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see Kant's Religion

Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant  (Dover) unabridged republication of the J. M. D. Meiklejohn translation as published by The Colonial Press, London and New York, 1900. Includes Kant's Preface to the First Edition (1781) is one of the cornerstones of Western philosophy by one of history's most influential thinkers. Immanuel Kant (17241804) was born in Knigsberg in East Prussia (Germany), and seldom ventured beyond the borders of his birthplace during a lifetime dedicated to a quiet and passionate quest for truth.

In Kant's day, philosophical thought was dominated largely by two historical movements known as Empiricism and Rationalism. They were, in some respects, intellectual outgrowths of the divergent view-points of religion and science. The Critique, Kant's landmark workl was a product of his attempt to analyze and unify the arguments of both schools so as to reconcile (as he himself put it) "the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me."

In this seminal treatise, the author seeks to define the nature of reason itself, while attempting a logical designation for two types of knowledge: i.e., posteriori, knowledge gained through experience; and priori, knowledge gained independent of experience (e.g., our knowledge of space and time). Kant thus built his own unique system of philosophical thoughtand his approach, known as transcendental idealismon meticulous investigations of metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics. 

The widely respected translation by J. M. D. Meiklejohn offers a clear and accurate rendering of the Critique that is suitable for readers at all levels.

Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason'  by Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno edited by Rolf Tiedemann, translated by Rodney Livingstone (Stanford University Press) Although he wrote monographs on Hegel, Husserl, and Kierkegaard, the closest Adorno came to an extended discussion of Kant are two lecture courses, one concentrating on the Critique of Pure Reason and the other on the Critique of Practical Reason. This transcription of his 1959 lectures on Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason' is important in situating his own thought in contrast to Kants. It is also a workman like commentary of the main lines of argument in the work. Adorno also anticipates arguments of Hegel and his own Negative Dialectics.

JUDGMENT, IMAGINATION, AND POLITICS: Themes From Kant and Arendt by Ronald Beiner, Jennifer Nedelsky (Rowman & Littlefield) brings together for the first time leading essays on the nature of judgment. Drawing from themes in Kant's Critique of Judgment and Hannah Arendt's discussion of judgment from Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy, these essays deal with: the role of imagination in judgment; judgment as a distinct human faculty; the nature of judgment in law and politics; and the many puzzles that arise from the "enlarged mentality," the capacity to consider the perspectives of others that aren't in Kant treated as essential to judgment.

Kant and the Sciences edited by Eric Watkins (Oxford University Press) excerpt: Kant's contributions to the central problems of philosophy-metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics-have received considerable attention. What is far less studied is his interest in the sciences. Kant and the Sciences reveals the deep unity of Kant's conception of science as it bears on the particular sciences of his day and on his conception of philosophy's function with respect to them. The twelve essays collected here-all but one written specifically for this volume-consider different aspects of Kant's conception of science.

After one essay that discusses Kant's scientific education, three essays develop different answers to the general question of how Kant thinks that his transcendental philosophy relates to particular sciences. Three essays discuss various specific issues that arise in Kant's understanding of physics, while the next two elaborate his conceptions of psychology, anthropology, and history. Three final essays conclude with reflections on the status of chemistry and biology.

The volume's multi-disciplinary approach vividly shows howM Kant attempts to develop a unified conception of science that can grant autonomy to the varying standards and practices internal to each scientific discipline while still retaining an important role for philosophy. Featuring the contributions of such leading Kant scholars as Karl Ameriks, Martin Carrier, Michael Friedman, Hannah Ginsborg, Paul Guyer, Manfred Kuehn, Rudolph Makkreel, Thomas Sturm, Daniel Warren, and Eric Watkins, Kant and the Sciences offers a more comprehensive and detailed understanding of Kant's philosophy of science than has previously been attempted.

Despite the diversity of individual theses argued for in this volume, its main purpose is to reexamine more closely Kant's considered attitude toward particular sciences in order to reevaluate Kant's natural philosophy as a whole. For upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that`Kant is not only aware of many details of the sciences of his day, but also quite sensitive to the different standards implicit in various scientific practices and their fundamental philosophical presuppositions. Moreover, throughout the course of his career-and despite statements he makes in one particular context, the preface to the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science-Kant does undertake a sustained attempt at developing a coherent and unified natural philosophy that nevertheless still respects these diverse standards. For example, Kant appreciates and even articulates the special achievements of Newtonian science, but he does not let the special status of physics blind him to the fact that other sciences, such as chemistry, anthropology, and biology, can be scientific in different senses. At the same time, Kant clearly strives to find a single philosophical standpoint, framework, or vocabulary from within which he can unite these various disciplines. Consequently, upon closer scrutiny of Kant's treatment of various sciences one can see that the way in which he engages in philosophical reflection about particular sciences and the unity that binds them together despite their diversity ought not to be immediately dismissed.


This volume attempts to contribute to this reexamination and reevaluation of Kant's account of the sciences in several ways. In chapter 1, Manfred Kuehn sets the proper stage for the remaining essays by delineating the local context of Kant's scientific education. In particular, Kuehn describes each relevant member of the philosophy faculty at the university in Konigsberg and what scientific activities each one was engaged in when Kant was a student there, giving us an informed sense of what Kant's scientific training was like. On the basis of this picture, Kuehn then argues that Kant's relationship with one of his teachers, Martin Knutzen (who is often thought to have been Kant's favorite teacher), may have been much more negative or critical than is typically supposed, an evaluation which has important implications especially for our reading of Kant's early works in natural philosophy.

