Kant, race, and racism: understanding and reckoning

Deadline: 31.10.2023

This special issue is scheduled to appear in 2024, the 300th anniversary of Kant’s birth. We believe that it is important to continue to address Kant’s account of race and his racist remarks even during this important celebration year.


The issue of race appears at various points in Kant’s writing. Famously, he dedicated three texts to developing a theory of human races in 1775, 1785 and 1788. But it also surfaces in many other texts, both published and unpublished during his life. In many of these writings, Kant clearly accepts a hierarchical ordering of the races, where white Europeans go on top. This ordering is further backed by racist remarks on people of color that are scattered throughout his corpus.


Kant’s remarks on race have been a subject of scholarly debate for a long time. Recently, the issue gained broader attention, especially in Germany, in the aftermath of the renewed “Black Lives Matter” movement that emerged after the killing of George Floyd. In the past, scholars tended to address the problem by taking one of two opposed sides. One was to call into question Kant's moral and political theories in light of his racist views (Charles Mills, for instance, called for a radical revision of those theories). The other was to register those views as reprehensible but set them aside as mere personal prejudices that do not affect Kant's core philosophy at all.


However, it is not enough simply to acknowledge that Kant held racist views. Nor is it clear that there is any non-question-begging way to insulate the supposed "core" of Kant's philosophy from those views. We need to explore all the ways in which Kant’s views on race may be integral to his entire philosophical system. Furthermore, if it turns out that “race” is more central to Kant’s thought than previously assumed, we need answers to the question of how to reckon with the effects of his race thinking.


We welcome submissions that discuss Kant's theory of race and his racist views along those lines.


Submissions should be written in English and prepared for blind review. They must not exceed 45,000 characters (approx. 7,000 words), including notes, bibliography and blank spaces. The evaluation will follow a triple blind process. Neither the reviewers nor the advisory editors will be informed about the identity of the authors. 


In order to submit your paper, please register and login to: labont.it/estetica/index.php/rivistadiestetica/login.

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