Kant divides his text into 4 sections: Opening introduction 109 – 115 Remarks 115 – 118 The Resolution of History 118 – 120 Concluding Remarks 120 – 123


Kant divides his text into 4 sections:

  1. Opening introduction 109 – 115
  2. Remarks 115 – 118
  3. The Resolution of History 118 – 120
  4. Concluding Remarks 120 – 123

Human history is the unfolding of the species which begins with the development of freedom originating in the capacities of nature in man. The essay depicts the history of freedom’s first development. In his original state, man did not act from choice. Rather, like all animals, he acted from instincts found in his nature – what Kant here calls “the voice of God that all animals obey.” Since history is the unfolding of nature, we can properly understand that beginning insofar as we consider the origin as it is in nature and as it is based on our experience of man. Kant believes that he can present an accurate account of human freedom’s first development. Thus, Kant presents an edifying story of the origin, the extent and the end of human freedom, which is the history of our species. This is Kant’s development of Rousseau’s teaching, and the account presented here guides most accounts of human history developed starting in the last two centuries. Kant believes that he can use the plot line found in Genesis 2 – 6, and he asserts “that philosophy by means of concepts coincides every step along the way with the one set out by history.” It is significant, but unnoticed by Kant, that he skips over the first chapter of Genesis. What is the content of that chapter, and why is its absence significant? I only ask you to consider this question, there’s no need to answer it in writing.

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Kant divides his text into 4 sections: Opening introduction 109 – 115 Remarks 115 – 118 The Resolution of History 118 – 120 Concluding Remarks 120 – 123
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In the third paragraph, he sets out 10 assumptions that he must make concerning the nature of the first humans.

QUESTION #1: Present the list of these assumptions and the reason Kant gives for them. He does not begin with man’s “raw state”, but only after it has developed certain skills in the powers of its nature.

In the introduction, Kant will list 4 steps that reason takes while man is still in the garden. The first step is discussed in paragraphs 4 and 5.

QUESITION #2: How was man originally guided? What was the change that began the history of freedom and reason? What objects caused this change and why? What was in “contradiction”? What occasioned the episode? What happened within the soul of these humans? Why is this decisive for the human way of life? What were the effects?

QUESTION #3: What second instinct was affected by reason’s emergence? In what manners was this accomplished? How and why is this a greater expression of reason than the first step? Set out the steps of man’s internal operations in this stage.

QUESTION #4: Briefly explain the third step in the development of reason. What are the pluses and the minuses here for human life.

QUESTION #5: What is the fourth step depicted in paragraph 9 and developed in the Remarks? Who is man identical to now that he is no longer a mere animal? How is man’s relationship to nature after this step? How is each man’s relationship to his fellow human now, and how is this “far more necessary to establishing society than inclination and love”? [p. 53]

In Remarks, Kant explains that the birth of reason and freedom in man leads to the progress and perfection of the species but leaves the lives of the individual modern man in a state of conflict between his natural capacities and his cultural needs and demands. See especially the footnote on pages 54 and 55. “But since these natural capacities were given man in his natural state, they will conflict with culture as it proceeds, just as it will conflict with them until art so perfects itself as to be a second nature, which is the final goal of the human species’ moral vocation.”

QUESTION #6: What does Kant mean by an art that leads to a second nature which is the perfection of the species? Will the natural capacities still exist? Will their desires be satisfied?

In the Resolution of History section, Kant establishes three phases of our early history based on how man earns his preservation, first as hunters/gatherers, then as a conflicting era where the herdsmen and the farmers go to war with each other. The final stage is the stage of political society and government, which is a state of war between the various nations.

In the Concluding Remarks, he sums up our situation.

QUESTION #7: How are we benefited in our understanding of our self through our understanding of this story of our history? In short, what does he teach in the last two paragraphs of the work on page 59?


Kant’s View on the Development of Freedom and Reason: An Analysis of His Work


Immanuel Kant, a prominent philosopher, divides his text into four sections to explore the unfolding of human history and the development of freedom. This essay aims to examine Kant’s key ideas and insights, focusing on his assumptions, the steps reason takes, the birth of reason and freedom, the conflict between natural capacities and cultural needs, and the phases of early history. By understanding Kant’s teachings, we gain valuable insights into our self and our place in history.

Assumptions about the Nature of the First Humans

In his work, Kant sets out ten assumptions concerning the first humans and their development of skills. However, he does not begin with man’s “raw state” but rather after certain skills in the powers of nature have been acquired (Kant: Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens, n.d.). These assumptions serve as a foundation for Kant’s exploration of the history of freedom. Kant presents these assumptions to provide a basis for understanding the subsequent steps of reason’s development.

The First Step: Guiding Man and the Emergence of Reason

In the introduction, Kant outlines four steps that reason takes while man is still in the garden. The first step involves the original guidance of man and the change that initiates the history of freedom and reason. Kant highlights the objects that cause this change and the contradiction that arises. This episode occasions a shift within the soul of these humans, which is decisive for the human way of life. The effects of this transformation are crucial to understanding the subsequent development of reason and freedom.

The Second Step: A Greater Expression of Reason

The second step involves the emergence of reason affecting a second instinct. Kant explores how reason manifests itself in this stage and its significance compared to the first step. He elucidates the internal operations of man during this phase and explains how reason becomes a more prominent factor in shaping human life.

The Third Step: Pluses and Minuses for Human Life

The third step, as briefly explained by Kant, brings both benefits and drawbacks to human life. Kant delves into the positive and negative aspects of this development, shedding light on the implications for human existence. This step marks another milestone in the progression of reason and freedom.

The Fourth Step: Man’s Transformation and Relationship with Nature

In paragraph 9 and the subsequent remarks, Kant describes the fourth step. Man, no longer a mere animal, becomes identical to a different entity. This transformation significantly impacts man’s relationship with nature and his fellow humans (Kant and Hume on Morality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), 2022). Kant emphasizes the importance of this new relationship in establishing society, asserting its significance over inclination and love.

The Birth of Reason and Freedom: Conflict between Natural Capacities and Cultural Needs

In the Remarks section, Kant explores how reason and freedom lead to the progress and perfection of the species. However, he notes that the lives of individual modern humans become marked by conflict between their natural capacities and cultural needs. Kant envisions an art that can perfect itself as a second nature, aligning with the moral vocation of the human species. This raises questions about the existence and satisfaction of natural capacities.

Understanding Our Self through History

In the Resolution of History section, Kant outlines three phases of early history, highlighting the conflicts and development of preservation methods (Tseng & Wang, 2021b). In the Concluding Remarks, Kant sums up our situation, explaining how understanding our self through the story of our history benefits us. In the final paragraphs, he imparts profound teachings about the importance of introspection and historical understanding in shaping our perception of self.


Immanuel Kant’s exploration of the development of freedom and reason provides valuable insights into human history and our place within it. By analyzing Kant’s assumptions, steps of reason’s emergence, conflict between natural capacities and cultural needs, and phases of early history, we gain a deeper understanding of our self and the challenges we face as individuals and as a species. Kant’s teachings remind us of the significance of history in shaping our present and future, and the ongoing pursuit of moral progress and self-realization.


Kant: Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens. (n.d.). https://web.viu.ca/johnstoi/kant/kant2e.htm 

Kant and Hume on Morality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). (2022, August 19). https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-hume-morality/ 

Tseng, P., & Wang, Y. (2021b). Deontological or Utilitarian? An Eternal Ethical Dilemma in Outbreak. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(16), 8565. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168565 






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