This is a book about Kant's views on causality as understood in their proper historical context. Specifically, Eric Watkins argues that a grasp of Leibnizian and anti-Leibnizian thought in eighteenth-century Germany helps one to see how the critical Kant argued for causal principles that have both metaphysical and epistemological elements. On this reading Kant's model of causality does not consist of events, but rather of substances endowed with causal powers that are exercised according to their natures and circumstances. This innovative (...) conception of Kant's view of causality casts a light on Kant's philosophical beliefs in general, such as his account of temporality, his explanation of the reconciliation of freedom and determinism, and his response to the skeptical arguments of Hume. (shrink)
kant’s critique of pure reason undertakes a systematic investigation of the possibility of synthetic cognition a priori so as to determine whether this kind of cognition is possible in the case of traditional metaphysics.1 While much scholarly attention has been devoted to the distinction between analytic and synthetic judgments as well as to that between the a priori and the a posteriori, less attention has been devoted to understanding exactly what cognition is for Kant. In particular, it is often insufficiently (...) clear what kind of mental state cognition is, what the exact nature of the conditions on cognition is, and how they are satisfied in the case of human beings. To bring greater clarity to... (shrink)
Even though Kant’s theory of cognition is central to his Critique of Pure Reason, it has rarely been asked what exactly Kant means by the term “cognition”. Against the widespread assumption that cognition can be identified with knowledge or if not, that knowledge is at least a species of cognition, we argue that the concepts of cognition and knowledge in Kant are not only distinct, but even disjunct. To show this, we first investigate Kant’s explicit characterizations of the nature of (...) cognition. As it turns out, he introduces several different notions that must be carefully distinguished before identifying the one that is central to his project in the first Critique. We then consider the basic features of Kant’s conception of knowledge, indicating both how it involves assent and objective justification and how it relates to our contemporary conception. Next, we compare and contrast Kant’s understanding of cognition and his conception of knowledge in a way that allows us to present their fundamental differences and connections. We argue that while cognition, in the most relevant sense, is a species of representation that differs from other representations in that it involves the conceptual determination of a sensibly given object, knowledge is a kind of assent to a judgment that requires consciousness of a sufficient epistemic ground. Finally, by appreciating the differences between cognition and knowledge, we explain several of the implications this conception of cognition has for some of Kant’s main claims in the Critique of Pure Reason as a whole. Among other things, we show how Kant can deny cognition of specific things in themselves while allowing philosophical knowledge about things in themselves in general. (shrink)
This book focuses on the unity, diversity, and centrality of the notion of law as it is employed in Kant's theoretical and practical philosophy. Eric Watkins argues that, by thinking through a number of issues in various historical, scientific, and philosophical contexts over several decades, Kant is able to develop a univocal concept of law that can nonetheless be applied to a wide range of particular cases, despite the diverse demands that these contexts give rise to. In addition, Watkins shows (...) how Kant comes to view both the generic conception of law which he develops and its different particular instances as crucial components of his systematic philosophy as a whole. This volume's new and unified account of a major current running through Kant's work will be important for scholars interested in numerous aspects of his philosophy, from the theoretical and abstract to the practical and empirical. (shrink)
This volume provides English translations of texts that form the essential background to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Presenting the projects of Kant's predecessors and contemporaries in eighteenth-century Germany, it enables readers to understand the positions that Kant might have identified with 'pure reason', the criticisms of pure reason that had developed prior to Kant's, and alternative attempts at synthesizing empiricist elements within a rationalist framework. The volume contains chapters on Christian Wolff, Martin Knutzen, Alexander Baumgarten, Christian Crusius, Leonhard Euler, (...) Johann Lambert, Marcus Herz, Johann Eberhard, and Johann Tetens. Each chapter includes a brief introduction that provides succinct biographical and bibliographical information on these authors, a concise account of their projects, and information on the importance of these projects to Kant's First Critique. Extensive references to the First Critique, brought together in a concordance, highlight the potential relevance of each text. (shrink)
During the last twenty years, Kant's theory of biology has increasingly attracted the attention of scholars and developed into a field which is growing rapidly in importance within Kant studies. The volume presents fifteen interpretative essays written by experts working in the field, covering topics from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century biological theories, the development of the philosophy of biology in Kant's writings, the theory of organisms in Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment, and current perspectives on the teleology of nature.
This volume contains ten new essays focused on the exploration and articulation of a narrative that considers the notion of order within medieval and modern philosophy--its various kinds (natural, moral, divine, and human), the different ways in which each is conceived, and the diverse dependency relations that are thought to obtain among them.
