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This 2005 volume provides an extensive translation of the notes and fragments that survived Kant's death in 1804. These include marginalia, lecture notes, and sketches and drafts for his published works. They are important as an indispensable resource for understanding Kant's intellectual development and published works, casting fresh light on Kant's conception of his own philosophical methods and his relations to his predecessors, as well as on central doctrines of his work such as the theory of space, time and categories, the refutations of scepticism and metaphysical dogmatism, the theory of the value of freedom and the possibility of free will, the conception of God, the theory of beauty, and much more.

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"The size of the undertaking and the potential value of the resulting product should convince most scholars and students that Paul Guyer and his colleagues have done an admirable job in making this volume available to English speakers working at various levels on all aspects of Kant's philosophy." - Mark Fisher, Pennsylvania State University
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Paul Guyer is Professor of Philosophy and Florence R. C. Murray Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania.

Curtis Bowman has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford College.

Frederick Rauscher is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University.

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Cambridge University Press
0521552486 - Immanuel Kant - Notes and Fragments - Edited by Paul Guyer


Selections from the Notes on the
Observations on the Feeling of the
Beautiful and Sublime

This chapter presents a selection of the notes that Kant made in 1764-65 in his own interleaved copy of his 1764 work Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen). This popular work, organized around the division of aesthetic responses into the feelings of the beautiful and of the sublime that Edmund Burke had made canonical in his 1757 book A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, is primarily devoted to an exploration of differences in the aesthetic preferences between the two genders and among different nationalities and races; it offers no analysis of the concepts or experiences of the beautiful and sublime themselves and therefore foreshadows nothing of the distinctive theories of the beautiful and the sublime that Kant would offer many years later in the Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790). But the work does explore connections between the different preferences for the beautiful and the sublime and differences in moral sentiment and character, and that may be why Kant was prompted to use this volume in the months following its publication to write some of the first notes that reflect his emerging moral theory. These reflections on morality no doubt reflect the influence of Kant's reading of the recently published chief works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, especially the tract On the Social Contract and the novel Émile, both published in 1762 (see especially notes 8, 13, 17, 46, and 50), but they are also our first evidence of the emergence of some of the most distinctive and important themes and theses of Kant's mature moral philosophy, including his conception of the intrinsic value of the good will (2, 3, 34, 35), the fundamental value of freedom (9, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 36, 45), the categorical rather than hypothetical character of moral commands (39, 42), the moral requirement of the universalizability of maxims (19, 44), and the dependence of religion on morality rather than vice versa (16, 41). At the same time, Kant is still clearly inclined to explain the immediate value of morality in terms of a fundamental moral sentiment, as he did in his Inquiry concerning the Distinctness of the Principles of Natural Theology and Morality, written for the Berlin Academy of Sciences essay competition of 1762 and published by the Academy, as the winner of the second prize, in 1764, but had not yet developed an alternative account of the source of the unconditional value of the free will (if he ever did). The prize essay is translated in Immanuel Kant, Theoretical Philosophy, 1755-1770, translated and edited by David W. Walford in collaboration with Ralf Meerbote (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 243-75. The following selection from the notes on the Observations emphasizes those that deal with these themes from Kant's moral philosophy, but also includes the small number of them that touch upon taste and the beautiful and the sublime as central concepts of aesthetics (20, 28, 29, 30, 31). A few scattered notes concerning Kant's scientific concerns in this period are omitted.

These notes were included in the Akademie edition in volume 20, edited by Gerhard Lehmann (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1942), at pp. 1-192. However, the present translation is based on the more recent edition by Marie Rischmüller, Immanuel Kant, Bemerkungen in den "Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen," Kant-Forschungen, Band 3 (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1991). Rischhmüller's edition is preferable to Lehmann's because it carefully describes the location of each note in relation to the text of the Observations itself, as well as providing an extensive apparatus, including translations of those notes written in Latin, cross-references to parallel passages within the notes, and annotation on persons, books, and authors referred to by Kant. The present translation follows Rischmüller in providing the location of each passage translated in the original edition of the Observations followed by the location of that passage of the Observations as printed in the Akademie edition, where it appears in volume 2. The location of the texts translated here in Rischmüller's own volume is then given parenthetically by the abbreviation "Ri" followed by the relevant page number or numbers. Since we are not using Lehmann's text, we do not provide the pagination of the passage being translated from volume 20 of the Akademie edition. As Rischmüller's numbering of these notes has not become standard, however, the numbers assigned to the passages translated here are our own, not hers. Each paragraph in the translation represents a complete paragraph in the transcription, unless an elision at the end of a paragraph indicates otherwise. Elisions will not be used at the beginning and end of a paragraph to indicate that what is being translated is part of a larger series of paragraphs, but will be used between paragraphs from the same note if intervening paragraphs have been omitted.

