Presenter: Associate Professor Marguerite La Caze

Immanuel Kant is often thought of as an excessively austere figure of the enlightenment, eschewing especially the emotions. Yet his contribution to the enlightenment includes a distinctive sensitivity to the role that love and the beautiful, particularly in nature, play in our ethical lives. There are a number of arguments scattered through Kant’s work that aim to establish a connection between love of the beautiful and morality. My goal is to connect the most significant of these to build a picture of his concern with the topic, and to assess the arguments for their insight and their revelation of complexity and significance of Kant as an Enlightenment thinker. What I show here is that love of the beautiful is meaningfully connected to morality in a range of ways; thus this love of the beautiful indicates the crucial, if not predominant, role of emotions in Kant’s moral philosophy.