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Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J.

Curry)

Kantianism Racist Shell1-2


Race is a Transcendental Category (Cant be
repaired or amended).3-4
Frontline to Kants Racism/Anthropology is not
Central to his Moral Philosophy..5-7
Extensions to Kants Anthropology is Key to
his Moral Philosophy8-9
Kants Racism is not typical even of his
time.10
Frontline to Pauline Kleingolds Kants Second
Thoughts on Race..11-12

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)


1. Kantianism is anti-Black racism: This is not about Kants personal views of non-European peoples, this
is about his transcendental system. Kants transcendental philosophy depends on the character and
capacity individuals have for moral reasoning. Black people may have value, but they lack moral worth
and the character necessary for rational moral thought in Kants critical philosophy. Kantianism denies
Black, Brown, and Indigenous humanity for white superiority.
Eze1997 (Emmanuel, Professor of Philosophy @DePaul University, The Color of Reason in
PostColonial African Philosophy: A Critical Reader [Cambridge: Blackwell Publishing, 1997], 103-131

Over and beyond Buffon or Linnaeus, Kant, in his transcendental philosophy (e.g.,
Critique of Pure Reason), describes ways of orienting oneself geographically in space,
mathematically in space and time, and, logically, in the construction of both categories
into other sorts of consistent whole. In the Observations on the Feeling o/the Beautiful and Sublime, a work which
ought to be considered as primarily anthropological , Kant shows the theoretic transcendental
philosophical position at work when he attempts to work out and establish how a
particular (moral) feeling relates to humans generally, and how it differs between men and
women, and among different races. For example, "feeling" as it
appears in the title of the work refers to a specific refinement of character which is universally properly human: that is, belonging
to human nature as such. And we recall that for Kant "human nature" resides in the developmental expression of rational-moral

Since it is character that constitutes the specificity of human nature, "human


nature proper," then whatever dignity or moral worth the individual" may have is derived
from the fact that one has struggled to develop one's character, or one's humanity, as
universal. Kant states:
"character."

In order to assign man into a system of living nature, and thus to characterize him, no other alternative is left than this: that he has
a character which he himself creates by being capable of perfecting himself after the purposes chosen by himself. Through this,
he, as an animal endowed with reason (animale rationabile) can make out of himself a rational animal (animale rationale).

"Character," as the moral formation of personality, seems to be that on which basis


humans have worth and dignity,and one consequence of this is that those peoples and
"races" to whom Kant assigns minimal or pseudo rational-moral capacity - either because of
their non-"white" skin color (evidence of lack of "true talent") or because of the presence of phlogiston in their blood or both are seriously naturally or inherently inferior to those who have the "gift" of higher
rational attainments, evidence of which is seen in their superior "white" skin color, the
absence of phlogiston in their blood, and the superior European civilization While the
non-European may have "value," it is not certain that he or she has true "worth." According
to Kant:
everything has either a value or a worth. What has value has a substitute which can replace it as its equivalent; but whatever is, on
the other hand, exalted above all values, and thus lacks an equivalent ... has no merely relative value, that is, a price, but rather an
inner worth,. that is dignity ... Hence morality, and humanity, in so far as it is capable of morality, can alone possess dignity.

If non-white peoples lack "true" rational character (Kant believes, for example, that the character of the
Mohr is made up of imagination rather than reason) and therefore lack "true" feeling and moral sense,
then they do not have "true" worth, or dignity. The black person, for example, can
accordingly be denied full humanity, since full and "true" humanity accrues only to the
white European. For Kant European humanity is the humanity par excellence.

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)

