Phillip R. Sloan - Performing the Categories: Eighteenth-Century Generation Theory and the Biological Roots of Kant's A Priori - Journal of the History of Philosophy 40:2 Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.2 229-253 Preforming the Categories: Eighteenth-Century Generation Theory and the Biological Roots of Kant's A Priori Phillip R. Sloan Situating Kant's philosophical project in relation to the natural sciences of his day has been of concern to several scholars from both the history of science and the history of (...) philosophy. Historians of philosophy have displayed an expanded awareness of, and interest in, the importance of the scientific context of the period in which Kant carried out his "Copernican" revolution. Most commonly among philosophers, this interest has been analyzed in relation to Kant's concerns with the foundations of mechanics, matter theory, and the epistemology of Newtonian science, with the central text of interest being the Metaphysische Anfangsgründe. On the other hand, historians of philosophy and historians of science, interested in the issues of the third Critique and in the several papers of Kant dealing with biological and anthropological issues, have emphasized the unified nature of Kant's inquiries into the natural sciences, and the importance of his continued interest in the life and human sciences alongside his interests in the foundations of the physical sciences. The effort to understand the unity of Kant's.. (shrink)
The entry of time and history into biological systems of classification is perhaps the single most significant development in the history of biological systematics in the modern era. Darwin's claiming that descent is ‘… the hidden bond of connexion which naturalists have been seeking under the term of the natural system’, rather than seeing the answer in the multitude of previous attempts to resolve the problem in terms of morphological affinities, analogies, and complex relations of resemblance, marked the turning point (...) in a long search into the meaning of biological taxonomy, and allowed the development of Darwin's insights by Haeckel, Plate and others into modern phylogenetic systematics. (shrink)
This paper seeks to show Kant’s importance for the formal distinction between descriptive natural history and a developmental history of nature that entered natural history discussions in the late eighteenth century. It is argued that he developed this distinction initially upon Buffon’s distinctions of ‘abstract’ and ‘physical’ truths, and applied these initially in his distinction of ‘varieties’ from ‘races’ in anthropology. In the 1770s, Kant appears to have given theoretical preference to the ‘history’ of nature [Naturgeschichte] over ‘description’ of nature (...) [Naturbeschreibung]. Following Kant’s confrontations with Johann Herder and Georg Forster in the late 1780s, Kant weakened the epistemic status of the ‘history of nature’ and gave theoretical preference to ‘description of nature’. As a result, Kant’s successors, such as Goethe, could draw from Kant either a justification for a developmental history of nature, or, as this paper argues, a warrant from the critical philosophy for denying the validity of the developmental history of nature as anything more than a ‘regulative’ idea of reason. (shrink)
(2003). Whewell's Philosophy of Discovery and the Archetype of the Vertebrate Skeleton: The Role of German Philosophy of Science in Richard Owen's Biology. Annals of Science: Vol. 60, No. 1, pp. 39-61.