Chapters 2 through 4 articulate at a very general level different possible roles that Kant's transcendental philosophy could play with respect to science. In chapter 2, Karl Ameriks first sets Kant in the broader context of modern philosophy as a whole by suggesting (in contrast to earlier commentators) that Kant not be understood primarily as attempting to (1) defeat skepticism, (2) promote "scientism," or (3) develop a radically new ontology. Ameriks suggests that Kant's philosophy aims rather at taking the claims of common sense at face value and then attempting to mediate between such claims and the claims of science. As Ameriks puts it: Kant sees "philosophy as a systematic articulation of the sphere of conceptual frameworks that mediate between the extremely informal and the highly formal levels of judgment within our complex objective picture of the world."

In chapter 3, Michael Friedman likewise focuses on the task of philosophy as conceived by Kant by considering the relationship between the general metaphysics of the Critique of Pure Reason and the special metaphysics of the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Kant claims that what distinguishes the latter from the former is that the latter presupposes an empirical concept, namely the concept of matter, whereas the former does not. Friedman argues that the concept of matter is empirical not in any ordinary sense, but rather in the sense that it requires actual perceptible objects to be given. As it turns out, on Friedman's account, only the system of contingently given, empirical objects of our solar system as described by Newtonian physics satisfies this requirement. This interpretation suggests (in contrast to Ameriks's interpretation) that "experience," whose possibility Kant is exploring in the first Critique, is exclusively "scientific experience" and that the task of theoretical philosophy thus lies primarily in understanding the conceptual presuppositions of scientific experience.

In chapter 4, Eric Watkins discusses Kant's acceptance of four principles of rational cosmology, namely the principles of no fate, no chance, no leap, and no gap. Watkins argues that these principles are neither purely analytic nor identical to the epistemological principles of the first Critique. Rather, they represent genuine, distinctively ontological principles that underlie the principles of empirical cosmology, which would be discovered empirically. This interpretation would suggest that for Kant philosophy is not governed exclusively (or primarily) by demands stemming from Newtonian science (as Friedman argues) or by attempts at mediating between it and common sense (as Ameriks suggests), but by ontological demands as well.

With these various interpretations of the general task of philosophy with regard to science in mind, one can turn to the remaining essays, which focus on Kant's attitude toward particular sciences. Chapters 5 through 7 focus on physics, which Kant, like many of his contemporaries, considered paradigmatic for other sciences in light of its exceptional rigor, clarity, and support. In chapter 5, Daniel Warren considers Kant's rejection of what Kant calls "mathematical-mechanical" explanations in physics in favor of "metaphysical-dynamical" explanations. In particular, Warren considers Kant's reason for rejecting solidity as a primary feature of bodies. Warren argues that Kant's rejection of solidity is based on his Critical doctrine that we can know only relational properties, whereas solidity is alleged to be an intrinsic or nonrelational property of bodies. Thus, Kant's views on physics (more specifically, on the type of explanation that should be preferred in physics) are driven at least in part by metaphysical considerations from the first Critique.

In chapter 6, Martin Carrier focuses on the question of how the masses of bodies are to be determined. Kant suggests that this determination is to be accomplished primarily by considering processes of collision and pressure, that is, specifically mechanical procedures, and by rejecting "dynamical" methods. However, Kant

then suggests that one can measure the masses of bodies by means of original attraction (in the form of balances) and, even more strikingly, he describes measurement by means of attraction as being mechanical, even if it is so "only indirectly." Carrier argues that Kant can make good sense of this suggestion by invoking the law of the equality of action and reaction (despite the fact that invoking this law is architectonically awkward insofar as this law appears after Kant's explanation of how mass is to be measured). This shows, contrary to what is often assumed, that Kant is quite adept at developing sophisticated philosophical interpretations of specific empirical scientific practices.

In chapter 7, Eric Watkins compares Kant's laws of mechanics with Newton's laws of motion, noting significant differences between the two. Watkins argues that these differences stem from the fact that Newton's Principia was received in an intellectual climate in eighteenth-century Germany dominated by rationalistic (Leibnizian-Wolffian) concerns. Considering this context helps one to understand Kant's position and arguments on a number of crucial issues in physics where Kant differs from Newton, such as the infinite divisibility of matter and action at a distance. Kant's differences from Newton are to be understood not necessarily as unintentional deviations caused by his transcendental or a priori methodology, but rather as intentional modifications undertaken as a result of a different set of concerns and aims.

