The obscurities of the enlightened : reflections on Kantian blind spots.
This thesis focusses on dark elements of obscurity within the philosophy of Immanuel Kant,
which cannot be dispelled by the light of Auflclarung. Indeed the blind-spots exainined are
structurally necessary to the philosophical system and as a result cannot be removed. I suggest
that for Kant, as for all metaphysical thinkers, it is the systematic need for origins and
foundations which creates the unsettling effects working against absolute revelation. This search
for foundational security is traditionally ,expressed through the analogy with architecture. Indeed
the architectural more-than metaphor is called upon to provide metaphysics with the down-toearth,
grounding principles it so desperat~ly needs. My thesis examines at length the idea of the
architectonic- which leads inevitably'into a wider discussion of the image of architecture as a
The first chapter addresses the question of the founder and sovereign ofa political system.
Here I examine Kant's analysis of the monarch, who is supposed to keep the nation together
through hislher own person. Kant apparently abhors the act of regicide, believing that it provokes
the suicide of the state. However, I highlight a mysterious doubling of the sover~igu body in the
Kantian system, overlooked by Kant himself; which points to the possibility that, as the st~te can
never be successfully founded or incorporated, the mortal body of the king is in fact dispensable
(precisely because the "immortal body" of the King is indispensable).
The second chapter deals with the project offounding the ethical community in Kantian
philosophy. This is an ideal project to be founded- indeed it points to the inextricable link
between society's aspirations and architecture. Through an analysis of the 'concept' of "affinities"
(Verwandtschaften), which form. the basis of the relations between members of the community, I
discuss the form of construction that would be needed to give form to the ethical ideal The
realisation of this project ~ thwarted by the nature of the "affinities" themselves. These emerge as
prior to the distinction between the mechanical (that which can be constructed, initiated) and the
organic (which is mysterious, secretive, not to be mastered or engineered). The
"Verwandtschaften" defy the act offoundation and force are-appraisal of the place and nature. of
architecture, which is grossly underestimated by Kant.
The third chapter examines human nature in the light of Kant's concept of "radical evil", This is
important as human nature is the basis for the political and ethical projections addressed in the
previous two chapters. ·We examine how Kant struggles with his recognition of the 'Insecure,
unsafe and unworthy basis on which he has tried to build. .
The fourth and concluding chapter suggests ways of accounting for the inability to build a
completely illuminated, philosophical system. It discusses the theme of revelation in and around
Kant with help from his one-time friend, Hamann.