Authors
Hein Van Den Berg
University of Amsterdam
Abstract
Kant’s teleology as presented in the Critique of Judgment is commonly interpreted in relation to the late eighteenth-century biological research of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. In the present paper, I show that this interpretative perspective is incomplete. Understanding Kant’s views on teleology and biology requires a consideration of the teleological and biological views of Christian Wolff and his rationalist successors. By reconstructing the Wolffian roots of Kant’s teleology, I identify several little known sources of Kant’s views on biology. I argue that one of Kant’s main contributions to eighteenth-century debates on biology consisted in demarcating biology from metaphysics. Kant rejected Wolffian views on the hierarchy of sciences, according to which propositions specifying the functions of organisms are derived from theological truths. In addition, Kant argued that organic self-organization necessitates a teleological description in order to show that self-organization does not support materialism. By demarcating biology and metaphysics, Kant made a small yet important contribution to establishing biology as a science
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.07.003
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References found in this work BETA

Kant's Moral Religion.Allen W. Wood - 1970 - Ithaca: Wiley-Blackwell.
Two Kinds of Mechanical Inexplicability in Kant and Aristotle.Hannah Ginsborg - 2004 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 42 (1):33-65.
Kant on Understanding Organisms as Natural Purposes.Hannah Ginsborg - 2001 - In Eric Watkins (ed.), Kant and the Sciences. Oxford University Press. pp. 231--58.

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Citations of this work BETA

Theoretical Virtues in Eighteenth-Century Debates on Animal Cognition.Hein van den Berg - 2020 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42 (3):1-35.
Ateleological Propagation in Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants.Gregory Rupik - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (1):1-28.

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