Kantian Journal

2017 Vol. 36. No. 4

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Analytic Work on Kant — Idealism, Things in Themselves, and the Object of Knowledge



The article sketches the development of Kant interpretation in analytic philosophy. The author turns to Kant’s transcendental idealism and three well-known difficulties about things in themselves which Kant’s idealism generates: problems about unknowability, noumenal-affection and category-application, and the neglected-alternative. Building on the work “Things in Themselves: an Interim Report” (XI Kant Readings, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Kaliningrad, 2014), the author questions how far Kant’s idealism can be accepted and these problems resolved in any way that (i) is reasonably faithful to Kant’s texts, (ii) renders his position consistent (and his major arguments valid), and (iii) does not rest on premises that are themselves philosophically implausible. The author argues that these three desiderata are not met in any strictly Kantian and philosophically satisfactory way in the interpretations given by P. F. Strawson, Rae Langton, Henry Allison, and Desmond Hogan, among other analytic Kant scholars. It is unlikely that one can find any strictly Kantian, philosophically satisfactory resolution of the above problems. However, looser but philosophically valuable reconstructions of Kant’s ideas are possible. The author also comments briefly on Robert Hanna’s, Maja Soboleva’s, and Sergey Katrechko’s views on things in themselves. Finally, the author suggests several avenues that Kant scholarship might take, given this discussion.


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