We are very pleased to announce three exciting elbow-to-elbow hybrid events coming this November 2023, in the ECPR Harbour House in Colchester, UK.
This year will see both the 2022 and the 2023 ‘Jean-Jacques Rousseau’ Annual Lecture and Conference, catching up with the events that were postponed due to the Covid pandemic. The 2022 and 2023 ‘Rousseau’ events will respectively feature and discuss the works and contributions of Katrin Flikschuh and Rainer Forst. These events are co-organised between the Keele-Oxford-St Andrews Kantian (KOSAK) Research Centre and the ECPR Standing Group on Kantian Political Thought.
In between the ‘Rousseau’ events, in the same venue, the ECPR Standing Group on Kantian Political Thought (a society with several ties to the KOSAK) will host the 2023 Standing Group’s Winter School: ‘Kantian Political Thought Today’.
While the events can be attended individually, the schedule facilitates in-person participation in all three, helping to reduce travel and promoting a smaller carbon footprint.
2022 ‘Rousseau’ Annual Lecture and Conference (Katrin Flikshuh):
20 November: Annual Lecture. Katrin Flikshuh
21 November: Annual Conference
Winter School of the ECPR Standing Group on Kantian Political Thought:
2023 ‘Rousseau’ Annual Lecture and Conference (Rainer Forst):
25 December: Annual Lecture. Rainer Forst
26 December: Annual Conference
Inscriptions to open soon, to be announced!
In other news: Jens Timmermann elected member of the Academia Europaea
Our warmest congratulations to Jens Timmermann (St Andrews) for being elected  to the Academia Europaea. Jens is an internationally renowned Kant scholar, especially known for his research on Kant’s practical and political philosophy, and a member of the Executive Board of the KOSAK.
The Academia Europaea is a prestigious European academy of the sciences, humanities and letters founded in 1988. According to the institution’s website: “Academia Europaea is a European, non-governmental association acting as an Academy. Our members are scientists and scholars who collectively aim to promote learning, education and research.” 
Last November 2022, the excellent Korpora.org tool for researching Kant’s collected writings, hosted by the University of Duisburg-Essen, was taken offline due to a cyberattack on the University’s web infrastructure. Recently, I discovered that the much-esteemed tool is back online, with volumes 1-23 of the Akademie-Ausgabe’s Gesammelte Schriften in searchable text. The URL of the service, which was formerly http://korpora.zim.uni-duisburg-essen.de/Kant/ is now provisionally: http://kant.korpora.org/
Many of the former functionalities are not yet available (including one of my favourites, the ‘personenindex’, which indexed everyone that Kant names in his written corpus.) Yet, I would like to highlight two advantageous features that are in fact available in the current provisional version.
(1) Quick referencing: The sitemap parallels the order of Kant’s writing of the Akademie-Ausgabe’s Gesammelte Schriften. This is very useful for quick referencing. Suppose we wanted to consult a citation in the original German. For instance:
Now, we can just take note of the reference, Band 4 of the Gesammalte Schriften, page 279, and type in the URL box of your browser:
(2) Search tool: A simple search tool provided by FreeFind with which you can search for occurrences of specific terms and phrases in Kant’s written corpus. The tool has several advanced capacities, such as coming up with variants of terms, verbatim search, and several others. See “search tips” for these.
The original Korpora.org is meant to go back online in full, but for the time being, I am very glad that this service is available!
I have talked to several Kant scholars who had never heard of Philippe Collin’s 1993 film titled Les Derniers Jours d’Emmanuel Kant, so this KOSAK blog post comes as a recommendation. The film is an adaptation of Thomas de Quincey’s novella The Last Days of Immanuel Kant (originally published in 1827), which in turn was for the most part based on E.A. Wasianski’s first-person account of the days leading to Kant’s death, published in his Immanuel Kant in seinen letzten Lebensjahren (1804). The film beautifully recreates some of the iconic scenes from de Quincey’s text.
On the occasion of the 299th anniversary of Kant’s birth, April 22nd, 1724, I have chosen something more playful: the following quote from the 299th page of volume V of the Gesammelte Schriften, from Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790).
Someone who alone (and without any intention of wanting to communicate his observations to others) considers the beautiful shape of a wildflower, a bird, an insect, etc., in order to marvel at it, to love it, and to be unwilling for it to be entirely absent from nature, even though some harm might come to him from it rather than there being any prospect of advantage to him from it, takes an immediate and certainly intellectual interest in the beauty of nature. I.e., not only the form of its product but also its existence pleases him, even though no sensory charm has a part in this and he does not combine any sort of end with it.
