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The Journal of Aesthetic Education, Volume 48, Number 3, Fall 2014,
pp. 127-142 (Article)
DOI: 10.1353/jae.2014.0023

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for it was none other than Kant. And Onora O’Neill. “Making Ourselves Intelligible. because of the frailty (fragilitas) of human nature’” (36). Vol. . has often stressed the difference between a contemporary conception of autonomy as personal freedom and Kant’s conception of autonomy as obedience to a universally valid law. Klas Roth In Klas Roth’s essay in this issue of JAE.”2 That is. by attributing [to ourselves] the capacity of setting and pursuing . ends and by distancing ourselves from. but his friendly as well as thoughtful paper raises two points that I can perhaps briefly amplify. . without Fixed Ends. 48. This may make it sound as if autonomy is simply self-development. and possibly also challenging and changing the particular ends we set to us . Roth stresses that. . for one. who introduced the term “slavish” for everything that is to be avoided in morality. 3. “we face the task of unifying ourselves in term of efficacy and autonomy . .” 29). “engag[ing] in transforming society and ourselves continuously” (Roth.3 Journal of Aesthetic Education. an open-ended endeavor. something to strive for ‘in terms of its degree. reflecting on. (This was in his footnote to Part I in the second edition of Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. in both Cavell and Kant. in which he was essentially arguing that Schiller’s conception of dignity in Grace and Dignity was too Kantian!) So there are no great disagreements between Roth and me.” his invocation of Stanley Cavell’s remark that “we should avoid or resist becoming .1 “a causality in accordance with immutable laws but of a special kind. not. Kant’s description of autonomy may seem to stress lawfulness and immutability rather than or even at the cost of self-exploration and openness to change or mutability. the ‘slaves of our slavishness’” (31) makes clear why he and I are both so deeply attracted to Kant as well as to Cavell. for example. . something that seems very different from “the property of the will by which it is a law to itself”. Fall 2014 © 2014 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois JAE 48_3 text.Replies to Comments Paul Guyer 1. . autonomy is a matter of being constantly open to self-criticism and self-transformation: in words that he uses in reference to Cavell. . “Making Ourselves Intelligible— Rendering Ourselves Efficacious and Autonomous. No. First. .indd 127 7/22/14 9:48 AM . Nietzsche. and in words that he uses in reference to Kant.

individual autonomy one’s end.indd 128 7/22/14 9:48 AM . nothing but the “capacity to set oneself an end—any end whatsoever”:5 so what Kantian autonomy commands is precisely making contemporary. sometimes strangers. whether in oneself or others. my siblings. although only in oneself always. of the heroine in a comedy of remarriage without whom the hero finally realizes he cannot freely live. again. at least as long as we can think at two levels: at one level of abstraction. namely. is nothing other than the moral law. and one’s personal autonomy in harmony with the harmony of others. my wife. as long as it is not so understood. which the autonomous agent makes his own law. or even enemies whom chance or fate throws in my way. But the point I want to emphasize here is just that there is a paradox in the idea of another being an example of freedom for me. The contemporary notion of autonomy is at odds with Kant’s only if it is taken to privilege setting one’s own end on any occasion in isolation from the larger project of privileging the life-long capacity to set ends in both one’s self and others. for example. I take it that his emphases on the fact that others can be examples of freedom for us and. it is not really one.” as he describes it in the Lectures on Ethics. not every example of freedom for me is a necessary condition of my own freedom—for example. And while it is this first.4 and humanity is. my friends. to be sure. that we can only achieve our own freedom in concert with others means that he recognizes the second level of autonomy as well. what we must learn from another is to act as he or she does. moreover. at another level. not just on its own. not just oneself. then Kantian and contemporary autonomy are not competing or alternative notions but complementary: Kantian autonomy is a second-order conception that requires the maximization of personal autonomy at the first level. not just now.128  Guyer But I think that Roth is entirely right to stress the importance of individual openness and change as part of the Kantian conception of autonomy. my daughter. freely. not just at a moment. for the law of the will. What I have just said is that the freedom of others. This is the paradox of Socrates as a role model that Alexander Nehamas has so elegantly described in The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault. though.or ground-level aspect of autonomy on which Cavell concentrates. and only in others.6 But the answer to this is that it only seems to be a paradox. This is what Kant means by the “self-consistent” or “greatest possible use of freedom. Second. is not merely an example for us but a condition of the possibility of our own freedom (although. in turn. one’s personal autonomy over a lifetime. this brings us to the role of examples. always as an end and never merely a means. And this is JAE 48_3 text. what that means is that we learn to act not precisely like the other. in its most important formulation the law to treat humanity. for I must emulate the other in being free. different from any natural law but a law for all that. which is precisely to say in not emulating him or her. but. not being one) but at least some examples of freedom for me must also be conditions of my freedom—for example. that of a fictional character with whom I cannot literally interact.

