Kant's Foundations of Natural Science and the Methodology of the Copernican Revolution in Philosophy

Dissertation, The University of Western Ontario (Canada) (1981)

The central concern of this work is a presentation of Kant's theory of the foundations of natural science whereby his foundational structures are rendered as a unified system. A systematic account of Kant's views in this regard is possible only if one adopts an interpretive principle that can be employed in the examination of each of the foundations; it is my position that the unifying feature of Kant's mature philosophy is the reliance upon the methodology of the Copernican Revolution in philosophy and the underlying transcendental idealism/empirical realism which allows for an epistemically fruitful application of this methodology. ;Kant's foundation of natural science are comprised of pure mathematics, the general metaphysics of nature, and the special metaphysics of corporeal nature. In Chapter 1, I discuss his foundations of pure mathematics, and specifically his accounts of definitions, axioms and theorems. Chapter 2 deals with the mechanisms of the application to nature of a pure mathematics, and this necessarily involves an account of the ontological status of space and time. Kant's emphasis upon the mathematization of nature locates him in the tradition of mathematical physics originating in the work of Galileo. Chapters 3 and 4 involve the general and special metaphysics respectively, the manner of their application, and the establishment of their objectivity. ;Employment of these Kantian foundations furthers the development of knowledge in the form of a science, a form guaranteeing that knowledge satisfies the metaepistemic conditions of certainty, systematic unity and understandability. My treatment of these foundations is, in part, aimed at showing how their employment is conducive to the establishment of such a science: Kant's epistemology, it must be remembered, is directed to the attainment of knowledge in the form of a science. The final chapter concerns the ideal of scientific knowledge and the degree to which a full employment of the foundations can satisfy this ideal. It would seem that were the ideal to be attained, these foundations would need augmentation by principles of teleology; therefore, in part, Chapter 5 presents a programmatic sketch of the role of teleology in Kant's critical philosophy
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