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Teaching Philosophy

Volume 41, Issue 2, June 2018

Victor Fabian Abundez-Guerra
Pages 117-135
DOI: 10.5840/teachphil201851185

How to Deal with Kant's Racism—In and Out of the Classroom

The question of how we should engage with a philosopher’s racial thought is of particular importance when considering Kant, who can be viewed as particularly representative of Enlightenment philosophy. In this article I argue that we should take a stance of deep acknowledgment when considering Kant’s work both inside and outside the classroom. Taking a stance of deep acknowledgment should be understood as 1) taking Kant’s racial thought to be reflective of his moral character, 2) Kant being accountable for his racial thought and 3) being willing to consider the possibility that Kant’s racial thought is consistent with and inextricable from his moral philosophy. Alternative forms of engaging with Kant’s racial work have either moral or pedagogical failings, which range from simply teaching the history of philosophy uncritically to outright deception. A stance of deep acknowledgement will allow philosophers to understand how Kant’s racial thought interacts with his moral philosophy and allow instructors to teach philosophy in a historically contextualized approach so as to not alienate students whose demographic was disparaged by Kant.