Resources on Kant, Race, and Racism
On May 19th, 2021, we kicked off the Virtual NAKS workshop series with a session titled Kant and Race: (How) Should We Teach Kant’s Views on this topic? The session featured three speakers:
· Jameliah Shorter-Bourhanou (College of the Holy Cross), “Must I Teach Race?”
· Elvira Basevich (U-Mass, Lowell), “Teaching Kant: How to Welcome a Racist into the Philosophy Classroom”
· Patrick Frierson (Whitman College), “Teaching Race in the Groundwork” (handout)
Bennett McNulty (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) chaired the session. The session was well attended and the discussions were rich and edifying. Afterwards, Bennett and Patrick suggested that we host a webpage of resources for teaching (as well as studying) Kant’s views on race and his relation to racism. After a long delay, here we finally have the beginning of such a page.
If you have any suggestions or recommendations that pertain to any of the following three categories, please contact Huaping Lu-Adler (Vice President of NAKS) at email@example.com. Syllabi and information about upcoming ONLINE workshops on Kant, race, and racism (any combination of these three terms) are especially welcome. For now, we will only list resources in English.
Each of the following syllabi includes at least one unit on Kant’s racial views. May these give you some ideas and inspirations for how to design your own. The syllabi are listed by the alphabetical order of the instructors' last names.
Lauren Kopajtic (Fordham University), Philosophical Ethics (N.B. this is a core ethics class at Fordham, where all philosophy instructors are required to teach 50% of their course content from Kant and Aristotle, as well as contemporary critical responses, and at least one traditionally under-represented figure)
Abstract: This conference is to honor the philosopher Charles W. Mills, who taught at the CUNY Graduate Center during the last years of his career, and who passed away on September 20, 2021. Mills’ influence, especially on political philosophy, Black philosophy, and Caribbean philosophy, was monumental, and will undoubtedly have a permanent effect on the interpretation of such figures as Kant and Rawls as well as the way race, racism and colonialism are now seen as necessarily central to any adequate social theory. Mills’ critique of what he called “ideal theory,” his analysis of the epistemologies of ignorance that allow Western societies to function, and his concept of the “racial contract” have expanded our understanding of our current challenges as well as the necessary features of viable solutions.
Speaker – Huaping Lu-Adler, Georgetown University
Commentator – Lucy Allais, Johns Hopkins University and University of the Witwatersrand
Host institution: The ECPR Standing Group on Kantian Political Thought (flyer)
Abstract: According to an oft-repeated narrative, while Kant maintained racist views through the 1780s, he changed his mind in the 1790s. Pauline Kleingeld constructed this narrative out of passages from Kant ’s Metaphysics of Morals (1797) and “Toward Perpetual Peace” (1795), which allegedly show that he categorically condemned slavery (as well as colonialism) and thereby became more racially egalitarian. This turned out to be baseless. The passages in question, once contextualized, either do not pertain to modern chattel slavery at all or at best suggest that Kant mentioned it as a cautionary tale for labor practices in Europe. A more systematic and historically informed analysis reveals that Kant never considered slavery as a moral problem to be evaluated on its own. Rather, he consistently presented it as primarily a non-moral issue to be assessed in terms of its role in human history. If he ended up expressing some qualms about certain practices of slavery and the slave trade, he did so from the recognition that they could deepen intra-European power struggles and thereby erode the hope for perpetual peace. The wellbeing, dignity, or freedom of the enslaved/traded “Negroes” never entered the equation. This was not just an unfortunate oversight on Kant ’s part. Rather, it reflects the extraordinary complexity of his philosophical system: everything he did or did not say about slavery begins to make perfect sense once we take into account his views on human history and on the relation between morality and political conditions as well as how he racialized “Negroes.”
Host institution: Penn State, organized by Daniel Purdy
Description: In this conference we will explore how eighteenth-century German theories about race connected with later discourses on race, colonialism and settler communities, both within and outside Europe. We will ask a series of questions about the history and epistemology of racist discourse. Which concepts and configurations were transferred across the nineteenth century? Which Enlightenment arguments were overlooked, ignored, or rejected by later Völkisch racists? Given the many, often contradictory, positions developed in the Enlightenment, we want to explore how later race thinkers responded to these first formulations. How do Enlightenment debates prefigure later anti-racist positions? Do fin-de-siecle and Nazi racisms assert a lineage with Enlightenment anthropology? ...... The conference will explore possible continuities and reversals from eighteenth-century debates about race involving Immanuel Kant, Georg Forster, Gottfried Herder, along with numerous Göttingen professors, to broader nineteenth-century writing about German settlers across Asia, Africa, and the Americas. ...... (see conference website for full description)
Host institution: Ruhr-Universität Bochum, organized by Reza Mosayebi
Description: Kant’s discriminatory statements and implications in some of his works, such as on physical geography, anthropology, and especially in his continuous theory of race, might shock those who are rather acquainted with or inspired by his prominent egalitarian universalism in moral and, in part, legal philosophy. Kant’s defense of racial hierarchy, his condoning of race-based chattel slavery (at least until the middle of the 1790s), as well as his account of various forms of racial, ethnic, sex- or gender-based and economic discrimination harshly contrast with his conceptions of equality, autonomy, and dignity of all human beings. In the last years, a growing number of philosophers and historians have focused on these contrasts and their systematic significance for egalitarian moral and political theories. Within the framework of this workshop, we will analyze some of these contrasts as well as how Kantians might deal with them. (online advertisement)
Allais, Lucy. 2016. “Kant’s Racism.” Philosophical Papers 45: 1-36.