Cavell’s remark that flesh and blood can both elicit and repel recognition reminds me of Kant’s favorite image of both the natural and the moral world. the principle of respect requires them to stay at a proper distance from each other. 2.”9 I think we need to recognize this complexity of a moral relationship even to our closest friends. however. but it does. since as we have seen. The implication of this. One place where Kant deploys this imagery is in his account of friendship. is that. .Replies to Comments  129 precisely the resolution for which Kant gives us a model. This remark has multiple implications. . Dhillon emphasizes Cavell’s statement that “being human is the power to grant being human. Kant insists. of course.7 or perhaps better for emulation—what we are to learn from the work of a genius is not merely “aping” “originality” but actually being original. Something about flesh and blood elicits this grant from us. and something about flesh and blood can also repel it” (“Examples of Moral Perfectionism.8 We cannot easily say how this happens. not in his account of the beautiful or the sublime but in his account of artistic genius. We can hope. free at least to grant or withhold recognition as equally human to each other and indeed to themselves. that many or most of those who may not be geniuses at first-level autonomy can still achieve autonomy at the second level. unlike other creatures of flesh and blood. For one. it reminds us that humans are made of flesh and blood but are. and if the principle of love bids friends to draw closer. autonomy is a two-level notion. friendship cannot be our model for our JAE 48_3 text. . Yet even hedged in this way. just as everyone is not capable of artistic genius. For love can be regarded as attraction and respect as repulsion.” 48). as depending on both attractive and repulsive forces.” Second. whether as lodged in a noumenal will or not.indd 129 7/22/14 9:48 AM . Pradeep Dhillon In “Examples of Moral Perfectionism from a Global Perspective. which he describes as “the union of two persons through equal mutual love and respect. that there are fewer moral than artistic mannerists and also. letting it serve them as a model not for copying but for imitation” (Nachahmung). treating freedom in themselves and others always as an end and never merely a means. However one understands freedom. even if they do not quite know what to do with it beyond that. free. this requires a complex understanding of “human being.” Pradeep Dhillon offers a fascinating discussion of the global potential of Cavellian perfectionism and brings examples of exemplary artworks from well outside the Cavellian canon to our attention. which produces work “against which others may test their own talent. in the case of the moral world on love to draw us together but also on justice to maintain proper boundaries among us. so perhaps not everyone is equally capable of autonomy at both its levels—there will be moral mannerists or apes as well as artistic ones.

their similarity to ourselves. and describes such duties as duties regarding other beings but to ourselves: his objection to cruelty or destructiveness towards nonhuman nature is that it rubs off on the way we treat ourselves and fellow humans. not the duties of justice. Tessa.11 In Kant’s case. which Richard Eldridge mentions in his essay in this journal. To be sure. Kant recognized this in his distinction between duties of justice and duties of virtue. we do not owe justice to cats and dogs. treating others with justice as well as with love requires that we recognize their humanity.” 46).) So the kind of recognition of shared humanity through art that Dhillon describes in the cases of The Constant Gardner and the drawings of Chittaprosad Bhattachyra can certainly be crucial to our fulfillment of the demands of justice as well as of love. as in the case of our relation to our parents. since duties of love are positive duties of commission. it is within our powers to extend justice to all. and our imperfect duty of love to actually promote the happiness of others by promoting their own freely chosen ends. Lord Kames in his criticism of Francis Hutcheson’s attempt to found justice in our approbation of benevolence rather than in a separate sense of its own. since duties of justice are essentially negative duties of omission or noninterference. whether because of relations in which we stand to them involuntarily. since even parents and children can do things that put them beyond the pale of our love if not of bare justice. in his argument that our revulsion at unprovoked injury to others is a separate response from our sympathetic approbation of benevolence to them.indd 130 7/22/14 9:48 AM . but that. children.10 which was followed by Adam Smith. of course. the key distinction is between our perfect duty not to impose any limitation on the freedom of action of others in any way that we would not accept for ourselves.130  Guyer moral relationships to all of humanity. even if on some accounts we do love them and might even owe them duties of love. Nor do I mean to imply either that the boundary between the demands of justice and the demands of love is always as clear cut as the abstract distinction between omission and commission might seem to imply. (This is the complement to our imperfect duty to self-perfection. is that. a student of Hutcheson but protegé of Kames.) The implication of Kant’s distinction. or that it is always straightforward who has first claim on our resources to fulfill the duties of love. or because of relations in which we stand to them voluntarily. Both of these qualifications are suggested by Dhillon’s discussion of the moment in which Justin says to Tessa. as did other eighteenthcentury philosophers in similar distinctions. of course. whether he is apologizing to her because he cannot satisfy her sense of justice at the same time as satisfying his own love for her or be- JAE 48_3 text. as in the case of our spouses or lovers. for example. I have to put you first” (“Examples of Moral Perfectionism. or friends in the ordinary sense—all ceteris paribus. (Kant himself includes our duties to nonhuman nature among the duties of virtue. the limited resources of any of us prevent us from meaningfully acting on love to all and require us to recognize that some have greater claims on us than others. “I am sorry.

