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Germany

Yes We Kant: A Philosopher's Guide To New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are still freshly made, but how long will we stick to them? Here's what legendary German thinker Immanuel Kant has to say about them.

A high resolution photo
A high resolution photo
Michael Pilz

BERLIN — People have been making New Year's resolutions since long before we had health insurance premiums to help calculate them or magazines to tell us what they should be. In Ancient Rome, citizens renewed their vow of loyalty to the emperor and the gods with a New Year's procession honoring Janus, the two-faced god of the home and family, who looks both forward and backwards. Everyone reflected on their own character and promised to better themselves.

New Year's resolutions experienced a renaissance during the Reformation, which did away with the rite of confession. Calvinists, Puritans and Pietists sought forgiveness after 365 sinful days. But what could they know? What should they do? And what might they hope for? The answers to these three questions about moral behavior were to be found, at least partly, in the New Testament. They were elaborated in more detail a couple of centuries later in the writings of Immanuel Kant, through his Protestant philosophy and, more exhaustively, in his 1788 work Critique of Practical Reason.

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Economy

How Much Longer Can The Russian Economy Survive Sanctions?

The head of the Kremlin boasted at the recent forum in St. Petersburg International Economic Forum about Russia’s economic resilience against Western sanctions. But behind the scenes, Russian business leaders tell a different story.

At a Veshki distribution center for the food retailer VkusVill, a chain of online Russian grocery stores.

Benjamin Quénelle

-Analysis-

MOSCOW — "The most effective sanction to weaken the Kremlin? Not to target us and punish us, but to give us visas instead ... to abandon the sinking the ship!" This businessman's iconoclastic perspective embodies the anxiety one could detect percolating just below the surface at the "Russian Davos" Forum in St. Petersburg last week.

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Officially called the "International" Economic Forum, the annual event organized by Vladimir Putin is meant to attract foreign investors — but this year, the elite of the national business community were cut off from the rest of the world. "Just among Russians... And forced to line up behind the regime and its economic strategies that lead us to a dead end," says the same source, a Russian manager in one of the main state-owned companies.

Like so many others, this man in his 40s, a typical representative of the new upper middle class, with a foreign passport in hand, educated in the West, liberal and multilingual, discovered his name on the lists of Western sanctions. Directly or indirectly, a large part of the Russian business world has been caught up in the European and U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

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