Ontology as Transcendental Philosophy

In Courtney Fugate (ed.), Kant's Lectures on Metaphysics: A Critical Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 53-73 (2018)

Authors
Huaping Lu-Adler
Georgetown University
Abstract
How does the critical Kant view ontology? There is no shared scholarly answer to this question. Norbert Hinske sees in the Critique of Pure Reason a “farewell to ontology,” albeit one that took Kant long to bid (Hinske 2009). Karl Ameriks has found evidence in Kant’s metaphysics lectures from the critical period that he “was unwilling to break away fully from traditional ontology” (Ameriks 1992: 272). Gualtiero Lorini argues that a decisive break with the tradition of ontology is essential to Kant’s critical reform of metaphysics, as is reflected in his shift from “ontology” to “transcendental philosophy,” two notions that Lorini takes to be related by mere “analogy” (Lorini 2015). I agree with Lorini that a thorough reform of ontology is a pivotal part of Kant’s critical plan for metaphysics and that ontology somehow “survives within the critical philosophy” (Lorini 2015: 76). To make this case, however, I deem it important to identify “ontology” and “transcendental philosophy” in the sense of extensional equivalence. While we can detect this identification in Kant’s writings, only from his metaphysics lectures can we get a full sense of its historical and philosophical significance. In this chapter I focus on how it represents a definitive turn from as well as notable continuity with traditional treatments of ontology, particularly the Wolffian one.
Keywords ontology, transcendental philosophy, critique, history of ontology
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