Allais, Lucy. 2019. “Kant’s A Priori Philosophy and His Racism,” SGIR Review 2(2): 66-83.
Almond, Ian. 2009. History of Islam in German Thought: From Leibniz to Nietzsche. London: Routledge.
Baron, Marcia. 2001. “Reading Kant Selectively.” In Kant Verstehen/Understanding Kant: Über die Interpretation Philosophischer Texte, edited by Dieter Schönecker and Thomas Zwenger, 32-46. Tübingen: Darmstadt.
Basevich, Elvira. 2020. “Reckoning with Kant on Race.” Philosophical Forum 51: 221-45.
Bernasconi, Robert. 2001. “Who Invented the Concept of Race? Kant’s Role in the Enlightenment Construction of Race.” Race, edited by Robert Bernasconi, 11-36. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Bernasconi, Robert. 2002. “Kant as an Unfamiliar Source of Racism.” In Philosophers on Race: Critical Essays, edited by Julie Ward and Tommy Lott, 145-66. Oxford: Blackwell.
Bernasconi, Robert. 2005. “Why Do the Happy Inhabitants of Tahiti Bother to Exist at All?” In Genocide and Human Rights: A Philosophical Guide, edited by John Roth, 139–148. New York: Palgrave.
Bernasconi, Robert. 2006. “Kant and Blumenbach’s Polyps: A Neglected Chapter in the History of the Concept of Race.” In The German Invention of Race, edited by Sara Eigen and Mark Larrimore, 73-90. Albany: SUNY Press.
Bernasconi, Robert. 2011. “Kant’s Third Thoughts on Race.” In Reading Kant’s Geography, edited by Stuart Elden and Eduardo Mendieta, 291-318. Albany: SUNY Press.
Bernasconi, Robert. 2014. “Silencing the Hottentots: Kolb’s Pre-Racial Encounter with the Hottentots and Its Impact on Buffon, Kant, and Rousseau.” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 35: 101-24.
Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich. 1865. The Anthropological Treatises. Translated by Thomas Bendyshe. London: The Anthropological Society.
Boxill, Bernard. 2017. “Kantian Racism and Kantian Teleology.” In The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Race, edited by Naomi Zack, 44-53. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Broberg, Gunnar. 1983. “Homo sapiens: Linnaeus’s Classification of Man.” In Linnaeus: The Man and His Work, edited by Tore Frängsmyr, 156-94. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Buffon, Georges-Louis Leclerc. 1812. Natural History, General and Particular. 20 volumes. Translated by William Smellie, and corrected and enlarged by William Wood. London: Cadell and Davies.
Clewis, Robert. 2018. “Kant’s Physical Geography and the Critical Philosophy.” Epoché 22: 411-27.
Cohen, Alix. 2006. “Kant on Epigenesis, Monogenesis and Human Nature: The Biological Premises of Anthropology.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 37: 675–93.
Cohen, Alix. 2009. Kant and the Human Sciences: Biology, Anthropology and History. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Curran, Andrew. 2011. The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Douglas, Bronwen. 2005. “Notes on ‘Race’ and the Biologisation of Human Difference.” The Journal of Pacific History 40: 331-38.
Eberl, Oliver. 2019. “Kant on Race and Barbarism: Towards a More Complex View on Racism and Anti-Colonialism in Kant.” Kantian Review 24: 385-413.
Eze, Emmanuel Chukwudi. 1995. “The Color of Reason: The Idea of ‘Race’ in Kant’s Anthropology.” In Anthropology and the German Enlightenment, edited by Katherine Faull, 200-41. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press.
Eze, Emmanuel Chukwudi (ed.). 1997. Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Forster, Georg. 2013. “Something More about the Human Races.” In Kant and the Concept of Race: Late Eighteenth-Century Writings, edited by Jon Mikkelsen, 143–67. Albany: SUNY Press.
