This article critically extends Kant's 1786 discussion of “orientation in thinking” to ask what it means to “orient oneself in thinking” around the concepts of race and sex, addressed in the context of 1) the central place and historical importance of Kant in Western philosophy; and 2) Kant's theory of race and its relation to his critical philosophy. As presumptions about race and sex are already built into the history of philosophy, taking these concepts as an explicit orientation is not the expression of subjective interests, but a reflection and criticism of some of the objective forces that shape the world and have shaped the history of philosophy. An intellectual orientation around the concepts of race or sex can thus be understood as a critical position in relation to the problematic “historical universality” of these concepts, with the aim of transforming the false universality of biological race thinking, in particular, into the historical universality of critical social analysis.

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