The full text of Kant's notes on the Observations has been translated into French, as Emmanuel Kant, Remarques touchant les Observations sur le Sentiment du Beau et du Sublime, translated by Brigitte Geonget with a preface by Bernard Bourgeois (Paris: J. Vrin, 1994), and into Italian, as Immanuel Kant, Bemerkungen: Note per un diario filosofico, edited and translated by Katrin Tenenbaum (Rome: Meltemi, 2001), a bilingual edition based on and presenting Lehmann's Akademie edition text rather than Rischmüller's edition. Both of these editions include useful annotation. There has been no prior publication of these notes in English.

* *

1. On the reverse of the cover, opposite 2:205 (Ri 7).

Sympathy with the natural misfortune of another is not necessary, but that with an injustice that another has suffered is.

The feeling from which I act is so constituted that I do not need to be taught [crossed out: to engage in subtle argument] in order to sense it.

2. Sheet inserted at Ob 2, obverse, at 2:207-8 (Ri 15).

The common duties do not need as their motivating ground the hope of another life, rather great sacrifice and self-denial have an inner beauty; but our feeling of pleasure in that can never be so strong in itself that it will outweigh the oppression of discomfort, unless the representation of a future condition of the duration of such a moral beauty and of the happiness that will thereby be increased comes to its assistance, so that one will thereby find oneself more capable of so acting.

. . .

Rousseau. He proceeds synthetically and begins from the natural human being; I proceed analytically, beginning from the civilizeda human being.

3. Sheet inserted between Ob 4 and Ob 5, reverse, at 2:208-9 (Ri 19).

The threat of eternal punishment cannot be the immediate ground of morally good actions, although it may be a strong counterweight against temptations to evil so that the immediate sensation of morality is not outweighed.

4. Sheet inserted after Ob 8, obverse, at 2:210 (Ri 23-4).

Those who would make a doctrine of virtue into a doctrine of piety would make a whole out of a part, for piety is only a kind of virtue.

It often seems to us that the human race would have almost no value if it did not contain great artists and scholars; hence the countryfolk, the peasants seem to be nothing even to themselves and to be something only as the means for the support of the former. The injustice of this judgment already indicates that it is false. . . .

There is a great difference between overcoming one's inclinations and eradicating them, that is, losing them; this is also different from restraining one's inclinations . . .

There is thus a great difference between being a good human being and a good rational being. Being perfect as the latter has no limits except for finitude; being perfect as the former has many limits.

5. Sheet inserted after Ob 8, reverse, at 2:210-11 (Ri 24-5).

It takes great art to avoid lies among children. For since they are much too wanton and much too weak to tolerate denials or punishments, they have very strong inducements to lie that older people never have. Especially since they cannot do things on their own as older people do, but rather everything depends on how they represent the impression that they will make on others. One must therefore punish them only for that which they cannot deny, and not approve of something on the basis of excuses.

If one would [crossed out: approve] develop morality then one must not introduce any motivating grounds that would not make the action morally good, e.g., punishments and rewards. Hence one must also depict the lie as immediately hateful, as it is in fact, and not subordinate it to any other rule of morality, e.g., that of duty toward others.

(One has no duties toward oneself, rather one has absolute duties, i.e., an action is good in and for itself. It is also absurd that in our morality we should be dependent upon ourselves.)

. . .

The universal love of mankind has something elevated and noble in it, but among human beings it is chimerical. If one aims for that, one becomes accustomed to deceive oneself with longings and idle wishes. As long as one is so dependent on how things are, one cannot participate in the happiness of others.

6. Sheet inserted after Ob 10, obverse, at 2:211 (Ri 25).

The simple person very early has a sentiment of what is right, but only quite late or not at all a concept of it. That sentiment must be developed much more than the concept. If one teaches him according to rules too early then he will never have a sentiment of it.

7. Sheet inserted after Ob 10, reverse, at 211-12 (Ri 26-7).

It must be asked how far internal moral grounds can bring a person. They can perhaps bring him to be good if, in a condition of freedom, he does not have great temptations, but if the injustice of others or the force of mania does him violence, then this internal morality will not have sufficient power. He must have religion and be encouraged by the rewards of the future life; human nature is not capable of an immediate moral purity. But if purity were somehow supernaturally brought about in him, then the future rewards would no longer have the property of being motivating grounds.

