Kantian Journal

Current issue

ARTICLES

Kant’s Philosophy

The Paradox of Kant’s Transcendental Subject in German Philosophy in the Late Eighteenth Century

Abstract

The study of the “first wave” of reactions to the Critique of Pure Reason in Germany from the second half of the 1780s until the beginning of the nineteenth century reveals the paradoxical status of the Kantian transcendental subject. While the existence of the transcendental subject, whatever the term means, is not open to question since it arises from the very essence of critical philosophy, the fundamental status of the subject is sometimes questioned in this period. Although the meaning of the concept of transcendental subject seems obvious today (the subject of cognition, bearer of transcendental conditions of experience) it lends itself to various interpretations in the late eighteenth century. To achieve my goal I have undertaken a textological analysis of the works of the earliest opponents and followers of the Kantian critique and a reconstruction of the conceptual field in the midst of which the transcendental subject has been planted. Among others I draw on the works of J. S. Beck, J. A. Eberhard, J. G. Hamann, F. H. Jacobi, S. Maimon, K. L. Reinhold, G. E. Schulze and A. Weishaupt. The authors of the period are grouped depending on the common themes and questions that prompted them to turn to the concept of the transcendental subject, even though the results of their reflections did not always coincide. These authors think of the transcendental subject in its relationship to the transcendental object, or as “something = х”, and in terms of the relationship of representation to the object. It is characterised sometimes as something absolutely hollow, and sometimes as the fullness of true reality. The status ascribed to the transcendental subject is sometimes that of a thing-in-itself and sometimes that of a “mere” idea. Finally, Kant’s transcendental subject was sometimes seen as something to be overcome and sometimes as an infinite challenge to understanding.

Download an article

The Universe of Science. The Architectonic Ideas of Science, Sciences and their Parts in Kant

Abstract

I argue that Kant has developed a broad systematic account of the architectonic functionality of pure reason that can be used and advanced in contemporary contexts. Reason, in the narrow sense, is responsible for the picture of a well-ordered universe of science consisting of architectonic ideas of science, sciences and parts of sciences. In the first section (I), I show what Kant means by the architectonic ideas by explaining and interrelating the concepts of (a) the faculty of reason, (b) ideas (as principles), (c) method, and (d) sciences of reason. Thereafter (II), I think through his holistic understanding of science and scientific progress and suggest differentiating between four levels of use of architectonic ideas, drawing on the metaphor of a well-structured universe as imagined by Kant in his work on the Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens. I also claim that each possible idea of reason can be (apart from its primary function) additionally regarded as a fourth-level architectonic concept when explicitly conceived as an object of (e. g. philosophical) studies, i. e. from a mere methodological perspective. In the final section (III), I unveil the potential of Kant’s theory by pointing out how this architectonic methodological function of pure reason is tacitly used in Karl-Otto Apel’s contemporary philosophical research programme.

Download an article

Kant: pro et contra

Kants „moralisch-bestimmter Monotheismus“ – eine an der „wahren Aufklärung“ orientierte Kritik an Lessings Ringparabel?

Abstract

Numerous passages in the context of Kant’s philosophy of religion show without doubt his acquaintance with Lessing. But apart from the obvious affinity and agreement between Kant and Lessing with regard to many substantial questions, serious differences cannot be overlooked; the frequently diagnosed closeness and widely suspected “harmony” between the two is probably also the primary reason why important factual differences and controversial aspects have so far usually been neglected or ignored in research, although they still continue to raise problems and controversies in the context of the Enlightenment and the philosophy of religion. Although Lessing and Kant are both committed to the ideas of the Enlightenment and also appear as “related in essence”, above all with regard to religio-philosophical questions, Kant’s “moral determined monotheism” also contains an obvious criticism of Lessing’s religio-philosophical doctrines. This is also obvious in Kant’s — direct and indirect — confrontation with the “Ring Parable” in Lessing’s drama Nathan the Wise. The criticism that becomes apparent there concerns above all the question of “principles” left unclarified by Lessing, the “equal rank” of the monotheistic religions which he claimed, and the asserted “competition of religions.” I investigate some of the main points of this criticism.

Download an article

ARCHIVE

DISCUSSION

Immanuel Kant – Racist and Colonialist?

Abstract

A murder of an Afro-American detainee by a policeman at the end of May 2020 caused a public outrage in the United States, which led to a campaign against the monuments to historical figures whose reputation, according to the protesters, was marred by racism. Some German publicists, impressed by the campaign, initiated an analogous search for racists among the national thinkers and politicians of the past. Suddenly Kant emerged as a ‘scapegoat’. This statement is an attempt to assess such reactions from the perspective of Russia’s experience.

Download an article

BOOK REVIEWS