Dutifully Wishing: Kant’s Re-evaluation of a Strange Species of Desire

Kantian Review 22 (3):373-394 (2017)
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Kant uses ‘wish’ as a technical term to denote a strange species of desire. It is an instance in which someone wills an object that she simultaneously knows she cannot bring about. Or in more Kantian garb: it is an instance of the faculty of desire’s (or will’s) failing insofar as a desire (representation) cannot be the cause of the realization of its corresponding object in reality. As a result, Kant originally maintained it to be antithetical to morality, which deals with ‘ought implies can’. However, Kant’s notion of wish is not static. On the contrary, I argue in this article that Kant re-evaluated the capacity to wish as (to some extent) causally efficacious and, further, of moral relevance. This re-evaluation has not been discussed in the literature, yet has been lurking in plain sight in a subtle but decisive shift evident in two versions of a footnote from the *Critique of the Power of Judgement* (KU).

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Alexander T. Englert
Princeton University


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