Essays on Kant's Anthropology

By Brian Jacobs; Patrick Kain | Go to book overview

coherent conception of anthropology, either as a discipline or as an element of a philosophical system? How would such a conception relate to the claims of the critical philosophy? Does the content of Kant's anthropology shed new light upon or require a reevaluation of any important aspects of Kant's theoretical or practical philosophy? In which respects does Kant break with his contemporaries' notions of anthropology? Might the tensions within Kant's anthropology teach us something about the origins and philosophical foundations of the modern human sciences?

Kant's anthropology is important, however, not only because of the questions it raises about Kant's philosophical system or the history of the human sciences. It is also important as an unambiguous counterpoint to the still prevalent view that, in Wilhelm Dilthey's words, “in the veins of the knowing subject, such as … Kant [has] construed him, flows not real blood but rather the thinned fluid of reason as pure thought activity.”24 Kant's anthropology lectures present the acting and knowing subject as fully constituted in human flesh and blood, with the specific virtues and foibles that make it properly human. This is an account that can and should be taken seriously in its own right.


The Occasion for This Collection

The publication in October 1997 of a critical edition of student notes stemming from Kant's anthropology course offers a unique opportunity to reexamine Kant's anthropology and address many of these important questions in a more adequate way. Edited by Reinhard Brandt and Werner Stark, the latest volume of Kants gesammelte Schriften (the first in more than a decade) contains more than 1,500 pages of student notes drawn from seven different semesters of the anthropology course during its first seventeen years. Much of this material will soon appear in English in The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant volume entitled Lectures on Anthropology, which will appear shortly after the series' new edition of Kant's work on Anthropology, History, and Education. In contrast to Kant's own published work of 1798, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, these lecture notes, most of which will be made available for the first time, capture Kant both at the height of his intellectual power and at numerous points throughout

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