instructive, I think, that in the theatrical representation that follows, the teacher not only supplies the initial terms of discussion to which the pupil must respond, but since the pupil cannot answer at first, the teacher must supply the answer. Why does the pupil respond with silence? Why can’t her common sense recognition provide an initial moral ‘intuition’ from which the teacher might begin her clarifying analysis? Because the pupil lacks common sense recognition. Thus, it is not surprising that once the pupil’s thinking is primed by the teacher’s question and answers, the teacher does not merely clarify the pupil’s answers, but also corrects, contradicts, and reorients – none of which should be really necessary if the pupil’s recognition is merely convoluted or cloudy. The idea that the moral catechism must create

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the moment of recognition (which exists as a potential but not as a fact) also explains Kant’s firm insistence that the pupil must not only listen carefully to the entire catechism, but also write down the answers they arrive at. Kant insists that ‘the answer which he [the teacher] methodically draws from the pupil’s reason must be written down and preserved in definite words that cannot easily be altered, and so be committed to the pupil’s memory.’79 If the answers are merely a clarification of the pupil’s actually existing moral recognition (i.e., practical reason), would Kant need to be so worried that they be codified in precise language? Kant’s worry that the pupil might forget or change the lessons without an authoritative codification seems to suggest that Kant’s project understands that the task of the moral catechism is not merely one of clarification but one of fabrication. For, if we have potential for recognition (one that is potentially challenged by other forms of non-recognition) which is only actualized through cultivation, then we might well be worried about the possibility of mis-recognition or a return to non-recognition if the precise forms of moral recognition were not properly articulated and disciplined into the memory of the moral subject. So why a catechism at all? If the process of instilling the fact of recognition requires such precision and authoritative guidance, why doesn’t the teacher simply lecture? Perhaps it is because active participation is a more effective mode of cultivation. Common sense recognition can become second nature only if it is exercised and practised – again and again – by the pupil. As we saw earlier, Kant agrees with the Stoics that virtue ‘cannot be taught merely by concepts of duty or by exhortations (by Paraenesis) but must instead be exercised and cultivated by efforts to combat the inner enemy.’80 Recognition will become secure only if it is burnt into the memory of a morally ambivalent subject through repetition, discipline, and active participation. It is notable, moreover, that in this section, Kant also acknowledges not only the importance of the affective element of moral cultivation, but the particular centrality of the affective force of humiliation and to the effort to instil a recognition of the moral law: ‘it is the shamefulness of vice, not its harmfulness (to the agent himself), that must be emphasized above all.’81 The pupil must be trained to immediately experience affective humiliation, as second nature, when she experiences vice. For, as we will see in the next section, only if this identification and experience is deeply trained into a subject’s disposition will Kant’s overall moral system function to reinforce recognition and moral motivation.

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4. Respect for Ourselves: Kant’s Contemplative Mnemotechnics of Humiliation Kant’s project thus clearly views the affective cultivation of humiliation as a crucial element of the moral education of children. Kant also believes that this intensive cultivation is also required for young adults if they are to develop a proper moral disposition and the common sense recognition of the moral law. According to most readings, Kant’s comments in the second Critique provide little support for this idea. In fact, once again Kant’s comments appear to directly contradict it. In the ‘Doctrine of Method’ in the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant argues that it is correct principles, not mere habit or affect, that must be cultivated in the mature moral mind. Yet after our consideration of Kant’s lectures on education, these comments also may be seen in a different light. Consider Kant’s claim: ‘It certainly cannot be denied that in order to bring either a mind that is still uncultivated or one that is degraded onto the track of the morally good in the first place, some preparatory guidance is needed to attract it by means of its own advantage or to alarm it by fear of harm; but as soon as this machinery, these leading strings have had even some effect, the pure moral motive must be brought to bear on the soul, the motive which – not only because it is the only one that can ground a character (a consistent practical cast of mind in accordance with unchangeable maxims) but also because it teaches the human being to feel his own dignity – gives his mind power, unexpected even by himself, to tear himself away from all sensible attachments so far as they want to rule over him.’82 On one hand, this passage might be seen as a critique of the idea that affect is an appropriate element of truly moral motivation and to show, in fact, the difference between the power and consistency of a truly moral disposition (guided by a pure moral motive) and that of contingent sensible inclinations. Yet in the light of Kant’s other comments on education, this same passage now appears to be a description of the process of moral cultivation Kant aims for. The uncultivated mind is taught recognition through the strings of self-interest and the affective forces of pain and humiliation. This feeling of humiliation is then semi-conceptualized as humiliation/respect and made understandable by Kant’s moral system. With its explanation as a pure moral incentive, humiliation/respect renders common sense recognition de facto apodictic, which, in turn, reinforces the experience of humiliation/ respect for those who accept that recognition. Kant’s system, then, not

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only relies on those ‘leading strings,’ but then redescribes them as – and in doing so reworks them into – the pure, universal, and necessary affect of humiliation/respect that necessarily leads to recognition and obedience. This explains why Kant does not argue that the practice of cultivation disappears once a subject is brought within the influence of his system (i.e., once recognition is a trained response to humiliation), but suggests, rather, that these practices change. Once we have cultivated a moral disposition and the common sense recognition of the moral law, the act of self-evaluation and comparison with the purity of the (now recognized and accepted) moral law becomes a crucial practice to be exercised by the pupil of morality. According to Kant, when we evaluate whether an action we took was moral, ‘attention must be directed to the question whether the action was also done (subjectively) for the sake of the moral law ... Now there is no doubt that this exercise and the consciousness of a cultivation of our reason in judging merely about the practical, arising from this exercise, must gradually produce a certain interest in reason’s law itself and in morally good actions.’83 Consideration of the moral law and our moral failings, then, is undertaken not only to measure one’s relative morality. It is an exercise that cultivates a stronger interest in the moral law. Its importance lies not simply in the fact that it allows us to judge our moral worth, but equally in the fact that it strengthens an interest in the moral law, which, by increasing the force of the moral feeling, improves both our moral disposition and our ability to recognize the moral law itself. Yet Kant is not entirely certain that this practice alone will, in itself, lead to these results. Thus, the exercise of critically considering our own moral state is only a first step. While it lets us ‘feel a more extended use of our cognitive power’ by allowing us to appreciate the unity of reason on all its levels, this ‘employment of the faculty of judgment’ does not yet create an ‘interest in actions and in morality itself.’ A second, sharper practice of pedagogy is therefore necessary. Now, Kant says, ‘the second exercise begins its work, namely to draw attention, in the lively presentation of the moral disposition in examples, to the purity of the will, first only as a negative perfection of the will insofar as in an action from duty no incentives of inclination have any influence on it as determining grounds.’84 The importance of this second exercise, he argues, is that it elevates us beyond a mere intellectual interest in reason to the moral feeling of respect for ourselves! According to Kant, the practice of considering actual exemplars of

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moral purity – where moral agents free themselves from inclination – cultivates a feeling of ‘respect for ourselves’ that both overpowers sensible inclinations and offers an affirmative moral motivation to enact the moral will. By presenting moral exemplars as the negative perfection of the moral will, Kant argues, the moral educator will ensure that ‘the pupil’s attention is fixed on the consciousness of his freedom, and, although this renunciation excites an initial feeling of pain, nevertheless, by its withdrawing the pupil from the constraint of even true needs, there is made known to him at the same time a deliverance from the manifold dissatisfaction in which all those needs entangle him and his mind is made receptive to the feeling of satisfaction from other sources.’85 Two things are notable here. First, Kant is explicit that the mind is made receptive to the force of moral feeling (i.e., the feeling of satisfaction from other sources) only through exercises, or what I would call arts of ethical cultivation. Second, he seems to suggest not only that these moral exemplars teach pupils a consciousness of freedom, but that this consciousness then functions to help to cultivate the mind’s sensitivity to moral feelings. This, it might be suggested, is a far cry from humiliation. Here, it is the radical elevation of the worth of the subject and the cultivation of ‘respect for ourselves’ that is operative. Yet Kant is explicit that these are possible only because the ground has previously been cultivated by humiliation. The law of duty, Kant observes, ‘finds easier access through the respect for ourselves in the consciousness of our freedom.’86 Yet this respect for ourselves functions as moral motivation only because it intensifies our fear and our aversion to humiliation: ‘When this [respect for ourselves] is well established, when a human being dreads nothing more than to find, on self-examination, that he is worthless and contemptible in his own eyes, then every good moral disposition can be grafted onto it because this is the best, and indeed the sole, guard to prevent ignoble and corrupting impulses from breaking into the mind.’87 With the feeling of ‘respect for ourselves,’ then, Kant has relocated the entire process/feeling of humiliation/respect within the subject itself. Once respect for ourselves has been cultivated as a powerful moral feeling, the moral subject no longer even needs that first moment of contemplation and comparison of the moral law to feel humiliation. Respect for ourselves makes humiliation virtually instinctual – a second nature. The moral feeling of ‘respect for ourselves,’ far from embodying a radical elevation of the worth of the subject, rests on the humiliation of that subject twice over. First, we can feel respect for ourselves only

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when we respect the moral law and follow its dictates. But this very respect for the law has, as a condition of possibility, a prior moment of humiliation/respect. Second, since respect for ourselves relies on a disciplined and cultivated fear of humiliation, it is intimately connected with the force of humiliation not only for its conditions of possibility, but for its motivational force every time it is called forth. From this perspective, then, Kant’s employment of the exercise of contemplating moral exemplars might well be seen as a moral mnemotechnic designed to inspire respect for ourselves primarily by mimetically reproducing the defining process of humiliation/respect of the moral law. In this manifestation, however, it occurs in relation to concrete exemplars of the moral law rather than its intelligible ideal. In fact, it might be that this type of pedagogical exercise actually intensifies the force of that initial process of humiliation/respect. Studying actually existing examples of the pure moral will in fellow humans might, in demonstrating the possibility of the pure moral will, inspire a feeling of respect for ourselves (as a fellow human who might well reach that level of purity as well) and encourage us to pursue moral perfection. But it also simultaneously heightens the experience of humiliation. For, if we are humiliated by our imperfection in comparison to the pure moral law (whose perfection we can’t be expected to reach), how should we feel when we compare our failings with the virtual perfection of another individual whose level we could reach but have not yet reached? The act of revealing as possible a purity of will that we have not reached both mimics and intensifies the experience of humiliation and thus heightens our moral feeling of humiliation/ respect, our willingness to recognize the moral law, and our desire to obey it. Kant can thus both highlight the importance of cultivation and remain adamant that the ‘moral law demands obedience from duty and not from a predilection that cannot and ought not be presupposed at all.’88 For Kantian cultivation does not create merely a predilection or a habit. Kantian cultivation produces a pure disposition that, once successfully engaged, locates the experience and justification within the common sense and trained affective disposition of the subject itself. Once we are within Kant’s system, the mere consideration of the moral law should lead us to feel immediate humiliation/respect, because, once we recognize and accept Kant’s moral system, we have little choice but to accept the model of motivation that logically flows from it. Yet both moral motivation and the recognition of the moral law must be

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trained and cultivated through the use of a variety of practices that call upon and rely upon the affective force of humiliation/respect. 5. The Unending Vigilance of the Kantian Mnemotechnics of Virtue In some ways, it should not be surprising that Kant is explicit about the importance of moral cultivation and the cultivated nature of common sense recognition in relation to children and young adults. Children and young adults are, after all, the least threatening case of non-recognition, since, as minors, they are legitimately subject to forceful parental and institutional discipline and cultivation. But if humiliation/respect is disciplined into being through the disciplinary exercises of moral cultivation, does Kant believe that they are permanently embedded in the moral disposition of that moral subject and that no further training and cultivation is required? No. Kant, while putting particular emphasis on the importance of the cultivation of recognition and the moral feeling of humiliation/respect in childhood, is adamant that the cultivation of virtue is an ongoing process that must continue throughout adult life in the form of a series of cultural practices and ‘secret disciplines.’ The very nature of human virtue, Kant claims, means that it ‘is always in progress and yet always starts from the beginning ... That it always starts from the beginning has a subjective basis in human nature, which is affected by inclinations because of which virtue can never settle down in peace and quiet with its maxims adopted once and for all but, if it is not rising, is unavoidably sinking.’89 We can never rest on our laurels or assume that a previously instilled disposition is sufficient. Virtue, as the cultivation of a moral disposition and an obedient will must always begin anew; for the force of sensible inclinations always threatens to overwhelm the force of the moral feeling.90 Kant therefore thinks that it is ill advised to feel too great a ‘state of confidence’ in our own powers.91 For confidence leads to complacency. Because we are mortal, we must always be on guard against regression. Thus, Kant is clear that ‘it is advantageous (to morality) to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.’92 The cultivation of our moral disposition should proceed from the feeling of humiliation/respect – not a sense of over-confident self-respect. And, given its centrality, the cultivation, intensification, and reactivation of the moral feeling of humiliation/respect must be an active and ongoing process if virtue is to avoid degeneration.

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It is not surprising, then, that in his Lectures on Education, Kant explicitly states that the process of cultivation does not end at childhood. In fact, he distinguishes between two modes of education. One, which he terms ‘discipline,’ consists of negative prohibitions and constraints, the ‘correcting of faults.’ The other he terms ‘culture,’ and it is ‘positive, consisting of instruction and guidance.’93 While the negative disciplines appropriate to childhood must end when the child becomes of the age of reason, ‘after this we may still make use of some means of culture and secretly exercise some discipline.’94 In other words, Kant suggests not only that ‘culture’ must provide a certain degree of ongoing instruction and guidance, but that even some secretly exercised discipline might be necessary for the maintenance and intensification of the moral disposition of ‘autonomous’ subjects who follow the moral law. Here, he understands that the maintenance of the moral experience of common sense recognition and its accompanying feelings of humiliation/respect requires ongoing and active sustenance. He understands that they must constantly be recodified through various active disciplines, practices, and ideas. The Power of Prayer What are these means of culture and secret disciplines? Kant clearly identifies certain practices and secret disciplines that might be appropriate to his moral culture in Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. In this work he suggests that after Christianity has been reworked into a form acceptable to his version of rational faith, there are a number of Christian practices that, once properly reconstructed, should be cultivated in society for their moral effects. He suggests that if the Christian faith recognizes the supremacy of universal reason, certain elements of Christianity ‘must be cherished and cultivated as merely a means, but a precious means, of making this doctrine comprehensible, even to the ignorant, as well as widely diffused and permanent.’95 Why should this faith be cultivated and cherished as a precious means? Because it ‘presupposes so very little capacity for theoretical reason that one can convince every man of it sufficiently for practical purposes and can at least require of all men as a duty that which is its effect.’96 Christian faith, while in need of slight revisions, might well function as an element of culture that guides and motivates morality; by its ability to render apodictic a faith helps ground and support the moral law of Kant’s system.

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It is the Christian practice of prayer that Kant sees as most practically useful. For, where faith expresses the common sense recognition of the moral law philosophically, prayer actually functions to cultivate a moral disposition and common sense recognition. Kant clearly states that religions develop certain practices to cultivate appropriate ethical dispositions. Christian practices are especially helpful because they, like his moral system, seek to cultivate universal and necessary obedience to the moral law: ‘In every type of public belief man has devised for himself certain practices ... though, to be sure, in all these types the practices are not, as they are in the Christian, related to practical concepts of reason and to dispositions conformable to them.’97 Silent and inner prayer, Kant thinks, if not misunderstood as actual communion with a divine being, is a particularly promising practice; for ‘in the heart-felt wish which is the spirit of prayer, man seeks but to work upon himself (for the quickening of his disposition by means of the idea of God).’98 If the concept of God, therefore, is reworked according to Kant’s rational faith, the practice of prayer should become second nature for all moral subjects. Thus, ‘it is therefore the more necessary carefully to inculcate set forms of prayer in children (who still stand in need of the letter) even in their earliest years, so that the language (even the language spoken inwardly, yea, even the attempts to attune the mind to the comprehension of the idea of God, which is to brought nearer to intuition) may possess here no value in itself, but may be used to quicken the disposition to a course of life well-pleasing to God, those words being but an aid to the imagination.’99 The forms and words of prayer, of no use to assure grace and God’s help, are nevertheless a crucial practice that quickens the moral disposition not merely in childhood but throughout adult life whenever that subject enters into private prayer. Moral subjects must be disciplined early in childhood so that the effect of obedience is brought ‘nearer to intuition’ and instinct than to reflection. According to Kant, then, even the adult practices of public prayer and communion might be recovered and promoted as ‘guides of culture and secret disciplines’ because, even though they have no bearing on salvation, they create sensible effects which help to secure and motivate the moral will. These practices, by raising the ‘feelings to the point of moral exaltation,’ fulfil their ‘special purpose, to set in more active motion the moral motivating forces of each individual through a public ceremony.’100 Yet Kant believes these practices of prayer must be carefully constrained and directed. For example, he thinks public theatrical

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prayer should generally be discouraged. Why? Because he worries that this practice reduces the efficacy of humiliation. For ‘humiliations and glorifications usually are the less felt in a moral way the more volubly they are expressed.’101 Philosophical Cultivation Kant’s philosophy clearly appreciates the importance and utility of the ‘spiritual exercises’ embodied by certain religious practices. His own philosophy, however, might also be viewed as a key intellectual exercise that plays a significant practical role in instilling certain beliefs and affective reactions in the wider culture. In one sense, my entire examination of the role of humiliation in Kant’s moral project is an attempt to show precisely this: that one of his secret disciplines for mature moral subjects is a framework of belief and cultivation in which the description of the necessity of moral humiliation functions to evoke the intensely unpleasant experience of moral humiliation and thus practically re-engage the semi-affective, semi-conceptual force/fear of humiliation to motivate moral action, secure recognition of the moral law, and ensure that his cycle of virtuous disposition continues to strengthen itself towards perfection rather than degenerate towards weakness, sensible addiction, and non-recognition. From this perspective, the categorical imperative and Kant’s various deductions and articulations of autonomy play slightly different roles than is generally understood. In particular, the formalist estimation of the role and importance of Kant’s deduction of the categorical imperative might need substantial revision. Perhaps the categorical imperative is not only the pinnacle of his search for the supreme principle of morality but also a technological innovation designed to cultivate a moral disposition worthy of the imperative image of morality. As one of the secret disciplines at work in culture, might it not be a carefully designed format for self-evaluation designed (a) to help guide those moral wills ill practised in the nuanced judgments required in a moral disposition; (b) to expose, highlight, and define those subjects who do not recognize the moral law as immoral so that they might be disciplined, cultivated, and morally reformed; (c) to give strength and courage to those weak, but good, wills who lack the resolution to act in accordance with the law without some sort of public and formal system of evaluation; (d) to work on all three of these types of subject to further train and transform them into fully moral dispositions; and

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(e) to, as an instrument for the post-facto evaluation of the morality of certain decisions, to encourage self-evaluation of moral flaws and the self-humiliation of those whose moral disposition or recognition needs to be strengthened? What about Kant’s deductions of the necessary conditions of autonomy? We saw in the previous chapters that they play some justificatory role in the Kantian Imperative even if they are neither conclusive nor exclusive. Now, however, they might be seen to play a more practical role. As we saw above, the moral feeling of respect for ourselves relies on a feeling of dread of humiliation that explains and overwhelms the pain of autonomous moral action. But humiliation explains and justifies the pain resulting from the control of inclination only if the end result (as freedom from inclination) is understood as desirable or, more accurately, as morally valuable. Kant’s analysis of autonomy, then, is crucial, insofar as it allows for the conceptual appropriation of the negative feeling of pain by presenting it as evidence of the infinite value of autonomous freedom. Might his inconclusive deductions of freedom not only buttress the strategy of common sense recognition, but also create the conceptual framework needed if the moral feeling of humiliation is to be converted into the positive motivation of respect? In this view, Kant’s argument from autonomy and freedom functions as a secret discipline designed to excite exactly those sorts of affective bonds that will bind the moral subject more tightly to the moral system and instill even greater and more universal/necessary recognition. Why employ humiliation and autonomy together? Why would Kant’s project appeal to arguments ostensibly grounded in the autonomous subject while simultaneously cultivating intense tactics of humiliation designed to cow those same ‘autonomous’ subjects? The answer is obviously complex and multifaceted, and I will discuss it further in the interlogue. Here, however, I will offer one tentative and partial speculation. One reason that might help to explain this double move is that Kant’s philosophy emerged at a time when the modes of grounding and reproducing morality were being profoundly transformed. In particular, he wrote in a time when the idea of autonomy was beginning to play an increasingly important role. Even if we consider only the history of philosophy (and ignore other historical processes of individuation), before Kant there had already been significant movement towards conceptualizing the value and importance of autonomy. As Schneewind shows, the idea and value of autonomy did not spring fully formed from Kant’s head. Rather, ‘during the seven-

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teenth and eighteenth centuries established conceptions of morality as obedience came increasingly to be contested by emerging conceptions of morality as self-governance ... The new outlook that emerged by the end of the eighteenth century centered on the belief that all normal individuals were able to live together in a morality of self-governance.’102 Kant’s work, while revolutionary in many ways, thus was not entirely unprecedented. Autonomy was, so to speak, in the air. Might Kant have found himself in the uncomfortable position of being deeply committed to an imperative image of morality while at the same time living in an age in which traditional modes of justifying and cultivating imperative visions of morality were faltering? Perhaps Kant’s philosophy sensed that Christianity and traditional modes of defining and cultivating the moral law would function less and less effectively in a culture defined by new conceptualizations and experiences of autonomy. In this context, the project of creating new modes of justification and cultivation (which could retain cultural relevance and force in an age of autonomy) to ground a new imperative image of morality would appear as a central concern. This, in turn, might partially help to explain the link between autonomy and humiliation in the Kantian Imperative. For Kant’s humiliation, while it recovers the historical cultural force of Christian humiliation, no longer depends on an externally recognized God to function. It can function in an era of autonomy, since (a) Kant’s philosophy already embeds theoretical humiliation in the core of autonomy and (b) Kant’s re-forged version of affective humiliation is already cultivated into the instinctual moral disposition of its subjects as a precondition of adulthood (through early education) and then maintained and strengthened through practices of self-humiliation. Kant’s specific recovery and reworking of the affective force and conceptualization of humiliation, therefore, is a crucial technology of cultivating modern autonomous moral subjectivity. There is one other reason that the affect of humiliation might have appeared as a particularly attractive affect to the logic of the Kantian Imperative. For at the same time that Kant’s philosophy was forging a modern conception of autonomous self-humiliation, the experience and understanding of humiliation in the wider culture of early modern Europe was undergoing a significant transformation. According to William Ian Miller, prior to the mid-eighteenth century, humiliation generally described a state of being to which a feeling of humiliation and a disposition of humility were the appropriate response. Hence

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Benedict’s contention that we are objectively humiliated by our very existence and that we must therefore find ways to better experience this humiliation. During the latter half of the eighteenth century, however, humiliation began to be used to increasingly describe a subjective feeling that was no longer tied to a devotional two-world metaphysic.103 While Kant was developing his moral project, then, the affective force of humiliation was being decoupled from its historical link to Christianity even as its affective force was preserved. From this perspective, humiliation might seem especially appealing for the logic of the Kantian Imperative. Since its historical articulation relied on a two-world metaphysic but its modern articulation no longer requires a deep belief in that same hierarchical ordering, humiliation offers the possibility of being equally effective on those within the Kantian Imperative’s system (with its philosophical two-world metaphysic and its common sense recognition) and on those subjects who do not recognize the moral law (since Kant’s system could capture and employ modern feelings of self-humiliation to draw those subjects into its system). Humiliation, then, might both function within the Kantian Imperative’s hierarchical system (of those who recognize) and offer the potential of disciplining and cultivating recognition of the moral law for those standing outside it. In this context, the brilliance of Kant’s philosophy is not primarily that it creates a philosophical justification of morality from the conditions of autonomy. Rather, it is the fact that the Kantian Imperative so profoundly appreciates the importance of techniques of autonomous moral cultivation that it creates a self-humiliating subject – a selfhumiliating subject, moreover, whose common sense recognition of the moral law rests not on choice or consent so much as on a common sense recognition engraved in one’s instinct by the burning memory of self-humiliation. From this perspective, Kant’s enduring (but problematic) appeal for much contemporary theory might be less that he grounds modern autonomy and more that he offers creates several modern strategies of persuasion and cultivation that seek to protect and strengthen an imperative image of morality in a context in which ontological Truth has been radically destabilized.104 It is for this reason that it is important not only to understand and challenge the strategies of the Kantian Imperative in Kant’s work, but also to identify and challenge the way that these strategies are further developed and mobilized in contemporary theory.


Implications and Speculations

In the first part of this book I traced the subterranean logic of the Kantian Imperative and highlighted its importance in Kant’s moral project. Before I move on to my second aim – to explore and challenge the effects of these elements in contemporary political and ethical thought – I want to briefly outline a number of points raised by my analysis of the Kantian Imperative. In particular, I want to note several ways my analysis changes our understanding of historical political thought; to identify and address two further questions that emerge from this analysis; and finally, to briefly discuss several key implications the analysis suggests for contemporary political thought. My analysis of the Kantian Imperative suggests several things for the history of political thought. It suggests, for example, that many influential portraits of Kant’s work do not convey the full complexity of his moral project. In particular, my analysis shows that these portraits fail to appreciate the degree to which Kant’s project is oriented by a profound desire to render apodictic and imperative a certain image of morality and the fact that it does so through a strategy of common sense recognition, through a tactical slippage between theoretical modesty and practical dogmatism, and through the cultivation of a variety of practices of humiliation. My analysis shows, moreover, that the Kantian Imperative presupposes, relies upon, and actively cultivates an unquestioned acceptance of the moral value of common sense. The portrait offered in the first part of this book, therefore, suggests that the Kantian Imperative is a paradoxical combination of official optimism, fugitive anxiety, and practical cultivation, which nonetheless remains radically contestable and fragile. Instead of pursuing a form of ethics that could acknowledge and negotiate this contestability,

Interlogue: Implications and Speculations


however, the Kantian Imperative responds by redoubling its efforts to render apodictic our recognition of and obedience to the moral law by affectively and conceptually cultivating the experience of humiliation. Rather than asking whether its recourse to cultivation calls into question the sufficiency of the imperative image of morality, the Kantian Imperative attempts to overcome its contestability by creating a profound – and affective – system of discipline for its moral subjects. The fact that this combination creates significant tensions and paradoxes need not be viewed as a ‘mistake’ in Kant’s project. It might be viewed, instead, as a not unexpected (from a perspective that does not take for granted the naturalness of the imperative image of morality) outcome of marrying a deep commitment to an imperative image of morality with a nuanced and profound understanding of the importance of cultivation in moral and political projects. For though Kant does not explicitly and consciously highlight the paradox this combination creates, his thought embodies its tensions. These tensions eventually emerge to appear as contradictions and paradoxes because Kant’s commitment to the imperative image of morality makes it impossible for him to explicitly explore these tensions (lest they challenge the ideal of the image of morality). As I will argue below, the key point to take from this is not that Kant’s project fails and thus should be dismissed. For there might be value in saluting the insight of certain elements of the Kantian Imperative (e.g., its appreciation of practices of cultivation) even while we stridently challenge the ends and the specific affects it uses to define its version of moral cultivation. My reading of the Kantian Imperative also suggests interesting new dimensions of comparison between Kant and other thinkers. Consider, for example, the conversation Kant and Nietzsche can have: rather than being polar opposites, Kant and Nietzsche now speak to each other on the question of cultivation. They become figures who might be capable of demonstrating agonistic respect for one another; debates between them need not simply be polemical accusations and counteraccusations. We might move the debate away from questions about whether the formal Categorical Imperative is consistent and whether it is motivated by concerns of justice or feelings of resentment. Instead, when comparing Nietzschean and Kantian approaches, we are now able to ask a more nuanced question: Do we prefer Nietzschean arts of the self and a Nietzschean ethos of sovereignty or do we support Kantian techniques of cultivation and Kant’s selfhumiliating model of autonomous subjectivity? The irony is that after

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our analysis of the Kantian Imperative, while many contemporary theorists have dismissed Nietzsche being obsessed with pain, strength, and suffering, Kant’s project now also seems to be altogether too fond of humiliation. We might equally see new connections between Kant, Augustine, and Rousseau.1 In addition to sharing a strong desire to deepen a universal and necessary love of the moral law, Kant and Augustine also share certain similarities on the theme of self-humiliation and selfcultivation. On the question of the importance of cultivation and moral dispositions, Kant, we might say, knew his Augustine well. On the question of common sense and the concomitant willingness to humiliate otherness into obedience we might also see an interesting overlap between Kant and Rousseau. If we accept the predominant formalist and autonomy as morality reading of Kant and consider many elements of Rousseau’s philosophy (the politics of the general will, the stress on the importance of national culture and cultivation, the willingness to engage in the often cruel politics of virtue), it would seem somewhat incongruous that Kant was such a devoted student of Rousseau.2 We can now understand, however, that Kant might have seen far more in Rousseau than simply a theory of political sovereignty/autonomy. For, like Rousseau’s philosophy, the Kantian Imperative embodies a profound sympathy for a politics of common sense. Furthermore, the Kantian Imperative does not shirk from Rousseau’s belief that the cruel politics of virtue is sometimes necessary to cultivate a universal morality or general will. 1. Speculations While there are a variety of other issues the Kantian Imperative raises for our understanding of the history of political thought, I want instead to change direction slightly and briefly discuss two important ‘why’ questions that emerge from the analysis. Given the objectives of this project, the breadth of these questions, and the size of the literature that would be relevant to each of these issues, I cannot begin to do justice here to these ‘why’ questions, but I would like to suggest a few tentative ideas to spark discussion about them. Some of the following hypotheses and assertions may well come across as oversimplified and overstated. However, while I mean them to be provocative, I do not mean that they should take on the tone of dogmatic assertion. As such, I hope that they are taken in the spirit they are offered: as an opening

Interlogue: Implications and Speculations


gambit in a conversation and an invitation to further reflect, debate, and engage with my analysis of the Kantian Imperative. The Dialectic of Morality? The first question might be posed as follows. If Kant’s project is concerned not only with the imperative image of morality, but also with a set of other moral concerns that we more traditionally associate with his project (e.g., autonomy, reason, enlightenment), why does it nonetheless seem to self-destruct?3 Why does it seem to sacrifice the promise of enlightened autonomy to a reality of humiliation? How do Reason and Morality ultimately legitimate and authorize new forms of profoundly disconcerting discipline? And what do the answers to these questions tell us about the nature of enlightenment or ethical, moral, and political thought more generally? These questions gesture in many directions – not least of which is a rich philosophical literature that we might broadly classify as ‘critiques of modernity.’ For the sake of sparking debate, let us consider how my thesis intersects with one variant of that literature: Adorno and Horkheimer’s thought in the Dialectic of Enlightenment.4 In this work, Adorno and Horkheimer formulate a trenchant, though often obtuse, thesis about the complex relationship between myth, enlightenment, and existential fear. Typically, enlightenment philosophy has viewed mythic and enlightenment modes of thinking as diametrically opposed. Mythic modes are presented as superstitious and primitive attempts to manage and partially control the power of nature by mimetically propitiating it. Modern thought has thus dismissed myth as reproducing authoritative and inflexible systems that left no room for individual autonomy and simultaneously created very little real ‘control’ of nature. On this popular telling, enlightenment modes of thinking reject the totalizing mythic element. In contrast, the promise of enlightenment was thus the construction of a rational, systematic structure in which the autonomy of individuals and humanity could fully blossom. According to Adorno and Horkheimer, however, mythic and enlightened modes of thinking and philosophizing are much more closely and complexly intertwined than the prevalent narrative acknowledges.5 While they appreciate that the mythic and enlightenment modes are different, Adorno and Horkheimer contest the radical separation between these two modes of thinking. First, they note that both

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mythic modes of thinking and enlightenment philosophy are driven by a radical fear of uncertainty and the overwhelming power of ‘nature’ (which comprises the universe of all unpredictable, human, and non-human actants6). While each mode of thought attempts to respond to this radical fear differently, they are related in the sense that both attempt to respond to it. Secondly, Adorno and Horkheimer argue that mythic modes of thinking already strive for enlightenment insofar as enlightenment is seen as the struggle for increased autonomy of the subject.7 On their reading, mythic tales such as The Odyssey clearly reveal this by showing that Odysseus’s character embodies a number of characteristics of the enlightened, autonomous subject (e.g., the use of distanced, systematic knowledge; employment of reason to defeat the brute and blind powers of ‘nature’). In Adorno and Horkheimer’s view, however, the most disconcerting link between myth and enlightenment is the fact that the history of enlightenment shows that enlightenment has a tendency to ‘regress’ into myth.8 By this they do not mean that enlightenment reason simply becomes a new ‘god’ or myth. Rather, they mean that despite its intentions, enlightenment thinking transforms into a system that, while distinct from myth, nonetheless reproduces the worst effects of myth. They argue that enlightenment systems create new, but tragically familiar, modes of domination that hollow out the enlightenment promise of autonomy. In particular, Adorno and Horkheimer claim that systematic modes of enlightenment thought reify and objectify ‘the law,’ the ‘system,’ and reason to such a degree that these social constructs begin to play the same role as an objective and all powerful ‘nature’ did in mythic structures. Although myth and enlightenment structures of thought are not the same, they have similar effects, since the enlightenment fetishization of social laws drives its subjects to dominate and discipline the self, the other, and nature in an effort to adapt to and propitiate the laws of the market, instrumental logic, and cultural norms. On their reading, Kant’s philosophy is intimately involved in this process. They suggest that it also works to naturalize this renewed mode of domination by creating an empty and formalistic vision of morality (which, as Sade shows, can easily be flipped into the service of consistent immorality) and by reifying an unhealthy reverence for the conception of necessary laws (of reason, of the market, etc.). This perspective clearly offers one answer to the question we started with. Why does the Kantian Imperative in the end betray its promise of

Interlogue: Implications and Speculations


autonomy, reason, and enlightenment and cultivate and employ humiliation and common sense? Because this is exactly what happens to the larger Kantian and enlightenment project. From this perspective, Kant’s use of humiliation provides one more piece of evidence to support Adorno and Horkheimer’s thesis. Indeed, the fact that Kant’s defence of autonomy is not merely susceptible to being inverted and employed for the purposes of domination by Sade but that Kant’s philosophy actually inverts itself and creates intense practices of humiliation might even suggest that their critique of Kant is actually too polite and restrained. Yet we might still be inclined to push further: Why does the larger Kantian – and enlightenment – project regress and create new (but familiar) modes of domination? Adorno and Horkheimer never explicitly answer this question. However, they do suggest two possible influences. First, they note importance of the context of social and cultural systems of power. In particular, they suggest that enlightenment thought is appropriated and reoriented to serve and reproduce the interests and perspectives of capitalism and the state. Second, they suggest that the obsession with systematicity that is inherent in thought itself – and enlightened thinking in particular – also plays an important role in explaining why enlightenment thinking has been prone to reproducing new modes of totalizing modes of domination. While these are valuable explanations, we might also use our analysis of the Kantian Imperative to suggest a third perspective on this question. Perhaps the tendency of Kant’s project to betray the promise of autonomy can be explained at least partially by the structure of the imperative image of morality it seeks to establish. For, at the core of the imperative image of morality and the Kantian idea that we must obey it because it humiliates us, do we not see a radical fear, as well as a radical worship, of power? What is the ethical and moral vision at the heart of a perspective that forges autonomy only through humiliation? Is it not, ultimately, a deeply hierarchical vision that betrays a strong affinity and deference to power? On Kant’s telling, why do we obey the moral law? We obey the moral law because it has the power to humiliate us. Is it thus any surprise that a system defined by this fear/love of power would reproduce relations of power? Might not a model that justifies the authority of the imperative image of morality in this way also be inclined to sacrifice the joys of sovereign autonomy rather than disobey the overwhelming power of the moral law? While God may technically be

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dead in Kant’s moral project, does not the fear of, and obedience to, pure power live on in the many dark caves, nooks, and crannies of the Kantian Imperative? If these hypotheses are correct, they might help us to better understand why Kant’s moral subject can be critiqued both for being overbearing and hubristic (à la Heidegger, Derrida, etc.) and for being overly submissive and humiliated.9 Is it any surprise that a moral subject produced by such a system would both yearn for humiliation and simultaneously seek to dominate those elements of the self, other, and nature that are less powerful? Spinoza and Nietzsche, of course, explicitly saw this will to power as a key motivation behind moralities of humiliation. In Spinoza’s view, those who teach a morality of humiliation, ‘the superstitious, who know how to censure vice rather than to teach virtue, and who are eager not to guide men by reason but to restrain them by fear so that they may shun evil rather than love virtue, have no other object than to make others as wretched as themselves.’10 We might well view this judgment as somewhat polemical. However, might it not be accurate to say that the effect (if not necessarily the aim) of moralities of humiliation is the endless reproduction of the brute worship of power and fear, which not only explicitly forces us to cower under that which is more powerful, but also implicitly teaches the lesson that we are free to dominate and humiliate anything that cannot humiliate us? The sadistic law may well create a masochistic, self-humiliating subject, but it is equally the case that the sadistic law can create the sadistic, other-humiliating subject as well. This leaves us with a rather disconcerting question. If even Kant’s philosophy, the archetypal enlightenment defence of autonomy, respect, and the imperative image of morality ultimately conceives morality according to a model of power, are models that aggressively forward the imperative image of morality fated to cultivate moral subjects who endlessly alternate between the grovelling desire for self-humiliation and the overbearing drive to humiliate others? Whence Humiliation? The above comments clearly do not settle the question. Rather, they open it for further consideration. In the same vein, we might also ask a broad question about humiliation itself in Kant’s project. In particular, we might ask: Why humiliation? Why, given all the powerful affects

Interlogue: Implications and Speculations


that could be used to create a moral mnemotechnics, does Kant choose to capture, cultivate, and employ humiliation? These questions also gesture in many directions and towards many diverse literatures, none of which can be taken up here in any detail.11 For example, one could offer a somewhat biographical and psychological reading of the issue that highlighted Kant’s own affection for rigid discipline and practices of martial cultivation in his personal life and argue that these visceral sensibilities were also injected into his philosophical writings.12 Another path might be to construct an intellectual genealogy that would explore the direct historical links between Kant and prior models of humiliation. Where I have merely suggested that there are interesting and valuable analogies between Kantian and monastic practices of cultivation, a clear genealogy might help to explain where, exactly, Kant’s philosophy came across and developed this notion of humiliation. Another option would be to return to Adorno and Horkheimer’s regression thesis. If one were to accept their thesis that enlightenment thinking harbours a certain openness to domination, this could be used to explain why humiliation is so easily conceivable in Kant’s project, despite the fact that other elements of his thought might make it seem problematic. A Freudian perspective could take this in a more psychoanalytic direction by suggesting that this need to humiliate and be humiliated is driven by a deep-seated Oedipal complex, whereas Deleuze and Guattari might suggest that this desire for humiliation is linked much more closely to a long-standing social assemblage that desires and obeys only in terms of power. In this book I neither explore nor evaluate any of these approaches. As mentioned in the introduction, since my primary aim is to understand how the Kantian Imperative functions and what its influence and implications are with respect to contemporary theory, I have sought to address the ‘why humiliation’ question purely from an internal perspective. That is to say, I have tried to answer it by trying to understand how humiliation makes sense, given the other goals and strategies of the Kantian Imperative. In this sense, I believe Kant’s project turns to humiliation for two reasons: (a) because humiliation smoothly fits (and indeed could be inspired by) the internal logic of the other strategies of the Kantian Imperative and (b) because humiliation offers significant strategic utility to Kant’s moral system (insofar as it helps Kant’s project to address a number of pressing tensions and concerns).

