Reading by the light of a burning phoenix [electronic resource] : an inquiry into faith, deliverance, and despair within humankind's paradoxical suspension between the conditional and the unconditional in the work of Immanuel Kant and Hermann Hesse /

by McCauley, Patrick James.

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis offers a new interpretation of Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf. This interpretation is grounded on Immanuel Kant's moral philosophy and is centered on a discussion and analysis of an inescapable paradox which is fundamental to the human condition. I argue that our rational capacity exposes us to an unconditional and insuperable moral demand. However, we have only ever a finite material capacity to offer in response to this autonomous command. It is our fate, therefore, to impose conditions on our own unconditional imperative, that is, to exist as a self-evident contradiction. Since it is possible to escape neither the conditioned nor the unconditioned pole, we must eventually despair of the possibility of moral sufficiency. I argue that Steppenwolf is an aesthetic articulation of and response to this radical and tragic disparity within the structure of the human being. The first of four chapters focuses on Kant's moral philosophy and offers a philosophical foundation for the discussion of this disparity.
Bibliographical Information:


School:University of Iowa

School Location:USA - Iowa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:hesse hermann 1877 1962 kant immanuel 1724 1804 free will and determinism autonomy philosophy responsibility


Date of Publication:

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