2. The development of Kants Practical Philosophy in Towards a Perpetual Peace (1970)


entertains genocide. Kantian Cosmopolitanism denies the desirability of racial intermixing,
upholds the distinctiveness of the white race, and theorizes from the inevitable extermination of
all non-whites.
Robert Bernasconi2002 (Kant as an Unfamiliar Source of Racism in Philosophers on Race:
Critical Essays, eds. Julie Ward and Tommy Lott [Malden: Blackwell Publishers],
The question arises as to what kind of cosmopolitanism Kant envisaged that would leave the races intact,
especially given that each of the races was to a greater or lesser extent assigned a climate or part of the
world to which they were best suited. In Perpetual Peace Kant had remarked that the desire of every
state to dominate the whole world is frustrated by the fact that nature wills it otherwise. The intermixing
(Vermischung)of peoples is prevented insofar as linguistic and religious differences remain intact (AA,
VIII, p. 367; PW, pp. 11314).49 Kant said nothing in this place about the fact that on his view nature
also does not will mixing the races. Nevertheless, he was aware that through conquest mixing had taken
place. Kants own model of cosmopolitanism seems to have been focused on trade rather than on
conquest or colonialism, but a phrase from note 1,520 of the Reflexionen zur Anthropologie suggests
another, more sinister, resolution. Kant wrote: All races will be extinguished . . . only not that of the
Whites (AA, XV/2, p. 878). Kant, who had presented the races as products of the foresight of nature, and
wanted them to retain their integrity, seems to have reversed himself by suggesting that only Whites
would survive. It is a scenario opened up perhaps by the knowledge, already available to him, of how
non-White civilizations collapsed, by conquest or disease, on contact with Whites. We should beware
overdetermining the meaning of Kants note, but it suggests that, faced with two ways in which the
foresight of Providence that had produced the races might be frustrated, Kant was more ready to
contemplate the extinction of all the races except that of the Whites, rather than see the disappearance of
all the races through race mixing. Kant himself did not explain how the races apart from the Whites
would be extinguished, nor does he repeat this thought elsewhere to the best of my knowledge. Rather
than finding an attempted resolution to the problems of reconciling cosmopolitanism with a philosophy of
racial inequality, what one finds in Kant is a dead end that, contrary to the impulse governing his idea of a
universal history, suggests the destructiveness of human affairs.
This idea of the extinction of whole races would be used a century later to uphold White purity
and comfort those who could not imagine a world in which people of all races could live in close contact
together in peace. Kants note shows that as soon as the idea of race is juxtaposed with the new discipline
of a philosophy of history, it invites solutions that involve wholesale extermination. The fact that Kant
did not solve the problem of how, within the framework of a universal history, cosmopolitanism can be
reconciled with a view of White superiority meant that he left to posterity a dangerous legacy. Kants note
had no historical impact, but he was at very least an articulate spokesman for a framework that had
disastrous consequences. One would expect both philosophical and political problems to arise from a
view in which all human beings are divided into discrete groups, but where the members of one of the
groups alone is in possession of all the qualities and talents necessary to flourish, so that the members of
the other groups have no genuine contribution to make. If, as in this case, procreation between the
allegedly superior group and any of the other groups leads to a loss of the qualities that distinguish the
former group, then matters are much worse. But this was the view that Kant sought to legitimate from a
scientific perspective.

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)

___. Kants belief in Black inferiority is a transcendental grounding of his moral philosophy. He believes
that reason itself demands recognizing the racial inferiority of the African such that it gives credence to
the transcendental grounding of European reason itself.
Eze1997 (Emmanuel, Professor of Philosophy @DePaul University, The Color of Reason in
PostColonial African Philosophy: A Critical Reader [Cambridge: Blackwell Publishing, 1997], 103-131

Kant's idea of the constitutively anthropological feeling thus derives from his
conception of the reality of "humanity itself," for "feeling" reveals a specific,
universal character of the human essence. Kant stated: "I hope that 1 express
this completely when I say that [the feeling of the sublime] is the feeling of the
beauty and worth of human nature." Accordingly, in his racial classifications,
when he writes in the Observations that the "African has no feeling beyond the
trifling," Kant, consistent with his earlier doctrines, is implying that the African
barely has character, is barely capable of moral action,' and therefore is less
human. Kant derived from Hume "proof' for the assignment of this subhuman
status to "the Negro":
Mr Hume challenges anyone to cite a simple example in which a Negro has shown
talents, and asserts that among the hundreds of thousands of blacks who are
transported elsewhere from their countries, although many of them have been
set free, still not a single one was ever found who presented anything great in
art or science or any other praiseworthy quality; even among the whites some
continually rise aloft from the lowest rabble, and through superior gifts earn
respect in the world. So fundamental is the difference between the two races of
man, and it appears to be as great in regard to mental capacities as in' color.
Although Kant cites Hume as the confirming authority for his view of the black,
a careful 'reading shows that Kant, as with Linnaeus' system, considerably
elaborated upon Hume by philosophically elevating Hume's literary and
political speculations about "the Negro" and providing these speculations with
transcendental justifications. For example, when Hume argues that "the
Negro" was "naturally" inferior to "the White,'~ he does not attempt a
transcendental grounding of either "nature" or "human nature," while Kant
does. "Human nature," for Kant, constitutes the unchanging patterns of specie classes
so that racial differences and racial classifications are based a priori on
the reason (Ve~unfi) of the natural scientist.