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If, as I’ve argued, Kant’s project is oriented by a deep commitment to the imperative image of morality and a strategy of common sense recognition, the use of humiliation is not at all surprising. For common sense and a strong faith in an imperative set of moral laws are not merely helpful or necessary preconditions that allow humiliation to function. They can also function to inspire an acceptance and employment of humiliation. In this sense, not only are Kant’s cultivation and use of humiliation consistent with other elements of the Kantian Imperative, but also they might be inspired by them. Humiliation, moreover, has a significant strategic value for Kant’s project. First, it helps Kant’s philosophical project to extend its influence and moral sway well beyond the purely intellectual limits of philosophy identified by Bernard Williams. Second, it helps the Kantian Imperative to resolve and address a variety of specific tensions created by its commitment to the imperative image of morality and its use of common sense recognition. Third, it allows for a unique solution to the theoretical problem of the fragility of common sense recognition by creating a conceptual framework that renders recognition both actually and normatively universal – even when it does not exist. Fourth, it helps to solve the actual problem of moral motivation by engraving a visceral fear of and respect for the moral law on its moral subjects (which, in turn, further supports the stability of the conceptual framework). Fifth, it is possible to design practices of humiliation that maintain and reactivate this fear and respect in a self-disciplinary manner. Humiliation, thus, is an important tool that can compel obedience without relying on universal recognition of an external god or authority (something that might have seemed especially valuable in an era in which autonomy was being viewed as increasingly relevant and ethically valuable). Sixth, humiliation was particularly ripe for this Kantian re-forging, since cultural transformations were, at the same time, altering the wider modern experience and understanding of humiliation in a parallel way. In this sense, humiliation was particularly well placed to become a key new technology for cultivating autonomous moral subjectivity. Interpretations of Kant’s philosophy that focus exclusively on its formalism and its analysis of autonomy will find the role of humiliation surprising – and difficult to explain. They might therefore be compelled to look outside Kant’s philosophy to explain why Kant’s project might have made this mistake. From the perspective of the Kantian Imperative, however, these external explanations (while potentially

Interlogue: Implications and Speculations


relevant) are not required. The use of humiliation is all too understandable given the tensions created by the commitment to an imperative image of morality and a strategy of common sense recognition. The fact that the logic of the Kantian Imperative holds together, however, does not mean that it is defensible. The fact that the cultivation of humiliation can be authorized and defended by a vision that accepts an imperative image of morality and a strategy of common sense does not mean that Kant should necessarily have accepted it. And it certainly does not mean that contemporary thought should follow it. Therefore, before I turn to an examination of the influence of the Kantian Imperative on several important contemporary thinkers, I want to pursue this line further and briefly consider the implications of my analysis for contemporary ethical and political thought. 2. Implications for Contemporary Theory One implication we might take from my analysis of the Kantian Imperative is that much of contemporary political theory needs to profoundly revise its judgment of the value of Kant’s project. Those who find that the assumptions behind common sense recognition are problematic and who believe that the employment of humiliation is unjustifiable might also be tempted to argue that we should drop Kant’s project into the dustbin of philosophy and instead look to other perspectives for ethical and theoretical inspiration. Others might agree that my analysis suggests that certain strategies used by Kant’s philosophy are problematic and must be revised – but then argue that the basic ‘official’ intentions, concepts, and arguments of Kant’s overall philosophy should continue to act as the starting point for modern moral philosophy . I am not convinced that either response is the best route to take. Instead of quickly concluding that we need either to dismiss or reconstruct Kant’s project, I want to pause to consider what the Kantian Imperative teaches us about political and ethical thinking through its example. As is no doubt clear, I am very critical of elements of the Kantian Imperative and seek to challenge their influence on contemporary thought. At the same time, however, I strongly believe that the Kantian Imperative also contains some valuable insights. Most important, I believe that contemporary theory has as much to learn from an analysis of both its weaknesses and its insights. For an analysis of the Kantian Imperative that learns from both its problems and its insights

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allows us to go beyond a simple critique of Kant. It allows us, instead, to formulate much broader hypotheses about the nature contemporary political and ethical thinking, which in turn allow us to explore and evaluate a much wider swath of contemporary theory. What do I mean by saying that we might have a great deal to learn from the example of the Kantian Imperative? I do not mean that the analysis of the Kantian Imperative proves something about ‘enlightenment philosophy,’ ‘modern political thought,’ ‘formalist theory,’ or any other kind of typology writ large.13 However, I think that my portrait of the Kantian Imperative might encourage us (a) to analyse contemporary political and ethical thought from a slightly different perspective and (b) to consider altering the assumptions and questions from which much contemporary political and ethical thought begins. Beginning with (a), an understanding of the Kantian Imperative allows us to understand and challenge the ways in which the strategies of the Kantian Imperative influence many contemporary positions. In particular, it allows us to see the prevalence and importance of contemporary appeals to common sense, the frequent slippage between theoretical scepticism and practical dogmatism, the definition of the questions of political and ethical theory according to the imperative image of morality, and the willingness of political and ethical projects to embed practices of humiliation – or other powerful affective practices – to discipline obedience. Most contemporary political and ethical theories influenced by the Kantian Imperative do not follow Kant’s strategy of explicitly cultivating humiliation. Yet by holding close to the ideal of the imperative image of morality and by employing strategies of common sense recognition, these contemporary approaches nevertheless run the risk of inadvertently incubating and justifying the use of many similar tactics. One key hypothesis that emerges from the analysis of the Kantian Imperative is the following: that combining a deep commitment to an imperative image of morality with the use of a strategy of common sense recognition risks creating an ethico-political ethos that can enable, justify, and inspire the employment of tactics of humiliation and other cruel practices. I will examine this with reference to contemporary theory in the following chapters. Here, however, I will leave it as a hypothesis. An examination of the Kantian Imperative might also, however, allow us to recover and resuscitate some of the underappreciated insights in Kant’s thought that could prove helpful for contemporary

Interlogue: Implications and Speculations


theory. Perhaps the most important of these insights is his implicit understanding that since it is difficult, if not impossible, to ground an ethical or moral position through philosophical argumentation alone, practices of cultivation must be central to ethical projects. While I disagree strongly with Kant’s willingness to use practices of humiliation to cultivate his moral subjects, his insight about the importance of some kind of ethical cultivation might be more important than ever – especially if, as many argue, late-modernity is becoming characterized increasingly by diversity and decreasingly by a single, authoritative common sense. This is a crucial point. For if we critically extend an appreciation of cultivation beyond what Kant conceived, it leads us to address point (b) and to alter some of the orienting assumptions of much of contemporary political thought. The aim of the Kantian Imperative, as we have seen, is to render apodictic, incontestable, and authoritative an essentially contestable moral perspective. Despite all of the strategies and practices it employs, Kant’s project fails to ultimately guarantee either the philosophical or the practical incontestability of common sense recognition – and thus the imperative image of morality. What is the lesson here? We could conclude that Kant’s particular project falls short and then look for another, more coherent and binding theory that might provide a more promising avenue of securing the imperative image of morality. But this is not necessarily the only or the most compelling conclusion. For if we challenge the common sense and imperative bias of the Kantian Imperative, we might well conclude that the most important lesson is that we need to challenge the ideal of the imperative image of morality itself. If the round peg of ethical contestability continually refuses to be jammed into the square purity of the imperative image of morality, perhaps we need to explore whether there are other models we might use to orient our ethical and political thinking? What would it mean, for example, to think politics and ethics from a perspective that took seriously both the experience of frequent and deep contestability and the importance of cultivation? Such perspectives, of course, would have to come to terms with a variety of difficulties, including the potential dangers that exist in a context defined by a plurality of competing ideals of cultivation. Moreover, such an approach would not be free of tensions and dangers of contestability. By explicitly highlighting them and seeking to address them, however, such an approach would likely be less prone to taking the common as

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the natural and resorting to the tactics of humiliation and other practices to fabricate this. It would, at the minimum, be more attentive to these issues than imperative and common sense approaches that deny that there is any issue to address. If we pursue this idea for a moment – and take the failure of the Kantian Imperative not as an exhortation to find a new way to establish the imperative image of morality but as an opportunity to explore a different vision of ethics and politics – several new possibilities emerge. For example, we might want to highlight and challenge the substantive moral bias contained in the appeal to common sense recognition. For what Deleuze says of a model of recognition is especially true of common sense recognition: ‘what is recognized is not only an object but also the values attached to an object ... In so far as the practical finality of recognition lies in “established values,” then on this model the whole image of thought as Cogitatio natura bears witness to a disturbing complacency.’ Since the strategy of common sense recognition authority derives from its implicit moral valuation of common sense, it seems likely that its first tendency would be to sympathize with what already ‘is.’ Contrary to Kant’s official claims about the tribunal of reason, in moral issues the reliance on common sense recognition means that it is strongly biased against new challenges to old values or new claims: ‘The form of recognition has never sanctioned anything but the recognizable and the recognized; form will never inspire anything but conformities.’14 We might also hypothesize that the speculative and rationalist terms of justification, analysis, and deduction so common to contemporary political and moral theory are already insufficient to ethics and politics (and, indeed, to Kantianism itself). If the ‘force of reason’ is not sufficient to render necessary an ethical system, we might look to practical arts of cultivation as critical elements of any attempt to conceptualize and establish ethical and political systems. This does not mean that we should accept Kant’s practices of humiliation. I believe just the opposite. I believe that we need to craft new practices of cultivation that do not stem from a common sense perspective that legitimates humiliation. However, Kant’s insight (a) encourages us that we need to identify practices of cultivation that contemporary projects would find acceptable and (b) suggests that we might also want to alter our conception of what type of ethical approaches we should pursue and support. What do I mean when I say that we should alter the type of ethical

Interlogue: Implications and Speculations


approaches we create? I mean that Kant’s paradigmatic failure to authoritatively ground the imperative image of morality might suggest that similar contemporary claims to authoritative moral legislation, analysis, and deduction bear a heavy burden of proof. I do not say that these attempts are not legitimate ethical projects, have no value, or should be disallowed. Nor does Kant’s inability to render apodictic his imperative image of morality prove that it is impossible to do so. What I am suggesting, however, is that the contingency of Kant’s paradigmatic attempt might encourage us to invert the common tendency to dismiss any ethical approach without universal pretensions as relativist and inherently unethical, and instead to treat with some scepticism those ethical systems that claim to embody an imperative image of morality. We might do so not because we know that it is impossible to ground an imperative image of morality (we do not). Rather, we might do so because we have not encountered an uncontested ground yet and we suspect that there might be significant ethical value in starting from this sceptical position. If we begin with the assumption (even though we cannot be a priori certain of it) that ethical systems are profoundly contestable, then those systems seeking to embody a universal and necessary position appear not only as doubtful, but also as highly political. For the form of such claims (this is especially true of systems oriented by the imperative image of morality) mask their contestability even as they seek to silence and erase contending ethical visions. If we do not a priori assume that a universal and wide-ranging morality is a desirable (and likely) goal, the relevant method of ethical engagement can take many forms, only one of which is authoritatively lawgiving. If we believe, moreover, that the centrality of cultivation to ethical systems means that such systems are ultimately contested and contestable, we might posit, in fact, that the site of engagement and negotiation between such systems is a fundamental condition of late-modern ethics and politics. We might also begin to believe that late-modern ethical perspectives should explicitly craft modes of engagement to negotiate this condition of contestability. On this view, the process of ethical engagement would be viewed as one in which contending positions use various arguments, strategies, and practices of cultivation to persuade one another to accept their position. In this image of ethics, each position might attempt to actualize its position, but each would also accept that an important part of its ethical practice would be negotiating these encounters. This is where

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such an approach would both parallel and depart from elements of the Kantian Imperative. It would share with the Kantian Imperative the sense that contestable moments of faith are found at the core of its ethical vision. In contrast to the Kantian Imperative, however, such an approach would seek to highlight this contestability. It would not simply assert the universality of recognition or seek to authoritatively discipline obedience through humiliation. Rather, it would seek to inspire an ethical disposition through a variety of arguments and practices of cultivation even as it altered its own disposition through interaction with contending faiths. Such an approach would not resolve or dissipate the condition of ethical contestability. Nor could it guarantee that every ethical position would choose to negotiate this space generously, non-violently, or fairly. But it would have the value of highlighting this moment of contestation as a problem in need of ethical consideration. For approaches that assume the singularity of a universal and necessary moral code often have difficulty in conceiving of modes of engagement other than colonization or conversion, since they do not even view the condition of contestability as a space in need of ethical negotiation. While an alternative vision of ethics attuned to these issues cannot promise to eradicate such problems, it can challenge and subvert monolithic approaches to morality by highlighting the negative consequences of attempts to deny and avoid the issues that arise from an acceptance of the logic of common sense recognition and the avoidance of the questions ethical contestability and cultivation. Rather than outline further what such an approach might hypothetically look like, I seek to put into practice just such an ethical and political ethos in my engagement with Jurgen Habermas and Charles Taylor. First, I excavate the influence of the Kantian Imperative and the ethical problems it creates within these articulations. I then attempt to work on and weaken Habermas’s and Taylor’s commitment to the imperative image of morality and the strategies of common sense recognition by highlighting the ethical contestability of their positions and approaches to cultivation and by pointing to other areas in their projects that might help them forward a perspective free from the Kantian Imperative. The book concludes with an epilogue in which I highlight the concrete stakes of challenging the Kantian Imperative by demonstrating that a common sense morality can support and inspire a variety of cruel practices that are already far too prevalent in our contemporary world. There is no guarantee that these theoretical engagements will suc-

Interlogue: Implications and Speculations


cessfully convince Habermas, Taylor, and other theorists influenced by the Kantian Imperative to alter their approaches. But is the process of ethical engagement one in which guarantees should be yearned for? The Kantian Imperative believes this to be the case, that philosophy can establish a certain position as imperative. My perspective, however, seeks to embody an ethos of engagement that, as William Connolly suggests, does not plunge into desperate and inconsolable melancholy at the idea that ethical engagement cannot provide rocksolid guarantees. Rather, it is an ethos that has as its operative faith a ‘cheerful pessimism’ that hopes ‘that interventions may strike responsive chords in some constituencies it engages,’ but acknowledges that they may not necessarily positively strike all constituencies at all times.15 It is an ethos that, while positing end goals, does not view it as a failure if the route to those goals cannot be definitively mapped before the journey. Thus, the goal of the final chapters of the book is neither to prove that Habermas’s and Taylor’s projects must be dismissed nor to prove that they must agree with me. I believe, in fact, that these projects could be important allies in the attempt to formulate a post-Kantian Imperative ethos – if they are able to reduce the pull of the Kantian Imperative in their thinking. I seek to engage them in a real discussion in the hopes of inviting and persuading their thinking to decouple itself from the ends, strategies, and tactics of the Kantian Imperative. For my wager is that the inconvenience of the indeterminacy of this engaged approach is less serious than the dangers resulting from approaches that require guaranteed imperatives and uniform common sense agreement before they begin.

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PART II The Contemporary Kantian Imperative

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Habermas’s Kantian Imperative

Contemporary articulations of the Kantian Imperative are not simply perfectly replicated simulacra. Contemporary versions reproduce or discard some elements and echo and transform others. This complex relationship of reproduction and innovation is especially apparent in the work of Jurgen Habermas. Not surprisingly, Habermas acknowledges a complex relationship with and debt to Kant’s thinking. On one hand, he recognizes many problems with Kant’s moral system: Habermas believes that at times Kant’s project embodies a ‘philosophy of consciousness’ based on ‘identity thinking,’1 that it demonstrates a problematic yearning for ‘totalizing theory’2 and is vulnerable to a number of Hegel’s critiques.3 ‘For all its affinities with Kant’s moral theory,’ Habermas argues, his own ‘discourse ethics is rather quite different.’4 Yet he also appreciates that his project shares many similarities with Kant’s. He suggests that the ‘discourse ethics approach, which Apel and I favor’ is best understood as ‘an attempt to reconstruct Kantian ethics with the help of a theory of communication’5 and has claimed that ‘discourse ethics’ is essentially an attempt to ‘connect up with the intuitions of Kantian moral theory ... without taking over Kant’s individualistic premises.’6 Habermas’s project (despite its innovations) appears to even more closely parallel Kant’s thinking if we examine his work with the strategies of the Kantian Imperative in mind. Habermas, I will argue, not only shares Kant’s desire to establish the imperative image of morality. He also uses new forms of the strategy of common sense recognition to ground that image. I believe, moreover, that Habermas’s project intensifies the Kantian slip between theoretical modesty and practical dogmatism. Habermas’s project also embodies a complex relationship

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with one of the most important insights of the Kantian Imperative: the value of practical cultivation. Where Kant senses that common sense recognition is a problematic achievement that requires active and practical cultivation, Habermas tends to overestimate the effectiveness of debate and philosophical argument as practices of cultivation. Thus, while I will suggest that Habermas’s project does develop practices of cultivation, I will also argue that the form of Habermasian cultivation is too anemic to apodictically secure the imperative image of morality his project defends. My aim in this chapter, then, is to trace the influence of the Kantian Imperative in Habermas’s work, to show its problematic and contestable nature, and finally to argue that other elements in Habermas’s work, if fostered, might allow his project to avoid the most dogmatic elements of the Kantian Imperative. I begin by tracing the shape and influence of the Kantian Imperative in Habermas’s work. I suspect that the claim that he shares a vision of the imperative image of morality will be quite uncontroversial. Habermas has increasingly distinguished between moral, prudential, and legal questions, and he argues that each sphere requires specific types of validity claims.7 Habermas (like Kant) appreciates that morality is not the only mode and logic of social organization and ordering. However, also like Kant, Habermas is insistent that within the moral sphere, morality must take the imperative image.8 Moreover, in Habermas’s view, it is moral imperatives (contained, for example, within communicative action and discourse ethics) that ultimately ground the values of equal respect and responsibility that are critical for formulating and shaping ethical and legal structures.9 Not surprisingly, Habermas has explicitly positioned himself as the opponent par excellence of any approach that challenges the idea that morality can take any form other than universal and necessary laws. He is particularly opposed to any form of ethical relativism, which he sees as characterizing much of the contemporary theoretical landscape. According to Habermas, he is ‘defending an outrageously strong claim in the present context of philosophical discussion: namely, that there is a universal core of moral intuition in all times and in all societies ... In the last analysis they stem from the conditions of symmetry and reciprocal recognition that are unavoidable presuppositions of communicative action.’10 In the light of the clear role that the imperative image of morality plays in Habermas’s work, the first two sections of this chapter thus are focused primarily on the less obvious ways in which Habermas’s

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project mirrors elements of the Kantian Imperative, for example, the appeal to common sense recognition and the tendency to slip between theoretical scepticism and practical dogmatism. In the third section I turn to a critical analysis of these strategies and demonstrate that Habermas’s use of these strategies is no more successful than Kant’s. I suggest, moreover, that Habermas is even less sensitive to these failures than Kant. In the fourth section I argue that while Habermas does not effectively build on Kant’s important insight about the nature of cultivation for ethical projects, his philosophy nonetheless demonstrates (despite itself) that cultivation must play an important role in ethical discussions. In the final section I conclude by considering how we might refashion the Habermasian conception of cultivation in order to challenge the problematic influences of the Kantian Imperative and how doing so might allow us to better navigate the key space of ethical contestability in late modernity.

1. Early Habermasian Recognition Supposing [that] transcendental consciousness is a hypostatization, what then are the ‘empirical’ units which we may put in its place? ~ Jurgen Habermas11

While Habermas shares Kant’s ideal vision of the imperative image of morality, he has always held that Kant’s official defence of an imperative image of morality is insufficient. Where Kant’s main defence from the transcendental autonomous subject is an unsupportable ‘hypostatization,’ Habermas believes that we can find concrete, ‘empirical’ units that could play a similar role in defending and securing that imperative image of morality. Over the course of his intellectual career, Habermas has offered a number of different empirical units (ranging from the requirements of the historical public sphere to the structures of social knowledge to the patterns of human and social development) the analysis of which attempts to authoritatively secure his imperative image of morality. The bulk of this chapter will be concerned with a detailed examination and evaluation of three recent instances where the ‘empirical’ units Habermas invokes and relies upon embody important variations of the strategy of common sense recognition. Before I move on to them, however, I want to offer one example that illustrates the way that the strat-

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egy of common sense recognition even underpins the work for which Habermas first became famous: his analysis of the structures of language and communication. Much of Habermas’s early work embodies important elements of the Kantian Imperative. In Knowledge and Human Interests, for example, Habermas employs an approach that closely resembles Kantian recognition. According to Habermas, we can never know or even justify the fundamental value of reason: autonomy. Rather, autonomy is something we simply recognize. Recalling Kant’s injunction, Habermas argues that, when it comes to our recognition of autonomy, ‘the experience of moral feeling surpasses reason.’12 It is something ‘we can neither prescribe nor represent, but with which we must instead come to terms.’13 From this perspective, Habermas’s project might be seen as striving to undertake a social psychoanalysis that, by using the semiconscious ‘dreams, associations and repetitions’ of the (social) patient, seeks to help the patient clarify and ‘reconstruct what has been forgotten.’14 The parallels with Kant’s assertions of common sense recognition are clear. Recognition – neither justification nor deduction – is the model of persuasion. We must be helped to recognize what has been distorted, after which point we must come to terms with our crystallized common sense. While Habermas would eventually move beyond many of the claims found in Knowledge and Human Interests, even in that work he identified the central ‘empirical unit’ that would become the defining element of his work for the next several decades: language. For Habermas, the structures of language express and ground a common sense we cannot discard: ‘what raises us out of nature is the only thing whose nature we can know: language. Our first sentence expresses unequivocally the intention of universal and unconstrained consensus. Taken together, autonomy and responsibility constitute the only Idea that we possess a priori in the sense of the philosophical tradition.’15 In our everyday language resides precisely that unity of practical and theoretical reason that gives us common and certain recognition of the universal and necessary preconditions of human existence. Habermas’s method of universal pragmatics, then, analyses this universal common sense so that we can recognize more clearly its normative imperatives. The outline of Habermas’s early theory of universal pragmatics is well known, and thus I will not rehearse it here in detail. The key point, however, is that his theory reproduces important elements of the appeal to common sense recognition. Habermas suggests that his the-

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ory of universal pragmatics seeks ‘to identify and reconstruct universal conditions of possible understanding.’16 These conditions are embedded in the ‘domains of pre-theoretical knowledge, that is, not to any implicit opinion, but to a proven intuitive foreknowledge.’17 Moreover, this foreknowledge ‘expresses a universal capability, a general cognitive, linguistic or interactive competence.’18 In fact, Habermas believes that we not only recognize the systematic rules underpinning communication. We also recognize a set of non-linguistic moral imperatives embedded in the necessary conditions of communication. ‘Indeed, one can say that the general and unavoidable – in this sense transcendental -conditions of possible understanding have a normative content when one has in mind not only the binding character of norms of action or even the binding character of rules in general, but the validity basis of speech across its entire spectrum.’19 It is telling that Habermas’s portrait, like Kant’s description of our ‘consciousness’ of the moral law, has trouble deciding how to describe the nature of our sense of these universal conditions. He uses a variety of terms, such as ‘intuitive knowledge,’ ‘pre-theoretical knowledge,’ ‘proven intuitive foreknowledge,’ which are taken to be ‘expressive’ of a ‘universal capability, general cognitive, linguistic or interactive competence.’ Each formulation tries to preserve the universality and necessity even as it acknowledges that these moments are not simply theoretical or empirical knowledge. While the origin of this certainty is fuzzy – intuitive and pre-theoretical – its binding nature is never compromised. The family resemblance between Habermas’s early method and the logic of common sense recognition are clear. For Habermas’s method claims to clarify what we already recognize (in common sense everyday language), and it assumes that once our common sense is thus clarified, we will recognize its universal and necessary moral imperatives as well. 2. The Pure Common Sense Morality of Discourse The moral intuitions of everyday life are not in need of clarification of the philosopher. In this case the therapeutic self-understanding of philosophy initiated by Wittgenstein is for once, I think, appropriate. Moral philosophy does have an enlightening or clarificatory role to play vis-à-vis the confusions that it has created in the minds of the educated, that is, to the extent to which value skepticism and legal positivism have established themselves as professional ideologies and have infiltrated everyday con-

166 The Kantian Imperative sciousness by way of the educational system. Together skepticism and positivism have misinterpreted and thus neutralized the intuitions people acquire in a quasi-natural manner through socialization. Under extreme conditions they can contribute to the moral disarmament of academics already in the grip of a cultivated skepticism. ~ Jurgen Habermas20

Habermas’s work also shows other important parallels with the Kantian Imperative. One example is the degree to which Habermas’s philosophy not only seems to have faith in common sense recognition but also seems to be characterized by anxiety that contemporary common sense recognition has been badly contaminated by moments and islands of non-recognition. Over the last several decades, in fact, Habermas has implicitly acknowledged that a method characterized by a strong faith in common sense recognition faces a daunting problem. As he outlines in the quote above, he is well aware that late modernity is characterized by multiple contending and ‘confused’ common senses that threaten to ‘morally disarm’ us by ‘neutralizing’ our common moral intuitions. Habermas therefore has attempted to explicitly deal with the problem of how to induce common sense recognition in those whose common sense has been damaged or disarmed (by a cultivated scepticism, for example). The resolution of this problem is central to the essays in Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, Postmetaphysical Thinking, and Justification and Application. In these works, Habermas develops three variations on the theme of common sense recognition in the attempt to secure and purify our actual existing empirical common opinion.21 The first attempts to secure an imperative image of morality by finding a point of common sense recognition even in the act of debate and disagreement. The second attempts to secure an imperative image by deriving an incontrovertible common sense from the nature of autonomous intersubjectivity. The third, perhaps sensing the contestability of the first two, ultimately recurs to the Kantian strategy of finding a pure, binding common sense recognition in ‘our’ common moral feelings. While Habermas tends to describe each as an exercise in justification, I suspect that each might equally be viewed as a unique strategy whose persuasive force derives not merely from its ability to ‘justify’ a normative commitment but also from ability to render apodictic this form of common sense recognition. The brilliance of these strategies is

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that, like those of the Kantian Imperative, each takes a potentially disruptive moment (the fact of disagreement; the modern common sense valuation of autonomous/sovereign moral choice; the multiplicity of embodied states/preferences) and uses it to render apodictic the imperative image of morality. The Common Sense of Disagreement Habermas acknowledges that in the post-conventional era, disagreement, debate, and argument over the legitimacy of common sense norms are unavoidable (they are, in fact, necessary to ensure legitimacy).22 Where some theorists might conclude that the existence of deep disagreement implies that a single common sense is unattainable, Habermas does not accept this idea. In contrast, he claims that the moral imperatives implicit in the agreement of language is also recognized by the everyday practices of linguistic disagreement.23 Habermas outlines this argument in a key essay entitled ‘Discourse Ethics,’ in which he claims that the very act of arguing presupposes the aim of re-establishing a shared common sense. According to Habermas, when the validity of a common norm is questioned, discursive moral argumentation takes place and the ‘rightness’ of that norm is examined. This debate either restores intersubjective recognition of the old norm or a new norm takes its place. In either case, the ‘disrupted consensus’ is ‘repaired.’24 For Habermas, the key point to be taken from this ‘fact’ is that even discursive disagreement is the continuation of ‘communicative action in a reflexive attitude with the aim of restoring a consensus that has been disrupted’ and that ‘agreement of this kind expresses a common will.’25 The ambitious point Habermas is trying to make is that even disagreement about the possibility of moral principles at all involves one in a practice of argumentation based on certain fundamental presuppositions that imply that the correct model of morality must be an imperative image of morality. Introducing Apel’s concept of a performative contradiction, Habermas claims that even the sceptical dismissal of moral argumentation follows a pattern of communication that presupposes certain assumptions about the purpose of argument as the re-establishment of consensus that show that our image of morality must contain the notion of universalization and necessity: ‘Once argumentation is conceived as a special form of rule-governed interaction, it reveals itself to be a reflec-

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tive form of action oriented toward reaching an understanding. Argumentation derives the pragmatic presuppositions we found at the procedural level from the presuppositions of communicative action. The reciprocities underpinning the mutual recognition of competent subjects are already built into action oriented toward reaching an understanding, the action in which argumentation is rooted.’26 On Habermas’s reading, the practice of argumentation, even the act of arguing that moral foundations are impossible, involves the debater in a series of claims that rest ‘on pragmatic presuppositions from whose propositional content the principle of universalism can be derived.’27 Discourse ethics offers a formal model of moral argumentation according to which every norm is considered valid only when it has been subjected to public debate that takes universalization as the necessary principle of evaluation. According to Habermas, the fact that disagreement has as its objective the creation and recognition of a new common sense and that universalizability is the necessary principle of evaluation for this common sense simply is the necessary precondition of practical reason. We can do no more than to recognize and come to terms with this. From this perspective, then, disagreement becomes a special type of (deferred) common sense agreement, which in turn grounds the imperative image of morality (with its universality and necessity) as the only acceptable model. ‘The One and the Many’ Habermas attempts to further clarify our recognition of a purified common sense through another strategy in the essays of Postmetaphysical Thinking, in which he acknowledges that one of the key elements of metaphysics has been a will to universalization that sacrifices the unique to the whole and subsumes plurality and difference under the One and the Same.28 Habermas realizes that in the eyes of many, his defence of an imperative image of morality (as his universal and necessary moral imperatives) seems to come dangerously close to this. Habermas’s postmetaphysical thinking is therefore the attempt to demonstrate, first, that his model of a universal moral law avoids this danger and, second, that his imperative image of morality is in fact inescapably embedded in our practices of communicative action as an objective common sense. Paralleling Kant’s critique of dogmatic metaphysics and scepticism, Habermas argues that metaphysics and sceptical post-structuralism

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are two sides of the same coin: ‘Repulsion towards the One and the veneration of difference and the Other obscures the dialectical connection between them.’29 According to Habermas, one takes identitarian universalization as the only standard of legitimacy; the other argues that this identity cannot be established, that any moral principle of universalization is bankrupt. His strategy is to demonstrate that there is a third alternative in which both universalization and difference are equally possible, contained within communicative action. Thus, Habermas claims that ‘in the process of linguistic communication, a synthetic force is at work that generates unity within plurality in a different manner than by way of subsuming what is manifold under a general truth.’30 Habermas believes that both autonomy and consensus are necessary presuppositions of communicative action. Within communicative action, therefore, the unity of consensus (and thus an imperative image of morality) can be established while the absolute uniqueness of the views and identities of the participants are still respected. How is this possible? According to Habermas, it is possible because communicative action necessarily portrays us as autonomous and individuated beings: ‘Among the universal and unavoidable presuppositions of action oriented to reaching understanding is the presupposition that the speaker qua actor lays claim to recognition both as an autonomous and an individuated being.’31 Individuation, however, is possible only within a universalistic form of life: ‘The idealizing supposition of a universalistic form of life, in which everyone can take up the perspective of everyone else and can count on reciprocal recognition by everybody, makes it possible for individuated beings to exist within a community – individualism is the flip side of universalism.’32 Autonomy, in other words, is possible only when others recognize the legitimacy of your autonomy. This can be assured only when everyone is certain that their autonomy will be recognized in return. Autonomy generates the principle of universalization as a precondition of its possibility. Autonomy necessitates universalization; the conditions of freedom become the principles of the moral law. ‘Kant’s Kingdom of Ends must be supposed here and now as a context of interaction and as a communication community in which everyone is capable of taking up the perspective of everyone else and is willing to do so.’33 According to Habermas, then, universalized autonomy is a necessary presupposition of our everyday experience of practical communicative action. The ideal of universalization is therefore the necessary

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and unavoidable principle of any legitimate moral law. The very structure of individuality and freedom of the will ensures that Kant’s reworked Kingdom of Ends becomes authoritative even if we fail to will it. If we are truly to become autonomous, Voluntas must transcend itself and produce its own Ratio – the fact of intersubjectivity means that the free will must define its own legitimate principle to be the imperative of universalization – and hence ground the imperative image of morality as the necessary form of ethics. Common Sense Recognition and Moral Feeling Yet if Habermas tries to establish that legitimate common sense is necessarily defined by its recognition of certain normative principles (of disagreement and autonomous intersubjectivity), his thinking also returns to a pure strategy of moral common sense recognition to render apodictic his universal and necessary image of morality. To see how Habermas achieves this, we need to return briefly to Kant. Recall that although the practices of cultivation employed by the Kantian Imperative might suggest that our emotional experiences (such as humiliation, guilt, and shame) are historically and culturally dependent, the philosophical framework of the Kantian Imperative tries to avoid this conclusion by conceptually describing the experience of humiliation as a necessary and pure result of the moral law. One of the ways in which the Kantian Imperative thus sought to further substantiate the persuasiveness of its common sense recognition (and disguise the contingency of its practices of cultivation) was by mobilizing and analysing ‘our’ experience of affective moral common sense feelings. In the Critique of Practical Reason, for example, Kant relies on a variety of sensible moral feelings (in addition to those of humiliation/respect) to render apodictic the imperative image of morality. Consider how he establishes that it is impossible that we might bear false witness and then understand it as moral because it was in our best interest. We are sure that this is impossible because our affective reactions express our common sense recognition of the moral law. According to Kant, if this person who lied and then tried to justify it ‘were to affirm, in all seriousness, that he has fulfilled a true human duty: you would either laugh in his face or shrink back from him in disgust.’34 The idea, he believes, is so ridiculous we would react immediately – on a visceral, emotional level. Nor is it coincidental that Kant presents our common sense affective reaction as one of either laughter or disgust. Both laughter and dis-

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gust are explosive affective forces that are often reactions to situations of stress. What would be more stressful for a Kantian subject than an actual encounter with someone who, in forwarding such an argument, clearly does not share common sense recognition? According to Kant, our affective response to this person who does not recognize the moral law should not inspire us to question the viability of the universalizability of the imperative image of morality. Instead, we must interpret our affective reaction to non-recognition as an expression of the apodictic nature of the moral law – and hence its value and naturalness. In Kant’s system, our common sense affect can only express and reinforce what we already recognize. This is why he is quick to describe the affective experience of self-despisal when we cheat,35 the trembling fear we experience when we disobey the moral law36 and the power of our sense of guilt as evidence of our necessary common sense recognition of the moral law. Even though Kant might sense that these moral feelings must be cultivated to be effective, and non-Kantians might see them as the result of a dedicated training regime rather than a natural and universal element of human nature, Kant’s strategy of common sense recognition works to compel us to view these moral affects as universal and necessary, ‘not a duty, but rather an unavoidable fact.’37 Given this precedent, it is not surprising that Habermas begins his article ‘Discourse Ethics’ with a section entitled ‘On the Phenomenology of the Moral.’ It is equally understandable why Habermas draws on and amplifies the common sense bias of P.F Strawson’s analysis of moral feelings. According to Habermas, the importance of Strawson’s analysis of moral feelings is that it ‘develops a linguistic phenomenology of ethical consciousness whose purpose is maieutically to open the eyes of the empiricist in his role as moral sceptic to his own everyday moral intuitions.’38 The value of an analysis of affective common sense, then, is that it holds the promise of forcing even those sceptical empiricists who feign non-recognition to recognize the common sense moral imperatives of communicative action. Habermas states, ‘all these emotions are embedded in a [performative] practice of everyday life,’ and ‘this gives the web of moral feelings a certain ineluctability: we cannot retract at will our commitment to a lifeworld whose members we are.’39 ‘Ineluctability’ is not as strong as ‘necessary,’ of course, but the interesting point is that Habermas is insistent that we ‘cannot retract at will our commitment’ to the lifeworld in which we participate. Thus,

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although Habermas doesn’t theoretically claim absolute necessity, in practice he uses the stickiness of moral feeling to render necessary specific moral commitments. In these passages, we are bound by these feelings and the commitments they express because we cannot escape them; they are embodied symptoms of certain inescapable and ineluctable common sense ‘commitments.’ For Habermas, the important point is that even sceptics and non-Kantians recognize this before trying to forget or suppress the recognition. Habermas’s moral phenomenology thus claims to clarify our ‘everyday intuitions.’40 Habermas, of course, is far enough removed from Kant (and enough of a social scientist) to acknowledge that we are socialized into these intuitions. But if we look at how he describes the process of socialization, it is notable that he is careful to remove all the contingency and contestability associated with social training. By claiming that the social conditions (i.e., of communicative action) that lead to these intuitions are unavoidable and inherent to human existence, Habermas tries to remain both theoretically sceptical (e.g., he appreciates the role of socialization) but practically dogmatic (arguing that this does not change the fact that these intuitions remain nonetheless imperative). In his ‘Remarks on Discourse Ethics,’ for example, Habermas extends his analysis of the relationship between communicative action and our common sense experience of moral feeling. According to Habermas, ‘ought sentences expressing obligations are the primary linguistic form in which morality finds expression.’41 Why only ‘ought’ sentences expressing obligations (that for Habermas are self-evidently universal and necessary)? Because Habermas shares the imperative image of morality. Only categorical ‘oughts’ recognize and express the ineluctable nature of that image. What is equally notable, however, is that Habermas thinks that these sentences should be accorded imperative force not merely because of their linguistic articulation, but also because they are expressive of a deeper moral common sense recognition of moral feeling. For ‘obligations have their experiential basis not in perceptions, but as Strawson has shown, in moral feelings.’ These moral feelings evince a deep common sense recognition of certain universal and necessary moral norms: ‘Feelings of offense and resentment are second-person reactions to violation of our rights by others; feelings of shame and guilt are reactions to our own transgressions; and outrage and contempt are reactions of one present but not directly involved at the violation of a recognized norm by a third person ... They all belong to a community in which inter-

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personal relations and actions are regulated by norms of interaction and can be judged in the light of these norms to be justified or unjustified.’42 On Habermas’s telling, moral feelings testify to a deep common sense recognition of certain binding norms, which in turn justify or disallow certain actions. Thus, not only does Habermas argue that moral feelings express the moral law. Rather, he suggests that moral feelings express our recognition of a social system of moral principles: ‘Guilt feelings are a palpable indicator of transgressions of duty, but then they express the recognition that we lack good reasons to act otherwise.’43 According to Habermas, then, either moral feelings are an embodied and ineluctable ‘fact’ of existence (or a symptom of a deeper fact of social interaction) from which we can generalize to establish a system of moral principles (laws), or these feelings should be taken as evidence of our common sense recognition of those principles/image of morality. If it is unclear which of these two claims Habermas makes, however, what is certain is that both claims seek to establish the validity and exclusivity of a certain form of common sense and the moral law it recognizes. Habermas, somewhat misleadingly I think (he implies that there are principles at bottom, rather than affective common sense recognition) describes this method as moral justification: ‘Feelings seem to have a similar function for the moral justification of action as sense perceptions have for the theoretical justification of facts.’44 But here moral justification is not a critical exploration and defence of a ‘contestable’ proposition. It is, rather, the attempt to render apodictic and incontestable the imperative image of morality. For the aim is to ensure that our recognition of Habermas’s moral conclusions is as stable as our recognition of everyday facts. This parallels the Kantian Imperative’s paradigmatic strategy of common sense recognition. For why must we accept certain universal normative principles as an authoritative imperative image of morality according to Habermas’s logic? We must accept them because we all recognize certain feelings, affective reactions, and the imperatives they express and generate. And this very recognition is then supposed to ‘justify’/establish them as apodictic. For then our common sense recognition of the imperative image of morality renders apodictic (and ‘justified’) those same moral affective forces by explaining them as universal and necessary expressions of our recognition of the imperative image of morality. This creates, as does the Kantian Imperative, a selfsustaining and reinforcing cycle designed to reinforce apodictic recog-

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nition of both the imperative image of morality and the common sense moral affects underlying and buttressing that recognition. 3. The Contestability of the Habermasian Imperative The link between the three strategies outlined above is Habermas’s contention that each of them might be taken to ‘justify’ and thus establish the universality and necessity of a particular imperative image of morality whose core test is the universalizability of any particular maxim. I would agree that there could be reasons that might convince us to share in Habermas’s faith in the coherency and ethical value of his image of morality as the universalizable principle, but his claim is not merely that they make it defensible or plausible. Rather, he claims (a) that they must be understood as establishing their necessity and universally apodictically, (b) that such arguments and reasons are sufficient to the project of rendering apodictic this imperative image of morality, and (c) that the imperative image of morality as universal and necessary law is therefore obvious and unquestionable. Habermas’s arguments, therefore, require an extremely high degree of certainty. It is not enough that his reasons seem plausible, reasonable, or believable. It is not, in sum, enough that they be defensible. Rather, they must prove themselves to be incontestable and universally recognized. For if we can legitimately challenge (even if we can’t disprove) Habermas’s image of morality, then his image cannot universally and necessarily compel us to obey it (which is the very essence of that image). When we hold Habermas’s work up to this standard, however, it becomes clear that none of his three strategies can support their own self-generated expectations of certainty. The Contestability of Discourse Ethics and Autonomous Intersubjectivty As we have seen, Habermas’s first two strategies require us to recognize the existence of a certain number of principles and preconditions in the structure of communicative action and the process of the formation of (inter)subjectivity. If we look closely, each of these strategies in fact rests on two moments of recognition. First, we must recognize the structure that he ‘reconstructs.’ But secondly, we must also recognize that these structural rules, though not actually forcing us to act in certain ways, are nonetheless normative and moral imperatives that compel us to act in accordance with them. This means that these strategies

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have to defend and secure two moments of recognition if the moral imperatives he outlines are to be seen as universal and binding. Many theorists have challenged Habermas’s articulation of the first moment of recognition and have subjected his theoretical reconstruction of language, communicative action, and (inter)subjectivity to detailed critique.45 These challenges alone call into question the validity of Habermas’s common sense. However, I want to focus also on the second required moment of recognition – the idea that these internal structures, even if they were universal, necessarily compel us as incontestable imperatives. For Habermas’s double moment of recognition is vulnerable to the classically sceptic question: ‘how do you derive a “must” from the “is”?’ Habermas claims that, because there are norms within language, we must follow them. They are imperative ‘oughts,’ not in the sense that we should do them because it is in our interest or because it is prudent, but in the sense that we ‘must’ do them because they embody legitimate principles. Yet what is the nature of this ‘must’? Why must we follow them? While Kant, too, faces this question, he can at least fall back onto the hierachized two world metaphysic discussed in chapter 2. Given that Habermas does not accept this division and instead bases his argument on the idea that there are ‘empirical’ units that secure the imperative image of morality, his argument cannot be the same. The additional problem Habermas faces is that we know from experience that we can transgress the norms of communicative action and still communicate. We know from experience, moreover, that many others manipulate and abuse communication in direct contradiction to the validity claims implied in them. In fact, we know from experience that in our life-world, a life-world semi-colonized by the strategic logics of competition and the market, it is often imprudent for us to behave as if these norms were absolutely binding. Given this, the ‘must’ Habermas finds in the empirical world is actually often elided and transgressed. The problem posed by this situation is the following. Unlike Kant, Habermas cannot have recourse to the authority of the supra-sensible to transform an ‘ought’ into a moral ‘must.’ Rather, Habermas’s ability to render incontestable and necessary the imperative image of morality is based on the idea that there is a must (i.e., an imperative ought) lodged in our empirical common sense that we cannot avoid embodying. If, however, the ‘oughts’ that Habermas identifies are easily trans-

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gressed in the sensible world – yet simultaneously derive their authority from the being necessarily lodged in the sensible realm – it is unclear why we must recognize them even as prudential oughts, never mind imperative oughts (e.g., musts). The question Habermas’s pseudotranscendental reconstruction must answer, then, is this: Why, if we know we can (and sometimes have good reason to) do otherwise, must/ought we act in accordance with the logical preconditions of common sense? Why must we recognize the imperative force of Habermas’s articulation of the pseudo-preconditions of communicative action and autonomous intersubjectivity? While Habermas tends not to address this question explicitly, the argument that carries the main burden of showing that we cannot but act in accordance with the structural norms embedded in our language and intersubjectivity is that of the performative contradiction. The idea of the performative contradiction is the suggestion that while we can, in reality, challenge these imperatives, the moment we do so, we contradict the very rules that allow us to engage in that practice, which would be equivalent both to willing an action and to willing its nonaction at the same time. According to Habermas and Apel, this creates an impossible contradiction that must necessarily force the subject to accept the rules and the imperatives they imply. Habermas claims that this proves that even the moral sceptic must accept the moral imperatives of common sense: ‘[the moral sceptic] necessarily assumes the validity of at least those logical rules that are irreplaceable if we are to understand his argument as a refutation. In taking part in the process of reasoning, even the consistent fallibilist has already accepted as valid a minimum number of unavoidable rules of criticism.’46 This argument, however, is profoundly contestable and relies on a number of problematic assumptions. Perhaps most important, it assumes ‘consistency’ as an unquestionable norm that everyone must accept. But is consistency incontestable and necessary? There is, of course, a long philosophical tradition of seeing logical consistency as the defining hallmark of the human subject, but there is an equally storied philosophical tradition of challenging the idea that ‘consistency’ is the necessary condition of human existence. Many theorists – as varied as Epicurus, Spinoza, and Nietzsche – forward conceptions of nature and human nature which suggest that ‘consistency’ is neither a fundamental characteristic nor an unproblematic virtue of human life. In their collective view, in fact, the attempt to reduce the overwhelming abundance and contradictions of life to pure consistency is a meta-

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physical hubris that seeks to escape the irreducible turbulence and energy of the world. We need not share the latter normative judgment to appreciate that there are many ethical perspectives that do not share Habermas’s stringent standards of consistency and would thus be unconvinced by his moral imperatives and his conception of the performative contradiction. The fact that the performative contradiction ‘argument’ fails to effectively and logically (even on Habermas’s terms) ground Habermas’s imperatives is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that the persuasive force of his own presentation of the performative contradiction rests on a highly problematic theatrical sleight of hand rather than on carefully defended premises and logic. Consider Habermas’s paradigmatic attempt, for example, to use the performative contradiction to prove that moral scepticism is impossible. In ‘Discourse Ethics,’ Habermas offers a highly stylized theatrical debate between a Habermasian and a sceptic to show that even sceptics must recognize certain common sense norms contained within communicative action and the processes of (inter)subjectivity. The debate essentially falls into seven rounds.47 (1) Habermas convinces the sceptic that the moral realm exists. (2) The sceptic (an emotivist in the model of early Ayer) acknowledges that this is true but argues that even so, moral claims cannot be ‘rationally’ discussed visà-vis ‘truth’ claims. (3) Habermas argues that moral practical questions can be answered in ways analogous to truth claims. The sceptic responds that this consensus is generally unrealizable. (4) Habermas suggests that a universal principle exists nonetheless. The sceptic responds that this is merely a generalization of culturally specific (western) values. (5) Habermas draws on Apel’s notion of performative contradiction to demonstrate that the sceptic herself relies on certain rules that, even in his disagreement, imply normative principles. (6) The sceptic refuses to enter into discourse and thus escapes the hold of those rules. (7) Habermas demonstrates that the refusal is impossible, since the rules are embedded in the preconditions of everyday activity, which no one can evade. Thus, he claims to have proved to the sceptic that she is bound by the same normative principles regardless of her disagreement. The terms that Habermas uses to describe the encounter are fascinating. It is not the language of engagement or dialogue. It is not even the language of chess, in which each player makes a move. Rather, it is the language of boxing: the sceptic becomes an ‘opponent’ and each suc-

