Kantian Journal

2014 Issue №1(47)

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J. N. Tetens’s ‘transcendental philosophy’ as a basic science¬ and criti¬cal propaedeutics to metaphysics



In his treatise On General Speculative Philosophy, J. N. Tetens sets out to justify the possibility and necessity of metaphysics as a general speculative science. His primary objective is to defend metaphysics against the opponents, the most serious of which, in Tetens’s opinion, is D. Hume. In this connection, Tetens sharply criticises traditional empiricism and develops a new perspective on experience and the bases of its certainty. The main target of his critique is ‘popular philosophy’, which appeals to common understanding; he seeks to defend it from the criticism of systemic knowledge in general and metaphysics in particular. In the argument between the advocates of the Leibniz-Wolff geometric philosophy and their opponents — enlighteners-eclecticists and pietists, Tetens manages to take a neutral position conducting a synthesis of the British observingphilosophy, French ‘reasoning philosophy’, and the Leibniz-Wolff ‘geometric philosophy’. Tetens attempts to show the limitedness of common understanding and the supremacyof scientific reason. In this relation, he is an advocate of the Leibniz and Wolff’s philosophy oriented towards the ideal of scientific reason. He identifies to major branches of metaphysics: intellectual metaphysics based on internal experience and dealing with incorporeal entities and the ‘philosophy of the corporeal’ dealing with the things corporealand their properties (physics, mathematics, etc.). Both branches of metaphysics require a common basic science, which would define their status of theoretical sciences. Tetens calls such science ‘transcendental philosophy’, since its notions are transcendental. Having rejected reductionism and the related metaphysical premises of traditional empiricism, Tetens creates the framework for a new, phenomenological methodologyaimed at such study of consciousness that would exclude attitudes based on the prejudices of the metaphysical and common understanding.


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