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)


___.There is no repairing of Kants system. Kant believes that race is a transcendentalthey dont get to
revise Kants metaphysics in their attempts to win. The same rationality that allows us to intuit the
categorical imperative is the same critical philosophy demanding race designation Blackness as inferior.
Eze1997 (Emmanuel, Professor of Philosophy @DePaul University, The Color of Reason in
PostColonial African Philosophy: A Critical Reader [Cambridge: Blackwell Publishing, 1997], 103-131

Kant's classificatory work on race, however, ought to be situated within the context of
prior works in the area, such as the descriptions of the "system of nature" that the natural
historians Buffon, Linnaeus, and the French doctor Francois Bernier had done in the
preceding years. Buffon, for example, had classified races geographically, using
principally physical characteristics such as skin color, height, and other bodily features as
indices. According to Buffon, there was a common, homogeneous human origin so that
the differences in skin and other bodily features were attributable to climatic and
environmental factors that caused a single human "specie" to develop different skin and
bodily features. In Buffon's view, the concepts of "species" and "genra" applied in racial
classifications are merely artificial, for such classes do not exist in nature: "in reality only
individuals exist in nature. Kant accepted the geographical classification of races, but he
rejected Buffon's idea that "races" were not specieclasses - in which case the distinctions
would be historical, contingent and ungrounded as logical or metaphysical necessity.
According to Kant, the geographical distribution of races is a fact, but the differences
among races are permanent and fixed, and transcend climatic or any other environmental
factors. Race and racial differences are due to original specie- or class-specific variations
in "natural endowments" so that there is a natural "germ" (Keim) and "talent" (Anlage)
for each (separate) race.

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)


1. Kants anthropology is central to his critical philosophy. The distinctions Kant makes based on race
determine the moral capacities and potential of non-whites. The practical morality of Kant is an
anthropological question concerning what man makes of himself what he/she ought to do.
Eze1997 (Emmanuel, Professor of Philosophy @DePaul University, The Color of Reason in
PostColonial African Philosophy: A Critical Reader [Cambridge: Blackwell Publishing, 1997], 103-131,
107-108.
The distinction between "what Nature makes of man" and "what man makes of himself' is central to
understanding the relationship between Kant's anthropology and geography. While one generates pure
(scientific, causal) knowledge of nature, the other generates pragmatic (moral, self-improvement)
knowledge of the human. In the study ofthe human, however, both disciplines merge, or rather intersect,
since "man" is at once physical (bodily) and spiritual (psychological, moral). Thus, for Kant, "geography"
can be either physical or moral. In its physical aspect, geography studies humans in their physical/bodily
(for example, "racial," skin-color) varieties, whereas in its moral aspects, geography studies human
customs and unreflectively held mores which Kant calls "second nature. "Anthropology," too, can be
either pragmatic or physiological, as it studies humans as moral agents or as part of physical nature. In
sum: pragmatic anthropology studies the inner realm of morality, the realm of freedom; physiological
anthropology encompasses humans as part of unconscious nature; and geography studies humans both in
their empirical (bodily/physical) nature and in their' collective, customary aspects. Or stated otherwise,
physical geography studies outer nature and provides knowledge of humans as external bodies: race,
color, height, facial characteristics, and so forth, while pragmatic anthropology provides knowledge of the
inner, morally conditioned structure of humans (practical philosophy provides moral knowledge and
orientation as to what the destiny of human existence and action ought to be). The interrelatedness of
geography and anthropology and moral philosophy is evident throughout Kant's lectures. As late as 1764,
Kant himself had not separated anthropology from geography and thus included "moral anthropology"
under the broader
designation of "moral and political geography." Moral philosophy presupposes physical geography and
anthropology, for while the first two observe and provide knowledge of "actual behavior of human beings
and formulates the practical and subjective rules which that behavior obeys," moral philosophy seeks to
establish "rules of right conduct, that is, what ought to happen.
Kant's study of anthropology is not peripheral to his critical philosophy. We recall that Kant often
summarized his philosophy as the attempt to find answers to the "two things that fill the mind with ever
new and increasing admiration and awe, namely: the starry heavens above and the moral law within."
While the "starry heavens above" refers to physical nature, under the causal law (and studied by physics),
"the moral law within"is the domain of freedom, of the human individual as a moral entity. For Kant,
Newtonian physics had achieved spectacular success in terms of understanding the deterministic laws of
physical nature, but philosophy had been unable to establish an equivalent necessary and secure
grounding for morality and moral action. Faced with the metaphysical "dogmatism" of the rationalists
(Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz) on the one hand and the debilitating skepticism of Hume's empiricism on
the other, Kant, against the rationalists, argues that the mathematical model they propose as ideal for
metaphysical and moral inquiry is untenable primarily because mathematics studies ideal entities, moving
from definitions by purely rational arguments to apodictic conclusions. Metaphysics, K;mt argues, must
proceed analytically (especially after Hume's attack on metaphysical dogmatism) in order to clarify what
is given indistinctly in empirical experience. "[T]he true method of metaphysics," Kant concludes, "is
basically the same as that introduced by Newton into natural science and which had such useful
consequences in that field.
5