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cessive development is a ‘round.’48 It is revealing that Habermas, keeper of the dialogic flame, stages this dialogue as a boxing match. Perhaps the image is too candid. Perhaps Habermas senses that ethical contestation is more important and difficult than he often admits. If the metaphor of boxing is truly appropriate here, however, it is because the fix is in. The bets have been placed, and the payoff (universality and necessity) requires only that the fighters know their parts and play them well. In fact, Habermas’s narrative doesn’t seem so much as a fixed bout as it seems to be one of the endless Rocky movies about a fixed boxing match. First of all, the characters are paper thin. The sceptical antagonist is one-dimensional and predictable, embodying all the formulaic and stereotyped clichés of the genre. The Habermasian protagonist is no more interesting; he is too quick with the answers to be convincing. The plot, moreover, is seamless. There is little suspense, no feeling that the outcome ever really hinges on what happens on the screen, and the conclusion is self-righteous, anti-climatic, and deflating. The antagonist recognizes her fault and repents; the protagonist, from his position of power, shows mercy and benignly recognizes the (now reborn) transcendental pragmatist. No loose ends are left hanging. The problem with Habermas’s parable is not merely that it is sunk in clichés, that it fails to jolt the viewer into thinking, or even that it is parasitical in the sense that it derives its affective force by relying on Pavlovian responses to well-used stereotypes and formulas. Rather, even taken on its own grounds, the theatre fails to convince. For the resolution of the film depends on the sceptical antagonist’s doing something that is not merely tragic, but is fundamentally out of character, something irreducibly irrational.49 The scene is tense, the sceptic seems to have the Habermasian on the ropes: ‘I am not dramatizing the situation when I say that faced with the demand for a justification of the universal validity of the principle of universalization, cognitivists are in trouble.’ The Habermasian is staggering; he’s down on one knee. All the sceptic has to do is fire one more jab – the same jab she has been using the entire fight. But then: catastrophe. Perhaps the sceptic slips, though she has never slipped before in the match. Perhaps she forgets where she is and what she is doing, even though she has been training her whole life for this match. Or perhaps she gets cocky – though she has never taken any victory for granted in the ring. She hesitates, she prances, she turns her back on his opponent and glories in her impending victory. Her hunger turns to gluttony, her sceptical doubt to cer-

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tainty: ‘The sceptic feels emboldened to recast his doubts about the possibility of justifying a universalist morality as an assertion that it is impossible to justify such a morality.’50 This is her downfall. The sceptic turns dogmatic: she strays from doubt to positive assertion. With this shift she inadvertently stumbles into Habermas’s corner, where the logic of the performative contradiction delivers a shocking knockout punch. The sceptic’s lapse allows the Habermasian to recover, to hear the anthem in the background, to see the flag of rationality in the rafters. He rises and fires a Hail Mary uppercut that fells his sceptic opponent for good. The crowd goes wild as it celebrates the victory of common sense. It is quite a story. But something interesting happens when this story is transformed into Habermas’s moral tale. For what might be forgiven as a cheap deus ex machina of a film becomes the absolutely necessary deus of the moral. The successful resolution of Habermas’s theatre depends on the sceptic’s taking that fateful step into hubris. If this fateful step is to necessarily and incontrovertibly demonstrate that moral sceptics (and non-Kantian ethical positions) are impossible, however, the sceptic cannot have any other option. The sceptic must necessarily and inevitably fall into hubris. But is this the only ending possible? Nothing in the logic of the plot or characters or even Habermas’s arguments proves that it is. This is doubly true of the moral argument; for arguments are not intractable. One could return and refashion (as Habermas is so fond of doing with his own arguments) the sceptic as more methodical and less cocky. We also could rewrite the plot and recast the cocky sceptic (who tragically reframed her doubts as assertions), replacing her with a more cautious, Nietzschean protagonist who would finish the job, remaining critical and recognizing the moment of faith in both her and Habermas’s position. The bout might not end with the sceptic victorious, but it would at least end in a draw in which the hubris and arrogance of the Habermasian would be tamed. For the Habermasian would have to acknowledge that his opponent was an equal befitting respect, not merely an opponent who is easily knocked out and silenced. Habermas’s presentation reveals a number of things about his project. The fact that he presents the central moment of ethical contestation in a theatrical mode of narrative is admission enough that this moment often exceeds strictly rational and philosophical argumentation. For what is Habermas’s parable if not an updated, Hollywood version of pre-modern mythology and narrative – precisely those

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modes of foundationalism that Habermas argues are illegitimate in the post-conventional era? The most stunning element of Habermas’s tale, however, is that even if we accept his invitation to his theatrical presentation, it fails to create a compelling argument. The fact that Habermas’s conclusion requires (a) a clichéd representation of the sceptical character as well as (b) a contingent plot reversal suggests an inability to ground his universality and necessity in anything other than a contestable moment of faith. The only way to make Habermas’s ending binding is to demonstrate that the contingent is the necessary, that the characters are invariable, and that the sceptic’s uncharacteristic error is irreversible. The appearance of necessity must be derived from the fact of contingency. This effect is possible, of course, in the movies. But it requires a suspension of disbelief. It requires a moment of faith. Above all else, it requires an unselfconscious identification with the plot in which we suspend our powers of rational critique. Habermas’s parable, in sum, requires a series of commitments that hardly seem faithful to his post-conventional sensibility. The Contestability of Affective Common Sense Recognition From this perspective, Habermas’s strategy of affective common sense recognition becomes crucial. For, if his attempt to derive and render apodictic the imperative image of morality through an analysis of communicative action and autonomous intersubjectivity rests on several intrinsically contestable elements, his last strategy of examining our ‘intuitive moral feelings’ becomes even more important. Habermas might yet be viewed as having established the apodictic character of the imperative image of morality if he can show (i) that we all share this affective common sense and (ii) that these intuitive moral feelings possess a certain ineluctability, thus proving that they are expressions of a deeper common sense recognition of the imperative image of morality. If Habermas’s argument is to be successful, however, both of these claims must be demonstrated beyond question. Let’s examine the first claim: do we all share certain moral feelings? As we saw in section 2, Habermas often seems to suggest that we do. He does, of course, also appreciate the pluralism characteristic of modernity: ‘Modern life is characterized by a plurality of forms of life and rival value convictions.’51 ‘In modern societies we encounter a pluralism of individual life-styles and collective forms of life and a corresponding multiplicity of ideas of the good life.’52 According to Hab-

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ermas, the fact of this multiplicity means that attempts to return to Aristotelean conceptions of the communal good are ‘hopelessly reactionary’53 that ‘run up against difficulties that are, in my view, insurmountable.’54 In contrast, then, he suggests that we must ‘modify the Kantian approach to take account of legitimate objections’55 while still retaining our capacity to ‘appropriate naive, everyday ethical knowledge in a critical fashion.’56 Hence his analysis of common sense affect. How plausible is it to assume that these differences between lifestyles, collective forms of life, and ideas of the good life neither express nor lead to similar differences in our affective moral sense? Take the example of a war fought in the name of national self-interest. For those individuals and groups whose moral view holds that the value of the nation outweighs cosmopolitan concerns, the idea and act of killing enemy soldiers might not only be philosophically justified, but might also create no moral feeling of revulsion. They might, on the contrary, feel morally commendable and experience pride. A committed pacifist, on the other hand, might not only object. She might also feel a deep sense of disgust, guilt, and hatred towards the moral and political system that forces her to act in such a way. These emotions might be relatively ineluctable in both individuals. They might even be one of the elements motivating each individual to codify their ethical sensibility as nationalist or pacifist. But no analysis could extract a layer of common sense that explains both reactions and feelings – or at least any analysis that did (i.e., both individuals might be seen to accept killing only when justified morally) would be too abstract to establish any common moral precepts (not even universalization), since the key layer of disagreement lies in the particularity of what might be justified. This is equally true of less political examples. Since Habermas thinks that our feelings of shame and guilt are ‘reactions to our own transgressions,’ presumably he is suggesting that the fact that we all react with shame and guilt to certain actions proves these actions immoral. But Habermas never states which particular contexts universally give rise to sensations of shame and guilt. I suspect that he fails to do so because, given the deep divisions in moral pluralism, there is only a very small set of ethical situations to which most people (even in a single country) respond with the same reactions of guilt and shame and that this is such a small set as to be unhelpful in resolving in most of the really contested moral and political questions we face today (even the question of moral universalism at issue here).57 For someone who

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believes deeply in the universal nature of morality might feel ashamed and guilty about bending the truth in order to take advantage of an opportunity for her family, but someone who elevates the value of friendship and providing for one’s family above the dictates of universalizability might feel pride in having provided well for those she cares about. The reaction of the first would sustain Habermas’s claim to establish the imperative image of morality as the principle of universalization; that of the second would contest it. Both would feel the moral emotions that Habermas and Strawson discuss, but analysing them would not resolve the moral disagreement However, we might interpret Habermas’s argument slightly differently. Perhaps the argument is that the mere fact that we all experience shame or guilt is evidence of our recognition of the imperative image of morality as universalization. This argument, however, would lead to a different problem. For even if we all experience shame and guilt, the fact that we feel shame or guilt suggests only that most people establish goals and ideals for themselves and can feel different types of disappointment at not reaching these ideals. Even if this formal similarity does exist, it does not prove (a) that any particular ideal is an unconditional imperative (we could just as easily feel shame at losing a public tennis game though winning is only a hypothetical and conditional imperative) or (b) that an analysis of any common emotion leads to anything other than the ultimately banal conclusion that humans often evaluate their actions in the light of other diverse ideal outcomes. In any case, the fact that many people experience shame or humiliation doesn’t establish Habermas’s claim that the image of morality must be one of universalization. For the fact that I feel shame at losing a doubles tennis game on a blistering cross-court shot by Jane doesn’t mean that I expect everyone to accept this model of judgment. It is quite likely, in fact, that my tennis partner Kathy would feel no shame but only delight at Jane’s skill. Even if we were to grant Habermas this first, and highly problematic, assumption (that we all feel shame or guilt), does he prove the second condition? Can he show that these feelings of guilt, shame, or humiliation are profound and unchanging enough to ground a universal and necessary imperative image of morality? If our moral common sense is to establish an imperative image of morality, those emotions must be both stable and unchanging (so that the principles do not constantly shift) but also more or less natural (so that they are seen as legitimately compelling). An ethical vision challenging the Kantian Imperative, however, might want to suggest that moral affects are far

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more culturally malleable. It would suggest, in contrast, that affects are actively cultivated and disciplined by practices and that this calls into question the idea that moral feelings are unproblematically expressive of a deeper and unchanging experience of recognition. I have already suggested that Kant’s cultivation of the moral feeling of humiliation/ respect is evidence of just this process. William Connolly’s examination of disgust further calls into question the reliability of analysing moral feelings as evidence of the apodictic nature of the imperative image of morality. Disgust, as we saw with Kant’s affective common sense, can be just as much a moral affect as respect, guilt, or shame. Connolly concurs, suggesting that disgust, while often problematic, ‘is indispensable to life and ethical judgment’ insofar as it is a crucial ‘thought-imbued feeling’ that has ‘effects on other registers of thought and judgment.’ According to Connolly, however, far from embodying an expression of straightforward common sense recognition of the moral law, this complex thought-imbued feeling emerges from the concordance and dissonance of various sites of subjectivity and cultural patterns of intersubjectivity. What is crucial is that neither in the subject (where several sites of judgment including the brain, the amygdala, and the stomach interact) nor in the culture that helps to cultivate these sites are these relations and judgments unchanging and necessary. Instead, Connolly suggests that these thought-imbued feelings are the result of interactions between inherited cultural norms, micro-political attempts at self-cultivation, and ongoing cultural arts of cultivation and discipline. ‘Micropolitics and relational self-artistry shuffle back and forth among intensities, feelings, images, smells and concepts, modifying some of them and the relays connecting them, opening up, thereby, the possibility of new thinking and alterations of sensibility.’58 From this perspective, moral feelings of shame, guilt, humiliation, disgust, and respect are not only variable; they are also continually developed, altered and refined through a wide variety of practices and exercises. While it is crucial to acknowledge the force of these moral affects and cultivate ethical judgment/feeling on this layer, their very socialized and contingent nature means that we cannot derive a universal and necessary image of morality from them without great difficulty. We thus need not agree with Nietzsche’s sometimes shrill imputation of ressentiment-laden intent to the history of Christianity and secularism to question whether moral feelings are as natural, universal, and necessary as they would need to be in order to establish the apodictic status of Habermas’s image of morality. Even if we all share a

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single affective common sense (which, in his acknowledgment of deep moral pluralism, Habermas effectively concedes we do not), affective common sense in itself is too contingent to establish the necessity his imperative image of morality. Thus, Habermas’s philosophical attempt to establish the imperative image of morality remains radically contestable. His arguments are persuasive only to those who recognize, and that recognition cannot be apodictically established by those arguments alone. Where Kant’s project sometimes appreciates the precarious nature of common sense recognition and strives to reduce its fragility by creating practices, disciplines, and exercises designed to cultivate common sense recognition into being and then to sustain and maintain this recognition in common culture, Habermas has a much greater faith in the fact of common sense recognition. Thus, while the Kantian Imperative treats common sense recognition as both an actual fact and as an achievement of cultivation, Habermas’s thinking is largely inattentive to the need to actively foster the conditions of possibility of his moral common sense. He claims, for example, that ‘anyone who has grown up in a reasonably functional family, who has formed his identity in relations of mutual recognition, who maintains himself in the network of reciprocal expectations and perspectives built into the pragmatics of the speech situation and communicative action, cannot fail to have acquired moral intuitions [of autonomous intersubjectivity].’59 Habermas may here appreciate that certain practices, contexts, and cultural experiences are critical if the moral intuitions his project relies upon are to be embedded in individuals. What is notable, however, is the faith he has in the idea that these ‘normal’ conditions of development exist for the overwhelming majority of individuals and that these normal conditions will lead to moral common sense recognition without significant further cultivation.60 For Habermas, cultivation is apparently not a key concern. At most, moral philosophy should play an ‘enlightening or clarificatory role ... vis-à-vis the confusions it has created in the minds of the educated.’61 Moral and political theory should therefore use its powers of argumentation to ‘correct bad theories that tend to alienate us from our better moral intuitions.’62 4. The Cunning of Practical Reason: Philosophy as Cultivation A great deal of innocence or cunning is needed by a philosophy of communication that claims to restore the society of friends, or even wise men,

Habermas’s Kantian Imperative 185 by forming a universal opinion as ‘consensus’ able to moralize nations, states and the market. ~ Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari 63 The aim of critique is not the ends of man or of reason but in the end the Overman, the overcome, the overtaken man. The point of critique is not justification but a different way of feeling; another sensibility. ~ Gilles Deleuze64

Innocence or cunning? Superficiality or depth? I have already suggested that beside the optimism of Kant’s official thought there is the cunning of the Kantian Imperative, the attempt to cultivate the very conditions of possibility his philosophical faith requires. One common reaction to the tensions I have traced in Habermas’s thought might be to argue that Habermas is obviously ‘wrong,’ that he is beset by naivety and simplicity and that he simply doesn’t appreciate (a) the contestability of the common sense on which his project relies and (b) the rhetorical practices his own project mobilizes to sustain that faith. But how innocent would Habermas have to be for this to be the case? I suspect that it might be equally worthwhile to explore Habermas from Deleuze and Guattari’s perspective. From this perspective, Habermas’s apparent innocence might well be his cunning. Or, perhaps more accurately, we might say that despite the confidence Habermas has in the incontestability of his position, other parts of his project might function in a rather different way. For if, as Habermas suggests, social truth does not follow a correspondence model, if, rather, truth should be understood as intersubjective agreement, then what could be a better strategy for Habermas than to enter into that arena of intersubjective debate and attempt to forge an inalterable common sense recognition through the language of empirical necessity? Might it be the case that Habermas’s project attempts to cultivate a late-modern common sense? That his project is to refashion the rationalist sensibility, to give it a new feeling? Here, perhaps, his analysis of the various spheres of practical reason, especially the theory of communicative action, appeals to the logic not of truth-claims so much as of normative-claims; that is, that his goal is primarily to usher into being a common sense that is not necessarily embedded in the structures of our world but functions as if it is so, since we all recognize it as such? From this perspective, the language of necessity becomes the medium by which he fabricates a common sense consensus and a particular experi-

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ence of recognition. From this perspective, Habermas’s project might well be one of cultivation – a mode of cultivation that uses takes rational argumentation as its primary tool. From this perspective, also, it appears that his project demonstrates one more influence of the Kantian Imperative. Can we view Habermas’s project in this light – and if so, how does this effect our evaluation of it? These are the key questions of this section. Let us begin with the first part: can we view Habermas’s project as the paradoxical attempt to cultivate common sense recognition through the tools of rational argumentation? Such a project would require as much essential cunning as apparent innocence.65 For its project would be to forge Universality and Necessity out of particularity, contingency and partiality. Not only would reason step out of history, but history would self-consciously lend it a hand. Like the Kantian Imperative, this workshop of ideals would have to operate below the inquisitive and critical register of debate. Most important, it could not reveal itself as fabrication but would have to disguise itself in the cloak of necessity and objectivity to produce its effect (as Habermas describes classical metaphysics doing in Knowledge and Human Interests). Might this be the function of Habermas’s empiricaltranscendental analyses? What is interesting about Habermas’s thinking is that even if this goal is far from his explicit project, there are fleeting moments scattered through his work that suggest this potential role. The first instance, taken from his initial work, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, centres on his reading of Kant. Kant here appears as the consummate practical philosopher. His work is not merely abstract philosophy. In contrast, it is effective history, designed to enter into and influence the public realm. Here, Kant’s ‘philosophy of history took on the task of giving guidance to the public, for in this philosophy (as the propaedeutic of a cosmopolitan condition) the laws of reason were congruent with the requirements of welfare. It was itself to become public opinion. In this fashion we come upon the remarkable self-implication of the philosophy of history; it took into account the effect of a theory of history on the course of this history itself.’ 66 Enlightenment is a public process, Truth is an intersubjective consensus. How could either Kant or Habermas see their philosophy outside this social context? Yet one can enter into a debate and take into account the effect of a social theory (or philosophy of history) while still forwarding the claim

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of necessity and universality as true. Does Habermas do just this? Does he demonstrate a great deal of innocence? Or does he share some of the cunning I am imputing to his project? Here, we might examine a second example, this time from Postmetaphysical Thinking, in which Habermas makes a strong argument for the necessity of the rational prerequisites of communicative intersubjectivity that we must recognize. He claims that we must come to terms with certain normative facts because we know them to be the necessary presuppositions. Only better arguments are acceptable; mystical sensibilities are too fickle: ‘Praising the many, difference and the other may be able to count on acceptance today, but a mood is no substitute for arguments.’67 It is striking, however, that in the very next line, after loading the distinction between mood and argument and between faith and rationality, Habermas seems to appreciate the ambiguity of these distinctions. He suggests, in fact, that this very same mood has been created, cultivated, and influenced by the arguments of post-empirical sciences. The line between persuasion and rational argumentation is not entirely stable. Arguments – perhaps even theories of communicative action – affect sensibilities; they affect moods. From this perspective, might Habermas’s project be an ethically and politically motivated attempt to cultivate (using whatever arguments are effective/affective) a common sense that he then would use to ground an imperative image of morality? It is telling that it is this logic of political effectivity, not that of necessity and teleology, that Habermas uses to describe his moral project in Postmetaphysical Thinking. Here, the moral law of intersubjective humanism is seen, ‘like the communicative reason that inspires it, [as] historically situated. It has not been made, it has taken shape – and can be pursued further, or be abandoned out of discouragement.’68 Consensus and debate are no longer embedded in language. Nor are they the indisputable presuppositions of universal pragmatics. Rather, they appear as part of a political project: something that can be worked towards or discarded. Here, the attempt to ground a theory of communicative action appears less as a truth claim and more as an ethically motivated appeal to foundation through rational consensus. A rational consensus justified not by reason, not by truth, not by transcendental conditions of necessity, not by apodictic common sense recognition – but rather by the political effects it promises to deliver. It is a theory that Habermas values above all else, not because it is ‘realistic’ but rather because of its consequences, because ‘the transitory unity that is generated in the porous and refracted intersubjectivity of a linguisti-

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cally mediated consensus not only supports but furthers and accelerates the pluralization of forms of life and the individualization of lifestyles,’69 which highlights nothing if not the practical effects of his project. We can see this conscious appreciation of the practical effects of philosophical debate in Habermas’s recent writings on the need to cultivate a pan-European constitutional identity.70 According to Habermas, in most of the modern world, the historical normative core of national citizenship has now been transformed into a post-national conception of constitutional citizenship.71 In the light of this possibility and in the context of recent world events, Habermas argues that it is imperative that Europe create a robust ‘identité Européenne.’72 This identity, he admits, presupposes a Europe-wide ‘sentiment d’appartenance politique’ (feeling of political belonging) that does not ‘[repose] que sur les motivations et les convictions des citoyens eux-mêmes’ (rest solely on the motivations and convictions of its citizens).73 Instead, Habermas argues that this identity must be supported by a deep sense of commonality and solidarity. Only a common appreciation of ‘un même destin politique’ and a belief in ‘un avenir commun’ can assure a sufficiently robust feeling of constitutional solidarity and patriotism to guarantee a common front on critical matters.74 On Habermas’s telling, the creation of a robust feeling of solidarity (his term is constitutional patriotism) requires a widely shared common sense about key matters. Habermas, moreover, argues that this robust feeling of constitutional patriotism can emerge only to the degree that the constitutional laws (a) fairly resolve the most important social and cultural issues at play in that political context and (b) are recognized as doing so. His ‘suspicion’ is that a political entity held together by an effective constitutional patriotism will succeed only if the terms of its citizenship ‘can deliver in terms not only of liberal and political rights, but of social and cultural rights as well ... Democratic citizenship develops its force of social integration, that is to say it generates solidarity between strangers, if it can be recognized and appreciated as the very mechanism by which the legal and material infrastructure of actually preferred forms of life is secured.’75 Recognition, in other words, is a crucial precondition to the cultivation of the feeling of constitutional patriotism. What is critical for our discussion here is that in his recent writings Habermas explicitly appreciates that this common sense constitutional patriotism must be cultivated. Constitutional patriotism is not simply a

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normal feeling that naturally arises as a pure ‘expression’ of a preexisting identity.76 In Europe today there is at best an ‘inquiétante sensation d’embarras’ that is entirely incapable of supporting a panEuropean constitutional patriotism.77 So how might Europe cultivate the sense of constitutional patriotism? According to Habermas, a key technique of cultivation would be the creation of a European Constitution; for it would act as a key catalyst that would intensify and solidify the tentative convergence around, and embryonic expressions of, a pan-European identity. In his eyes, this process ‘would have to begin with a referendum, arousing a Europe-wide debate – the making of such a constitution representing in itself a unique opportunity of transnational communication.’ Moreover, it would have the potential of being ‘a self-fulfilling prophecy,’ which would apply the ‘logic of the circular creation of state and society that shaped the modern history of European countries’ to Europe itself. Habermas, in fact, is even more adamant that this. He suggests that, in reality, the emergence of a European identity ‘depends on the catalytic effect of a constitution.’ For a European constitution ‘would not only make manifest the shift in powers that has already taken place. It would also release and foster further shifts.’78 Habermas’s suggestions thus seem entirely consistent with the interpretation of his project as the attempt to cultivate into being a pure moral feeling through practices of rational argumentation. Like his reading of Kant’s project, Habermas’s project seeks to actively implicate itself in his society in order to cultivate a specific rational mood and feeling throughout it. As with our reading of the Kantian Imperative, it seeks to do so by cultivating common sense recognition as well as by stimulating rational debate. In this sense, Habermas might be seen as inheriting a much diluted version of the Kantian Imperative’s appreciation of practical cultivation. For what are his rhetorical theatre, his attempt to inspire a rationalist sensibility in the social sciences, and his desire to initiate a pan-European debate over a European constitution if not conceptual and communicative practices designed to cultivate the conditions of possibility of his philosophical and moral system? This attempt, I would argue, has a number of positive consequences. First, while communitarians often do not give Habermas credit for this, his project does seek to address the question of cultivation and it does appreciate the idea that practices of cultivation are critical to the success of ethical and political projects. Secondly, it is

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important to note that the particular content of the common sense that Habermas seeks to cultivate allows him to strongly resist the tendency of both the Kantian Imperative and Charles Taylor to authorize a variety of cruel practices. For Habermas’s thinking might be seen to attempt to distinguish two depths of common sense. Where Taylor (as we will see in the next chapter) believes that a deep, cultural common sense and identity are requisites of all political community, Habermas rejects this belief and argues that only a thinner political and constitutional common sense is required to hold a political community together. This attempt is not without problems (I will briefly discuss some of them in the epilogue). However, it is important to acknowledge that Habermas’s attempt to distinguish different levels of common sense is an important attempt to vaccinate itself against the possibility that it too might seek to authorize cruel tactics designed to foster a deep cultural common sense. Yet if the upside of Habermas’s project is that it is less prone to use cruel tactics of cultivation, his position remains vulnerable to the charge (a) that its vision of rational cultivation vastly underestimates the difficulties of cultivation and vastly overestimates the general force of ‘rational argumentation’ as a practice of cultivation, (b) that it fails to appreciate that there are other models of political cultivation beyond the simple dichotomy of thick cultural cultivation vs thin political cultivation, and (c) that it remains insufficiently attentive to the risk that thin models of constitutional common sense can also inspire a variety of dangerous tactics. I will explore the last two of these charges in the epilogue. It is clear, however, that Habermas has considered the first charge from a slightly different perspective. For he acknowledges that ‘compared with nationalism, constitutional patriotism appears to many as a bond too thin to hold together complex societies.’79 In response, he forwards the argument outlined above, which highlights the way that a shared recognition of the value of constitutional protections can create civic spirit. The issue is thus not that Habermas fails to provide a counter-argument to the nationalist assumption that deep cultural cultivation is required. Rather, the problem is that he does not sufficiently appreciate that recognition is not simply a reflection of an objective condition but a state that itself must be cultivated. One doesn’t have to be a nationalist or a theorist of thick common sense, therefore, to worry about the sufficiency of Habermas’s practices of cultivation. In fact, it is perhaps those of us who find many admirable ethical elements in Habermas’s

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work who should be most concerned with this weakness and who should seek to encourage the Habermasian project work to develop a more robust model of cultivation that is even more attentive to the potential cruelties of both thick – and thin – common sense. I will address some of the dangers of thin common sense in the epilogue. In the last part of this chapter, however, I want to push Habermas’s project a bit further on the first question of cultivation – and the implications this holds for the form of his philosophy. 5. ‘To Critique Everything Must Submit’80: Ethics, Faith, and Micro-Politics Before the reflective gaze of a participant in discourse, the social world dissolves into so many conventions in need of justification. ~ Jurgen Habermas81

The primary problem is thus neither that Habermas’s project rests on certain irreducible moments of contestable faith nor that he recurs to certain practices of common cultivation to establish them. Perhaps, in some way, every philosophical system must have a moment of recognition, a foundation that is not conclusively demonstrable. Perhaps no system can escape the contingency of this moment, and perhaps cultivation is one method any moral approach employs to stabilize itself in the instability of the social world. I therefore do not want to convict Habermas’s project of self-contradiction or of exceeding the proper boundaries of moral philosophy. I do think, however, that the particular imperative image of morality, the common sense form of recognition, and the types of cultivation that he employs are worth challenging, because their specific articulations contain avoidable dangers and exclusions. It therefore seems useful to explore how we might critically refashion Habermas’s perspective to help us to better navigate the condition of late modern ethical contestability. If every philosophy faces the similar structural need for some essential grounding beliefs, different approaches come to terms with this condition in very diverse ways. What needs to be contested in Habermas’s project, then, is not the fact that it expresses various elements of faith but rather that it tends to disguise this moment as apolitical and necessary. If certain key elements of Habermas’s project are simultaneously both contested and necessary for the smooth functioning of his moral system, the imposition of these definitions, commitments, and

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assumptions on those who do not recognize them is fundamentally political. For it presents particular grounds as unproblematically universal and necessary, so that recalcitrant non-recognizing subjects will be compelled to follow the dictates of Habermas’s imperative image of morality. Habermas refuses to acknowledge this dimension of his project. Instead, he claims that his moral and political order establishes its authority through rational discourse. Indeed, we might well agree that if such a discourse does lead to a rational consensus, that this authority could be viewed as legitimate. As we have seen, however, Habermas both relies on a variety of non-rational, non-argumentative strategies to establish the apodictic nature of the moral law and fails to establish a universal consensus. Thus, the problem is not that his faith is potentially political, but rather that his form of moral thinking erases the ability to appreciate and negotiate the political element of ethics. If we consider Habermas’s project from this perspective, it also becomes clear why he can claim to be post-metaphysical while remaining vulnerable to the charge of re-enacting metaphysics. According to those theorists who recognize the imperative image of morality (such as Kant and Habermas), a metaphysician is one who attempts to ‘justify’ the grounds of that image by dogmatic and illegitimate means. Habermas understands ‘metaphysics’ as being related only to the method of analysis (and, in Postmetaphysical Thinking, as a philosophy that subsumes the particular and different under the Whole and Same). He therefore claims that he has gone beyond it with the shift from the philosophy of consciousness/subject to one of communication/ intersubjectivity. From the perspective of those who do not recognize this image of morality as the only option and who see a political element at the core of morality, however, the definition of the dogmatic metaphysician can be broadened to include those thinkers who attempt to render apodictic the imperative image of morality without having incontestably shown the universality and necessity of that image and the ‘proof’ they mobilize for it. If we examine both its aim and its effects, we see that Habermas’s thinking veers towards the metaphysical and the dogmatic insofar as its aim is to secure a universal and necessary law (despite its worldly location), and its effect is still to dogmatically locate that universality and necessity beyond the critique of human debate . The common sense imperative image of morality is not willed (and therefore subject to change). It is something to come to terms

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with. Autonomy is the recognition of the law that is given, not that we create, and since it is universal and necessary (and thus not subject to human alteration), it cannot be political. It simply is. After the Death of God, this seems to be at least one line according to which we could draw the distinction between ‘metaphysical’ and non-metaphysical thought. Both metaphysical and non-metaphysical perspectives have ‘foundations.’ Metaphysics, however, yearns for certainty and attempts to insert its grounds into the position vacated by God by repossessing the language of necessity and universality in order to universalize its common sense recognition. The second, on the other hand, (a) views the paradox of autonomous self-governance as the modern paradox par excellence and (b) believes that self-conscious self-determination can no longer be bound by the language of necessity and common sense recognition but must inspire and cultivate itself without such recourse. The difference between the two lies not in a presence or absence of a will to order. Nietzsche, above all, desires a new mode of ranking and a new order. The difference lies, rather, in how each approach motivates and orders the modern subject. The former believes that the language of universal and necessary law must characterize morality. The latter believes that this language (more than ever in late modernity) fragments more than it unites. Both, of course, might agree that the attempt to ethically order subjects through self discipline is more difficult than through the establishment of docile obedience to the moral law, but the Nietzschean would suggest that, in late modernity, we have little choice. Without a common God or universal common sense, who can incontestably answer the question: Why should I believe/recognize that X is necessary? A Nietzschean, in fact, might suggest that it is the reality of this deep pluralism, not common sense recognition, with which contemporary thought must to come to terms. Come to terms with this reality? Habermas might well claim that this claim about ‘reality’ and its necessary preconditions is precisely the slip that defeats a Nietzsche-inspired sceptic. Do I not, the argument would go, make a fundamental, universal a priori truth claim about the non-universality of every claim to universality even as I convict every other universal claim of contingency and particularity? Therefore do I not, in my very logic, prove the force of the universality of moral claims? I do not believe so. As we saw in the interlogue, one of the implications of my analysis of the Kantian Imperative is to shift the burden of

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proof to those who seek to make universal and necessary claims. The idea is not that it is categorically impossible. Rather, it is to suggest that, since neither the Kantian Imperative’s appeal to common sense recognition nor Habermas’s investigations of communicative action, and so on, are able to establish their positions incontestably, we might legitimately presume that contestability is a key element of our context and assert that those who make universal and necessary claims prove its universality and necessity before we accord them the benefit of the doubt. In other words, my position takes each contending approach at its word and asks them to demonstrate it. Those who suspect that most ethical positions are inevitably limited and specific need to show evidence of fundamental ethical disagreement to establish the prima facie plausibility of their thesis. Those who are convinced that there is a universal and necessary moral position must give evidence of it, and they must disprove as insignificant those moments of ethical disagreement, whereas ethical non-Kantians need to show that the universal and necessary moments of recognition and necessity claimed by the universalists actually are not universally recognized in fact or necessarily binding in theory. I believe that I have done the former with reference to Kant and Habermas, and that it is therefore entirely fair to evaluate their claims to universality from my perspective. This, of course, does not mean that my position has no fundamental dimensions of potentially contestable faith. One set of my contestable commitments, in fact, is obvious: (a) the belief that we haven’t found any incontestably universal and necessary proof of the imperative image of morality and (2) the conviction that this fact might well lead us to prefer to affirm this faith as contestable, even though we feel it to be fundamental. Thus, it is not that we do not hold it fundamentally. It is rather that, because we appreciate it as contested in fact, we also suspect that we need to devise strategies for negotiating interactions between different forms and images of morality ethically. The aim is not to show that every position is contestable, which therefore must lead to an ethical position of tolerance. That position too closely mimics the logic of epistemological necessity Habermas is so fond of. Moreover, this epistemological insistence, even if deeply felt, is often insufficient by itself to inspire ethical generosity. Indeed, anxiety about ethical contestability can easily lead to the intensification of fundamentalism if the will to an imperative image of morality is not simultaneously challenged.82 My hope is that challenging the necessity

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of the imperative image of morality and exposing the contingency and contestability of its foundations might encourage us to appreciate the interaction of contending images of ethics as a site of fundamental ethical importance rather than a merely strategic arena characterized by contending imperatives to conversion. This is why it is important to appreciate the centrality that practices of cultivation play in late-modern ethics. If it is unlikely that neither rational argumentation alone nor the disciplinary logic of common sense recognition is sufficient to render incontestable any particular ethical system, the practices that cultivate ethical sensibilities take on increased importance. If ethical perspectives are seen as inescapably co-existing with, bumping into, learning from, and contesting other ethical visions, a more active consideration of the types of practice each requires to sustain its sensibility becomes necessary. Perhaps the key aim of ethics should be not how to reach a common grounding, but how to cultivate ethical relations between those who have faith in different sources. At this point an appreciation of the ethical arts of cultivation might easily develop into an understanding of these arts as micro-politics. If we appreciate the space of ethical engagement as ineluctable and ethical arts of cultivation as at least partial responses to this condition, we might also understand these practices (and the larger ethical systems) as political, contestable, incomplete, experimental, and often micro. They are political because they are practices that attempt to create one type of disposition rather than other types and because that disposition will have certain ethical and political consequences by influencing the way we negotiate a variety of situations. They are contestable because they create a disposition for which we believe we have good reasons, but whose absolute correctness we are not sure of. They are incomplete not only because, as Foucault shows, discipline is seldom so complete that it destroys the possibility of resistance, but also because, as both Deleuze and Guattari show, every new disposition creates a variety of new lines of flight that might offer new possibilities for further ethical development while also creating new dangers in new forms of unethical behaviours. They are ultimately experimental because a moral disposition is the result of the interaction between a variety of levels and layers of consciousness, affect, deliberation, reflection, and reaction. We do not entirely sort these out; we do not only work on only one layer at a time; and, even if we succeed in altering certain dispositional tendencies, we are not entirely sure which layers

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are responsible for which actions/judgments. They are often micro because, while macro assemblages can significantly cultivate a particular sensibility, a wide range of practices, relations, habits, and embodied attitudes must and can shift at the micro level for sensibilities to ‘take’ in late-modern subjects. Cultivation is all these things because it is a social process of interaction with oneself, other individuals, other groups, and the variety of cultural assemblages that work on/against/ with each other and ourselves. Neither an appreciation of the contestability of ethical systems nor an appreciation of the role of practices of cultivation necessarily leads to the other or to a more political or generous understanding of the nature of ethical thinking. When taken together and contrasted with the dictates of the Kantian Imperative, however, they ‘flag the insufficiency of argument to ethical life without denying its pertinence’83 and, in doing so, widen the terms of debate enough that such practices are not pre-emptively dismissed as irrelevant.


Taylor’s Common Sense Ontology

The complex and paradoxical thinking of Charles Taylor is a particularly appropriate subject for our final analysis for two reasons. First, paired as it is with the chapter on Habermas, my analysis of Taylor will help to substantiate my contention that the influence of the Kantian Imperative stretches well beyond neo-Kantian liberals into the theory of many non- and even ‘anti-’ Kantians. Second, my analysis of Taylor’s thinking in the light of the Kantian Imperative also helps to explain and clarify some of the controversy that surrounds his work. For, if there is wide acknowledgment of the importance of Charles Taylor’s thinking to contemporary political and moral theory, there is also wide disagreement about its validity and even about the specific contours of his specific positions. On one hand, some see Taylor as a modern ontologist convinced that we can understand ourselves only in relation to a larger order we must express. Isaiah Berlin, for example, believes that Taylor is ‘basically a teleologist – both as a Christian and as a Hegelian,’ that Taylor ‘believes in essences,’ and that his moral position is one that sees a basic orienting purpose at the heart of human life, institutions, and proper moral systems.1 Others pursue this basic understanding and identify Taylor as a ‘moral realist,’ one who thinks that we must understand morality in terms of objective good(s). Alasdair MacIntyre approvingly interprets the aim of Taylor’s Sources of the Self as the attempt to establish a set of objective late modern goods that should guide us morally.2 Quentin Skinner and Michael Rosen, while arguing that this is a fundamentally problematic approach, also see Taylor as ‘returning’ to moral realism.3 Others forward a very different interpretation of Taylor and suggest

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that his work is much less dogmatic than some of his critics suggest. White, for example, argues that Taylor’s project should be thought of as ‘weak ontology’ – an orientation that understands the importance of an ontological vision to morality but that understands ontology as merely prefiguring, not determinatively establishing, a particular vision of the good and morality.4 On White’s reading, Taylor’s weak ontology calls attention to the potentially contestable nature of its ontological vision,5 appreciates the fact that his arguments ‘do not carry knockdown power,’ and consequently acknowledges that they have not established a single, pure determination of the good, but merely shifted ‘the burden of argument a bit against procedural liberalism, to challenge its hegemonic self-certainty.’ Thus, White suggests that where many see Taylor’s philosophy as one of ontological expressivism, Taylor’s position actually combines expression and invention in complex ways.6 Taylor’s thinking gives sustenance to both interpretations. Much of his work is scathingly critical of atomist and naturalist epistemology/ ontology.7 He has also spent considerable effort laying out a philosophical anthropology that appears to function similarly to an incontestable ontology replete with moral implications.8 If we focus on these aspects, Taylor might well appear to be a moral realist and a ‘strong ontologist’ to boot.9 Yet this representation sits somewhat unevenly on his work. For there are many moments when he explicitly acknowledges the impossibility and undesirability of returning to naive moral realism. For example, Taylor clearly sees that the pluralism of late-modernity means finding a moral ground is far more complex than in previous eras: ‘Our forebears were generally unruffled in their belief, because the sources they could envisage made unbelief incredible. The big thing that has happened since is the opening of other possible sources. In a predicament where these are plural, a lot of things look problematic that didn’t before – not just the existence of God, but also such “unquestionable” ethical principles as that reason ought to govern passions.’10 Moreover, Taylor himself rejects the strong ontological reading of his thought in several places, which gives weight to Stephen White’s reading.11 While I believe that White’s interpretation highlights the tensions of Taylor’s project better than interpretations of Taylor as a strong ontologist or and moral realist do, I don’t believe that either of these interpretations fully captures the complexity of Taylor’s project. For I believe there is a reason that explains why his work inspires such contradic-

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tory readings and responses. I suspect that Taylor’s thinking has a complex relationship with the Kantian Imperative and that this leads to multiple threads in his thinking, not all of which are neatly reconcilable. We might say that the Kantian Imperative forms part of the (largely unarticulated) background of his work. Like Kant’s, Taylor’s thinking is characterized by a distinct predisposition towards the imperative image of morality. Like Kant, too, Taylor combines an official argument (his ontological perspective) with a strategy of common sense recognition in the hope that this hybrid might prove strong enough to survive the sceptical buffeting of late-modernity. This chapter is thus driven by the belief that we might be better able to understand both the complexity and uniqueness (but also the problems) of Taylor’s project if we consider it from the perspective I have been developing. It is also animated by a hope: that if Taylor’s thinking were able to avoid some of the strategies of the Kantian Imperative, it would be able to better appreciate and navigate the space of ethical contestability and cultivation. The chapter is therefore organized as follows. Whereas the influence of the imperative image of morality was fairly self-evident in the case of Habermas, that is not the case with Taylor. In fact, some might suggest that his work offers an alternative to it. Thus, in the first section of this chapter I investigate the precise nature of Taylor’s relationship to the imperative image of morality. In the second section I briefly examine Taylor’s use of ontology before moving onto the third section, where the influence of the strategy of common sense recognition is traced across Taylor’s work. I pause, in the fourth section, to synthesize the progress made to that point and argue that Taylor’s work creates an intense relationship between ontological thought and common sense recognition. We cannot fully understand how Taylor’s perspective functions to ground his vision of the imperative image of morality if we don’t identify both intertwined appeals to ontology and common sense recognition in his thought. I then turn to an evaluation of Taylor’s strategies by outlining in section 5 both the strengths and weaknesses of a Taylorian perspective that is heavily influenced by the Kantian Imperative. I argue that while Taylor highlights several crucial issues for contemporary theory, his Kantian Imperative infused perspective also tends to foster two very dangerous consequences. Therefore, in the final subsection I try to envisage what a Taylorian vision would look like if the influence of the Kantian Imperative were lessened. I believe that it could be an impor-

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tant ally in the attempt to address the problems of ethical contestability in late modernity as well as several concrete political tensions we face. 1. Our Craving for the Imperative Image of Morality as Strong Evaluation When a given constellation of self, moral sources and localization is ours, that means it is the one from within which we experience and deliberate about our moral situation. It cannot but come to feel fixed and unchallengeable, whatever our knowledge of historical and cultural variation may lead us to believe. ~ Charles Taylor12

At first glance, it might seem that Taylor’s model of ethics offers an important alternative vision to the imperative image of morality. Taylor has been widely understood, for example, as a communitarian whose focus on the community as the locus of normative values explicitly problematizes the universal and necessary claims of any imperative image of morality. Consider this quotation: ‘It follows from all this, of course, that people with very different cultural vocabularies have quite different kinds of feelings, aspirations, sensibilities, experience different moral and other demands, and so on ... So also are our relations, the kinds of footings we can be on with each other. These too notoriously vary from culture to culture.’13 If, as Taylor suggests, questions of ethics are best be examined through the perspective of normative Sittlichkeit, where language, identities, aspirations, and moral sensibilities are the measures by which we establish what is ethical, this seems to suggest that Taylor must be explicitly challenging the validity of any model, especially the imperative image of morality, that suggests universal and necessary moral laws. Given that he also strongly criticizes the Kantian drive for apodictic certainty at times and argues that we need an ‘ad hominem’ model instead, it seems rather counter-intuitive that Taylor’s project would be influenced by the Kantian Imperative.14 Yet for every one of Taylor’s invocations of the culturally variable nature of our Sittlichkeit, he also makes numerous references to human commonalities that emerge from our nature as uniquely linguistic animals in need of a framework of strong evaluation. These references are supplemented by an equal number of expressions of ‘hope for’ and ‘commitment to’ the ideal of a commensurable and rational standard

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of universal judgment in spite of these ‘challenges.’ How do we make sense of such seemingly contradictory statements and hopes? I suspect that these tensions are created by the fact that the imperative image of morality is a regulative ideal Taylor holds – even while he sometimes worries that it will be difficult to secure. Moreover, I believe that if we look closely at Taylor’s presentation of strong evaluation and how we become morally oriented, the influence of the Kantian Imperative’s image of morality will become clear. The Universal and Imperative Force of Strong Evaluation The idea of ‘strong evaluation’ is central to Taylor’s thinking. Daniel Weinstock, for example, goes so far as to suggest that ‘Taylor’s theory of human agency ... revolves around the notion of “strong evaluation.”’15 As we saw in chapter 2, one of the key characteristics of the Kantian imperative image of morality is the claim that its dictates are imperative, that moral values or principles hold necessarily and imperatively, regardless of contending desires. This claim, it turns out, is also the defining characteristic of Taylor’s strong evaluation. Strong evaluation is a mode of judgment according to ‘higher’ standards that are incommensurable, not merely quantitatively different, from contingent and subjective desires: ‘A higher goal is one that we should have ... [it] is one from which one cannot detach oneself just by expressing a sincere lack of interest because to recognize something as a higher goal is to recognize it as one that men ought to follow.’16 What defines strong evaluation, then, is that it is not a simple preference, but a recognition of ethical necessitation. According to Taylor, ‘Something is a moral goal of ours not just in virtue of the fact that we are de facto committed to it. It must have a stronger status, that we see it as demanding, requiring or calling for this commitment.’17 Not surprisingly, Taylor notes that his notion of strong evaluation shares important elements with Kant’s idea. In fact, he suggests that the higher/lower distinction ‘is, of course, the distinction that Kant drew between hypothetical and categorical imperatives ... Or should I say that it is a closely related distinction.’18 Taylor is clear that a framework in strong evaluation has the imperative force to command obedience. ‘Because of their special status,’ he argues, these strong evaluative claims and the ends ‘command our awe, respect or admiration.’ It is telling, I think, that Taylor again invokes a direct parallel with Kant’s moral thinking – and precisely that element (the feeling of respect/humiliation) that proved so crucial

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to Kant’s ability to render apodictic the imperative image of morality. It is no surprise, then, that several lines later, he recurs to language reminiscent of objective moral realism when he describes the imperative force these claims possess. We can only conclude, says Taylor, that in the realm of ethics, ‘ends or goods stand independent of our own desires, inclinations or choices, that they represent standards by which these desires and choices are judged ... The goods which command our awe must also function in some sense as standards for us.’19 Yet Taylor does not claim merely that strong evaluation compels many of us to recognize moral commands beyond our immediate subjective (even second-order) desires. He claims that we all acknowledge intuitively this form of evaluation, that it is an inescapable form of moral judgment, and that even those forms of judgment that claim to avoid these universalizing claims embody them. According to Taylor, if we do not explicitly acknowledge this condition, it is largely owing to the fact that naturalist epistemologies and formalist conceptions of morality make it more difficult to articulate this model of judgment. In his words, ‘these languages of qualitative contrast [strong evaluation] get marginalized, or even expunged altogether, by the utilitarian or formalist reductions. I want to argue in opposition to this, that they are central to our moral thinking and ineradicable from it.’20 Taylor actually goes even further than claiming that the dictates of strong evaluation are embedded in us insofar as we think morally. In the Sources of the Self, he suggests that our predisposition towards the imperative image of morality is so universal as to be virtually instinctual. While he acknowledges that there is a certain amount of disagreement as to what the right to ‘respect’ entails, he argues that the general recognition of such a right and the sense that this is a qualitatively different form of moral judgment is essentially universally felt. When we speak of the modern form of strong evaluation, then, ‘We are dealing here with moral intuitions which are uncommonly deep, powerful and universal. They are so deep that we are tempted to think of them as rooted in instinct, in contrast to other moral reactions which seem very much the consequence of upbringing and education.’ Hence, Taylor writes, this uncommonly deep, powerful, and universal moral intuition has become an urge, ineradicable from human life: ‘all these diverse aspirations as forms of a craving which is ineradicable from human life. We have to be rightly placed in relation to the good.’21 The parallels with the imperative image of morality are clear.

