Prudence and Character. Kant and Two Faces of Pragmatic Anthropology

Riccardo Martinelli

The present essay concerns the concepts of ‘prudence’ and ‘character’ in Immanuel Kant’s Pragmatic Anthropology. I argue that these two concepts play a crucial role in Kant’s transition from a ‘physiological’ to a ‘pragmatic’ view of anthropology. According to Kant, prudence is the ability to influence other people, whereas character is the mark of one’s independence. Yet, despite appearances, the two concepts are not set against one another in Kant’s anthropology: human beings should pragmatically commit to independence, that is, to exercising their freedom. Kant’s historic role in the development of philosophical anthropology is largely due to this peculiar synergistic interplay of prudence and character.


Keywords: Immanuel Kant · pragmatic anthropology · ethics · prudence · character

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