Kant and the “Old formula of the schools”
In this essay I offer a new interpretation of Kant’s discussion of “the old formula of the schools” in the Critique of Practical Reason – “nihil appetimus, nisi sub ratione boni; nihil aversamur, nisi sub ratione mali [We desire nothing except under the guise of the good; nothing is avoided except under the guise of the bad]” (KPV 5: 59). This “old formula,” referred to in recent years as “the guise of the good thesis,” has been endorsed by a number of prominent Western philosophers over the centuries – e.g. Socrates, Aristotle, and Aquinas, to name only a few. Indeed, it is commonly taken to be the dominant position within the history of Western philosophy. Accordingly, most commentators have also claimed that Kant too endorses the old formula. I argue, in opposition to the received view, that Kant is by no means a wholehearted and unqualified supporter of the old formula. He does not hold that the good is necessarily that which every rational agent desires.
Louden, Robert B. PhD, "Kant and the “Old formula of the schools”" (2021). Faculty Publications. 103.