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The Imperative Image of Morality as Ideal Taylor acknowledges, however, that we face significant obstacles in our attempt to articulate and clarify these powerful common moral intuitions. The challenge is that this imperative image of morality is profoundly embedded in a background that we recognize, but that we cannot always clearly explicate. Our moral intuitions and identity are located deep within us, and thus it takes a great deal of effort and persistence to discover them.22 This difficulty is further exacerbated by modernity’s naturalist disinclination and the fact that our moral identity and intuitions are often ‘inchoate, or confused, or badly formulated.’23 There also exist practical or moral motives for holding onto inchoate or mis-formulations.24 Moreover, the very nature of a background means that we can never completely comprehend it in its entirety at any single moment, since it is the interpretive field which allows for the very possibility of the exploration itself.25 We can strive for clarity and authenticity, but we can never be entirely certain that we have completely and transparently outlined our moral field of orientation. This means that while Taylor’s work understands morality through the lens of the imperative image of morality, it does not simply assume that our present articulation of the imperative image of morality is necessarily sufficient. Taylor nonetheless sees this imperative image as an ideal for which we must strive. Thus, although Taylor sometimes acknowledges the difficulty of establishing definitively universal and necessary moral judgments across cultures, he states that he is ‘fiercely committed to the view’ that there is, ‘at least in principle, a way in which this kind of question can be rationally arbitrated.’26 Hence his consistent hope that ‘transcultural judgments of superiority’ can ‘still arise.’27 It is not surprising, then, that in reflecting on what he wants to achieve in the Sources of the Self, Taylor lets slip his animating hope. While he acknowledges that he has only traced ‘a path through the controversies about modernity which is distinct from some of the most travelled ones of our time,’ he hopes that he will eventually ‘be able to return to this question to show why one has to tread this path’ and thus why we must recognize ourselves in his articulation.28 Even if Taylor believes that we can never fully articulate the imperative image of morality, he believes that we still must strive towards it as our ideal

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model. Hence his desire to create a single, imperative, and universal order of goods and his realization that this ideal of ‘a single coherent order of goods is rather like an idea of reason in the Kantian sense, something we always try to define without ever managing to achieve it definitively.’29 Given our consideration of the role of practical reason in Kant’s thinking, it should not be at all surprising that Taylor represents the imperative image of morality as an Idea of reason in the Kantian sense. For it allows him to claim theoretical modesty while practically representing it as if it is absolutely authoritative. By creating the imperative image of morality as a practical idea of reason, he embeds it even more thoroughly and necessarily. For it is not only something we do experience. It is something we must experience and should strive towards. While offering a more ambiguous rendition than Kant does, Taylor’s project is nonetheless characterized by a deep commitment to the imperative image of morality. This, I believe, is why Taylor is sometimes attracted to the language of moral realism.30 If the choice is between ‘subjectivism’ and ‘moral realism,’ he prefers ‘to go on thinking of [himself] as a moral realist’ and to speak of a ‘moral demand’ that ‘we discover.’31 For moral realism is amenable to an imperative image of morality in a way that ‘subjectivism’ would not be. How does Taylor substantiate his assertions about the necessity of strong evaluation? How does he try to establish and secure his imperative image of morality as theoretically and practically necessary? One way is his attempt to outline an ontological theory that is amenable to his image of morality, but he also employs one of the other cornerstones of the Kantian Imperative: the strategy of common sense recognition. In the next two sections, I will begin to explore the relationship between ontology and common sense recognition in Taylor’s work. 2. Taylor’s Indispensable Ontological Vision While Taylor pursues an ontological project, he clearly understands that it cannot be undertaken according to previous models. Neither Plato’s model of moral realism32 nor Hegel’s version (which seems ‘profoundly implausible’ to modernity33) is suitable. Yet Taylor also insists that we must accept a particular ontological vision and its imperative moral consequences and that we discover this by exploring the fundamental nature of our human being. I will not go into great detail about Taylor’s ontology here, since

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excellent and detailed interpretations exist elsewhere.34 However, it is clear that Taylor strongly believes that a crucial part of his project is excavating and articulating the ontological ‘background’ in which he thinks we all exist. From Taylor’s perspective, the key point is that we cannot formulate our political and ethical principles without taking into account – and following the dictates – of our fundamental nature as beings with identity; beings who need to make imperative, universal moral judgments; beings who use language; and beings who cannot but exist in communities. For Taylor, these ontological facts mean that ‘there are some peculiarly human ends,’35 which in turn mean that even though we exist as autonomous subjects, we must nonetheless recognize the ‘call’ these conditions of possibility place on us. The moment we exercise our human agency through speech, for example, the speaker becomes ‘enmeshed in two kinds of larger order, which he can never fully oversee, and can only punctually and marginally refashion. For he is only a speaking agent at all as part of a language community ... and the meanings and illocutionary forces activated in any speech act are only what they are against the background of a whole language and way of life.’36 Language and our communities embody powerful imperatives whose authority is in excess of our voluntary consent to it. Taylor concludes, therefore, that we must recognize our implication in a moral system that transcends our subjective desires. The constitutive status of this linguistic and cultural system means that even the autonomous subject must look beyond her own desires for guidance: ‘the subject himself cannot be the final authority on the question of whether he is free; for he cannot be the final authority on the question of whether his desires are authentic, whether they do or do not frustrate his purposes.’37 Since ‘the free individual or autonomous moral agent can only achieve and maintain his identity in a certain type of culture ... I want to claim finally that all this creates a significant obligation to belong for whoever would affirm the value of freedom.’38 How do these ontological investigations seek to ground the imperative image of morality? Referring back to Kant, Taylor argues that his ontology is like an updated transcendental argument. Such arguments ‘start from some feature of our experience which they claim to be indubitable and beyond cavil. They then move to a stronger conclusion, one concerning the nature of the subject or the subject’s position in the world. They make this move by a regressive argument, to the effect that the stronger conclusion must be so if the indisputable fact about expe-

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rience is to be possible (and being so, it must be possible).’ Taylor notes that Kant is the paradigmatic case of this method, but he also acknowledges the similar aspirations of his own project by suggesting that his exploration of ‘embodied agency’ might well prove to be a valid ‘living attempt to deploy an argument of the transcendental type.’39 Taylor appreciates that late-modern versions of the transcendental method cannot be unqualifiedly confident in the force of its conclusions. They do not speak about subjectivity per se, but only about ‘the nature of our life as subjects.’40 In this sense, Stephen White’s characterization of Taylor as a weak ontologist is doubly appropriate. First, Taylor follows Kant in avoiding strong ontological claims about the nature of the world, instead making only weaker transcendental claims about the nature of our embodied subjectivity. Second, by noting the crucial, and always potentially incomplete, nature of our interpretations of these conditions, he acknowledges that their force is less that totally imperative. Yet the practical effect of Taylor’s method is to discipline the form of moral thinking back towards the ideal of the imperative image of morality. For he is careful to ensure that the contestable character of any particular articulation is not mistaken for a renunciation of the imperative authority of moral sources. In a turn worthy of Kant, Taylor is keen to employ and legitimize paradox here, so that he can allow a certain degree of theoretical modesty and inconclusiveness while preserving the imperative practical effect so crucial to the imperative image of morality: ‘Transcendental arguments thus have to formulate boundary conditions we can all recognize. Once they are properly formulated, we can see at once that they are valid. The thing is selfevident. But it may be very hard to get to this point, and there may still be dispute. We can now resolve this paradox, that the conclusions of transcendental arguments are apodictic and yet open to endless debate. For although a correct formulation will be self-evidently valid, the question may arise whether we have formulated things correctly.’41 Here, Taylor seems to be suggesting that his ontology, while not fully clarifying our background, will nonetheless be forcefully persuasive. We cannot help but see its validity. It is not surprising, then, that Taylor describes his ontology as a map – one that clarifies and points us towards our necessary moral goal. In the Sources of the Self, he states that his ‘entire way of proceeding involves mapping connections between sense of the self and moral visions, between identity and the good.’ Later, he suggests that the end

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product of his articulation is a ‘map of our moral world,’ which, ‘however full of gaps, erasures and blurrings,’ is ‘interesting’ and presumably useful.42 In ‘Social Theory as Practice,’ Taylor argues again that contending social and moral theories should be evaluated as if they were maps; for each offers a description of the good and its role in our life and each functions to help us navigate this life. Thus, in the debate between himself and atomists, ‘what is at stake is more like rival maps of the terrain. One might say, the terrain of possible practices is being mapped in contour, and this purports to give the shape and slopes of the heights of value.’43 According to Taylor, every theory – whether acknowledged or not – has an ontological map; we should therefore evaluate social theories like maps, that is, according to their actual practical value: ‘The proof of a map is how well you can get around using it.’44 Here, the ways in which Taylor’s ontology might appear to embody moral realism are obvious. For even if it employs a model of recognition, it is recognition defined by realism. His ontological vision is authoritative because it provides more efficient access to the good; it allows us to understand it and authentically embody it with less stumbling, distortion, and confusion. 3. Common Sense Recognition and the Insufficiency of Ontology It seems, therefore, that portraits of Taylor as a strong ontologist are well founded. He seems to argue that his ontological vision is a more accurate existential map of what it is to be a human agent, and thus we must accept its description of the ‘good.’45 However, if this were his argument, Taylor would run into a significant problem of circularity. As he acknowledges, late modernity is characterized by the existence of contending perspectives that disagree not only about which map is best, but also about what the ‘actual’ terrain of morality looks like. Atomists for example, don’t even perceive the ‘good’ to which Taylor refers; to see it, they would need to share his ontology. To accept his ontology, however, they would need to be convinced that it is the best map of the moral terrain (which they would not accept if they functioned with an atomist ontology). The danger is that Taylor’s circular position could never persuade people who didn’t already share his ontology. Yet Taylor consistently argues that the imperatives he sees in his ontological map are accurate and that his method should be persuasive to all ‘western’ subjects, whether or not we accept his ontology to begin with.

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How does he manage to inhabit both of these positions? I believe that an appeal to and analysis of ‘common sense’ form the method that allows Taylor to try to square the circle. For in his work ‘common sense’ is precisely the moral referent against which we can test our ontological maps. After all, what is the ground from which Taylor determines ‘what we really are’?46 It is what we recognize as our common sense embodied in our everyday practices, institutions, and identities. Consider what he says about his method of articulation: ‘I want to defend the strong thesis that doing without frameworks is utterly impossible for us, otherwise put, that the horizons within which we live our lives and which make sense of them have to include these strong qualitative discriminations. Moreover, this is not meant just as a contingently true psychological fact about human beings ... Rather the claim is that living within such strongly qualified horizons is constitutive of human agency, that stepping outside these limits would be tantamount to stepping outside what we would recognize as integral, that is, undamaged human personhood.’47 This quotation makes clear Taylor’s view that strong evaluation (and the imperative image of morality) is not merely a contingent psychological fact, but rather is an inescapable ontological element constitutive of human agency. However, the interesting twist comes at the end. For it turns out that the definition of human agency is not guaranteed by the authority of an ontology so much as it is authorized by our common recognition of what undamaged human personhood is. Frameworks are inescapable not because they simply are, but because our common sense recognizes them to be essential. I want to argue that this appeal to recognition is neither epiphenomenal nor coincidental, but indicates the central role of common sense recognition in Taylor’s philosophy. Taylor realizes all too well, as does the logic of the Kantian Imperative, that an ontological strategy is inconclusive. Rather than place this common sense somewhere between the intelligible and sensible realm and derive its imperative force from its hierarchical position, Taylor tries to show that ‘we’ share a historically created common sense that nevertheless authoritatively compels us to recognize certain moral ideals and ethical imperatives. There are intimations of this concept even before Sources of the Self. As we saw earlier, Taylor is explicit about the ontological value he wants to accord the common sense of communal language, social practices, and common identity; we can be autonomous individuals and experience truly human emotions only insofar as we exist within a community. Yet ‘common meanings are the basis of a community ...

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only with common meanings does this common reference world contain significant common actions, celebrations and feelings. These are objects in the world that everybody shares.’48 Taylor is explicit that the common meanings to which he refers are not simply convergent or shared understandings – an aggregate agreement between discrete units. Rather, as a constitutive condition for convergent agreement, this deep common sense is prior to, and authoritative over, merely convergent or divergent ‘opinions.’ Taylor thus wants to argue that we must explore and explicate this deep common sense if we are to correctly discover our moral constitutive goods, and this is one place where he thinks that ‘Hegel’s philosophy provides useful insights.’49 For the logic of Sittlichkeit parallels the strategy of common sense recognition. If Taylor denies that we must understand our Sittlichkeit as oriented by Hegel’s ontology of Geist, he seems convinced that once the Hegelian ontology is subtracted, Hegel’s conception of Sittlichkeit provides an important insight into the character of ethical thinking – so important, in fact, that our age ‘cannot afford any longer to suppress the question of Sittlichkeit altogether, as does the mainstream of modern political science.’50 Why? Because the central insight of the concept of Sittlichkeit is that the moral imperatives we must obey are already embedded in our common sense: ‘Sittlichkeit refers to the moral obligations I have to an ongoing community of which I am part. These obligations are based on established norms and uses ... The crucial characteristic of Sittlichkeit is that it enjoins us to bring about what already is. This is a paradoxical way of putting it, but in fact the common life which is the basis of my Sittlich obligation is already there in existence.’51 Where Hegel’s model of Sittlichkeit is usually viewed as far from Kant’s model of morality, here we can see that it closely parallels Kant’s strategy of common sense recognition. In both cases we must strive to embody what we already recognize, we must become what we already are. For the common sense of Sittlichkeit ‘provides a goal which is at the same time already realized, which is brought about and yet is.’52 Where, exactly, does Taylor find our common sense recognition? I believe he finds it in three different areas: in our modern identity, in our model of practical reasoning, and finally, as Kant and Habermas do, in our affective common sense. The Common Sense of Modern Identity Taylor’s most detailed attempts to flesh out his analysis of our common sense recognition is found in Sources of the Self and the Ethics of

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Authenticity. In these works he argues that the common sense of our modern Sittlichkeit is found in the deep imperatives of our common modern identity. Sources of the Self, as Taylor claims, is the attempt ‘to articulate and write a history of the modern identity.’53 In particular, his main aim is to ‘articulate the visions of the good involved in it’ through an exploration of its animating and constitutive moral ideals. Thus, he wants his philosophical exposition also to be seen as an exploration of the ‘deepest moral allegiances’ of our modern identity.54 We are not, Taylor says, ontologically bound to certain goods and forms of strong evaluation because we are human agents per se, but rather because we are human agents with a very particular common historical identity, in which are embedded a series of particular substantive moral imperatives. Taylor’s challenge is to show that these imperatives operate in all forms of modern identity whether or not they are overtly accepted. He addresses this task in two ways. First, in the Sources of the Self, he claims that an identity is a historical (narrative) artefact, spends fourfifths of the book outlining the historical roots of modern identity, and then essentially concludes that since all forms of modern identity are inextricably influenced by these roots, all forms of modern identity must obey the moral imperatives buried in this common identity. While he acknowledges that he has not proved the absolute necessity of his particular interpretation of modern identity, Taylor ‘hopes’ that what ‘emerges from this lengthy account of the growth of the modern identity is how all-pervasive it is, how much it envelops us, and how deeply we are implicated in it.’55 In Ethics of Authenticity, Taylor makes a second, related argument. There he relies not so much on a historical exegesis of the roots and influences of our modern identity but rather on an analysis of our contemporary beliefs to establish the commonness of our modern identity and the respect it is therefore due. He argues that we can see our common identity in the fact that we all share a certain moral ideal of authenticity that, while distorted in some, is ultimately grounded in a particular identity whose fundamental common sense, once clarified, leads us towards a single interpretation of authenticity. Hence, Taylor seeks to ‘understand the moral force behind notions of self-fulfilment,’ since ‘many people feel called to do this, feel they ought to do this, feel their lives would somehow be wasted or unfulfilled’ if they didn’t live up to this fundamental ideal of our modern identity.56 It is true that in this quotation Taylor says not ‘all people’ but ‘many

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people.’ Yet since he can make his articulation of the moral ideal of authenticity imperative only if he can show that it properly encompasses everyone who experiences the common sense of our modern identity, this ‘many’ implicitly takes on the rhetorical force of ‘all.’ Without that force, Taylor cannot convict ‘narcissist’ versions of selfchoice as a deviant, distorted ideal and press them to recognize his articulation of authenticity (as he does throughout Ethics of Authenticity).57 Elsewhere, he makes explicit the strong claim underlying this practical position.58 In his article ‘Foucault on Freedom and Truth,’ he wants to categorically disallow what (he misreads as) Foucault’s claim that we are able to entirely step outside common sense and its moral claims. According to Taylor, we must see common sense as an authoritative ground in itself, even if it isn’t independently and apodictically verifiable as in the model of the natural sciences: ‘it seems clear to me that there is a reality here. We have become certain things in Western civilization. Our humanitarianism, our notions of freedom ... have helped to define a political identity we share; and one which is deeply rooted in our more basic, seemingly infra-political understandings: of what it is to be an individual, of the person as a being with inner depths – all the features which seem to us to be rock-bottom, almost biological properties, so long as we refrain from looking outside, and experiencing the shock of encountering other cultures.’59 This is classic Taylor and almost perfectly reproduces the slide from theoretical modesty to practical dogmatism that is central to the Kantian Imperative. Theoretically, Taylor recognizes that this modern identity is not eternal, completely universal, or, therefore, incontestably transcendent. Yet practically, he wants to make it binding on those within the community. Hence his use of metaphors of naturalization – ‘rock-bottom,’ ‘almost biological,’ ‘infra-political’ – to suggest that these are, if not natural, at least deeply enough engraved to feel so. As contested and historical as they are, ‘they count for us. None of them can be simply repudiated in the political struggle.’60 We might struggle over their meaning, since the process is fundamentally interpretive, but we cannot step outside and ‘repudiate’ or even, it seems, challenge the terms of debate themselves. Practically, we are inextricably bound by the contours of our common identity. What is notable is the degree to which this logic parallels that of the Kantian Imperative’s strategy of common sense recognition. As we saw above, it is the inescapably common that defines our moral identity, but when we reconsider some of Taylor’s claims about the role of

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his ontological vision, we can now see that the role the logic of recognition also plays in this project. Consider the quotation we examined earlier: ‘Transcendental arguments thus have to formulate boundary conditions we can all recognize. Once they are properly formulated, we can see at once that they are valid. The thing is self-evident.’61 Whereas it previously seemed that Taylor was primarily making an ontological claim about the validity of transcendental arguments and that this manifests itself in the fact that we all recognized it, now it seems that it is this moment of recognition that guarantees the validity and authority of the transcendental argument. From this perspective, then, Taylor does not view Hegel’s model of Sittlichkeit as a site in which the truth of an ontological vision manifests itself. Rather, his entire mode of articulation embodies the logic of recognition central to a moral model of Sittlichkeit. It is telling, then, that when we return to many other apparently ontological claims that underlie the authority and necessity of a certain form of strong evaluation, we see that Taylor does not usually suggest that this necessity is granted because it is inescapable, but rather because we recognize it as inescapable.62 At one point in the Sources of the Self, he argues that we should pay attention to the role of hypergoods in moral thinking, not merely because it is ontologically necessary, but rather because ‘it would appear that we all recognize some such’ goods.63 Many of Taylor’s other formulations also follow this logic. Common Sense Recognition in Taylor’s Practical Reason If the role of common sense recognition is implicitly suggested in some of the formulations in Taylor’s historical examination of our common identity, he explicitly acknowledges its role at the heart of his vision of practical reason. His conception of practical reason is explored in the Sources of the Self, the Ethics of Authenticity, and ‘Explanation and Practical Reason,’ an article he considered including in Sources of the Self but decided to leave out because of the length of the book.64 According to Taylor, the grandest illusion of naturalism is the belief that ‘we ought to be able to convince people who share absolutely none of our basic moral intuitions of the justice of our cause’ and that therefore we cannot (and should not) rely on our ‘spontaneous moral reactions.’ There is no way to establish a moral position other than by relying on some degree of common sense: ‘I can only convince you by my

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description of the good if I speak for you, either by articulating what underlies your existing moral intuitions or perhaps by my description moving you to the point of making it your own.’65 In either case, he believes, he must share something in common, he must be able to ‘speak for you.’ Taylor believes that this is exactly what we do in our everyday moral reasoning: ‘How do we reason? Reason in moral matters is always reasoning with somebody ... you don’t reason from the ground up, as through you were talking to someone who recognized no moral demands whatever.’66 He suggests, in fact, that ‘a person who accepted no moral demands would be as impossible to argue with about right and wrong as would a person who refused to accept the world of perception around us would be impossible to argue with about empirical matters.’67 The analogy between our empirical perceptions and our moral common sense recognition is not coincidental. For Taylor believes that, just as we have certain common perceptions that allow us to test empirical claims, we also have a deep and moral identity that brokers moral disputes. In our context, he argues, ‘we are imagining discussing with people who are in the contemporary culture of authenticity [and modern identity]. And that means that they are trying to shape their lives in light of this ideal ... If we start from this ideal, then we can ask: what are the conditions in human life of realizing an ideal of this kind? And what does the ideal properly understood call for?’68 Thus, articulation is the paradoxical attempt to clarify – and bring to explicit recognition – what we already/must recognize. How does Taylor’s form of articulation establish its case? It ‘bring[s] to light something the interlocutor cannot repudiate.’69 What is the ‘something’ the interlocutor cannot repudiate? A clarified presentation of what we already dimly recognize: ‘What they appeal to in the interlocutor is not there, explicit at the outset, but has to be brought to light.’70 Both common sense recognition and articulation are crucial. For only articulation can ‘bring to light’ the depths of our common sense recognition that have been hidden, distorted, and confused by modern naturalist epistemology and certain misguided moral ideals. Here we can see how Taylor’s method resembles, but departs from, objectivist forms of moral realism. For Taylor, there is a common referent to which we all can refer to establish moral positions. Thus, articulation as moral analysis is similar to the act of taking a second glance to confirm perceptual impressions: when we perceive something ‘surprising, unsettling or seemingly wrong,’ we ‘stop, shake our heads,

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concentrate, set ourselves to command a good view and look again.’71 And Taylor wants us to react similarly in making moral judgments: when we encounter something surprising, unsettling, confused, or seemingly wrong, we need to check it against something else. Yet in contrast to both the naturalist and the objectivist view, Taylor contends that this ‘something else’ cannot be outside ourselves. This is a perceptual impossibility. What grounds our moral second glance then? The moral imperatives of the identity we recognize in our clarified common sense. Affective Common Sense In Taylor’s opinion, then, ‘the most reliable moral view is not one that would be grounded outside our intuitions, but one that is grounded on our strongest intuitions.’72 What form, exactly, does this moral intuition take? One form, as we saw above, is our conscious sense of our identity. Following a paradigmatic strategy of the Kantian Imperative, he extends this exploration and looks to another classic Kantian source of source of common sense recognition: affective moral common sense. Taylor appreciates that the deep plurality of late modernity has created a profound scepticism about the possibility of a single common sense.73 Given this context, he believes that another strategy might be necessary to clarify our common sense: ‘Where this is so, the issue of articulation can take another form. It is not merely formulating what people already implicitly but unproblematically acknowledge ... Rather it could be carried out by showing that one or another ontology is in fact the only adequate basis for our moral responses whether we recognize this or not.’74 Taylor’s account explicitly rests on an articulation of the visceral and affective intuitions of our common sense moral recognition. How are we sure that we all experience and rely on strong evaluation? Because we all feel admiration and respect or contempt and disgust in certain circumstances, and these emotions are inseparable from a framework of strong evaluation and the imperative image of morality. According to Taylor, ‘these emotions are bound up with our sense that there are higher and lower goals and activities. I would like to claim that if we did not mark these contrasts, if we did not have a sense of the incommensurably higher, then these emotions would have no place in our lives.’75 Since we all have these emotions, we all must share an imperative image of morality as strong evaluation. Moreover, Taylor suggests that our common moral affect allows us

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access to the substantive content of those frameworks as well: ‘Our subject-referring emotions open us to the domain of what it is to be human ... we see them as giving articulation to this domain.’ To make sense of their import, we need to articulate and interpret them explicitly, which can run the risk of altering them (since we are interpretive animals), but Taylor has faith that our affective common sense is relatively intransigent. Thus, while our articulations ‘are constitutive of our feelings, these cannot just be shaped at will by the account we offer them. On the contrary, an articulation purports to characterize a feeling; it is meant to be faithful to what is that moves us. There is a getting it right and getting it wrong in this domain.’76 According to Taylor, ‘our emotions make it possible for us to have a sense of what the good life is for a subject,’ and while sometimes using overly rationalist language to describe our ‘moral responses’ (e.g., he calls strong evaluations ‘assessments’), he explicitly asserts that they are more accurately described as ‘anchored in feelings, emotions, aspirations and could not motivate us unless they were.’77 It is our affective common sense that helps us to judge the morality of an act: ‘our moral revulsion before an act of spite is our affective awareness of the act as having an import of moral baseness.’78 Explicitly and theoretically articulating a system that expresses and clarifies our affective moral sense is therefore a crucial strategy for Taylor, and, given our examination of the influence of the imperative image of morality on his project, it is not surprising that he identifies humiliation/respect as the crucial common sense affection. According to Taylor, the fact we all judge according to strong evaluations and the imperative image of morality, is demonstrated by, and simultaneously makes sense of, the fact that ‘there is a dimension of human emotion, which we can all recognize, and which Kant again tried to articulate with his notion of Achtung, which we all feel before the moral law.’79 This, the degree to which the imperative image of morality and its strategies of common sense recognition are reproduced in Taylor’s thinking is clear. 4. The Interrelation of Ontology and Common Sense Recognition We can now see both the role that common sense and ontology play in Taylor’s work and the interrelationship between them. Recall the discussion of the parallel between Kant’s, Hegel’s, and Taylor’s Sittlichkeit. One of the paradoxes raised by the methods of common sense recognition and Sittlichkeit is that both encourage us to become some-

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thing that we already are – but are not. As Taylor articulates it, Sittlichkeit ‘provides a goal which is at the same time already realized, which is brought about and yet is.’80 The paradoxical element of this dual being/becoming of common sense recognition in Kant and Hegel is resolved by Kant’s supra-sensible/sensible divide and Hegel’s historical ontology of Geist. These mechanisms make coherent the existing (but not yet clarified) nature of this common sense and its authoritative (though imperfectly realized) status. Taylor, however, recognizes that neither position is tenable in late modernity. Furthermore, he understands that our actual modern common sense is divided and contested and that this means that (a) no single common sense is currently unproblematically recognized by all and (b) it has even become possible to ask why any single common sense should be viewed as authoritative. Yet Taylor still wants to derive certain imperatives from his analysis of common sense. This is why both ontology and common sense are required in Taylor’s project. Taylor wants to claim that common sense is authoritative for us because we must rely on it in our language and for our existence as autonomous beings. Since it is necessary for our existence, we must ascribe it imperative value and take steps to reproduce it and its conditions. Yet the necessity of this claim relies on (and embodies) Taylor’s ontological vision, and, as he makes clear, the prime difference between his ontology and that of naturalism is that the latter does not appreciate the role of common sense and thus does not recognize the imperative force of its various modes. The issue is this: while common sense is an indispensable resource for Taylor’s practical reason, an examination of common sense through a naturalist (or other nonTaylorian) ontology will not lead us to an authoritative common sense or to the particular imperatives that emerge from our historically modern version of it. Similarly, Taylor’s ontology can help to ensure our recognition of that common sense, but it, too, fails to be compelling unless we already share that common sense. Appealing to our common sense recognition and articulating an ontological vision are thus two parts of a double strategy that seeks to buttress the persuasiveness of each element by reference to the other, eventually creating a virtuous cycle that will persuade us to accept the imperative image of morality. Taylor’s analysis of affective common sense and moral feelings leads him (and, he hopes, us) to a particular ontology of the moral law, individual will, language, and community. This ontology is then used to purify the distortions of contemporary

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common sense by encouraging us to understand our own common identity exclusively in terms that recognize the authority of common sense. In return, this newly purified common sense then buttresses Taylor’s articulation of the imperative image of morality by ensuring that our self-examination (undertaken through the lens of his affectively guaranteed ontology) has little choice but to recognize the authority of Taylor’s articulation of common sense recognition. If we accept his initial model of affective common sense, we are predisposed to accept his ontological vision; once we share his ontological vision of the authoritative value of common sense recognition, it is difficult to avoid recognizing the imperative force of his moral vision. This is why Taylor thinks we need both correct ontology (map) and common sense recognition in ethical thinking: ‘orientation in moral space turns out again to be similar to orientation in physical space. We know where we are through a mixture of recognition of landmarks before us and a sense of how we have traveled to get here.’81 We need an awareness of the key moral landmarks of affective common sense so that we might trace it into a more accurate and systematic map (ontology). Moreover, we need just this moral common sense later, so that we can properly orient this ontological map when we try to use it. But we need the ontological map, however, because relying on our primary common sense affective moral intuitions is imprecise and inefficient – we may sometimes misinterpret them. A well-articulated map more clearly marks the landmarks of our common sense. By clarifying our initial common sense, then, an ontological map gives us more precise and faster moral recognition, allowing us to more efficiently and correctly traverse complex moral situations. Without moral common sense, we cannot have morality. But without an ontological map, chances are that we will ignore, distort, mis-recognize, or disobey these intuitions and end up far from where Taylor thinks we should be. Both ontology and common sense recognition are required to secure his vision. Once we see this intimate relationship between ontology and common sense recognition, it is easy to understand why Taylor is often accused of insinuating a theistic transcendent ground and failing to ‘find the values to sustain social life within the practices of social life itself.’82 Because he forwards an imperative image of morality and uses ontology to do so, many perceive him to be just another articulation of the well-worn pattern of strong ontology. While I agree that we should be concerned by elements of Taylor’s project, it is important to under-

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stand that it is not simply a theist, strong ontology. For the fact that Taylor uses both ontology and common sense means that his project may be more helpful to late-modern thinking than some would suggest and that we need to challenge it in a different way than if it were simply strong ontology 5. Common Sense Expression or Cultivating Commonality: Who Are We? Who Might We Become? It’s not where you come from; it’s more where you’re going And knowing the going might get strange. ~ Mighty Mighty Bosstones83

If we want to challenge the necessity of Taylor’s imperative image of morality, we might contest his project at three crucial points. First, we can question whether Taylor’s initial analysis of affective common sense is (a) necessarily exclusive, authoritative and binding in theory and (b) if so, whether his particular articulation is substantively correct (or whether Nietzsche’s counter-analysis of moral affect is a credible contending view).84 Secondly, we might ask whether our contemporary common sense can actually be boiled down to a single authoritative identity or whether the project of establishing an imperative image of morality from our late-modern common identity is more problematic than that. Finally, we might question the incontestability of Taylor’s ontological vision of common sense. In particular, we might examine the critical role that the concepts of expression and creation play in affirming the authority of common sense and ask whether this is defensible and desirable I have looked at the first question in relation to Habermas in the previous chapter. Suffice it to say that I think that Taylor has not managed to show conclusively that Nietzsche’s genealogy is an impossible reading of the history and status of our affective common sense, which means that Taylor’s analysis of affective common sense is a possible, but not imperative, interpretation. This is an important issue because it means that Taylor’s ontology, his analyses of common sense, and his concomitant articulation of the moral imperatives of modern identity are profoundly contestable. The second question, whether our late-modern common sense is actually sufficiently unified to give us a single ‘ranking of goods’ with which to negotiate the ‘dilemmas’ (Taylor’s term) of late modernity,

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has been noted by others (although in slightly different terms than those I would use).85 Stated briefly, my main critique here would be that although Taylor theoretically acknowledges that contemporary common sense is divided, as soon as it becomes at issue practically, he usually holds that we can see a single basic commonality if we look deep enough. Although Taylor sometimes treats this response as a conclusion of his examination of our modern identity, I suspect that it is also a fundamental assumption that structures his thinking. It is not clear, however, that this assumption is compelling. There are a variety of philosophers as diverse as Lucretius, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Deleuze, and Connolly who do not share Taylor’s assumption that a community or identity is best understood as a text-analogue whose various divisions are merely surface ripples underpinned by a deep commonality. From these other perspectives, the divisions of late modernity that he portrays as merely superficial appear as equally, if not more, profound than the depth commonality. For those who side with these contending visions, Taylor’s attempt to derive an imperative image of morality from common sense appears not only as a contestable articulation of the role of political theory, but also as a model that imposes a deeply inauthentic and inappropriate projection on our moral and social condition. I will deal with this second issue to some degree in the remainder of the chapter. However, I want to focus primarily on the third question by examining some underplayed elements in Taylor’s ontology. For I believe that this ontology actually contains certain ideas which, if intensified, could challenge the influence of the Kantian Imperative and inspire Taylor's project to address some of the key ethical issues raised by the deep plurality and contestability of late-modernity. The Strengths of Expressive Common Sense Central to Taylor’s ontology is an ‘expressivist’ theory of language and identity. He argues that our identity (who we are) is not merely the result of our own choices but is formed by ideas, practices, claims, communal understandings, and webs of meaning that precede and shape subjectivity. For Taylor, an identity is as much an expression of these elements as it is the product of the desires and choices of the subject. Playing up the expressivist element of identity makes possible two things. First, it allows Taylor to discuss non-subjective imperatives that are nonetheless ‘resonant’ in the modern subject. Secondly, it allows

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him to trace these imperatives to a hidden source within the subject itself. Here, the method of Ethics of Authenticity is instructive. Our identity is represented as the purified expression (as a coherent moral ideal) of the various practices, ideals, and self-understandings in which we exist and without which we would not be who we are. According to Taylor’s logic, we must strive to more authentically express this moral ideal in our everyday existence. His logic thus puts a strong emphasis on expression as the proper mode of ethical identity formation. In fact, we might see Taylor’s reliance on the notion of expression as a necessary corollary to his strategy of common sense recognition. For the logic of expression is related closely to that of common sense recognition. We recognize certain imperatives lodged in our common sense and then we attempt to more fully and authentically express them in our actual character and action. This is not expression in a cosmological or transcendent sense. Taylor’s arguments do not rest on the idea that our modern identity must be attuned to God, for example, but he does claim that we need to attune ourselves to and better express our identity and common sense. If Taylor emphasizes the expressivist dimension of identity, however, he is also careful to acknowledge the importance of the creative moment in identity formation. Theoretically, he does appreciate that the subject is not merely a passive expression of the web of language, but also an active builder of that web. Language is ‘always more than we can encompass,’ but it is also constantly being re-created and transformed. Thus, language ‘is open to being continuously recreated in speech, continually extended altered and reshaped. And this is what is constantly happening. Men are constantly reshaping language, straining the limits of expression, minting new terms, displacing old ones, giving language a changed gamut of meanings.’86 Taylor is sometimes equally sanguine about the creative dimension of our historical identity. He acknowledges, for example, that a publicly shared, divinely guaranteed cosmology capable of grounding a morality of attunement has been rendered impossible by modernity.87 He suggests that modern moral imperatives inescapably involve a subjective dimension even as they express non-subjectivist imperatives.88 He also appreciates that the public sphere is (a) a process of construction in addition to being an expression of a prior common identity and (b) fundamentally self-constituting and therefore potentially transformable at some point in the future.89

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Concentrating on the expressivist element of common sense leads Taylor to a number of important insights that correct some troubling tendencies in contemporary theory. One of Taylor’s most significant contributions to political theory, for example, is showing that the predominantly procedural and liberal question (What inalienable rights does each of us hold as an individual?) makes it difficult to ask an equally important question: Under what conditions, if any, should certain social goods outweigh certain individual rights?90 Much of Taylor’s writing on political theory seeks to show that in a liberal democracy we balance individual rights and social goods all the time. The right to contribute to political campaigns against the need to avoid ceding politics to the rich and powerful. The right to free speech against the reality that many forms of speech and advertising produce destructive dispositions towards women. The right to freedom of religion (or not to have religion) against the perceived need to instil greater cultural cohesion. The right to civil liberties and privacy against calls for increased government surveillance and powers of incarceration in the light of the threat of terrorism. There are no easy answers here. Taylor would not argue that ‘social goods’ should win every time. However, he would argue that simply falling back onto a discourse of individual rights or social goods is far too restrictive. We might very well support more campaign finance regulation in the name of the social good of participation but resist those who push for a more restrictive immigration policy in the name of the social good of national security. By revealing that procedural liberalism too often underplays the intensity, frequency, and importance of these trade-offs, Taylor highlights the potential danger of too quickly prioritizing individual rights in our haste to avoid the dangers of communal authority. Thus, he argues powerfully for the importance of explicitly asking the question of social goods each time we consider individual rights. Taylor’s perspective also has the important effect of highlighting a number of weaknesses in what might be called the ‘thin secularism’ of liberalism.91 We have already seen that there are at least two ways to address ontological questions in political theory: strong and weak ontology. However, the predominant method of dealing with ontological questions in contemporary political theory is through the thin secularism of liberal proceduralism. John Rawls, its most famous proponent, in Political Liberalism essentially argues that political thought should avoid ontological discussions of the good, the self, and so on, both because we should never seek to eliminate the ‘fact of plu-

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rality’ and because public discussion of these issues only intensifies disagreements and clouds our ability to come to a political, and just, resolution. In charging that even Rawls’s thin secularism also implicitly asks and answers ontological questions, Taylor shows that liberal proceduralism cannot – in practice – ignore the relevance and power of moral sources. Taylor’s critique of Rawls on this dimension is compelling. The power of his critique is strengthened by the fact that a growing number of non-communitarian theorists are equally critical of thin secularism as a political and theoretical solution. William Connolly (though he disagrees with many other elements of Taylor’s project) has shown that the secularist attempt to erase the public role of religious belief (for example) doesn’t necessarily resolve or eliminate the problems of fundamentalism.92 Connolly shows, in fact, that secularism’s disavowal of the public relevance of ontology (whether it be religious faith or other pre-metaphysical dispositions) can often reinforce and intensify fundamentalism by creating resentment, frustration, and insecurity among constituencies who see this disavowal as liberalism’s hidden and illegitimate intolerance. Taylor’s attunement to the ‘common’ and the moral has played an important role in identifying some of these issues. Despite these positive insights, Taylor’s excessive focus on an expressivist common sense creates significant problems as well. For, although he appreciates the creative element of subjectivity in theory, he rarely extends his theoretical appreciation of the creative element of identity formation to his practical moral position. When it comes to asking how we should live, Taylor answers almost exclusively by employing the logic of expression and common sense moral realism. He rarely, if ever, asks which elements of our moral identity are amenable to and in need of transformation, so that we might live together ethically. In practice, he generally assumes that the only ethically relevant questions are ‘Who are we?’ and ‘How might we most authentically express the moral ideal at the core of that identity?’ We might have some creative influence on meaning, but when it comes to moral ideals, we must express the legacy our moral languages bequeath us. Modern subjectivity might change the way in which we recognize non-subjective (i.e., hermeneutically objective) goods, but not the force of their call. We might participate in the construction of ourselves as gendered or ethnic subjects, but ethics is the discovery and recognition of imperatives embedded in a historically shaped identity that runs very deep.

