Spring 2021

Kant and the Nineteenth Century

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-359


Rafeeq Hasan (Section 01)


Immanuel Kant's philosophy set off a revolution that reverberated throughout 19th-century Europe. For Kant, it is our own reason, not God or nature, which is the original source of all moral principles, freedom, and even goodness itself. Human beings are autonomous in that we determine what is morally right.

We will trace the effects of the Kantian revolution and several influential responses to it. We begin with Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), which grounds ethical obligations in the idea of autonomy. We then consider Hegel's radicalization of this project in his Philosophy of Right (1820), which seeks to demonstrate that freedom requires a certain form of social and political life. We conclude with an examination of two critiques of the Kantian/Hegelian project in ethical theory: Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1844) and Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom (1855).

Our aim in this course will be to understand and evaluate these four difficult texts, and to write about them in clear and analytical prose.

Requisite: One prior course in Philosophy. Limited to 15 students. Spring Semester. Professor Hasan

If Overenrolled: Preference to majors, then by class and to those who attend first class and have one course in Philosophy.


Attention to Writing, Online Only


2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022