Kant's significance for the development of political theory – University of Copenhagen

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11 May 2015

Kant's significance for the development of political theory

NEW BOOK

Professor Christian F. Rostbøll, Department of Political Science, has written the first Danish book on Immanuel Kant’s contribution to political science. The considerable influence of Kant’s moral philosophy on the development of modern-day political theory is not widely recognised. The book is part of the series “Classics of Political Science”.

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) is undisputedly one of the most important western philosophers. Even in his own era, he was recognised for his contribution to epistemology and moral philosophy, but his contribution to political science and political theory is less well known. According to Professor Christian F. Rostbøll, Department of Political Science, Kant’s moral philosophy has had a considerable influence on the development of modern-day political theory.

The Enlightenment changes the question

To the question “What should I do?”, Kant replies “Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!” This principle forms the basis of his practical philosophy, which is central to this book.

Christian Rostbøll believes that in order to understand Kant’s importance to contemporary political philosophy, we must begin by noting that the basic questions posed by philosophers and political theorists changed during the Enlightenment – particularly in the works of Kant.

Ancient and medieval thinkers sought to answer the questions “What is the good life?” and “What makes people happy?” However, in the late 17th century, modern philosophy instead began to ask “How can and should people live together if they disagree on what constitutes a good or happy life?” It is a fundamental premise of Kant’s practical philosophy that people have different perceptions of what constitutes a happy life.

“Classics of Political Science”

Immanuel Kant is the first book in Danish to focus on Kant’s contribution to political science. It also introduces his republican conception of the state and of justice. As well as providing an overview of his moral philosophy, jurisprudence and political theory, the book contains excerpts from Kant’s own texts on enlightenment, ethics, politics and law.

The book is part of the series “Classics of Political Science”. Through short and concise texts, the series invites readers to explore the works of intellectually significant and interesting authors. The books in the series consist of equal parts original text and analyses written by researchers with in-depth knowledge of the works.

Contact

Professor MSO, PhD Christian F. Rostbøll
Department of Political Science
E-mail: cr@ifs.ku.dk
Tel.: +45 35 32 34 28