Sellars and McDowell, among others, attribute a prominent role to the Myth of the Given. In this paper, I suggest that they have in mind two different versions of the Myth of the Given and I argue that Kant is not the target of one version and, though explicitly under attack from the other, has resources sufficient to mount a satisfactory response. What is essential to this response is a proper understanding of (empirical) concepts as involving unifying functions that can (...) take sensations as input and deliver normative representations as outputs. By understanding concepts in this way, one need not, as the second version of the Myth of the Given maintains, take sensations to be both natural and normative. Instead, they can be understood as the natural effects of external objects on us, but natural effects that can nonetheless play a role in a normative process because the concepts that are responsible for the normativity of the results can require that such natural effects be present as inputs into the process. (shrink)
: This paper argues that Kant's model of causality cannot consist in one temporally determinate event causing another, as Hume had thought, since such a model is inconsistent with mutual interaction, to which Kant is committed in the Third Analogy. Rather causality occurs when one substance actively exercises its causal powers according to the unchanging grounds that constitute its nature so as to determine a change of state of another substance. Because this model invokes unchanging grounds, one can understand how (...) Kant could have thought that causal laws could be justified. Further, because this model, along with the broader ontology it presupposes, is radically different from Hume's, Kant's Second Analogy cannot be understood as a refutation of Hume's position on Hume's own terms; instead, Kant must be proposing an alternative view that competes against Hume's thoroughgoing empiricist account. (shrink)
This paper argues that, despite appearances to the contrary, Kant and contemporary analytic metaphysicians are interested in the same kind of metaphysical dependence relation that finds application in a range of contexts and that is today commonly referred to as grounding. It also argues that comparing and contrasting Kant’s and contemporary metaphysicians’ accounts of this relation proves useful for both Kant scholarship and for contemporary metaphysics. The analyses provided by contemporary metaphysicians can be used to shed light on Kant’s understanding (...) of what a real conditioning relation is, while Kant’s perspective on the practice and goals of metaphysics sheds light on several claims and issues at home in the contemporary debate. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIn this paper I argue that Kant’s complex argument against materialism involves not only his generic commitment to the existence of non-spatio-temporal and thus non-material things in themselves, but also considerations pertaining to reason and the subject of our thoughts. Specifically, I argue that because Kant conceives of reason in such a way that it demands a commitment to the existence of the unconditioned so that we can account for whatever conditioned objects we encounter in experience, our thoughts, which are (...) also conditioned, require something unconditioned that, because it is unconditioned, cannot be material. In this way, Kant’s attitude towards materialism is based not only on abstract features of his metaphysics and epistemology, but also on specific features that were under serious discussion in the early modern period. (shrink)
Today we consider ourselves to be free and equal persons, capable of acting rationally and autonomously in both practical and theoretical contexts. The essays in this volume show how this conception was first articulated in a fully systematic fashion by Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century. Twelve leading scholars shed new light on Kant's philosophy, with each devoting particular attention to at least one of three aspects of this conception: autonomy, freedom, and personhood. Some focus on clarifying the philosophical content (...) of Kant's position, while others consider how his views on these issues cohere with his other distinctive doctrines, and yet others focus on the historical impact that these doctrines had on his immediate successors and on our present thought. Their essays offer important new perspectives on some of the most fundamental issues that we continue to confront in modern society. (shrink)
This paper considers Kant’s conception of force and causality in his early pre-Critical writings, arguing that this conception is best understood by way of contrast with his immediate predecessors, such as Christian Wolff, Alexander Baumgarten, Georg Friedrich Meier, Martin Knutzen, and Christian August Crusius, and in terms of the scientific context of natural philosophy at the time. Accordingly, in the True estimation Kant conceives of force in terms of activity rather than in terms of specific effects, such as motion. Kant’s (...) explicit arguments in the Nova dilucidatio for physical influx are directed primarily against the conception of grounds and existence held by Wolff, Baumgarten, and Meier, and only secondarily against Leibniz. Finally, Kant’s reconciliation of the infinite divisibility of space and the unity of monads in the Physical monadology is designed to respond to objections that could be raised naturally by Wolff and Baumgarten.Author Keywords: Kant; Pre-Critical; Force, Causality; Wolff; Leibniz. (shrink)
Before the story can be told, however, some stage-setting is necessary. First, it is important to be clear about the most basic doctrines of Pre-established Harmony, Occasionalism, and Physical Influx. Physical Influx asserts intersubstantial causation amongst finite substances. For instance, when I appear to kick a ball, I really am the cause of the ball's motion. Pre-established Harmony denies intersubstantial causation, but affirms intrasubstantial causation. According to Pre-established Harmony, then, I am not the cause of the ball's motion, but rather (...) the ball is simply causing itself to move. Occasionalism, like Pre-established Harmony, denies intersubstantial causation, but, unlike Pre-established Harmony, it denies intrasubstantial causation as well. Occasionalism typically asserts that God alone, that is, an infinite substance, is the cause of all changes, and thus of the ball's motion. Though there are other ways of defining these causal theories, this way has the advantage that the causal theories form an exhaustive disjunction. (shrink)
