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From Swedenborg's Spiritual World to Kant's Kingdom of Ends - Gregory R. Johnson, ARIES 9.1 (2009) 83–99

From Swedenborg's Spiritual World to Kant's Kingdom of Ends - Gregory R. Johnson, ARIES 9.1 (2009) 83–99

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Published by dp1974
In this contribution, the thesis established is that Immanuel Kant's concept of "empire of the purposes "is derived from Emanuel Swedenborg approach the spiritual world in his Arcana Coelestia
("Secrets of Heaven", 1749-1756). The article argues that Kant came up with his idea sortly after Swedenborg's Arcana Coelestia came out in 1760 and read that conception of spiritual world.
In this contribution, the thesis established is that Immanuel Kant's concept of "empire of the purposes "is derived from Emanuel Swedenborg approach the spiritual world in his Arcana Coelestia
("Secrets of Heaven", 1749-1756). The article argues that Kant came up with his idea sortly after Swedenborg's Arcana Coelestia came out in 1760 and read that conception of spiritual world.

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Published by: dp1974 on Aug 01, 2009
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© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden,
2009
DOI: 10.1163/156798908X379684
 ARIES 
9
.
2009
 )
83
– 
 99
 ARIES
From Swedenborg’s Spiritual Worldto Kant’s Kingdom of Ends
*
Gregory R. Johnson
Ph.D. in philosophy, Catholic University of America, Washinton D.C.
 Abstract
Von der geistigen Welt Swedenborgs zu Kants Reich der Zwecke 
In diesem Beitrag wird die These aufgestellt, dass Immanuel Kants Konzept des “Reichesder Zwecke” von Emanuel Swedenborgs Konzept der geistigen Welt abgeleitet ist, welchesSwedenborg in seinem Werk 
Arcana Coelestia
(“Geheimnisse des Himmels”,
1749
1756
)ebenfalls als “Reich der Zwecke” (
regnum finium
) beschreibt. Der Artikel argumentiert, dassKantSwedenborgs
Arcana Coelestia
kurznach
1760
gelesen hatund dassdieKonzeptiondergeistigen Welt, wie Kant sie in seiner Abhandlung
Träume eines Geistersehers 
von
1766
vorstellt, von Swedenborg abhängig ist. Nimmt man ferner zu Kants verö
ff 
entlichten Werken Notizen von Studenten zu seinen Vorlesungen über Metaphysik und Ethik hinzu,zeigt sich im Hinblick auf die geistige Welt eine direkte Linie von den
Träumen eines Geistersehers 
zur
GrundlegungzurMetaphysikderSitten
von
1785
,indererstmalsderAusdruc“Reich der Zwecke” im Druck erscheint.
Keywords
Emanuel Swedenborg; Immanuel Kant; Kingdom of Ends; Spiritual World; Ethics
1
. The Idea of the “Kingdom of Ends”
In his
Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals 
(
Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten
) (
1785
), Kant o
ff 
ers three formulations of the ultimate principle of morality, which he calls the Categorical Imperative. He claims that these threeformulations are merely di
ff 
erent ways of representing the same moral law.
1
*)
This text was originally written for the International Kant-Swedenborg Workshoporganized by the
Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Erforschung der Europäischen Aufklärung 
,Forschergruppe “Die Aufklärung im Bezugsfeld neuzeitlicher Esoterik”, Universität Halle- Wittenberg,
29
30
August
2006
.
1)
Kant,
Foundations 
, AK 
4
:
436
; Beck,
53
.
 