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These tendencies are problematic for at least two important reasons. First, if neither the Kantian Imperative nor any of its contemporary variants is likely to encounter (or universally cultivate) the strong common sense recognition they assume, Taylor’s project runs the risk of actually intensifying one of the key modern problem he seeks to diagnosis and resolve.93 Second, the strong philosophical defence of common sense risks creating a defence of patriotism that would have difficulty in challenging more virulent and dangerous forms of jingoism. The Limit of Common Sense: Fragmentation Let us begin with the first reason. Even in his recent work on the public sphere – a concept that highlights the common as a creative achievement rather than a recognized expression – Taylor tends to present it as a place where we should express our common sense.94 Rather than explore the ways in which the public sphere creates and transforms various identities and communities within a ‘meta-topical’ community, he attempts to secure a single, common identity according from which the logic of common sense recognition and expression might extract binding moral imperatives. This has repercussions for Taylor’s moral and political thinking. On the face of it, his discussions of multicultural recognition and the public sphere and his defence of a version of communitarian liberalism (which appreciates the value of broad tolerance and multicultural recognition as constitutive goods) seem to be far removed from his earlier positions, in which he seemed to assume that a pure common national identity is required for the health of moral and political institutions.95 Yet on closer inspection, in his recent positions he still seems to assume and require a singularly common identity. He now claims that republicanism is the only viable model of free self-government. Why? Because republicanism not only allows and encourages vigorous debate and participation by its citizens but because it combines them with (and cultivates) an ongoing concern with establishing and preserving a common identity: ‘Mobilization occurs around common identities.’96 True – Taylor does appreciate that the public sphere is a site in which our common sense is articulated, reflected upon, and in this sense formed. We do not simply clarify our common identity; public opinion, once established, is supposed to ‘reflect an actively produced consensus.’ Yet in practice, he consistently focuses on the commonality of the

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act itself and the common identity/sense that is produced through it. What is unique about the liberal public sphere according to Taylor? Not that we create various identities and develop them against others. Rather, it is that we express our common sense. For example, we are to ‘elaborate our convictions in a common act of definition’ and ‘come to a common mind about important matters.’ While the public sphere is guaranteed by nothing more transcendent than its own existence and our recognition of it, then, ‘what the public sphere does is to enable the society to reach a common mind without the mediation of the political sphere.’97 In other words, it allows the establishment of a self-governing and self-constituting common sense that grounds and establishes certain moral and political imperatives. On Taylor’s analysis, one of the central problems with modern society is that it has lost any ability to recognize this common sense, and thus it cannot inspire its members to recognize the value of anything other than pure self-interest and individual (or small group) identity. His solution is to try to clarify a fully unified common sense that we should embrace and express. Many (myself included) would agree that modern western societies demonstrate worrying tendencies towards atomistic individualism (as opposed to affirmative individuality); that public and civic decisions are overly influenced by unrepresentative, narrow interests (perhaps most notably by large corporate interests); and that a critical politics should strive to transform this situation. Before we strive to fix the situation by re-forging a unified common sense, however, we might want to ask whether this fragmentation actually is due to the loss of a common sense? Taylor assumes that the normal case is one in which an unbroken common sense pervades society and that any situation that fails to express a sufficiently robust common sense must be in crisis. But is this self-evidently the case? I believe it is not. We might just as easily say that fragmentation is a problem not because we have lost a common sense and identity but rather because our society has failed to create institutions, rights, and regulations that would be sufficiently inclusive that they would inspire individuals and groups to come together. Taylor often suggests that anyone who doesn’t share his vision of the common is necessarily either a nihilist relativist or a self-interested, rational actor, atomistic liberal. But there are other perspectives that appreciate his critique of procedural liberalism without believing that a common sense perspective can best diagnose or solve it. Thinkers as diverse as Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, William Connolly, Jane Bennett, Stephen White, Romand Coles, Paul Patton, James

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Tully, and others all might be understood as exploring contending, uncommon sense visions of democracy that also seek to address the problems of fragmentation. From these perspectives, democracy is possible not because we all share a common sense and a common identity, or participate in a single common public sphere through which a single common mind is formed. They suggest, instead, that democracy is the ongoing creation of bonds of community as well as the resistance to, re-articulation, and retrieval of various practices and ideals. In their view, the task we face is not to express a pre-existing common sense, but instead to trace possible lines of convergence and divergence between groups and to cultivate particular virtues, tactics, strategies, and sensibilities that will allow us to live together in an ethical manner. To be sure, this is a difficult task. But it is certainly no more difficult than Taylor’s attempt to create a single, unified common sense. Moreover, if Taylor’s assumptions about the common sense basis of communities are wrong – if communities are not ontologically defined by a united common sense – then his solution will most likely have the effect of only intensifying the problem he identifies. If we share Nietzsche’s, Foucault’s, Deleuze’s, or even Berlin’s or Arendt’s vision of a community as fundamentally characterized by deep plurality, then the attempt to mould it into a singularity is not only illegitimate, it is also likely to intensify the divisions. Imposing a common sense that reflects some, but not all, of that plurality will only encourage resistance, extremism, and further fragmentation in groups that perceive themselves as excluded. The Limits of Common Sense: Patriotic Fundamentalism Taylor’s excessive privileging of expressive common sense also leads to a second problem: the fact that his project is poorly equipped to identify – and actively work against – those moments when group identities begin to slide into dangerously exclusive and aggressive forms. Here, his comments on patriotism are instructive. He is explicit that any community, even if liberal, requires an active sense of patriotism – the political manifestation of our identification with common sense. Patriotism is not simply the fact of ‘converging moral principles’ but the experience and recognition of ‘a common allegiance to a particular historical community. Cherishing and sustaining this has to be a common goal ... patriotism involves, beyond convergent values, a love of the particular.’ In this view, patriotism is not only a ‘fact’ we experi-

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ence but a sensibility we have a duty to cultivate. ‘Sustaining this specific historical set of institutions and forms is and must be a socially endorsed common end.’98 Taylor’s defence of patriotism is thus the political analogue of the moral logic of common sense recognition. While he also links this patriotic spirit to political institutions and citizenship, he clearly believes that the political identity required is much thicker than the thin version Habermas forwards. Unlike Habermas, he believes that the nation remains uniquely relevant to political identity.99 For patriotism, according to Taylor, is ‘a common identification with a historical community founded on certain values.’100 It is thus not surprising that Taylor’s political ideal, like his moral ideal of common sense, is suspicious of certain types of un-common sense. Liberalism, Taylor thinks, can allow divergence on only certain issues; the liberal state ‘can indeed be neutral between (a) believers and non-believers in God, or between (b) people with homo- and hetero- sexual orientations.’ These are not issues at the heart of our common identity, he believes. But liberalism cannot be complacent against those whose common sense fundamentally threatens to infect and challenge the common identity we must necessarily hold for us to extract certain moral and political imperatives. Thus, ‘it cannot be [neutral] between (c) patriots and anti-patriots,’ which explains why ‘a questioning of the value of patriotism is so profoundly un-American’ as to be as ‘close to unthinkable as a public act.’101 I agree that liberalism cannot be neutral on all questions. Moreover, patriotism – like many types of group identifications – can have a positive side to it. It can, for instance, encourage a sense of responsibility for less fortunate fellow citizens. However, a thick notion of patriotism is also accompanied by a very real danger: that the identity/difference dynamic can easily slide from a healthy one into a dangerously intolerant and ressentiment-laden one that views difference as ‘evil’ and that seeks to violently create impossible levels of purity within and outside the group. Taylor might agree that there are times when it is ethically productive to challenge particular elements of patriotism as inauthentic (i.e., that positions portrayed as patriotic are actually destructive of those values patriotism seeks to protect). But how easily can his project acknowledge the possibility that we should sometimes also call for a rejection of the very logic of patriotism? My worry is that Taylor’s approach – with its expressive logic of common sense recognition and its political analogue of thick cultural identity and patriotism – makes

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it unduly difficult to identify this possibility and resist those dangers. For, once we see the ground of political and moral stability as a common identity, then anyone who belongs to our community but does not share that identity necessarily appears as an anti-patriot in that she challenges the unanimity of common sense recognition. She need not necessarily be devoted to overthrowing that common identity in its entirety or destroying the social, political, and/or moral fabric. On the logic of common sense recognition, even a patriot (in her own mind) who wants, for ethical or political reasons, to challenge certain elements of common sense betrays the community.102 According to its logic, you cannot both be a patriot and articulate your position and aspirations outside the model of common sense. As we have seen in recent world events, the cost of using terms of debate that make it difficult to challenge this patriotic common sense is far too high. After 9/11, ‘questioning the value of patriotism’ became so profoundly un-American that virtually no one could challenge dominant, common sense representations of the ‘war on terror.’ It became so un-American that the hosts of political talk shows could be fired if they suggested that America might be, in some minor way, implicated in the causes of terrorism. It became so un-American that even the legitimate expression of anti-war sentiment over Iraq was viewed as akin to treason. It became so un-American that the practices of racial profiling – which were previously viewed as an anathema to democratic equality – were now openly justified as necessary and positive tools for national security. It became so un-American that rights previously declared as fundamental human rights (e.g., the right not to be tortured) were justified not only by right-wing pundits, but by senior members of the White House as well. Taylor himself has voiced concern about many of these issues. He has stated that he was against unilateral U.S. intervention in Iraq and would have preferred the more traditional methods of deterrence and containment and has suggested that U.S. citizens should be ‘very wary of any erosion of due process’ that has taken place through the Patriot Act (even though he did suggest that some alterations to due process might be appropriate).103 He also explicitly warned against the use of the metaphor, ‘war on terrorism,’ since it blinded people to the many complex issues at play. The problem is not that Charles Taylor personally supports an overly robust version of patriotism. Rather, the problem is that the logic of Taylor’s philosophy (a) potentially enables a version of patrio-

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tism that can easily slip into more aggressive forms with little provocation, (b) does not provide sufficient resources to help us to identify when this slippage might occur and what we can do to prevent it, and (c) creates a logic of philosophical justification that makes it difficult to contest popular appeals to common sense patriotism in circumstances one does not support. Thick common sense philosophies run the risk of enabling and justifying common sense identities – whether or not it is a conscious objective. In our current context, this is a risk we cannot afford. Taking (Creative) Liberties with Taylor Does this mean that Taylor’s moral and political analysis is intractably tainted by the Kantian Imperative? Not necessarily. I believe, in fact, that if we highlight certain ideas in Taylor’s own thought, they might be used to counteract those elements that are influenced by the Kantian Imperative. One place to start, I believe, is by highlighting and exploring the creative element that Taylor often underplays. For, as we saw earlier, he thinks that we must understand the important role of both creation and expression in identity. In the Ethics of Authenticity, he excoriates Derrida, Foucault, ‘and their followers’ for ‘forgetting about one whole set of demands on authenticity while focusing exclusively on another.’ The problem with the ‘trendy doctrines of “deconstruction”’ is that they stress ‘the constructive creative nature of our expressive languages’ while forgetting its expressive nature, which ‘binds us to others.’ According to Taylor, an authentic ontology of our modern moral identity requires us to appreciate both elements: ‘Briefly we can say that authenticity involves (i) creation and construction as well as discovery, (ii) originality and frequently (iii) opposition to the rules of society and even potentially to what we recognize as morality. But it is also true, as we saw, that it requires (i) openness to horizons of significance (for otherwise the creation loses the background that can save it from insignificance) and (ii) a self-definition in dialogue.’104 What would happen if Taylor took his own advice seriously and focused equally on the creative and the expressive dimensions he identifies? First, common sense recognition could no longer be automatically authoritative simply because it is deeply entrenched. For common sense would appear to be as much created as it is expressive. Its historical and social embeddedness would then appear merely as a factor to consider, rather than an authoritative imperative. Secondly,

Taylor’s Common Sense Ontology


unburdened by an exclusive focus on expression, Taylor’s examination of our modern identity might find that many contending common senses exist, even at the meta-topical level. Rather than convict all other contenders of ‘deviancy,’ Taylor’s thought might instead consider how some or all of these common senses might enter into productive, though perhaps agonistic, relations with the others (even while tensions between them remained). This ethos, in turn, would challenge the idea that the imperative image of morality as an ideal is the sole legitimate model of ethics and politics. For if we conceptualize common sense as partially constructed and always multiple, no single common sense would have either the stability or the unity to guarantee an imperative image of morality. Establishing a better balance between expression and creation in Taylor’s practical thinking would therefore call into question his articulation of his moral project according to the logic of the imperative image of morality and common sense recognition. This might not leave Taylor’s philosophical project as disoriented as he might fear. For a different balance would open up other possibilities in Taylor’s work that are largely suppressed by his disposition to the imperative image of morality. For example, it might allow him to shift the primary question of ethical thinking and thus find parallels in, and even sustenance from, the thought of various thinkers he currently dismisses.105 For if common sense recognition is not taken as incontestably authoritative, then even on Taylor’s logic, the question of ethics – How should we live? – can no longer be determined by the answer to the questions: ‘Who are we?’ or ‘What does who we are allow us to strive to be?’ Without the dogmatic practical emphasis on expression as the defining mode of articulation, the questions of ethics might equally be: ‘What might we make ourselves?’ ‘What might we become?’ Or, to put it in Foucaultian terminology, ‘Given the limits of our present subjectivity, how might we transgress those limits productively and what new modes of ethico-politico sensibilities might this bring into being/make possible?’106 Moreover, this set of questions need not posit, as Taylor thinks it must, the ‘incoherent’ goals of disengaged atomism, aesthetic self-indulgence, or ‘endless self-creation’ or ‘absolute freedom.’107 For Foucault, Deleuze, and Nietzsche neither view us as infinitely plastic nor do they suppose that transforming our ethical second natures is easy. All three, in fact, acknowledge the intense difficulty of working on the self at both micro and macro levels. Moreover, all three acknowledge that the very attempt to transgress (or as Deleuze puts it,

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‘tilt’) the assemblage is a potentially dangerous undertaking that must be pursued cautiously. The irony of Taylor’s vitriolic attacks on Foucault and Nietzsche (and presumably Deleuze) is that all four share some important common ground. Foucault, Nietzsche, and Deleuze, like Taylor, appreciate the importance of a critical, post-Kantian, engaged, and political ontology that acknowledge the depth and weight of ‘who we are.’ Much of each of their thought, of course, shows that ‘who we are’ is defined and determined by a much larger set of practices and habits than naturalism understands. They are thus all neo-Kantians, insofar as they appreciate the importance of the background and the (radically historical and cultural) ‘transcendental’ conditions of subjectivities and identities. On the other hand, the difference between these thinkers and Taylor lies in the way they react to the implicit valorization of the imperative image of morality and the authority of common sense recognition. Taylor accepts the Kantian Imperative’s position that common sense should be accorded authority and that this allows us to retain the ideal of the imperative image of morality as the model of ethico-politico thinking. Nietzsche, Foucault, Deleuze, and others, while recognizing the weight of historico-transcendental conditions, deny that they are as necessary, unalterable, and authoritative as Kant, Habermas, and Taylor believe. If we play up these parallels, a second possibility might emerge for Taylor’s thought. Rather than picturing common sense as a necessary and an authoritative fact or as an incontestable ideal, Taylor might instead highlight its relative value. Here, he would still find much to disagree on with Foucault and others. But rather than dismissing them as unrecognizable incoherence, Taylor might instead engage them in debate by arguing that their approach is insufficiently attentive to the importance of common sense and to the task of creating common spaces and relations. If he took this route, he might have to abandon his conceptualization of the public sphere as the site of the common sense expression of a single common identity. But he could still view the public sphere as an important site in which various common senses attempt to craft islands of commonality. A significant benefit of this approach would be the fact that Taylor’s project would now help to highlight the spaces between contending ethical systems as important sites of ethical engagement. No longer would those differences be seen as imperfections to be overcome through the recognition/establishment of a common moral and politi-

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cal identity. Instead, they would be seen as explicit and fundamental sites of engagement, whose negotiation must be undertaken, and the creation of tools, strategies and sensibilities to navigate this arena would become a critical task of moral and political thinking. Taylor’s method of articulation, then, might remain an important strategy of moral and political thinking. At times it might help to create new links between various identities, or it might help more clearly to identify exactly how two groups disagree so that they might be able to mitigate their worst differences and find new avenues of compromise. Yet Taylor’s project could no longer assume that articulation would settle all differences by finding the common identity beneath our disagreements. For in late modernity, asking ‘who are we’ gives rise to many answers, based on a variety of moral sources that point to a variety of moral conclusions. Thus, theoretical articulation of our identity might be a crucial prerequisite for some identities in the moral domain, but it could not effectively negotiate all our ‘common’ problems. Rather than an authoritative rendering of who we are and what we must do, articulation might best be repositioned as one strategy (among many) for cultivating important islands of commonality in a context of contending ethical sensibilities and moral identities. Taylor’s work, I think, is not altogether hostile to these possibilities. First, his hermeneutic approach might be able to view its own practices of cultivation more modestly – as one approach among many. Given that he appreciates the importance of cultivation, this idea might not appear as outlandish for him as it would for other thinkers. Secondly, while Taylor ultimately defines the telos of the public sphere as the establishment of common identity, he also appreciates the republican valorization of multiple, decentralized, local nodes of self-rule and debate. If voluntary associations and local public spheres ‘are to be real loci of self rule,’ he thinks, ‘they have to be non-gigantic and numerous, and exist at many levels of the polity.’108 In Taylor’s work, these local nodes are still defined by the logic of common sense, since they are usually figured as unitary. It would not be impossible, however, to stretch this decentralized view into a more flexible and mobile vision of multiple, contested common senses once the imperative image of morality and its valuation of common sense recognition no longer govern his thinking. Stretching this decentralized view into a perspective that appreciates both the expressive and creative elements of identity formulation not only would address some of the theoretical problems, it might also

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help Taylor in his attempt to negotiate the complexity of modern ethico-political relationships – for example, the question of how to productively resolve the federal relationship between Quebec and Canada. If we follow Taylor in assuming that we must be who we already truly are, if we agree that our identity is largely fixed by common sense recognition and a common identity, then the long-term future of Canada and Quebec looks bleak (even if it is on an even keel right now). For Taylor is right that the last several decades of tension not only have created strong feelings of acrimony and distrust between English Canada and Quebec but also have succeeded in creating mutually defensive identities (primed to see disrespect and bad faith in the actions of the other) that define themselves in contrast to one another. According to Taylor, this means that Canadians face a dilemma: since we clearly do not have a single, common identity (for, even if Canada and Quebec share a constitution, Taylor rightly suggests that Quebec’s understanding of liberalism is very different from that of the rest of Canada), we can either separate or try to negotiate a balance between the communal identity of Quebec and the more individualist vision of the rest of Canada by recognizing the distinct status of Quebec. We have seen how these options have played out in the light of the dissonant identities still operative in Canada. Few in English Canada want the former option, but many are unwilling to allow the latter. It is far from clear that a majority of Québécois support categorical separation, but considering English Canada’s opposition to the possibility of distinct status, many are inclined to consider it as a real option. Taylor thinks that, ‘in principle,’ his approach might allow a ‘vicious circle [to] be turned into a virtuous circle.’ He is willing to bet that ‘debate on certain kinds of issues, which foregrounds common goals, even with radical disagreements about the means, can help to make the sense of political community more vivid and thus offset the tendency of deep political divisions to paint the adversary as devoted to utterly alien values.’109 On the issue of Canada and Quebec, this makes him both pessimistic at times (insofar as it does not seem to be working) and even more insistent that what we lack is genuine common discussion (which explains why it is not working).110 One of the dangers with this strategy, however, is that it is basically an all or nothing bet. If we do not already recognize a deep commonality and our explicit debate in the common public sphere does not manage to inspire it, Taylor’s model of community as commonality only heightens the likelihood of fragmentation. Even if we do not demonize

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one another, we must conclude, based on parts of Taylor’s own thinking, that we are different communities, who might learn from each other but who should be separate until we have established such a common identity. What we need instead, I believe, is the attempt to create islands of commonality by engaging these contending identities and perspectives from a position that does not presume a common sense deep behind it. Perhaps, for example, there are both actual and potential links between the Canadian and Québécois identities that fall between the depths of Taylor’s thick common sense and the superficiality of procedural self-interest. I agree with Taylor’s critique of the latter, but as a practical model of engagement oriented by the imperative image of morality and common sense recognition, his approach seems fated to reproduce and even intensify the very pressures it seeks to reduce. There are indications that Taylor’s thinking has begun to move away from his more rigid tendencies in his thinking in relation to Canada. He has suggested, for example, that if we are to ‘build a country for everyone, Canada would have to allow for second-level or “deep” diversity, in which a plurality of ways of belonging would also be acknowledged and accepted.’ He therefore calls on us to ‘recognize this now and take the road of deep diversity together.’111 Perhaps, then, Taylor might agree with my general contention that we need to cultivate various lines, commonalities, and differences between Quebec and Canada that are in excess of the deep identity he sometimes portrays as singularly important. In order to explore these possibilities, however, we need first to more fully excavate and challenge the influence of the Kantian Imperative in contemporary thinking.

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The Post-9/11 Kantian Imperative

Such an ‘event’ [11 September] surely calls for a philosophical response. Better, a response that calls into question, at their most fundamental level, the most deep-seated conceptual presuppositions in philosophical discourse. The concepts with which this ‘event’ has most often been described, named, categorized are the products of a ‘dogmatic slumber’ from which only a new philosophical reflection can awaken us, a reflection on philosophy, most notably on political philosophy and its heritage ~ Jacques Derrida1

In the preceding chapters, I have argued both that the Kantian Imperative is an important influence in political and ethical thought and that its assumptions, goals, and strategies are ultimately highly problematic and contestable. While I’ve examined a variety of these philosophical tendencies, however, I have not explored in detail the way the Kantian Imperative can also influence concrete ethical and political judgments. In other words, I have not explored the way that these macro strategies can manifest themselves in specific policy and ‘advocacy’ issues (to use Taylor’s phrase). I strongly agree, however, with the sentiment captured in the quote that opens this epilogue. While I am wary of reproducing the ‘9/11 changed the world’ thesis and might thus prefer to broaden the idea to suggest that the most important political questions always call for a philosophical response, I believe that our examination of the Kantian Imperative is particularly relevant for a critical interrogation of post-9/11 U.S. politics. I therefore want to close this book with a brief examination of exactly this question. For, when the influence of the Kantian Imperative does trickle down to this level, it can

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inspire dangerous and counter-productive policy recommendations. More hopeful, however, is the fact that some projects influenced by the Kantian Imperative manage to resist some of its logic and forward more defensible positions. Thus, I am cheerfully pessimistic that highlighting and exploring this ambivalence might help these projects to challenge more effectively the influence of the Kantian Imperative and instead develop their most admirable elements. I do not pretend that the preliminary analyses of this epilogue should be the last word on these issues. In many ways, the epilogue points to another project – one that explores in more detail the influence of the Kantian Imperative on the concrete ethical judgments of contemporary thought. However, the goal of political theory cannot be simply to offer definitive answers. Political thought also needs to be experimental and speculative if it is to spark new thinking and renewed debate. As such, this epilogue concludes the book by tentatively noting and exploring some of the concrete ethical and political implications of the Kantian Imperative in the hope that this will encourage debate and more detailed analysis in the future. One concrete ethical and political issue that is particularly relevant to our discussion of the Kantian Imperative is the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq, which began in 2003. In many ways, the global debate that accompanied the decision to go to war was focused to a remarkable degree on ethical questions (e.g., about whether the war could be justified, the conditions under which it could be legitimate, the actions and behaviour that were ethically defensible). Not surprisingly, Kant’s philosophy was often invoked as a valuable guide on these questions; it was used by many theorists to forward thoughtful and powerful critiques of some of the actions taken. One of the key questions I want to explore in this epilogue is what happens to our estimation of the utility of Kant’s philosophy on these questions in the light of the role of the Kantian Imperative? Specifically, I want to ask whether Kant’s philosophy offers a sufficiently insightful diagnosis and a sufficiently powerful critique of the tactics of humiliation employed in the conflict and their deeper philosophical causes. Let me be clear. Important elements of Kant’s philosophy would be horrified by the actions we will examine below, and contemporary theorists who use some of the resources of Kant’s philosophy have been some of the most strident critics of these tactics. Nonetheless I remain concerned that Kant’s project (especially given the role of the Kantian Imperative) does not sufficiently diagnose and

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challenge these practices and their philosophical roots. This insufficiency does not mean, in my view, that we should dismiss and reject out of hand all the resources offered by a Kantian philosophy. It may well be that important alliances can be forged between Kantians and non-Kantians on many key concrete ethical and political questions. My analysis does suggest, however, that Kantian approaches need to better understand and proactively resist the ways in which the imperative image of morality might be used to justify a variety of cruel and unethical practices. Fortunately, when we examine the concrete political and ethical judgments of some of the contemporary theories influenced by the Kantian Imperative, we can see signs that they are at least partially open to these possibilities. In chapter 6, we examined both some of the practical dangers and some of these positive possibilities for concrete ethical thinking in Taylor’s work. Thus, in this epilogue I will primarily focus on Kant and Habermas both to explore the practical promise of neo-Kantian projects and to identify the ways in which neo-Kantian projects remain insufficient for our contemporary political context. 1. The Kantian Imperative in the Post-9/11 World Kant’s work has been widely employed to ethically evaluate the idea of international intervention in general and the legitimacy of the 2003 war in Iraq in particular. A variety of thinkers – including those from the left (such as Antje Vollmer, vice-president of the German Bundestag and Green Party member) and those from the right (such as Paul Schroeder) – have suggested that Kant’s philosophy would never justify American intervention in Iraq, given the current situation.2 Others, such as the philosopher Roger Scruton, have argued that Kant’s philosophy would justify the intervention.3 Still other theorists have suggested that the spirit of Kant’s philosophy should encourage us to revise the specific recommendations made by Kant in the context of an overwhelmingly powerful state and a context in which there is neither a balance of power nor world government.4 Given the issues concerned – as well as the rhetoric involved – there is some ambiguity on this question and reasonable arguments can be made for both sides.5 Kant’s writing on perpetual peace and his writings on republicanism could be viewed as justifications both for humanitarian intervention and for non-intervention, depending on the reading and circumstances.

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Virtually everyone would agree, however, that there should be very little ambiguity about Kant’s stance on the question of jus in bello – that is, the way that occupational forces should conduct themselves in a conflict. Given the prevalent understanding of Kant as the defender of autonomy, respect, and human dignity, we might assume that Kant’s philosophy would be rich with insights about the question of norms in war. Many would agree that Kant’s unequivocal privileging of deontological ends over consequentialist means-ends calculation would mean that a Kantian approach would identify some clear, principled limitations on how military force should be applied (e.g., recognizing fundamental human rights). Most would also agree that this would likely translate into an injunction against the use of any ‘intrinsically heinous means’ – regardless of the potential gain.6 Kantian philosophy would seem to categorically condemn many of the tactics of humiliation consciously employed by U.S. military forces in Iraq.7 The U.S. willingness to employ humiliation was most brutally demonstrated by the horrors that took place at Abu Ghraib in 2003 and 2004.8 Under U.S. command, the prison at Abu Ghraib (formerly one of Hussein’s most feared institutions) was transformed into a coalition prison and interrogation facility. As Iraqi insurgency grew stronger, U.S. military intelligence officials began to significantly intensify their interrogation methods. As has now become clear, interrogators not only used violence (practices that were – or verged on – torture), but also (and these practices seem to have made up the bulk of the abuses) routinely employed deliberate humiliation. Prisoners were forced to strip and then stand naked, or march around naked. They were put into sexually humiliating poses and ridiculed in front of fellow prisoners and American guards. They were forced to simulate sex with one another, in front of female American guards and were then photographed in these contexts. They were hooded, made to stand for hours without moving and forced to the ground. They were not only threatened by attack dogs, but also made to bark like dogs, wear leashes, and grovel. What is stunning is the degree to which these acts use the force of humiliation – at least as much as they do fear and pain – to demand and command obedience and ‘Achtung’ for the coalition forces and the interrogators. Each of these acts worked very clearly on specific cultural sensitivities to generate intense humiliation: the strong prohibitions against public nudity, against public sexuality (especially in the presence of women), against homosexuality; the idea that to be treated

Epilogue: The Post-9/11 Kantian Imperative


like a dog is to make you inhuman; the idea that to be hooded is to be made low. What is even more astounding is that the U.S. military seemed very aware that these sorts of practices would be particularly humiliating (and shaming) to Muslim prisoners. As Mark Danner has shown, Marine Corps training manuals on Iraq’s customs and history clearly identified that shaming or humiliating a man in public is one of the most damaging things it is possible to do to an Iraqi individual. Moreover, it was explicitly noted in the manuals that each of these techniques – hooding, public nudity, public sexuality – would cause severe humiliation and that these techniques therefore should be avoided under normal circumstances.9 It is clear that Kant’s official perspective – as well as virtually all contemporary Kantians – would be horrified by these practices and would strongly condemn them. One commonplace in contemporary international ethics, for example, is that Kant disallows any abuse of human rights (and thus tactics of humiliation) by referring to the deontological principle of human dignity and respect. Indeed, Kant’s theory has played a role in inspiring and shaping a wide variety of crucial international institutions that seek to protect exactly these types of human rights and dignities. The preamble to the founding charter of the United Nations, for example, explicitly affirms not only a ‘faith in fundamental human rights’ but also the ‘dignity and worth of the human person.’10 The central articles of the Geneva Conventions resonate with these orthodox Kantian overtones as well. Article 3, for example, declares that in times of peace, war, and occupation, any acts that constitute ‘outrages to personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment’ are expressly prohibited.11 Finally, the mission statement of the International Committee of the Red Cross (one of the first external institutions to call attention to these abuses) notes that its exclusive mission is to ‘protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence.’12 Kant’s philosophy has played a critical role in inspiring some of the most important ideas and institutions that protect human rights today. Most contemporary Kantians therefore likely believe that a Kantian philosophy could never justify such acts. Unfortunately, however, if we look at Kant’s philosophy closely in the light of our analysis of the Kantian Imperative, we can see that there are some disconcerting possibilities in Kant’s philosophy, two of which are particularly worrying. The first is the possibility that Kant’s philosophy would have a difficult time formulating an unambiguous argument against the use of

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tactics of humiliation. The second is the likelihood that Kant’s project cannot sufficiently diagnose and challenge the role that an imperative image of common sense morality has played in orienting and justifying the Bush administration’s imperial politics. Both are worth further examination. Let us begin with the first issue: whether Kant’s philosophy provides us with a sufficiently robust philosophical response to the tactics of humiliation mobilized at Abu Ghraib. Kant actually wrote very little about which types of specific actions are, and are not, allowed in war. His clearest statements on questions of jus in bello are found in the ‘Doctrine of Right’ in the Metaphysics of Morals.13 There Kant says that there are no limits to the degree and quantity of force states can use when engaged in war. States are limited, however, in the type of actions they can take. At a general level, Kant says that ‘a state against which war is being waged is permitted to use any means of defense except those that would make its subjects unfit to be citizens.’ Kant then lists some examples of acts that are disallowed (using assassins, using its subjects as spies, lying) and then argues that these practices are disallowed because such underhanded means would ‘destroy the trust requisite to establishing a lasting peace in the future.’14 What is notable is that in the world of international politics, Kant’s relevant test of correct behaviour is not the categorical imperative. Rather, it is a test of ethical politics: do not do anything that would destroy the possibility of reconstructing the conditions of future peace or citizenship. What, exactly, are these conditions? Theorists who seek to reconstruct a contemporary Kantian perspective often assume that a fundamental respect for individuals is the basis of citizenship and morality – and thus they derive international laws protecting ‘human rights’ from Kant’s argument.15 But what happens to this argument once we understand the primordial role of humiliation in the formation of respect? For, if we must be humiliated before we respect the moral law, then isn’t the experience of humiliation a fundamental precondition of citizenship, morality and peace? Might not the strategic employment of humiliation on a variety of dimensions thus be a legitimate mode of political cultivation? There is thus a critical risk embedded in Kant’s philosophy. The danger is not the oft-recited but highly unconvincing realist rejoinder that Kantian ethics is too idealistic to be effective. The more worrying danger is rather that the logic of the Kantian Imperative cannot easily rule out the strategic and tactical use of humiliation in a variety of

Epilogue: The Post-9/11 Kantian Imperative


contexts. Consider the question of whether it was legitimate to intervene in Iraq. As we have seen, Kant’s project might come down on either side of this question for a variety of reasons. But we now have a more problematic possibility as well: the possibility that Kant’s project could justify intervention based on the logic of humiliation. Could we not formulate a Kantian Imperative inspired justification of the decision to go to war on the basis of the need to humiliate? Might not the logic of the Kantian Imperative allow one to argue that both Iraq (as a nation-person) and the Middle East (as a region-person) had demonstrated insufficient respect for the international moral law and the moral law of the United States.16 If the interstate community should ideally be like a community of moral peoples (as Kant believes), wouldn’t a prerequisite be to ensure that every state was humiliated by a moral law?17 Similarly, it is uncertain whether Kant’s project is able sufficiently and unambiguously to critique the tactics of humiliation used at Abu Ghraib. Consider his writing on the just rules of war. He explicitly states, for example, that it is permissible ‘to extract supplies and contributions from a defeated enemy’ (even though one shouldn’t plunder the people needlessly).18 Yet extracting intelligence contributions was exactly what the military intelligence unit in charge of interrogation was doing at Abu Ghraib, and their tactics were part of an explicit strategy designed to employ humiliation to create obedience, respect, and cooperation from the humiliatee – a logic that does betray certain parallels to the description of the cultivation of Kantian respect/humiliation. Given the role of the Kantian Imperative, it is thus not at all obvious that the logic of Kant’s philosophy must necessarily and unambiguously argue against the employment of these tactics of humiliation. Teasing out the specific policy-oriented implications of the Kantian Imperative is, of course, an act of interpretation. Thus, it is not surprising in itself that Kant’s philosophy can give rise to two very different policy positions. Interpretations can always stretch, twist, and mutilate the texts they claim to interpret. The problem is therefore not that Kant’s texts – like all texts – are subject to interpretation and thus are always subject to the ‘use and abuse’ of philosophy by politics. Rather, the problem is that Kant’s texts make it particularly easy to justify concrete tactics and strategies of humiliation, precisely because Kant’s philosophy forwards a logic that justifies and cultivates humiliation. It is thus the Kantian affinity for humiliation – not the interpretive nature

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of Kantian philosophy – that explains why I worry that it is insufficient to many contemporary policy discussions. If the logic of the Kantian Imperative makes it difficult to formulate a sufficiently robust argument against practices of humiliation, however, the more worrisome issue, I believe, is the second one: that the Kantian Imperative’s unquestioned acceptance of the imperative image of morality as a necessary and unambiguously ‘good’ model means that Kantian philosophy is insufficiently attentive to the ways that this imperative image itself can inspire and justify a variety of dangerous political strategies and tactics. Is it simply coincidental that the same U.S. administration that was willing to employ a military strategy of national humiliation and essentially authorize the use of tactics of humiliation also seems to be defined by an imperative common sense morality?19 I believe the answer is no. For I suspect that a version of the imperative image of morality plays a key role in the Bush administration’s perspective, and thus that this image of morality might well be one of those key elements of the heritage of political and moral philosophy we need to interrogate critically. Consider George W. Bush’s radical new strategic doctrine issued in September 2002. In his introduction, he clearly outlines his indebtedness to and support of the imperative image of morality. According to Bush, ‘some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong. I disagree. Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities.’20 Not surprisingly, Bush believes that this universal morality is identical to the American vision: the values of ‘freedom’ (free speech, elections, education, right to worship, own property, enjoy the benefits of labour) are, according to Bush, ‘right and true for every person, in every society.’ Moreover, the ‘duty of protecting these values against their enemies’ is the ‘common calling of freedom-loving people across the globe and across the ages.’ It is thus not surprising to find that George W. Bush claims that it is ‘common sense’ (among other things) that encouraged his administration to radically shift its national defence paradigm by explicitly authorizing pre-emptive action against ‘emerging threats before they are fully formed.’21 It is true that much of the rhetoric of Bush’s new national security policy reflects some of the more admirable qualities of internationalism. For example, the second section of the new security strategy discusses in detail the fact that the United States seeks to ‘champion aspirations for human dignity.’ Indeed, it commits the government to

Epilogue: The Post-9/11 Kantian Imperative


‘speak out honestly about violations of the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity.’22 Yet the Bush administration has consistently violated these principles in its actions. For example, it pursued legal action to the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to deny the legality of judicial review and the application of basic civil rights to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.23 Bush also issued a memo to senior members of his cabinet and, after citing the need for a ‘new paradigm’ and ‘new thinking in the law of war,’ noted that the United States would not be bound by the Geneva Conventions in dealing with Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. The memo did note that the United States would seek to treat these prisoners ‘humanely,’ since doing so was consistent with the nation’s values. However, it also noted that it would do this only ‘to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity.’24 Given that the definition of ‘military necessity’ was to be interpreted in the context of an undefined ‘war,’ on a vague ‘terrorist’ enemy, which was to last for an undefined period of time, this seemingly minor exclusion creates a rather extensive category of exceptions. Following the letter and the spirit of this memo, Bush’s secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, thus encouraged military intelligence to increase the severity of their interrogation practices when dealing with ‘high value detainees.’25 Moreover, after receiving a general Department of Justice legal opinion in August 2002 (which explained that interrogation techniques that were ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading’ but were not so ‘extreme’ as to result in ‘significant psychological harm of significant duration e.g. lasting for months and even years’ would be legally acceptable) as well as a legal brief from military counsel to the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay (which stated that the more extreme Category III measures proposed were technically legal), Rumsfeld authorized the use of many of the techniques eventually employed in Iraq, including the use of hooding, enforced standing for prolonged periods of time, stripping of inmates, and others.26 The contradictions between the administration’s proclaimed defence of human dignity and its willingness to sacrifice human dignity when it seemed useful have led many to conclude that the ‘moral’ claims of the Bush administration are simply the rhetorical sugar coating of a neo-imperial campaign. Given the fact that many senior members of the Bush administration (such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Perle) were members of the Project for a New American Century (a group that explicitly argued that the creation of a global Pax Americana was the only way to protect American interests27) and the speed with

244 The Kantian Imperative

which the administration turned its sights on Iraq, it is hard not to share this conclusion. Are these contradictions and policy genealogies sufficient evidence to conclude that the dangerous politics and tactics of humiliation were inspired, defined, and justified by the pursuit of naked U.S. ambition alone? Are they merely instances of the dilemma between power and right – one in which cynical statecraft vanquished ethics, realism triumphed over idealism, and the ends justified the means? Or might there also be a sense in which Bush’s imperative image of morality itself helped to inspire and justify the authorization of inhumane and humiliating practices? Is it so hard to believe that a context in which Bush’s imperative image of morality and common sense vision would have been seen to be challenged by contending (Islamic) images, that the philosophical basis of Bush’s moral perspective helped to create a perspective in which the use of humiliation might appear not only legal28 but also morally legitimate? The logic of the imperative image of morality, common sense recognition, and humiliation is clearly not the only, or even the most important, element driving U.S. policy. Obviously, a complex mesh of concerns – including the logic of military necessity and security – are key elements. It is clearly not Kant’s philosophy that has directed the administration’s policy decisions. At the same time, however, we need to take seriously the fact that the Bush administration does truly view the war on terrorism as a moral ‘crusade’ that ‘is going to take a while.’29 For whatever other elements may have influenced the administration’s policies and actions, Bush’s language here and elsewhere betrays a deep and real anxiety about the clash of images of morality (a clash that is often expressed as a clash of civilizations). I do not believe that this anxiety is merely conceptual window-dressing. Along with a series of other assumptions, it plays a significant role in determining how the Bush administration conceptualizes and responds to the most important current and domestic policy issues. The danger of the Bush administration is thus not simply that it is an unethical practitioner of power politics and that it is willing to sacrifice a wide range of rights and human dignity in the pursuit of power and the chimera of national security. The danger is also that this administration operates with a profoundly imperative and common sense model of morality that inspires and justifies a wide variety of cruel tactics and strategies. The fact that Bush has managed to translate this imperative image of morality and its accompanying vision of

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rigid American ‘values’ into a second term should give us even more cause for concern. In this situation, Kant’s philosophy and contemporary projects that are heavily influenced by the Kantian Imperative are ambivalent allies in the attempt to effectively challenge the philosophical underpinnings of important strains of post-9/11 American politics. On one hand, they can be important allies in calling attention to and contesting the hypocrisy of contemporary power politics. On the other hand, however, their diagnoses and proposed resolutions seem to remain insufficient. For Kantian approaches can’t fully diagnose and contest the philosophical and moral structure shaping and underpinning these policies. These approaches would argue that the problem is that the administration is insufficiently moral and ethical. A Kantian approach can thus be a critical ally insofar as it could highlight such abuses and call on the administration to adopt a more stringent moral code. But because they do not problematize and interrogate common sense morality, the Kantian Imperative cannot sufficiently interrogate and challenge the ways in which the imperative moral image itself can inspire and justify a remarkable range of cruelties. Habermas’s project embodies precisely this ambivalence. On one hand, Habermas has been a crucial ally on this issue. His recent writings on politics and ethics have demonstrated an admirable courage and have forwarded unyielding critiques of many elements of post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy. He has clearly and unequivocally opposed any intervention without full United Nations backing. Moreover, he has presciently argued that ‘there should be no military action without a long-term commitment – and a realistic perspective – for coping with the uniquely explosive concentration of problems in the Near East. Just bombing Saddam Hussein out of his palace and leaving the “cleanup” to others won’t do.’30 He stated that after the unjustifiable U.S. intervention, ‘the normative authority of the United States of America lies in ruins’31 and suggested that the new National Security Strategy risks destroying perhaps the greatest foreign policy legacy of the United States: ‘the civilizing achievement of legally domesticating the state of nature among belligerent nations.’32 He also has challenged the larger conceptual and rhetorical structures of these policies by arguing that calling for a ‘war on terror’ was ‘a serious mistake, both normatively and pragmatically.’33 In addition, Habermas has called attention and critiqued a variety of specific practices employed in the war on terror. He has been unwaver-