The difference between false and healthy morals is that the former seeks only assistance against evil, while the latter is concerned that the causes of this evil not exist at all.

8. Sheet inserted after Ob 12, obverse (Ri 27-8).

It is unnatural that a person should spend the greater part of his life in teaching one child how it should live. A tutor like Jean Jacques is therefore artificial.1 In an isolated condition little service is done to one child; as soon as it has a little power it will itself perform little useful adult actions, as by a countryman or a hand-worker, and will gradually learn the rest.

It is therefore seemly that a person spend his life teaching so many how to live that the sacrifice of his own is by contrast not to be considered. Hence schools are necessary. But for them to be possible one must draw [on] Émile. It were to be wished that Rousseau had shown how schools could arise from it.

. . .

It is a burden for the understanding to have taste. I must read Rousseau so long that the beauty of his expressions no longer disturbs me, and only then can I first investigate him with reason.

9. Sheet inserted after Ob 12, reverse opposite Ob 13, 2:212-13 (Ri 28-9).

If I would place myself in a great although not complete independence from people, then I must be able to be poor without feeling it and to make do with little without paying attention to it. But if I were a rich man then I would above all introduce freedom from things and from people into my enjoyments. I would not be weighed down with things like guests, horses, and servants, about the loss of whom I would have to be concerned. I would not have any jewels, because I can lose them. I would not [crossed out: arrange my clothing] according to the whims of another, so that he would not really injure me, e.g., diminish my relations with others, but not so that my comfort would depend upon him.

How freedom in the proper sense (moral not metaphysical) is the supreme principium of all virtue and of all happiness.

10. Sheet inserted after Ob 14, obverse, at 2:213 (Ri 30).

I can never convince another person except by means of his own thoughts. I must therefore presuppose that the other has a good and correct understanding, otherwise it is in vain to hope that he could be won over by my reasons. Likewise I cannot touch another morally except by his own sentiments; I must therefore presuppose that the other has a certain goodness of the heart, otherwise he will never feel abhorrence at my depictions of vice nor feel incentives in himself from my praises of virtue. But since it would be impossible for there to be any morally correct sentiments in him or for him to be able to suspect that his sentiment could be harmonious with that of the entire human race if his evil were complete and he was evil through and through, I must concede partial goodness to him, and must depict the slippery similarities of innocence and crime as deceptive.

11. Sheet inserted after Ob 20, obverse, at 2:215-16 (Ri 35).

One could promote one's welfare by allowing one's desires to expand and striving to satisfy them; one could promote one's rectitude if one allowed the inclinations of whim and luxuriousness to grow and then tried to resist them for the sake of moral incentives. But there is another solution to both of these problems, namely, not allowing these inclinations to arise. Finally, one could promote good conduct by setting aside all immediate moral goodness and merely grounding one's actions on the commands of an overlord who issues rewards and punishments.

What is evil about science for humans is above all this, that the greatest part of them would adorn themselves with it not for any improvement of their understanding but only as a perversion of it, not to mention that for most of them it serves only as an instrument of vanity. The utility that the sciences have is either for excess, e.g., mathematics, or for a hindrance of the evil that they have themselves brought on, or also a certain kind of good behavior as a by-product.

The concepts of civil and of natural justice and the sense of obligation that arise from them are almost completely opposite. If I beg from a rich man who has won his fortune through the oppression of his peasants and then give what I have received as a gift to the very same poor people, then in a civil sense I perform a very generous action, but in the natural sense I merely fulfill a common obligation.

12. Sheet inserted after Ob 20, reverse, opposite Ob 21, at 2:216 (Ri 36).

The greatest concern of the human being is to know how he should properly fulfill his station in creation and rightly understand what one must be in order to be a human being. But if he learns gratifications that are above or beneath him, that may flatter him but [crossed out: for which] he is not organized and which conflict with the arrangements that nature has made for him, or when he learns ethical qualities that shimmer there, then he will himself disturb the beautiful order of nature and only be ready to damage it, for he will have left his post [crossed out : he knows that he cannot be content with that which is noble], since he is not content to be that for which he is destined, where he has left the sphere of a human being he is nothing, and the hole that he has made spreads its own damage to the neighboring members.

