A short note, where I’d like to make an observation. Seems to me that the age of enlightenment, or what one could call “its legacy”, was that it revived a radical interpretation of modernity. Descriptions of the enlightenment, if one were to contemplate it within historical periods, seems to ubiquitously situate it in what is known amongst historians as the “Long Eighteenth Century”.
It is impossible to think of anything at all in the world, or indeed even beyond it, that could be considered good without limitation except a good will. (Immanuel Kant (1785) Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals)
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) contributed one of the classic texts in moral philosophy with the publication of Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. In his 1785 book, Kant introduces a radical new foundation for moral philosophy, which he called the “categorical imperative”. Kant’s founding set a challenging ideal for the manner in which moral action is to be justified. An ideal that makes contemporary commercial actors blush, for, their lack of engagement of Kant’s challenge.
I had the rare fortune of conversing extensively about the politics of international economics and environmental ethics on the weekend. It is worth noting a platitude. All ideas are full of politics, and, there are many different ways in which one thinks of politics. Just in terms of international economics, there are so many ways. The politics of economic power, politics of private interests, politics of expert reason, politics of public goods, politics of the ideology of disciplines…just to name a few, all came into play in my weekend conversations. Environmental ethics, also decidedly full of politics.