Monday, June 23, 2008

Rorty, Amelie. "Review of Kant's ANTHROPOLOGY, HISTORY AND EDUCATION." NDPR June 30, 2008.

Kant, Immanuel. Anthropology, History and Education. Ed. Günter Zöller and Robert Louden. Cambridge: CUP, 2008. This collection of Kant's reflective essays on human nature -- its history and future prospects, its uniformity and variety, its achievements and foibles -- covers the period from 1764 to 1803. The essays range from book reviews and notes for physicians to "Lectures of Pedagogy" (1803) and "Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View" (1798). To those who know Kant primarily from the complexly structured and abstract arguments of the Critiques, these essays come as a surprise. In contrast to the conceptual apparatus articulated in the Critiques, they are full of detailed observations, empirical speculations, and pithy, shrewd -- even homely -- practical suggestions. Most of the essays are 'pragmatic' rather than -- in Kant's technical sense -- 'practical.' They characterize and counsel a wide range of human activities, ranging from advice on the systematic and principled methods of empirical observation to maxims on how best to control the exercise of the imagination in art and ordinary life. . . . The views expressed in these essays are sometimes as surprising as their scope and detail. The high-minded enlightenment rationalism that emerged in the first two Critiques as a transcendental regulative 'Idea' is introduced as a guiding principle for an historical process of human development. The moral autonomy -- the rational morality of self-legislation -- that is the fulfillment of human nature is argued to be approached historically, painstakingly by many unexpected twists and turns of human effort. . . . Read the rest here:

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