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The Ideal Republic: Kant and Plato

The lecture will assess the status and function of political society in ancient and modern philosophy by investigating the reference to Plato in Kant’s normative account of the state understood as “commonwealth” or “republic” (Gemeinwesen, Republik). Section one will place Plato’s Republic in the twofold context of ancient and modern political thought, focusing on the elitist critique of democratic rule and the modern revival of the republican tradition. Section Two will detail the state’s republican constitution as a practical idea in Kant, stressing the role of freedom in his conception of the modern polity. Section Three will introduce Kant’s extension of civil society from the political and juridical to the religious and ethical spheres.