Wild chimeras: Enthusiasm and intellectual virtue in Kant

European Journal of Philosophy 28 (2):380-393 (2020)
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Kant typically is not identified with the tradition of virtue epistemology. Although he may not be a virtue epistemologist in a strict sense, I suggest that intellectual virtues and vices play a key role in his epistemology. Specifically, Kant identifies a serious intellectual vice that threatens to undermine reason, namely enthusiasm (Schwärmerei). Enthusiasts become so enamored with their own thinking that they refuse to subject reason to self-critique. The particular danger of enthusiasm is that reason colludes in its own destruction: enthusiasm occurs when self-conceit and reason’s desire to transcend its boundaries mutually reinforce each other. I conclude by sketching an account of Kantian intellectual virtue that is consistent with Kantian moral virtue.

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Krista Thomason
Swarthmore College


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