We argue that Kant’s views about consciousness, the mind-body problem, and the status of psychology as a science all differ drastically from the way in which these topics are conjoined in present debates about the prominent idea of a science of consciousness. Kant did never use the concept of consciousness in the now dominant sense of phenomenal qualia; his discussions of the mind-body problem center not on the reducibility of mental properties but of substances; and his views about the possibility (...) of psychology as a science did not employ the requirement of a mechanistic explanation, but of quantification of phenomena. This shows strikingly how deeply philosophical problems and conceptions can change even if they look similar on the surface. (shrink)
ABSTRACTLate Enlightenment German materialism has hardly attracted any scholarly attention in the past, in spite of the fact that there were quite a few exponents of it. In this paper, I identify the philosophically most important ones and examine to what extent they were connected with each other. In fact, there are local concentrations of materialists at universities and academic circles in Göttingen, Halle, and Gießen. I then discuss the spectrum of materialist positions held by them, from empiricist naturalism in (...) the case of Michael Hißmann to emergentism and Spinozism in the case of Karl von Knoblauch. Finally, I examine how German materialists conceived of the nature of soul and its immortality. It turns out that most of them were mortalists, with the exception of August Wilhelm Hupel, and some of them also endorsed Socinianism. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis paper discusses how early modern materialism can be defined and delineated, before turning to a brief survey of the main philosophical resources early modern materialist theories draw on. Subsequently, I discuss competing overall narratives concerning early modern materialism, and conclude with a defence of the controversial view that material soul theories belong to materialism proper.
The paper deals with the first book-length materialist treatise published in Germany in the 1770s, August Wilhelm Hupel’s Anmerkungen und Zweifel über die gewöhnlichen Lehrsätze vom Wesen der menschlichen und der thierischen Seele. Based on a “great chain of being” conception, he maintains that his materialist doctrine provides stronger grounds for belief in the immortality of the soul than those substance dualism has offered. He seeks to defend that the soul is a composite being, i.e. that it is material, but (...) at the same time he argues that the soul is not identical with the body or parts of it, but rather that it exists independently and composed of “subtle”, ether-like matter. Hupel also argues that the soul is immortal. This claim is particularly uncommon since most materialists, not only in Germany, subscribe to some version of mortalism, i.e. the doctrine that the mind either ceases to exist altogether with the death of the body, or that it remains in a death-like state until the resurrection. (shrink)
The article deals with Kant's theory of the self in Patricia Kitcher's Kant's Thinker in three respects: (1) I argue that it is doubtful whether accompanying representations with the as such yields a principle for the categories since it does not require any strong kind of connection between them. (2) I discuss textual evidence for and against Kitcher's attempt to make sense of Kant's claim that the requires the continued existence of cognizers per se. (3) I ask whether Kitcher's understanding (...) of Kant's positive theory of the self leans towards minimal substantialism or towards functionalism. (shrink)
The German thinkers in the period between Leibniz and Kant have frequently been overlooked by historians of philosophy, being less accessible than the figures of the contemporary British and French traditions, and even eclipsed within the German tradition by the thinkers of the subsequent period of “classical German philosophy” inaugurated by Kant and running through to Hegel. Consistent with this general neglect of the 18th century German tradition, Kant scholars, especially in the Anglo-American tradition, have long held these figures to (...) be of little importance in gaining an understanding of Kant’s thought. Such a dismissive attitude towards the figures of the earlier German tradition is, however, unjustified in light of their enduringly important contributions to philosophy and a number of other disciplines besides. Kant and his German Contemporaries will show how a variety of central aspects of Kant’s philosophy can be illuminated through consideration of its 18th century German context. Contributions will focus on topics in Kant’s theoretical and practical philosophy, including the influence of Wolff and Euler on Kant’s transcendental and formal logic; the influence of Tetens and Maimon on Kant’s account of the mind and consciousness; the influence of Lambert and Platner on Kant’s epistemology; the influence of Meier and Mendelssohn on Kant’s critique of metaphysics; the influence of Lambert and Blumenbach on Kant’s theory of science and reception of developments in the life sciences; and the influence of Feder and Garve on Kant’s theory of moral motivation and defense of freedom. (shrink)