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Metaphysics and the GoodThemes from the Philosophy of Robert Merrihew Adams$
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Samuel Newlands and Larry M. Jorgensen

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542680

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542680.001.0001

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Herder and Kant on History: Their Enlightenment Faith

Herder and Kant on History: Their Enlightenment Faith

(p.313) 9 Herder and Kant on History: Their Enlightenment Faith
Metaphysics and the Good

Allen Wood

Oxford University Press

Johann Gottfried Herder was an important philosopher of history. He was also a student of Immanuel Kant, whose views on history are less well-known, but were developed — as were Herder's — in the course of sometimes acrimonious exchanges between the two philosophers. Most treatments of this relationship emphasize the differences and points of controversy between Kant and Herder. This chapter argues that we understand Herder better if we view his philosophy of history as a creative development of Enlightenment ideas, rather than as a fundamental critique of them. His rejection of the received 18th century philosophy of history is better viewed as a radical extension of Enlightenment principles than as a repudiation of them. Herder and Kant also share an Enlightenment faith in historical progress (which is less reserved and qualified in Herder's case than in Kant's). The final section of the chapter makes use of Robert Adams' conception of ‘moral faith’ in Finite and Infinite Goods to expound and defend the rationality of the Enlightenment position here as represented by both Kant and Herder.

Keywords:   Kant, Johann Gottfried Herder, philosopher of history, Enlightenment, Robert Adams, moral faith

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