Chapters 8 and 9 turn to consider "human sciences" in order to determine whether Kant rejects them as uniformly as is commonly maintained, and what his reasoning is in each case. In chapter 8, Thomas Sturm considers Kant's views on the scientific status of psychology. Kant repeatedly divides doctrines of nature into psychology and physics, since there are two kinds of objects of our senses (namely inner and outer), but in the preface to the Metaphysical Foundations Kant clearly denies that psychology can be science proper. However, Sturm first argues (philosophically) that Kant's denial of scientific status to psychology is based on a very specific understanding of the kind of mathematizability that is required for science. Sturm then argues (historically) that many of Kant's critical remarks about psychology are in fact directed not against psychology per se, but rather against a particular conception of psychology, namely a conception that goes back to Baumgarten and that was adopted by many psychologists in the eighteenth century, according to which introspection is the sole means of gathering evidence. Although this particular conception of psychology precludes it from being science proper, it is possible that other conceptions of psychology could allow it to be scientific, and even if introspection-based psychology cannot be science "proper," it is clear that for Kant psychology that is not introspection-based, which he would call anthropology, is still a significant factor in our knowledge of the world.

In chapter 9, Rudolf Makkreel explores Kant's views on a wide range of "human sciences," for example, psychology, anthropology, and history. By focusing on the development of Kant's thought throughout his various Anthropology lectures, re

cently published in volume 24 of the Akademie edition, Makkreel argues that psychology, history, geography, and especially anthropology are sciences in the sense of systematic disciplines that hang together not according to a theoretical idea, but rather according to a practical idea of the world-best, and that are guided by reflective rather than determinate judgment. Thus, these disciplines are to be understood not as theoretical natural sciences on a par with physics, but rather as pragmatic cultural sciences, since their aim is to give human beings the kind of knowledge necessary in order to be able to act in the world. In this way, anthropology in particular can become not a formal science, but a "generally useful science." Accordingly, it is clear not only that Kant considers these sciences to be important and scientific in a significant sense, but also that he displays tremendous subtlety and depth in reflecting on and describing the unique features and status of these sciences.

Chapters 10 through 12 consider the sciences of chemistry and biology. In chapter 10, Martin Carrier considers Kant's views on chemistry. As in the case of psychology, in the preface to the Metaphysical Foundations Kant claims that chemistry is not a proper science. However, in this case, Kant does not exclude the possibility that it could become a science at some point in the future. Carrier argues that Kant's rejection of chemistry as a science proper is based on his acceptance of one chemical theory in particular, namely a version of Stahl's chemistry of principles, which Carrier presents in detail, especially as it was understood throughout the eighteenth century. Carrier also argues that Kant's acceptance of a Stahlian chemistry of principles provides him with a prime example of the regulative ideals of reason that he introduces at a transcendental level in the first Critique. Again, we see that Kant is sensitive to the distinctive explanatory features of a particular science that he is intimately acquainted with, and utilizes these features in filling out his own transcendental philosophy, rather than vice versa.

In chapter 11, Hannah Ginsborg addresses two fundamental questions that Kant's attempt at understanding biology and biological explanation raises. First: What is the role of the concept of purpose in our investigation of organisms, and how does it relate to our failure to explain their origin in mechanical terms? Second: What is it to regard an organism as a purpose, given that we must also regard it as a product of nature? Ginsborg argues that for Kant understanding organisms essentially involves a unique kind of normativity. Again, even if Kant does not consider biology a "proper" science, he nevertheless thinks that we can have knowledge of organisms and, as in the case of chemistry, he even articulates a distinctive philosophical level of knowledge (in the Critique of Judgment) in order to be able to incorporate such knowledge into his comprehensive natural philosophy.

In chapter 12, Paul Guyer likewise considers Kant's understanding of organisms, yet Guyer undertakes a developmental approach to the issue, first presenting three different arguments Kant posits in the third Critique regarding the kind of explanation organisms require (namely teleological rather than mechanical) and then considering how Kant ultimately seems to find these arguments wanting in the Opus postumum. Due to Kant's sustained reflections on how to incorporate teleological explanations of organisms into his natural philosophy toward the end of his career, it would seem, Guyer argues, that it is ultimately only our awareness of the freedom of our own purposiveness that leads us to understand organisms in terms of purposes, which causes a fundamental split between the teleological and mechanical views of nature. In this way Kant can establish an important link between his theoretical and practical philosophy.

Despite all their differences, what these various essays seem to show, taken collectively, is that Kant is by no means a philosopher overly taken with or exclusively committed to the a priori. With respect to physics, it would seem that Kant's differences from Newton are not in fact imposed by his own a priori concerns but rather stem from his attempt at making sense of Newtonian physics where Newton could not. Moreover, Kant does not simply dismiss sciences other than physics as not living up to its standards. In the case of psychology and anthropology Kant is very sensitive to the way in which man is to be studied. In psychology Kant seems to be aware of the limitations of introspection as a means of investigating the mind, and in anthropology he expands his conception of knowledge to include a body of knowledge organized according to a practical rather than a theoretical idea. In chemistry, he incorporates (and possibly even improves upon) Stahl's theory of principles into a broader philosophical framework, and in biology he explores how teleological explanations need to be understood in terms of organisms rather than inert matter and in regulative rather than constitutive fashion. In all of these cases, Kant does not let himself be unduly influenced by either his own transcendental philosophy or the unique status achieved by physics. Rather, he reveals himself throughout as a natural philosopher reflecting in deep and interesting ways on how one might attempt to make sense of a plurality of sciences from a coherent and unified philosophical perspective.

