Perfecting Autonomy: Rethinking Perfectionist Ethics After Kant

January 30, 2020

Douglas Moggach

Thursday, January 30, 6:00PM–8:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities

The conference represents the launch of a new German-English publication, Douglas Moggach, Nadine Mooren, Michael Quante, eds., "Perfektionismus der Autonomie" (Autonomy-Perfectionism), Fink Verlag, 2019. The volume is an anthology of philosophical essays examining the concept of autonomy-perfectionism in historical and systematic perspective.

Following Kant‘s critique of earlier perfectionist ethical systems (particularly those of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Christian Wolff), a new theory-type emerges, differing from previous conceptions because it aims not at the cultivation of happiness (eudaimonia), but at the advancement of freedom, the conditions for its exercise, and the determination of the legitimate limits of state intervention. The collected essays analyse a range of arguments advanced especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, offering interpretations of Fichte, Schiller, Humboldt, Hegel, the Left Hegelians, and the British Idealists. Other authors, such as Adorno and recent critical theory, are also addressed.


Douglas Moggach is Distinguished University Professor at the University of Ottawa, and Honorary Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. His publications include The Philosophy and Politics of Bruno Bauer (CUP, 2003); The New Hegelians (CUP, 2006); Politics, Religion, and Art. Hegelian Debates (NWUP, 2011); and, with Gareth Stedman Jones, The 1848 Revolutions and European Political Thought (CUP, 2018). He has held visiting appointments in Beijing, Cambridge, Münster, and Pisa, and was the recipient of a Killam Research Fellowship awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts.


Willow Verkerk teaches Philosophy at the University of British Columbia's Department of Philosophy, specializing in Social and Political Philosophy, the History of Philosophy, and Feminist Philosophy. She was previously a Lecturer in Modern European Philosophy at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University, London. Her work has appeared in journals such as Nietzsche-StudienRadical PhilosophyphiloSOPHIA: A Journal of Continental FeminismPhilosophy and LiteratureJournal of Nietzsche Studies, and Symposium: Canadian Journal for Continental Philosophy. She is the author of Nietzsche and Friendship (Bloomsbury, 2019).

Dr. Steven Taubeneck has worked at UBC for over 27 years. His focus has been on Continental Philosophy broadly, but more specifically on Existentialism and the Frankfurt School. Throughout he emphasizes the importance of Hegel's early writings. If you are interested, he has two interviews on Youtube that give a rough sense of Taubeneck's views.