However, it is worth noting here that if someone had secretly deceived this lover of the beautiful and had planted artificial flowers (which can be manufactured to look entirely similar to natural ones) or had placed artfully carved birds on the twigs of trees, and he then discovered the deception, the immediate interest that he had previously taken in it would immediately disappear, though perhaps another, namely the interest of vanity in decorating his room with them for the eyes of others, would take its place. The thought that nature has produced that beauty must accompany the intuition and reflection, and on this alone is grounded the immediate interest that one takes in it. Otherwise there remains either a mere judgment of taste without any interest, or only one combined with a mediate interest, namely one related to society: which latter affords no sure indications of a morally good way of thinking.
AA 5: 299.
Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment. Translated by Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews. Cambridge: 2000.
This passage was referred to in the discussion after the latest Keele Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture, ‘A New Introduction to Aesthetics’, delivered by James Kirwan at Keele last March. In these two paragraphs, Kant reflects on the aesthetic judgment relating to naturally produced forms versus the artificially reproduced. What changes in our aesthetic judgment about an alleged product of nature when it is revealed to be an artificial reproduction? A contemporary version of this can be said to be occurring in the public debate about the aesthetic value of AI-generated art: How does the revelation that a piece of art is in fact AI-generated change our aesthetic judgment about it?
Eric Sancho Adamson, April 22, 2023.
Ps. Do not miss the next Keele Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture: Playing with Things. By: Keith Crome (MMU) On: Tuesday 25th April. The featured image in this post was generated by introducing the whole quoted passage into FreeImage.AI.
We are thrilled to announce The Kantian Mind, an upcoming Routledge volume co-edited by Sorin Baiasu, director of the KOSAK, and Mark Timmons (Arizona), to be published on July 4th, 2023. The volume will be an indispensable guide and reference source for students and at the same time a significant new contribution to Kant scholarship. The volume is organized in four main sections:
Background to the Critical Philosophy
Transcendental Philosophy (Critique and Doctrine)
Posthumous Writings and Lectures
Kant and Contemporary Kantians
Its 45 chapters, especially written for this volume, cover Kant’s principal works and a broad range of topics including Kant’s views on logic, mathematics, the natural sciences, anthropology, religion, politics, and education. The concluding chapters study the influence of Kant’s thought on contemporary analytic and continental philosophy.
The team of contributors includes Sorin Baiasu, Giovanni Pietro Basile, Graham Bird, Alyssa R. Bernstein, Andrew Chignell, Alix Cohen, Katherine Dunlop, Gabriele Gava, Ido Geiger, Anil Gomes, Michelle Grier, Paul Guyer, John E. Hare, Thomas E. Hill, Jr., Otfried Höffe, Fiona Hughes, Robert Johnson, Frode Kjosavik, Katharina T. Kraus, Marguerite La Caze, Robert B. Louden, Huaping Lu-Adler, G. Felicitas Munzel, Valentin Mureșan, Steve Naragon, Christian Onof, James O’Shea, Tanehisa Otabe, Stephen R. Palmquist, Andrews Reath, Kenneth F. Rogerson, Alexander Rueger, Martin Schönfeld, Dennis Schulting, Oliver Sensen, Camilla Serck-Hanssen, Susan Shell, Houston Smit, Andrew Stephenson, Thomas Teufel, Mark Timmons, Gabriele Tomasi, Helga Varden, Ralph Walker, Wayne Waxman, Kenneth R. Westphal, Marcus Willaschek, Howard Williams, and Allen W. Wood.
On Tuesday, March 22 I met with Shihao Gong, a fellow PhD student from Keele, also supervised by Sorin Baiasu. I always enjoy my meetings with Shihao, and this one came with some suspense. Shihao had written to me five days before: “Please let me know when you will be on campus.”
I arrived at the Café at the Chancellor’s building, where Shihao was waiting for me, with coffee and some Kant-themed books on the table. I first learned of Shihao’s engagement with Kantian philosophy when we both participated in the ECPR Winter School on ‘Kantian Thought Today: War and Other Global Challenges’ in 2022 (co-organized by the Kantian Standing Group and the KOSAK,) which is where the story he was about to tell me begins.
Shihao had borrowed from the Keele Library the first book that I saw on the table, Mary J. Gregor’s English translation of Kant’s The Metaphysics of Morals, to prepare for the Winter School.
Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals. Introduction, translation, and notes by Mary J. Gregor, Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Around November 2022, while reading this copy, Shihao found a surprising bookmark: a letter that Stephan Körner wrote in 1966 to a relatively young Graham Bird—who would end up founding the UK Kant Society 28 years later—about reviewing a book by Lewis White Beck.
PROFESSOR: S. KÖRNER, M.A., PH.D.
DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY, THE UNIVERSITY, BRISTOL 8
19th January, 1966
G.H. Bird Esq.,
Department of Philosophy,
St. Andrews University,
Dear Bird, (I hope that we can dispense with titles in addressing each other)
I am very pleased to hear that you are prepared to review Beck’s book. I don’t need the review in a hurry.
With best wishes,
P.S. I enclose the book.
In our conversation, Shihao told me of his surprise at reading this letter: Körner’s Kant (1955) had been his first introduction to Kantian philosophy!
Together (and assisted by a popular search engine,) Shihao and I speculated about which of Lewis White Beck’s books Stephan Körner was sending to Graham Bird. We were not able to find a review written by Graham Bird of any of Lewis White Beck’s books, and we settled on the conjecture that it was Studies in the Philosophy of Kant (1965). Yet, the review, if it existed at all, was absent from Graham Bird’s CV, addended to the preprint of Kenneth R. Westphal’s Memorial Notice for Graham Bird’s passing away in 2021.
Later that day, seeking other reviews by Graham Bird, I only found one from April of 1966 (the year the letter was written; incidentally, this review is also missing from Graham Bird’s CV,) in the section “New Books” of Mind (New Series, Vol. 75, No. 298, pp. 293-308.) Yet, this review is not of a book of Lewis White Beck’s, but rather of Mary J. Gregor’s 1963 study on Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals, called Laws of Freedom: A Study of Kant’s Method of Applying the Categorical Imperative in the Metaphysik der Sitten (Oxford: Basil Blackwell).
The inquiries had full-circled back to Mary J. Gregor. Was this just chance? Did Stephan Körner’s expression “Beck’s book” not mean “The book that Lewis White Beck wrote”, but rather something like “The [Mary J. Gregor] book that Lewis White Beck recommended for review”?
4. Mary J. Gregor
After equal portions of research and speculation, I conjectured that Graham Bird had never gotten around to writing the review. I tried reaching out to family members of this older generation of Kant scholars, seeking some insights into their lives and personalities. After learning that Colin Bird, Graham Bird’s son, is on annual leave and will not be attending his institutional email, I got in touch with Stephan and Edith Körner’s son, who goes by Tom Korner and is a mathematics professor at Cambridge. On his website, Korner’s Korner (which is full of fun and witty remarks,) after giving out his email address, Tom Korner smartly writes “My favourite e-mail ends with the words ‘this message needs no reply’.”
Nonetheless, I concluded my email by asking him a few questions: Was there anything about his father’s letter that caught his eye? Was there anything in it that exemplified his father’s personality? Was he influenced by his father’s research? Did he know any of his father’s Kantian colleagues? Or maybe could he maybe share a vaguely-related anecdote?
Dear Mr [Sancho] Adamson, Thank you for this. For some time, my father was editor for the journal Ratio which then appeared both in German and English. I remember him saying that this was a great advantage since, if an article could not be translated into a closely related languange, this was good indication that the argument lacked universality. With best wishes Tom Korner
Shihao and I both found this thought about translation across languages to be quite amusing, but it also turned out to be a great hint to continue the search for Graham Bird’s review. Stephan Körner might have been asking Graham Bird to review a book by Lewis White Beck in the context of a journal publication for Ratio, the journal to which he was an editor of Ratio for nineteen years between 1961 and 1980.
Yet, after the original Ratio series ended in 1987, in 1988 the journal was reborn into its second series. In other words, what we now know as Ratio is a very different journal from the Stephan Körner times, meaning that publications from the original series were never indexed nor published online. In an exchange with the current editor of Ratio, David S. Oderberg, he put it in these terms: “I’d have trouble finding issues from the 1960s! I can try our library, but don’t get your hopes up.”
Six days later, David S. Oderberg got back in touch with me with good news. Attached was Graham Bird’s review “Lewis White Beck: Studies in the Philosophy of Kant. (Bobbs-Merrill, New York, 1965. Pp. viii+242. $6.5.)” in: Ratio, Vol. X (Num. 1), pp. 88-92, June 1968.
After reading it, I found it to be a wonderfully unflattering five-page account of Lewis White Beck’s book. Although the severity of his criticisms is attenuated by the review’s closing words, there is something exciting and refreshing in reading a relatively young Graham Bird scrutinizing the writings of one of the established authorities of his time.
