Kant & Fate
Keywords:destiny, fate, Immanuel Kant, philosophy of religion, providence
Immanuel Kant mentions fate (Schicksal) in several places. Peter Thielke offers the only sustained interpretation of what Kant meant by fate. According to Thielke, fate is a “usurpatory concept” that takes the place of causality but fails to do its job. There are problems with this interpretation, relative to Kant’s philosophy and to the ordinary concept of fate. It is not clear why we only find a usurpation of causality and not the other concepts of the categories, or how a usurpation of an a priori concept could occur. Thielke’s interpretation does not explain the way in which fate attributions are only made about events that have significance for human action or well-being, or fate’s teleological aspect. I outline the textual evidence that, for Kant, fate usurps providence, a postulate of practical reason, and then show how this interpretation preserves the strengths but avoids the weaknesses of its competitor.
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