The Philosophy of the Young Kant: The Precritical Project by Martin Schonfeld (Oxford University Press) studies the philosophical development of Kant during the so-called pre-critical years (1746-1766). Attempting to overturn a scholarly tradition of discounting Kant's writing before the publication of the first "Critique" (1781), Schnfeld convincingly argues for the importance of Kant's attempt to integrate the developments of Newtonian science and the traditional values of Western morality and religion during the years under discussion. Martin Schnfeld manages to weave this very diverse and difficult material together with great intellectual rigor.

This book is an outstanding contribution to a somewhat neglected area of Kant scholarship; it will also be of interest to anyone interested in the history of scientific, religious, and moral ideas during the Enlightenment. The author's prose is excellent, and he makes his work accessible to the non-specialized reader by relegating some of the technical and scholarly detail of the book to fifty pages of very interesting notes at the end of the book. The Philosophy of the Young Kant contains an outstanding multi-lingual bibliography.

Because of its clarity and critical acumen, The Philosophy of the Young Kant will be of interest to both undergraduate and graduate readers in many different disciplines. Reading Dr. Schonfeld's book as a preparation to the "The Critique of Pure Reason" will make access to the notoriously difficult problems and terminology of that book much easier.

This intellectual biography of Immanuel Kant's early years‑from 1746 when he wrote his first book, to 1766 when he lost his faith in metaphysics‑makes an outstanding contribution to Kant scholarship. Martin Schonfeld meticulously examines most of Kant's early works, summarizes their content, and exhibits their shortcomings and strengths. He places the early theories in their historical context and describes the scientific discoveries and philosophical innovations that distinguish Kant's pre‑critical works.

Kant's early philosophy has often been dismissed as an eclectic combination of Leibnizian and Newtonian ideas. Here, Sch6nfeld boldly claims that this early philosophy was considerably more ingenious and original than traditional scholarship has recognized. He argues that almost all of Kant's early works were aspects of a single project to arrive at a coherent model of nature. The young Kant ambitiously pursued this goal through reconciliation of Newtonian physics with the cornerstones of metaphysics‑the existence of God, the possibility of freedom, and the purpose of the universe. The Philosophy of the Young Kant deftly traces the fate of this precritical project from its tentative beginnings to its climax and eventual collapse.

This new look at Kant's pre‑critical project is sure to spark controversy among scholars whose long‑held assumptions are called into question. Schonfeld's unified interpretation of Kant's early philosophy is must reading for historians of philosophy and science, philosophers, and scholars of eighteenth‑century thought.


THIS BOOK is about the young Kant. It is an investigation of the first two decades of his philosophical life, from the Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces (1746/7) to the Dreams of a Spirit‑Seer (1766). I examine the rise and fall of the "precritical" theories and place them in their historical and topical context‑exploring how Kant resolved problems his predecessors and contemporaries were wrestling with, how his proposals for settling the issues compared to theirs, and in particular, how his inquiries cohered in what could be called the "precritical project." This project was the expression of Kant's desire to create a systematic philosophy of nature. He wanted to harmonize scientific and metaphysical perspectives such that the paradigm of explaining nature, Newtonian physics, could be reconciled with the deepest metaphysical convictions. These convictions were the presence of purpose, the possibility of moral freedom, and the existence of a divine being. The quest for such a reconciliation was the driving force behind the early Kant.

Part I (the 1740s) concerns the very beginnings of Kant's philosophy. Kant wrote his first book, the Living Forces, in response to a question. The question concerned the nature of force and involved a complicated dispute over its metaphysical character and mathematical measurement. The Living Forces contained an attempt at the problem's resolution. Soon after, Kant realized that his response had not been adequate. His realization of its particular flaws prepared the way for the precritical project.

Part II (the 1750s) is about the emergence of the precritical project. Kant signaled his conversion to Newtonian physics with the Spin Cycle essay, a conversion that gave the incipient precritical project its direction. Now he began to build a grand system of nature. He tried to reconcile physical processes with purpose in the Universal Natural History, endeavored to deduce the compatibility of mechanical determinism with freedom in the New Elucidation , and attempted to link physics, teleology, and ontology through a theory of active matter outlined in the Physical Monadology.

Part IlI (the 1760s) is the story of the completion and collapse of Kant's project. He extended the precritical project to God and advanced a physical and a metaphysical argument for a divine being in the Only Possible Argument. Next he concerned himself with the question of method. In the Prize Essay, he assessed the viability of metaphysical research and suggested a way of unifying the strategies of metaphysics and science. But Kant was forced to realize that his earlier efforts did not meet the demands of the new methodology and that his philosophical edifice had been built on unstable ground. This realization led to an intellectual and emotional crisis. The Dreams of a Spirit‑Seer reveals the depth of Kant's torments and represents the difficult recognition of the precritical project's failure. The objects of science and the entities of metaphysics do not reside in the same world, and accordingly Kant divorced them in the Inaugural Dissertation.

Kant’s Continuos Reckonings Toward Autonomy

 Problems from Kant by James Van Cleve is a rigorous examination of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason ( in our view the best current translation) provides a comprehensive analysis of the major metaphysical and epistemological questions of Kant's most famous work. Author James Van Cleve presents clear and detailed discussions of Kant's positions and arguments on these themes, as well as critical assessments of Kant's reasoning and conclusions.

