Given Hume's seemingly ambivalent—and often cryptic—claims about the limits of human knowledge, it is no surprise that a skeptical and a naturalistic reading compete as the proper interpretation of the Treatise. Although Hume was traditionally viewed as a skeptic, more recently the "naturalized" view of the Treatise has been in the ascendancy. On this view, while Hume deploys various skeptical arguments, they are mainly in the service of revealing the essentially naturalistic structure of human cognition. In other words, Hume is (...) taken to be engaged in a type of philosophical psychology, and the results of this project are taken to accord with generally naturalized claims about the mind. (shrink)
The paper examines the way in which Salomon Maimon (1753-1800) combines Humean skepticism and Leibnizian rationalism to mount an innovative challenge to Kant. Maimon’s position can be described as an “apostate rationalism,” which holds that reason makes unavoidable demands on us that are nonetheless not satisfied in experience. An appreciation of Maimon’s arguments also sheds new and interesting light on the surprising role that this apostate rationalism plays as a component of Hume’s skeptical naturalism.
In the early steps of the Transcendental Deduction in the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant briefly addresses the threat posed by usurpatory concepts such as 'fate' and 'fortune'. Commentators have largely passed over these remarks, but in this paper I argue that a careful analysis of the reasons why 'fate' and 'fortune' are usurpatory reveals an important point about the relation between the Deduction and the Principles chapters of the Critique. In particular, I argue that 'fate' and 'fortune' are usurpatory (...) because they are unable to discriminate between the particular contents of experience, and that this requires that Kant provide an account of how the categories are able to accomplish this task. And this in turn shows that the justificatory work begun in the Deduction can be completed only in the Schematism and Principles. (shrink)
One of the Key Questions Facing anyone interested in German Idealism concerns the puzzling transition from Kant to Hegel: how, in the course of a mere two decades, did Kant’s critical idealism, with its emphasis on the need to limit reason’s aspirations, come to be replaced by the seemingly boundless Absolute Idealism of the late 1790s and early 1800s? The traditional—though admittedly caricatured—answer follows an appealingly straightforward path from Kant to the idealist triumvirate of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. The central (...) motivation for the absolute idealists, on this reckoning, is found in the notorious problem of the thing in itself that was taken to plague Kant’s critical idealism, and each of the later .. (shrink)
While the debate about whether Kant's idealism requires a ‘Two Worlds’ or ‘Two Aspect’ interpretation has reached a seeming impasse, I argue that the account of intelligible possession found in the ‘Doctrine of Right’ provides novel and compelling evidence in favour of an epistemic ‘Two Aspect’ reading of Kant's position.
Kant's 'Copernican Revolution', which began in the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/1787), had, by the early 1790s, fundamentally altered the terrain of German philosophy – but not entirely in the way that Kant had foreseen. Skeptical challenges to Kant's discursive account of cognition, in which experience arises from the separate faculties of sensibility and understanding, had led thinkers such as K.L. Reinhold and J.G. Fichte to attempt to provide a first, foundational principle for the critical philosophy. These efforts were enormously (...) influential, but by the middle of the 1790s, they too were facing a great deal of critical scrutiny. The central challenge to the Fichtean project came from an unlikely quarter: a group of young thinkers and poets who are collectively known as the early Romantics. For the Romantics, Fichte's project remains too 'subjectivist', for it tries to provide an account of the world by beginning with the conditions that govern subjectivity alone. Rather, the Romantics argue that the world must be understood in terms of a monistic Absolute, akin to Spinoza's substance, in which all dualisms are overcome. It is with this step that Absolute Idealism comes on the scene, and sets the stage for the development of Hegel's system in the early 1800s. This essay, which continues the story of 'Who's Who from Kant to Hegel I', examines the ways in which early Romanticism reacted to the Fichtean project, looks at a variety of anti-foundationalist idealisms that the Romantics – in particular Hölderlin, Novalis, Schlegel, and Schleiermacher – developed, and traces the role that Friedrich Schelling plays in offering the first systematic account of Absolute Idealism. (shrink)
While almost all of Kant's contemporaries agreed that the Critique of Pure Reason effected a philosophically epochal change, there was far less consensus about what precisely Kant's new critical philosophy had brought about. In large part, this uncertainty was a result of a methodological crisis that Kant's work had sparked: the Critique had shown that traditional dogmatic metaphysics was suspect at best, but what new methods needed to be adopted in the wake of Kant's 'Copernican Revolution'? The Critique stood as (...) the lighting rod at the center of a complicated and especially lively set of debates and disputes that erupted in Germany in the late 1780s and early 1790s: empiricists and rationalists, threatened by the 'all-destroying Kant', leapt to challenge the new critical system; skeptics attacked Kant's claims to have secured a sure footing for empirical knowledge; a few ambitious thinkers sought to complete the critical system by revealing a foundational first principle on which Kant's system could rest. All of these elements conspired to make the early stages in post-Kantian thought one of the richest, most vibrant – and most fascinating – periods in the history of philosophy. The present essay looks at the various figures of the move from Kant to Fichte, and presents some of the excellent new research on the era that has appeared in the last decade or so. The sequel takes up the period from Fichte to Hegel, with an eye toward understanding how Kantian critical philosophy gave way to Hegelian Absolute Idealism. (shrink)
