Revisiting Kant, for whom I have some affection

A.N. Wilson argues that although Immanuel Kant is disfavored by British empiricists, “many in the Anglo-American tradition who would not consider themselves Kantians might find themselves warming to Kant’s political liberalism.” Although Kant has been accused of endorsing a “seeming-Christianity,” Wilson says this analysis:

overlooks the fact that Kant was not a believer in a personal God and indeed, after he wrote Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, he was banned by Friedrich Wilhelm II from writing about the subject again. He believed in something that seems like moral absolutism – his famous Categorical Imperative – but this tiny little man with a large head was anti-Puritan, kept a good (all-male) table, preferring to find his female companionship in the local “Puff” or brothel, the upper storey of a Koenigsberg boarding house. He lived as regular as clockwork until senile dementia took over. He died when he accidentally ignited his nightcap with a candle, a gruesome fact that led Elias Canetti very nearly to entitle his fictional masterpiece as Kant faengt Feuer – Kant catches fire.


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