In this chapter, I consider the largely overlooked influence of E. W. von Tschirnhaus' treatise on method, the Medicina mentis, on Wolff's early philosophical project (in both its conception and execution). As I argue, part of Tschirnhaus' importance for Wolff lies in the use he makes of principles gained from experience as a foundation for the scientific enterprise in the context of his broader philosophical rationalism. I will show that this lesson from Tschirnhaus runs through Wolff's earliest philosophical discussions, and (...) indeed continues to inform his major texts in logic and mathematics just before the publication of the German Metaphysics. In the end, my discussion has the effect of revealing Tschirnhaus to be an exceptionally important influence on Wolff's development, perhaps even as important (or so I suggest) as Leibniz. (shrink)
In attempts to come to grips with Kant’s thought, the influence of the philosophy of Christian Wolff (1679-1754) is often neglected. In this paper, I consider three topics in Kant’s philosophy of mind, broadly construed, where Wolff’s influence is particularly visible: consciousness, self-consciousness, and psychology. I argue that we can better understand Kant’s particular arguments and positions within this context, but also gain a more accurate sense of which aspects of Kant’s accounts derive from the antecedent traditions and which constitute (...) genuine philosophical innovations. (shrink)
Kant's A-Edition objective deduction is naturally (and has traditionally been) divided into two arguments: an " argument from above" and one that proceeds " von unten auf." This would suggest a picture of Kant's procedure in the objective deduction as first descending and ascending the same ladder, the better, perhaps, to test its durability or to thoroughly convince the reader of its soundness. There are obvious obstacles to such a reading, however; and in this chapter I will argue that the (...) arguments from above and below constitute different, albeit importantly inter-related, proofs. Rather than drawing on the differences in their premises, however, I will highlight what I take to be the different concerns addressed and, correspondingly, the distinct conclusions reached by each. In particular, I will show that both arguments can be understood to address distinct specters, with the argument from above addressing an internal concern generated by Kant’s own transcendental idealism, and the argument from below seeking to dispel a more traditional, broadly Humean challenge to the understanding’s role in experience. These distinct concerns also imply that these arguments yield distinct conclusions, though I will show that they are in fact complementary. (shrink)
Kant’s introduction in the Kritik der reinen Vernunft (KrV) of a spontaneity proper to the understanding is often thought to be one of the central innovations of his Critical philosophy. As I show in this paper, however, a number of thinkers within the 18th century German tradition in the time before the KrV (including the pre-Critical Kant himself) had already developed a robust conception of the spontaneity of the mind, a conception which, in many respects lays the groundwork for Kant’s (...) later, rather more influential account. To illustrate this, I consider three accounts of the spontaneity of the mind—those of Crusius, the pre-Critical Kant, and Tetens—which, while distinct, nonetheless relate to and explicitly draw upon one another in important ways, forming as it were the interconnected and, thus far, largely overlooked pre-Critical context for Kant’s discussion of the spontaneity of the understanding in the KrV. As I conclude, while Kant’s own account of the spontaneity of the understanding, and particularly of the I think clearly departs from these accounts, it nonetheless continues to connect in significant ways with the trailblazing discussions of his immediate predecessors. (shrink)
Considered in light of the readers expectation of a thoroughgoing criticism of the pretensions of the rational psychologist, and of the wealth of discussions available in the broader 18th century context, which includes a variety of proofs that do not explicitly turn on the identification of the soul as a simple substance, Kants discussion of immortality in the Paralogisms falls lamentably short. However, outside of the Paralogisms (and the published works generally), Kant had much more to say about the arguments (...) for the souls immortality as he devoted considerable time to the topic throughout his career in his lectures on metaphysics. In fact, as I show in this paper, the student lecture notes prove to be an indispensable supplement to the treatment in the Paralogisms, not only for illuminating Kants criticism of the rational psychologists views on the immortality of the soul, but also in reconciling this criticism with Kants own positive claims regarding certain theoretical proofs of immortality. (shrink)