[mean] forming one’s own moral position in one’s own terms” (“Perfectionist Philosophy. Johansson argues that. Viktor Johansson. I see no room for a sharp contrast between myself and my actions. we have to make hard choices in spite of the simplicity of our abstractions. 3.” 69–70). perfectionism is not a matter of making my actions intelligible by clarifying their aim but at making myself intelligible. Both rendering oneself free and striving for intelligibility.indd 131 7/22/14 9:48 AM . metaphysics apart. Without putting too much weight on the formalities of philosophical discourse. in moral perfectionism. is not a better interpretation of them. such as that “striving for intelligibility and rendering oneself free [are] inseparable. reforming our words into untaken ways of life” (ibid. neither am I sure that I would understand what it would be to render either myself or my actions intelligible without reference to my aims in general or my aims in particular actions. according to Cavell. Unless one is prepared to reify the self in a way that Kant does not want to. that Cavell does not want to. in “Perfectionist Philosophy as a (an) (Untaken) Way of Life” objects to my characterization of Cavellian perfectionism’s requirement for self-intelligibility as merely a necessary condition for freedom as the ultimate aim of perfectionism. Viktor Johansson Like Alice Crary (see below). surely a major way of making my actions intelligible to myself or others is clarifying what I am trying to ac- JAE 48_3 text. its actions may not be all there is to the self: there may also be what we might call its reactions— feelings. But in any case. . Since Johansson concludes with several comments with which I would hardly wish to disagree. Of course.. To be sure. . at least in part. and “what we can gain from reading Kant and Cavell together . and that I would not want to. but a way of breaking free of our conditions by . First.Replies to Comments  131 cause he cannot satisfy both the demands of his love for her and of his love for the other young woman and her newborn baby. . memories. I take it we do not really disagree about the substance of perfectionism but about some more superficial question of how best to describe it. everything that we might think of as more passive than active—but I am quite sure that this distinction between action and reaction is not very sharp either. the self is. its actions or pattern of actions. But since Kant’s Paralogisms of Pure Reason (long before Foucault) demonstrated that there is little sense in talking of a substantial self distinct from its states. let me say why it seems useful to me to foreground freedom rather than mere intelligibility in the way that I have. . and. 71). To expect a mechanical solution to this problem would be analogous to expecting a theoretical refutation of skepticism according to Cavell: the problem of balancing justice and love is not one that we can solve by a clever argument but one we have to learn to live with. My point is just that we always have to work to balance the ubiquity of the demand to recognize the humanity of others with the complexity of what we owe them.

accept one JAE 48_3 text. as an end and never merely a means. But this rethinking of the imperative focuses less on respect for moral law as derived from our will in the Kantian sense and more on respect for others’ positions” (“Perfectionist Philosophy. that they reveal our will. Once again.132  Guyer complish through them. In its most fundamental formulation. to set new ends. I do not see how the idea of intelligibility stands entirely on its own without some such an account of what we are making intelligible. being answerable for them. the capacity to set our own ends. words.12 It is the moral law itself that commands us to respect our own freedom—not merely to be answerable for our actions like a free agent should be but also to preserve and promote our freedom. between respect for the moral law and respect for the positions of others. but either way.” 60). and a major way of making myself intelligible to myself or others is clarifying what I am trying to accomplish through my actions. of course. to act in ways that do not undermine but rather enhance our ability to set our own ends. philosophers have disagreed over precisely what form of freedom. I think that Cavellian perfectionism as Johansson interprets it is consistent with my interpretation of Kantian morality as aiming at the greatest possible use of freedom. the “ground of a possible categorical imperative. Johansson quotes me quoting Cavell as saying that “Perfectionism proposes confrontation and conversation as the means of determining whether we can live together. to be a necessary condition of it. whether in ourselves or others. has been taken to go hand in hand with responsibility or answerability or. but traditionally. Johansson says that “When Cavell says that there are actions that are for us categorically imperative. Johansson stresses Cavell’s emphasis on taking responsibility for our actions. I do not accept the contrast implicit in the second of these sentences. or thoughts. Again we could quibble over the precise form of the relationship between freedom and responsibility as well as over the precise nature of freedom itself—freedom may be a necessary condition of responsibility rather than intelligibility being a necessary condition of freedom—but I do not see Cavell as attempting to break the traditional link between responsibility and freedom in some form or other. to borrow my own term. some form of freedom. although. at least. although. to try to explain or understand why I have those aims and not others. That may not be all—we can press on.indd 132 7/22/14 9:48 AM . I hardly see Cavell as plumping for a libertarian conception of the freedom of the will. as in psychoanalysis. to transform ourselves—and to preserve and promote the like freedom in others. Second. as I say in my response to Crary’s paper below. that our actions are our choice. so aims may be both explanans and explanandum. the greatest freedom for each compatible with the greatest freedom for all. Finally. clarifying my aims seems to me to be inseparable from making myself intelligible. I understand him to mean that such actions can reveal our moral standing to ourselves and others.” the moral law tells us always to treat humanity.

