Becoming Human: Kant’s Philosophy of Education and Human Nature

Becoming Human: Kant’s Philosophy of Education and Human Nature


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Chapter in The Palgrave Kant Handbook, ed. Matthew C. Altman

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Offers an accessibly structured approach to the most significant aspects of Kant’s varied philosophical insights Expands enquiry outside of themes explored by Kant to examine the impact of his groundbreaking work on intellectual history more broadly Provides a fresh platform for debate, through the inclusion of work by well-established as well as more junior scholars, on the relevance of Kant’s philosophy to contemporary work in metaphysics and ethics

CHAPTER DESCRIPTION: Louden argues that, appearances to the contrary, philosophy of education is of central importance to Kant’s overall philosophical program. Its chief importance stems largely from the commanding position that education holds within his theory of human nature. In Kant’s view, education is fundamentally about the effort to realize our humanity. As he proclaims near the beginning of the Lectures on Pedagogy: “The human being can only become human through education. He is nothing except what education makes out of him” (LP 9:443). The final destiny of the human race is moral perfection, so far as it is accomplished through human freedom, whereby the human being, in that case, is capable of the greatest happiness.…How, then, are we to seek this perfection, and from which point is it to be hoped for? From nowhere else but education. – Immanuel Kant, Lectures on Ethics (LE 27:470, 471, translation modified) This essay borrows a few points from my “Becoming Human: Kant and the Philosophy of Education,” in Kant’s Human Being: Essays on His Theory of Human Nature (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 136–49; an earlier version of which appears under the title of “Afterword” in Philosophy of Education: The Essential Texts, ed. Steven M. Cahn (New York: Routledge, 2009), 281–92.



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Palgrave MacMillan

Becoming Human: Kant’s Philosophy of Education and Human Nature