246 The Kantian Imperative

ing in his critique of the Patriot Act, arguing that ‘in the United States itself, the administration of a perpetual “wartime president” is already undermining the foundations of the rule of law. Quite apart from methods of torture that are practiced or tolerated outside the nation’s borders, the wartime regime has not only robbed the prisoners in Guantanamo of the rights they are entitled to according to the Geneva Convention; it has expanded the powers of law enforcement and security officials to the point of infringing on the constitutional rights of America’s own citizens.’34 Equally notably, he has written with outrage against the tactics of the various campaigns: explicitly addressing questions of jus in bello, Habermas stated that the ‘shock and awe inflicted on a helpless and mercilessly bombed population’ in Iraq was ‘morally obscene’35 and argued that ‘military strategy should convincingly meet the condition of “proportionality” in every single strike.’36 Habermas thus is clearly a powerful and valuable ally in the struggle against the post-9/11 neo-conservative agenda. Habermas’s diagnosis, however, underplays the importance of exploring and contesting the role of the imperative image of morality in the Bush administration’s politics and justifications. Elsewhere, Habermas seems to appreciate the theoretical danger of imperial moral visions: in response to Schmittian arguments, he explicitly states that an ‘unmediated moralization of law and politics’ is a dangerous practice. He agrees that destroying protective zones secured by civil liberties and legal rights through the moralization of all spheres risks destroying the pluralism of modern societies. He also notes that this would be ‘just as harmful in the international arena,’ since it would lead to the politics of evil and foreign policy based on ideas dangerously similar to the clash of civilization thesis.37 Habermas thus both appreciates the potential danger of the unmediated moralization of foreign policy and argues that the best way to avoid this is ‘not the demoralization of politics, but rather the democratic transformation of morality into a system of positive laws with legal procedures for their application and implementation.’38 Given the explicit sensitivity to the potential danger of unmediated moralization, we might expect that Habermas would have analysed – and attempted to contest – the moralizing and imperative philosophical basis of Bush’s policy. Yet Habermas’s practical diagnoses consistently fail to seriously consider the degree to which an imperative image of morality influences and inspires the philosophical perspective and policy preferences of the Bush administration. He does briefly examine the philosophical

Epilogue: The Post-9/11 Kantian Imperative


underpinnings of the neo-con movement and notes the degree to which the Bush administration’s position is underpinned by a ‘revolutionary’ philosophical and moral stance.39 He acknowledges, moreover, that some neo-cons (who believe that ‘if the regime of international law fails, then the hegemonic imposition of a global liberal order is justified, even by means that are hostile to international law’) believe that an interventionist United States is, in fact, ‘the real defender of universalist ideals.’40 Yet Habermas tends to dismiss the administration’s moral concepts and argument as simple window dressing and ‘caricatures.’41 Thus, he plays down the need to analyse, critique, and debate that moral image. In fact, he suggests that it is not even worth having a debate about the relative worth of ‘liberal nationalism’ vs ‘cosmopolitanism’ because moral issues are not taken seriously by the administration. Thus, while Habermas is capable of theoretically appreciating the danger of an imperative image of morality gone mad, in practice his work fails to take it seriously by refusing to consider the ways in which a common sense imperative image of morality might be implicated in the inspiration, or at least the justification, of the policies of the Bush administration. In some ways, I agree with Habermas’s assessment that a rational, moral debate about the relative value of liberal nationalism and cosmopolitanism likely would have little influence on the U.S. administration. But that fact does not mean that a strongly imperative moral image still does not play an important role in shaping U.S. policy. In contrast, there is strong evidence (as we have only briefly seen above) to suggest a real link between the administration’s universalizing and moralizing perspective and the type of policy it has pursued. By failing to properly interrogate this link, Habermas’s diagnosis insufficiently highlights the philosophical issues at play. This diagnostic deficiency, in turn, means that Habermas’s proposed resolutions incompletely address the philosophical dimensions of the problem. For Habermas’s approach – like many Kantian approaches – seems to assume that a more stridently and coherently universalizing model would prevent the emergence of Bush’s doctrine. He argues that what is needed is a more coherent and more fully universalistic model. Engaging in an immanent critique of U.S. claims to be fighting for democracy and liberty, Habermas claims that ‘it is precisely the universalistic core of democracy and human rights that forbids their unilateral realization at gunpoint. The universal validity claim that commits the West to its “basic political values,” that is, to the procedure of dem-

248 The Kantian Imperative

ocratic self-determination and the vocabulary of human rights, must not be confused with the imperialist claim that the political form of life and the culture of a particular democracy – even the oldest one – is exemplary for all societies.’42 On Habermas’s reading, the principles of coherency and universality (properly interpreted) themselves are powerful enough to disallow any moral vision to flip into fundamentalism or regress into imperialism. What we have seen in our analysis of Kant, however, is the fact that even the most revered models of imperative common sense morality do run the risk of inversion. Habermas’s strategy is to decry these slippages as arrogance and outdated remnants (e.g., the universalisms of the old empires) and then attempt to convince their practitioners that taking this stance is conceptually impossible. Is this, however, the best response to the fact that imperative common sense models can flip into imperialism? I believe there are at least two problems with this strategy. First, it continues to assume the trumping power of the values of coherence and consistency. As we have seen, however, it is not only altogether too easy to make inconsistent and incoherent responses appear to be coherent and logical. The very definitions of consistency and coherence themselves are essentially contestable, and thus they cannot act as authoritative grounds simply in themselves. Second, this strategy does not challenge the essential image of morality. It does not call attention to – and thus fails to critically interrogate – the ways in which a common sense imperative image can inspire and justify cruel and imperial politics. As a result, although Habermas attempts to change the terms of debate and discuss the issue on the register of international law, it paradoxically lets the Bush administration off the hook because it does not challenge the moral model that the administration employs to defend and justify its imperial politics. I agree with Habermas’s critique of Schmittian and realist attempts to argue that politics is – and must be – void of any norms and ethics beyond those of power and self-interest. Both Habermas and I probably agree that the question to ask is not whether to be moral or amoral, but rather how we can be ethical in a way that avoids both the dangers of naked realpolitik and the dangers of unbridled universalizing moralism. Habermas thinks that we can do so by structuring a (slightly more flexible) international legal system that is underpinned (from a distance) by certain universal, common sense moral imperatives. While there is much that is admirable in this attempt, I believe that navigat-

Epilogue: The Post-9/11 Kantian Imperative


ing our contemporary context requires ethical and political approaches that embody a more nuanced and critical view of imperative common sense moralities. For we need approaches that not only appreciate the potential value of a critical universalism, but that also simultaneously and consistently focus attention on the permanent danger of bouleversement, whereby imperative images can function to authorize imperial and cruel strategies and tactics. As Habermas proves, Kantian approaches (especially once loosened from the influence of the Kantian Imperative) can be important allies in resisting the cruelties of contemporary politics by decrying their hypocrisy and ‘immorality.’ Yet these responses remain insufficient; for they fail to challenge the philosophical and moral roots of those politics. In response, we need to cultivate ethical and political approaches that interrogate and challenge all philosophical strategies by which the politics of humiliation and imperialism reproduce and justify themselves. Avoiding this task risks, I fear, lengthening the morally dogmatic slumber in which we find ourselves and that we can ill afford to extend.

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Notes: Citations of Kant’s work will contain both the relevant pages in the Kants Gesammelten Schriften (Berlin: Koniglich Preussiche Akademie der Wissenschaften) (signified by AK and the volume and page number) and the most common English translation. Unless otherwise noted, I have used these common translations in the text in order to ensure that my argument is accessible to non-specialists. Unless otherwise noted, emphasis in extracts is original.

Introduction: Humiliation, Common Sense, Morality 1 The Rule of St. Benedict, ed. Timothy Fry (Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1981), 198–201. This edition provides both the original Latin and an English translation. I have used their translation for most of the extract, but corrected it in two parts. First, I prefer ‘the lowest of men’ to translate abiectio plebes to their ‘scorned by men.’ This translation better highlights the movement between the high and the low that is central to humiliation. Secondly, where Fry translates the Latin humiliates and humiliasti as ‘humbled’ and humbling,’ I have stayed more faithful to the Latin root by translating it as ‘humiliated’ and ‘humiliating.’ As I discuss here and in chapter 4, in Benedict’s usage, humiliation is not a negative thing; it is a justified ‘bringing low’ in the light of our imperfection in comparison with the Lord. Thanks to Dr Marc Saurette for assistance with this translation. 2 William Ian Miller, Humiliation (New York: Cornell University Press), 160–1. 3 As with many of the concepts introduced here, Benedict’s conception of humility and humiliation – and their transformative powers – will be examined in greater detail in chapter 4.

252 Notes to pages 4–10 4 Kant, ‘Was Ist Äufklarung,’ AK 8:35; On History, ed. Lewis White Beck (New York: Macmillan, 1963), 3. 5 This is why Rae Langston, for example, titles her book Kantian Humility (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998). She argues that Kant’s primary contribution was his ability to steer between naive realism and idealism and instead embrace an ‘epistemic humility’ that acknowledges the importance of scepticism without succumbing to it. It is notable, however, that she examines the idea of humility solely in relation to Kant’s critique of theoretical reason and does not comment on the role humility plays in Kant’s moral or political thought. 6 Benedictus de Spinoza, Ethics (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1992), 3:26; 4:Pr.63s. 7 On the idea that humiliation is not only anathema to, but in fact the primary ‘evil’ faced by, a moral society based on autonomy and dignity, see Aviahai Margalit, The Decent Society (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996) and the special issue of Social Research 64:1 (Spring 1997) devoted to discussing that book, especially Steven Lukes, ‘Humiliation and the Politics of Identity,’ 36–52. 8 See the introduction to Miller, Humiliation. 9 Arpaio stated this in an interview with a sympathetic interviewer, Keith Strandberg. ‘Speaking to America’s Toughest Sheriff.’ Transcript available at; accessed 13 March 2003. 10 There is much more analysis to be done on this, of course. Thus, I will return to this question and examine it more fully later in this chapter. 11 Norbert Elias, The Germans (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989, 1997) offers one prominent analysis of this issue. 12 See, for example, Luke Baker’s article, ‘US Hopes to Flush Out Baathists with Satire,’ Globe and Mail, 18 August 2003, A18. 13 Tony Ortega, ‘Billion Dollar Bad Guys,’ Phoenix New Times, 24 September 1998. Available online at 1998-09-24/feature.html; accessed 2 October 2003. 14 Jane Price Tangney, interview, ‘Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources of Fairfax Country.’ Available online at News.htm, accessed 13 March 2003. See also Tangney, Shame and Guilt, (New York: Guilford Press, 2002). 15 Baker, ‘US hopes to flush out Baathists.’ 16 See, in particular, Horkheimer and Adorno’s interpretation of the role of sadism and cruelty in modern reason. ‘Excursus II: Juliette or Enlightenment and Morality,’ in Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Continuum, 1982). 17 Kant, AK 5:74. Critique of Practical Reason, ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 64.

Notes to pages 11–28 253 18 This separates my consideration of humiliation sharply from the opinions of those, like de Sade, who view cruelty and sadism as a key driving factor in our social structures. I do not disagree that these energies play important roles. I do not believe, however, that you can reduce the tactics of humiliation to sadism. My interest in Kant and humiliation stems precisely from the fact that his thought is an example of the drive to humiliation that is grounded in the exact opposite of sadism – the desire to establish universal conditions of respect. In some ways, this fact makes the tactics of humiliation even more of a concern, since they are not simply the result of what Arendt might call radical evil. 19 Amy Gutmann, ‘Introduction,’ Multiculturalism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992), 18. Chapter 1: Kant’s Imperative Image of Morality 1 AK 4:260; Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, ed. James Ellington (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1976), 5. Further references will be to Prolegomena. 2 A.C. Ewing, A Short Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), 3. 3 Hannah Arendt, Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy, ed. Ronald Beiner (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 10. 4 This is why Rae Langston, for example, titles her book Kantian Humility (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998) and argues that Kant’s primary contribution was his ability to steer between naive realism and idealism and instead embrace an ‘epistemic humility’ that acknowledges the importance of scepticism without succumbing to it. It is notable, however, that she examines the idea of humility solely in relation to Kant’s critique of theoretical reason and does not comment on the role of humility in Kant’s moral or political thought. 5 Kant, Aix.; Critique of Pure Reason, ed. Norman Kemp Smith (London: Macmillan, 1968), 8, Further references will be to the A or B version, followed by CPR with the translation page numbers. 6 Kant, Axi–xii: CPR, 9. 7 For a particularly clear rendition of this narrative see Adrian Piper, ‘Kant on the Objectivity of the Moral Law,’ in Reclaiming the History of Ethics, ed. Andrews Reath, Barbara Herman, and Christine Korsgaard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 240–69. 8 Otried Hoffe, Immanuel Kant (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994), 111. 9 Andrews Reath, ‘Introduction,’ Critique of Practical Reason, ed. Mary Gregor


10 11



14 15 16


Notes to pages 28–31

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), xi. Further references will be to CPrR. We might find traces and elements of this interpretation of Kant at times in thinkers as diverse Adorno, Horkheimer, Deleuze, Guattari, and Arendt. For his earlier view of Kant, see Knowledge and Human Interests (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971); and The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1989), especially his comments on the practical nature of Kant’s conception of the Idea and his philosophy of history, 114–16. Jurgen Habermas, ‘Philosophy as Stand-In and Interpreter,’ Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990), 1, 2. Habermas, ‘Metaphysics after Kant,’ Postmetaphysical Thinking (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992), 13. Obviously I find the latter claim particularly problematic. For I suspect that examining Kant’s project through the lens of the Kantian Imperative forwards an equally persuasive explanation of Kant’s ambiguous reworking of metaphysics by showing (a) that the elements Kant shares with traditional metaphysics (the yearning for universality and necessity) issues from a moral predisposition, rather than an epistemological position; and (b) that Kant feels compelled to rework the manner in which these aims are satisfied because he understood, at some level, that traditional attempts to render apodictic the moral conditions of possibility had been largely unsuccessful and were becoming even less persuasive. Michael Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 7, 8, 9 (my emphasis), 9 (my emphasis). Kant, Aix; CPR, 8. See full quotation above. Moreover, Kant clearly showed an interest in ethical and moral topics before writing the first Critique. We know, for example, that he taught courses on ethics and education (the lectures of which eventually became Lectures on Ethics and Education) throughout his work on the first Critique. Moreover, as Lewis White Beck documents, Kant speaks frequently about the need to ground a metaphysic of morals, since, as he comments in his Prize Essay of 1764, ‘the primary grounds of morals are not yet, in their present state, capable of all requisite evidence.’ So we know that a concern for grounding morality is present well before the first Critique was written. See the first chapter of Lewis White Beck, Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), especially 4– 10; extract, 6. Kant, A795, B823; CPR, 629.

Notes to pages 31–7 255 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32


34 35 36 37

Kant, A795, B823; CPR, 629. Kant, AK 4:257; Prolegomena, 3. Kant, A797, B825; CPR, 630. Kant, A796, B824; CPR, 629 (my emphasis in first two sentences). Kant, A797, B825; CPR, 630. Kant, A798, B826; CPR, 631. Kant, A797, B825; CPR, 630. Kant, Bvii; CPR, 17. Kant, Bxxiv, Bxxv; CPR, 26. Kant, Bxxv, CPR, 27. Kant, A319, B375–6; CPR, 315. Kant, A817–18, B845–6; CPR 643 (my emphasis). Kant, A840, B868; CPR, 658. Kant, A816, B844; CPR, 642. In the section Kant suggests that by ‘primacy’ he means ‘the prerogative of one to be the first determining ground of the connection with all the rest’ (AK 5:119; CPrR, 100). If speculative reason could actually know its metaphysical claims, it, holding superior universality and necessity of judgment, would have primacy. Since theoretical reason cannot acquire such knowledge, however, practical reason, Kant says, must be accorded primacy. Therefore, where there is any doubt between the authority of one or the other to establishing certain propositions if there is some conflict, ‘as soon as these propositions belong inseparably to the practical interest of pure reason it must accept them ... Thus in the union of pure speculative with pure practical reason in one cognition, the latter has primacy ... But one cannot require pure practical reason to be subordinate to speculative reason and so reverse the order since all interest is ultimately practical and even that of speculative reason is only conditional and complete in practical use alone’ (AK 5:121–2; CPrR, 101–2). Kant, AK 4:115; Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, trans. and ed. H.J. Patton (New York: Harper, 1964), 124. Further references will be to Groundwork. Kant, AK 4:115; Groundwork, 124 (my emphasis). Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, What Is Philosophy? (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), Introduction, chap. 1. Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), chap. 3. As I discuss in chapter 6, some of Taylor’s writings suggest that he might be sympathetic to this rendering of a background (see, e.g., ‘Lichtung or Lebensform: Parallels between Heidegger and Wittgenstein’ and ‘Against



39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54



Notes to pages 37–43

Epistemology,’ Philosophical Arguments (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995). However, most frequently Taylor discusses the background primarily in terms of expressive meaning, which, while broader than simply language, rarely highlights the importance of the affective dimensions central to the concept of an ‘image.’ I have outlined my understanding of Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of an embodied and affective image of thought in more detail in ‘International Relations’ Image of Collective Identity,’ International Journal of Peace Studies 5:1 (Spring, 2000). For Deleuze and Guattari on the nature of stratigraphic time, see What Is Philosophy? chap. 2. Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), especially chapters 1–4. Charles Taylor, ‘The Diversity of Social Goods,’ Philosophical Papers II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). AK 6:222; The Metaphysic of Morals, ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996), 15. Further references to this text will be to MoM. Alasdair MacIntyre, A Short History of Ethics (New York: MacMillan, 1966), 190. See chapter 1 in Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). Kant, AK 4:408; Groundwork, 76. Kant, A803, B831; CPR, 634. Kant, AK 6:221; MoM, 14. Kant, AK 5:32. CPrR, 29. Kant, AK 4:420; Groundwork, 87. Kant, AK 4:416; Groundwork, 84. Kant, AK 5:32; CPrR, 30. Kant, AK 4:390; Groundwork, 58. Ian Hunter, Rival Enlightenments (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) I discuss these differences in detail in ‘Cultivation Wars: Philosophical Ascetics in Early Modern German Thought,’ Theory and Event 6:4 (May 2003). On this see John Christian Laursen’s excellent treatment of Kant’s relationship to scepticism in The Politics of Scepticism in the Ancients: Montaigne, Hume and Kant (New York: E.J. Brill, 1992), especially chaps 8 and 9 and 197–204. Kant in the Logic Bloomberg (24:217), quoted by Laursen, The Politics of Scepticism, 198), 199.

Notes to pages 43–50 257 57 Kant, Logic Bloomberg (24:214), quoted by Laursen, The Politics of Scepticism, 199. It should be noted, however, that Laursen himself does not note the moral impetus behind Kant’s critique of dogmatic scepticism. 58 See the quotations examined earlier in the chapter and, for example, A471, B499; CPR, 499. 59 Hume, A Treatise on Human Nature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), 457, 523, 553. Chapter 2: Common Sense Recognition 1 AK 8:35; ‘What is Enlightenment’ in On History, ed. Lewis White Beck (New York: Macmillan, 1963), 3. 2 Indeed, this passage plays a key role in almost every introduction to Kant’s philosophy. See, for example, the opening of Otried Hoffe’s popular Immanuel Kant (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994), 1, where he suggests that this quote defines not only Kant’s own work, but the transformation he wrought upon the enlightenment by moving it away from naive rationalism towards sceptical critique. 3 Lewis White Beck, Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), 164, 165. 4 Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 133. 5 While I appreciate Deleuze’s understanding of the way common sense structures the relationship between Kant’s picture of the cognitive faculties, I believe that the concepts of common sense and recognition need to be significantly expanded if they are to appreciate the importance of Kant’s the uniqueness of Kant’s moral strategy of common sense recognition. On Deleuze’s early interpretation of Kant see Kant’s Critical Philosophy: The Doctrine of the Faculties (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984). 6 Kant, AK 5:135, 4; CprR, 112, 3. 7 Kant, Kritik der Reinen Vernunft, B41. Critique of Pure Reason, ed. Norman Kemp Smith (London: Macmillan, 1968), 70. Further references will be to the A or B version, followed by CPR with the translation page number. It is not surprising that while Kant originally uses the term in reference to our a priori and transcendental intuitions of space, he also employs the term most frequently to describe our (non-theoretical) certainty about the existence and nature of practical reason 8 I take this term from J.B. Schneewind’s The Invention of Autonomy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 483, where he uses this phrase

258 Notes to pages 51–1 to describe Kant’s view of morality and the logic Kant employs to defend his vision of practical reason. 9 As J.B. Schneewind argues, Kant’s understanding of ‘morality and ourselves as moral agents’ was ‘widely discussed during his own lifetime, and there has been an almost continuous stream of explanation and criticism of it ever since. Its importance has not diminished with time.’ See J.B. Schneewind, ‘Autonomy, Obligation and Virtue: An Overview of Kant’s Moral Philosophy,’ in The Cambridge Companion to Kant, ed. Paul Guyer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 309. Some of the most wellknown contemporary interpretations are, for example, Beck, Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason, especially chap. 11; Mary Gregor, Laws of Freedom (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1963); Henry Allison, Kant’s Theory of Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990) and ‘Morality and Freedom: Kant’s Reciprocity Thesis,’ in Immanuel Kant: Critical Assessments, ed. Ruth Chadwick (London: Routledge, 1992); Christine Korsgaard, ‘Morality as Freedom,’ in Kant’s Practical Philosophy Reconsidered, ed. Yovel Yirmiyahn (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1989); Onora S. O’Neill, ‘Agency and Anthropology in Kant’s Groundwork,’ in Kant’s Practical Philosophy Reconsidered; Schneewind, Invention of Autonomy. It is important to note that a number of non- and anti-Kantians also understand Kant in this way. See, for example, Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), chap. 4 and Michael Sandel, ‘Introduction’ and ‘Response,’ Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). 10 First, scholars disagree on what, exactly, Kant’s concept of autonomy actually means. For many communitarians, most notably Michael Sandel, Kantian autonomy means atomistic, individualistic free choice ‘unencumbered’ by communal norms and restrictions (Liberalism and the Limits of Justice). See also H. Lottenbach and S. Tenenbaum, ‘Hegel’s Critique of Kant in the Philosophy of Right,’ Kant Studien 86:2 (1995), 211–30. Many commentators challenge this view of the autonomous subject, however, and suggest instead that Kant’s concept of autonomy views freedom as rational selfgovernance in which the logical requirements of self-reproducing autonomy create a set of conditions which define the parameters of morality. On this see, for example, Charles Taylor, ‘Kant’s Idea of Freedom,’ Philosophical Papers II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985); Steve Smith, ‘Defending Hegel from Kant,’ in Essays on Kant’s Political Philosophy, ed. Howard Williams (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1992); and Paul Franco, ‘Hegel and Liberalism,’ Review of Politics 59 (1997), 831–60. Second, various interpretations diverge on the question of what sort of

Notes to pages 51–2 259

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argument Kant is actually making through its analysis. According to Henry Allison, even ‘the purely exegetical question of what kind of argument, if any, the text supplies has been the topic of an ongoing dispute’ (see ‘Morality and Freedom,’ 284). In the language of this book, one set of readings might argue that Kant’s understanding of practical reason as the imperative image of morality is deduced/analysed from the idea of autonomy/freedom. Another might suggest, instead, that Kant’s analysis of freedom/ autonomy and his derivation of the practical postulate of autonomy does not give rise to his image of morality, but rather justifies it. A third position, moreover, might combine both to form something like Allison’s ‘reciprocity thesis,’ in which both the moral law and autonomy are seen to be equally necessary assumptions, which ground each other. Yet a third area of disagreement concerns the methodology by which theorists seek to understand Kant and justify their reading of his moral theory. Some attempt a theoretical reconstruction of Kant’s logic; others suggest that understanding Kant means situating the development of his ideas in a broad historical context. On one side, scholars such as Henry Allison, Christine Korsgaard, and Onora O’Neill attempt to reconstruct Kant’s moral theory by examining the sufficiency of Kant’s philosophical arguments and adding refinements to any missing steps or leaps of logic. The idea here, then, is that Kant’s work should be primarily understood as a logical argument whose value lies in its ability to rationally ground certain assumptions, values, positions, and conclusions that we think remain important for our own contemporary moral and political theory. On the other side, J.B. Schneewind attempts to understand Kant’s logic by tracing the historical questions he and his predecessors found crucial and examining how Kant understood, altered, and answered these questions. Schneewind, ‘Autonomy, Obligation and Virtue,’ 309. Since Schneewind’s presentation of ‘morality as autonomy’ highlights the common suggestion that autonomy is at the base of Kant’s image of morality, and Korsgaard’s reconstruction of Kant’s analysis of autonomy outlines a prevalent understanding of the role of autonomy in justifying Kant’s conception of morality, I will briefly use these two commentaries to sketch out the main commonalities of the ‘morality as autonomy’ perspective (as they relate to my interpretation). Schneewind, The Invention of Autonomy, 484. Schneewind, ‘Autonomy, Obligation and Virtue,’ 309, 309. Schneewind, ‘Autonomy, obligation, virtue,’ 315–6. It is telling, I think, that both Schneewind (‘morality as autonomy’) and Korsgaard (‘morality as freedom’) use similar phrases to describe Kant’s

260 Notes to pages 52–6

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analysis of morality. The difference between their use of the terms autonomy and freedom signals an important difference in nuance between the two arguments. Schneewind seems to suggest that autonomy is a basic concept itself that Kant starts with, whereas Korsgaard, while not generally using the term autonomy (she calls it positive freedom), seems to suggest that it derives more from Kant’s two-world theory of freedom of the will. In the light of my concerns, however, it is the similarity of their understanding of autonomy/freedom as the base of Kant’s defence/justification of practical reason/morality that is more notable. Korsgaard, ‘Morality as Freedom,’ 24. Ibid., 25. Ibid., 43–7. Ibid., 48. Schneewind, ‘Autonomy, Obligation and Virtue,’ 318. Kant, AK 4:402; Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, trans. and ed. H.J. Patton (New York: Harper, 1964), 70. Further references will be to Groundwork. Kant, AK 4:440; Groundwork, 108 (my emphasis). Ibid. (my emphasis). Kant, AK 4:452–3; Groundwork, 120. Ibid. Kant, AK 4:453–4; Groundwork, 121. At this point in the argument, Kant also seems to suggest that because reason ‘shows a spontaneity so pure that it goes far beyond anything sensibility can offer’ and can determine its own limits – that is, reason itself is capable of autonomy – that it is necessarily above the sensible, which is heteronomous. At other times, this becomes more explicit, and Kant suggests that the very legitimacy and ‘sovereign authority’ of any principle lies in the fact that they ‘have an organ entirely and completely a priori’ and are directed only by the same will that is at once law giver and subject (see AK 4:426; Groundwork, 93) Yet either of these justifications would seemingly beg the question by using the principle in question to justify the superiority of its own foundation. Kant, AK 4:459; Groundwork, 127 (my emphasis in second sentence). Kant argues that without the suprasensible Idea of Freedom, we could have no consciousness of the moral law, but without the sensible realm, we could not explain how/why practical reason (realized in the sensible realm) is merely an ought rather than a determining law. We cannot know the intelligible world, but we are nonetheless compelled to posit it as a necessary precondition in order to explain the possibility of our own moral

Notes to pages 56–62 261

31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52

conscious-ness. Our practical need justifies the practical assumption: ‘Because practical reason unavoidably requires the existence of them [the intelligible postulates of freedom, immortality and God] for the possibility of its object, the highest good, which is absolutely necessary practically, theoretical reason is thereby justified in assuming them’ (AK 5:134; Critique of Practical Reason, ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 112. Further references will be to CPrR. The intelligible world and its postulates cannot be known, but they have necessity and thus prior authority insofar as they are the very preconditions of the practical. Thus, the absolute priority of the practical – our ability to experience the sensible world under the sensible moral law – paradoxically grounds the authoritative extension of practical reason into the realm of the suprasensible. This argument also raises a number of problematic issues (especially the question of how our ‘practical need’ is defined and how the necessity of our assumption of the Idea of Freedom can be guaranteed by the very thing that the Idea is supposed to prove exists), which I will deal with later in the chapter. Kant, AK 4:440; Groundwork, 108. Kant, AK 4:445; Groundwork, 112–3, 112. Kant, AK 4:459; Groundwork, 127. Kant, AK 4:407; Groundwork, 75. Kant, AK 4:453–4; Groundwork, 121. Ibid. Kant, AK 4:454; Groundwork, 122. Kant, B780; CPR, 602. Kant, B783; CPR, 622. Kant, AK 4:260; Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics (Cambridge: Hackett, 1977), 5. Further references will be to Prolegomena. Kant, AK 4:277; Prolegomena, 21–2. Kant, AK 4:259–60; Prolegomena, 5. Kant, AK 4:371; Prolegomena, 110. Kant, A806, B834; CPR, 636 (‘assume’: my emphasis). Kant, A807, B835; CPR, 637 (my emphasis). Kant, AK 4:391; Groundwork, 59. Kant, AK 4:392; Groundwork, 60. Kant, AK 4:405; Groundwork, 73. Kant, AK 4:393; Groundwork, 61. Kant, AK 4:397; Groundwork, 64–5. Kant, AK 4:400; Groundwork, 68. Kant, AK 4:401; Groundwork, 69.


Notes to pages 62–74

53 Kant, AK 4:408; Groundwork, 76. 54 Kant, AK 4:401; Groundwork, 69, fn. (last sentence: my emphasis). 55 I examine the Kantian Imperative’s cultural model of motivation as respect in more detail in chapters 3 and 4. 56 Kant, AK 4:463; Groundwork, 131. 57 Kant, AK 5:19; CPrR, 17 58 Kant, AK 5:142; CPrR, 118. 59 Kant, AK 5:35; CprR, 32. 60 Kant, AK 5:36; CpR, 33. 61 Kant, AK 5:12; CprR, 10. 62 Kant, AK 5:3–4; CprR, 3. 63 Kant, AK 5:3–4; CprR, 3 (‘insofar ... reason,’ ‘for ... law,’ ‘because ... know’: my emphasis). 64 Kant, AK 5:31; CprR, 28–9 (my emphasis). 65 Kant, AK 5:32; CPrR, 29. 66 Kant, AK 5:46; CPrR, 40–1. 67 Kant, AK 5:46; CPrR, 41–2. 68 I examine Kant’s more pessimistic view of humanity’s moral nature in chapters 3 and 4 and go so far as to suggest that he understood that there was no recognition before moral education. If this is true, then it is likely that Kant was well aware of the precariousness of his philosophical defence based on recognition and would have sought corollary strategies to buttress it. Here, I examine some of the philosophical strategies I suspect he erected to minimize the leak of his system. In chapters 3 and 4 I examine his foray into cultivation as a further corporeal strategy to increase the hold of his imperative image of morality. 69 Kant, AK 5:29; CPrR, 26–7. 70 Allison, ‘Justification and Freedom in the Critique of Practical Reason,’ in Kant’s Transcendental Deductions, ed. Eckart Forster (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989), 115. 71 Allison’s use of the term ‘amoralist’ in this way is very problematic, since it assumes that anyone who does not recognize Kant’s articulation of morality as the imperative image is necessarily non-moral (and, by implication, non-ethical). One of the points I am trying to make, however, is that we can challenge Kant’s vision of the moral without becoming non-ethical. It is precisely for (non-Kantian) ethical reasons that I want to resist Kant’s imperative image of morality. Thus, rather than using the term ‘amoralist,’ I use the term ‘ethical non-Kantian’ to describe someone who does not recognize his imperative image of morality. 72 Although I do not think that those two together actually do completely

Notes to pages 74–81 263

73 74 75 76 77 78

79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86

determine the necessity of Kant’s conclusions, I do agree that for those who share Kant’s image of morality the logic might certainly appear to be determinative. Those who do not share the imperative image of morality might see a different set of necessary conclusions. Yet even here I think that Kant’s arguments from freedom do make it more difficult to resist his conclusions than to accept them. It is not coincidental, therefore, that many of the ethicists who reject the imperative image of morality also challenge the pure idea of transcendental freedom. Examples of such thinkers might be Epicurus, Hume, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Bernard Williams, William Connolly, and Jane Bennett. Allison, ‘Justification and Freedom,’ in Kant’s Transcendental Deductions, ed. Eckart Forster (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989), 123. Kant, AK 5:29; CPrR, 26. Ibid. Kant, AK 5:29, 29–30; CPrR, 27 (my emphasis). Kant, AK 5:30; CPrR, 27. See, for example, his later claim in ‘Justification and Freedom’ that this argument will, in most cases, have enough power to force a rational amoralist to ‘play the moral game’ and eventually come to a very Kantian conclusion. ‘Justification and Freedom,’ 123. Allison, ‘Morality and Freedom, 305. Allison makes virtually the same judgment in Kant’s Theory of Freedom, 213. Kant, AK 5:132; CPrR, 110. Kant, AK 5:135; CPrR, 112, 113. Kant, AK 5:144; CPrR, 119, 120. Kant, AK 5:145–6; CPrR, 121. Kant, AK 5:142; CPrR, 118, (last sentence: my emphasis). Kant, AK 5:143; CPrR, 119 (‘a practically ... reason,’ ‘This ... judgment’: my emphasis). It might be argued that I have underemphasized the importance of the ‘granted’ lodged in the middle of the long quotation in the previous paragraph. For that ‘granted’ might be read as the ‘if’ of earlier formulations. It might then reason something like this: ‘If you grant that we all recognize the moral law, then we must accept these practical postulates.’ But when we look at the footnote appended to this passage, it becomes clear that the ‘granted’ is a statement of fact, rather than a request for a generous reading. ‘In the present case,’ Kant states, the need of reason that underlies the practical postulates ‘is a need of reason arising from an objective determining ground of the will, namely the moral law which necessarily binds every rational being and therefore justifies him a priori in presupposing in nature the conditions

264 Notes to pages 81–5 befitting it and makes the latter inseparable from the complete practical use of reason. It is a duty to realize the highest good to the utmost of our capacity, therefore it must be possible; hence it is also unavoidable for every rational being in the world to assume what is necessary for its objective possibility. The assumption is as necessary as the moral law, in relation to which alone it is valid’ (ibid., fn.; ‘determining ... reason,’ ‘The ... valid’: my emphasis). The moral law ‘necessarily binds every rational being.’ Recognition of the moral law is ‘inseparable from the complete practical use of reason.’ Reason and recognition now are inextricably linked. Chapter 3: Cultivating a Kantian Moral Disposition 1 The Use of Pleasure (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 28. 2 Ibid., 29. 3 W.E. Connolly, ‘Brain Waves, Transcendental Fields, and Techniques of Thought,’ Radical Philosophy, 94 (March/April 1999), 27. 4 Pierre Hadot, Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique (Paris : Études augustiniennes, 1981). Another work that traces similar themes is Paul Rabbow, Paidagogia; die Grundlegung der abendländischen Erziehungskunst in der Sokratik (Frankfurt: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1960). 5 See, for example, Peter Brown, ‘The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity,’ Journal of Roman Studies 61 (1971), 80–101. See also The Cult of Saints (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981) and Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988); Stephen Jaeger, The Envy of Angels (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994). Marc Saurette’s recent work is also pursuing some of these same themes. See his manuscript, ‘The Rhetorics of Reform: Abbot Peter the Venerable and the Twelfth Century Rewriting of Cluniac Monasticism,’ Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto, 2004. 6 To my knowledge, only three scholars have made sustained, book-length attempts to explore the role of practices in Kant. One is Andrew Cutrofello’s work in Discipline and Critique (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994). Though brief, his chapters on Kant’s care of the self and the role of discipline in the court of pure reason are very insightful, and I find our two readings complement one another on multiple dimensions. A second scholar is G. Felicitas Munzel; see her recent work, Kant’s Conception of Moral Character: The ‘Critical’ Link of Morality, Anthropology and Reflective Judgment (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999). The other is Ian Hunter, whose recent work, Rival Enlightenments (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000) takes up the question of spiritual exercises and cul-

Note to page 85 265 tivation and applies it to early modern German thought – including excellent sections on Kant. His recent article, ‘The Morals of Metaphysics: Kant's Groundwork as Intellectual Paideia,’ Critical Inquiry 28:4 (Summer 2002), 908– 29, further explores and deepens his view on these matters. All of these books challenge the prevalent conception of Kant, and I find a great deal of sustenance in their work. Overall, however, our readings often go in different directions that tend to complement rather than overlap. Hunter, for example, primarily examines Kantian ‘practices’ from a more Pierre Hadot inspired perspective. As a result, his pieces highlight the practical disciplinary impact of Kant’s intellectual strategies. (I outline this in more detail in ‘Cultivation Wars: Philosophical Ascetics in Early Modern German Thought,’ Theory and Event 6:4 (Sept, 2003), 1–14). While my work also gestures towards the practical influence of some additional Kantian ‘spiritual exercises,’ I tend to focus primarily on questions of affective discipline and cultivation rather than the more intellectual practices clearly identified by Munzel and Hunter. In this sense, my perspective is probably closest to that of Andrew Cutrofello, who makes excellent use of Lacan’s, Zizek’s, and Kant’s biographer, De Quincy, to highlight the theoretical issues that arise out of the fact that in his own personal life Kant required (and made use of) a variety of corporeal practices of discipline (see Cutrofello, Discipline and Critique, chap. 4). Where Cutrofello uses this aspect as a jumping-off point to identify certain theoretical tensions in Kant’s project, however, I want to prolong our attention on the impact and implications of the wider practices of humiliation that Kant’s philosophy develops not only for Kant personally, but for all moral subjects. 7 Some prominent articulations of this widespread perception would be Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (New York: Collins, 1985); Alaisdair MacIntyre, Short History of Ethics (Notre Dame, Ind: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998); Michael Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); John Rawls, Theory of Justice (Boston: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999) and Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996). A few scholars have challenged this image by presenting Kant as a virtue theorist whose thinking is not as categorically separated from Aristotle as we are usually told. See, for example, Robert B. Louden, ‘Kant’s Virtue Ethics,’ in Virtue Ethics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997) and Onora O’Neill, ‘Kant after Virtue,’ Inquiry 26 (1984), 387–405. Both note, however, the prevalence of the ‘Kant as formalist’ reading in most academic circles – and this prevalence continues today. Moreover, these two theorists do not explore the ways in which Kant creates practices of cultivation. Rather, their aim is

266 Notes to pages 85–6 primarily a theoretical one: to argue that Kant possesses a ‘theory’ of the virtues, and an ‘ethic of virtue rather than an ethic of rules’ (O’Neill, ‘Kant after Virtue,’ 397). 8 Hegel most clearly forwards this line in section 135 of Elements of the Philosophy of Right, ed. Allen Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991). 9 Ibid. According to Hegel, this leaves Kant with two problems. On one hand, this empty formalism cannot, by itself, determine any particular duties: ‘From this point of view, no immanent theory of duties is possible. One may indeed bring in material from outside and thereby arrive at particular duties, but it is impossible to make the transition to the determination of particular duties from the above determination of duty as absence of contradiction’ (ibid.). But even if a particular content is taken ‘from outside’ and put to Kant’s moral test to determine the particular duty, according to Hegel, there is ‘no criterion within that principle for deciding whether or not this content is duty’ (ibid.). Because Kant’s universal maxim (the Categorical Imperative) ‘does not in itself contain any principle apart from formal identity and that absence of contradiction,’ while it may yield a concrete representation of moral action, the problem is that ‘it is possible to justify any wrong or immoral mode of action by this means’ (ibid.). Kant’s moral science, therefore, both potentially morally legitimizes any consistent action (and is therefore no morality at all) and must employ a cultural content external to itself (thus embedding contingency in the heart of morality and contradicting its very claim to authority). This line of thought leads directly to the neo-Hegelian critiques forwarded by some communitarian and virtue ethics perspectives. The authors of these critiques claim that the formality of Kant’s project badly mis-describes or misunderstands the way that moral motivation functions, and that this means that his system either is unable to motivate the moral will it seeks to establish (because they are not able to gain purchase on the feelings and emotions that inspire ethical action) or must rely covertly on values (such as friendship, community, family) that its description of morality disallows. Neo-Kantians respond that the special moral feeling of respect provides moral incentive for individual subjects and since it is derived from the formality of the moral law, it provides a substantive anchor that avoids the contingency of culture and history. 10 There are clearly differences between contemporary neo-Hegelian readings of Kant. Some commentators, following Hegel’s early remarks in the Philosophy of Right, suggest that Hegel saw Kant’s conception of freedom as essentially liberal: ‘nothing other than formal self-activity’ Hegel, Philoso-

Notes to pages 86–8 267



13 14 15 16

phy of Right, s. 15. For interpretations that forward this line see, for example, Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice; H. Lottenbach and S. Tanenbaum, ‘Hegel’s Critique of Kant in the Philosophy of Right,’ Kant Studien 86:2 (1995), 211–30). Others argue that Kant, in fact, largely shares a notion of autonomy as Wille – that is, a Reason that determines the moral – with Hegel. See, for example, Charles Taylor, ‘Kant’s Idea of Freedom,’ in Philosophy and the Human Sciences: Philosophical Papers II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985); Steve Smith, ‘Defending Hegel from Kant,’ in Essays on Kant’s Political Philosophy, ed. Howard Williams (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1992); Paul Franco, ‘Hegel and Liberalism,’ Review of Politics 54:2 (1997), 831–60. The important thing, however, is that all of these interpretations share Hegel’s belief that Kant’s philosophy is fundamentally formalist in nature. See, for example, Alasdair McIntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), 44; Michael Sandel, ‘Conclusion,’ in Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. It also underlies, for example, Taylor’s contemporary assertions that procedural liberals rely on various implicit historical and cultural background assumptions and norms to establish their systems. See, for example, ‘Cross Purposes: The Liberal-Communitarian Debate,’ in Philosophical Arguments (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995). For a more detailed outline, see Habermas’s summary of the Hegelian critique of Kant, ‘Morality and Ethical Life: Does Hegel’s Critique of Kant Apply to Discourse Ethics?’ in Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990). John Rawls, ‘Themes in Kant’s Moral Philosophy,’ reprinted in Kant and Political Philosophy, ed. Ronald Beiner and William Booth (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993), 292. Other relevant writings on Kant include Rawls’s outline of Kant in ‘Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory,’ Journal of Philosophy 77 (Sept. 1980), 515–72; his wide-ranging lecture notes on Kant contained in Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000); and his comments on Kant in Theory of Justice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971) especially 251–7; and Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), especially ‘Lecture III.’ Rawls, ‘Themes in Kant’s Moral Philosophy,’ 292 (my emphasis). Rawls, Theory of Justice, chap. 3. Rawls, Political Liberalism, ‘Introduction,’ ‘Introduction to Paperback Edition,’ ‘Lecture I,’ ‘Lecture IV,’ ‘Lecture VI.’ We saw some of these claims in our discussion of common sense recognition in the Critique of Practical Reason, for example, Kant, AK 5:31, 62;




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23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Notes to pages 88–93

Critique of Practical Reason, ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 28, 54. Further references will be to CPrR. Another excellent example of this is found in the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, in which Kant claims, ‘The practical use of ordinary human reason confirms the rightness of this deduction. There is no one, not even the most hardened scoundrel – provided only he is accustomed to use reason in other ways – who, when presented with examples of honesty in purpose, of faithfulness to good maxims, of sympathy and of kindness towards all (even when these are bound up with great sacrifices of advantage and comfort) does not wish that he too might be a man of like spirit’ AK 4:454. Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, trans. and ed. H.J. Paton (New York: Harper, 1964), 122. further references will be to Groundwork. Here we all still recognize the force and authority of the moral law, even if we all are not strong enough to live up to its commands in reality. In this section I do not seek to offer a comprehensive overview of Kant’s views in this work. Rather, I seek to use parts of it to show that there are moments when Kant’s project is more open to the question of cultivation. This, at minimum, should encourage us to doubt the dominant, and rigid, view of Kant as exclusively formalist – and make us more open to the type of interpretation I will develop in this essay. Kant, AK 6:29; Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, ed. and trans. T.M. Greene and H. Hudson (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960), 24. Further references will be to RLR. Kant, AK 6:29, fn.; RLR, 24, fn. Kant, AK 6:51. RLR, 46 (my emphasis). Kant, AK 6:47. RLR, 42 (last sentence: my emphasis). Kant, AK 6:50. RLR, 45–6 (my emphasis). I have replaced Greene and Hudson’s translation of ‘sentiments,’ with ‘disposition’ as it more closely expresses the German. This is also the term preferred by Gordon Wood and George Di Giovanni in their recent translation in the Cambridge series: Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 70. Kant, AK 6:49; RLR, 44. Ibid. Kant, AK 5:157; CPrR, 129–30. Kant, AK 5:118; CPrR, 99. Kant, AK 6:407–8. Metaphysics of Morals, ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 166. Further references will be to MoM. Kant, AK 6:408; MoM, 167. Kant, AK 5:147; CPrR, 122 (my emphasis).