but that we take characters seriously and can think about our own lives through them. But the point that I want to make here is just that Johansson cannot avoid sliding from the language of making oneself intelligible to the language of freedom in describing perfectionist conversation. 60). Perhaps this is reflected on Cavell’s emphasis in The World Viewed on our relation to the star and not just his or her role in a particular film. 4. we could add. texts are products of the thoughts and actions of real people. Cleanthes. . Making oneself intelligible is inseparable from exercising one’s freedom and would not clearly have a value unless it were. . for Cavell. This quote makes it clear that. conversation . It has always seemed to me crucial to Cavell’s conception of our response to art that we respond not to works of art themselves but to the characters in them as if they were real people: not that we can run up and save Desdemona. not by letting them determine what I can say. is also a way to render ourselves intelligible by using the terms of the text. confrontation and conversation are not ends in themselves but means.. and Philo in those Dialogues. let’s suppose. I would hardly wish to deny these differences. even if there are all sorts of facts about their authors that are irrelevant to their texts—like. So. Richard Eldridge Richard Eldridge has accepted my parallels between Kantian and Cavellian ethics while insisting on epistemological and phenomenological differences between them. enhanced by) the freedom of others. . including our conversation with texts: “In a sense. to stick with this example. did in his complex distribution of arguments among Demea. Cavell takes our conversations with texts including philosophical ones to be part and parcel of our perfectionist conversation: after all. I welcome the second and third parts of Johansson’s paper. the reality of the star blurs the boundary between a mere role and a real character.indd 133 7/22/14 9:48 AM . . and surely what is meant by living together and accepting one another into the aspirations of our lives here is exercising our own freedom in a way compatible with (and. from our community.Replies to Comments  133 another into the aspirations of our lives” (ibid. but by converting them to become my terms” (Johansson. into our words . it is a form of conversion of us as free from the chains of conformity by transforming the words we inherit from philosophy. “Perfectionist Philosophy. I think that is all I am trying to say about both Kantian and Cavellian perfectionism. 63). so there you have Cavell employing the language of means and more ultimate aims. but only to JAE 48_3 text. of course. how much more Hume weighed when he wrote the Dialogues concerning Natural Religion than he did when he wrote the Treatise of Human Nature—and even if authors may use all sorts of devices in their texts to distance themselves from or mask some of their thoughts—as Hume. naturally.

Although Eldridge did not mention her name. (I am thinking in particular of the way in which Korsgaard has presented her approach to Kant in her most recent book Self-Constitution. one that destroys one’s own future freedom or the freedom of some or many others. Eldridge argues that Kant is “committed to reason-driven cultivation guided (but not determined) by a standing principle. even though it is an exercise of freedom. it is more erotic than that” (ibid. and likewise compatible with the possibility of freedom of others as well. a unified self but. as Korsgaard would have it (in Self-Constitution). I want to demur just a little from Eldridge’s opening remarks.13) For me. of course. synthetically or substantively. however. a way of exercising our freedom on one occasion that is compatible with the possibility of our own freedom on other occasions. what is commanded by reason is essentially the inauguration of a free and reciprocally meaningful life. ideally all others. considered by itself. although as Eldridge rightly points out. but just as much an exercise of one’s freedom and. although. Cavell. in which he assimilates my approach to Kant to one that finds Kant’s essential norm in the very idea of what it is fully to act. and the Circumstances of Philosophy. One reason that I want to insist on freedom in this distributed sense as a norm that is over and above mere unity or completeness of action. what is wrong with it is just that.indd 134 7/22/14 9:48 AM .” But back to the main point. is not mere nature. although in a way that is what JAE 48_3 text. to say that there is at least a little room for Cavellian open-ended experimentalism within Kantian apriorism. therefore.” while “In Cavell.” 79). Kant hardly goes very far in offering a phenomenology of a free life under the real conditions of human existence. it effectively denies the universal value of freedom.. that Cavell chose to represent Kant in the original form of Hum 5. For it is crucial to Kant’s argument there that a radically evil act. as fully “imputable” as an act that instead preserves and promotes freedom. “defective. That is precisely what makes it radically evil. there may be something fanciful or at least unattainable in such an ideal—that is precisely what makes it for me at least a relative of Cavellian perfectionism. between my interpretation of Kant and that of Christine Korsgaard might be relevant here. Kant’s Religion—the work. so to speak analytically. not mere happenstance. Before I get to the main point. it is crucial that our goal in action is not just. more precisely. 81–82). namely. is suggested by a work a sense of whose importance Eldridge and I share. apart from the fact that I think it makes sense in its own right and also brings out what I regard as the most important affinity between Kant and Cavell. an act that destroys the possibility of other exercises of freedom is. just as free an act as one that does not. Cavell [is] more improvisatory and resistant to any standing guidance in matters of cultivation in cultural circumstances” (“Kant. a contrast. subtle as it would have to be.134  Guyer moderate them a little or. and not just. At least as far as the assessment of responsibility is concerned. and further that “For Kant. after all.

