Review of Metaphysics 66 (2):339-352 (2012)

Phillip Stambovsky
Boston College
“Considered objectively, there can be only one human reason, there... can be only one true system of philosophy from principles, in however many different and even conflicting ways one has philosophized about the same proposition”—so declares Kant in the Vorrede to the “Doctrine of Right.” Kant makes this observation in the process of framing a striking claim: “prior to the development of critical philosophy there had been no philosophy at all.” Eckart Förster adduces this claim as a point of departure for undertaking “to grasp and understand the single [sic] thought” that orients his ambitious new study, Twenty-Five Years of Philosophy: A Systematic Reconstruction. It is thus with reference to Kant’s pronouncement that Förster propounds his book’s lead thought, or at least the first part of it: “philosophy begins in 1781 and ends in 1806,” this in the sense that over those twenty-five years “philosophy became a science, thereby also arriving at knowledge of itself.” Förster sets himself the task of elucidating the “internal dynamic” of the “fundamental idea” that informs the philosophical-historical thesis to which he keys his investigation. The fundamental idea in question is the classic speculative problematic of objective knowledge, which in the Kantian context of Förster’s study takes the form of the issue of how it is that we know “the supersensible substrate of appearances.” Beyond simply anatomizing this issue, however, the author engages “to reproduce its immanent development,” systematically “reconstructing” it through interlinked analyses of seminal writings of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Goethe, and Hegel
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI 10.5840/revmetaph2012662314
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