[SydPhil] MQ Philosophy Seminar: Jennifer Mensch (UWS)

Rachael Brown rachael.brown at mq.edu.au
Wed Sep 2 13:19:46 AEST 2015

Please note the following upcoming event as part of the Macquarie
University Philosophy Work in Progress Seminar Series.

"A History of Man: On Race, Slavery, and Colonial Conquest in Kant”
Jennifer Mensch (UWS)

1-2pm, Tuesday, 1st September
Building W6A 107

In today’s talk I am going to lay out the textual materials surrounding the
birth of physical anthropology as a racial science in the eighteenth
century with a special focus on the development of Kant’s own contributions
to the new field. Kant’s contributions to natural history demonstrated his
commitment to a physical, mental, and moral hierarchy among the races and I
will spend some time describing both the advantages and he drew from this
hierarchy for making sense of the social and political history of
inequality between peoples, and the obviously problematic relationship that
such views would entails for Kant’s universalism as he began to formulate
his ethical program in the 1780s. While there is continued scholarly debate
regarding the purported moral “turn” make by Kant once he dropped his
commitment to a racial hierarchy in the 1790s, what the narrative as a
whole reveals is not only the manner by which questions of racial
difference defined physical anthropology from its outset, but the easy and
uncomplicated manner by which whole member groups of the population could
be exploded from lofty pronouncements regarding the rights of man—a fact
that was as true for Kant in Königsberg as it was for Jefferson and
Hamilton in Philadelphia.

Speaker Information:
Jennifer Mensch specializes in the intersection of philosophy and science
during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.  Her recent book, *Kant’s
Organicism. Epigenesis and the Development of Critical Philosophy* (University
of Chicago Press, 2013) traces the decisive role place by life science
theories of biological generation for Kant’s account of mental cognition.
She is currently Senior Lecturer at Western Sydney University where she
teaches philosophy and the history of science and medicine.

Feel free to bring your lunch.

Contact: Rachael Brown (rachael.brown at mq.edu.au), Adam Hochman (
adam.hochman at mq.edu.au), Mike Olson (michael.olson at mq.edu.au)

A google calendar with details of other events in this series is available
for viewing and subscription by following this link:


Sep 15 & 22: No Seminars due to mid-semester break

29 Sep Glenn Carruthers (MQ)

6 Oct Nick Smith (MQ)

13 Oct Jennifer Radden (UMass)

20 Oct  Caroline West (Sydney)
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