84
Gregory R. Johnson / ARIES 
9
.
2009
 )
83
– 
 99
First is the “universal law” formulation: ‘Act only according to that maximby which you at the same time can will that it should become a universal law’.
2
Kant rephrases the universal law formula as follows: ‘Act as though the maximof your action were by your will to become a universal law of nature’.
3
Kantalso speaks of testing the coherence of one’s maxim with reference to a ‘systemof nature’.
4
It is important to understand what Kant means by a “law” and how lawsrelate to “nature”. Kant claims that ‘Nature, in the widest sense of the word,is the existence of things under laws’.
5
He also specifies that these laws areuniversal: ‘The universality of law according to which e
ff 
ects are producedconstitutes what is properly called nature in the most general sense (as toform) …’.
6
Nature,then, is more than justa collection of things,it isan
orderly 
collectionofthings—acosmos,notachaos—andtheprincipleoforderconsistsof universal laws, laws that apply to all beings within the system.
7
Thus actingupon maxims which can at the same time be willed as universal laws of naturemeans making ourselves citizens of the moral community, which derives itsnature from the moral laws that constitute and govern it.
8
Second, the Categorical Imperative bids us to: Act so that you treathumanity,whetherinyourownpersonorthatofanother,alwaysasanendandnever as a means only’.
9
Kant claims that the second formulation emphasizes
2)
Kant,
Foundations 
, AK 
4
:
421
; Beck,
38
.
3)
Kant,
Foundations 
, AK 
4
:
421
; Beck,
38
.
4)
Kant,
Foundations 
, AK 
4
:
422
; Beck,
39
.
5)
Kant,
Critique of Practical Reason
, AK 
5
:
43
; Beck,
44
. Cf.
Critique of Pure Reason
, A 
216
/B
263
,
418
/B
446
,
693
/B
721
; and
Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics 
, AK 
4
:
294
.
6)
Kant,
Foundations 
, AK 
4
:
421
; Beck,
38
.
7)
 Any beings not falling under the constitutive laws of a realm would be,
ipso facto
, outsidethat realm.
8)
If the categorical imperative commands communal membership, and if communities aregoverned by universal laws, then even if we do not know what precisely those laws are, wedo know one thing: those maxims which cannot at the same time be willed as universallaws of nature (common laws of community) cannot be in accordance with morality. Thisis the meaning of Kant’s universalizability criterion.
9)
Kant,
Foundations 
, AK 
4
:
429
; Beck,
46
. In a manuscript
Reflexion
written in Dresden in
1817
, Schopenhauer compares Kant’s second formulation of the Categorial Imperative withSwedenborg: ‘In the
Vera christiana religio
[
True Christian Religion
] §
400
Swedenborg saysthat “the egoistical man with his bodily eyes certainly sees the rest as men, but with hisspiritual eyes he sees as men only himself and his relations, whilst the rest he sees only asmasks”. According to their innermost meaning, these words are the same as Kant’s preceptthat “we should never consider other merely as means but as ends in themselves”. But how di
ff 
erently expressed is the idea; how vivid, sharp and to the point, graphic and immediately 
 
Gregory R. Johnson / ARIES 
9
.
2009
 )
83
– 
 99
85
 what he calls the “matter” of the first, i.e., the nature of the citizens of themoral realm: rational, free, and responsible beings; persons possessing dignity;beings who are ends in themselves and worthy of respect.Thirdistheautonomouslegislatorformulation.ItisherethatKantbringstogether the first formulation, which deals with universal laws which are theform of the moral community, and the second formulation, which deals with the “matter” of the moral community, namely beings that are ends inthemselves. Free beings can be subject to laws only if the laws are those they  would freely impose upon themselves. It is here that the idea of the “kingdomof ends” (
Reich der Zwecke 
) makes its first explicit appearance:
The third practical principle of the will [is] the supreme condition of its harmony  with universal practical reason, viz. the Idea
of the will of every rational being as making universal law 
.By this principle all maxims are rejected which are not consistent with the will’s givinguniversal law. The will is not only subject to the law, but subject in such a way that itmust be conceived also as
itself legislating 
the laws, of which reason can hold itself tobe the author; it is on this ground alone that the will can be regarded as subject to thelaw.
10
Kant glosses this formula as follows: ‘Every rational being must act as if by hismaxims he were at all times a legislative member of a universal kingdom of ends’.
11
Kant describes the kingdom of ends as follows:
The concept of any rational being as a being that must regard itself as giving universallaw through all the maxims of its will, so that it may judge itself and its actions fromthis standpoint, leads to a very fruitful concept, namely that of a
kingdom of ends 
.By 
kingdom
I understand the systematic union of di
ff 
erent rational beings throughcommonlaws.Becauselawsdeterminewhichendshaveuniversalvalidity,ifweabstractfrom personal di
ff 
erences of rational beings, and thus from all content of their privatepurposes, we can think of a totality of all ends in systematic connection, a totality of rational beings as ends in themselves as well as a totality of particular purposes which each may serve for himself. This is a kingdom of ends, which is possible on theprinciples stated above.adequate are the words of Swedenborg (whose manner and way of thinking I do not usually find enjoyable), and how indirect, abstract and expressed through derived connotation arethe words of Kant!’ (Schopenhauer,
Manuscript Remains 
, vol.
1
,
521
).
10)
Kant,
Foundations 
, AK 
4
:
431
; Beck,
48
.
11)
Kant,
Foundations 
, AK 
4
:
438
; Beck,
55
.

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