Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Philosophy Dept.


Lydia Moland


Scholarship on Kant’s philosophy of history has insufficiently considered its place in the larger system of transcendental idealism. In this project, I argue that Kant’s guarantee of progress in history is grounded in his universal characterizations of human nature, which he makes both explicitly, as with the notion of “unsociable sociability” put forth in “Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Perspective,” and implicitly, as with what I term a responsiveness to reasons. These characterizations are grounded, I claim, in an attribution of reason which is always already achieved to the constitution of human beings, which emerges out of Kant’s transcendental idealism as put forth in the first Critique. I argue that Kant holds the responsiveness to reasons, rather than unsociable sociability, to ultimately bring about progress in history. It is on account of this universal characteristic that Kant believes moral knowledge is guaranteed to spread throughout communities, given protection of the right to reason publicly, which is taken up as a theme in “What is Enlightenment.” Kant’s emphasis on cosmopolitanism, I argue, is best explained as the globalization of a space of public reasoning through which humanity’s moralization is guaranteed.


Kant, philosophy of history, cosmopolitanism, discourse, transcendental idealism