1. Introductory It is a commonplace by now that the expressions ‘Copernican revolution’ and ‘the Copernican hypothesis’ do not actually occur in that portion of the preface to the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason that contains the only references to Copernicus to be found in the Kantian corpus. Kant speaks rather of “der erste Gedanke des Copernicus” – literally, “the original idea” or “the initial thought” of Copernicus. Still, the word ‘revolution’ occurs no fewer than six times (...) within the Preface, though always with reference to other disciplines and the radical innovations that set them on “der sichere Gang einer Wissenschaft” – an expression that Kant uses almost as frequently as ‘revolution’. Even if the term ‘revolution’ is not explicitly applied either to Kant's own achievement in philosophy or to that of Copernicus in astronomy, Kant does speak both of “eine gänzliche Revolution” in metaphysics “nach dem Beispiele der Geometer und Naturforscher” and of putting forward a “Hypothese” that he himself describes as “analogisch” to that of Copernicus. So the philological point made with such fanfare by the commentators may be philosophically moot after all. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: The analytic method by which Descartes established the first principle of his philosophy is a unique cognitive process of direct insight and non-logical inference that differs markedly from the deductive model of noetic apprehension long associated with seventeenth-century rationalism. In this paper, it is shown that the same analytic process is at work in the Third Meditation proof of the innateness of the idea of God, where, however, there are serious doubts about its legitimacy.
InLeibniz: Perception, Apperception, and Thought, Robert McRae alleges a flat “contradiction” at the heart of Leibniz's doctrine of three grades of monads: bare entelechies characterized by perception; animal souls capable both of perception and of sensation; and rational souls, minds or spirits endowed not only with capacities for perception and sensation but also with consciousness of self or what Leibniz calls “apperception.” Apperception is a necessary condition of those distinctively human mental processes associated with understanding and with reason. Insofar as (...) it is also a sufficient condition of rationality, it is not ascribable to animals. But apperception is a necessary condition of sensation or feeling as well; and animals are capable of sensation, according to Leibniz, who decisively rejected the Cartesian doctrine that beasts are nothing but material automata. “On the one hand,” writes McRae, “what distinguishes animals from lower forms of life is sensation or feeling, but on the other hand apperception is a necessary condition of sensation, and apperception distinguishes human beings from animals”. “We are thus left with an unresolved inconsistency in Leibniz's account of sensation, so far as sensation is attributable both to men and animals”. (shrink)
The analytic method by which Descartes discovered the first principle of his philosophy—cogito, ergo sum—is a unique cognitive process of direct insight and nonlogical inference. It differs markedly from inductive as well as deductive procedures, but also from older models of the direct noetic apprehension of first principles, notably those of Plato and Aristotle. However, a critical examination of Descartes’s argument for the innateness of the idea of God shows that there are serious obstacles in the way of his employment (...) of the analytic method of discovery to reach this or any other conclusion about ideas that do not fall within the scope of ordinary human experience. (shrink)
This is a very impressive piece of philosophical scholarship, in the best tradition of French-language studies in the history of philosophy and science in the seventeeth and eighteenth centuries. Its theme is Leibniz’s philosophy of science, which, François Duchesneau contends, is at bottom a doctrine of method in the seventeenth-century manner of Descartes. Leibniz’s philosophy of science, however, is as antithetical to the principles of Cartesian science as to those of the “experimental philosophers,” from Boyle and Hooke to Locke and (...) Newton. If Leibnizian science was all but eclipsed by the powerful legacy of Newton and his followers, Leibniz’s philosophy of science, Duchesneau argues, has a special relevance for contemporary discussions of the respective roles of theory and observation, the status of theoretical entities, and the logical structure of scientific theories. (shrink)