The Revolutionary ‘Deception’: Kant on the Illusion of a Politics of Happiness (July · 2021)
- Ética & Política / Ethics & Politics
- Volume XXIII, 2021, 2, pp. 17-38
- ISSN: 1825-5167
Could an ideal of happiness ever serve as a legitimate principle of public legislation? According to Kant, grounding public legislation on a principle of the happiness, results in the “common deception” of taking a private, and merely subjective, conception of happiness, as a universal and objective principle of right. He describes this “deception” in terms of a Täuschung, namely a kind of illusion in our way of thinking that is however common, and in some ways, inevitable, similar to the one’s reason gets entangled in its theoretical use. I argue that, in attributing this form of deception to an individual like Danton, Kant is identifying a revolutionary mentality that takes happiness, and not right, to be the end of political association. From this follows that people have an alleged coercive right to judge the constitution if it falls short of the their expectations, thereby opening the door to violence and radical change.