Kant's sustained reflections on God have received considerable scholarly attention over the years and rightly so. His provocative criticisms of the three traditional theoretical proofs of the existence of God, and his own positive proof for belief in God's existence on moral grounds, have fully deserved the clarification and analysis that has occurred in these discussions. What I want to focus on, however, is the extent to which Kant's position contains resources sufficient to answer a line of questioning about the (...) existence of God that has recently been called the problem of the ‘hiddenness of God’ in contemporary discussions in philosophy of religion. If God exists roughly as the Judeo-Christian philosophical tradition conceives of him, it is puzzling, at least prima facie, why he does not make his existence overwhelmingly obvious to one and all, but rather is hidden from us. For if God is omnipotent, as the tradition maintains, it seems that he would have the power to reveal himself to us and, for that matter, with sufficient clarity that we would be left with no doubt about the matter. And if, as the tradition maintains further, it is important to God that we accept his existence and reject false idols who would pretend to divine status, it would seem that he has a significant reason to reveal himself to us. In short, given that God can make his existence obvious to all, and that doing so would fulfil an important purpose, why does he remain hidden from us? (shrink)
The main topic of the following dissertation is Kant's Third Analogy of Experience, which asserts that one must posit a bond of mutual interaction in order to judge that two substances exist simultaneously. Part One considers the Third Analogy proper and reconstructs two plausible arguments for its main claim. Contrary to the view of most commentators , Kant is entitled to a strong causal notion of mutual interaction. Part Two considers the historical debate between proponents of Pre-established Harmony, Occasionalism, and (...) Physical Influx and how the Third Analogy can be seen as Kant's most developed version of Physical Influx. Thus, we see that Kant's concern with causality is not exhausted by his reply to Hume in the Second Analogy of Experience. For Kant is clearly concerned to attack the rationalist tradition by criticizing Leibniz's and Wolff's Pre-established Harmony, on the one hand, and the Cartesians' and Malebranche's Occasionalism, on the other hand. Part Three considers the argumentative structure of Kant's Metaphysische Anfangsgrunde der Naturwissenschaft and how the Third Analogy relates to this work. Contrary to what one might expect, the MAdN does not proceed by first presupposing a Principle from the first Critique and then substituting in the concept of matter. Rather, its substantial results are obtained through an extended transcendental argument showing how we can have experience of objects of outer sense . Further, we see how the abstract notion of mutual interaction involved in the Third Analogy becomes more specific in the MAdN since two of the most important features of its central notion of matter, namely the capacities of filling a space and of communicating motion, require attractive and repulsive forces and action and reaction, both instances of mutual interaction. These three lines of argument establish that the Third Analogy of Experience both constitutes a crucial part of Kant's position and presents a philosophically plausible view. (shrink)
Though Kant is best known for his strictly philosophical works in the 1780s, many of his early publications in particular were devoted to what we would call 'natural science'. Kant's Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens made a significant advance in cosmology, and he was also instrumental in establishing the newly emerging discipline of physical geography, lecturing on it for almost his entire career. In this volume Eric Watkins brings together new English translations of Kant's first publication, Thoughts (...) on the True Estimation of Living Forces, the entirety of Physical Geography, a series of shorter essays, along with many of Kant's most important publications in natural science. The volume is rich in material for the student and the scholar, with extensive linguistic and explanatory notes, editorial introductions and a glossary of key terms. (shrink)
Regardless of one’s particular philosophical interests and convictions, it is evident that the notion of autonomy is an important one. However, agreement about the nature of autonomy and about what it requires has proven elusive in contemporary discussions. In Kant and the Fate of Autonomy Karl Ameriks addresses this impasse by going back to the historical roots of this notion in Kant and arguing that many contemporary conceptions of autonomy are based on misunderstandings of Kant’s position, misunderstandings that first arose (...) in his immediate successors, Reinhold, Fichte, and Hegel. However, Ameriks does not aim merely to set the historical record straight; he wants to suggest that Kant’s actual position on autonomy is much more attractive philosophically than either what he refers to as “pure Kantian” conceptions or positions that are similar in basic respects to those of Rorty, Taylor, Larmore, and other post-Kantians. That Ameriks is able to combine remarkable sensitivity toward an extremely broad range of obscure texts with striking clarity and philosophical sophistication in evaluating the positions and arguments laid bare by his exegetical analyses makes his book an extraordinarily rich contribution to our contemporary philosophical landscape. (shrink)
This anthology offers the key works of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz in their entirety or in substantial selections, along with a rich selection of associated texts by other leading thinkers of the period.
This anthology offers the key works of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume in their entirety or in substantial selections, along with a rich selection of associated texts by other leading thinkers of the period.