Michael Kohlhaas and the Limits of Kantian Reason, Morality, and Law
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Kleist's work is often read within the context of his Kant Crisis. My thesis will follow in that tradition and give a close reading of Kleist's novella Michael Kohlhaas within the context of Kantian morality in Kritik der praktischen Vernunft and Kantian legal theory in Metaphysik der Sitten. Kleist doubted that humans could really understand the world and use reason to find truth, as he indicated in one of his letters that he gave up on finding a "Schatz der Wahrheiten" or an ability to find truth in the world. Michael Kohlhaas is a novella by Kleist that deals with the question of justice in the positive law and forming moral decisions. Since Kant addressed morality within the context of Kantian practical principles or maxims in his Kritik der praktischen Vernunft and his philosophy of law inMetaphysik der Sitten, these two texts are particularly helpful in gaining further insight into Kleist's novella Michael Kohlhaas.