Rationality, Animality, and Human Nature: Reconsidering Kant’s View of the Human/Animal Relation


  • David Craig University of Oregon




Kant is often criticized for his strict separation of humans and animals as categorically distinct entities. This separation hinges on the fact that, for Kant, humans are rational, while non-human animals are wholly irrational. This essay argues that a strict separation of rational humanity and irrational animality, prominent in many areas of Kant’s thinking, does not characterize his view of the human/animal relation overall. For, within Kant’s theory of human nature, rationality and animality are in fact entwined, with both contributing to the goodness and full realization of human life. Through engagement with a range of Kant’s writings on human nature, it is suggested that Kant’s view of the human/animal relation merits reconsideration by Kant scholars and animal-oriented philosophers alike.

Author Biography

David Craig, University of Oregon

David Alexander Craig is a doctoral candidate in the philosophy department at the University of Oregon and a visiting graduate student in the philosophy department at Johns Hopkins University. He is co-founder of the University of Oregon's Human/Animal Research Interest Group and has presented his research at many conferences, including the, International Association for Environmental Philosophy, the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy,and the Ancient Philosophy Society. Several of his essays are forthcoming as peer-reviewed articles or book chapters. His dissertation provides a systematic analysis of the role of animality in Kant's philosophy, particularly in his theory of human nature. He is also currently editing, with Ted Toadvine, a volume on Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign seminars, and producing, with Anna-Lisa Baumeister, a new translation of Friedrich Schiller's “Über den Zusammenhang der tierischen Natur des Menschen mit seiner geistigen.”




How to Cite

Craig, D. (2014). Rationality, Animality, and Human Nature: Reconsidering Kant’s View of the Human/Animal Relation. Konturen, 6, 62–81. https://doi.org/10.5399/uo/konturen.7.0.3506