Kant's Observations of 1764 and Remarks of 1764-5 (a set of fragments written in the margins of his copy of the Observations) document a crucial turning point in his life and thought. Both reveal the growing importance for him of ethics, anthropology and politics, but with an important difference. The Observations attempts to observe human nature directly. The Remarks, by contrast, reveals a revolution in Kant's thinking, largely inspired by Rousseau, who 'turned him around' by disclosing to Kant the idea of a 'state of freedom' (modelled on the state of nature) as a touchstone for his thinking. This and related thoughts anticipate such famous later doctrines as the categorical imperative. This collection of essays by leading Kant scholars illuminates the many and varied topics within these two rich works, including the emerging relations between theory and practice, ethics and anthropology, men and women, philosophy, history and the 'rights of man'.
Susan Meld Shell is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Boston College, Massachusetts. She is author of Kant and the Limits of Autonomy (2009), The Embodiment of Reason: Kant on Spirit, Generation and Community (1996) and The Rights of Reason: A Study of Kant's Philosophy and Politics (1980). She is co-editor (with Robert Faulkner) of America at Risk: Threats to Liberal Self-Government in an Age of Uncertainty (2009). Richard Velkley is Celia Scott Weatherhead Professor of Philosophy at Tulane University, New Orleans. He is the author of Heidegger, Strauss, and the Premises of Philosophy: On Original Forgetting (2011), Being after Rousseau: Philosophy and Culture in Question (2002) and Freedom and the End of Reason: On the Moral Foundation of Kant's Critical Philosophy (1989). He is editor of Freedom and the Human Person (2007) and Dieter Henrich's The Unity of Reason: Essays on Kant's Philosophy (1994).
Introduction: Kant as youthful observer and legislator Susan Meld Shell and Richard Velkley; Part I. Kant's Ethical Thought: Sources and Stages: 1. Concerning Kant's earliest ethics: an attempt at a reconstruction Dieter Henrich; 2. Chimerical ethics and flattering moralists: Baumgarten's influence on Kant's moral theory in the Observations and Remarks Corey W. Dyck; 3. Two concepts of universality in Kant's moral theory Patrick R. Frierson; 4. Freedom as the foundation of morality: Kant's early efforts Paul Guyer; Part II. Ethics and Aesthetics: 5. Relating aesthetic and sociable feelings to moral and participatory feelings: reassessing Kant on sympathy and honor Rudolf A. Makkreel; 6. Kant's distinction between true and false sublimity Robert R. Clewis; 7. Kant's 'curious catalogue of human frailties' and the great portrait of nature Alix Cohen; Part III. Education, Politics and National Character: 8. Relative goodness and ambivalence of human traits: reflections in light of Kant's pedagogical concerns G. Felicitas Munzel; 9. Kant as rebel against the social order Reinhard Brandt; 10. National character via the beautiful and sublime? Robert B. Louden; Part IV. Science and History: 11. Absent an even finer feeling: a commentary on the opening of Observations on the Feeling of the Sublime and the Beautiful Peter Fenves; 12. The pursuit of science as decadence in Kant's Remarks in 'Observations on the Feelings of the Beautiful and the Sublime' John H. Zammito; 13. Kant, human nature, and history after Rousseau Karl Ameriks.