Expansive in its scope, Van Cleve's study covers the overall structure of Kant's idealism, the existence and nature of synthetic a priori knowledge, the epistemology of geometry, and the ontological status of space, time, and matter. Other topics explored are the role of synthesis and the categories in making experience and objects of experience possible, the concepts of substance and causation, issues surrounding Kant's notion of the thing in itself, the nature of the thinking self, and the arguments of rational theology. A concluding chapter discusses the affinities between Kant's idealism and contemporary antirealism, in particular the work of Putnam and Dummett.

Unlike some interpreters, Van Cleve takes Kant's professed idealism seriously, finding it at work in his solutions to many problems. He offers a critique in Kant's own sense-a critical examination leading to both negative and positive verdicts. While finding little to endorse in some parts of Kant's system that have won contemporary favor (for example, the deduction of the categories) Van Cleve defends other aspects of Kant's thought that are commonly impugned (for instance, the existence of synthetic a priori truths and things in themselves). This vital study makes a significant contribution to the literature, while at the same time making Kant's work accessible to serious students.


James Van Cleve is Professor of Philosophy at Brown University. He is the co-editor of The Philosophy of Right and Left: Incongruent Counterparts and the Nature of Space with Robert E. Frederick (1991). His interests in addition to Kant include contemporary metaphysics and epistemology and the philosophies of Descartes and Reid.

The best edition of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason currently available is the Cambridge unabridged edition. However Hackett Publishing Company’s abridged Critique of Pure Reason offers the more germane arguments of the original with less of the asides that so distract undergraduates.

THE UNITY OF REASON: Rereading Kant by Susan Neiman and KANT'S TRANSCENDENTAL PSYCHOLOGY by Patricia Kitcher are two other exceptional studies of the philosopher. However the work now appearing by Karl Ameriks is likely to permanently refocus how we understand Kantian philosophy itself, and especially how it needs to be put into a historical reckoning of the reception of the philosophers works.

KANT AND THE FATE OF AUTONOMY (hardcover) (PAPERBACK) by Karl Ameriks is a major piece of historical hermeneutics, that discusses in depth why Kant has been understood in certain ways and not others. By providing the first systematic study of the underlying structure of the reaction to Kant's Critical philosophy in the writings of Reinhold, Fichte, and Hegel, Ameriks challenges the presumptions that dominate popular approaches to the concept of freedom, and to the interpretation of the relation between the Enlightenment, Kant, and post-Kantian thought.

It has been claimed that Kant's all-consuming efforts to place autonomy at the center of philosophy have had, in the long run, the unintended effects of leading to the widespread discrediting of philosophy and of undermining the notion of autonomy itself. The result of this "Copernican revolution" has seemed to many commentators the de-centering, if not the self-destruction, of the autonomous self.

In this major reinterpretation of Kant and the post-Kantian response to his critical philosophy, Ameriks argues that such a view of Kant rests on a series of misconceptions. He demonstrates that the thought of Kant's successors (such as Fichte and Hegel) was determined by a radical Enlightenment conception of autonomy developed by Karl Reinhold, and that this conception entailed a serious distortion of Kant's more modest approach. The influence of Reinhold continues to mar current interpretation of Kant.

Ameriks’s study begins with a reminder of Kant's own sharp public repudiation in 1798 of his first successors. Kant himself could not have known or foreseen the details that Ameriks uncovers by examining the main stages in the later development in German idealism.

Kant was certainly familiar with his own philosophy, and he was expressly disinclined to follow the route of the core consciousness-only of Reinhold or what he could make out of the Wissenschaftslehre of Fichte. Most interpreters would surely agree that, if he had the chance, Kant would have also kept a similar distance from Hegel.

Ameriks offers an extended argument about why Kant would have been right to repudiate his successors, since on Ameriks’s account there is a basic structure to Kant's philosophy that undergoes significant modification in Reinhold's work. These modifications then determine, although in a now largely forgotten way, major features and corresponding weaknesses in the better-known systems of both Fichte and Hegel. But Ameriks’s account can hardly claim to be an exhaustive study of the issue. Like any investigation of this length, it must be very incomplete, but is it also unfair or misleading? This charge is obviously most worrisome with respect to the treatment of Hegel, since Hegel is the most complex of all these writers, and yet Ameriks’s discussion of him here has given him the least space.

A landmark study in the historical reconstruction and reception of Kantian interpretation, KANT AND THE FATE OF AUTONOMY will be of particular interest to all students of Kant as well as those in fields such as intellectual history, political theory, and religious studies concerned with issues of autonomy and modernity.

Karl Ameriks is McMahon-Hank Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.


In reply to this worry I would stress, first, that although the previous two chapters give only a partial presentation of Hegel's philosophy, they do seek to address the most basic points of Hegel's direct criticism of the fundamentals of Kant's theoretical and practical philosophy. Obviously there is more to be said; the comparison of Kant and Hegel continues to be carried out with ever-growing intensity in the current literature, and by now it has certainly reached a point that defies overview. Elsewhere, however, I have offered critical evaluations of several of the more important recent contributions to this immense discussion, and these evaluations reiterate the argument that establishing specific ways in which Hegel improved on Kant's approach is much more difficult than is commonly recognized. I Documenting this point further here would involve getting into detailed skirmishes with the secondary literature that would deflect from the main issues of this book, which concern the character of the immediate reaction to Kant.