Kant's system of transcendental idealism is based upon the idea that cognition is discursive, in that it involves the separate faculties of intuition and the understanding. This account of cognition I call the 'discursivity thesis.' Kant, however, provides little argument in favor of this thesis, instead taking it to be an assumption about the nature of human cognition. Despite discursivity's initial appeal, the lack of an argument on its behalf leaves it open to skeptical challenge. In the dissertation, I examine (...) one such challenge, developed by Kant's contemporary Salomon Maimon. Maimon claims that Kant's assumption of discursivity is both ungrounded and problematic, for it leads to insuperable problems about the nature of cognition. After an introductory chapter, I begin the reconstruction of this challenge by presenting in Chapter II the notion of discursivity, both in its Scholastic employments and as used by Kant. I then turn in Chapter III to an examination of the arguments of the Aesthetic section of the Critique of Pure Reason, which, I claim, do not obviate Maimon's objections. Rather, the heart of the debate is found in the issues of the Deduction and Principles, which I address in Chapters IV and V respectively. Here I argue that Kant's assumption of discursivity can be shown to lead to a dilemma involving the application of a priori categories to particular a posteriori intuitions---Kant's cognitive dualism precludes an account of the interaction between separate cognitive elements. I try to soften the blow of this charge by presenting, in Chapter VI, a way in which Kant might accommodate Maimon's skepticism by granting a type of uncertainty about the application to the categories. I conclude in Chapter VII by looking at Maimon's influence on Fichte, and by noting the relevance of Maimonian skepticism for contemporary debates about the nature of Givenness. (shrink)
The Prolegomena is often dismissed as Kant's failed attempt to popularize his philosophy, but as the essays collected here show, there is much to be gained from a careful study of the work. The essays explore the distinctive features of the Prolegomena, including Kant's discussion of philosophical methodology, his critical idealism, the nature of experience, his engagement with Hume, the nature of the self, the relation between geometry and physics, and what we cognize about God. Newly commissioned for this volume, (...) the essays as a whole offer sophisticated and innovative interpretations of the Prolegomena, and cast Kant's critical philosophy in a new light. (shrink)
Given Kant's seemingly dismissive attitude toward Scottish philosophers of common sense—in the Prolegomena, he famously describes how painful it is to see them miss Hume's point—one might expect that a book titled Kant and the Scottish Enlightenment would be a rather slim volume. However, as Manfred Kuehn in Scottish Common Sense in Germany and elsewhere has made abundantly clear, Scottish philosophy played a large role in eighteenth-century Germany, and was a significant influence on Kant. The present volume, which stands as (...) a Festschrift for Kuehn, admirably follows on this path, and the nineteen papers collected here trace a number of interesting and surprising ways in which Scottish philosophy connects to Kant.... (shrink)
Kant famously noted that a memory of Hume "interrupted" his dogmatic slumbers, an alarm commonly taken to have been sounded by the challenge Hume raised against the rational foundations of causal connections. The Prolegomena's discussion of the role played by Hume's skepticism in the development of the critical philosophy makes it relatively easy to see how to formulate something along the lines of "Kant's response to Hume," and a great deal of ink and toil have been devoted to debates about (...) the success of this project. Developing "Hume's response to Kant" is a bit trickier, not least because by the time Kant's views were made available, Hume had succumbed to a slumber much more permanent and literal than the... (shrink)
Most of us have settled views about various intellectual debates, and much of the activity of philosophers is devoted to giving arguments that are designed to convince one's opponents to change their minds about a certain issue. But, what might this process require? More pointedly, can you clearly imagine what it would take to make you change your mind about a position you currently hold? This article argues that the surprising answer to this question is no—you cannot imagine what would (...) convince you to change your mind, since in doing so you would actually have to find those reasons compelling. The article then briefly looks at some implications of this conclusion. (shrink)
What role does genius play in scientific invention and discovery? This was a question at the fore of many discussions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially as the Romantic movement came to a head. It also serves as a frame for Idit Chikurel's focused and fascinating account of Salomon Maimon's views about mathematical invention and discovery. As with many of his positions, Maimon adopted a rather iconoclastic theory of genius and invention, and Chikurel does an excellent job of charting (...) the ways in which Maimon sought to categorize the means by which we can make inventions and discoveries in mathematics. The project is fairly narrow and assumes a good deal of familiarity with Maimon, so it is... (shrink)