While there is good reason to think that Mendelssohn's Morgenstunden targets some of the key claims of Kant’s first Critique, this criticism has yet to be considered in the appropriate context or presented in all of its systematic detail. I show that far from being an isolated assault, Mendelssohn’s attack in the Morgenstunden is a continuation and development of his earlier criticism of Kant’s idealism as presented in the Inaugural Dissertation. I also show that Mendelssohn’s objection was more influential on (...) Kant than has previously been suspected; not only did Kant respond to it in a brief review and a set of remarks published along with a disciple’s examination of Mendelssohn’s text but, as I will suggest, Kant’s Refutation of Idealism is intended (at least in part) to undermine the Cartesian starting-point Mendelssohn had presumed throughout his campaign against Kantian idealism. (shrink)
Few of Kant’s doctrines are as difficult to understand as that of self-affection. Its brief career in the published literature consists principally in its unheralded introduction in the Transcendental Aesthetic and unexpected re-appearance at a key moment in the Deduction chapter in the B edition of the first Critique. Kant’s commentators, confronted with the difficulty of this doctrine, have naturally resorted to various strategies of clarification, ranging from distinguishing between empirical and transcendental self-affection, divorcing self-affection from the claims of self-knowledge (...) with which Kant explicitly connects it, and, perhaps least justified of all, ignoring the doctrine altogether. Yet the connection between self-affection and central Critical doctrines (such as the transcendental synthesis of the imagination) marks all of these strategies as last resorts. In this paper, I seek to provide a clearer outline of the constellation of those issues which inform Kant’s discussion of self-affection. More particularly, I intend to explain the crucial role played by self-affection in the account of the transcendental conditions of perception provided late in the B Deduction. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider the basis for Kant's praise of Wolff's general logic as "the best we have." I argue that Wolff's logic was highly esteemed by Kant on account of its novel analysis of the three operations of the mind (tres operationes mentis), in the course of which Wolff formulates an argument for the priority of the understanding's activity of judging.
In this review essay, I raise three principal concerns relating to Schulting’s project of deriving the categories from apperception as elaborated in his recent book Kant’s Deduction and Apperception (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). First, I claim that Schulting overlooks a key ambiguity relating to ‘ableiten’ and which contrasts with his strictly logical understanding of that term. Second, I dispute on textual and philosophical grounds Schulting’s characterization of the subject’s consciousness of its own identity in terms of the analytic unity of apperception. (...) Finally, I raise an objection to Schulting’s account of the derivation of the concept of substance from apperception, as I claim that at best Kant allows that the logical function underlying this category (rather than the category itself) can be so derived, and I note that this objection can be extrapolated to apply to the other derivations of the categories Schulting offers. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider Baumgarten’s views on the soul in the context of the Pietist critique of Wolff’s rational psychology. My primary aim is to account for the largely unacknowledged differences between Wolff’s and Baumgarten’s rational psychology, though I also hope to show that, in some cases, the Pietists were rather more perceptive in their reading of Wolff than they are typically given credit for as their criticisms frequently succeed in drawing attention to significant omissions in Wolff’s discussion.
In this paper, I attempt to trace the broader contours of a putative Leibnizian psychology by adopting the rather unusual, and perhaps historically dubious, strategy of outlining the continuities between Leibniz’s discussion of the soul and the much more detailed and systematic psychological writings of his German successor, Christian Wolff.
In this paper, I claim that Kant’s subjective deduction in the first edition of the KrV is to be understood in terms of an investigation of the fundamental force(s) (Grundkraft) of the soul, an investigation essential to Wolffian psychology and much debated throughout Germany in the second half of the 1700’s. I argue that the subjective deduction is indeed presented by means of the exposition of the three-fold syntheses but only insofar as these syntheses are employed as pointers towards each (...) of three original sources of cognition. Only taken as such can we do justice not only to the argument’s unique concern as distinct from that of the objective deduction, but also to its dependence upon the justificatory results of that deduction which was after all Kant’s “primary concern”. (shrink)
I consider Kant's criticism of rational psychology in the Paralogisms of Pure Reason in light of his German predecessors. I first present Wolff's foundational account of metaphysical psychology with the result that Wolff's rational psychology is not comfortably characterized as a naïvely rationalist psychology. I then turn to the reception of Wolff's account among later German metaphysicians, and show that the same claim of a dependence of rational upon empirical psychology is found in the publications and lectures of Kant's pre-Critical (...) period. Considering the Paralogisms in this context reveals Kant's conception of rational psychology to be distinctly novel and has important consequences in shifting the argumentative focus of the chapter. (shrink)