Goldstein, Jürgen. 2019. Georg Forster: Voyager, Naturalist, Revolutionary. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Gorkom, Joris van. 2020a. “Skin Color and Phlogiston: Immanuel Kant’s Racism in Context.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42: 16. DOI:10.1007/S40656-020-00311-4.
Gorkom, Joris van. 2020b. “Immanuel Kant on Race Mixing: The Gypsies, the Black Portuguese, and the Jews on St. Thomas.” Journal of the History of Ideas 81: 407-27.
Gray, Sally. 2015. “Kant’s Race Theory, Forster’s Counter, and the Metaphysics of Color.” The Eighteenth Century 53: 393-412.
Gray, Sally. 2019. “On Specialization and the Dead Eye: Kant’s Race Theory and the Problem of Perception Illustrated in Kleist’s ‘Betrothal in Santo Domingo’.” In Race Theory and Literature: Dissemination, Criticism, Intersections, edited by Pauline Moret-Jankus and Adam Toth, 95-113. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Hannaford, Ivan. 1996. Race: The History of an Idea in the West. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Hedrick, Todd. 2008. “Race, Difference and Anthropology in Kant’s Cosmopolitanism.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 46: 245-68.
Herder, Johann Gottfried. 1966. Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man. Translated by T. Churchill. New York: Bergman Publishers (first published in London, 1800).
Hill, Thomas, and Bernard Boxill. 2001. “Kant and Race.” In Race and Racism, edited by Bernard Boxill, 448-71. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hsia, Adrian. 2001. “The Far East as the Philosophers’ ‘Other’: Immanuel Kant and Johann Gottfried Herder.” Revue de Littérature Comparée 297: 13-29.
Hudson, Nicholas. 1996. “From ‘Nation’ to ‘Race’: The Origin of Racial Classification in Eighteenth-Century Thought.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 29: 247-64.
Hund, Wulf. 2011. “It Must Come from Europe: The Racisms of Immanuel Kant.” In Racisms Made in Germany, edited by Wulf Hund, et al., 69-98. Berlin: Lit.
Huseyinzadegan, Dilek. 2019. Kant’s Nonideal Theory of Politics. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
Kirkland, Frank. 2018. “Kant on Race and Transition.” In The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Race, edited by Paul Taylor et al., 28-42. New York: Routledge.
Kleingeld, Pauline. 2007. “Kant’s Second Thoughts on Race.” Philosophical Quarterly 229: 573-92.
Kleingeld, Pauline. 2019. “On Dealing with Kant’s Sexism and Racism.” SGIR Review 2(2): 3-22
Larrimore, Mark. 1999. “Sublime Waste: Kant on the Destiny of the ‘Races’.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 25 (supplementary volume): 99-125.
Larrimore, Mark. 2008. “Antinomies of Race: Diversity and Destiny in Kant.” Patterns of Prejudice 42: 341-63.
Louden, Robert. 2000. Kant’s Impure Ethics: From Rational Beings to Human Beings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Louden, Robert. 2014. “The Last Frontier: The Importance of Kant’s Geography.” Society and Space 32: 450–65.
Lu-Adler, Huaping. 2022a. “Kant’s Use of Travel Reports in Theorizing about Race—A Case Study of How Testimony Features in Natural Philosophy.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 91: 10-19.
Lu-Adler, Huaping. 2022b. “Kant on Lazy Savagery, Racialized.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 60: 253–75.
Lu-Adler, Huaping. 2022c. “Kant and Slavery—Or Why He Never Became a Racial Egalitarian.” Critical Philosophy of Race (forthcoming).
Marwah, Inder. 2012. “Bridging Nature and Freedom? Kant, Culture and Cultivation.” Social Theory and Practice 38: 385-406.
Marwah, Inder. 2019. Liberalism, Diversity and Domination: Kant, Mill and the Government of Difference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mazzolini, Renato. 2002. “Skin Colour and the Origin of Physical Anthropology.” The Warburg Institute Lecture, March 6: 1-43.
McCabe, David. 2019. “Kant Was a Racist: Now What?” APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy 18(2): 2–9.
McCarthy, Thomas. 2004. “On the Way to a World Republic? Kant on Race and Development.” In Politik, Moral und Religion—Gegensätze und Ergänzungen, edited by Lothar Waas, 223-42. Berlin: Duncker and Humblot.
McCarthy, Thomas. 2009. Race, Empire, and the Idea of Human Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mensch, Jennifer. 2013. Kant’s Organicism: Epigenesis and the Development of Critical Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Mensch, Jennifer. 2017. “Caught Between Character and Race: ‘Temperament’ in Kant’s Lectures on Anthropology.” Australian Feminist Law Journal 43: 125-44.
