Mary Shepherd and the Causal Relation - Part One -/- Part One gives context to the life and work of Lady Mary Shepherd. It weaves together the stories of her ancestors, her own stories and the wider social, historical and philosophical context. The aim is to evoke a world from which to mark the emergence of Mary Shepherd, Scotland’s first female philosopher.
Kant's obscure essay entitled An Attempt to Introduce the Concept of Negative Quantities into Philosophy has received virtually no attention in the Kant literature. The essay has been in English translation for over twenty years, though not widely available. In his original 1983 translation, Gordon Treash argues that the Negative Quantities essay should be understood as part of an ongoing response to the philosophy of Christian Wolff. Like Hoffmann and Crusius before him, the Kant of 1763 is at odds with (...) the Leibnizian-Wolffian tradition of deductive metaphysics. He joins his predecessors in rejecting the assumption that the law of contradiction alone can provide proof of the principle of sufficient reason: -/- In his rejection of the possibility of deducing all philosophic truth from the law of contradiction, however, and in the clear recognition that this impossibility has immediate consequences for defense of the law of sufficient reason, Kant's work most definitely and positively constitutes a line of succession from Hoffmann and Crusius (Treash, 1983, p. 25). -/- The recognition that Kant's Negative Quantities essay is part of a response to the tradition of deductive metaphysics is, without a doubt, an important contribution to the Kant literature. However, there is still more to be said about this neglected essay. The full significance of the paper becomes known through its ties to a second, empiricist line of succession. Clues to this second line of succession can be found in Kant's prefatory remarks concerning Euler's 1748 Reflections on Space and Time and Crusius' 1749 Guidance in the Orderly and Careful Consideration of Natural Events. As I will show, these prefatory remarks suggest a reading of Kant's Negative Quantities paper that reaches beyond German deductive metaphysics to engage a debate regarding the application of mathematics in philosophy initiated by George Berkeley. (shrink)
Kant's special metaphysics is intended to provide the a priori foundation for Newtonian science, which is to be achieved by exhibiting the a priori content of Newtonian concepts and laws. Kant envisions a two-step mathematical construction of the dynamical concept of matter involving a geometrical construction of matter’s bulk and a symbolic construction of matter’s density. Since Newton himself defines quantity of matter in terms of bulk and density, there is no reason why we shouldn’t interpret Kant’s Dynamics as a (...) defence of a Newtonian concept of matter. When Kant’s reasoning is understood in relation to his criteria for mathematical construction, it is possible to maintain that matter theory is central to the Metaphysical Foundations, but that this does not undermine Kant’s stated aim of giving an a priori foundation for Newtonian science. (shrink)
In the neglected 'Amphiboly of the Concepts of Reflection,' Kant introduces a new transcendental activity, Transcendental Deliberation. It aims to determine to which faculty a representation belongs and does so by examining the representation's relationships to other representations. This enterprise yields some powerful ideas. Some of the relationships studied have great interest, numerical identity in particular. Indeed, seeing Kant discuss it here, one wonders why he did not include it in the Table of Categories. Kant gives a solid argument for (...) the necessity of a sensible element in representations, something not found elsewhere in the Transcendental Analytic. (shrink)
Kant's reasoning in his special metaphysics of nature is often opaque, and the character of his a priori foundation for Newtonian science is the subject of some controversy. Recent literature on the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science has fallen well short of consensus on the aims and reasoning in the work. Various of the doctrines and even the character of the reasoning in the Metaphysical Foundations have been taken to present insuperable obstacles to accepting Kant's claim to ground Newtonian science. (...) Gordon Brittan and Gerd Buchdahl, amongst others, have argued that Kant's stated aims in this case are not to be taken at face value, and that prior ontological commitments play a hidden but central role in Kant's special metaphysics. ;Michael Friedman has shown how Kant's stated aims can be taken seriously with his ingenious reconstruction of the Metaphysical Foundations as a demonstration of the a priori basis for our thinking bodies