Kant and socialism, according to Cassirer

Cassirer,ErnstErnst Cassirer (1874-1945) was a leading neo-Kantian philosopher. He trained under Hermann Cohen (1842–1918), a founder and leader of the Marburg school of neo-Kantianism, which was perhaps the most dominant school of philosophy in the German academic world in the 19th century.

Here is Cassirer’s assessment of why Kant matters to the history of socialism:

“Within the movement of German neo-Kantianism the close connection between Kantian ethics and socialism was strongly emphasized by Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp [1854–1924]. They pointed out that socialism was a necessary consequence of the Kantian categorical imperative and that the socialist movement was essentially a moral movement whose philosophic basis is best expressed in the Kantian moral philosophy.”

Ernst Cassirer, “Kant, Immanuel,” in Seligman and Johnson, Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (MacMillan, 1932, volume 8), p. 541.

Mussolini and Kant on war and the sacrifice of individuals.
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One thought on “Kant and socialism, according to Cassirer

  • May 20, 2015 at 2:01 am

    Cassirer also wrote, “To account for the influence of Kant is to write a history of modern philosophy.” While this is almost universally acknowledged, that these times produced two world wars and a rapid succession of totalitarian regimes of unprecedented apocalyptic fury including the Holocaust is a fact seldom associated with him.

    But if it holds that philosophy is the most foundational, hence powerful of social forces I think it is fair to ask: could there be a connection?

    Socialism certainly embodies an ethics without beneficiaries.

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