Self-Knowledge in Kant's Practical Philosophy Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • MacKenzie, Jordan Louise
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy
  • In the Doctrine of Virtue, Kant claims that the first command of all self-regarding duties is "know thyself". This duty seems to be expressly aimed at combatting our strong propensity towards self-deception. Given this, and given the fact that we have a duty to pursue our moral perfection (MM 6:444-6), the duty of self-knowledge seems to be an intuitive command. And yet, a broader view of Kant's ethical corpus exposes a deep skepticism about the possibility of morally-relevant self-knowledge. In this thesis, I argue that the duty to know ourselves is consistent with Kant's skepticism about practical self-knowledge. On my account, the duty to "know thyself" is aimed at getting us to understand ourselves as rational agents to whom the moral law applies categorically. Only when we arrive at the proper conception of our "moral selves" can we understand the deep problem of self-deception and the demandingness of our self-regarding duties.
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  • Hill, Thomas E.
  • Master of Arts
Graduation year
  • 2013

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