FWF Erwin Schroedinger grant: “Left-Kantianism”: Socialist Interpretations of Kant, 1790–1920

Although philosophers interested in Marx and Kant are frequently engaged in debates on how to renew their accounts to make them applicable for a modern conception of democratic socialism, there has been little detailed work on the history of Kant-inspired scholars of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century who posed similar questions and were members of a philosophical current I call “left-Kantianism.” This project addresses this lacuna in a ground-breaking way: it provides a comprehensive study of the features and developments of left-Kantianism by analyzing three left-Kantian camps that evolved between 1790 and 1920 and seeks to situate these left-Kantian camps within the current research landscape—more specifically in the history of philosophy, Marxism, and Kantianism—in order to show that the history of Kantianism is rich in proto-socialist and socialist ideas.

The project aims to answer the following questions.

(I) What are the demarcating features of and the relations between the various camps within left-Kantianism, and what lines of argumentation can be identified based on these features?

(II) What is the relevance of left-Kantian camps for contemporary philosophy, and how can we situate them within current debates?

(III) What systematic problems arise when the Kantian framework that initially operates with a republican ideal is considered in left-socialist historicist, relativist, or egalitarian categories?

Researchers involved

Hosts: Lydia Patton (Virginia Tech), Lea Ypi (London School of Economics), Georg Schiemer (University of Vienna).

Collaboration partners: Charlotte Baumann (University of Sussex), Christian Damboeck (University of Vienna), Scott Edgar (Saint Mary’s University), James Furner (University of Sussex), Nicholas Vrousalis (University of Rotterdam), Katharina Kinzel (Utrecht University), Martin Kusch (University of Vienna).


September 2024-August 2027.


FWF, Erwin Schroedinger grant. Grant number: J-4687.