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FROM EPISTEMOLOGY TO ETHICS: Theoretical and Practical Reason in Kant and Douglass

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The aim of this essay is to provide a philosophical discussion of Frederick Douglass's thought in relation to Christianity. I expand upon the work of Bill E. Lawson and Frank M. Kirkland—who both argue that there are Kantian features present in Douglass as it relates to his conception of the individual—by arguing that there are similarities between Douglass and Kant not only concerning the relationship between morality and Christianity, but also concerning the nature of the soul. Specifically, I try to show that the moral weakness of slaveholding Christianity that Douglass attacked is found in the ecclesial formation of the slaveholding Christian church; it is a formation that begins with epistemology, but ignores ethics. I conclude, in part, that both Douglass and Kant reject a Cartesian psychological dualism in favor of a conception of the soul that is more attentive to one's moral development.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Publication date: 01 December 2012

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