Immanuel Kant on Racial Identity

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 15 (1):1-10 (2008)
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Immanuel Kant enshrined the modem notion of race. Many commentators prefer to ignore this aspect of Kant’s thinking, considering it to be out-dated, merely a remnant of eighteenth century philosophy or bad science. This article will examine Kant’s racial theory within the context of his wider work, and mainly so with regard to the teleological principle. Kant often presents his new notion of race and racial differences in relation to teleology, i.e., he used races as an example for understanding the teleological principle. The aim of this article is to understand the relationship between Kant’s racial theory and his teleology, which is essential for comprehending his cosmopolitanism. Instead of merely discarding the racist remarks in Kant’s work as marginal and distracting from his central argument, the article will show that Kant’s teleology is a means for him to exclude non-white races from a positive, moral development of a culture.



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