Kant on the Experience of Passivity

Motohide Saji


This article reconstructs Kant’s thought on early human development and its effect throughout one’s life in his empirical, anthropological work. To do so, I examine Kant’s treatment of three aspects of the early human development chronologically. Kant’s argument concerns processes that one goes through before becoming an adult, which take place beyond one’s control, which form the basis for one’s adult self, and which affect one throughout one’s life. One’s experience of these three aspects can be called the experience of passivity. First, while an infant, one is subject to the drive and inability to coordinate and control one’s bodily motion, to the drive to communicate, and to the activity of imitation. Second, one is compelled to begin reasoning rather than actively beginning the exercise of reason. The initial activity of reason suddenly has already taken place in one beyond one’s control in such a way that one cannot choose whether to begin to exercise the faculty of reason in the first place. Third, one is affected by otherness in the formation and development of one’s self. Kant’s thought thus reconstructed proves to be consistent with what recent empirical research demonstrates. The present analysis ends with questions and implications for social science research.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/wjssr.v2n2p200


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