to be in true motion and in absolute space. However, Friedman does not address the issue of matter theory--despite the importance of the issue to Kant. I argue that a strict reading of both the stated aims and doctrines of the Metaphysical Foundations is possible, since much of Kant's reasoning about the empirical concept of matter can be explained by his views on how the construction of empirical concepts is possible. ;Kant's quasi-mathematical constructions are pivotal in Friedman's interpretation. Constructibility is Kant's criterion of acceptability for the concepts of natural science. Yet Kant notoriously fails to construct the dynamical concept of matter, and accepts this failure with an equally notorious complacency. I argue that Kant's criteria of empirical concept construction, apart from any prior ontological commitments, are enough to generate his views on matter. Kant's failure to construct the requisite concept of matter can be ascribed to a missing law of nature, a law of the relation of forces the discovery of which Kant thought imminent. I conclude that matter theory is central to the Metaphysical Foundations, but that this does not undermine Kant's stated aim of giving the a priori ground of Newtonian science. (shrink)
In Chapter I, I discuss Buchdahl’s view that the possibility of empirical lawlikeness could not have been established in the Principles of the Critique given the differences between transcendental, metaphysical and empirical lawlikeness, and the connection between the faculty of Reason and empirical lawlikeness. I then discuss the general conditions for empirical hypotheses according to Kant, which include the justification of the method by which an empirical hypothesis is obtained and the establishment of the general and specific constructability of the (...) empirical concept. -/- *In Chapter II, I discuss the nature of the general construction of concepts which is treated in the Schematism of the Critique, surveying the views of Pippin, Allison, Bennett and Butts in an effort both to make sense of a difficult part of the Critique and to demonstrate that the Schematism is indeed where Kant demonstrates how the construction of empirical concepts in general is possible. -/- *In Chapter III, I discuss Brittan’s and Butts’ views on the nature of the specific construction of empirical concepts, defending Butts’ interpretation as compatible with Buchdahl’s view that gaps exist between kinds of lawlikeness for Kant and, because of its connection with an interpretation of how metaphysical lawlikeness figures in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, insofar as it helps us to establish the possibility of empirical lawlikeness and natural science. (shrink)
'This collection confirms that Mary Shepherd is an unjustly neglected figure in modern philosopher. It will be especially interesting to students of Berkeley and Hume.' --David Raynor Very little is known about the life and work of Lady Mary Shepherd (1777--1847), and yet she is undoubtedly one of the most important women philosophers of the early modern period. Whewell is reputed to have used one of her books as a text at Cambridge, and Sir Charles Lyell said of her that (...) she was an 'unanswerable logician, in whose argument it was impossible to find a loophole or flaw'. Exceptionally well read and analytically clear, she made a significant scholarly contribution to the philosophical discussion and debate surrounding the work of Hume, Berkeley and others. This, the first modern edition of Shepherd's writings, includes her two major philosophical works: An Essay upon the Relation of Cause and Effect (1824), a critique of Hume's view of causality, and Essays on the Perception of an External Universe and Other Subjects (1827), a refutation of Berkeley's idealism. Also included is her first, anonymous, publication, Enquiry respecting the Relation of Cause and Effect (1819) and two shorter pieces. There is a growing interest in the contribution of women writers to the history of philosophy. However, limited access to original texts has prevented a serious and systematic examination of their doctrines. Shepherd's philosophical works deserve the careful consideration of contemporary historians and philosophers, but until now have been largely unavailable to the modern reader. A reevaluation of her works is long overdue and this new collection is a welcome addition to Thoemmes Press's list. --very rare works by an eminent and increasingly prominent woman philosopher of the Scottish Enlightenment. No single library in the world has all these works --available for the first time in a modern edition --includes critical reponses to leading figures of early modern philosophy --introduction with biographical detail on Shepherd and account of her works. (shrink)