Corey W. Dyck presents a new account of Kant's criticism of the rational investigation of the soul in his monumental Critique of Pure Reason, in light of its eighteenth-century German context. When characterizing the rational psychology that is Kant's target in the Paralogisms of Pure Reason chapter of the Critique commentators typically only refer to an approach to, and an account of, the soul found principally in the thought of Descartes and Leibniz. But Dyck argues that to do so is (...) to overlook the distinctive rational psychology developed by Christian Wolff, which emphasized the empirical foundation of any rational cognition of the soul, and which was widely influential among eighteenth-century German philosophers, including Kant. In this book, Dyck reveals how the received conception of the aim and results of Kant's Paralogisms must be revised in light of a proper understanding of the rational psychology that is the most proximate target of Kant's attack. In particular, he contends that Kant's criticism hinges upon exposing the illusory basis of the rational psychologist's claims inasmuch as he falls prey to the appearance of the soul as being given in inner experience. Moreover, Dyck demonstrates that significant light can be shed on Kant's discussion of the soul's substantiality, simplicity, personality, and existence by considering the Paralogisms in this historical context.Readership: Scholars and advanced students in history of philosophy, especially those working on Kant. (shrink)
: Mendelssohn’s Philosophische Gespräche, first published in 1755, represents his first philosophical work in German and rather surprisingly for a debut, in the first two dialogues of that work Mendelssohn attempts nothing less than a defense of the legacy of the most controversial philosopher of his day, Benedict de Spinoza. In this paper, I attempt to enlarge the context, and if possible to raise the stakes, of Mendelssohn’s discussion in order to bring out what I take to be a much (...) more ambitious project on Mendelssohn’s part, namely, not only the rehabilitation of a fellow Jewish thinker but also the rehabilitation of metaphysics as such by means of a thorough accounting of the Spinozan elements in the Wolffian philosophy. As I will show, framing the project of the Gespräche too narrowly is responsible for obscuring much of what I take to be most original and insightful in Mendelssohn’s use and interpretation of Wolff’s thought, as well as his ultimate purpose in resolving what he regarded as an ongoing crisis in metaphysics that is responsible to no small extent for its widespread neglect. (shrink)
In this paper I argue, contrary to a widely influential account of Kant’s development in the “silent decade,” that key changes in his empirical and rational psychology throughout the 1770’s are traceable to changes in the scope he assigns to inner sense. Kant’s explicit inclusion of our access to the I or soul within the scope of inner sense in the early 1770’s (after its apparent exclusion in the Dissertation) yields a more robust empirical psychology. Given the Wolffian character of (...) Kant’s pre-Critical conception rational psychology, this in turn provides a firmer foundation for the rational cognition of the soul, as exemplified in Kant’s treatment in the ML1 notes. Even so, I contend that Kant’s eventual rejection of the pretenses of rational psychology to offer cognition of the soul likewise has its basis in his later exclusion of any access to the I from the scope of inner sense, which also reveals a previously unnoticed continuity between his pre-Critical and Critical conceptions of rational psychology. (shrink)
This paper considers how Descartes's and Hume's sceptical challenges were appropriated by Christian Wolff and Johann Nicolaus Tetens specifically in the context of projects related to Kant's in the transcendental deduction. Wolff introduces Descartes's dream hypothesis as an obstacle to his account of the truth of propositions, or logical truth, which he identifies with the 'possibility' of empirical concepts. Tetens explicitly takes Hume's account of our idea of causality to be a challenge to the `reality' of transcendent concepts in general, (...) a challenge he addresses by locating the source of this concept in the understanding rather than in the imagination. After considering this background, I turn to Kant's deployment of apparently traditional sceptical concerns at the outset of the transcendental deduction and argue that he does not there intend to introduce a global sceptical challenge and, accordingly, that there are historical grounds for doubting that the transcendental deduction is intended as an anti-sceptical argument. (shrink)
In this paper I consider Tetens' reaction to Kant's Inaugural Dissertation in his two most important philosophical works, the essay “Über die allgemeine speculativische Philosophie” of 1775 and the two-volume Philosophische Versuche of 1777. In particular, I focus on Tetens’ critical discussion of Kant's account of the acquisition of concepts of space and time.
ABSTRACTDiscussions of the reception of materialist thought in Germany in the first half of the eighteenth century tend to focus, naturally enough, upon the homegrown freethinkers who advanced the cause of Lucretius, Hobbes, and Spinoza in clandestine publications and frequently courted the ire of the state for doing so. If the philosophers belonging to the mainstream of German intellectual life in that period are accorded a place in the story, it is only insofar as they actively set themselves against the (...) materialist threat and, in the course of working to undermine it, actually only succeeded in inadvertently drawing more popular attention to it. By contrast, in this paper I will show that it was not just insofar as the thinkers of the early eighteenth century played the role of the diligent critic and unwittingly propagated the views of their opponents that materialism can be said to have penetrated into the very mainstream of the German Enlightenment. Rather, as I will argue, there was a striking degr... (shrink)
In the Anthropology, Kant wonders whether the genius or the individual possessing perfected judgment has contributed more to the advance of culture. In the KU, Kant answers this question definitively on the side of those with perfected judgment. Nevertheless, occurring as it does in §50 of the KU, immediately after Kant’s celebration of the genius in §49, this only raises more questions. Kant rejects the genius in favour of the individual of taste as an advancer of culture, yet under what (...) conditions could the genius contribute? And, what threat does the genius really pose to this advance, other than that of penning simple nonsense? This essay attempts to answer these questions, using key texts and overlooked Reflexionen, all of which nest Kant’s concern for the genius in the associated risks of fanaticism. I conclude that, given certain conditions, the genius can contribute in a unique manner to the advance of culture. (shrink)
Kant's dismissive reference in the Critique of Judgment to landscape gardening as "nothing but the ornamentation of the ground" is puzzling since, as an art that seems like a product of nature, the garden should be a paradigm case of fine art. Additionally, it runs counter to a growing academic interest in garden theory in the late 1700s, as Michael Lee documents in this often overwrought but useful volume. After Kant, German academic philosophy was bedevilled by irresolvable oppositions between reason (...) and sensibility, and art and nature, that demanded mediation. This was paralleled by the efforts of German garden theorists to find a Mittelweg between the formal French-style and the irregular English garden. After a historical consideration of the rise of garden theory in the German academies in chapter 2, Lee explores the neglected philosophical importance of the garden, especially for K. H. Heydenreich and F. C. S. Schiller , and then considers Kant's critical philosophy in light of these analyses. (shrink)
Meier’s Gedancken von dem Zustande der Seele nach dem Tode (Gedancken) deserves a prominent place among treatments of the immortality of the soul in 18th century German philosophy, both within and without the Wolffian tradition of rational psychology. It does not wilt next to Mendelssohn’s Phädon in its quality of expression, and might even be compared with Kant’s discussion in the Paralogisms chapter of his Kritik der reinen Vernunft in terms of the boldness of its argument and its philosophical rigour. (...) The Gedancken contributed greatly to Meier’s growing reputation as an original thinker and helped him emerge from the shadow of his famous colleague in the philosophy faculty at the Friedrichs-Universität in Halle, Christian Wolff; moreover, it provoked detailed responses on the part of its critics and even made Meier himself the subject of official investigation as an accused aider and abettor of freethinkers. Meier’s Gedancken thus stands as a work of central importance within his own philosophical corpus and in the history of 18th century German rational psychology more generally. Accordingly, in this Introductory Essay, I will present the context and argument, as well as the reception, of the Gedancken, and then consider Meier’s subsequent defense of his controversial text. (shrink)
This volume makes some of the key texts and debates in Germany in the first half of the 18th century available to an English-language audience, in most cases for the first time. The translations include texts by Thomasius, Wolff, Crusius, and Meier, as well as texts by consequential but less familiar thinkers like Theodor Ludwig Lau, Friedrich Wilhelm Stosch, Dorothea Christiane Leporin, and Joachim Lange. The topics covered range across a number of areas of theoretical philosophy, including metaphysics (the pre-established (...) harmony, the immortality of the soul, the case for and against materialism), epistemology (the principle of sufficient reason, the limits of reason with respect to matters of faith), and logic (the role of prejudices in cognition and the doctrine of truth). (shrink)