therefore. the moral life is largely comprised by the imperfect duties.Replies to Comments  135 his late Metaphysics of Morals. so that we must use judgment to determine what to do. And there is no doubt that his view of marriage—not based on his own experience. of course—is. Kant makes a distinction that figures nowhere in Cavell (but one that Eldridge reminds us figured in his own early work). yet the differences that Eldridge has described are hardly to be denied. maxims of duty. figuring out how to promote rather than merely preserve freedom. once we get past the initial shock of his description of it as a contract for the reciprocal use of sexual organs. and the particular acts that we might do in the name of some duty or other and. Briefly. About these duties. But still I would draw them a little less drastically or find a little more room for Cavell in Kant than Eldridge does. as contrasted to the earlier Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. The crucial point here is that Kant draws a threefold distinction between our fundamental maxims. But here all I want to say is that Kant’s potentially off-putting location of his discussion of marriage in the “Doctrine of Right” rather than in the “Doctrine of Virtue” actually reflects his assumption that sexuality is an inseparable JAE 48_3 text. 82). figuring out how best to perfect ourselves and contribute to the happiness of others or. but Kant is quite clear that the duties of both self-cultivation and the promotion of the particular ends of others are imperfect duties. therefore. also in the name of our fundamental maxim. our choice to subordinate self-love to morality or morality to self-love. as Eldridge describes it. thus never to be freed from the demands of judgment. does not emphasize the potential for disappointment in this huge dimension of our lives as much as Cavell does. Now. at least not when we take into account the quantitative question of where most of our moral life actually takes place. in the terms I prefer. even in principle” (ibid. who are rarely faced with would-be murderers at the door or choices between tending to sick mothers or joining the Resistance. whatever this might involve. such as to refrain from suicide for the sake of self-love or to cultivate our talents for all sorts of possible ends. in terms again from Religion. the distinction between perfect and imperfect duties.. namely. on the point of eroticism: There can be no doubt that Kant does not emphasize the importance of the erotic in our lives as much as Cavell does and. that they are “standing problem[s] that [are] not completely solvable. actually rather idealistic. such as his insistence that it is always our duty to tell the truth no matter what consequences we foresee because we have a duty not to others but to ourselves not to misuse our natural capacity for communication. So I do not think the difference between Kant and Cavell is absolute. is supposed to provide. I think it is also fair to say that for most of us. I think it is fair to say that Kant shares Cavell’s sense. which assumes that in some cases it is fully determinate what duty requires of us and in other cases not.indd 135 7/22/14 9:48 AM . Some of Kant’s examples of perfect duty are controversial.

Kant may well not have a fully Freudian conception of the likelihood of disappointment in sex—or at least. and share our sexuality. as basic a fact about our condition as “finite rational beings” as the fact that we need a place on the earth to eat.indd 136 7/22/14 9:48 AM . Alice Crary I appreciate Alice Crary’s acceptance of some of my parallels between Cavell and Kant. Cavell. “A Radical Perfectionist: Revisiting Cavell in the Light of Kant. following the Baconian maxim. 5. I think that he recognized that fully accomplishing and perhaps even understanding “its requirements in situ” can only ever be a matter of the endless progress of the human species. he may have chosen not to discuss this—but he certainly does recognize that sexuality is an essential feature of the human condition. with others. But I am not persuaded by Crary’s claim in her essay. we need to figure out how to do all these things in a way that is compatible with the fundamental maxim of morality—the preservation and promotion of freedom—rather than that of self-love. I think that Kant’s moral philosophy of the greatest possible use of freedom insists on the universal principle of a realm of ends precisely so that each may be maximally free to set his or her own ends. He is rather the model JAE 48_3 text. and on this point.” that Cavell’s perfectionism is part of an empirical alternative to science in a way that Kant’s is not. Close to Eldridge’s conclusion is the sentence that “Arriving at maturity (Mündigkeit) [literally. Let me comment on these two points. being able to speak for oneself] is for Kant largely a matter of living up to what is impersonally necessary—the command of pure practical reason—and both the content of this command and its requirements in situ can be laid out more or less systematically in completed ideal moral and political theory” (“Kant.” 83). thus that the entire point of Kant’s moral philosophy is to create an impersonal framework for the realization of the personal. and the Circumstances of Philosophy. nor am I persuaded that the difference between our two authors on whether self-intelligibility is merely a necessary condition of the end of morality or inseparable from it is as great as she thinks. Even more importantly. and even to stand or lie.136  Guyer element of human embodiment. I would have thought that Kant was the very model of a modern major philosopher who was not persuaded that our approach to ethics has to be constrained by our approach to natural science. And I would hardly deny the claim that there are significant differences between Kant’s and Cavell’s versions of perfectionism. since we must share the earth. Although Kant did not linger over the phenomenological implications of this. First. I think there is no deep disagreement between Eldridge and myself. but that. That is above all the point that I want to make in my interpretation of Kant’s practical philosophy and in my enlistment of Cavell in the cause of my approach to Kant. to work. not a problem solved once and for all.

