The Invention of Autonomy: A History of Modern Moral Philosophy
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This remarkable book is the most comprehensive study ever written of the history of moral philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Its aim is to set Kant's still influential ethics in its historical context by showing in detail what the central questions in moral philosophy were for him and how he arrived at his own distinctive ethical views. The book is organised into four main sections, each exploring moral philosophy by discussing the work of many influential philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In an epilogue the author discusses Kant's view of his own historicity, and of the aims of moral philosophy. In its range, in its analyses of many philosophers not discussed elsewhere, and in revealing the subtle interweaving of religious and political thought with moral philosophy, this is an unprecedented account of the evolution of Kant's ethics.
body by redirecting spirits to the pineal gland (1.343). Willing in relation to action is thus active thought about good and ill, or about perfection and its opposite. 31 We necessarily pursue what we take to be good and avoid what we take to be ill. If we see clearly and distinctly "that a thing is good for us," then, Descartes says, as long as we keep that thought before us it is impossible to "stop the course of our desire" (111.233). We can abstain from pursuing a clearly perceived good only
he would wish done to himself" (II.VII.8 -9) . How, then, if at all, do these many precepts form one law? For the individual they make up a unified set because they all come together in one basic principle, or because some take precedence of others, or because they have one end as well as one lawgiver. Suarez makes no choice among these options (ILVIIL2). Considering whether there ispne law for all men, however, he holds the definite view "that tl1e natural 6 He also rejects the view, held by
theories of morality as self-governance, al1d their religious opponents did not always reject their views. The natural lawyers held that readiness to obey was the proper h"uman attitude toward God and the laws he lays down for us. The perfectionists did not hold this view. Believing that our minds have access to God's and that our wills can be controlled by our knowledge, they saw us as capable of moving toward ever increasing self-governance. Through increase of knowledge we could become
law of beneficence governing the whole (l.xxii, p. 64). Hobbes was wrong on this matter as on so 16 Sharp 1912 argues that Cumberland is a hedonist. In a way this is quite right, but it is too simple. Cumberland would rather be a perfectionist; his hedonism is part of the battle against voluntarism. 17 If we accept his principle, "moral and political questions are converted into terms in use among natural philosophers, whether these efficient causes can produce this effect, or no? And to
the act. A wise man, Thomasius says, "considers the inner duty the superior kind," and is usually governed by counsel. Fools are usually governed by rule (l.iv.62-5).41 Thomasius holds, with Locke, that we tend to have "wills that agree on little, disagree and quarrel and oppose in many things" (1.1.102). The state of nature is not quite a state of war, but a "state of chaos" nearer to war than peace (1.1.104; 1.3.54). Hence a shared norm is needed in order that society may exist (1.4.1). We have