Kant on Education and evil—Perfecting human beings with an innate propensity to radical evil

Educational Philosophy and Theory 51 (13):1304-1307 (2018)
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Kant begins his Lectures on Pedagogy by stating, “[t]he human being is the only creature that must be educated” (Kant, 2007, 9:441), and he argues that it is through education that we can transform our initial “animal nature into human nature” (ibid. 2007, 9:441). Kant understands education as involving an ordered process of care, discipline, instruction and formation through enculturating, civilizing and moralizing (Formosa 2011). Further, Kant envisages that we should pursue as a species the “moral perfection” that is the “final destiny of the human race” through education (Collins, 1997, 27:470; see Dean, 2014). However, to engage in this pursuit Kant believes that, through education and social change, we have to regulate our “animal nature” and counter the moral corruption of our species, which he calls the “radical innate evil in human nature (not any the less brought upon us by ourselves)” (Kant, 1998, 6:32). If humanity is to pursue its final destiny of moral perfection, then education will need to respond responsibly to the propensity to evil that is deeply rooted in us as finite and imperfect rational beings living in imperfect and at times even in morally corrupted social conditions. This paper outlines some of the relevant issues.

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Paul Formosa
Macquarie University

References found in this work

Kant’s Ethical Thought.Allen W. Wood - 1999 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kant’s Ethical Thought.Allen W. Wood - 2001 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (203):259-261.
Kant on Evil, Self-Deception, and Moral Reform.Laura Papish - 2018 - [New York]: Oxford University Press.

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