Choosing Freedom A Kantian Guide to Life

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2022-02-01
Publisher(s): Oxford University Press
List Price: $18.95

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An exploration of everything Kant's philosophy can teach us about being the best people we can be, from using our human reasoning to its fullest potential to being affably drunk at dinner parties.

Immanuel Kant is well known as one of the towering figures of Western philosophical history, but he is less well known for his savvy advice about hosting dinner parties. This philosophical genius was a man of many interests and talents: his famously formal and abstract ethical system is only part of his story. But Kant not only made a profound impact on how people think about big questions like how to treat one another--he also offered wise insights on things people confront in everyday life: things like gossip, friendship, manners, self-respect, cheerfulness, gratitude, mockery, contempt, and yes, dinner parties. In this book, philosopher Karen Stohr shows you how Kant's whole ethical picture fits together. It's a picture that is as relevant and useful now as it was in the 18th century--and maybe even more so.

A Kantian way of living means using reason to guide your choices so that your life reflects your true nature as a free, rational being. This nature is one we share with others; Kantianism emphasizes the fundamental dignity and equality of each person. It presents an ideal for how we should live together without downplaying the challenges we face in the actual world. Though realistic about human weaknesses, Kant remained optimistic about our capacities and possibilities. He had great faith in the ability of human reason to point us in the direction of moral progress and to get us there. Each of us has the power within us to know and choose the right path--we just have to be willing to make that choice, and to discover how worthwhile life can be in the process.

Author Biography

Karen Stohr is the Ryan Family Associate Professor of Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy at Georgetown University, where she is also a Senior Research Scholar in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. She publishes in the areas of Kantian ethics, Aristotelian virtue ethics, and contemporary ethical theory, focusing especially the relationship between moral norms and social norms. Her previous books include On Manners (Routledge, 2011) and Minding the Gap: Moral Ideals and Moral Improvement (Oxford University Press, 2019). Her articles have appeared The New York Times and the Houston Chronicle, and she writes an ethics column for the Washingtonian. She has been interviewed on NPR and Philosophy Talk.

Table of Contents

Part One: Kantian Basics
Chapter 1 - Getting to Know Kant
Chapter 2 - Freedom
Chapter 3 - Human Nature
Chapter 4 - Moral Commitment
Chapter 5 - The Categorical Imperative: Equality
Chapter 6 - The Categorical Imperative: Dignity
Chapter 7 - The Categorical Imperative: Community
Chapter 8 - Love and Respect
Chapter 9 - Kantian Duties

Part Two: Moral Assessment
Chapter 10 - Knowing Ourselves
Chapter 11 - Judging Ourselves
Chapter 12 - Judging Others

Part Three: Kantian Vices
Chapter 13 - Servility, or Being a Doormat
Chapter 14 - Arrogance, or Having Delusions of Grandeur
Chapter 15 - Contempt, or Looking Down on Others
Chapter 16 - Defamation, or Spreading Sordid Tales
Chapter 17 - Mockery, or Making Fun of People
Chapter 18 - Deceitfulness, or Playing Games with the Truth
Chapter 19 - Drunkenness, or Being Out of One's Senses

Part Four: Kantian Life Goals
Chapter 20 - Personal Development: Making Something of Ourselves
Chapter 21 - Stoic Cheerfulness: Learning to Grin and Bear It
Chapter 22 - Judicious Reserve: Knowing When to Shut Up
Chapter 23 - Useful Beneficence: Lending a Helping Hand
Chapter 24 - Heartfelt Gratitude: Acknowledging What Others Have Done

Part Five: Socializing, Kantian-Style
Chapter 25 - Friends and Frenemies
Chapter 26 - A Kantian Love Life
Chapter 27 - Good Manners
Chapter 28 - Dinner Parties without Drama

Part Six: Looking Forward
Chapter 29 - Staying Hopeful
Chapter 30 - Kant as a Guide to Life

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