Kant on the faculty of desire

Kant, German Idealism
See also
Kant on substance and power, Kant’s map of the mind

The division between higher and lower faculties

The faculty of desire is either a higher or a lower faculty of desire. The lower faculty of desire is a power to desire something so far as we are affected by objects. The higher faculty of desire is a power to desire something from ourselves independently of objects. (ML 1 , 28:228–9; APa, 25:408 [1772/3]; Me, 25:1334 [1782/3])

Here, as is typical, we see a distinction between higher and lower in terms of Kant’s spontaneous/receptive distinction.

TODO Desire and Motion

Why is it that internal change as in having a judgment, reasoning in general, and inferring in particular, etc. don’t seem to require desire, much less choice? In contrast activity directed towards change in the world does. What is the contrast?

One thought is that the contrast lies in the kind of force by which change is made (or the kind of force that explains the existence of an accident). The force with which change is made in the outer world (i.e the world distinct from oneself qua substance) is moving force (Bewegende Kraft) while the force explaining inner change is not moving force (it’s something else). This would be interesting since it would mean that practical reason would generate a distinct kind of force from that of theoretical reason, which would seem to be an important difference between them.

In any case there is reason to work this out more clearly, since it makes theoretical activity creative in a way one might have only attributed to practical activity.


Eine Willkühr ist eine Begierde, die ich in meiner Gewalt habe. Wunsch aber ist eine Begierde, die ich nicht in meiner Gewalt habe (MMrongovius 27:1419 (1774-5 or 76/77)

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