Mensch, Jennifer. 2018. “Kant and the Skull Collectors: German Anthropology from Blumenbach to Kant.” In Kant and His German Contemporaries, edited by Corey Dyck and Falk Wunderlich, 192-210. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mignolo, Walter. 2011. “The Darker Side of the Enlightenment: A De-Colonial Reading of Kant’s Geography.” In Reading Kant’s Geography, edited by Stuart Elden and Eduardo Mendieta, 319-43. Albany: SUNY Press.
Mikkelsen, Jon (trans. and ed.). 2013. Kant and the Concept of Race: Late Eighteenth-Century Writings. Albany: SUNY Press.
Mills, Charles. 2005. “Kant’s Untermenschen.” In Race and Racism in Modern Philosophy, edited by Andrew Valls, 169-93. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Mills, Charles. 2014. “Kant’s Racism Redux.” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 35: 125-57.
Mills, Charles. 2017. Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Müller-Wille, Staffan. 2014. “Race and History: Comments from an Epistemological Point of View.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 39: 597-606.
Muthu, Sankar. 2003. Enlightenment against Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Naragon, Steve. 2006a. “Anthropology Notes.” https://users.manchester.edu/facstaff/ssnaragon/kant/Notes/notesAnthropology.htm.
Naragon, Steve. 2006b. “Physical Geography Notes.” https://users.manchester.edu/facstaff/ssnaragon/kant/Notes/notesGeography.htm.
Park, Peter. 2013. Africa, Asia, and the History of Philosophy: Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon, 1780–1830. Albany: SUNY Press
Sandford, Stella. 2018. “Kant, Race, and Natural History.” Philosophy and Social Criticism 44: 950–77.
Serequeberhan, Tsenay. 1996. “Eurocentrism in Philosophy: The Case of Immanuel Kant.” Philosophical Forum 27: 333–56.
Shell, Susan. 2006. “Kant’s Conception of a Human Race.” In The German Invention of Race, edited by Sara Eigen and Mark Larrimore, 55-72. Albany: SUNY Press.
Sloan, Phillip. 1976. “The Buffon-Linnaeus Controversy.” Isis 67: 356-75.
Sloan Phillip. 2006. “Kant on the History of Nature: The Ambiguous Heritage of the Critical Philosophy for Natural History.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 37: 627–48.
Smith, Justin. 2015. Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Stark, Werner. 2011a. “Kant’s Lectures on ‘Physical Geography’: A Brief Outline of its Origins, Transmissions, and Development: 1754-1805.” Translated by Olaf Reinhardt. In Reading Kant’s Geography, edited by Stuart Elden and Eduardo Mendieta, 69-85. Albany: SUNY Press.
Stark, Werner. 2011b. “Historical and Philosophical References on the Question of a Possible Hierarchy of Human ‘Races,’ ‘Peoples,’ or ‘Populations’ in Immanuel Kant—A Supplement.” Translated by Olaf Reinhardt. In Reading Kant’s Geography, edited by Stuart Elden and Eduardo Mendieta, 87-102. Albany: SUNY Press.
Strack, Thomas. 1996. “Philosophical Anthropology on the Eve of Biological Determinism: Immanuel Kant and Georg Forster on the Moral Qualities and Biological Characteristics of the Human Race.” Central European History 29: 285-308.
Sutherland, Wendy. 2016. Staging Blackness and Performing Whiteness in Eighteenth-Century German Drama. London: Routledge.
Valdez, Inés. 2017. “It’s Not about Race: Good Wars, Bad Wars, and the Origins of Kant’s Anti-Colonialism.” American Political Science Review 111: 819–34.
Wilson, Catherine. 1998. “Savagery and the Supersensible: Kant’s Universalism in Historical Context.” History of European Ideas 24: 315-30.
Wilson, Holly. 2006. Kant’s Pragmatic Anthropology: Its Origin, Meaning, and Critical Significance. Albany: SUNY Press.
Wilson, Holly. 2011. “The Pragmatic Use of Kant’s Physical Geography Lectures.” In Reading Kant’s Geography, edited by Stuart Elden and Eduardo Mendieta, 87-172. Albany: SUNY Press.
Wood, Allen. 2008. Kantian Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Yab, Jimmy. 2021. Kant and the Politics of Racism: Toward Kant’s Racialised Form of Cosmopolitan Right. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
Ypi, Lea. 2014. “Commerce and Colonialism in Kant’s Philosophy of History.” In Kant and Colonialism: Historical and Critical Perspectives, edited by Katrin Flikschuh and Lea Ypi, 99-126. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Zammito, John. 2014. “What a Young Man Needs for His Venture into the World: The Function and Evolution of the ‘Characteristics’.” In Kant’s Lectures on Anthropology: A Critical Guide, edited by Alix Cohen, 230-248. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zammito, John. 2018. The Gestation of German Biology: Philosophy and Physiology from Stahl to Schelling. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Zhang, Chunjie. 2017. Transculturality and German Discourse in the Age of European Colonialism. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.