Kant's racial mind–body unions

John Nale

pp. 41-58

Eric Voegelin's writings on the historical development of the concept of race in the early 1930s are important to philosophy today in part because they provide a model upon which scholars can further integrate modern philosophy with the critical philosophy of race. In constructing his history, Voegelin's methodological orientation depends on the centrality of both Kant's work and the problem of the mind–body union to the concept of race. This essay asks how one might hold these premises if Kant seems to reject the dominant approach to the mind–body union in the mid-eighteenth century, physical influx, and then go on to publish several essays on race that do not thematize that doctrine in any way. I argue that Kant's racial union of mind and body cannot be understood as an interaction in space, as his contemporaries had presumed. Rather, the union must be approached as a repetition in time. In this way, Kant's four racial categories are not merely a part of the mind–body problem, but instead each is a veritable mind–body union. This permits the conclusion that "race', as Kant understood it, is a viable solution to the mind–body problem.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-014-9314-0

Full citation:

Nale, J. (2015). Kant's racial mind–body unions. Continental Philosophy Review 48 (1), pp. 41-58.

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