Kant-Studien 102 (1):22-45 (2011)

Steffen Ducheyne
University of Ghent
In this essay, I call attention to Kant’s and Whewell’s attempt to provide bridging principles between a priori principles and scientific laws. Part of Kant’s aim in the Opus postumum (ca. 1796-1803) was precisely to bridge the gap between the metaphysical foundations of natural science (on the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1786) see section 1) and physics by establishing intermediary concepts or ‘Mittelbegriffe’ (henceforth this problem is referred to as ‘the bridging-problem’). I argue that the late-Kant attempted to show that the concept of ‘moving force’, an intermediary concept derived from a priori principles, could be given empirical content so that concrete scientific knowledge is arrived at. Thus, the late-Kant wished not only to show that proper scientific laws are necessary a priori (as he had shown in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science) but also that intermediary concepts could be derived from a priori principles which, when interpreted empirically, resulted in the specific forces as established by physics (see section 2). Of course, William Whewell never knew about Kant’s Opus postumum and his attempt to bridge the gap between the metaphysical foundations of science and physics. However, it is striking that Whewell had similar concerns about the Critique of Pure Reason and the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science as Kant himself. According to Whewell, the Kantian project was incomplete because it did not show how ‘modifications’ (in the sense of concretizations) of a priori principles could result in empirical laws (section 3). Next, it will be argued, by taking into account several of Whewell’s philosophical notebooks which have scarcely been studied systematically, that Whewell’s doctrine of Fundamental Ideas grew out of his dissatisfaction with the Kantian project with respect to the bridging problem and that his own philosophical position should be seen as an attempt to bypass the bridging-problem.
Keywords post-critical Kant  Bridging principles between metaphysics and science  W. Whewell's Trinity Notebooks on induction  TRUTH  W. Whewell's Kantianism  PHILOSOPHY  WILLIAM  WHEWELL  OPUS-POSTUMUM
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2011
DOI 10.1515/kant.2011.002
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,043
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Kant and the Exact Sciences.Michael Friedman - 1990 - Harvard University Press.
On the Philosophy of Discovery.William Whewell - 1860 - New York: B. Franklin.

View all 20 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

William Whewell.Laura J. Snyder - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Bloomsbury Companion to Kant.Dennis Schulting (ed.) - 2015 - Bloomsbury Academic.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Discoverers' Induction.Laura J. Snyder - 1997 - Philosophy of Science 64 (4):580-604.
Kant's Philosophy of Science: The Transition From Metaphysics to Science.Robert E. Butts - 1984 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984:685 - 705.
Kant’s Dynamic Constructions.Kenneth R. Westphal - 1995 - Journal of Philosophical Research 20:381-429.
Kant, Kuhn, and the Rationality of Science.Michael Friedman - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (2):171-90.
Kant, Reichenbach, and the Fate of A Priori Principles.Karin de Boer - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (4):507-531.
The Development of Kant's Conception of Scientific Explanation.Edward MacKinnon - 1978 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1978:18 - 30.


Added to PP index

Total views
155 ( #74,480 of 2,498,739 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #118,446 of 2,498,739 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes