‘The Ultimate Kantian Experience: Kant on Dinner Parties’, History of Philosophy Quarterly 25(4): 315-36, 2008.
AbstractAs one would expect, Kant believes that there is a tension, and even a conflict, between our bodily humanity and its ethical counterpart: ‘Inclination to pleasurable living and inclination to virtue are in conflict with each other’ (Anthropology, 185-86 [7:277]). What is more unexpected, however, is that he further claims that this tension can be resolved in what he calls an example of ‘civilised bliss’, namely dinner parties. Dinner parties are, for Kant, part of the ‘highest ethicophysical good’, the ultimate resolution of the conflict between our physical body and our moral powers, which consists in finding the right proportions for the ‘mixture’ between our partly ‘sensuous’ and partly ‘ethicointellectual’ nature. The aim of this paper is not only to explain Kant’s account of the ideal proportions of ethicophysical good in dinner parties, but also, and more importantly, to argue that dinner parties are in fact the ultimate experience for us, human beings.