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August 24, 2006

Philosophy professor first to publish systematic interpretation

A new book by Holly Wilson, ULM associate professor of philosophy, will encourage students to think for themselves, according to a review by SUNY (State of New York) Press. Wilson is the first person to publish a systematic interpretation of Kant’s book, entitled Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, which was based on popular philosophy lectures over a 23 year period.

Wilson said, “The book receded into obscurity after its publication and no scholars have ever attempted to show how this book fits in with the kind of philosophy that Immanuel Kant is known for, namely critical philosophy.”

In Wilson’s book, Kant's Pragmatic Anthropology: Its Origin, Meaning, and Critical Significance, she explores how the “philosophical anthropology” exhibited in Kant’s Anthropology challenges contemporary theories of human nature, including behaviorism and evolutionary theory.

She also details how Kant based his work on the critically grounded faculty of teleological judgment and how this type of philosophy of experience is consistent with Kant’s overall critical theory, according to SUNY Press.

Wilson’s book, which is her first, conveys the significance of Kant’s work, wrote Philip J. Rossi, SJ, author of The Social Authority of Reason: Kant’s Critique, Radical Evil, and the Destiny of Humankind. “Holly Wilson, a pioneer in the study of Kant’s anthropology, shows the importance and philosophical richness of Kant’s theory of human nature and its integral relation to his critical philosophy.”

Kant’s work has affected Wilson’s, she said.

“His philosophy of education has influenced me in my teaching.  I too am now far more concerned that my students learn to think than that they memorize positions in philosophy. I am much more concerned that my students think critically than know facts they will just forget.”

Wilson is working on a second book about the other theories of prudence that 18th Century German philosophers developed.  “Kant’s pragmatic anthropology was just one of these attempts to define a field of knowledge that emphasized emotional intelligence and how to get along with other people,” she explained.

Wilson surmised that the reason Kant’s pragmatic anthropology receded into obscurity, as did the other theories of prudence, was because in the course of history, the pursuit of theoretical scientific intelligence triumphed over the discipline that taught emotional intelligence. Wilson is hoping to recover a lost discipline.

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