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Dr. Olga Lenczewska, Kant on Moral Education and the Origins of Humanity

Friday, January 21, 2022 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Abstract: Kant’s views on human history and progress have been widely studied by those interested in his political, historical, and pedagogical writings. But commentators have rarely discussed Kant’s speculative account of the origins of humanity or the circumstances surrounding the beginning of our history. Implicit in such an omission is the assumption that whatever Kant says about this topic is of little philosophical value and does not neatly fit into his critical philosophy. In my talk I will challenge these assumptions. Specifically, I will defend two claims. The first one is that Kant’s major essay on this topic, “Conjectural Beginning of Human History” (1786), should not be treated, as previous commentators have, as irrelevant (or at best tangential) to the main concerns in Kant’s philosophy. Rather, it is a key component of his teleological understanding of human history and consequently should be incorporated into the study of his critical philosophy. The second claim is that the story of humanity’s origins from “Conjectural Beginning” informs Kant’s well-known regulative prescriptions for our moral education. It does so by better explaining individual development over the course of one’s life and by providing guidelines for such development.  

Paper Title

Kant on Moral Education and the Origins of Humanity