This collection of new essays, the first of its kind in English, considers the ways in which the philosophy of Immanuel Kant engages with the views of lesser-known eighteenth-century German thinkers. Each chapter casts new light on aspects of Kant's complex relationship with these figures, particularly with respect to key aspects of his logic, metaphysics, epistemology, theory of science, and ethics. The portrait of Kant that emerges is of a major thinker thoroughly engaged with his contemporaries - drawing on their (...) ideas and approaches, targeting their arguments for criticism and responding to their concerns, and seeking to secure the legacy of his thought among them. This volume will open the door for further research on Kant and his methods of philosophical inquiry, while introducing readers to the distinctive and influential philosophical contributions of several previously neglected figures. (shrink)
In what follows, I will detail Kant's criticism of the Leibnizian conception of mind as it is presented in key chapters of the Kritik der reinen Vernunft . Approaching Kant with such a focus goes against the current predominant in contemporary Kant scholarship. Kant's engagement with Leibniz in the KrV is often taken as limited to the refutation of the latter's relational theory of space and time in the Aesthetic and the general criticism presented in the Amphiboly chapter, inasmuch as (...) Kant is taken to be primarily concerned with addressing empiricist opponents (a focus particularly evident in the English-language commentary). In addition, the argument against rational psychology in the Paralogisms is taken as challenging an essentially Cartesian position. The first two chapters of this project will introduce the Leibnizian conception of the mind, contrasting it with its Cartesian predecessor, and consider the career of the Leibnizian conception in the schools of 18th century Germany. As I will show, it was the Leibnizian conception of mind that held sway, despite scattered challenges, and that would have primarily been on Kant's mind when he turned to consider the extravagant claims of metaphysical psychology. In chapters 3-5, I turn to Kant's criticism of this conception as presented in the Transcendental Analytic of the KrV . There, I show how the subjective and objective deductions, in addition to the Amphiboly chapter, all address the Leibnizian claim of a parallelism between the investigations of the mental and the physical. In chapters 6-8, I consider the case against the Leibnizian conception of mind as presented in the Transcendental Dialectic, claiming that the doctrine of transcendental illusion plays an important (though largely ignored) role in explaining the grounds of the Leibnizian conception as it is transmitted in the rational psychology of Wolff, Baumgarten, Crusius, and Kant himself in the 1770's. Moreover, I argue that the limits Kant sets to empirical psychology are consistent with his criticism of the Leibnizian conception of mind, and, significantly, are motivated by deeper practical concerns. (shrink)
Israel Gottlieb Canz’s Uberzeugender Beweiß, first published in 1741 and reprinted here in its second, expanded edition stands as his most influential discussion of the soul’s immortality, with one contemporary pronouncing it to be “one of the best [treatments of immortality] that we have.” In this text, Canz seeks to augment and supplement traditional Wolffian proofs by considering, first, the grounds for the soul’s immortality that are contained in its own nature and, second, the grounds for the same that are (...) found in God. In addition, Canz extends his treatment to include a detailed discussion of the souls of children and he offers speculations concerning the soul’s condition in the afterlife. On account of its systematic presentation and original argumentation, Canz’s Beweiß represents a key contribution to Leibniz-Wolffian rational psychology, and through the critical reaction it generated it would help shape the debate concerning the soul’s immortality for years after its original publication. (shrink)
Women and Philosophy in 18th Century Germany gathers for the first time an exceptional group of scholars with the explicit aim of composing a comprehensive portrait of the complex and manifold contributions on the part of women in 18th century Germany. Amidst the re-evaluation of the place of women in the history of early Modern philosophy, this vital and distinctive intellectual context has thus far been missing. As this volume will show, women intellectuals contributed crucially (directly and indirectly) to the (...) development of German philosophy in the period, and this in spite of profound institutional, cultural, and religious obstacles. The volume's various contributions will show that we as historians and students of the period have much to learn from not only studying the published contributions of these neglected figures, but also from attending to the diverse and ingenious ways which they found for engaging (particularly) with their male contemporaries on the issues of the time. (shrink)
Morning Hours is the first English translation of Morgenstunden by Moses Mendelssohn, the foremost Jewish thinker of the German Enlightenment. Published six months before Mendelssohn's death on January 4, 1786, Morning Hours is the most sustained presentation of his mature epistemological and metaphysical views, all elaborated in the service of presenting his son with proofs for the existence of God. But Morning Hours is much more than a theoretical treatise. It also plays a central role in the drama of the (...) Pantheismusstreit, Mendelssohn's "dispute" with F. H. Jacobi over the nature and scope of Lessing's attitude toward Spinoza and "pantheism". In Morning Hours Mendelssohn attempts to set the record straight regarding his beloved Lessing in this connection, not least by demonstrating the absence of any practical difference between theism and a "purified pantheism". (shrink)