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)


2. Dont reward the opposing team for not doing actual research on Kantian ethics. Kants anthropology is
the foundation of his moral philosophy. The literature is clear: you cannot actually apply Kants ethical
critical philosophy unless you consider his pragmatic anthropology. This does two things: 1)It takes out
the idea that they can use Kantianism to speak about actual human conditions and social problems, and 2)
it necessitates they answer the shortcomings of Kants Anthropological thinking. They cant avoid this.
Robert Louden(Professor of Philosophy @ University of Southern Maine, in Essays on Kants
Anthropology, ed. Brian Jacobs [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003], 60-84.
But for me, the major incentive for exploring Kants anthropology lectures has always been to get a handle on the mysterious counterpart of a
metaphysics of morals, the other member of the division of practical philosophy as a whole, . . . moral anthropology (MdS 6: 217). Students

of Kant know all too well about the first part of morals, that is, the metaphysics of morals or
metaphysica pura. This first nonempirical or pure part of morals is built on necessary laws, as a result it
cannot be grounded on the particular constitution of a rational being, [such as] the human being (Moral
Mrongovius II 29: 599; cf. Gr 4: 389). But what about the second part; philosophia moralis applicata, moral anthropology, to which the
empirical principles belong (Moral Mrongovius II 29: 599)? Moral anthropology, as the term suggests, is morality applied to the human
being (Moral Mrongovius II 29:599).In

his writings and lectures on ethics, Kant repeatedly invokes the term
anthropology when describing this second, empirical part of ethics . Often, as in the previous citations, the
favored phrase is moral anthropology; sometimes it is practical anthropology (Gr 4: 388); and sometimes it is simply
anthropology (Gr 4: 412; Moral Philosophie Collins 27: 244; Moral Mrongovius I 27: 1398). This frequent employment within
the practical philosophy texts and lectures of the term anthropology as a shorthand means of conveying what the other
member of the division of practical philosophy as a whole is about gives readers who turn to the anthropology lectures a
thoroughly legitimate expectation that the myriad mysteries of Kants philosophia moralis applicata will finally be addressed in
some detail. Those who approach these lectures with ethics in mind are inevitably driven by the hope of

finally locating a missing link in Kants system of practical philosophy, a link that will give his ethics the
much needed material content and applicability to human life that critics from Hegel to Max Scheler and
extending on to contemporary descendants such as Bernard Williams, Alasdair MacIntyre, and many
others have claimed is nowhere to be found in Kant.

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)

3. Kants moral philosophy depends on Weltkenntnis (world knowledge). Kant argues that moral
philosophy that does not investigate the nature of human beings around us, fails to be moral
philosophy. Anthropology by Kants own admission is key to applying moral philosophy to the
real world.
Robert Louden(Professor of Philosophy @ University of Southern Maine, in Essays on Kants
Anthropology, ed. Brian Jacobs [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003], 60-84, 71-72.
In the Groundwork, Kant emphasizes that morals needs anthropology for its application to human beings (4: 412).
Morals, which here appears to refer exclusively to the rational, nonempirical part of ethical theory (cf. 4: 388),
needs anthropology in part because its a priori laws require a judgment sharpened by experience, partly to
distinguish in what cases they are applicable and partly to provide them with entry (Eingang) to the will of the
human being and efficacy for his fulfillment of them (Nachdruck zur Ausubung); for the human being is affected by
so many inclinations that, though capable of the idea of a practical pure reason, he is not so easily able to make it
effective in concreto in the conduct of his life (4: 389). In other words, human beings need Weltkenntnis in order to make morality
work effectively in their own lives. Human beings cannot simply jump unaided into pure ethics; background knowledge of
their own empirical situation is a necessary prerequisite. This necessary empirical background for moral judgment has been well
described by Barbara Herman in her discussion of rules of moral salience. Such rules, she writes, are acquired
as elements in a moral education, [and] they structure an agents perception of his situation so that what he perceives is a world with moral
features. They enable him to pick out those elements of his circumstances or of his proposed actions that require moral attention. . . . Typically
they are acquired in childhood as part of socialization; they provide a practical framework within which people act. . . . The rules of moral
salience constitute the structure of moral sensitivity.

