Was Kant an Enlightenment liberal?

kant-silhouetteA discussion question, after a series of linked-to posts on Immanuel Kant:

On women — e.g., “woman betrays her secrets even though she is unable to keep those of others (owing to her love of gossip). Man is fond of domestic peace and submits easily to its governance so as to be unmolested in his business. Woman has no dislike for domestic war for which she is armed with her tongue …”

On Jews — e.g., the Jews are “sharp dealers” who are “bound together by superstition.” Their “immoral and vile” behavior in commerce shows that they “do not aspire to civic virtue,” for “the spirit of usury holds sway amongst them.” They are “a nation of swindlers” who benefit only “from deceiving their host’s culture.”

On war (and more fully here) — e.g., “At the stage of culture at which the human race still stands, war is an indispensable means for bringing it to a still higher stage.”

On race — e.g., “The mingling of stocks (due to great conquests), little by little erodes the character and it is not good for the human race.”

On education (and here) — e.g., “Above all things, obedience is an essential feature in the character of a child, especially of a school boy or girl.”

On reason (and more fully here [pdf]; HTML excerpt here) — e.g., “I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge, in order to make room for faith.”kant-portrait

The question is:

Should Kant really be categorized as an Enlightenment liberal, as many standard historical accounts do?


25 thoughts on “Was Kant an Enlightenment liberal?

  • March 14, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Btw re the French revolutionists celebration of reason: It’s like truth or friend of the working man – anyone can claim to be such. Reason had become a much revered concept, hence paying lip service to it was in order. If I hear a fundamentalist proclaim his dogma THE TRUTH I don’t say, “then to hell with truth.”

  • March 15, 2014 at 9:33 am

    TO THE READER: Hopefully, no antipathy between me and Herr Fox is apparent. I met Ed last year in Toronto, and vouchsafe his philosophic nature. Our exchanges very much exemplify the atheist-turned-believer versus the believer-turned-atheist. I have found the Bible to be straightforward, non-contradictory, and the only plausible guide to life everlasting in a “paradise” [on earth]. Science even makes that plausible.

    Reason is our highest faculty and makes possible our appreciation of art, music, love, politics, and accurate sexual stimulation of the female. This website is one of the few oases on the Internet, where reason filters out much of “reality’s” dross. In philosophy, I would assert that Ayn Rand is the single best author, as she exudes a modern day Aristotelian glow in tune with America, Mom, and (low-fat, sugar-free, organic) apple pie. Save for her spiritual stance. And once one has gotten a taste of logic from her, other philosophers beckon.

    When Ed and I “go at it” I submit, as in Scripture, it is “iron being sharpened by iron.” I would like to assure the reader that he is not physically deformed, malodorous, presumptive, consumptive, or given to hysterical display.

  • March 15, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Mr. Dahl you are too kind. Would that all my adversaries were as vastly erudite, charming and gracious as you.

  • March 15, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    I enjoy following your exchanges, Stephen and Ed.

  • March 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks Professor Hicks. They’re good workouts. If only I could make Mr. Dahl understand that on issues where we disagree I’m right and he’s wrong. (!).

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