13. Sheet inserted after Ob 22, obverse, at 2:216-17 (Ri 37-9).

The first impression that an intelligent reader who does not read merely out of vanity or to pass the time acquires of the writings of Mr. J. J. Rousseau is that he has encountered an uncommon acuity of spirit, a noble impetus of genius, and a feeling soul combined in such a high degree as has perhaps never before been possessed by a writer of any age or any people. The impression that follows next is alienation from odd and contrasensical opinions, that depart so far from what is common that one could readily form the suspicion that with his extraordinary talents the author would only demonstrate [crossed out: the force of an enchanting wit] and the magical power of his oratory and make himself an eccentric who would stand out among all competitors in wit as something invitingly newsworthy. The third thought which one will reach only with difficulty, because it seldom occurs [breaks off ]

One must teach youth to honor the common understanding on the basis of moral as well as logical grounds.

I am myself by inclination an investigator. I feel a complete thirst for knowledge and an eager unrest to go further in it as well as satisfaction at every acquisition. There was a time when I believed that this alone could constitute the honor of mankind, and I had contempt for the rabble who know nothing. Rousseau brought me around. This blinding superiority disappeared, I learned to honor human beings, and I would find myself far more useless than the common laborer if I did not believe that this consideration could impart to all others a value in establishing the rights of humanity.

It is quite ridiculous to say that you should love other people, rather one must say that you have good ground to love those who are closest to you. This is valid even for your enemy.

Virtue is strong, thus what weakens and makes one soft for pleasures and dependent upon whim is opposed to virtue. What makes life contemptible or even hateful to us does not lie in nature. What makes vice easy and virtue difficult does not lie in nature.

. . .

It is not compatible with happiness to let the inclinations become excessive, for since there are uncommonly many cases where circumstances are unfavorable for these inclinations, when things are not as desired, they become a source of oppression, misery, and worry, of which the simple person knows nothing.

It also does not help here to preach great-hearted patience.

14. Sheet inserted after Ob 22, reverse, opposite Ob 23, at 2:217 (Ri 39).

If there is any science that the human being needs it is that which teaches him properly to fulfill the position that has been assigned to him in the creation, and from which he can learn what one must be in order to be a human being. Suppose he had unwittingly become familiar with deceptive temptations above or beneath him that would bring him from his proper position, then this instruction would bring him back again to the station of a human being, and then even if he finds himself ever so small or lacking, still he would do well by remaining at the post to which he has been assigned, because he [crossed out: is neither more nor less than] is exactly what he ought to be.

15. Sheet inserted after Ob 24, reverse, opposite Ob 25, 2:218 (Ri 43).

Moral taste is inclined to imitation; moral principles rise above this. Where there are courts and great distinctions among people, everything is given over to taste; it is otherwise in republics. Hence taste in social gatherings is more refined in the former, and coarser in the latter. One can be very virtuous and have little taste. If social life is to increase then taste must be extended, since the agreeableness of social gatherings must be easy, but principles are difficult. Among women this taste is easiest. Moral taste is not readily united with the appearance of principles. . . .

16. Sheet inserted after Ob 28, obverse, at 2:219 (Ri 46).

About compassion it is only to be noted that it must never rule, but must rather be subordinated to the capacity and the rational desire to do good. He who himself cannot do without very much or is lazy has an idle compassion.

The natural person without religion is much to be preferred to the civilized person with merely natural religion. For the latter must have a high degree of morality if it is to be a counterweight to its corruption.

Meanwhile, a civilized person without any religion is much more dangerous.

Namely, no correct concept of God can arise at all in the natural condition, and the false conception that is formed there is injurious. Consequently the theory of natural religion can be true only where there is science; thus it cannot obligate all human beings.

Natural theology, natural religion. A supernatural theology can nevertheless be combined with a natural religion. Those who believe the Christian [crossed out: religion] theology nevertheless have only a natural religion insofar as the morality is natural. The Christian religion is supernatural with regard to the doctrine and also the power to exercise it. How little do the usual Christians have cause to pause over the natural.

The cognition of God is either speculative, and this is uncertain and liable to dangerous errors, or moral, through beliefs, and this conceives of no other qualities in God except those that are aimed at morality. . . .