Notes to pages 94–102 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

39 40 41 42 43 44

45 46


Kant, AK 6:215–16; MoM, 9–10. Kant, AK 6:50; RLR, 46. Kant, AK 6:383; MoM, 148. Kant, AK 6:394; MoM, 156, 157. Kant, AK 5:118; CPrR, 99. However, this reading, as we shall see, merely begs the question of how this process of ‘evaluation’ takes place. Andrews Reath, ‘Kant’s Theory of Moral Sensibility: Respect for the Moral Law and the Influence of Inclination,’ Kant Studien 80:3 (1989), 296. Reath, ‘Moral Sensibility,’ 296, 297 n. 26, 300 (my emphasis). This is particularly true in the Metaphysics of Morals and Religion within the Limits of Reason. But it is also true of the second Critique, especially those sections in which Kant describes moral incentives and their relationship to/against sensible inclinations. I hope that the evidence in this chapter will be sufficient to demonstrate the predominance of these metaphors and render plausible an understanding of Kant that highlights them. It is interesting to note, moreover, that while Reath claims that the various metaphors of struggle are embedded and defined by their relation to larger metaphors of political and legal justification/legitimacy, he provides almost no textual evidence of this in his article. Kant, AK 6:408; MoM, 166 (my emphasis). Kant, AK 6:446; MoM, 196. Kant, AK 6:387; MoM, 151. Kant, AK 6:477; MoM, 221. Ibid. Hunter, Rival Enlightenments: Civil and Metaphysical Philosophy in Early Modern Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), ‘Introduction’ and chap. 4. Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), 26 (my emphasis). Hence Kant’s suggestion that full ethical cosmopolitan is the necessary condition of possibility for the ideal moral community (and thus the teleological end of human progression). See his comments on this in ‘Perpetual Peace,’ AK 8; On History, ed. Lewis White Beck (New York: Macmillan, 1963). Chapter 4: Kantian Humiliation: Mnemotechnics of Morality

1 Genealogy of Morals, trans. Walter Kaufman (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), ‘Essay II,’ ss. 2–3.


Notes to pages 102–4

2 The Rule of St. Benedict, ed. Timothy Fry (Minnessota: Liturgical Press, 1981), 198–201. This edition provides both the original Latin and an English translation. I have used their translation for most of the quotation but corrected it in two parts. First, I prefer ‘the lowest of men’ as the translation of abiectio plebes rather than their ‘scorned by men.’ The former better highlights the movement between the high and the low that is central to humiliation. Secondly, where Fry translates the Latin humiliatas and humiliasti as ‘humbled’ and humbling,’ I have stayed more faithful to the Latin root by translating it as ‘humiliated’ and ‘humiliating.’ Thanks to Dr Marc Sourette for assistance with this translation. 3 Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989) under ‘humility’ and under ‘humble.’ 4 Ibid., under ‘humiliate.’ 5 I do not mean to suggest that humiliation is the only way to reach humility. However, since the act and experience of humiliation is crucial to both Christian and, as I will argue, Kantian morality, this is the mode of rendering humble that I will focus on. 6 Augustine, Confessions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). 7 The lines separating affect, emotion, and feeling are blurred at best. I will loosely use ‘affect’ to suggest an often autonomic and irreducibly bodily intensity or energy that has powerful effects on the body and consciousness. An emotion or feeling is an intensity that has been captured and defined by a social logic or language that limits and codes its flow. It is, as Brian Massumi suggests, ‘intensity owned and recognized.’ One of the strengths of monastic practices was that they managed to tap into these intensities and work to redefine them into emotions that themselves were appropriate to a Christian moral disposition and helped to foster other complementary emotions and desires. For a brief consideration of the importance of making the distinction between affect and emotion see Brian Massumi, ‘The Autonomy of Affect,’ in The Deleuze Critical Reader, ed. Paul Patton (London: Blackwell, 1996). 8 Charles Taylor’s discussion of the cultural background of emotions, while sometimes a little intellectualist (insofar as he links it very closely to common meanings), is instructive here. On this topic see ‘Self-Interpreting Animals’ and ‘The Concept of a Person,’ in Philosophical Papers I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985) and ‘Interpretation and the Sciences of Man,’ in Philosophical Papers II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). It is telling, I think, that Taylor virtually always includes shame or humiliation as his primary example of peculiarly human emotions.

Notes to pages 105–6 271 9 One particularly pertinent statement of this view can be found in Aviahai Margalit, The Decent Society (Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 1996) and the special issue of Social Research 64:1 (Spring 1997) devoted to discussing that book (especially Steven Lukes, ‘Humiliation and the Politics of Identity,’ 36–52). 10 As we saw in the previous chapter, according to the prevalent ‘morality as autonomy’ interpretation, Kant’s moral system is the paradigmatic attempt to create a moral economy grounded solely on the principle of autonomy. In this view, the moral subject no longer is authoritatively commanded and determined by God, authority, or tradition, but instead is bound only by the laws of freedom his own autonomy makes necessary, which is why J.B. Schneewind claims that Kant is the most radical of the ‘eighteenth century efforts to articulate the normative belief about the dignity and worth of the individual’; The Invention of Autonomy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 6. Many of the proponents of the formalist interpretation also share this view of Kant. Charles Taylor sees the Kantian view as understanding ‘human dignity to consist largely in autonomy, that is, in the ability of each person to determine for himself or herself a view of the good life’; ‘The Politics of Recognition,’ in Philosophical Arguments (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995), 245) Michael Sandel suggests that Kant’s philosophy is stridently opposed to any conception of teleology, ‘regarding ourselves as independent: independent from the interests and attachments we may have at any moment, never identified by our aims but always capable of standing back to survey and assess and possibly to revise them’; Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 175. According to these interpretations the moral law is therefore ‘to be found in the subject, not the object of practical reason, a subject capable of an autonomous will’ (ibid., 6). Autonomy ensures that morality must be freely accepted or acknowledged – it can never be coerced or commanded. Thus, even Rawls, who acknowledges the importance of Kant’s reliance on the ‘fact of reason,’ still argues that the deduction of the necessary conditions of morality stem from the freedom of the rational subject: ‘the distinctive feature of Kant’s view of freedom is the central place of the moral law as an idea of pure reason; and pure reason, both theoretical and practical, is free’; ‘Themes in Kant’s Moral Philosophy,’ Kant and Political Philosophy, ed. Ronald Beiner and William Booth (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993), 317. Hence the idea that humiliation is not only anathema but, in fact, the primary ‘evil’ faced by a moral society based on autonomy and dignity. 11 Kant, AK 5:74; Critique of Practical Reason, ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge:

272 Notes to pages 106–16

12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27



Cambridge University Press, 1997), 64 (‘humiliation’: my emphasis). Further references will be to CPrR. See, for example, Kant, AK 5:31, 6; CPrR, 28, 54. Kant, AK 5:72; CPrR, 63. Kant, AK 5:73; CPrR, 63. Kant, AK 5:74; CPrR, 64. Kant, AK 5:73; CPrR, 63. Kant, AK 5:74; CPrR, 64. Kant, AK 5:74; CPrR, 63. Kant, AK 5:73; CPrR, 63. Kant, AK 5:75; CPrR, 65. Kant, AK 5:77; CPrR, 66. Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, trans. Walter Kaufman (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), Essay II, Section 3. Kant, AK 5:77; CPrR, 66–7 (‘than ... severity’: my emphasis). Kant, AK 5:78; CPrR, 67. Kant, AK 5:77; CPrR, 67. Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, III:19 Once again, Charles Taylor is instructive on this point. Harm, he thinks, ‘is a hard, culture resistant fact. But a situation is not humiliating independent of all significance conditions. For a situation to be humiliating or shameful, the agent has to be of the kind who is in principle sensitive to shame’; ‘The Concept of a Person,’ 110. One of the key conditions of possibility for that kind of experience is a deep and variable cultural background. On this see ‘Self-Interpreting Animals,’ 53–7, and ‘Interpretation and the Sciences of Man,’ 24. While the feeling of shame that Taylor speaks of is not identical to humiliation, they are the same insofar as they both require culturally specific background conditions for their experience and intelligibility. William Ian Miller also underlines the cultural prerequisites for the experience of humiliation and gives a good overview of the social psychological literature on this as well; see Humiliation (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993), chap. 4. Nietzsche understood that it was shame, not humiliation, that defined the pagan societies of honour, and that the logic of humiliation differs from that of shame. William Miller, in Humiliation, makes a similar point in his analysis of the difference between the Icelandic sagas and modern cultures of humiliation. But when compared with the ideal logic of a society based on autonomous respect, moralities of both humiliation and shame are more similar than they are different. It should be obvious that I am not making a historical claim about the influ-

Notes to pages 116–20

30 31 32 33 34 35



38 39 40

41 42 43 44 45


ence of a Benedictine conception of morality on Kant. Rather, I am using the importance of humility and humiliation in monastic practices as a suggestive analogy that illuminates the affective power of humiliation in early modern and modern moral culture and helps to shed light on the way in which the Kantian Imperative might be seen to recover, rework, and reengage the affective force of humiliation in the pursuit of moral motivation and moral recognition. In this light, the doctrinal differences between St Benedict’s medieval Christianity and Kant’s pietism are less important than their practical similarities. The Rule of St. Benedict, 187. Ibid., 189. Ibid., 193. Ibid., 195. Ibid., 201. Kant catalogues this hierarchy of moral states in the first book of Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. AK, 6. Kant, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960). Further references will be to RLR. I am indebted to Andrew Cutrofello for urging me to consider in more detail the relationship between monkish ascetics and ethical gymnastics in Kant. He also offered very helpful commentary on some of the implications of this distinction and suggested the rich and suggestive terms of ‘narcissistic’ versus ‘edifying’ humiliation. For a consideration of the problems with modern anthropological, historical and philosophical attempts to understand monastic practices, see Talal Asad, Genealogies of Religion (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993). Kant, AK 6:485; Metaphysics of Morals, ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 227. Further references will be to MoM. Ibid. Andrew Cutrofello’s insightful analysis of some of the following passages from the Metaphysics of Morals (which he undertakes for a slightly different purpose) develops a number of complementary, though distinct, points in chapter 3 of Discipline and Critique (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1994). Kant, AK 6:485; MoM, 227. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.


Notes to pages 120–6

46 Ibid. 47 There are a whole series of fascinating questions that could be pursued out of the theme of narcissistic vs edifying humiliation – questions that could lead into a much larger discussion on the nature of humiliation and the way contemporary theorists conceptualize it (including Freud, Lacan, Zizek, Adorno, and Horkheimer, etc.). I do not, however, have space to explore them here. 48 Two points are interesting here. First, the spirit embodied by Benedict’s writings seem to be much closer to the self-confident and self-creative spirit Nietzsche agonistically admired in the ascetic priests he also mercilessly critiqued than to the grovelling self-loathing that Kant describes. Second, even in the light of Benedict’s love of the moral law and his proactive, affirmative spirit, Kant still might view Benedict’s practices as driven by ‘superstition,’ given that it is still doctrinally founded on a metaphysical faith in God. The point is, however, that the distinction is not nearly as clear-cut as Kant’s initial presentation suggests. 49 The Rule of St. Benedict, 297, 201. 50 Asad, Genealogies of Religion. 51 Hugh of St Victor, quoted in Asad, Genealogies of Religion, 78. 52 Asad, Genealogies of Religion, 78 53 Ibid., 130. 54 Ibid., 134 (my emphasis). 55 Ibid., 135. 56 Ibid., 144. 57 Miller, Humiliation, 160–1. 58 Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, 3:20. 59 Miller, Humiliation, 130. 60 Difference and Repetition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 165–6. 61 A good summary of the history of the lectures can be found in E.F. Buchner’s introduction to Kant, The Educational Theory of Immanuel Kant, trans. and ed. E.F. Buchner (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1903), 11–20. 62 For example, the theory of the faculties and the conception of morality underpinning his notes seem to reflect conceptions found in the second Critique and later works – rather than his earlier, pre-critical thought. 63 On this see Buchner, Educational Theory, 17–20. 64 G. Felicitas Munzel has begun to systematically trace the centrality of education to Kant’s larger philosophy by establishing the parallels between it and the classical notion of paideia. Munzel suggests that Kant’s conception sees education as proceeding largely as a dialogue between equals and thus suggests that this pedagogy of friendship might represent a practice of cul-

Notes to pages 126–9 275


66 67 68 69 70 71


73 74 75 76


tivation that recognizes and embodies the philosophical value of autonomy. While I think this does capture one aspect of Kant’s thinking, I want to pursue another version that it develops at other moments. For a consideration of these moments in the light of the conception of affective cultivation developed in this chapter suggests that Kant’s thinking also forwards a very different, and non-egalitarian, conception of education as affective discipline. For Munzel’s portrait see ‘Menshenfreudschaft: Friendship and Pedagogy in Kant,’ Eighteenth-Century Studies 32:2 (1999), 247–59. This is why Kant argues vigorously for the need for ‘experimental schools’ that would allow each generation to refine and rework the pedagogical methods. See Kant, Uber Pedagogik, AK 9: 450–1; Education (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1960), 22–3. Future references will be to Education. See also Munzel’s discussion of it in ‘Menschenfreudschaft.’ Kant, AK 9:446; Education, 11. Kant, AK 9:492; Education, 108. Kant, AK 9:445; Education, 9 (my emphasis). Kant, AK 9:483; Education, 89. Kant, AK 9:482; Education, 87–8. As Kant suggests, ‘many people imagine that their years of their youth are the pleasantest and best of their lives; but it is not really so. They are the most troublesome; for we are then under strict discipline, can seldom choose our friends and even still more seldom can we have our freedom’; AK 9:485; Education, 93. Kant also recognizes that one cannot simply ignore imagination. Imagination ‘needs to be curbed and brought under rule, but at the same time it should not be left quite unoccupied.’ It is too powerful to be left to its own devices. Who knows what delusional images and affects it might produce and how these might hamper the cultivation of respect for the law. Kant therefore recommends encouraging children to look at maps to exercise their imagination within the clearly defined and enforced boundaries of common sense; AK 9:475–6; Education, 78. Kant, AK 9:443; Education, 6. Kant, AK 9:446; Education, 12. Kant, AK 6:479; MoM, 222. Of course, the mere formal process of Socratic dialogue does not ensure that tactics of humiliation cannot be mobilized. As Steve Johnson pointed out to me – just ask Crito! At the very least, however, a Socratic dialogue would suggest more innate ability on the part of both parties than does a moral catechism. Kant, AK 6:479; MoM, 222.

276 Notes to pages 129–41 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90

91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104

Kant, AK 6:480; MoM, 223. Kant, AK 6:479; MoM, 222. Kant, AK 6:477; MoM, 221. Kant, AK 6:483; MoM, 225. Kant, AK 5:152; CprR, 125–6 (my emphasis). Kant, AK 5:159–60; CprR, 131. Kant, AK 5:160; CprR, 131–2, 132. Kant, AK 5:160–1; CprR, 132. Kant, AK 5:161; CprR, 133. Ibid. (my emphasis). Kant, AK 5:158; CprR, 130. Kant, AK 6:409; MoM, 167. This is why Kant thinks that when we judge our final disposition (just before death), the value of this new disposition depends importantly on how well this disposition would guard against a reversion to immorality. Kant states, ‘even though he may believe that his disposition has improved, he must also take into consideration the old (corrupt) disposition with which he started; he must be able to infer what, and how much, of this disposition he has cast off, what quality (whether pure or impure) the assumed new disposition possesses as well as its degree of strength to overcome the old disposition and guard against a relapse’; AK 6:77; RLR, 71. Kant, AK 6:68; RLR, 62. Ibid. Kant, AK 9:452; Education, 23. Kant, AK 9:453; Education, 26. Kant, AK 6:165; RLR, 153. Kant, AK 6:157; RLR, 145. Kant, AK 6:193; RLR, 182. Kant, AK 6:195, n.; RLR, 183, n. Kant, AK 6:198; RLR, 186 (my emphasis). Kant, AK 6:197 n.; RLR, 186 n. Kant, AK 6:197–8; RLR, 186. J.B. Schneewind, The Invention of Autonomy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 4. Miller, Humiliation, chap. 5. We might, in this sense, even look at Kant as a key articulation of ‘weak ontology’ in Stephen White’s sense. On the concept of weak ontology, see White, Sustaining Affirmation: The Strengths of Weak Ontology in Political Theory (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000).

Notes to pages 142–9 277 Interlogue: Implications and Speculation 1 I am indebted to Steve Johnston for highlighting some of the key points of contact between Augustine, Rousseau, and Kant. 2 On Rousseau’s politics of cruelty, see Steve Johnston, Encountering Tragedy: Rousseau and the Project of Democratic Order (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1999). 3 Once again – I want to thank Steve Johnston for encouraging me to further reflect on this question. 4 T. Adorno and M. Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Continuum, 1993). 5 My thinking on many of the following points was significantly enriched by discussions with the students who participated in my POL 4710 Seminaire Synthèse en Pensée Politique at the University of Ottawa in 2004. Thanks, in particular, to Chris Ferko and Suzanne Gallant, whose remarkably clear presentations on the Dialectic sparked great discussions in those classes. 6 For an expanded image of ‘nature’ that explores the importance of both human and non-human actants, see Jane Bennett, ‘Distributive Agency,’ Public Culture, forthcoming 2005. 7 This argument is outlined primarily in ‘The Concept of Enlightenment’ and ‘Excursus I’ in Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment. 8 This argument is outlined primarily in ‘The Concept of Enlightenment,’ ‘Excursus II,’ and ‘Culture Industry,’ in Dialectic of Enlightenment. 9 I am indebted to Andrew Cutrofello for encouraging me to think more about the relationship between humiliation and hubris. I also benefited from discussing this issue (in a much earlier forum) with Bill Connolly and Jane Bennett. 10 Benedictus de Spinoza, Ethics (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1992), 4:Pr. 63s. 11 Identifying and outlining the major relevant perspectives in political thought, moral philosophy, psychology, psychoanalysis, and so on would require a full chapter in itself. The project of robustly evaluating competing and complementary explanations on theoretical grounds – and then in reference to Kant’s own work – would require at least another chapter. Given that I believe it is more important to analyse the contemporary Kantian Imperative, there is not room for this project here. 12 As Andrew Cutrofello details well in chapters 3 and 4 of Discipline and Critique, Kant was incredibly disciplined and regimented in his personal life (which might help to explain why he felt such a deep commitment to the imperative image of morality). One prominent element is the extraordinar-

278 Notes to pages 149–60 ily martial relationship Kant had with his body in order to regulate his daily patterns. According to one source, at ‘precisely five minutes before five o’clock [A.M.], winter and summer, Lampe, Kant’s footman, who had formerly served in the army, marched into his master’s room with the air of a sentinel on duty and cried aloud, in a military tone, ‘Mr. Professor, the time is come.’ (Thomas De Quincy, ‘The Last Days of Immanuel Kant,’ in The English Mail-Coach and Other Essays [New York: Dutton, 1961], 177.) This martial command had, apparently, an immediate effect on Kant: ‘This summons Kant invariably obeyed without one moment’s delay, as a soldier does the word of command – never, under any circumstances, allowing himself a respite’ (ibid., 177). Kant, in fact, was intensely proud of the fact that Lampe had never been required to rouse him twice. The parallels with the way that humiliation functions in Kant’s moral system are clear. The martial command – the order of power – demands respect in Kant. Kant, as such, obeys immediately. The result? The humiliation (of being asleep) is transformed into immediate respect of the command, which then creates a cheerful and valiant disposition that is proud of its ability to obey the martial law without further incentives. It is unclear, of course, as to whether Kant’s personal passion for order, humiliation, and respect predated and oriented his moral project, whether his personal passion is a reflection of his philosophical conclusions, or whether both are the case. This is one avenue that might be further explored. 13 Dogmatically asserting those sorts of things would run the risk of confirming Amy Gutmann’s worry that anyone who is slightly critical of universalism illegitimately generalizes (or assumes) from a few specific examples that all universalism is the will to power. 14 Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 135, 134. 15 William Connolly, Ethos of Pluralization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995), 29. Chapter 5: Habermas’s Kantian Imperative 1 ‘Metaphysics after Kant,’ in Postmetaphysical Thinking (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992), 13. 2 ‘Themes in Postmetaphysical Thinking,’ in Postmetaphysical Thinking, 31–5. 3 See ‘Morality and Ethical Life: Does Hegel’s Critique of Kant Apply to Discourse Ethics?’ in Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990). 4 ‘Morality and Ethical Life,’ 203.

Notes to pages 160–6 279 5 ‘A Philosophical Profile,’ in Autonomy and Solidarity (London: Verso Press, 1992), 158. 6 ‘Discourse Ethics, Law and Sittlichkeit,’ in Autonomy and Solidarity, ed. P. Dews (London: Verso, 1992), 247 (my emphasis). 7 See, for example, ‘On the Pragmatic, The Ethical, and the Moral Employments of Practical Reason,’ Justification and Application (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993); Between Facts and Norms (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996); Ciaran Cronin and Pablo De Greiff, ‘Editor’s Introduction,’ The Inclusion of the Other (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998). 8 This is clear in virtually all of his writings on morality. For particularly strong statements see ‘Discourse Ethics,’ in Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action; ‘Remarks on Discourse Ethics,’ in Justification and Application; ‘A Genealogical Analysis of the Cognitive Content of Morality,’ in The Inclusion of the Other, especially s. VII. 9 ‘A Genealogical Analysis,’ s. IX. 10 Autonomy and Solidarity, 201. 11 ‘Postscript to Knowledge and Human Interests,’ Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 3 (1973), 165. 12 Knowledge and Human Interests (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), 202. 13 Ibid., 312. 14 Ibid., 230 (my emphasis). 15 Ibid., appendix, 324. 16 ‘Universal Pragmatics,’ in Communication and the Evolution of Society (Boston: Beacon Press, 1979), 1. 17 Ibid., 9. 18 Ibid., 14. 19 Ibid., 2. 20 ‘Discourse Ethics,’ 98. 21 We might also see one other notable strategy that parallels Kant’s thinking in Habermas’s exploration of a teleological presentation of the evolution of the human species. While I do not have space to explore it in detail, I will briefly sketch it here. In Communication and the Evolution of Society, Habermas suggests that there are three progressive stages in the development of the life-world of the human species: the pre-conventional, the conventional, and the post-conventional. This progression, Habermas suggests, has an ‘internal history’ whose ‘developmental logic’ points us towards an imperative set of normative laws (123). This sketch, however, is highly theoretical and abstract, containing little substantive evidence to justify his claims. Even Habermas appreciates its speculative and inconclusive nature. Yet he ‘sticks to this theme in spite of the unsatisfactory degree of explication’

280 Notes to pages 166–70

22 23

24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34

(117). Why? I suspect that by offering a speculative, but far from conclusive, vision of the telos of human development, Habermas’s narrative attempts to reinforce common sense recognition of the ideals of communicative action by making those ideals rationally defensible, if not incontestably necessary. It gives us a possible (and perhaps defensible) framework for making sense of recognition, but it does not prove it to be a necessary conclusion. From this perspective, Habermas’s theoretical history of the human species might well be understood as a modernized and updated version of Kant’s attempt to render plausible the conditions of morality in the Conjectural Beginning of Human History or The Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View. For both forward a possible (but not necessarily proven) interpretation of human history which ultimately helps to solidify certain secondary beliefs and understandings, which then support the common sense recognition on which their moral projects depend. Where Kant is able to forward that faith through a series of conjectures and theses (since his structure of recognition makes those doctrines possible and necessary), Habermas has to rely on a certain form of modern socialscientific validity claims to create the force of the narrative. ‘Discourse Ethics,’ 61. ’Communicative Action’ and ‘Practical Discourse’ are two different modes of the same practice for Habermas. Communicative Action is communication where the validity claims of assertions are taken for granted, whereas discourse is the realm of discussion and debate that arises when the legitimacy of a validity claim in communicative action is questioned. It is the sphere in which the normally accepted claims of communicative action must be argued for and justified by giving reasons. Habermas, however, has very little to say about what constitutes ‘good reasons’ and ‘argument.’ ‘Discourse Ethics,’ 67. Ibid. Ibid., 100. Ibid., 82 ‘The Unity of Reason in the Diversity of its Voices,’ in Postmetaphysical Thinking, 115. Ibid., 140. ‘Individuation through Socialization,’ in Postmetaphysical Thinking, 162. Ibid., 191. Ibid., 186. Ibid., 185. Kant, AK 5:35; Critique of Practical Reason, ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 32. Further references will be to CPrR (my emphasis).

Notes to pages 171–8 281 35 Kant, AK 5:37; CprR, 34. 36 Kant, AK 5:79; CprR 68. 37 Kant, AK 6:400; Metaphysics of Morals, ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 160. 38 ‘Discourse Ethics,’ 45. 39 Ibid., 47. 40 Ibid., 48. 41 Habermas, ‘Remarks on Discourse Ethics,’ in Justification and Application, 40. 42 Ibid., 40, 40–1 (my emphasis). 43 Ibid., 14 (my emphasis). 44 Ibid., 50. 45 See, for example, the essays in The Communicative Ethics Controversy, ed. S. Benhabib and F. Dallmyr (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990). 46 ‘Discourse Ethics,’ 81 (my emphasis). 47 The debate is described in ‘Discourse Ethics’ (76–7), but Habermas’s justification of his position stretches between pages 76 and 98. 48 See ‘Discourse Ethics,’ especially 76. 49 This inexplicable moment is frequent in movies of the genre, allowing the protagonist to escape from an otherwise intractable position, but it is rarely convincing and almost never ‘rational.’ There is perhaps no better example of this than the classic James Bond formula. The absurdity and irrationality of these plots are best highlighted in a scene from Mike Myers’s spoof, Austin Powers (1996). Dr Evil (Blofeld) has captured Austin Powers (Bond) and his partner and has invited them to one last dinner before Dr Evil destroys the world and kills Powers. Dr Evil’s son Scott (the epitome of rationality) cannot understand his father’s actions. Scott: ‘What are you feeding them for? Why don’t you just kill him?’ Dr Evil: ‘No Scott, I have an even better idea. I will place them in an easily escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death.’ Scott: ‘Why don’t you just shoot him now? I mean, I’ll get a gun and we’ll shoot them together. BAM. Dead. Done.’ Dr Evil declines – offering no reasons but only arbitrary threats of paternal punishment – and continues his plan to feed Powers and his partner to ill-tempered sea bass. Dr Evil: ‘Start the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism! Close the tank!’ Scott: ‘What, aren’t you even going to watch them? What if they get away?’ Dr Evil: (irritated) ‘No, no, no. I’m going to leave them alone and not

282 Notes to pages 178–87 actually witness them dying. I’m just going to assume that it all went to plan. What?’

50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57

58 59 60

61 62 63 64 65

66 67

When his son still protests and begs to finish the job rationally and with certainty, Dr Evil replies, ‘You just don’t get it do you Scott; you just don’t get it.’ It is a difference of sensibility. There are no rational explanations that Dr Evil can muster; thus, in the end, Dr Evil must rely on the authority of his position and ‘Shhhh’ his son into submission. Habermas, ‘Discourse Ethics,’ 79. ‘Remarks on Discourse Ethics,’ 22. ‘Lawrence Kohlberg and Neo-Aristotelianism,’ in Justification and Application, 122. ‘Remarks on Discourse Ethics,’ 22. ‘Kohlberg,’ 122. Ibid. ‘Remarks on Discourse Ethics,’ 22. Moreover, while Habermas certainly wants his moral position to underlie any legal code, he does not want to restrict his moral system merely to legal laws but wants to extend it into the very structure of how we make day-today non-legal ethical decisions. W.E. Connolly, Why I’m Not a Secularist (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 163, 175, 176. ‘Kohlberg,’ 114. Thus, in Justification and Application, Habermas does not go on to worry about how to cultivate a particular form of the family, actual relations of mutual recognition. Rather, he explores only how an analysis of communicative action avoids certain problems of neo-Aristotelian theory, and why, therefore, this should be recognized as apodictic and compelling for moral subjects. ‘Discourse Ethics,’ 98. ‘Remarks on DE,’ 76. What Is Philosophy? (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 107. Nietzsche and Philosophy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 94 (my emphasis). Such a strategy, however, would hardly be unique. On a Nietzschean view, what is rationalism (or, indeed, secular liberalism) if not a political practice that attempts to disguise itself as apolitical? Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1989), 115. Habermas, Postmetaphysical Thinking, 133.

Notes to pages 187–97


68 Habermas, ‘Unity of Reason,’ in Postmetaphysical Thinking, 145–6. 69 Ibid., 141. 70 Some of Habermas’s key writings on this topic are ‘Citizenship and National Identity,’ published originally in Praxis International in 1990 and reproduced as appendix II of Facts and Norms (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996); his reply to Charles Taylor, titled ‘Struggles for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State,’ Multiculturalism, ed. A. Gutmann (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994); ‘The European Nation State: Its Achievements and Its Limitations. On the Past and Future of Sovereignty and Citizenship,’ Ratio Juris 9:2 (1996), 125–37; ‘Multiculturalism and the Liberal State,’ Stanford Law Review 47 (May 1995), 849–53; ‘Remarks on Legitimation through Human Rights,’ Philosophy and Social Criticism 24:2/3 (1998), 151–71; The Postnational Constellation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); ‘Why Europe Needs a Constitution,’ New Left Review 11 (Sept/Oct 2001), 5–26; ‘Europe: plaidoyer pour une politique extérieure commun’ (with Jacques Derrida), Libération, 31 May 2003. 71 See ‘The European Nation State.’ 72 ‘Europe: plaidoyer pour une politique extérieure commun.’ 73 Ibid. 74 Ibid. 75 ‘The European Nation State,’ 134. 76 Habermas describes the idea of ‘constitutional patriotism’ in ‘The European Nation State,’ 133. 77 Habermas, Derrida, ‘Europe: plaidoyer pour une politique extérieure commun.’ 78 ‘Why Europe Needs a Constitution,’ 16–17. 79 ‘The European Nation State,’ 133. 80 Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. N.K. Smith (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1965), Axi. 81 Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, 165. 82 William Connolly explores one paradigmatic case in the reaction of Bill Bennett to contending conceptions of culture and moral value; see Why I’m Not a Secularist, chaps 3 and 4. 83 W.E. Connolly, ‘Brain Waves, Transcendental Fields and Techniques of Thought,’ Radical Philosophy 94 (March/April 1999), 27. Chapter 6: Taylor’s Common Sense Ontology 1 Berlin, ‘Introduction,’ Philosophy in an Age of Pluralism, ed. James Tully (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 1.

284 Notes to pages 197–201 2 MacIntyre, ‘Critical Remarks on The Sources of the Self,’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54:1 (1994), 187–90. However, MacIntyre does not think Taylor is successful in this attempt. 3 Michael Rosen, ‘Must We Return to Moral Realism?’ Inquiry 34:2 (1991), 183–94; Quentin Skinner, ‘Who Are “We”? Ambiguities of the Modern Self,’ Inquiry 34:2 (1991), 133–53. 4 White, Sustaining Affirmation (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000), 44. 5 In this portrait, Taylor’s project ‘construes depth and engagement ontologically’ but it also ‘nevertheless admits its own contestable status’; White, Sustaining, 45. Cf 52 as well. 6 Ibid., 64, 72. 7 For example, ‘Concept of a Person,’ ‘Language and Human Nature,’ ‘Theories of Meaning,’ all in Philosophical Papers I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985); ‘Atomism,’ in Philosophical Papers II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985); ‘The Validity of Transcendental Arguments,’ ‘Lichtung and Lebensform: Parallels between Heidegger and Wittgenstein,’ ‘Irreducibly Social Goods,’ and ‘To Follow a Rule,’ in Philosophical Arguments (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995), as well as Part I of Sources of the Self (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989). 8 See articles cited in nn. 2 and 3. 9 The term ‘strong ontologist’ is also borrowed from White, Sustaining. 10 Sources of the Self, 313. 11 See, most forcefully, his reply to his critics in ‘Comments and Replies,’ Inquiry 34:2 (June 1991), 237–54, also his ‘Reply to Commentators,’ in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54:1 (1994), 203–13. 12 Sources of the Self, 110–11 (my emphasis). 13 Taylor, ‘Theories of Meaning,’ 271. 14 Taylor claims that we must ‘come to recognize that the ethical is not a homogeneous domain with a single kind of good, based on a single kind of consideration’ and argues that ‘it ought to be clear from this that no singleconsideration procedure, be that of utilitarianism, or a theory of justice based on an ideal contract, can do justice to the diversity of goods we have to weigh together in normative political thinking’; ‘Diversity of Goods,’ in Philosophical Papers II, 244, 245). For similar comments, see also ‘Explanation and Practical Reason,’ in Sources of the Self, 55–7 (later published in Philosophical Arguments). 15 Daniel M. Weinstock, ‘The Political Theory of Strong Evaluation’ in Philosophy in an Age of Pluralism, ed. James Tully (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni-

Notes to pages 201–5 285

16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

31 32 33 34

35 36

versity Press, 1994), 173. What I like about this formulation is that, although Weinstock does not pursue the implication, it suggests that Taylor’s conception of agency is actually oriented by its conception (and ideal) of moral engagement rather than the ideal of moral engagement being deduced from a prior epistemological vision of the subject. I think this is particularly true of Taylor, who at various points explicitly challenges the idea that epistemology can be morally neutral and suggests instead that most presentations of the subject are both motivated by and hold implications for our moral positions. For Taylor’s most extended consideration of this point, although with a primary focus on the moral implications of epistemological concepts, see ‘Neutrality in Political Science,’ in Philosophical Papers II. ‘Diversity of Goods,’ 237 (my emphasis). ‘Explanation and Practical Reason,’ 37 (my emphasis). ‘Diversity of Goods,’ 237–8. Sources of the Self, 20 ‘Diversity of Goods,’ 234 (my emphasis). Sources of the Self, 4–5, 44 (my emphasis). See Taylor, ‘What is Human Agency,’ Philosophical Papers I. Ibid., 36. Ibid., 41–2. ‘Lichtung and Lebensform,’ 70. ‘Introduction,’ Philosophical Papers I and II, 12. ‘Rationality,’ Philosophical Papers II, 149. Taylor, Sources of the Self, 499. Taylor, ‘Diversity of Goods,’ 244. Elsewhere Taylor implicitly suggests the insufficiency of these terms by positioning his approach between an independent, objective, Platonic moral realism and pure subjectivism. See ‘Reply to Commentators,’ 211. ’Comments and Replies,’ 246. See ‘Reply to Commentators,’ 209. Hegel and Modern Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 94, 135, 139. Several excellent recent examples include Ruth Abbey, Charles Taylor (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000); Mark Redhead, Charles Taylor: Living and Thinking Deep Diversity (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002); and Nicholas Smith, Charles Taylor: Meaning, Morals and Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002) ‘The Concept of a Person,’ 104. ‘Introduction,’ Philosophical Papers I and II, 11.

286 Notes to pages 205–11 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45


47 48 49 50 51 52 53

54 55 56 57

‘What’s Wrong with Negative Liberty,’ Philosophical Papers II, 216. ‘Atomism,’ 205. Taylor, ‘Validity of Transcendental Arguments,’ 26, 20, 22. Ibid., 26 (my emphasis). Ibid., 32. Sources of the Self, x, 11. ‘Social Theory as Practice,’ Philosophical Papers II, 110. Ibid., 111. Taylor says, ‘This drawing of a moral map of the subject in an intrinsic part of what I referred earlier as discerning the good or higher life, or the shape of our aspirations, or the shape of our life as subject. It involves defining what it is we really are about, what is really important to us’; ‘Self-Interpreting Animals,’ in Philosophical Papers I, 67–8. It is important to note that, contra Skinner’s interpretation, Taylor is explicit that his position does not ground itself by making theism universally necessary. Taylor is a partisan for a theistic vision of moral sources, but he never argues that this is what we all share in late-modernity. Thus, although Taylor might have an interest in denying the ultimate foundation of his project if it were theistic, in this case I think that his self-understanding does accurately describe the way his philosophy functions. On this see ‘Comments and Replies,’ 241. Sources of the Self, 27 (my emphasis). ‘Interpretations and the Sciences of Man,’ in Philosophical Papers II, 39. Hegel and Modern Society, 134. Ibid., 134. Ibid., 83 (my emphasis). Ibid., 85. Sources of the Self, ix. Taylor is fully aware, however, of the fact that his narrative would be radically insufficient to this task and is explicit that his main goal lies primarily in sketching out the contours of modern identity, its ‘spiritual power,’ and, most important, ‘the visions of the good involved in it’; see Sources of the Self, chap. 12. Sources of the Self, 203, 105. Ibid., 503. Ethics of Authenticity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), 16, 17. For without common sense identity a universal, narcissist version of ideal of authenticity might legitimately be seen as a competing common sense, quite distinct from authenticity and thus not subject to its ideals and imperatives. Taylor relies on this for the practical force of his argument against narcissism throughout the book. See especially chapter 6.

Notes to pages 211–15


58 It is telling that these passages occur in his critique of Foucault. For Taylor’s modesty disappears and his practical dogmatism becomes most intense when he faces a non-naturalist position that equally challenges his own approach. Why? Because I suspect that he senses the fact that the only way to disallow such a contending approach, which, since it doesn’t merely reproduce the naturalist shallowness, is to ratchet up the imperative force of common sense. But as we will see below, Taylor has little legitimate ground to do this: his increasingly rigid appeal to the constitutive authority of common sense tends to contradict other elements of his own ontology (which are equally necessary to convict these contending visions of illegitimacy in Ethics of Authenticity, 66), in which he recognizes the equally constitutive role of innovative creation in the expression of our modern identity. More on this later. 59 Taylor, ‘Foucault on Freedom and Truth,’ Philosophical Papers II, 181. 60 Ibid. 61 ‘The Validity of Transcendental Arguments,’ 32 (my emphasis). 62 Once, of course, the confusing illusions of naturalist epistemology have been dispelled. 63 Sources of the Self, 63 (my emphasis). 64 It was a decision he later partially regretted. On this see Taylor’s reply to MacIntyre, ‘Reply to Commentators,’ 205: ‘I made a (it now seems unfortunate) strategic decision not to include a discussion of practical reason in an already too long book, just referring the reader to an as yet unpublished paper that would later become ‘Explanation and Practical Reason.’ See also Sources of the Self, 72, 530 n.36. 65 Sources of the Self, 72, 77. 66 Ethics of Authenticity, 31 (my emphasis). 67 Ibid. (my emphasis). 68 Ibid., 32. 69 ‘Explanation and Practical Reason,’ 54. 70 Ibid. 71 Sources of the Self, 75. 72 Ibid. 73 Taylor suggests that the apparent diversity and plurality, along with a naturalist epistemology, have encouraged many late-moderns to believe that ‘the modern world has made [any authoritative] frameworks problematic’ (ibid., 17.) 74 Ibid., 10. 75 ‘Diversity of Goods,’ 239. 76 ‘Self-Interpreting Animals,’ 64, 64–5 (my emphasis).

