Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The Role of the Holy Will*

  • John J. Callanan (a1)
Abstract

It is well known that Kant uses the notion of the holy will in the Groundwork so as to contrast it with the finite wills of human beings. It is less clear, however, what function this contrast is supposed to perform. I argue that one role of the holy will is to illustrate transcendental idealism’s account of the relation between moral knowledge and moral practice. The position is one intended to negotiate between ostensibly competing traditions. Kant uses the holy will as a way of endorsing the metaphysical picture of the scholastic tradition’s so-called ‘ethics of freedom’, whereby the ideal of moral perfection is conceived as the perfection of one’s power of freedom to the point where one is constitutively incapable of immoral action. This position is married however with the claim that the holy will’s inaccessibility to human cognition motivates a subject-oriented moral epistemology more usually associated with Enlightenment humanism. I conclude by claiming that the nuanced role for the holy will can be understood as part of Kant’s expansion of the value of religious faith [Glaube] to the domain of practical inquiry in general.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The Role of the Holy Will*
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The Role of the Holy Will*
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The Role of the Holy Will*
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
*

For comments and discussion I am grateful to: Angela Breitenbach, Clare Carlisle, Sasha Mudd, Tom Pink, Andrea Sangiovanni, Joe Saunders, Bob Stern, Martin Sticker, audiences at the King’s College London, University of Southampton and University College Dublin, and an anonymous referee for this journal.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Allais, L. (2007), ‘Kant’s Idealism and the Secondary Quality Analogy’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 45:3: 459-484.
Allison, H. E. (1986), ‘Morality and Freedom: Kant’s Reciprocity Thesis’, Philosophical Review 95:3: 393-425.
Allison, H. E. (1990), Kant’s Theory of Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Allison, H. E. (2004), Kant’s Transcendental Idealism: An Interpretation and Defense. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Allison, H. E. (2011), Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals: A Commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ameriks, K. (1981), ‘Kant’s Deduction of Freedom and Morality’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 19: 1.
Augustine (2006), Confessions and Enchiridion, Ed. and trans. Albert Cook Outler Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press.
Augustine (2010), On the Free Choice of the Will, On Grace and Free Choice, and Other Writings, Ed. and trans Peter King. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bacon, F. (2000), The New Organon, Ed. Lisa Jardine and Michael Silverthorne Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cassirer, E. (1983), Kant’s Life and Thought. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Chignell, A. (2007), ‘Belief in Kant’, Philosophical Review 116:3: 323-360.
Duncan, S. (2012), ‘Moral Evil, Freedom and the Goodness of God: Why Kant Abandoned Theodicy’, British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20:5: 973-991.
Freyenhagen, F. (2008), ‘Reasoning Takes Time: On Allison and the Timelessness of the Intelligible Self’, Kantian Review 132: 67-84.
Guyer, P. (1987), Kant and the Claims of Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Guyer, P. (2011), ‘Kantian Perfectionism’ in J. Wuerth and L. J. Jost (eds.), Perfecting Virtue: New Essays on Kantian Ethics and Virtue Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 194-214.
Hogan, D. (2009), ‘Three Kinds of Rationalism and the Non-Spatiality of Things in Themselves’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 47:3: 355-382.
Kant, I. (2012), Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Trans. M. Gregor and J. Timmermann Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Korsgaard, C. M. (1996), Creating the Kingdom of Ends. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kuehn, M. (2001), Kant: A Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Leibniz, G. W. (1997), New Essays on Human Understanding. Ed. and trans. Peter Remnant and Jonathan Bennett. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lombard, P. (1981), Sententiae in IV Libris Distinctae. Grottaferrata: St. Bonaventure.
Montaigne, M. de. (2003), Essays. Tran. M. A. Screech London: Penguin Books.
Nelkin, D. K. (2000), ‘Two Standpoints and the Belief in Freedom’, Journal of Philosophy 9710: 564-576.
O’Neill, O. (1996), Kant on Reason and Religion, Tanner Lectures. Available at http://tannerlectures.utah.edu/_documents/a-to-z/o/oneill97.pdf.
Pereboom, D. (2006), ‘Kant on Transcendental Freedom’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73:3: 537-567.
Pink, T. (2011), ‘Thomas Hobbes and the Ethics of Freedom’, Inquiry 54:5: 541-563.
Quadrio, P. A. (2009), ‘Kant and Rousseau on the Critique of Philosophical Theology: The Primacy of Practical Reason’, Sophia 48: 2.
Rousseau, J.-J. (1979), Emile : or, On Education. Trans. Allan Bloom New York: Basic Books.
Schopenhauer, A. (2009), The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics. Ed. Christopher Janaway. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Schopenhauer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shell, S. M. and Velkley, R. L. (2012), Kant’s Observations and Remarks: A Critical Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stern, R. (2012), Understanding Moral Obligation: Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Timmermann, J. (2007), Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals: a Commentary. Cambridge: New York: Cambridge University Press.
Velkley, R. (2013), ‘Transcending Nature, Unifying Reason: On Kant’s Debt to Rousseau’ in O. Sensen (ed.), Kant on Moral Autonomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 89-106.
Warda, A. (1922), Immanuel Kants Bücher. Berlin: Verlag Von Martin Breslauer.
Willaschek, M. (2006), ‘Practical Reason. A Commentary on Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (GMS II, 412–417)’ in D. Schönecker and C. Horn (eds.), Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Berlin & New York: Walter De Gruyter, 121-138.
Wood, A. W. (1999), Kant’s Ethical Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wood, A. W. (2008), Kantian ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Hegel Bulletin
  • ISSN: 2051-5367
  • EISSN: 2051-5375
  • URL: /core/journals/hegel-bulletin
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics