Buchdahl’s “Phenomenological” View of Kant: A Critique

Kant Studien 89 (3):335-352 (1998)
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In Kant and the Dynamics of Reason, Gerd Buchdahl proposes to solve Jacobi’s objection to Kant’s metaphysics – one needs a ‘thing-in-itself’ to enter the Critical Philosophy, but one cannot uphold both that philosophy and the ‘thing-in-itself’ – by interpreting Kant in terms of a phenomenological ‘reduction’ of objects to their transcendental conditions and their subesequent ‘realization’ in various theoretical or practical contexts. I summarize Buchdahl’s interpretation and argue: (1) Buchdahl’s view faces an exact analog of Jacobi’s problem; (2) Buchdahl’s view of Kant is much more a reconstruction than an interpretation of the Critical philosophy (this counsels greater caution and frankness about the extent to which we interpret or reconstruct Kant’s texts); (3) Buchdahl’s recent effort to address Kant’s practical philosophy is inadequate.



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Kenneth R. Westphal
Bogazici University

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