Kantian Journal

2018 Vol. 37. №2

Legal Consciousness at the Early Stage of Personality Development from the Perspective of Russian Neo-Kantian Philosophy of Pedagogy


In this study, I investigate the philosophico-pedagogical concepts developed by German and Russian Neo-Kantians, namely P. Natorp, S. I. Hessen, M. M. Rubinstein. In order to identify the peculiarities of the approaches of the Neo-Kantians to legal consciousness in children, I show that the widely accepted view that Hessen borrowed Natorp’s hierarchical triad of moral development — anomie, heteronomy, and autonomy — lacks a solid ground. Moreover, Natorp generally does not use the concept of anomie to characterise the state of morality and legal consciousness during early childhood, and Rubinstein’s position on this issue is closer to the position of Natorp than to that of Hessen. Furthermore, I examine the differences in the views of the Russian Neo-Kantians on play as an activity crucial for the understanding of human childhood. According to Hessen, play is anomic, whereas Rubinstein sees it as a collaborative activity that can engender respect for other people and their rights, i.e., to legal consciousness. In conclusion, I address Hessen’s and Rubinstein’s understandings of the phenomena of law and legal consciousness, which determined their definitions of legal consciousness in children. Unlike Hessen, who insists that anomie is innate in early childhood, since children of that age are unfamiliar with ethical categories, Rubinstein introduces the concept of “legal psychology,” which contains the germs of legal consciousness.

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