Kant’s Anthropology as Klugheitslehre

Con-Textos Kantianos 3:122-138 (2016)
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In this essay I show that Kant intended his anthropology lectures and book, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, to be a Klugheitslehre (theory of prudence). The essay draws on many quotes from these sources to show that Kant wanted to develop a theory of how to use other people for one’s own ends. Although so much of the lectures and book are in conversation with Baumgarten’s empirical psychology, there are enough references to Klugheit (prudence) and klug (clever) action to support this thesis. Prudence is a skill that human beings should develop and hence is not excluded from human life even though it is not the basis of morality. The purpose of Klugheit is to achieve happiness but the means to that happiness involves using other people for one’s own ends. In order to use others as a means to one’s own ends, a person must in someway satisfy the inclinations of the other person so that they cooperate in one’s ends. However it is also possible to dominate another person and use them as well if they are dominated by a passion but this is not prudent since it does not achieve happiness except in the case of a husband and wife. Kant’s distinction between Weltklugheit and Privatklugheit also appears to be confirmed in that he advances the idea that sociable means of gaining the cooperation of others (Privatklugheit) leads to the lasting happiness of a person and to the development of civilization.

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Holly L. Wilson
Pennsylvania State University


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