12th Kant-Readings International Conference: Kant and the Ethics of Enlightenment: Historical Roots and Contemporary Relevance

April 22, 2019 - April 24, 2019
Academia Kantiana, Institute for the Humanities, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University


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  • RFBR
  • Russian Academic Exellence Project


Università degli Studi di Milano
University of Cologne (PhD)
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Groningen


Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

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The Kant-Readings International Conference has taken place in Kaliningrad every five years since 1974. This 2019 conference aims at investigating the ethical conceptions of the Enlightenment from the perspective of Kant’s philosophy. Enlightenment ethics focused on traditionally important notions for human beings, such as happiness and moral goodness, and influenced not only their epoch but the following centuries until today. In spite of the fact that all these doctrines were founded on different moral concepts like moral sense, reason, or God, they equally searched for a justification of duty and of the possibility of moral motivation. Moreover they raised the question of the relation between morality and politics, education, and coercion. What, if any, are the common features that characterise ethical doctrines during the Enlightenment? Are there sufficiently similar features in the various ethical doctrines of Kant’s day that would warrant the title of ‘Enlightenment ethics’? It is not less important to understand the ethical content and significance of the Enlightenment project itself and to answer the question of whether the project of enlightenment still can be rationally defended.

Kant’s ethics directly relates to the various conceptions of enlightenment put forward by his immediate predecessors in Germany, Great Britain, and France, such as Wolff, Rousseau, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, and others. We are interested in understanding the moral aims of the Enlightenment, and the role of Kant’s philosophy in how the enlightenment project extends beyond its initial epoch. How has Kant’s moral philosophy been received and criticised, and how has it influenced the evolution of enlightenment thought in other countries, especially in Russia? To what extent can Kant’s philosophy be fruitful for thinking about ethics and enlightenment in our time?What can Kantian philosophy offer to address the current and prospective challenges, produced by technological advancement?

The conference will be structured into the following sections:

1. History of Enlightenment Ethics

2. Enlightenment and Kantian Ethics in Russian Thought

3. Enlightenment Ethics and Aesthetics in Correlation

4. Kant’s Ethics in Neo-Kantianism

5. Enlightenment, Politics, and Education

6. Science, Technology, and Enlightenment Ethics

7. Kant and Radical Enlightenment (section organized by The Contemporary Kantian Philosophy Project,directed by Robert Hanna)

Hanna writes: By “radical enlightenment,” we mean any epistemic, metaphysical, metaphilosophical, aesthetic, scientific, moral, social, or political interpretation of Kant’s injunction to “dare to know,” or “dare to think for oneself” (Sapere aude!), that is more progressive — or “further left” — than classical Hobbesian or Millian liberalism, or contemporary neoliberalism. The theme of this section comprehends any topic in Kant’s or Kantian philosophy that explores its positive or negative relationship to radical enlightenment in this sense, with a special interest in exploring the implications and/or significance of that topic for contemporary issues.

The conference languages are Russian, English, and German.

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