Kant, intoxicated: the aesthetics of drunkenness, between moral duty and "active play"

Hist Philos Life Sci. 2022 Sep 16;44(4):46. doi: 10.1007/s40656-022-00530-x.


This article examines Kant's overlooked concept of "active play," as opposed to "free play," in connection with the influence of the Brunonian system of medicine, both of which, I propose, are central to understanding the broader significance of intoxication in Kant's post-1795 work. Beginning with a discussion of the late-18th century German reception of Brunonian theory, the idea of vital stimulus, and their importance for Kant, I assess the distinction drawn between gluttony and intoxication in The Metaphysics of Morals and Anthropology from a Practical Point of View. Both are analysed in the context of the Brunonian system of medicine, having establishing Kant's commitment to the Brunonianism system, as corroborated by Wasianski. What emerges is a novel understanding of intoxication in the work of Immanuel Kant, which brings to light a previously unexamined dynamic between imagination, intoxication, and the aesthetic.

Keywords: Brunonianism; Enlightenment; Intoxication; Kant; Medical science.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholic Intoxication*
  • Anthropology / history
  • Esthetics
  • Humans
  • Moral Obligations
  • Philosophy* / history