Kantian Journal

2023 Vol. 42. №1

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Apology of Human Existence vs “Ideal Homicide”: S.L. Frank’s Anthropological Project.



The emergence of S. L. Frank’s philosophy cannot be understood without clarifying his attitude to Immanuel Kant. Following the early representatives of the theory of cognition of his time who undertook to understand Kant in order to go beyond him (W. Windelband) and their warning against turning Kant’s philosophy into a dogma and allowing for diverse interpretations of Kant (P. Natorp), Frank saw Kant not as a critic and “destroyer” of metaphysics, but as a thinker who laid the foundations of a new metaphysical synthesis. He set himself the task of “transforming” the Kantian philosophy into a new metaphysical system proceeding from the foundational principles of critical thinking. As a result, he managed to overcome the abstract concept of the human being characteristic of Neo-Kantians to put the concrete human in the absolute horizon of being at the focus of philosophical investigations. In his metaphysics anthropology begins to play a system-forming and meaning-forming role, and onto-epistemological reasoning is used as a methodology for revealing the specificities of the human being. Here, too, Frank follows Kant who in his Logic defined the question “What is man?” as the fundamental question of philosophy. Frank’s three books, The Object of Knowledge (1915), Man’s Soul (1915), and The Spiritual Foundations of Society (1930) demonstrate that a metaphysical interpretation of Kantian critique is possible and may turn out to be the foundation of raising and solving topical philosophical problems.


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