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Kant and the Concept of Race

Late Eighteenth-Century Writings

Jon M. Mikkelsen

Publication Year: 2013

Late eighteenth-century writings on race by Kant and four of his contemporaries.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

Some books are the result of what their primary creators are wont to think of as noble, self-consciously determined, long-term goals; others might better be described as the willfully sustained product of the confluence of chance events. The present volume belongs far more to the second of these categories than the first, and it is certainly not the sort of book on Kant that I could have...

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Translator's Introduction: Recent Work on Kant's Race Theory / The Texts / The Translations

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pp. 1-40

The present volume includes four texts by the prominent eighteenth-century German Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) and an equal number of texts by four of his less well-known contemporaries—the German geographer and zoologist E. A. W. Zimmermann (1743–1815); the German naturalist, travel writer, and essayist Georg Forster (1754–1794); the...

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Chapter 1: Of the Different Human Races: An Announcement of Lectures in Physical Geography in the Summer Semester 1775

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pp. 41-54

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), commonly regarded as one of the most influential figures of the entire Western philosophical tradition, is most well known for his formulation of what is usually referred to as the “critical philosophy,” in which, briefly characterized, the subjective turn of modernist Cartesian rationalism, challenged by an encounter with Humean skepticism, turns...

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Chapter 2: Of the Different Human Races (1777)

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pp. 55-72

The text translated below might easily, but mistakenly, be viewed as little more than a minor rewriting of Kant’s 1775 summer semester course announcement (see above, 41–54) edited for publication in a volume entitled Der Philosoph für die Welt (The philosopher for the world) that featured essays by individuals considered to be among the leading “popular philosophers” of...

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Chapter 3: Geographical History of Human Beings and the Universally Dispersed Quadrupeds (1778–1783)

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pp. 73-124

Eberhard August Wilhelm Zimmermann (1743–1815) is identified on the title page of the three-volume work from which the following selection is excerpted as Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy (Naturlehre) in the Collegium Carolinium in Braunschweig (often anglicized as Brunswick in conformity with the Low German spelling, Brunswieck). Zimmermann was...

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Chapter 4: Determination of the Concept of a Human Race (1785)

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pp. 125-142

Kant’s 1785 article, “Determination of the Concept of a Human Race” (Bestimmung des Begriffs einer Menschenrace), first appeared in the Berlinische Monatsschrift, a leading liberal journal of the German Enlightenment (Aufklärung) published between 1783 and 1811. This is also the journal that must have been particularly favorable to the dissemination of the leading...

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Chapter 5: Something More About the Human Races (1786)

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pp. 143-168

Johann Georg Adam Forster (1754–1794), among all of the authors included in this volume, surely enjoyed the greatest fame during his own lifetime—likely surpassing even that of Kant. Born near Danzig in the Polish province of Royal Prussia, this fame resulted from the fact that at an early age he accompanied his father, Johann Reinhold Forster (1729–1798), a prominent...

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Chapter 6: On the Use of Teleological Principles in Philosophy (1788)

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pp. 169-194

Kant’s 1788 article, “On the Use of Teleological Principles in Philosophy” (Über den Gebrauch teleologischer Prinzipien in der Philosophie), was published in two parts in the January and February 1788 numbers of the Teutscher Merkur in part to respond to Georg Forster’s 1786 article in the same journal, “Something More About the Human Race” (see above, 143–67), in which...

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Chapter 7: Of the Varieties and Deviate Forms of Negroes (1790)

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pp. 195-208

Christoph Meiners (1747–1810), although not presently a well-known figure of late eighteenth-century German philosophy, was in fact one of the leading figures on the German philosophical scene of his day. Named Professor of Philosophy (Weltweisheit) in 1772 at the Georg-August-Universität (Göttingen), where he had studied from 1767 to 1770, Meiners, together...

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Chapter 8: Concerning the Kantian Principle for Natural History: An Attempt to Treat this Science Philosophically (1796)

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pp. 209-232

Christoph Girtanner (1760–1800), who studied medicine at the Georg-August-Universität (Göttingen) from 1780 to 1783, first established himself as a prolific writer in the natural sciences during several years of travel through Switzerland and France following the completion of his studies and a further period of study in Edinburgh, where he became familiar with the anti-phlogistic chemistry of...

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pp. 233-298

The chronology below began as an expanded version (with a few corrections) of one prepared by Frank William Peter Dougherty and appended to his January 1984 research proposal for a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University funded by the Mellon Foundation. Dougherty’s 1984 chronology was subsequently published as “Historical and Philosophical Reflections...


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pp. 299-350

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 351-362


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pp. 363-377

Back Cover

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p. 389-389

E-ISBN-13: 9781438443638
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438443614

Page Count: 387
Publication Year: 2013