Introduction: The Connection between Politics and Teleology in Kant

In Paul Formosa, Avery Goldman & Tatiana Patrone (eds.), Politics and Teleology in Kant. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. pp. 1-18 (2014)
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Kant develops his political philosophy in the context of a teleological conception of both nature and human history. For Kant, political thought must be undertaken in the context of a progressive historical view of humanity’s place in nature. For this reason Kant would strongly agree with John Rawls’s claim that one of the key roles that political philosophy plays in a society’s political culture is that of ‘probing the limits of practicable political possibility. In this role, we view political philosophy as realistically utopian’ (Rawls 2007, pp. 10-11). The fact that political philosophy has this public role helps to explain the close links that exist between politics and teleology in Kant’s work. Teleology is the study of ends and of the purposiveness of both nature and history. One of the key roles of political philosophy is, for Kant, to probe what politics and human societies more generally can, will and should become in the context of the historically developing and purposive natural systems of which humans are part. Politics must be understood in its natural and historical context, but nature (especially human nature) and history must in turn be understood from a progressive political perspective. For Kant, the historical outcome of this purposive natural system, the end of history, is the full development of humanity’s predispositions for the use of reason within a moral and just society. This volume explores these issues.
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