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ISSN 0869-5377
The Logos Journal

Beginning with Kant: German Idealism, Utopia, and Immanence


About author:
Visiting Scholar, Department of Theology, Humboldt University of Berlin. Address: 6 Unter den Linden, 10099 Berlin, Germany. E-mail:

This paper offers a reading of German Idealism from within its Kantian origin, defined here as utopian. To make such a definition possible, utopia must be understood as something other than a mere idealistic vision of the future. Originating by definition as a “non-place,” utopia must involve a rearticulation of the problem of beginning. Utopia begins as if at a distance from the real, but in such a way that it remains impossible to reach it from within reality; any such transition would have to remain, at best, an infinite approximation. It is therefore pointless to expect utopia — one can only begin from it. This implies a different, non-Spinozan immanence, which the author calls utopian; based on a re-reading of idealism’s self-distancing from dogmatism and the logic of beginning and immanence in the Kantian corpus, he identifies it in Kant. Idealism, as non-realism, suspends the real and starts from a “non-place,” refusing to think the emergence of the ideal from any environment. This non-place is reduplicated as an immanent, non-dualist facticity starting from which the subject of idealism begins to think and act. Idealism thus implies a utopian structure (non-relation), method (suspension), and temporality (futurity-as-facticity), which, taken together, suggest a different way of looking at the continuity between Kant and post-Kantian idealism and Romanticism, as well as a way of thinking immanence as non-Spinozist — and even as deconstructing Spinozism — while also escaping any dualism, including the religioussecular binary.

Keywords: ant; German Idealism; utopia; immanence; temporality

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