It strikes me that this older generation of Kant scholars is in many ways historically close to current Kant scholarship. For one, it is just roughly 50 years apart (just one-fiftieth of the twenty-five century time span of the history of philosophy,) and much of current Kant scholarship is a direct continuation of their restitution of Kant in English-speaking academic philosophy. Yet, at the same time, it is a clearly distinct generation. In the vein of Stephan Körner, this time capsule into another period of Kant scholars has made me raise questions about how much is lost and how much is conserved when translating thoughts across generations, as well as questions about the universality of such thoughts. I still have no clear answers, but one thing is certain. When it comes to serving as a bookmark, paper letters will always be superior to emails.
Eric Sancho Adamson, April 4, 2023.
I thank Shihao Gong and Sorin Baiasu for making this story possible. Shihao found the letter in the first place, and Sorin suggested that we look into it together for a blog post. I thank Tom Korner and David S. Oderberg for their good-hearted replies, which have both turned out to be helpful in more ways than one. Last but not least, I wish to thank Sally Sedgwick for kindly granting me permission to use the photograph of Graham Bird in this post.
We are excited to announce a Sorin Baiasu (of the KOSAK) and Micha Gläser guest-edited special issue of PHILOSOPHIA, titled PAULINE KLEINGELD ON KANT. Some of the texts are already available online, and the complete special issue will be published here (expected to be out in June.) All texts are Open Access.
The focus of the special issue is Pauline Kleingeld’s groundbreaking contributions to our comprehension of Kant’s proposal of a self-legislated and binding Moral Law. Four longer pieces—by Mark Timmons, Alyssa Bernstein, Michael Walschots and Sorin Baiasu—engage with Kleingeld’s work; these are commented by four shorter pieces—by Paola Romero, Christoph Hanisch, Stefano Lo Re and Marie Newhouse—, and Pauline Kleingeld provides three responses.
The titles are:
Micha Gläser & Sorin Baiasu: “Aspects of Practical Bindingness in Kant: Introduction”
Mark Timmons, “Making Sense of Kant’s Formula of Universal Law: On Kleingeld’s Volitional Self-Contradiction Interpretation”
Comments by Paola Romero, “From Volitional Self-contradiction to Moral Deliberation: Between Kleingeld and Timmons’s Interpretations of Kant’s Formula of Universal Law”
Michael Walschots, “The Volition Self-Contradiction Interpretation of Kant’s Formula of Universal Law: A Response to Kleingeld”
Comments by Stefano Lo Re, “All Bad Things Come in Threes? On FUL and Its Contradictions – Comments on Walschots’s Response to Kleingeld”
Reply: Pauline Kleingeld, “A Defense and Development of the Volitional Self-Contradiction Interpretation”
Sorin Baiasu, “How Far Do We Self-legislate?”
Comments by Marie Newhouse, “The Principle of Autonomy’s Enduring Validity”
Reply: Pauline Kleingeld, “Kant’s Formula of Autonomy: Continuity or Discontinuity?”
Alyssa Bernstein, “Autonomy and Objective Moral Constructivism: Rawls versus Kleingeld & Willaschek”
Comments by Christoph Hanisch, “The Categorical Imperative in Action: Enabler and Enablee of Self-Legislation”
Pauline Kleingeld, “Self-Legislation and the Apriority of the Moral Law”
2024 will be an exciting year for Kantian philosophers: it’s the 300th anniversary of Kant’s birth, and there will be many large international Kant-related events. But, who says there aren’t any in 2023? See for yourselves! I recently rediscovered this very useful calendar for the current year on the Kant-Forschungsstelle website:
The event will take place between 4 – 8 September 2023 at Charles University in Prague and online. For more details and queries about participation, do not hesitate to contact the Conference Officers: Jakob Rendl and/or Jakub Szczepanski.
The Keele Royal Institute of Philosophy lectures are back! This Spring semester, Keele is hosting the following lectures:
– 14th March: James Kirwan (Kansai) – A New Introduction to Aesthetics
– 25th April: Keith Crome (MMU) – Playing with Things
– 2nd May: Davide Cadeddu (Milan) – Freedom and Inevitability in History: Carr vs. Berlin
All lectures are in person and open to all. They will be held at 6pm in room CBA 0.060, Chancellor’s Building, Keele University.
The Keele Royal Institute of Philosophy lectures are held in association with the Royal Institute of Philosophy, the Keele-Oxford-St Andrews Kantian Research Centre, and the Forum for Philosophical Research.