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A Nietzschean critique of Kant's highest good

Donald M Schneier, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The concept of the highest good is important to Kant because it serves to connect his rationalist ethics to religion. However, this concept entails a paradoxical treatment of the concept of happiness which some commentators believe strains Kant's rationalism. After discussing and assessing previous approaches to this problem in Kant's ethics, I develop a different line of argument against it. I draw upon Nietzsche's theory of valuation to demonstrate how Kant's treatment of reward and punishment, and, hence, of happiness, diverges from his rational principles. Such a line seems to prove more decisive than previous efforts, as I furthermore argue. This Nietzschean approach also suggests a novel perspective on the relation between Kant and Nietzsche. ^

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Recommended Citation

Schneier, Donald M, "A Nietzschean critique of Kant's highest good" (1988). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8906331.