Kantian Journal

2015 Issue №4(54)

Another Critical Idealism of Hermann Cohen

Abstract

This article attempts to answer the question as to why one should study Cohen. The author’s first and preliminary answer is that the study of Hermann Cohen’s thought is relevant to contemporary philosophy due to at least five reasons: (1) Cohen’s improvement of critical idealism of subject through replacing it with the idealism of ideas; (2) the exposition of thought as the ethics of law; (3) the development of the notion of anticipation as the principle of time, history, and interpretation; (4) the exposition of critical idealism as a form of idealism that is not violent, totalitarian or reductive, but rather is an idealism aimed at alterity and the other; (5) the role of history and especially the history of Judaism in constructing a religion of reason and the developing the concept of Judaism. According to Cohen, thinking is the thinking of first elements. However, he understands the first elements not only as the beginning of any thinking process, but also as the first principle of critical thinking, whereas the ‘first principles’ of critical thinking are the act of questioning. Cohen believes that thinking is generated from itself. Thinking sets itself as the goal and objective, which emphasises the self-expanding nature of thinking, the original self-generation. Initially, thinking is one of the meanings of the term ‘pure’, which suggests that thinking in itself — rather than external influences — is an impetus for the movement,. It is concluded that, having overcome the dualism of reception and spontaneity, critical idealism received a positive impulse. They are consistent with each other, because the idea — understood as a hypothesis — forms the basis for (scientific) knowledge. Therefore, critical idealism can be defined as the idealism of ideas as opposed to the idealism of the subject. According to Cohen, thinking is shaped in the course of making judgments. Judgment determines the ratio between two different concepts; therefore, Cohen defines judgment as an act of ‘separation’ and ‘association’. This means that the judgment is an act of generation through the variable directions of separation and association. Thus, the Marburg philosopher defines discursive thinking as a correlation between separation and association. Therefore, discursive thinking can be defined as the penetration and preservation of the direction variables of separation and association activities. This means that the preservation of direction variables is a distinctive feature representing a scheme of thinking and, therefore, a system of philosophy. Schemes of thinking are not determined by synthesis or removal, but rather by preservation. In conclusion, it is possible to state that, in Cohen’s critical idealism, this belongs to the basic structure of the pure activity, which generates thought, and that thought is a sign of otherness and the other.

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Bogdan Kistiakovy’s Project of “State of the Future” as Synthesis of the Ideas of Liberalism and Socialism

Abstract

This article is devoted to the correlation between liberal and socialist ideas in the social and philosophical conception of the prominent methodologist of social sciences and a Neo-Kantian legal theorist Bogdan Kistyakovsky. The author stresses the uncertainty of both the definition of liberalism and the principles behind attributing concrete thinkers to this movement. The article emphasises the inconsistency of classifying Kistyakovsky’s socio-philosophical concept as liberal. The analysis performed is based on Kistyakovsky’s model of the ‘state of the future’ — a project of a socialist rule-of-law state developed by Kistyakovsky at the turn of the 20th century. The article identifies distinct Marxist analogies and parallels in the contents of this project. The ‘state of the future’ as a rule-of -law socialist state should not only protect citizen’s rights and freedoms, which Kistyakovky supports as proponent of ‘natural rights’, but also ensure social justice. Moreover, he stresses the nonviolent, ‘evolutionary’ way of transition from a bourgeois rule-of-law state to a socialist one. Kistyakovsky’s project demonstrates certain ‘utopianism’, since it is future-oriented and it pursues the ethical goal of establishing a socially just society. The socioeconomic component is the most ‘Marxist’ element of Kistyakovsky’s project. It suggests an original legal interpretation of the idea of socialization of means of production. Kistyakovsky sees the capitalist form of economic organization as a form of ‘economic anarchy’ and a major obstacle to the mission of achieving social justice. This problem is solved through withdrawing all means of production from the realm of private law, which should be compensated for by the extension of public legal rights. It is concluded that it is possible to correlate B. A. Kistyakovsky’s social and philosophical views presented in the ‘state of the future’ project with the theoretical foundations of the European social democracy of the mid-20th century without considering the wholeness of the philosopher’s theoretical legacy.

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