An important part of the task of a specifically moral anthropology is thus to contribute to human beings progress
of the power of judgment (cf. KpV 5: 154). This task is carried out in the anthropology lectures through the
imparting of Weltkenntnis to listeners.

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)


___.Kants very notion of reason demands one have moral capacities. There can be no Kantian ethics
without the humans ability to morally improve themselves. As such, the opposing team proposes an
ethical system which denies certain races the ability to participate in moral reasoning, confining them to
the state of nature and the essence of evil.
Eze1997 (Emmanuel, Professor of Philosophy @DePaul University, The Color of Reason in
PostColonial African Philosophy: A Critical Reader [Cambridge: Blackwell Publishing, 1997], 103-131

There is, then, in Kant, a clear distinction between a raw "state of naturc" and a "state of
human nature" which "man ... has now attained." Indeed, for Kant, if the "state of nature"
is a state of evil, it is "human nature," as moral nature, which offers the possibility of the
overcoming of evil.50
For Kant human nature, unlike natural nature, is, in essence, a moral naturc, so
that what constitutes human nature proper is not, as the ancients may have believed,
'Simply intelligence or reason, but moral reason - the capacity to posit oneself rationally
as a moral agent. Humans, in the state of nature, are simply animaIe rationabile; they
have to make of themselves animate rationale. The idea and the effort of "making of
oneself' is a specifically historical and moral process. Moral capacity means that humans
can posit goals and ends in their actions because they make choices.in life, and choices
are made in the function of goals. Intimately connected with the idea of moral reason,
then, is the capacity for action directed toward self-perfectibility, or the faculty of self
improvement. Kant writes that the individual "has a character which he himself creates,
because he is capable of perfecting himself according to the purposes which he himself
adopts." The "goal" of society and civilization is therefore tied to the destiny of the
species: "to affect the perfection of man through cultural progress.

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)


___.Kants moral philosophy is dependent on his pragmatic anthropology. The state of nature is evil,
moral philosophy is only possible when human nature elevates beyond its brutish state.
Eze1997 (Emmanuel, Professor of Philosophy @DePaul University, The Color of Reason in
PostColonial African Philosophy: A Critical Reader [Cambridge: Blackwell Publishing, 1997], 103-131

Humanity is clearly demarcated away from and against the natural state and elevated to a
level where it has necessarily to construct in freedom its own culture. For Kant, it is this
radical autonomy that defines the worth, the dignity, and therefore the essence of
humanity. Pragmatic anthropology as a science has as its object the description of this
essential structure of humanity and its subjectivity. Anthropology's task is to understand
and describe "the destination of man and the characteristic of his development" as
rational, social, and moral subject. Pragmatic anthropology is meant to help "man"
understand how to make himself worthy of humanity through combat with the roughness
of his state of nature. Kant's anthropological analysis of the "essence of man,';
accordingly, starts not from a study of the notion of a prehistorical or precivilization
"primitive" human nature, but rather from the study of the nature of"man" qua civilized.
To study animals, one might start with the wild, but when the object of study is the
human, one must focus on it in its creative endeavors - that is, in culture and civilization for ",'civilization does not constitute man's secondary or accidental characteristic, but
marks man's 'essential nature, his specific character."
___.Kants practical and moral philosophy is rooted in his understanding of anthropology.
There is no separating his scientific investigations into the capacity of the human from his
moral theories. Dont let them reduce this to a historical fact; this is central to Kants
moral system.
Eze1997 (Emmanuel, Professor of Philosophy @DePaul University, The Color of Reason in
PostColonial African Philosophy: A Critical Reader [Cambridge: Blackwell Publishing, 1997], 103-131

Yet for Kant, human nature, or the knowledge of human nature, does not derive from
empirical cultural or historical studies. History and culture are inadequate to
understanding human nature because they deal only with the phenomenal, accidental,
and changing aspects of "man,'' rather than with the essential and permanent. And
"through the work of Rousseau, Kant did grasp the essential element in man: his ethical
. . . nature. " Thus, according to Kant, while physical and racial characteristics as
aspects of the physical_ .nature are studied or established by ''scientific reason, "moral
nature, or rational character, which constitutes humanity proper, is the domain of
pragmatic anthropology leading to practical/moral philosophy.