In stressing various overlooked ways in which post-Kantians have committed what seem to me to be to some serious philosophical errors with many long-term effects, I do not mean to deny that one could write a quite different story, as many scholars have, emphasizing much more positive developments in philosophy after Kant. It is obvious that there are many important new issues that Hegel and the other idealists introduce to philosophy, and on`which they make invaluable contributions, contributions that so far I have not given even a passing acknowledgment - for example, Reinhold's late work on language and phenomenology, Fichte's path-breaking social doctrines, Hegel's notion of alienation or his work in aesthetics. I have by no means been trying to argue that the road in German philosophy after Kant - not even the main highway from Jena to Berlin - is one that goes steadily downhill. I have even noted that there

are weaknesses and ambiguities in Kant's work that were doubtless at least a catalyst for the very errors of the idealists that I have stressed. The key question that remains is simply, given the specific finding of the last two chapters, what are the most basic conclusions to be drawn about how Hegel's system stands with respect to the fundamental changes in theoretical philosophy and practical philosophy that Reinhold and Fichte introduced because of their overriding concern with autonomy?

With respect to theoretical philosophy, it is significant that Hegel himself is not at all tempted by the representationalism that Reinhold and Fichte carried over from Jacobi. He remains very interested in skepticism, but he is not concerned primarily with the problem of the external world. He comes into the discussion late enough to appreciate the problems arising from anything like Reinhold's suggestion that philosophy could base itself on a single "principle of consciousness." Above all, he rejects the desperate strategy of moving from the theoretical weaknesses of the representationalist Jstarting point to insisting on a purely practical foundation for philosophy. Like Kant, he instead takes the weaknesses of a subjective theoretical starting point to be a good reason for seeking a better theoretical method rather than a reason for moving immediately to moral and practical considerations, especially ones that make strong categorical claims all on their own.

These are all important differences, but my point has been that they take place within a model of philosophy that inherits more that is distinctive of the post-Kantians than of Kant himself. This is because Hegel's system remains a monistic whole. It is equipped with a conception of the base, development, boundary, and ultimate goal of philosophy that agrees with Reinhold's and Fichte's most fundamental departures from Kant. Like Fichte and Reinhold, Hegel insists on absolute certainty for philosophy, and hence he continues the attack on Kant's reliance on the contingent starting point of common experience. Like them, he also resists making a fundamental distinction between space and time and other notions, and thus he rejects the major organizing principle in the development of Kant's theoretical philosophy. If space and time are rooted in pure notions, it is no wonder that there is no room in Hegel's system for the ultimate contingency of human knowledge. It is not easy to say if Hegel is wrong on this very difficult issue, but it is clear at the very least that he continues to follow the Reinhold-Fichte pattern of thinking that philosophy can develop simply by deducing features from concepts alone, without allowing an irreducible role in philosophy for our specific kind of sensible intuition. A similar insistence on radical rather than modest systematicity is carried over in Hegel's Fichtean desire to have a linearly deduced set of categories, rather than accepting anything like a "given" table from "common logic." Also, insofar as Hegel's idealism does not rest on the specific limitations of space and time, its metaphysics resembles the post-Kantian systems and the perspective of the "short argument" much more than Kant's own transcendental idealism. It is no wonder that Hegel does without the thing in itself altogether, and that he has no interest at all in a literal reading of the Kantian postulates and the meaningfulness (whatever one thinks of their theoretical justifiability) of traditional doctrines in rational theology and psychology.

In the metaphysical dimension of practical philosophy, it is also clear that Hegel remains closer to the post-Kantians than to Kant on the fundamental issue of autonomy. Although Reinhold and Fichte remained interested in a traditional libertarian view, they expressly did not follow Kant in working out a metaphysical dimension in which uncaused causation could take place. This left their position more mysterious than Kant's own. Hegel shared Fichte's disinterest in the metaphysics of uncaused causes, but he resisted Fichte's "practical" libertarianism as well as the Fichtean thought that backing off from libertarianism would make one a bad "dogmatist." As I have noted, he was willing to risk a position that, despite many unclarities, ultimately seems closer to compatibilism than any of the other classical options. The crucial point is that Hegel seems willing to allow that the "freedom" of human beings need not involve a truly absolute spontaneity of their own (here he is, ironically, closest to his Berlin archenemy, Schleiermacher). This move gives him a crucial advantage over Kant and the other post-Kantians insofar as they adhere without qualification to a language of absolute freedom but must admit that they have no strict proof for their most basic commitment.

There are only a few basic options left at this point. The Kantian option, as I understand it, is to endorse libertarianism, to accept what seem to be the findings of the best of modern science, and to see if there can be some way of constructing a rational metaphysics that leaves room for both. Kant's transcendental idealism is at least a consistent option within this framework.

Another option is to insist explicitly on the fundamental importance of absolute freedom, but to undercut all theoretical grounds for making sense of such a doctrine. On my account, this manifestly unattractive position is precisely what Reinhold and Fichte held, even though Fichte and his school thought it was actually Kant who was caught in absurdity. The decisive issue here is simply whether Kant's transcendental idealism is clearly incoherent in its own terms, a claim that I have denied.

