Research Article

Frontiers of Philosophy in China

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 145-160

First online:

Kant’s view on the parent-child relationship and its problems—Analyses from a temporal perspective as to the creation and rearing of a being endowed with freedom

  • Xianglong ZhangAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Peking University Email author 


This article will probe into Kant’s viewpoints about parent-child relationship so as to demonstrate that they are inspiring on the one hand—for example on dealing with the relationship as that pertinent to the thing in itself, but on the other hand, there are many flaws. His strategy on avoiding the difficulty of “creating by man a being endowed with freedom” depends merely on an one-sided comprehension of time, because according to Kant himself, there is a difference as to the time between sensual forms of intuition and expressive form of transcendental imagination. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant gives a profound enunciation with respect to the two and the latter is related to “free causality” and “categorical imperative” in his moral philosophy. Once it refers to the rights of a being endowed with freedom and the time it requires to maintain them, it is problematic to assert that the creation of such beings is not concerned with, in any sense whatsoever, time and the sensual, mortal body. What is more, Kant failed to take into full consideration that parents are also beings endowed with freedom whose rights to the child are not totally dependent on the latter’s inherent rights but on their own inherent basis. Granting parents too few natural rights, Kant on the other hand allocates them too much obligations in that the parent-child relation is unbalanced in his field of view. Thirdly, he gives no consideration as to whether or not the empirical process of rearing children itself can also create some rights, which nevertheless, should be taken into account when temporal elements can be found from the very original parent-child relationship.


a being endowed with freedom time condition transcendental creation productivity of transcendental imagination freedoms of parents rights breeding children