Inquiry as a transcendental activity

Inquiry 10 (1-4):1 – 20 (1967)
We examine the notion of inquiry and argue that philosophic inquiry is a transcendental activity. Activities, viewed as conforming to intelligible canons, applying to appropriate contexts, and directed to specifiable ends, are contrasted with their empirical descriptions. Inquiry, characterized as an internalized, continuous activity directed to an intrinsic end, and fundamentally presupposed by other activities, is considered at the levels of (1) science, (2) philosophy and (3) transcendental philosophy. We argue that (2) is a transcendental activity which determines non-empirical concepts and is presupposed by (1). Alternative philosophic frameworks are grounded on hypothetical canons conceived by intelligence itself, which imply interpretations of objectivity and universality claiming validity for the community of inquirers, but they can always be rejected. We consider the possibility of categorical canons operating as second-order rules necessarily presupposed for the formulation of alternative philosophic frameworks, and (3) would be the activity of identifying, justifying and applying such transcendental canons of inquiry in general. Finally, we suggest that the only possible justification of such categorical canons would be a kind of ontological proof. Thus, a given philosophic approach reflects the transcendental activity of determining non-empirical concepts through the implementation of its fundamental regulative norms; but transcendental philosophy would determine the concept of philosophy itself through implementation of the categorical canons of inquiry in the construction of philosophic systems
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DOI 10.1080/00201746708601479
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