The Philosophy of the Young Kant: The Precritical Project

The Philosophy of the Young Kant: The Precritical Project

Martin Schönfeld

Language: English

Pages: 365

ISBN: 2:00229492

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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. Schönfeld 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. Schönfeld argues that these works were all aspects of a single project carried out by Kant to reconcile metaphysical and scientific perspectives and combine them into a coherent model of nature.


"Schonfeld's grasp of the history of science is impressive, and his reconstructions of the young Kant's historical context are meticulous and instructive. By persuasively illustrating the inner logic of Kant's early development, Schonfeld's clear, well-organized, and copiously annotated book makes an important contribution to Kant scholarship."--The Review of Metaphysics


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Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas

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(1740; ‘‘Philosophical Demonstration of the Truth of the Christian Religion’’), Knutzen couched Pietist tenets in a school-philosophical framework in order to argue against the heresy of the ‘‘freethinkers,’’ the English Deists. He wrote a logic textbook, the Elementa philosophiae rationalis seu logicae cum generalis tum specialioris mathematica methodo demonstrata (1747; ‘‘A Mathematical Exposition of the Elements of Basic and Advanced Rational Philosophy or Logic’’), as well as a sophisticated

different) versions of a plenum.17 Kant’s ‘‘infinitely small spatial resistance’’ emphasized the great rarefaction of an ether that remained dynamically relevant. He considered a Newtonian void as a theoretical possibility with certain kinematic implications in #17, but he did not (and could not) utilize it on behalf of living force. The purpose of the Living Forces was to reconcile Leibnizian dynamics and Cartesian kinematics, both of which presuppose a plenum. Considering this context, Kant’s

heat, hence, the proximity to the sun, has a positive effect on organic activity (4ieme soir, 2:78–9). He had painted a picture of planetary citizens ranging from the small, sun-blackened, and heat-frazzled Mercurians The Universal Natural History 121 crazily dashing about, to the ponderous and somber sages on Saturn, smart but glum, who coolly pursue their affairs (2:94–5). Like Fontenelle, Kant believed that heat affects organic but not intellectual activity. As fire keeps matter in a state

the New Elucidation the required ontological sequel to the cosmology of the Universal Natural History. The main difficulty, Kant thought, consisted of harmonizing the efficient causation represented by physical influx with the spontaneous causation of freedom. There is a fundamental asymmetry between these two causal species. According to the efficient causation that characterizes physical processes, the causal chains that connect objects with each other are continu- 130 The 1750s: The Precritical

principle, he asserts that ‘‘individual substances have a separate existence’’ (WM 40; I 413:3–4). That a substance can exist in isolation The New Elucidation 153 means that interaction is not an essential property of substances. As he explains, If . . . nothing further than this [positing of the separate existence of individual substances] were admitted, no substance would stand in relation to any other substance, and there would be no interaction at all between substances. (WM 40; cf. I

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