as on Crary’s account. for Cavell. So here a case might be made that Cavell is in a way an heir to the moral sense tradition in eighteenth-century philosophy. because I do not think that an a priori argument for the liberty of indifference is any part of Cavell’s conception of freedom—just how far anyone might get in realizing his or her conception of freedom would be for Cavell.indd 137 7/22/14 9:48 AM . our task is to make our ideas conform to how the world is but. I think that Kant draws a more radical separation between science and ethics than Cavell ever intended. Kant was. although to be sure neither Hutcheson nor Smith figure at all in Cavell’s canon nor Hume very largely. Hume especially thought that the ethics of sentiment was part of the science of man: that human feelings and our responses to human feelings were just as real as anything else of which we have impressions. justified and necessary as those are in their own sphere of “theoretical” rather than “practical” cognition. There is surely much to discuss here. our task is to make the world conform to our ideas of how the world ought to be. but that Kant bases the distinction on morality’s source in pure reason while Cavell. after all. an empirical matter. Here is indeed a difference I might have emphasized more: for Kant. the source of the distinction in “direction of fit” later emphasized by Anscombe. the distinction that. the difference between Kant and Cavell to which Crary properly points is not that Kant assimilates ethics to science while Cavell does not. On that point. bases it on sensitivity (and for this reason to suggest that there is any common ground between Kant and contemporary “experimental philosophy” would be entirely misleading). morality’s alternative to natural science has its own a priori foundation—what Kant calls “metaphysics of morals” in Groundwork—while. I think. at least in some of Kant’s very earliest reflections on ethics. perhaps there is here just another unexpected affinity. in the theoretical domain. Kant himself suggests that our attraction to freedom as the fundamental goal of morality is itself rooted in feeling rather than reason. But then again. Thus. I would mention my view that. morality’s alternative approach is as empirical as is that of natural science. just to throw one more log on the fire.14 written in 1764 or 1765. of course. in this supposedly unlike Kant’s. Further.15 These notes were not available in English until very recently. is in some essential way an alternative to a unitary scientific worldview. the notes in his copy of the Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime. Kant notoriously insisted that morality requires the possibility of a kind of freedom of will that cannot be recognized within the scientific point of view. and I do not mean to suggest that they ever played a part in Cavell’s reading of Kant or his own thinking.Replies to Comments  137 of a modern major philosopher who is quite convinced that our approach to ethics cannot be constrained by the limits of the scientific worldview. so perhaps Crary’s entirely proper insistence on the role of sensitivity in Cavell’s perfectionism threatens her claim that Cavell’s ethics. in the practical and specifically the moral domain. JAE 48_3 text.

if one wants to say that self-intelligibility would entail such openness because there is really no way in which one could make a refusal of such openness intelligible to oneself. then my basic point is already conceded. it cannot be. is how we should understand the relation between “understanding ourselves in a manner relevant to ethics” and “exploring new cultural and evaluative perspectives. a necessary condition is inseparable from what it conditions even if it may be conceptually separated from it—that is what makes it a necessary condition. in one sense. let me concede Martin Gustafsson’s objection in “What is Cavellian Perfectionism?” that my use of the mathematical term “asymptotic” to characterize an essential feature of Kantian as well as Cavellian perfectionism is misleading.” as Crary puts it in “A Radical Perfectionist” (93). whether change dictated by a changing worldview or just by responsiveness to the claims of others around one. that would only be because one already accepts a normative conception of how one ought to live. no reason one could give oneself for not being open to others and the possibilities for living one’s own life they offer. 6. I think. the concept of an asymptote implies an ever-closer approach to a well-defined goal. because. since surely not everyone is open to exploring new cultural and evaluative perspectives or not always already open to such perspectives. Here my point would be that. a difference that would lie in whether one recognizes as normative the kind of freedom for self-development and transformation that goes hand in hand with such openness. given that freedom is precisely freedom to undermine any predetermined notion of how one ought to live one’s life or how many ought to live theirs. namely. I might try to respond to the objection by drawing a distinction between freedom and what anyone does with it. on my own account of this goal in Kantian terms as the greatest possible use of freedom. that it includes openness to change. I am not sure how much of an argument there should really be here. what choices they make or ends they set in its exercise and enjoyment. and then arguing that the ideal JAE 48_3 text.indd 138 7/22/14 9:48 AM . Understanding oneself will not lead to perfectionism by itself if one finds oneself closed to change and thinks that is quite alright. Martin Gustafsson First. there must be a difference between being intelligible to oneself in general and recognizing that one ought to be open to new cultural and evaluative perspectives. in mathematics. with a freedom from the constraints of one’s present condition that can only be exercised by being open to how others might live and feel as well. while the goal of the perfectionist life is by definition not well defined in this way.138  Guyer The second point on which I want to comment is Crary’s insistence that self-intelligibility is not merely a necessary condition for freedom but inseparable from it. But the real issue. But if one gives a normative interpretation to the idea of self-intelligibility. for. Alternatively.

