Keith Hart has, several times since I joined OAC, urged us to look deeper into anthropology's history and consider the anthropology of Immanuel Kant. I must confess that I have resisted this suggestion, anticipating a head-banging encounter with Kantian critical philosophy. Today, however, having a bit of time on my hands and procrastinating from getting to work on other tasks, I turned to Questia to see what I would find if I searched for "Kant anthropology." At the top of the list of works that popped up was
Jacobs, Brian and Patrick Kain (2003) Essays on Kant's Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Reading the introduction, I came across the following paragraphs, which do, indeed, offer some provocative suggestions about what anthropology, as Kant conceived it, might be.
First, it would be a pragmatic discipline, pursued with an eye to utility as well as intellectual knowledge or pleasure per se.
It was startling to read that Anthropology was Kant's most popular course and one he taught for more than 20 years (1772-1794). This was due, at least in part, in the way it was taught, using lively humorous language and vivid anecdotes, in a style that contrasted sharply with the high abstraction and labored theorizing of the great Critiques.
Kant's anthropology is important, however, not only because of the questions it raises about Kant's philosophical system or the history of the human sciences. It is also important as an unambiguous counterpoint to the still prevalent view that, in Wilhelm Dilthey's words, ʻin the veins of the knowing subject, such as ... Kant [has] construed him, flows not real blood but rather the thinned fluid of reason as pure thought activity.ʻ Kant's anthropology lectures present the acting and knowing subject as fully constituted in human flesh and blood, with the specific virtues and foibles that make it properly human. This is an account that can and should be taken seriously in its own right. (Jacobs and Kain 6)