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)

___. Kants anti-Blackness

is puzzling even for his time.

Robert Bernasconi2002 (Kant as an Unfamiliar Source of Racism in Philosophers on Race:


Critical Essays, eds. Julie Ward and Tommy Lott [Malden: Blackwell Publishers], 150).

Kants anti-Black racism is more puzzling than that of many of his contemporaries because it was not directly
put to the service of a defense of slavery, the issue of his day that can most readily be understood as
necessitating the development of a racist ideology. There were relatively few voices for or against chattel
slavery in the late seventeenth century and early eighteenth century. Sla very presented certain practical
problems should slaves be baptized? Could they be freed by their masters? which touched on issues central
to the organization of a society built on slavery, but, as an institution, such justifications of slavery that existed
were not subject to scrutiny, largely because it was not at that time subject to sustained attack. The early
opponents of slavery, like Samuel Sewall of Boston in 1700, were isolated and largely ignored. There were
discussions of slavery in the standard works of seventeenth-century political philosophy, for example, in
Pufendorf and Locke, based on the idea that captives from a just war can be legitimately enslaved. John Locke
argued that, because one does not have power over ones own life, one cannot enslave oneself to anyone else,
but one can forfeit ones life by committing an act that deserves death.21 Lockes argument also clearly
excludes chattel slavery, but there is a strong possibility that it simply did not occur to Locke, who was above
all concerned with the rights of Englishmen, that the chattel slavery of Africans needed justification, even
though he was well aware of how the system operated and indeed profited from it through his investments. 22
Although slave traders did on occasion appeal to the just war theory of enslavement, it is clearly an inadequate
model to apply to the chattel slavery of Africans by Europeans, particularly the enslavement of women and
their children in perpetuity. At what point it became widely known that application of this argument to enslave
Africans was specious is not clear, but in 1735 John Atkins explicitly addressed the argument and exposed it as
false.23 Montesquieu was the first philosopher to challenge the use of African slaves by Europeans, but he did
so in an ironic fashion so that even in our own century he was not always correctly understood. The dispiriting
fact is that philosophers as a group were slow to recognize the evils of the chattel slavery in Africans and that
even Kant failed to speak out against it. Kants ethics would seem to be a perfect instrument with which to
combat chattel slavery. His remarks against serfdom and other forms of slavery leave no doubt that his
philosophy provided him with the resources for doing so. And yet he was virtually silent on this topic.

10

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)


