Kant's Critique of Practical Reason (1788)

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February 8th, 2013 5:30 PM   to   7:30 PM
12-SESSION CLASS BEGINS
POSTPONED DUE TO STORM-- Will begin Feb 15
Kant's Critique of Practical Reason (1788)
Russell Dale

Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) is widely considered to be one of the giants of European philosophy. Kant's works are the starting point of “classical German philosophy” which culminates with Hegel only to be flipped over by Marx. Classical German philosophy is the context in which Marx grew up intellectually.

In Kant's “second Critique”, the Critique of Practical Reason (1788), Kant examines the notion of moral reasoning that he took to be at the foundation of human consciousness. In this seminar, we will study in detail Kant's second Critique and other of Kant's major moral writings as well as some of his shorter essays on moral questions. We will study the famous “categorical imperative” and its meaning as well as Kant's notion of a “moral community” which is so important for the subsequent thought of Hegel.

Kant was also one of the originators of white race theory and had serious white-supremacist views. This fact about Kant is almost always completely ignored in college courses on Kant. But, we will discuss this crucial aspect of Kant and examine how it fits in with his overall project and system, as well as how Kant's system fit into the over all project of the growing European bourgeoisie of his day, and how it continues to function as crucial conceptual background for contemporary society. How was it that Kant could pretend to a universal moral theory that was to embrace all as equals while at the same time maintaining that the majority of the world were NOT equal but inferior to Europeans? This contradiction became increasingly fundamental to much of European philosophy from Kant's time forward. Examination of this contradiction and its meaning and use is long overdue.

Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy (or just Practical Philosophy). This volume went into its 12th printing in 2008.

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