But I have also stressed the fact that even if Kant's option may be preferable to that of his immediate successors, it does not follow that his philosophy is without problems. In other words, we are back again at the "fact of reason" and Kant's embarrassing lack of a non-practical evidence base for the absolute freedom that he puts so much weight upon. Given the emphasis that Kant himself puts on evidence, on what is truly clear to common sense, and on not relying on practical considerations alone, he has painted himself into a difficult corner -at least for an era in which libertarianism and common sense do not clearly overlap, if they ever did.

It may appear that by emphasizing this point, I have taken away much of the force of my extensive attempt to rehabilitate Kant. But to say that it would be much better if Kant had a non-question-begging ground - and not only a "not clearly incoherent conceptual space" - for his belief in freedom, is not to say that he has an untenable position. Such a claim depends on what the alternatives are. Kant's position looks awkward simply because he draws special attention to the difficulty of the issue. He does not run away into a practical foundationalism or presume that we can make categorical metaphysical assertions ("I really am absolutely free" or "I absolutely cannot help but regard myself as free") without some meaningful metaphysical space for such manifestly nonphysical claims. In the end, I do not see my account, critical though it is, as in any way undercutting Kant's position. Kant's view is epistemologically still much more sophisticated than what one can find in earlier geniuses such as Descartes or Leibniz, and in every way it is much better thought out than that of his immediate successors.

But Hegel presents us with at least one more option. I have stressed that on the issue of freedom, like other sensitive issues, Hegel "plays it safe" and seems to use the language of freedom while not being always open about the deterministic implications of his system and the need to address more directly the issue of whether he is really espousing compatibilism. To this extent, Hegel seems to be methodologically less admirable than Kant. The investigations in Chapter 6 of his theoretical discussions of Kant provide evidence that his doctrine of freedom, like his treatment of other basic issues, could be rooted not in hidden depth but simply in some bad and unfair arguments. But the investigations in Chapter 7 reveal that at the origins of Hegel's philosophy there are some complex and impressive considerations about precisely one of the most difficult aspects of the whole Kantian doctrine of freedom - the problem of making comprehensible how it could be at all attractive to think of oneself as so "free" that one could freely commit one's whole "cast of mind" against morality, and yet find something in oneself that would allow for an autonomous "revolution" back toward morality. From Hegel's perspective, Kant's discussion of "moral conversion" in traditional metaphysical terms departs too much from understandable natural senses of "autonomy, "3 senses where the fulfilled self is (as Bradley put it) not one that "is fallen from heaven." Hegel is still attracted to the overriding value of some kind of autonomy, but one without the commitment to libertarianism that defined Reinhold and Fichte. His alternative is to redefine the self-determining "self" in explicitly social and historical terms, and to emphasize the autonomy of reason as an immanent whole.

This leaves us with at least two consistent options that seem more feasible than the halfway houses of Fichte and Reinhold. The first is Kant's coherent but somewhat mysterious libertarian autonomy mysterious because it accepts not only absolute freedom, but also phenomenal determinism and radical evil. The second is Hegel's non-libertarian "autonomy." This position is also not inconsistent or absurd, but it could be much more forthright in its admission of determinism, and much more honest about the fact that "autonomy" can be mysterious even without involving noumenal freedom or conversion from radical evil. If we are not absolutely spontaneous in being the absolute cause of our actions, some other story must be given about how we are following not only a "law" of some kind but a law truly of "our" own. This is the challenge Hegelianism must meet to keep its post-Kantian version of autonomy from ultimately suffering the same fate as that of the other post-Kantians, the fate of becoming a word for a power of the "self" that has no recognizable ultimate location for the individual, and that is in that sense a self in name only.

KANT AND THE CLAIMS OF TASTE: Second Edition by Paul Guyer (Cambridge University Press, $59.95, cloth, 424 pages, notes, bibliography, index) 0-521-57287-8 )


KANT AND THE CLAIMS OF TASTE now in paperback in a revised version, has become since its initial publication in 1979 the standard commentary on Kant’s aesthetic theory. The book offers a detailed account of Kant’s views on judgments of taste, aesthetic pleasure, imagination and many other topics. For this new paper edition, Paul Guyer has provided a new foreword and has added a chapter on Kant’s conception of fine art.

This reissue will complement the author’s companion volume, Kant and the Experience of Freedom, which places Kant’s aesthetics in its historical context and examines the fundamental connection between Kant’s aesthetics and his moral theory.

