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Kant's Philosophy of Education

Lecturer: Valery Vinogradovs

Originally Taught: Winter School 2015

It is only in the last six years or so that Immanuel Kant's historically unnoticed Lectures on Pedagogy (Über Pädagogic) have received some attention by scholars. Having been compiled and published by his colleague F.T. Rink, in 1803, just before the great thinker's death, these notes present the key ideas that Kant taught in a university course between 1776 and 1787. There are two primary reasons why this rather schematic text is of interest: firstly, it showcases Kant, an academic, as a deeply concerned pedagogue (an unorthodox scholarly trait, in his time and now); secondly, the notes cover the period prior to the publication of his two critical masterpieces: the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Critique of Judgement (1791). (We remember that the former addresses Kant's moral theory, while the latter – his theory of aesthetic experience, philosophy of biology and anthropology). On closer inspection, both Critiques contain clear indications of the pedagogical concerns that Kant entertains in the Lectures on Pedagogy. Hitherto, Kant's scholars have primarily focused upon the abundant intersections between Über Pädagogic and the second Critique in pursuit to elucidate his views on the formation of moral character; and this trend has culminated in the publication of the collection of essays entitled Kant and Education: Interpretations and Commentary as well as Kant's Conception of Pedagogy by G. Felicitas Munzel.

While I will capitalise on these two manuscripts and related papers, the aim of this course, however, is to provide a broader, more intricate pedagogical landscape that Kant's oeuvre unveils.

To begin with, we will look at John Locke's and Jean-Jacques Rousseau's educational treatises: Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1683-1689) and Emile: or, On Education (1762) respectively. These two texts set the stage for our understanding of the chief educational values of the Enlightenment. To demonstrate that the values in question were not merely chimerical, I also will review an educational experiment Kant was very fond of – Johann Bernhard Basedow's the Philanthropin. In the second seminar, having the most influential scholarly commentaries in view, we will directly examine the cardinal ideas Kant stipulates in Über Pädagogic. More specifically, we shall unravel exactly how the tutor facilitates a cultivation of the pupil's moral character without transgressing the bounds of their developing autonomy. Importantly, Kant's contribution to this aspect of pedagogy isolates him from the philosophical tradition. The third seminar will not only survey Kant's pointed remarks about the education of 'princes' (i.e. prime ministers), but also, via a detour into Metaphysics of Morals (1797), will delineate a fully-fledged Kantian conception of a moral citizen. The fourth seminar presents my own findings: we shall delve into Kant's analysis of genius and arts (Critique of Judgement, #43-53) to see how his (never spelled out) theory of aesthetic education would look like. As we are going to see, a diligent training of one's capacity to produce aesthetic ideas is a significant step toward one's culture of the mind. The last seminar rounds off our discourse into Kant's philosophy of education: we will track down the elements that have rendered Academia rather barbaric, by espying the echoes of the values discussed throughout the course in contrast with the contemporary – instrumental – educational norms, against which Kant warned us more than two hundred years ago.

The seminars have been designed in such a way as to allow for rolling discussion between the attendants.

Course Schedule

  • The Enlightenment's Pedagogical Enterprise: an overview of Locke's and Rousseau's views on Education; as well as Basedow's experimental school the Philanthropin
  • Kant On Moral Education: an inquiry into the pedagogy preoccupied with moral autonomy
  • Kant's Education of Citizens: the political implications of his educational system and the question of responsibility
  • Kant On Aesthetic Education: a reconstruction of the concerns with the development of the pupil's artistic faculty; its place in moral, political and scientific education
  • Kant's Legacy and the Barbarisation of Educational Values: the civilised mind or the instrumental mind or both?

Recommended Reading

  • Kant, I. (2007) Lectures on Pedagogy, in R. B. Louden and G. Zöller (eds) The Cambridge
  • Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant: Anthropology, History, and Education, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 434–485.
  • Kant, I (2002) Critique of the Power of Judgment, trans. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 182-202.Kant and Education: Interpretations and Commentary, C. Roth and C.W. Surprenant (eds), New York: Taylor and Francis.Munzel, G.F. (2012) Kant's Conception of Pedagogy, Chicago: Northwestern University Press.