Was bedeutet die französische Revolution heute? Die Bemerkungen über Kants Interpretation von signum rememorativum

Rafał Michalski

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/szhf.2017.034


This article is an attempt to explicate the notion of political enthusiasm through which Immanuel Kant expressed his attitude to the French Revolution and to show the consequences of his interpretation for contemporary debates on the heritage of this founding event. The first section contains a brief reconstruction of major interpretative lines, which describe today the importance of the French Revolution for contemporary democracy. The next sections (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) clarify the ambiguous attitude of Kant to the French Revolution, which from the moral perspective was unequivocally condemned by him, and from the aesthetic and political perspective – evaluated very favorably. The main concept is here a category of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm as a purely rational affect, as a collectively experienced, irrational euphoria, functions in the Kant’s deliberations an important heuristic function, because it allows him to justify the positive meaning of the revolution, which at the level of empirical facts turned out to be an escalation of violence. The key to understanding this ambivalence is the category of publicity (Publizität) and the specific understanding of the concept of politics. The last section will show the consequences that stem from his position for contemporary debates on the legitimation crisis of liberal democracy.


The French Revolution; politics; enthusiasm; public sphere; judgment; Immanuel Kant; Stanisława Przybyszewska; the legtimations crisis of the liberal democracy

Full Text:

PDF (Deutsch)


Arendt, H. Über die Revolution, München 1974.

Baszkiewicz, J., Meller, S., Rewolucja francuska 1789–1794. Społeczeństwo obywatelskie, Warszawa 1983.

Brzozowski, S., Eseje i studia o literaturze, t. 1, Wrocław 1990.

Dietzsch, S. Immanuel Kant. Biografia, tłum. K. Krzemieniowa, Warszawa 2005.

Furet, F., Interpreting the French Revolution, Cambridge 1978.

Kant, I. Gesammelte Schriften, Hrsg.: Bd. 1–22 Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Bd. 23 Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, ab Bd. 24

Kant, I. Die Metaphysik der Sitten (AA 06), Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Berlin 1900ff.

Kant, I. Der Streit der Fakultäten (AA 07), Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Berlin 1900ff.

Kant, I. Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung? (AA 08), Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Berlin 1900ff.

Kant, I. Kritik der Urteilskraft (AA 05), Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Berlin 1900ff.

Przybyszewska, S., Sprawa Dantona, Kraków 2003.

Vorländer, K., Kants Stellung zur französischen Revolution, in: Philosophische Abhandlungen. Hermann Cohen zum 70sten Geburtstag dargebracht, Berlin 1912, S. 247–269.

Wahnich, S., In defence of terror. Liberty or death in French Revolution, tr. D. Fernbach, London 2012.

Titus Lucretius Carus, O naturze wszechrzeczy, tłum. E. Szymański, Warszawa 1957.

Żelazny, M., Idea wolności w filozofii Kanta, Toruń 2001.

Partnerzy platformy czasopism