Answers to Kleingold:
1. Kants criticism of colonialism doesnt change his beliefs about Black inferiority: Pauline
Kleingolds argument assumes that Kants political assertions against European colonialism and
the taking of land equates to Kant reversing his previous hierarchal stance of Black, Brown, and
Indigenous inferiority. Such logic suggests that we must accept that abolitionists who fought
against slavery, were not racist despite them believing that Blacks should be deported back to
Africa. A political statement about an act is not the same as an anthropological system. Kleingold
asks us to believe changing a belief about a practice like slaver is the same as a conceptual
formulation of the status of Blacks in the world.
2. Kants condemnation of European Colonialism doesnt affect his Moral Philosophy: Kleingolds
article Kants Second Thoughts on Race, concedes that During the 1780s, as he wrote the
Groundwork and the Critique of Practical Reason, and probably until at least 1792, his disturbing
views on race contradicted his own moral universalism (p.592). Kants moral philosophy was
written in the 1780s and was by Kleingolds own admission racist, it is not enough to assert as
the negative team and Kleingold does that Kant reconciled his racist views in his later work on
Perpetual Peace simply because he disagrees with colonialism and some forms of slavery. Just
because he disagreed with European colonialism in some respects does not mean he reversed his
previous stance about Black inferiority.
3. The discovery of Kants late 18th century texts and private notebooks demonstrate not only that
Kant was personally racist, but dedicated to the scientism of race as part of his cosmopolitanism
and liberalism. Kleingold admits she only looks at Kants 1790 work, Toward Perpetual Peace
Jon M. Mikkelson2013 (Translators Introduction, in Kant and the Concept of Race: Late
18th Century Writings [New York: SUNY Press) 1-40, 3]
Why then an anthology comprised of translations of eight late eighteenth century German texts, including
four by Kant? More specifically, why might anyone think that the study of texts such as these, especially
those by Kant, could make a contribution to contemporary discussions concerning race theory and the
philosophy of biology? For whohalf a century, or even a couple of decades agowould ever have
thought of Kant as a major contributor to the formative development of either race theory or the
philosophy of biology? For the Kant we knew then was typically presented as a figure who had
contributed so much to the development of modern liberal internationalism that it was inconceivable that
he could have ever written or uttered comments that could be construed as racist or have even concerned
himself with any of the problems of race theoryexcept, perhaps, in ways that directly contributed to the
construction of modern concepts of human rights. Now, however, with new knowledge of the texts by
Kant included in this volume and a reexamination of related texts and other source materials, there can be
no doubt about the fact that Kant was not only deeply concerned with the analysis of the concept of race
but that he gave expression to views both in print and in his private notebooks that are clearly racist not
only in tone but also in spirit, if not, necessarily, in ideological intent.

11

Kantian Anthropology is Racist (A Philosophical Document by Dr. Tommy J. Curry)


4. Kleingolds essay ignores the central point of our Bernasconis evidence. The argument is not that
Kant did not consider the effects of colonialism and slavery, the issue is while condemning many
forms of colonialism and slavery, he deliberately remains silent and conciliatory concerning
chattel slavery.
Robert Bernasconi2002 (Kant as an Unfamiliar Source of Racism in Philosophers on Race:
Critical Essays, eds. Julie Ward and Tommy Lott [Malden: Blackwell Publishers], 150-151).
Kants silence on the slave trade in Africans cannot be explained by the fact that German involvement in that
trade was less than that of a number of other European countries. Even though Germany was not as intimately
involved with the slave trade as some of the other European countries, especially England, Kant was well
aware of the intense debate over slavery. Many of the more recent contributions to the travel literature with
which he was familiar participated in the debate on one side or the other. Kants use of Sprengels paraphrase
of Tobins essay on Ramsays discussion of the condition of slaves in the West Indies is a clear case in point.
Kant was well aware of the debate on the African slave trade and the conditions under which the slaves were
held in the Americas. In Perpetual Peace he complained about the treatment of the slaves on the Sugar
Islands (AA, VIII, p. 359), but this did not lead him to address the question of whether and how slavery might
be abolished. Slavery was the institutional racism of that period, which helps to explain why many opponents
of slavery nevertheless could not see their way to proposing its immediate abolition. But I am aware of no
direct statement by Kant calling for the abolition of either African slavery or the slave trade, even if only in
principle. Indeed, the fact that Kant, for example, in his lectures on Physical Geography, confined himself to
statements about the best way to whip Moors, leaves one wondering if, like some of his contemporaries, he had
apparently failed to see the application of the principle to this particular case (AA, IX, p. 313; RE, p. 61).
When in The Metaphysics of Morals Kant introduced the familiar principle that every one is born
free, since he has not yet committed a crime (AA, VI, p. 283; PP, p. 432), he provided the basis for attacking
chattel slavery. Kant wrote this as part of a brief discussion of the conditions under which it can be said that a
mans wife, child or servant are among that mans possessions, which he has a right to retrieve if they run
away (AA, VI, p. 284; PP, p. 432). Kant acknowledged in this context that slaves have fewer rights even than
servants, but insisted that the children of someone who has become a slave as a result of committing a crime
are nevertheless free. This, of course, does not describe the ownership of African slaves and their progeny in
North America, as Kant was almost certainly well aware, but it suggests that Kant would have had no place for
chattel slavery. Nevertheless, Kant did not explicitly make the connection to the debate already raging in
Northern Europe.

5. Turn: Kantian Cosmpolitanism leads to racial extermination. Extend our Bernasconi evidence
from the original shell. Kleingolds work depends on Kantian Cosmopolitianism as the resolution
of his racism, our Bernasconi evidence shows this idea empirically lead to genocide and the
scientization of white racial purity at the dawn of the 1800s.

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