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A t the same time, the spectre of relativism is exorcized. from nature or pure practical reason. Societies or cultures can be evaluated by locating them in the ascending series of dialectically unfolding forms. Significantly, Hegel's philosophy of history never questions the ultimate value of western civilization or modernity. But his dia­ lectical account of the historical development of the West is consider­ ably more nuanced than conventional Enlightenment narratives. In effect, processes of modernization are reconstructed not as a linear 'progress' of uninterrupted development, but an uneven and conflictridden series of one-sided but improving manifestations of spirit.

Our aesthetic experience of natural beauty delivers an awareness of the meaningfulness or 'purposiveness' of nature, which mirrors the successful work of art's apparently natural inevitability - our sense that it could not have been otherwise, even though, as an 'end in itself, it serves no deter­ minate function. As a result, we are more able to feel 'at home in nature': For the judgment of taste a beautiful work of art has the self-forming liveliness of a living organism in nature. The gap between the formative powers of nature, with their own indeterminate purposiveness, and the free, formative powers of human beings, has been closed.

The 'synthetic a priorV principles of morality must be derived, therefore, from the abstract notion of a rational will or agent, from which all distinguishing individual features have been expunged. The individu­ al acts freely and morally when he or she acts purely in obedience to a universal moral law that is the product of reason alone. ' This is Kant's version of the more familiar 'golden rule', that you should do to others what you would have them do to you. The examples Kant uses to illustrate the categorical imperative are designed to show that immoral actions are self-defeating when they are considered as examples that everyone might follow.

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