17. Sheet inserted after Ob 28, reverse, opposite Ob 29, at 2:219-20 (Ri 48).

Newton saw for the first time order and regularity combined with great simplicity, where before him was found disorder and barely paired multiplicity; and since then comets run in geometrical courses. Rousseau discovered for the first time beneath the multiplicity of forms human beings have taken on their deeply buried nature and the hidden law by the observation of which providence is justified. Before that the objection of Alphonsus and Manes2 still held. After Newton and Rousseau, God is justified and Pope's theorem is true.3

18. Sheet inserted after Ob 36, obverse, at 2:222-3 (Ri 52-3).

Good consequences are to be sure marks of morality, but not the only ones, because they cannot always be known with certainty. Many a lie could have good consequences.

The ground of the potestatis legislatoriae divinae a is not in the good, for then the motivating ground would be gratitude (a subjective moral ground, a kind of feeling) and hence not strict duty. The ground of the potestatis legislatoriae presupposes inequality, and causes one person to lose a degree of freedom to another. This can only happen if he sacrifices his will itself to another; if he does this with regard to all of his actions, then he makes himself into a slave. A will that is subject to another is imperfect and contradictory, because the human being has spontaneitatem;b if he is subjected to the will of another (when he himself can already choose) then he is hateful and contemptible, but if he is subjected to the will of God then he is in accordance with nature. One must not perform actions from obedience to another person that one could do out of internal motivating grounds, and to do everything out of obedience where it could have been done from internal motivating grounds makes slaves.

The body is mine because it is a part of my self and is moved by my capacity for choice. The whole living or non-living world which does not have its own capacity for choice is mine insofar as I can compel it and move it in accordance with my capacity of choice. The sun is not mine. The same thing is true for another person, thus no possession is a property c or exclusive possession. However, insofar as I would appropriate something to myself exclusively, I must presuppose that the other's will or his deed is at least not opposed to mine. I will therefore perform the actions that designate what is mine, i.e., cut down the tree or make it into lumber. The other person says to me that that is his, for it belongs through the actions of his faculty of choice as it were to his self.

19. Sheet inserted after Ob 36, reverse, opposite Ob 37, at 2:223 (Ri 53).

That will must be good which does not cancel itself out a if it is taken universally and reciprocally; on this account the other will not take as his what I have worked upon, for otherwise he would presuppose that his will has moved my body.

Thus when a person calls things his own he thereby tacite promises that in similar circumstances through his will he will not . . .

20. Sheet inserted after Ob 40, obverse, at 2:225 (Ri 56).

In everything that pertains to beautiful or sublime sentiment, we do best if we allow ourselves to be led by the example of the ancients: in sculpture, architecture, poetry, and oratory, by ancient mores, and the ancient political constitution. The ancients were closer to nature; between ourselves and nature we have much in the way of frivolous or excessive or servile corruption. Our age is the Seculum of beautiful trivialities, Bagatelles, or sublime Chimaera.

21. Sheet inserted after Ob 42, reverse, opposite Ob 43, at 2:225-6 (Ri 60).

A person's contentment arises either from satisfying many inclinations with many agreeable things, or from not letting many inclinations sprout, and thus by being satisfied with fewer fulfilled needs. The state of him who is satisfied because he is not familiar with agreeable things is simple sufficiency, that of him who is familiar with them but who voluntarily does without them because he fears the unrest that arises from them is wise sufficiency. The former requires no self-compulsion and deprivation, the latter however demands this; the former is easily seduced, while the latter has been seduced and is therefore more secure for the future. The condition of the person without a lack of gratificationb because he is not familiar with greater possible gratification and therefore does not desire it.

Virtue does not at all consist in overcoming acquired inclinations in particular cases, but in seeking to be free of such inclinations and thus learning to do without them gladly. It does not consist in conflict with the natural inclinations, but rather in making it the case that one has none except for the natural ones, because these can always be satisfied.

22. Sheet inserted after Ob 50, obverse, at 2:229 (Ri 68).

The human being has his own inclinations, and by means of his capacity of choice has a clue from nature to conduct his actions in accordance with these. Nothing can be more appalling than that the action of one human stand under the will of another. Hence no abhorrence can be more natural than that which a person has against servitude. On this account a child cries and becomes bitter if it has to do what another wants without one having made an effort to make that pleasing to him. And it wishes only to become a man quickly and to operate in accordance with its own will. What new servitude to things must it arouse in order to introduce that.

© Cambridge University Press
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Table of Contents

General editor's preface; Introduction; Acknowledgements; 1. Selections from the notes on the Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime; 2. Notes on logic; 3. Notes on metaphysics; 4. Notes on moral philosophy; 5. Notes on aesthetics; Notes; Glossary; Index to Kant's texts.

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