Kantian Journal

2018 Vol. 37. No. 3

ARTICLES

Kant’s Philosophy

Kant als Mystiker? Zur These von Carl Arnold Wilmans’ dissertatio philosophica

Abstract

Carl Arnold Wilmans received his degree of doctor in philosophy in Halle in 1797 for a bold thesis. He claimed a latent similarity between Kant’s enlightened philosophy of religion and the pure mysticism of some so-called separatists — and sent his work to Kant. The fact that and how the latter re­acted to it, makes the matter all the more interesting. Could Kant have been a secret mystic? The following study attempts to give a differ­entiated presentation of Kant’s intellectual relationship with mysticism, which was not as unambiguous as it may seem, by first elaborating the historical background as well as the philo­sophical and theological contexts of Wilmans’ dissertation. Furthermore, the focus of my study is directed towards Kant’s essay On a Newly Arisen Superior Tone in Philosophy. I show that the central Kantian theorem of the fact of reason con­verges with his doctrine of respect to the moral law as intelligible feeling. This rapprochement allows the latter to play an argumentative role that, by serving as ratio cognoscendi of freedom, is also of epistemic value. Kant’s practical philosophy turns out to be based on a quasi-phenomenological intuitionism of finite reason in which aesthetic elements are of such importance that Wilmans’ assertion of its latent similarity to pure mysticism may be justified.

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The Nature of Appearance in Kant’s Transcendentalism: A Seman- tico-Cognitive Analysis

Abstract

The concept of appearance within the framework of the transcendental distinction between “appearance” and “thing in itself” is the cornerstone of Kant’s transcendental philosophy. However, its conceptual status seems largely uncertain. This uncertainty is the reason for a wide range of interpretations of Kant’s transcendental idealism. A paradigmatic example is the contemporary confrontation between the “two objects” theory and the “two aspects” theory. In this paper, I develop a semantico-cognitive approach to Kant’s transcendentalism in general as well as to his conception of appearance in particular. Its use makes it possible to clarify both the metaphysical and ontological status of appearance. I show that, from the metaphysical point of view, the specificity of appearance is given by the transcendental triad “object (thing in itself) — appearance — representation.” Within this triad, on the one hand, appearance differs from both thing in itself (external to us) and the representation (within us). On the other hand, appearance as an object of empirical intuition mediates the objective thing and its subjective representation. The introduction of the concept of appearance allows Kant to solve the semantic problem of the conformity of the representation to the object. In this case, appearance is not an object, but just a designation of the object (KrV, B 235). Thus, appearance cannot be understood ontologically as a physical object or a relation. At the same time, an appearance is not identical to its representation, since the former is an object or content of the latter. Applying G. Frege’s “semantic triangle” to the analysis of Kant’s concept of appearance, I show that the transcendental object functions as the sense (Sinn) of the appearance and that the empirical thing in itself is its reference (Bedeutung).

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Кant: pro et contra

Kantian Ethical Humanism in Late Imperial Russia

Abstract

The cultural movement known as “humanism” has unfortunately not received a clear and careful definition. Historians and philosophers have lumped together their various understandings of outlooks that stress the value and importance of human life under the collective term “humanism.” This essay sets out to contrast, in particular, three types of humanism, all of which attracted attention at overlapping times in Imperial Russia and then the Soviet Union. The youngest of the three, Marxist humanism, stemmed from late Soviet-era philosophers, who advocated the idea that the human individual as such had a timeless intrinsic value. A second form of humanism, Christian humanism, emerged slowly in nineteenth-century Russia under the influence of Slavophilism. The Slavophiles with a deep sense of religiosity rooted in an understanding of the Church Fathers. They rejected the role of reason in evaluating moral choices, relying on faith to reveal objective moral laws and rules. Their form of Christian humanism lay in a commitment to justice and respect for all human beings. However, the arguably most historically significant Christian humanist in this era was Vladimir S. Solovyov, who went on to combine influ­ences from Slavophilism and the third type of humanism, Kantian humanism. This third type of humanism professedly relied on reason alone, not metaphysical foundations. Solovyov, however, ultimately grounded his moral doctrine in a highly metaphysical all-unity, which he saw as Reason — note the capital “R” — with human civilisation historically unfolding towards a Kingdom of God on Earth. There were other notable advocates of a Kantian humanism in Imperial Russia, but one that cannot be forgotten is Boris N. Chicherin, who combined Kantian moral­ity with a distinct favouring of Hegelianism. What emerges most strongly in the repeated attempts to construct a humanistic ethics in late Imperial Russia and into the Soviet period is that Kant’s powerful and pervasive philosophical presence could not be ignored.

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INTERVIEW

Kants Denkraum: Subjektivität als Prinzip. Interview mit Prof. Dr. Jürgen Stolzenberg

Abstract

This interview with Professor Dr Jürgen Stolzenberg, board member of the Kant-Gesellschaft and co-editor of the Kant-Lexikon (2015), explores a wide range of topics — from Leibniz and Wolff to Heidegger and Husserl. The leading idea of Stolzenberg’s philosophical research is the justification of the principle of modern subjectivity in Kant’s philosophy and its transformations until our days. He discusses the meaning and development of the concept of self-consciousness and the understanding of subjectivity in Kant’s ethics as well as in Fichte’s philosophy. Stolzenberg shows the significance of Heidegger’s philosophical relations with Kant, Fichte, and the Neo-Kantians. He outlines the reasons which explain the different structures of the philosophical theories after Kant in comparison with the structure of Kant’s philosophy itself. Answering the question of Kant’s role in affirming the value of human dignity, he emphasises the non-empirical essence of this concept as it is presented in Kant’s ethics and as it should be defended against recent critics. According to Stolzenberg, the principle of modern subjectivity proves to be fruitful in understanding the development of the history of modern music, too.

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