his own freedom in order to save the freedom of his fellow Romans. 101). for the boundaries between undermining one’s own freedom or not and between maximizing the freedom of all or not are not well defined. I do not think that a philosopher who. even though what approximation to the greatest possible use of freedom entails is precisely that we cannot determine in advance very much about how anyone should actually live his or her life—only that he or she should live it in a way that does not undermine his or her own continued freedom or the freedom of others. But even here. like Kant.” 101) and that “it is important that Cavell consistently describes perfectionist invention and transformation in terms of responses to situations where ‘our lives. after all—and we need to engage in a bit of acrobatics to explain how a single choice that determines so much of one’s subsequent life is nevertheless an expression rather than limitation of one’s freedom as long as one continues to endorse that choice (ditto for the case of marriage). things are perhaps even more difficult. then.indd 139 7/22/14 9:48 AM .. we should recognize a paradox of freedom analogous to the paradox of exemplarity: we cannot be too concrete in what we learn from others because then we cannot learn originality or self-perfection from them. JAE 48_3 text. But I think that the basic point that both Kantian and Cavellian perfectionism aim at more rather than less freedom as well as more rather than less intelligibility remains. In the third-person case. therefore. between morality and self-love. I think that the caution not to be misled by a false promise of mathematical determinacy is well taken. and we cannot be too concrete about what constitutes maximization rather than minimization of freedom because then it will no longer be freedom. Perhaps. of course. is his acknowledgment of that fact—so there is always potential for an element of indeterminacy in the idea of maximizing freedom. who might have had sufficient reason to take his own life and. characterizes every moral choice we make as an expression of our choice between the fundamental maxims of good and evil. In the first-person case. and whom we are prepared to consent to. This brings me to the other main objection that Gustafsson makes to my paper: that there is a fundamental difference between the perfectionisms of Kant and Cavell because what the latter calls “perfectionist invention and transformation are modes of change where we have not yet made our goal intelligible” (“What is Cavellian Perfectionism. every choice that one makes in the exercise of one’s freedom also abridges one’s freedom—my choice at eighteen or nineteen to try to become a philosophy professor put an end to my previous thoughts about becoming an architect. for there are many situations in which there is nothing one could do that would preserve or promote the freedom of everyone involved—Kant’s example of Cato. are at stake’” (ibid. our senses of ourselves and of what.Replies to Comments  139 of the greatest possible use of freedom is sufficiently well defined to permit of my talk of an asymptotic approach to it.

140  Guyer can be described as anything less than a philosopher who thinks that our senses of ourselves and of what and whom we are prepared to consent to may be at stake in any and every morally significant choice. is always to be poised on the edge between future and past or on an edge since the edge is constantly moving. time is the form of inner sense. and we should perhaps think of it as a second-order goal that has to be realized in and through our choice or invention of particular goals—like a Kantian theoretical category such as substance or causation. as becomes clear at numerous points in Gould’s paper. stressed. G. for. as several others of my teachers. where we could be headed. the explanation of human action does not take place in a vacuum but in a context of particular puzzles to be solved: what needs to be explained is how I got into this position given that I do not like where I am. As for Gustafsson’s first point. and I should think to each other as well. or. And to be inexorably in time. to switch from Greek imagery to Roman. 7. and though at some conceptual level we can conceive of the possibility of a nontemporal existence or experience. but rather that must form or inform our choice of particular goals. And that means that our project can be making our particular goals intelligible to ourselves when they are not already so precisely by finding a way to choose particular goals in light of our overarching goal of perfecting our collective freedom. is always temporally bidirectional. as philosophers of various stripes have pointed out. Timothy Gould One point I want to take from Timothy Gould’s wide-ranging remarks in “Eight Types of Unintelligibility: Guyer on Cavell on Making Sense of Yourself” is that to be human is not only to be flesh and blood but also to be in time or that to be flesh and blood is also necessarily to be in time. I think it may confuse two levels at which we can think about goals: I concede that the goal of maximizing our own freedom and the freedom of all others is a very abstract goal. that the project of making ourselves intelligible to ourselves. If Gustafsson will allow me this way of looking at the issue of intelligibility. Janus-faced: it involves coming to understand how we have gotten to be where we are but also where we seem to be headed. then the difference between Cavellian and Kantian perfectionism will not be as great as he makes it seem. where we would like to be headed. and what needs to be understood is how I could transform myself this way given that everything I understand or you understand about my past predicts that I would go on that way. we can hardly imagine such a possibility. thus of all our experience. and through that of outer sense. And this means. it is not a concept that we can apply to ends directly. All JAE 48_3 text. of course: for Kant. This point should hardly be a surprise to a Kantian. Morton White in person and R.indd 140 7/22/14 9:48 AM . Collingwood in text. And the project is not only bidirectional but also multileveled.

