Immanuel Kant. Drawing by Antje Herzog 2023

A critical look at Immanuel Kant

Philosophy project is part of an exhibition at the Bundeskunsthalle and opens up "critical perspectives"
Immanuel Kant. Drawing by Antje Herzog 2023
Illustration: Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn
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Published: | By: Ute Schönfelder

The exhibition „Immanuel Kant und die offenen Fragen“ („Immanuel Kant. Unresolved Issues“) has just opened at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn. Marking the 300th anniversary of the philosopher’s birth next year, the exhibition aims to make Kant's work accessible to a non-academic and young audience. It focuses on Kant's pioneering contributions to the Enlightenment, his thoughts on ethics, emancipation, epistemology, and international law, which are still considered groundbreaking today.

But there is also another side to Kant's works. "They are partially shaped by racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic ideologies, some of which still have an impact on our culture and thinking today," says Professor Dr Andrea Marlen Esser from the University of Jena. She and her team from the Institute of Philosophy are dedicated to exploring this ambivalent legacy of the Enlightenment in a research project funded by the German Research Foundation and are introducing a correspondingly critical perspective into the exhibition at the Bundeskunsthalle.

The Jena researchers have compiled philosophically critical information and comments on selected exhibits in the exhibition. These will be presented to visitors at the exhibition and are also freely accessible on the internet for all interested parties. "Our goal is to inform visitors about these ambiguities, raise awareness of established stereotypes, and encourage discussion," Esser further explains. The contributions from Jena are designed in the form of a digital tour, providing the opportunity for a "post-visit reflection" after attending the exhibition.