Kant on Lazy Savagery, Racialized

Journal of History of Philosophy 60:253-75 (2022)
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Kant develops a concept of savagery, partly characterized by laziness, to envision a program for human progress. He also racializes savagery, treating native Americans, in particular, as literal savages. He ascribes to this “race” a peculiar physiological laziness, a supposedly hereditary trait of blunted life power. Accordingly, while he grants them the same “germs” for perfections as he does the civilized Europeans, he allows them no prospect of actually fulfilling any such perfection. For the road to perfection must be paved through industry, a condition that Kant denies to the “savages” by racializing their alleged laziness. This case will shed new light on the debated relation between Kant’s moral universalism and his racism.



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Huaping Lu-Adler
Georgetown University

Citations of this work

Kant and Slavery—Or Why He Never Became a Racial Egalitarian.Huaping Lu-Adler - 2022 - Critical Philosophy of Race 10 (2):263-294.
What is an Anti-Racist Philosophy of Race and History?Elvira Basevich - 2022 - Critical Philosophy of Race 10 (1):71-89.

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