Letters for the Blind


In the autumn of 1798, Immanuel Kant published what was (excluding lecture notes) his final work, The Conflict of the Faculties. The latter comprises three essays, which ostensibly address the conflicts between the lower faculty of philosophy and the higher faculties of, respectively, theology, law, and medicine. Each of the three essays was written for a different purpose and at a different time (CF 7:11; 243): the first, completed in 1794, deals with the relationship between theology and philosophy in the modern German university; the second, probably written in 1795, addresses the progress of the human race and the possibility that this progress is visible in the positive responses of uninvolved spectators to the French Revolution; the third and final essay, written in 1796, is Kant’s philosophical reply to a recent book on The Art of Prolonging Human Life (1796) by the physician C. W. Hufeland. Kant acknowledges in his prefatory remarks that The Conflict of the Faculties was not initially conceived as a cohesive work, that only upon returning to the three essays did he recognize “their systematic unity” and the need to publish them together in a single volume “in order to prevent their being scattered” [um der Zerstreuung vorzubeugen] (7:11; 243).

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