The key to all metaphysics: Kant's letter to Herz, 1772

Kantian Review 12 (2):109-127 (2007)
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Kant's 1772 letter to Markus Herz is celebrated for its marking the ‘Critical turn’ in Kant's thought, a turn that would move Kant away from the speculative metaphysics of the 1750s towards the Critical philosophy of 1781. It is here, seemingly for the first time, that Kant asks the question concerning the relationship between concepts and objects, telling his former pupil that the answer to this question ‘constitutes the key to the whole secret of hitherto still obscure metaphysics.’ For anyone interested in the development of Kant's thought this makes for exciting news since it is the posing of this question that marks Kant's first step towards the Critique and it is the answer to this question that will come to identify the ‘objective portion’ of the Transcendental Deduction, a text that already begins with a rehearsal of points raised in Kant's letter. But while the letter to Herz is clearly itself a key to what Kant sees as the ‘whole secret of hitherto still obscure metaphysics’, the question concerning concepts and objects itself poses interpretive problems that need to be addressed. Above all, one needs to ask how Kant arrived at such a question


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Jennifer Mensch
Western Sydney University

Citations of this work

Intuition and Nature in Kant and Goethe.Jennifer Mensch - 2009 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (3):431-453.
Hyperphysical Influence and Pre-Established Intellectual Harmony.Robert Watt - 2018 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 35 (3):259-278.

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References found in this work

Kant and the exact sciences.Michael Friedman - 1992 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Early German Philosophy: Kant and His Predecessors.Lewis White Beck - 1969 - Cambridge, Mass.,: St. Augustine's Press.
Essays on Kant and Hume.Lewis White Beck - 1978 - New Haven: Yale University Press.
Kant: A Biography.Manfred Kuehn - 2004 - Philosophical Quarterly 54 (216):476-479.
Kant: A Biography.Michelle Grier - 2004 - Mind 113 (450):365-368.

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