Fall 2024

Kant and the Nineteenth Century

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-219


Rafeeq Hasan (Section 01)


Immanuel Kant's philosophy set off a revolution that reverberated throughout 19th-century Europe. That revolution was grounded in Kant's radical claim that our own reason, not God or nature, is the original source of all moral principles, freedom, and even goodness itself. Why is this radical? Because it is counterintuitive. Our individual freedom is not curbed by morality. Rather, so Kant suggests, it is precisely what commits us to being part of the moral community.


We will investigate the Kantian project through close examination of his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785). Then we will explore critical engagement with Kant’s philosophy, and with Enlightenment thought more generally, in works by Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Frederick Douglass, and Rosa Luxemburg. Our larger aim in studying these authors will be to clarify for ourselves what it means to be free in the modern world.

Limited to 25 students. Prerequisite: Fall semester. Professor Hasan.  (H) or (V).

How to handle overenrollment: Priority to majors, then on the basis of seniority and enrollment at Amherst.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work, readings, independent research, oral presentations, and group work.

Course Materials


Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2021, Spring 2023, Fall 2024