Kantian Journal

2019 Vol. 38. №3

The Real Target of Kant’s “Refutation”

Abstract

Kant was never satisfied with the version of his “Refutation” published in 1787 (KrV, B 275-279). His dissatisfaction is already evident in the footnote added to the preface of the second edition of the Critique in 1787. As a matter of fact, Kant continued to rework his argument for at least six years after 1787. The main exegetical problem is to figure out who is the target of the “Refutation”: a non-sceptic idealist or a global sceptic of Cartesian provenance or both. In this last case, a related problem is to know whether either of them is the Cartesian sceptic of the first Meditation, the idealist sceptic of the second Meditation and first part of the third Meditation, or some other non-sceptic idealist. I present and defend a new reconstruction of Kant’s “Refu­tation” as a successful argument against Mendelssohnian idealism of Cartesian provenance. This defence is based on a simple logical sketch of the proof provided by Dicker, but essentially modified in the light of Dyck’s insight about Kant’s opponent. How shall I support my reading? First, by appealing to overwhelming textual evidence according to which the proof is of the existence of mind-independent things, showing that Kant’s main opponent is Mendelssohn’s idealism of Cartesian provenance. Finally, I support my reading by showing that Kant’s “Refutation” is doomed to fail against all forms of global scepticism, but is quite successful against Mendelssohn’s idealism.

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On the Role of Gesinnung in Kant’s Ethics and Philosophy of Religion. Part I

Abstract

Kant’s concept of Gesinnung reveals the whole range of its problematic potential when it has to be translated into other languages: there are no ready-made equivalents. The problem stems from the evolution of this concept in Kant himself from the pre-Critical (“mode of thinking”, “convictions”, “virtuousness”, “virtues”, “sentiments”, “inclinations”, “aspirations”) to the critical works and then in the Critical period in Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason. Further problems arise from the complex pre-Kant­ian history of the concept of Gesinnung which influenced Kant’s philosophy. Among the sources that had a particularly strong impact both on the meaning of Kant’s concept of Gesinnung and on its perception the most important are various translations of the Bible — both into German and into Russian — as well as Latin works by A. G. Baumgarten and German works by C. A. Crusius and M. Mendelssohn. I have also included an overview of English versions of translations of Kant’s term Gesinnung (disposition, attitude, conviction, sentiment, comportment of mind, intention, Gesinnung) and their more important differences and have shown the unhistorical character of the translation arguments in modern English-speaking Kant scholarship which totally ignores pre-Kantian history and the context of Kant’s contemporaries. Proceeding from this study the next part of the article will offer my own interpretation of Kant’s concept of Gesinnung in the Critical period and suggest a uniform translation of the term into Russian with a corresponding grounding of my choice.

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