Source: Prof Michael Sandel, Justice: ..., Episode 06: "MIND YOUR MOTIVE"

47:30 and here Kant distinguishes between persons on the one hand, and things on the other. 47:38: Rational beings are persons that don't just have a relative value for us, but if anything has they have an absolute value, an intrinsic value.
47:50 That is, rational beings have dignity that are worthy of reverence and respect.
47:56: This line of reasoning leads Kant to the second formulation of the Categorical Imperative which is this:

Act in such a way that you always treated humanity,
♦ whether in your own person or in the person of any other, ♦
never simply as a means, but always at the same time, as an end.

48:21: So that's the Formula of Humanity as an End.

Why did Kant (or the German to English translator) use in? I know that the 1st ed. of Critique of Pure Reason was published in German in 1781, but I still want to rationalise or understand this use (even if it's archaic), which would've never occurred to me.
I would've written the clause surrounded by ♦, as follows instead:

1. ♦ whether yourself or any other person , ♦

Footnote: I don't know which English translation Prof Sandel quoted, but please edit this if anyone does. If anyone wants to see the quote in print, see here for example.

  • 1
    In (the position of) your person or in ( the position) of any other person.
    – user66974
    Mar 27, 2015 at 18:48
  • @Josh61 Thanks, but how can 'you' be in ( the position) of any other person. ? You are you? You can't transform into any other person?
    – user50720
    Mar 27, 2015 at 18:49
  • 1
    @LawArea51Proposal-Commit I would suggest that if it forms the substance of the second formulation of Kant's Categorical Imperative, that there is a strong intellectual argument for saying that you can (transform into another person).
    – WS2
    Mar 27, 2015 at 18:54
  • Looks to me like much the same "figurative preposition usage" as, for example, "I've never met him in the flesh", "We're acting in loco parentis", or even "I don't wish to speak in anger". Mar 27, 2015 at 18:59
  • 1
    You're treating the humanity resident in your person (or someone else's). The humanity, human nature, human spirit, human-ness is in you, and you are of it.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 27, 2015 at 19:17

1 Answer 1


IMO, it's the "in" necessary in "instantiates in":

Avicenna's Metaphysics in Context - Page 88 Robert Wisnovsky - 2003

The formal cause and final cause of my son's coming-to-be are identical in number because the very same form of humanity instantiated in my son's body at conception serves both as a formal cause - as his essence, in other words

Kantian ethical thought: a curricular report and annotated ... - Page 46 Council for Philosophical Studies - 1984

He proposes that the object of respect Is the humanity instantiated in individual persons — not the individual persons themselves. This interpretation best explains the duties a person has to himself.

Studies in philosophy and in the history of science: ... - Page 12 Richard Allen Tursman, ‎Max Harold Fisch - 1970

... that it is only natural that other communities should find rational humanity instantiated in other models, or else to admitting that Jesus was not really a man at all and hence that his appearance was irrelevant to our common human problems.

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