Kant’s Treatment of Imagination and Anxiety
Despite Kant’s confidence that his Critiques solve all problems of metaphysics, his successors seem to have fallen into the same destiny of his predecessors. Among those is Søren Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism. Kierkegaard, by pointing out the finitude of man—not simply the finitude of human life, but also the finitude of human knowledge—identifies anxiety as a fundamental ontological problem that haunts man till death. To have anxiety is essential to what it means to be man, yet those who cannot face up to the existential anxiety live their lives in despair. In the end, man has to rely upon religious faith to overcome the existential anxiety, and in the act of faith alone, man can become an individual who expresses his freedom in a genuine sense. If Kierkegaard is right, is Kant an optimist who audaciously claims that he solves the problems of metaphysics and simply misses the important point of what it is to be man? I would like to claim not. Kant, whose fundamental philosophical question involves what it is to be man, has an answer to the problem of the existential anxiety, but one has to work through his Critiques and Anthropology to find his answer to this question. I believe that the key lies in Kant’s treatment of imagination and the role of reason in relation to imagination and anxiety. It is not my intention, however, to reduce Kant’s philosophy to existentialism or to claim the superiority of Kant’s philosophy to existentialism. My hope is that through an inquiry into Kant’s treatment of anxiety, we come to see Kant’s hidden practical advice that we all can appreciate.
|< Prev||Next >|