Kantian Journal

2018 Vol. 37. №3

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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