There are at least two reasons that we must reject a simple dichotomy here: first. I believe. part of that is precisely explaining what possibilities for the future have come from the past. to the source. as I have been stressing in my comments on many of the papers presented here. In this way.. that one’s possibilities for the future are not simply “eternal human possibility. although part of intelligibility is explaining how the present has come from the past.Replies to Comments  141 of this. created in part by human nature but in part by one’s own history—and at least in part open to one’s own imagination as well. Making ourselves intelligible involves both explaining our actuality and imagining our possibility.indd 141 7/22/14 9:48 AM . not to know what we want. but our conception of it is determined by both our past and our imagination. we need not be playing a zero-sum game of losses and benefits but have the possibility of expanding possibilities for both ourselves and others.” determined solely by generic features of human nature and the human condition. making my ever-moving present intelligible is surely in some good part a matter of explaining what aims I am currently trying to achieve. As Gould’s Plato (as well as Freud) realizes. Perhaps I should say that part of my attraction to freedom as a conception of our ultimate goal in both Kant and Cavell is precisely that freedom is so closely related to possibility: by defining our goal in life as freedom. then making oneself intelligible as a human being is making one’s aims intelligible in both the senses of explaining how one came to have them and explaining or justifying why one should have them. why the moral life must include the possibility of comedy as well as tragedy and why Gould must complete JAE 48_3 text. that. in turn.” 115).. making my future intelligible is surely in some good part making clear on the basis of my past and present both what aims I am likely to have and what aims I might have and on a variety of grounds should have. implicit in Gould’s remark that “The standard of intelligibility that perfectionism imposes is neither reducible to historical conditions nor is it a transhistorical measurement of eternal human possibilities. indeed that we can know that what we want is. that we can know what we want and not know what we want at the same time. perhaps. is to say. This is. 116): perfectionism recognizes that. or Form. of course. second. of beauty” (ibid. Much of this is. 116. at least to a degree. if human beings are agents and actions have aims. in moral choice. not only has “the state that we desire to return to never actually existed in any ordinary sense” (ibid. perfectionism can make sense of Plato’s image that “We rise past the beautiful particulars. that intelligibility and aims are inseparable: making my past intelligible is surely in some good part a matter of making intelligible how I came to have the aims I have and to conceive of the aims I would like to have. Put another way. The dimension of its reflectiveness cannot be reduced to so simple a dichotomy” (“Eight Types of Unintelligibility. but also one’s own possibilities. we at the same time say that we cannot define or well define our goals in advance of getting to them.

10. 77–98. Kant. Immanuel Kant. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ed. Susan Meld Shell and Richard Velkley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 4:446. The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault (Berkeley: University of California Press. 8. and with an introduction by Mary C. 2000). IN: Liberty Fund.. 15. Metaphysics of Morals. Kant. 3. Christine Korsgaard. 4:428. “Doctrine of Virtue. 1998). Lord Kames. Adam Smith. Bounds of Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 6:469–70. at least for the likes of Cavell. 14. Immanuel Kant. JAE 48_3 text. The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759). 4:428–29. 5:318. Macfie (Oxford: Clarendon Press. “Freedom as the Foundation of Morality: Kant’s Early Efforts. trans. 11. 2. 2013). D. ed. 4:440. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Moran (Indianapolis. Immanuel Kant. Henry Home. 4.indd 142 7/22/14 9:48 AM . 2009). Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1996). The Metaphysics of Morals. trans. Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime and Other Writings. 5. Self-Constitution (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1998). See Onora O’Neill. Alexander Nehamas. For more on this. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.” Introduction. ed. §48. trans.” in Kant’s Observation and Remarks: A Critical Guide. “Doctrine of Virtue.” §46. Critique of the Power of Judgment. Ibid. 2000). 6:392. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Kant. 6. Notes 1. 9. §8. §49. 12. 13. 1976). Raphael and A. Patrick Friersson and Paul Guyer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2012). 7. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. L. Immanuel Kant. Mary J. Mary J. see Paul Guyer. 29.142  Guyer his discussion of so many tragedies with comments on one of the brilliant comedies Hollywood was once capable of creating. Kant. 2011). 5:309. ed. D. Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Theology (1751).