Wild Chimeras: Enthusiasm And Intellectual Virtue In Kant

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European Journal Of Philosophy


Kant typically is not identified with the tradition of virtue epistemology. Although he may not be a virtue epistemologist in a strict sense, I suggest that intellectual virtues and vices play a key role in his epistemology. Specifically, Kant identifies a serious intellectual vice that threatens to undermine reason, namely enthusiasm (Schwärmerei). Enthusiasts become so enamored with their own thinking that they refuse to subject reason to self‐critique. The particular danger of enthusiasm is that reason colludes in its own destruction: Enthusiasm occurs when self‐conceit and reason's desire to transcend its boundaries mutually reinforce each other. I conclude by sketching an account of Kantian intellectual virtue that is consistent with Kantian moral virtue.