288 Notes to pages 215–20 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84


86 87


Ibid., 65, 67. Ibid., 67. ‘Diversity of Goods,’ 240. Hegel and Modern Society, 103. Taylor, Sources of the Self, 48. Skinner, ‘Ambiguities of the Modern Self,’ 150. ‘Where You Come From,’ Pay Attention (Polygram Records, 2002). If Nietzsche’s genealogy of affective moral reactions as historically and culturally constructed (and thus variable, contingent, and imbued with relations of power) is a plausible reading, it means that any attempt to establish an imperatively binding ontology and analysis of common sense moral identity (which is, of course, the model Taylor follows) is fundamentally undermined. This is why Taylor says, ‘no one can fail to recognize that, if true, Nietzsche’s genealogies are devastating. This is because genealogy goes to the heart of the logic of practical reason’; Sources of the Self, 73. Perhaps this insight explains Taylor’s vitriolic dismissals of any ‘neoNietzschean’ position and his active misreadings of Nietzsche and Foucault, among others. It is notable, however, that in all of these encounters, Taylor never once shows (or even discusses again) the impossibility of Nietzsche’s genealogical counter-vision of affective moral common sense. This conspicuous silence, given his recognition of the fundamental challenge it poses, is telling. Although I think Skinner does a poor job of it, he does raise the question of the degree to which we can legitimately formulate a single, common identity from the various strains of late-modernity being/becoming; see Skinner, ‘The Ambiguities of the Modern Self.’ ‘Language and Human Nature,’ 232. According to Taylor, ‘we are now in an age in which a publicly accessible cosmic order of meanings is an impossibility. The only way we can explore the order in which we are set with an aim to defining moral sources is through this part of personal resonances’; Sources of the Self, 512. On this, see also ‘Legitimation Crisis?’ Philosophical Papers II, especially 255–73. Taylor believes that post-romantic modern identity is predicated on the idea that we find meaning in expressing our authentic self. But the crucial difference is that, as post-romantics, we believe that the attempt to discover what we are so that we might more authentically express it is inextricably linked to a degree of individual invention. Thus, the creation of a play is both creative and original, but is deeply expressive of something beyond mere choice – something that calls the authentic self and compels it to express itself in that way. In Taylor’s words, the result is that ‘we moderns

Notes to pages 220–6 289

89 90

91 92 93 94




98 99

have become acutely aware of how much sense being there for us depends on our powers of expression. Discovery here depends on, is interwoven with, inventing’; Sources of the Self, 18; see also chap. 21. According to Taylor, then, this combination of discovery and creation, as the essence of expression, is ‘part of the massive subjective turn of modern culture’ and a ‘powerful moral ideal that has come down to us,’ which we cannot ignore; ‘Politics of Recognition,’ Philosophical Arguments, 228. See ‘Liberal Politics and the Public Sphere,’ in Philosophical Arguments, 267–8. There is significant debate about the terms ‘right’ vs ‘good’ and the assumptions embedded in each. I will not pursue this question here. Instead, I will primarily focus on the issue of how to balance considerations of individual and communal values. Thus, I will use ‘individual right’ to denote primarily individual values and ‘social good’ to denote primarily communal values. This is a term developed by William Connolly in Why I Am Not a Secularist (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). Ibid. Mark Redhead argues that fragmentation is in fact the key political and moral problem Taylor seeks to resolve; see Redhead, Charles Taylor. Although this concept is investigated primarily in ‘Liberal Politics and the Public Sphere,’ in all final four chapters of Philosophical Arguments he explores related themes. I think it is especially important to interrogate the vision presented in these final chapters because they are the affirmative political and ethical extension of his explorations in Sources of the Self. As Taylor suggests, ‘the explorations of public culture of these final four chapters ‘are like additional chapters to the Sources of the Self’; see ‘Preface,’ Philosophical Arguments, xi. See ‘Why Do Nations Have to Become States?’ Reconciling the Solitudes (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1993) for an example of Taylor’s earlier and less flexible views on the commonality necessary to a nation-state. On this see the last four chapters of Philosophical Arguments, as well as ‘Why Democracy Needs Patriotism,’ in For Love of Country (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996), 120. Taylor, ‘Liberal Politics and the Public Sphere,’ 261, 263, 266 (my emphasis). See also 267–8 for his comments on the authoritative but radically secular status of the public sphere. Taylor, ‘Cross Purposes,’ in Philosophical Arguments, 198 (my emphasis). See, for example, ‘Why Do Nations Have to Become States?’; ‘Seeking

290 Notes to pages 226–31

100 101 102


104 105

106 107


Sovereignty in Europe and Iraq,’ Project Syndicate, accessed at 30 June 2004. Taylor, ‘Cross Purposes,’ 199. Ibid., 198. Consider the campaigns of civil disobedience for civil rights or against the Vietnam War. Taylor, of course, would no doubt side with the protesters. He would say that it was a struggle about the definition of patriotic common sense – which is acceptable – and that the key point was that there was little anti-American attitude in these protests. The protesters were merely arguing for a different common articulation of what it means to be American. Three points are important here. First, while this may explain many of the attitudes of those involved, I am not sure that it encompasses all of them. Second, this a priori setting of the terms of debate means that it is very difficult to establish if most of those involved held this common sense or whether they were struggling to create a profoundly new common sense. Third, it minimizes our ability to see that the organizing of many of these protests did not occur under the logic of common sense recognition, but rather according to a more rhizomatic model of alliance building across difference. It is thus not that Taylor’s logic of common sense recognition is necessarily conservative and cannot appreciate and support any progressive position. Clearly Taylor’s own active politics dispels this argument. The point, rather, is that it leads to a very particular image of morality and a specific mode of progressive politics that makes it difficult to appreciate and cultivate other forms of protest, especially those that do not find sustenance in and aspire to common sense recognition. Charles Taylor in a radio interview with Michael Enright on The Sunday Edition, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio 1, 9 March 2003. Accessed through the following website on 28 June 2004: http:// Ethics of Authenticity, 66, 66–7, 66. In the light of some comments he made at a recent conference at Northwestern University in March 2004, there are signs that Taylor might now be more open to this possibility with reference to Foucault, for example. See, for example, Foucault, ‘A Preface to Transgression,’ Language, Counter-memory, Practice (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977). For Taylor’s critique of atomism see ‘Atomism’ and ‘What’s Wrong with Negative Liberty?’ For his critique of deviant forms of indulgent aestheticism see Ethics of Authenticity, 63–8. For his critique of the idealization of endless creation see Hegel and Modern Society, 13, 155. ‘Invoking Civil Society,’ in Philosophical Arguments, 223.

Notes to pages 232–8 291 109 ‘Liberal Politics and the Public Sphere,’ in Philosophical Arguments, 285–6. 110 For his views on Canada and Quebec, see Reconciling the Solitudes. 111 ‘Shared and Divergent Values,’ Reconciling the Solitudes, 183, 184. Epilogue: The Post-9/11 Kantian Imperative 1 Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2003), 100. 2 See, for example, Antje Vollmer, ‘Immanuel Kant and Iraq: A Reply to Roger Scruton,’, 1 April 2004; Paul Schroeder, ‘What Would Kant Say? Iraq: The Case against Preemptive War,’ American Conservative, 21 October 2002. 3 Roger Scruton, ‘Immanuel Kant and the Iraq War,’ www.openDemocracy .net, 19 February 2004. 4 Herfried Munkler, ‘Kant’s “Perpetual Peace”: Utopia or Political Guide?’, 27 May 2004. 5 Scruton’s reading of Kant shows that, in theory, such a justification might be made. In the specific case of Iraq, however, his argument is very weak. For it now seems clear that the actual, factual conditions that would have to exist in Iraq for Scruton’s reading to be persuasive do not exist. 6 On this see, for example, Brian Orend, War and International Justice: A Kantian Perspective (Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2000), 90, 56. 7 On one hand, the U.S. military sought to defend themselves against any possible humiliation. The United States complained bitterly, for example, about networks’ broadcasting of pictures of dead American soldiers and forbade even taking pictures of the caskets of dead American soldiers – at least partially because they knew those photos risked humiliating the coalition and its early pretensions of invulnerability. On the other hand, these same tactics of humiliation were employed when they globally distributed explicit photos of other dead combatants: the Hussein sons. While there were several objectives behind distributing the photos, one of the clear effects was humiliation. For the Hussein sons – who had demanded to be viewed as gods – were revealed as humiliated scourges, forced to alter their appearance, hide like rats, and die without ceremony. It was hoped, I suspect, that this humiliation would cow their supporters into obedience. 8 The description that follows is taken from a variety of fully vetted and factchecked investigative journalist accounts. The most important accounts include Seymour Hersh’s series of pieces in the New Yorker: ‘Torture at Abu Ghraib,’ 10 May 2004; ‘Chain of Command,’ 17 May, 2004; ‘The Grey Zone,’

292 Notes to pages 238–42

9 10 11 12


14 15 16


18 19


24 May 2004; Mark Danner’s two articles in the New York Review of Books, ‘Torture and Truth,’ 10 June 2004 and ‘The Logic of Torture,’ 24 June 2004; the Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on the Treatment by the Coalition Forces of Prisoners of War and Other Protected Persons by the Geneva Conventions in Iraq during Arrest, Internment and Interrogation, February 2004; U.S. Major-General Taguba’s Article 15–6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade report, February 2003. Danner, ‘The Logic of Torture.’ Founding Charter, United Nations, 1945, Preamble. Third Geneva Convention and Rights of Prisoners of War, Article 3. International Committee of the Red Cross, Mission Statement, accessed 2 July 2004 at 66fe00326312/125 ffe2d4c7f68acc1256ae300394f6e?OpenDocument. Kant, AK 6; Metaphysics of Morals, ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996). Further references will be to MoM. Kant’s discussion of just war issues takes place in Part II, chap. II of the Doctrine of Right, ss. 54–60. Kant, AK 6:347; MoM, 117. Again, Brian Orend’s War and International Justice is one example of this basic approach. Robert Fisk, for example, thinks that this strategy of humiliation is key to the U.S. plan. See, for example, his article, ‘Iraq through the American Looking Glass,’ Independent, 26 December 2003. This is, in fact, essentially Robert Kagan’s argument (though he does not use these words) when he says that the United States has solved Europe’s ‘Kantian’ paradox, because the U.S. might (and, I would argue, willingness to humiliate other countries) serves as the (moral) law that creates mutual respect. See ‘Power and Weakness,’ Policy Review 113 (June/July 2003), accessed 10 July 2004 at Kant, AK 6:347; MoM, 117. On the paper trail of accountability, which demonstrates that the most senior members of the American administration – including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld – signed off on memos greatly expanding the aggressiveness of interrogation tactics in Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq, see Hersh, ‘Torture at Abu Ghraib,’ ‘Chain of Command,’ ‘The Grey Zone’; Danner, ‘Torture and Truth,’ ‘The Logic of Torture.’ George W. Bush in a speech in West Point, New York, 1 June 2002, quoted in the White House statement on the new national security doctrine, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002, 3.

Notes to pages 242–6 293 21 George W. Bush, introductory letter to The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002, unpaginated (my emphasis). 22 The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002, s. 2, 3. 23 See Rasul et al. v Bush, President of the United States, et al., Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, No. 03334, argued 20 April 2004, decided 28 June 2004. 24 The quotes are taken from Bush’s White House Memorandum, 7 February 2002, ‘Humane Treatment of Al Queda and Taliban Detainees’ (my emphasis). 25 On Rumsfeld’s aggressive attempt to transform the culture of the Pentagon and military intelligence, see Hersh, ‘Chain of Command.’ 26 U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Assistant Attorney General, ‘Memorandum for Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President,’ 1 August 2002; Dianne Beaver, Staff Judge Advocate, Joint Task Force 170, ‘Legal Brief on Proposed Counter-Resistance Strategies,’ 11 October 2002. 27 See Donald Kagan, Gary Schmitt, Thomas Donnelly, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, a report of the Project for the New American Century, released September 2000. 28 The December 2002 Department of Justice memo does not specifically refer to humiliation. However, if we were to use the criteria of that opinion to evaluate the issue, it seems that humiliation would seem to tread very near the definition of torture, but would probably not fall into the category of torture because it does not create ‘extreme’ bodily pain verging on ‘organic failure.’ 29 Quoted in Peter Ford, ‘Europe Cringes at Bush “Crusade” against Terrorists,’ Christian Science Monitor, 19 September 2001. 30 ‘Letter to America,’ The Nation, 16 December 2002. 31 ‘Interpreting the Fall of a Monument,’ Constellations 10:3 (2003), 365. 32 ‘Letter to America.’ 33 Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2003), 30. 34 ‘Interpreting the Fall of a Monument,’ 369. 35 Ibid., 364. 36 ‘Letter to America.’ 37 ‘Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace,’ in The Inclusion of the Other (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998), 199, 199–200. 38 Habermas is quoting K. Gunther favourably in ‘Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace,’ 201.


Notes to pages 247–9

39 ‘Wolfowitz is not Kissinger’ is how Habermas states it; ‘Interpreting the Fall of a Monument,’ 365. 40 Ibid. 41 ‘Letter to America.’ 42 ‘Interpreting the Fall of a Monument,’ 369.


Abu Ghraib 7, 238, 240–1, Achtung 112, 215, 238 Adorno, Theodor 105; and Max Horkheimer 145–7, 252, 254, 274, 277 Affect: and Asad 122–3; and Augustine 124; and Connolly 84–5, 183; and Deleuze and Guattari 256; and Foucault 84–5, 124, 195; and Kant 3,4, 10, 12, 15, 17, 27, 47, 49, 82, 87– 8, 93, 95–8, 101, 103, 106–9, 112–13, 115–18, 124–5, 127–8, 130–5, 138– 41, 143, 148, 152, 183, 238, 270, 275; and Habermas 170–4, 178, 180–4, 187; and Hunter 265; and Massumi, 270; and Miller, 124; and monasteries 122–3, 273; and Nietzsche 115, 124, 288; and St Benedict 3, 4, 103, 106; and Taylor 209, 214–18, 256, 288, Al Qaeda 243 Allison, Henry 50, 67, 73–7, 82, 259 Amoralist 74, 262 Apel, Otto, 161, 167, 176–7 Apodictic: and Habermas 162, 166–7, 170–4, 180, 183–4, 192, 254, 282; and Kant 49–51, 57, 59, 63–72, 74,

76–81, 83, 90, 108, 114–15, 125, 127, 131, 136, 142–3, 153, 155, 202, 206; and Taylor 200, 202, 206, 211 Apodictic certainty: and Kant 49, 57, 65, 71 Arendt, Hannah 15, 25, 225 Aristotle 85, 181 Articulation 203, 206–8, 211–15, 217–19, 225, 229, 231 Asad, Tlal 121–3 Ascetic 83–5, 89, 99, 115, 118–20, 124, Atomism 198, 207, 224, 229, 290 Augustine, 83, 103, 124, 144 Authenticity 203, 205, 207, 210–13, 219–20, 222, 226, 228 Autonomous: being 169, 216; individual 105, 106, 209; intersubjectivity 163, 170, 174, 176, 180, 184; subject or subjectivity 46, 106, 107, 136, 139–40, 143, 146, 150, 163, 205 Autonomy: and Habermas 163, 166, 169, 193; and Kant 3, 5, 8–14, 17– 18, 45–6, 49, 50–6, 60–5, 70, 73, 75, 77, 81, 82, 100–1, 107, 136, 138–41, 144–8, 150, 238, 258, 260, 271; and morality see Morality as autonomy interpretation; and Schneewind

296 Index 51–3, 139; and Taylor 205, 208 Awe 201–2 Ayer, 177 Background 37, 116, 199, 203, 205–6, 228, 230, 255–6, 267, 270, 272 Beck, Lewis 48, Beiner, Ronald 271 Bennett, Jane 224, 263, 277 Berlin, Isaiah 197, 225 Bernard de Clairvaux 123 Brown, Peter 85 Bush, George W. 240, 242–4, 246–8, 292–3; and National Security Strategy 242, 245 Categorical imperative 39–41, 52–3, 56, 68, 77, 86, 110, 125–6, 138, 143, 201, 240, 266 Cheney, Dick 243 Christianity 102–3, 105, 116, 121–4, 136–7, 140–1, 183, 197 Clash of civilizations 246 Codes of behaviour 84 Coles, Romand 224 Common: eye 65; knowledge 60, 61, 65; meanings 208–9; opinion 58, 59, 66, 166; standards 20; understanding 65; will 167 Common sense: see also Common sense recognition; and Bush 240, 242, 244; different depths of 190–1; Kant’s ambivalent relationship with 58–64, 66; legitimate vs illegitimate forms of 58–64, 66, 165–7, 215–19, 224; Common sense recognition: see also Recognition; affective 170–4, 180– 4, 214–15; as an argumentative strategy 57–8, 60, 63; and articula-

tion 208, 213, 216; and autonomous intersubjectivity 168–70, 174–80; characteristics of 47–50; and creation 228–33; cultivation or education of 127–32, 134–7, 141, 144, 162–3, 184–91, 195, 223; and Deleuze 48–9, 154; and disagreement 167–8, 174–80; and expression 219–28; and fragmentation 223–5; and Habermas 156–7, 161– 96, 245, 248; and humiliation 10– 18, 82–3, 85, 101, 107–9, 111, 114– 16, 127–32, 134, 136, 141, 144, 147, 150–1; and identity 208–13; and imperative image of morality see Imperative image of morality, and common sense recognition; and Kant 10–18, 30, 46–82, 82, 85, 88, 101, 107–9, 11, 114–16, 127–32, 134– 7, 139, 141–2, 144, 147, 150–4, 173, 194, 211, 245, 248; and metaphysics 193; and moral feelings 170–4, 180–4; normative element of 13, 47, 71–2, 142, 153, 167, 171, 175–7; and ontology 215–18; and patriotism 188, 225–8; and practical reasoning 213–14; and Sittlichkeit 209; and Taylor 156–7, 199, 207–33 Communicative action 162, 166, 168–9, 172, 174–5, 280 Communitarian 85, 105, 189, 200, 258 Connolly, W.E., 84, 157, 183, 219, 222, 224, 263–4, 277–8, 282–3, 289 Consensus: and Habermas 164, 167, 169, 177, 185–8, 192; overlapping 87; and Taylor 223 Constitutional: citizenship 188; common sense 190; identity 188; patriotism 188–90; rights 246 Contestability: ethical see Ethical

Index contestability; and Habermas 166, 172, 174–85, 191–6, 248; and Kant 18–20, 39, 68, 71, 78, 142–3, 153–6, 235; and Taylor 198–200, 206, 218–19 Creation: and Taylor 218, 220–4, 228–9 Cultivation: arts, exercises, practices, processes, tactics, techniques, or technologies of 49, 72, 78, 83–101, 103, 107–9, 113, 118, 120–2, 124–5, 127, 130–3, 135–43, 149–50, 153–6, 162, 170–1, 184, 189–91, 195–6, 223, 249; and Christianity 103, 122, 136–8; and Connolly 183; and Foucault 84; and Habermas 19, 162–3, 168, 170, 184–91, 139; and Hunter 42–3; of humiliation see Humiliation, cultivation of; and Kant 10–12, 15, 17– 18, 41, 47, 49, 50, 52, 70, 72, 78, 82, 83–101, 103, 105, 107–9, 113, 115– 16, 119–44, 147–56, 162–3, 170–1, 183–4, 189, 240–2; monastic see Monastic, practices or cultivation; and Nietzsche 112–13, 143; philosophical 138–40; and St Benedict 4, 121; self- 144, 183; and Spinoza 5; and Taylor 19, 218, 223, 225–6, 231, 233 Culture: vs discipline 136–7; and Deleuze 126; and Habermas 183–4, 248; of humiliation 82, 104, 140; and Kant 82, 85, 88, 104, 113, 116, 125–6, 128, 136–8, 140, 144; monastic 108; and Taylor 38, 200, 203, 205, 211, 213 Custom 31, 43, 44, 66 Cutrofello, Andrew 264–5, 273, 277

297 Danner, Mark 239, 291 de Certeau, Michel 83 de Sade, Marquis 9, 146–7, 253 de Tocqueville, Alexis 83 Deconstruction 20 Deleuze, Gilles 20, 48, 83, 126, 154, 185, 219, 224–5; and Felix Guattari 36–7, 149, 185, 195, 224, 229–30 Derrida, Jacques 105, 148, 228 Desire: and Deleuze and Guattari 149; and Habermas 161, 189; and Kant 7, 16, 31–3, 36, 42, 82, 89, 94– 5, 97, 106, 116–17, 120, 122–5, 127–8, 134, 142, 144, 148–9; and Nietzsche 193; and Taylor , 193, 201–2, 204, 219 Dignity 4, 9–10, 103–5, 131, 238–9, 242–4 Discipline: and Adorno and Horkheimer 145–6; and Connolly 183; of epistemology 28; and Foucault 84, 195; and Habermas 183–4; and Hadot 85; and humiliation 9, 15, 17, 104, 113, 134, 139; Kantian mode of 17, 73, 89, 95, 113, 116, 126–8, 130, 134–9, 143–6, 152, 156, 184; Kant’s affection for 149; mode of 9, 13, 15; monastic 123; and Nietzsche 193; of reason 31; secret 135–9; and Taylor 206 Discourse ethics 161–2, 167–8, 171–4, 177, 279–80 Disgust 30, 170, 181, 183, 214 Dogmata 43, 79 Dogmatic 64, 82, 144, 162, 198; metaphysics 51, 168, 192; scepticism 43, 44, 51, 179; slumber 25, 43, 235, 249 Dogmatism: and Habermas 168, 179, 192; and Hume 25, 43, 44, 51; and Kant 17, 25–7, 30, 33–4, 43, 44, 50,

298 Index 51, 64; practical 17, 50, 76–82, 142, 152, 161, 163, 172, 211, 229; and Taylor 198, 211, 229 Dr Evil 281–2 Education: and Bush 242; and Habermas 166; and Hume 44; and Kant 99, 108–9, 125–31, 136, 140, 274–5; moral see Moral education; and Taylor 202 Embodiment 103, 106, 138, 172–3, 183, 196, 206, 208 Emotion: see also Affect; Feelings; and Connolly 84; and Foucault 84; and Habermas 170–1, 181–2; of humiliation see Humiliation, affect, emotion, or feeling of; and Kant 3–5, 87, 95–9, 105, 116, 124, 127, 128, 96–101, 104, 112, 16, 122, 124–5, 170–1; and monastic practices 121–3; and Strawson 171, 182; and Taylor 208, 214–15 Enlightenment 4, 5, 42–3, 46, 100, 126–7, 145–9, 152, 186; dialectic of 145–9 Epistemological 25–30, 32, 34, 36, 43–4, 194 Epistemological interpretation 14, 17, 25–30, 32 Epistemology 27, 28, 198, 202, 213 Ethical contestability 153–6, 163, 178–80, 191–6, 199–200, 219 Ethical gymnastics 118–21 Evil 5, 88–92, 109, 119, 148, 226, 246; see also Dr Evil; propensity to 88–92, 109 Ewing, A.C. 25 Expression: and Habermas 170–3, 180–1; and Taylor 197–8, 218–26

Faith: and Asad 121–23; Christian 136; and Connolly 222; contestable 150, 156–7, 191, 192, 194–5; and Habermas 166, 174, 179–80, 184–5, 187, 191–2; and Kant 11, 21, 27, 30, 31, 46–7, 59, 64, 69–71, 74–9, 82, 97, 115, 121–2, 136–7, 150, 156, 185; monastic 121–3; and Nietzsche 179; rational 30, 59, 64, 70–1, 74, 77–9, 97, 121, 136, 137, 187; and Taylor 215; and United Nations 239 Fear 5–6, 8–9, 63, 93, 102, 115, 117–21, 123–4, 131, 133–5, 138, 145–8, 150, 171, 238 Feelings: see also Moral feelings; and Connolly 84–5, 183; contingency and variability of 92–9; and Delezue 185; of disgust see Disgust; of fear see Fear; of guilt see Guilt; and Habermas 170, 172–3, 181–2, 185, 188–9; and humiliation see Humiliation, affect, emotion, or feeling of; intellectual 95; and Kant 10, 17, 63, 88, 90–9, 101, 107, 109–14, 116, 128, 131, 133–7, 139, 141, 143, 170, 201, 266; and Miller 124, 140–1; moral see Moral feeling; and moral motivation 92–9; and Nietzsche 115, 183; of pain see Pain; of patriotism or constitutional patriotism see Patriotism; Constitutional patriotism; of respect see Respect; of reverence see Reverence; and St Benedict 4; of sublimity 90–1, 94; of shame see Shame; and Taylor 200–1, 209, 215–16 Formalist Interpretation 83, 85–6, 105, 138, 144, 150 Formalism, Hegel’s critique of 266

Index Foucault, Michel 20, 83–4, 124, 195, 228–30 Fragmentation 223–5, 232 Freedom: see also Autonomy; and Bush 242; and Habermas 169–70; Idea of 54–5, 64, 260; Intelligible 27; and Kant 27–9, 35, 40, 51–2, 54– 5, 62, 64, 67, 70, 73–7, 86, 93, 119, 133, 139, 169–70, 258–63, 266–7, 271, 275; practical postulate of 33, 67, 260; and Taylor 205, 211, 229; 260–1 Freud, Sigmund, 149 Fundamentalism 194, 222, 225–8, 248 Geneva Convention, 243, 246 Goods 197, 202, 204, 209–10, 212, 218, 222–3; hyper 212; social 221, 289 Good: the 198, 202, 206–7, 210, 213, 215, 221 Guilt 12, 13, 252; and Connolly 183; and Habermas 170–3, 181–3; Monastic 123 Guantanamo Bay 243, 246 Gutmann, Amy 20, 253, 278 Habermas 15–16, 19–20, 28–9, 105, 156–7, 161–95, 197, 199, 209, 218, 226, 230, 237, 245–9 Habit: and Deleuze and Guattari 37; and Hume 44; and humiliation 104; and Kant 37, 44, 47, 84–5, 89, 93, 131, 134; and micropolitics 196; and monastic practices 121–23; and St Benedict 117; and Taylor Hadot, Pierre 85 Heidegger 105, 148, Hegel 83, 85–6, 161, 204, 209, 215–16, 266; Neo-Hegelian interpretation 86, 266

299 Hersh, Seymour 291 Heteronomy 106 Hoffe, Otfried 27, Horizons 208, 228 Hubris 4, 105, 110, 148. 177, 179 Hume, David 25, 31, 41, 43–5, 51, 55, 66, 95, 97, 113 Humiliate: see also Humiliating; Humiliation; and Augustine 147, 103; definition of 12–14, 103–4; and Freud 149; and Germany 7; and Hussein 8; and Iraq 8, 241; and Kant 10, 44, 102–41, 144, 147–8, 240–1; and moral law 10, 106–8, 111, 128, 134, 240; and power 8, 147–8; and Reason 36; and St Benedict 3–4, 102–3; and Sheriff Arpaio 7; and United States 8, 241 Humiliatee 8, 12–14, 241 Humiliating 3–4, 7–8, 13, 31, 102–40, 143, 148, 238–9, 244; self- see Selfhumiliating Humiliation: see also Humiliate; Humiliating; 3–22, 102–41, 142–56, 238–44, 249, 272; and Adorno and Horkheimer 144–7, 149; affect, emotion, or feeling of 3–5, 10,12– 13, 17–18, 47, 49, 101, 104–9, 112– 13, 115–18, 121–5, 127–8, 130–2, 135, 138, 14–41, 143, 170, 182–3; and autonomy 5, 9, 10, 145–7, 150; and common sense 12–14, 16, 107– 9, 114–16, 128, 131, 134, 136, 139, 141, 150–1, 242, 244–5; concept of 10–11; cultivation of 10–11, 15, 20, 49–50, 87, 101–43, 147, 152–3, 240– 1, 249; cultural specificity of 116; culture of see Culture, of humiliation; and de Sade 9; and Deleuze and Guattari 149; dynamics of 6, 9;

300 Index edifying vs narcissistic modes of 117–21, 273–4; effectivity of 7–9; and enlightenment 3–5, 145–7; and Habermas 16, 170, 182, 249; and imperative image of morality see Imperative image of morality, and humiliation; and Kant 4, 5, 8–22, 102–41, 142–52, 238–44; as a mode of ordering or discipline 5–9, 13– 14, 102–41, 156; monastic 102–6, 116–23, 141; and moral law 10, 106–7, 111–17, 120–1, 124–5, 128, 130, 132–4, 138, 141; and Nietzsche 8, 112–13, 116, 124, 146–8; and power 110, 124, 148; prerequisite conditions of 12–14, 150; of reason 31, 36, 252–3; and St Benedict 3, 4, 102–4, 106, 116, 117, 121, 141; selfsee Self-humiliation; and Sheriff Arpaio 6–8; and Spinoza 5, 8, 148; tactics of 5–10, 14, 22, 139, 152, 154, 236, 238–44; and Taylor 201, 215; of theoretical reason 31; translation from Latin of 251; U.S. military use of 7, 9, 238–44, 291 Humiliation/respect 106–16, 125, 131–6, 170, 183, 201, 241 Humility: and Asad 122; and Augustine 103; Christian 102–3, 116; definition 103–4; historical change of 140; and Kant 4, 5, 32, 104, 116–17, 120; lack of 105, 116; and Nietzsche 116; and St Benedict 3, 5, 102–4, 116–17, 120–2; and Spinoza 5; theoretical 4–5, 32 Humus 103 Hunter, Ian 42–3, 100, 256, 264–5, 269 Hussein, Sadam 7, 8, 238, 245, 291 Idea: and Kant 54–5, 64, 67, 127, 204

260–1; constitutive 79; of freedom 54–5, 64, 67; and Habermas 164; and Taylor 204 Ideal: regulative 54; and Taylor 203, 220, 222 Identity: and Taylor 200, 203, 205–20, 222–8, 231 Image of ethics 156 Image of morality: definition 37–8 Image of thought 37 Imperative image of morality: and Bush 240, 242–9; clash of 41–5, 101; and common sense recognition 14–18, 20–1, 25–45, 47, 49–50, 57– 60, 62–77, 150, 173, 216–17, 218, 242; and contestability or incontestability 18, 38–45, 49–50, 53–7, 67–77, 80–3, 94, 108, 140–1, 143, 147–8, 152–4, 162, 174–5, 180–4, 191–2, 194–5, 201–2, 206, 229–31, 233, 237, 240, 242, 246, 248, 249; definition of 36–45; and Habermas 156, 161–3, 166–75, 180, 182–4, 187, 191–2, 194, 246; and Hume 43–5, 95; and humiliation 14–18, 20–1, 50, 82–3, 85, 87, 101, 107–11, 124, 138, 141, 214–15; and Kant 11, 12, 14–18, 20–2, 25–45, 47, 49–50, 57– 60, 62–77, 82, 83, 85, 87, 94–5, 101, 107–11, 113, 124, 138, 140–1, 142–3, 147–8, 152–4, 171, 237; and Nietzsche 20; and Taylor 19, 156, 199–206, 208, 214–19, 229–31, 233 Imperial 240, 243, 246, 248–9; -ism 248–9 Incentive 89–90, 94, 98, 110, 114, 132; moral 87–8, 94, 98, 110–12, 115, 131 Inclination 41, 52, 61, 63, 69, 81, 87– 90, 92–9, 110–11, 113–15, 131–3, 135, 139, 202

Index Intelligible 27, 54–5, 57, 106, 114, 116, 125, 134, 260; law 58, 106; world or realm 54–5, 57, 113–14, 116, 125, 208, 260 Intersubjectivity 162, 166–7, 170, 174–7, 180, 183–7, 192 Intuition see Moral intuition Iraq 236–41, 244 Johnston, Steve, 275, 277 Jus in bello 240 Kantian Imperative: overview of 10–17 Korsgaard, Christine 52, 54 Language 164, 205, 208, 217, 220 Lacoue-Labarthe 105 Leibniz 42 Liberalism 85, 105; procedural 198, 221–2 Lucretius 219 Machiavelli, Niccoli 83 MacIntyre, Alaisdair 39, 197 Massumi, Brian 270 Metaphysics: dogmatic see Dogmatic, metaphysics; and Habermas 29, 168, 175, 186, 192; illegitimate 4; and Kant 4, 25–36, 39, 42, 51, 59, 61, 103, 116, 141, 168, 175, 254; post- 168, 192–3; and Taylor 222; two world 35, 36, 103, 116, 141, 175 Micropolitics 183, 191, 195–6, 229 Mighty Mighty Bosstones 218 Miller, William Ian 5, 124, 140 Modes of subjectification 84 Modesty: see Theoretical modesty Montesquieu, 83

301 Monastic: culture 108; ascetics see Ascetic; humiliation see Humiliation, monastic; moral dispositions see Moral disposition, monastic; moral orders 4; practices or cultivation 108, 117–24, 149, 264, 270, 273; rites 123–4 Mood 187, 189 Moral apathy 93, 97 Moral catechism 129–30 Moral disposition: and Augustine 144; Christian 103, 137; and Deleuze and Guttari 195; and Kant 4, 37, 73, 80, 83–101, 103, 108, 112, 115, 117–40, 144, 276; monastic 4, 117, 119–23; and Nietzsche 112–13 Moral education 99, 125–31 Moral feelings: see also Feelings; of guilt see Guilt; and Habermas 164, 165, 170–3, 180–1, 183, 189; of humiliation see Humiliation, affect, emotion, or feeling of; of humiliation/respect see Humiliation/respect; and Kant 10, 88, 90, 94–9, 101, 106–7, 109–12, 114, 117, 124, 128, 132–5, 139, 170–1; and Nietzsche 183; of reverence see Reverence; of shame see Shame; and Strawson 171–2; of sublimity 190–1; and Taylor 200–1, 209, 215–16 Moral intuition: and Habermas 162, 165–6, 171–2, 184; and Kant 68, 129, 137; and Taylor 202–3, 212–14, 217 Moral Law: and its apodictic nature 49, 65–8, 71, 74, 76–81, 125, 136, 143, 171, 192; and Connolly 183; consciousness of 68–9, 70, 76; and cultivation 90–1, 121, 126–8, 130–2,

302 Index 134, 140–1; fact of 74–5, 89; and freedom 66–7, 73–7, 165; and Habermas 168–71, 173, 187, 192–3; and Hume 44; and humiliation see Humiliation, and moral law; Humiliate, moral law; international 241; and Kant 10, 15, 27, 33– 4, 41, 44, 49, 52–3, 57, 60, 63–101, 105–28, 130–8, 140–1, 143–4, 147, 150, 170–1, 215, 240; and monastic practices 118–19, 123; and Nietzsche 193; and Rawls 86; and reason 31, 52, 64; and recognition 49, 57, 63, 67–76, 80, 83, 85, 88–91, 96–8, 100–1, 106–7, 109, 113–14, 116, 120, 124–8, 130–2, 134, 136–38, 141, 170–1, 173; and religion 34; and St Benedict 116–17, 121; and sublime 90–1; and Taylor 200, 215– 16 Moral mnemotechnics 102, 108, 113, 126, 131, 134–5, 149 Moral motivation: and Habermas 193; and Kant 18, 35, 52, 62–3, 85– 101, 104, 106–16, 119, 130–4, 136–8, 150; Monastic 123; and Sheriff Arpaio 8; and Taylor 215 Moral obedience: and Kant 12, 21, 82, 101, 106–10, 114, 116, 117, 120–4, 132, 134, 137, 140, 14–44, 148, 150, 152, 156; and Nietzsche 193; and Taylor 201; and U.S. military 238, 241, 291 , 278 Moral realism 197–8, 202, 204, 207, 213, 222, 285 Morality as autonomy interpretation 17, 50–3, 57, 60–2, 67, 73, 105, 107, 114, 144, 150, 271 Munzel, G. Felicitas 264–5, 274–5 Myth 145–6, 179

Naturalism 198, 202–3, 212–14, 216, 230 Nietzsche, Friedrich 8, 20, 102, 112, 115–16, 124, 143, 148, 218–19, 225, 229–30, 263, 273, 274, 282, 288 Norm 165, 167–8, 172–7, 183, 209, 214–15 Ontology 197, 199, 204–8, 212, 215– 17, 221–2, 225; as a map 206, 217, 286; strong vs weak 198, 206, 207, 221, 276, 284 Pain 4–5, 110–14, 131, 133, 139, 144, 238 Patriot Act 246 Patriotism: constitutional see Constitutional patriotism; and Taylor 225–8 Patton, Paul 224 Performative contradiction 167, 176–80 Pfufendorf 42 Planes of immanence 37 Plato 204 Pluralism: and Habermas 180–1, 184, 188, 193; and Taylor 198, 214, 221, 225 Plurality 143; and Habermas 168–9, 180; and Taylor 198, 214, 219, 225, 233 Post 9/11 16, 19, 235–49 Practical Dogmatism see Dogmatism, practical Practical postulates 71, 78–82, 261, 263; of God 74; of soul 74 Prayer 136–7 Project for a New American Century 243, 293 Public sphere 220, 223–4

Index Putnam, Robert 83 Quebec 232–3, Rawls, John 29, 30, 48, 86–7, 221–2, 267, 271 Reason: and Adorno and Horkheimer 146–7; antimonies of 27, 71; autonomous 4, 29, 31, 43, 46, 54, 145, 147, 186; command of 81; common 61; communicative 187; critique of 29, 32–3, 44, 118; cultivation or education of 128–30, 132, 136; and Deleuze 185; and enlightenment 146, 186; fact of 68–9, 72; and Habermas 164, 168, 184–5, 187; human 32, 34, 58, 61, 87, 128– 9; and Hume 44, 95; interests of 32–3, 35, 132; and law 79, 132, 146, 186; modern 9; moral 10, 35, 65, 81, 127, 129, 213; motivational force of 95, 97, 154; ordinary 58, 128–9; practical 5, 11, 17, 27–8, 33–6, 43–5, 51–6, 59–61, 64–70, 72, 74, 76, 78, 79, 80, 81, 89, 92, 94, 98–9, 111, 115, 117, 125–6, 130, 137, 164, 168, 185, 204, 209, 212–14, 216; pure 27, 31– 4, 59, 64, 67–8, 71, 81; and Rawls 86–7; speculative 33–6, 43, 59, 61, 67, 79; and Spinoza 148; and Taylor 198, 204, 209, 212–13, 216; theoretical 27, 30–6, 44, 51, 57, 59–61, 70, 78–9, 136, 164; tribunal of 26, 154 Reath, Andrews 28, 95–7, 99, 109–10, 253, 261, 269 Reciprocity thesis 50, 73–7, 82 Recognition: see also Common sense recognition; as argumentative strategy 57–8, 60, 63, 69–70, 107, 173, 205–7, 212–13; and articula-

303 tion 213–14; and Beck 48; characteristics of 47–50, 68–9; Christian 136; cultivation or teaching of 90– 1, 101, 107, 109, 113, 115, 121, 124, 125–39, 143, 150, 183, 185, 188–9; and Deleuze 48–9, 154, 230; fact of 88, 114; and faith 70–1, 191; fragility of 88–92, 100–1, 108–9, 114–15, 127–32, 138–9, 141, 150, 174–7, 183–4, 187, 206; and Habermas 162–77, 182, 184–5, 187–94; and humiliation see Common sense recognition, and humiliation; humiliation inspiring 113–14, 116, 121, 124, 130–2, 134–5, 141; and Kant 10, 31–2, 34–5, 38, 44, 47–9, 54–8, 60, 63–78, 80, 83, 87–92, 96 100–1, 106–9, 112–16, 120–1, 124–5, 127–32, 134–41, 215; and metaphysics 192–3; of moral law see Moral law, recognition; and moral motivation 88–90, 96–8, 107, 109, 113–15, 124, 130–1, 134, 138–9, 150; non- 82, 88, 130, 135, 138, 166, 171, 192; and Nietzsche 112–13, 179, 193; normative element of 70–2, 154, 165, 167, 170, 174–5, 220; and ontological maps 217; paradox of 72–3, 114–15, 213; and patriotism 225; and St Benedict 103, 106, 120; and Sittlichkeit 209, 212; and Taylor 201–3, 205–9, 212–17, 220, 222–5, 228, 230, 232; variety of terms used to describe 88–90, 96–8, 165; and United States 244, Relativism 27, 155, 162, 224 Resentment 9, 12, 143, 172, 222 Respect 8, 12, 13, 36; agonistic 143; and Habermas 162, 169, 179, 183; and humiliation see Humiliation;

304 Index Humiliation/respect; and Kant 3, 4, 10, 18, 36, 58–9, 69, 90–7, 101–17, 128, 131–5, 127, 148, 170, 183, 238– 40, 266; for the law 69, 90–7, 106, 109–10, 112–17, 133–4, 150, 201, 215, 240–1; and moral apathy 97; moral feeling of 10, 101, 106, 109– 17, 128, 131–6 139, 170, 183, 201, 214–15; and Nietzsche 112–13; for ourselves 109, 131–4, 139; self- 3, 8, 103–5, 107, 119, 128, 135; and Taylor 201–2, 210, 214–15; and U.S. military 241; as a value 96 Ressentiment 5, 8, 183, 226 Reverence: of the law 62–3, 72, 128, 146 Rights 172, 188, 224; civil 243–4; human 227, 238–40, 247–8; individual 221, 289; of human reason 58 Rosen, Michael 197 Rousseau, Jean Jacques 83, 124, 277 Rumsfeld, Donald 243, 293 St Benedict 3–5. 83, 102–4, 106, 110, 116–17, 120–1, 141 St Victor, Hugh 122 Sandel, Michael 29, 83, 105, 265, 267 Saurette, Marc 251, 254 Scepticism: dogmatic 43–4, 51, 64, 179; and Habermas 163, 166–72, 175–80, 193; and Hume 43–4, 51, 55, 95, and Kant 25–9, 30, 32, 34, 36, 43, 44, 51, 55, 61, 64, 77, 155, 168; and Nietzsche 193; and Taylor 199, 214; theoretical 17, 50, 77–9, 152, 163, 172 Schneewind, Jerome, 51–2, 139 Schroeder, Paul 237

Second nature 84, 127, 130, 133, 137, 229 Secular: 77, 100, 105, 121–4; -ism 183, 221–2 Self 48, 86, 95, 122, 146, 148, 200, 206, 221, 229; -artistry 183; arts or practices of the 83, 84, 143; -assertion 103; -certainty 198; -choice 211; -conceit 110–12, 114; -conception 4; -confidence 13, 31; -conscious 10 , 39, 69, 106, 180, 186, 193; -constrained 69; -contradiction 191; -creation 229; -critique 32, 36; -cultivation 84, 183; -despise 4, 171; -destruct 145; -determination 111, 193, 247–8; -discipline 150, 193; -evaluation 109, 132, 138–9; -evident 47, 172, 199, 206, 212, 224; -examination 133, 217; -flagellation 118, 123; -fulfilling prophecy 189; -fulfilment 210; -generated 174; -govern 51, 140, 193, 223, 224; -humiliating or -humiliation 139– 41, 143–4, 148; -implication 186; -imposed 52; -incurred tutelage 4, 46; intelligible 55; -interest 44, 65, 113, 131, 181, 224, 233, 248; -knowledge 26, 29; -loathing 12, 13, 121; -love 65, 96, 110–11; -perception 3; -perpetuating 70; -produced 63, 107; -reconstruction 123; -reflection 45, 85; -reinforcing 89; -renunciation 119; -respect see Respect, self-; -righteous 178; -rule 231; -sufficiency 4, 126; -torture 118; -understanding 12, 17, 26, 165, 220; unencumbered 29; -worth 111 Sensibility 47, 55, 96–7, 104, 126, 148, 180, 183, 185, 187, 196, 200, 225–6; ethical 21, 84–5, 181, 195, 229, 231;

Index moral 86, 96, 200; mystical 187; rationalist 185, 189 Sensible: affects 106–7; desires 89; drives 40, 52; embodiment 103; feelings 95, 97, 170; impressions 93, 97; inclinations 52, 87–9, 96–9, 109–11, 114–15, 131, 133, 135; and Kant 10, 18, 27, 40, 52, 54, 57, 76, 87–90, 93, 95–9, 106–7, 109–11, 114– 16, 125, 131, 133, 135, 137–8, 170; realm or world 27, 40, 54, 57, 90–1, 114, 116, 125, 176, 208, 216; supra175, 216; Sensus moralis 92, 98, 101; see also Moral feeling Shame 8, 112, 130, 170, 172, 181–3, 239, 252, 270, 272 Sheriff Arpaio 6–8, 13 Sittlichkeit, 200, 209, 212, 215–17 Skinner, Quentin 197, 284, 286, 288 Socratic: dialogue 129, 275; pre116 Spinoza 5, 8, 148, 176, 219, 277 Spiritual Exercises 84, 99, 100, 138 Stoics 99, 130, Strawson, P.F. 171–2, Strong evaluation 200–2, 208, 214–15, 284 Superstition 4, 5, 31, 118–21, 145, 148, Taliban 243

305 Taylor, Charles 15, 19–20, 37–8, 48, 105, 197–233, 235, 237 Theoretical modesty 17, 78–9, 81, 82, 142, 161, 204, 206, 211 Thomassius 42 Transcendent 42, 48, 79, 217, 220, 224 Transcendental: 34, 42; analyses 186; argument 205–6, 211–12; conditions 28, 57, 126, 165, 187, 230; consciousness 163; deduction 29, 73; doctrine 31; freedom 73–4, 77; -ism 4; pragmatist 178; reconstruction 176; subject 29, 163; world 48; Tully, James 224 Virtue: and Aristotle 85; Christian 122–3; cruel politics of 144; cultivation or teaching of 5, 52, 85, 89, 98– 9, 117–22, 129–30, 135, 144, 225; and Kant 52, 85, 89, 93–9, 118–20, 128–30, 135; and Nietzsche 116, 176; private 105; and St Benedict 3, 117, 121; and Sheriff Arpaio 6; and Spinoza 5, 144, 3, 5, 52, 89, 93–9, 105, 118, 120–3, 128, 135, 138, 144 Vollmer, Antje 237 White, Stephen K. 276, 284 Williams, Bernard 100, 150, Willkur 88–9, 97–8, 109–10, 113, 115 Wolffe, Christian 42 Wolfowitz, Paul 243