In his essay, Hutter discusses the concept of enlightenment and its relationship to metaphysics, arguing against a simple opposition between the two terms. Hutter contends that the critique of traditional metaphysics identified with the concept of enlightenment dialectically involves an undogmatic metaphysics of enlightenment, a discovery he attributes to Kant. The paper exposes the dialectics of enlightenment in which the simply anti-metaphysical conception of enlightenment, i.e., the enlightenment through the mere accumulation of information without integration, leads to a new form of “self-incurred tutelage” resulting from the division of knowledge into discrete fields of expertise to which we must defer. Such unreflective enlightenment betrays the true goal of enlightenment, which is independent self-knowledge. According to Hutter, not only did Kant understand that genuine enlightenment is reflexive, but he also advanced the primacy of pure practical reason as the condition for the possibility of reflexive enlightenment, thereby forming the basis of a Kantian metaphysics of enlightenment.
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Axel Hutter is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Theory of Science, and Religious Studies at LMU–Munich. He has published extensively on topics in German philosophy, including Das Interesse der Vernunft: Kants ursprüngliche Einsicht und ihre Entfaltung in den transzendentalphilosophischen Hauptwerken (Meiner, 2003) and Geschichtliche Vernunft: Die Weiterführung der Kantischen Vernunftkritik in der Spätphilosophie Schellings (Suhrkamp, 1996). He is also co-editor of numerous collections, including, with Anders Moe Rasmussen, Kierkegaard im Kontext des deutschen Idealismus (de Gruyter, 2014) and, with Markus Kartheininger, Bildung als Mittel und Selbstzweck: Korrektive Erinnerung wider die Verengung des Bildungsbegriffs (Alber 2009).
Axel Hutter, “Kant and the Project of the Metaphysics of Enlightenment,” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 36:1 (2015), pp. 59–74.