Foreword to the Second Edition
Introduction: The Problem of Taste
Ch. 1. Kant's Early Views
The Norms of Taste
Pleasure and Knowledge
Pleasure and Communicability
The Approach to an A Priori Principle
Ch. 2. The Theory of Reflective Judgment
Kant's Opening Analogies
Reflective Judgment and the Systematicity of Nature
The Finality of Natural Forms
Aesthetic and Reflective Judgment: Final Comments
Ch. 3. The Harmony of the Faculties
Pleasure and Subjectivity
Pleasure and the Goal of Cognition
Pleasure and the Consciousness of Harmony
Two Kinds of Reflective Judgment
Ch. 4. A Universal Voice
The Organization of the Analytic
A Universal Voice
The Singularity of Aesthetic Judgment
The Key to the Critique of Taste
The Necessity of Aesthetic Judgment
Ch. 5. The Disinterestedness of Aesthetic Judgment
Problems in the Official Exposition
Interests and Concepts
Interests and Existence
The Evidence of Disinterestedness
Ch. 6. The Form of Finality
Objective Rules for Taste
The Form of Finality
The Appearance of Design
Form and Matter
Form and Concepts
Abstraction and the Freedom of the Imagination
Ch. 7. The Task of the Deduction
The Universal Validity of Pleasure
Sources of Confusion
Sublimity, Natural Beauty, and Artistic Beauty
Constraints on the Deduction
Ch. 8. The Deduction: First Attempt
The Idea of a Common Sense
Common Sense and the Possibility of Knowledge
Knowledge, Communication, and Proportion
Common Sense - Regulative or Constitutive?
Ch. 9. The Deduction: Second Attempt
The Subjective Conditions of Knowledge
Conditions and Proportions
A Regulative Principle of Taste
Ch. 10. The Metaphysics of Taste
A Dialectic of Taste
A Supersensible Substratum
Metaphysics and Skepticism
Ch. 11. Aesthetics and Morality
Completing the Deduction?
Beauty and the Disposition to Morality
Moral Interest in the Beautiful
Beauty as the Symbol of Morality
Art and Morality
Ch. 12. Kant's Conception of Fine Art
The Paradox of Art
The Intention to Please
Genius and the Aesthetic Idea
The Classification of the Arts
Art, Metaphysics, and Morality Revisited
Translations Consulted
Abbreviations Used in the Notes
Index of Passages
General Index

KANT AND THE EXPERIENCE OF FREEDOM: Essays on Aesthetics and Morality by Paul Guyer (Cambridge University Press, $69.95, hardcover, 0-521-41431-8 )


This collection of essays by one of the preeminent Kant scholars of our time transforms our understanding of both Kant’s aesthetics and his ethics. Kant is still widely regarded as the father of the aesthetics of formalism and the doctrine of art for art’s sake. Guyer shows, however, that Kant treats the disinterestedness of taste that is the core of his aesthetic theory as an experience of freedom and thus creates an essential connection between aesthetics and the interests of morality. At the same time Guyer reveals how Kant’s moral theory includes a distinctive place for the cultivation of both general moral sentiments and particular attachments even on the basis of the most rigorous principle of historical context including such figures as Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, Burke, and James, as well as Baumgarten, Mendelssohn, Schiller, and Hegel. Topics treated include the sublime, natural versus artistic beauty, genius and art history, and duty and inclination. These essays (half published here for the first time) extend and enrich the account of Kant’s aesthetics in the author’s book, Kant and the Claims of Taste (1979). They will be of particular interest to all Kant scholars, professional philosophers concerned with aesthetics and ethics, intellectual historians, and students of German literature.


edited by Paul Guyer

Cambridge Companions to Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, $75.00, cloth, 0-521-36587-2 )


LECTURES ON METAPHYSICS by Immanuel Kant, translated and edited by Karl Ameriks and`Steve Naragon, (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant, Cambridge University Press, $85.00, cloth, 642 pages, notes, bibliography, indexes, 0-521-36012-9 )

The purpose of the Cambridge Edition is to offer translations of the best modern German edition of Kant’s work in a`uniform format suitable for Kant scholars. When complete (fourteen volumes are currently envisaged), the edition will include all of Kant’s published writings and a generous selection from the unpublished writings such as the Opus postumum, handschnfliche Nachlass, lectures, and correspondence.

This volume contains the first translation into English of notes from Kant’s lectures on metaphysics. These lectures, dating from the 1760s to the 1780s, touch on all the major topics and phases of Kant’s philosophy. Most of these notes appeared only recently in the German Academy’s edition; this translation offers many corrections of that edition.

As is standard in the volumes of the Cambridge Edition, there is substantial editorial apparatus. In this case, there are extensive explanatory and linguistic notes, a detailed subject index, glossaries of key terms, and a concordance that coordinates all of Kant’s lectures on metaphysics with Baumgarten’s Metaphysics, the textbook that Kant himself used.

LECTURES ON ETHICS by Immanuel Kant, edited by Peter Heath and J.B. Schneewind, translated by Peter Heath (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant, Cambridge University Press; $75.00, cloth, 507 pages, notes, bibliography, indexes, 0-521-56061-6 )

This volume contains four versions of the lecture notes taken by Kant’s students in his university courses in ethics given regularly over a period of some thirty years. The notes are very comprehensive and expound not only Kant s views on ethics but many of his opinions on life and human nature as well.

Much of this material has never before been translated into English. As In other volumes in the series, there are copious linguistic and explanatory notes and a glossary of key terms.

Within a few years of the publication of his Critique of Pure Reason in 1781, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was recognized by his contemporaries as one of the seminal philosophers of modern times - indeed as one of the great philosophers of all time. This renown soon spread beyond German speaking lands, and translations of Kant’s work into English were published even before 1800. Since then, interpretations of Kant’s views have come and gone and loyalty to his positions has waxed and waned, but his importance has not diminished. Generations of scholars have devoted their efforts to producing reliable translations of Kant into English as well as into other languages.

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