Immanuel Kant is pivotal to the Enlightenment, so if racist ideas were central to his thought this implies a radical rethinking of the conventional narratives of the history of modern Western philosophy. After an opening section on the significance of the concept of personhood to modernity, the chapter turns to an examination of Kant’s racial views and their implications. It canvasses the work of various commentators and argues for the position that Kant’s racism shaped his view of personhood and who is entitled to equal respect—not, it claims, blacks and Native Americans, whom Kant saw as “natural slaves.” The final section outlines various possible objections to this line of argument and presents replies.
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