1 Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 School of Culture and Society - Philosophy, subject, School of Culture and Society, Arts, Aarhus University3 School of Culture and Society - Philosophy, subject, School of Culture and Society, Arts, Aarhus University
On a possible conflict between Kant's view on obedience and enjoyment
This paper takes on the broad theme of the relation between legality and morality in Immanuel Kant's practical philosophy. It aims, more specifically, at a clarification of Kant's views on obedience and enjoyment. I claim that Kant's statements in his later writings, especially in the Metaphysics of Morals, of the obligation of citizens of a state to subject themselves unconditionally to the sovereign in power, must be seen in connection with his earlier moral writings in order to maintain a proper Kantian conception of the relation between legality and morality. To this end, Kant's use of the concept of enjoyment is instructive, and looking at it more closely makes it possible to spell out why obedience in itself does not suffice for a moral existence. Subjecting ourselves to the prescriptions of positive law might actually function as a way of escaping the insatiable demands of the moral law. In this case, the positive law not only sustains our enjoyment (by securing basic liberties), but also comes to function as an object of enjoyment itself.