Critical idealism in the eyes of Kant's contemporaries

Journal of the History of Philosophy 35 (3):421-455 (1997)
Critical Idealism in the Eyes of Kant's Contemporaries BRIGITTE SASSEN THE IDEALISM DEBATES between Kant and his contemporaries were protracted and vehement. Interestingly, all parties in the debates -- Kant's critics, defend- ers, and Kant himself -- began with basically the same conception of idealism as a position that is either skeptical with regard to the inde- pendent existence of the external world , or that denies the existence of ma- terial substance outright .' Positions quickly diverge, however, when it comes to transcendental idealism. Kant's crit- ics argued consistently that transcendental idealism reduces to material idealism. Kant rejected these arguments, insisting, in turn, that transcendental idealism is the only escape from material idealism. 2 Nonetheless, he was influenced by these criticisms. He repeatedly returns to the differentiation between transcendental and material idealism in the years following 17 81,3 and he casts these differences ' This is a paraphrase of the definition that appears in the introductory paragraph of the B- Refutation . Kant's contemporaries might not have bothered to make the differentiation between skeptical and dogmatic idealism, but they certainly agreed with the general terms in which Kant describes idealism. His definition is closely echoed by..
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DOI 10.1353/hph.1997.0058
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