The problem of privilege: temperament and diversity in Kant's Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Kent, Tayler
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • This thesis explores Kant's theory of the temperaments as outlined in his 1764 pre-critical essay on the aesthetic categories of the beautiful and the sublime. While this text is often singled out for its prejudicial remarks, the chapter on temperament provides a useful framework for understanding Kant's thinking on diversity at this stage in his philosophy, and is critical for any attempt to reconcile the tensions in this work between its advocacy of cosmopolitan universalism and its troubling observations on gender and race. The first chapter explores Kant's awareness of the problem of privileging the melancholic above all others as the only temperament capable of achieving true moral virtue. The second and third chapters investigate how Kant engages in a struggle to redefine what constitutes the morally feeling subject in order to exclude women and non-Europeans from his ideal community of rational and moral human subjects.
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  • Hess, Jonathan
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