In this article, I respond to critiques of my book Kant’s Radical Subjectivism: Perspectives on the Transcendental Deduction (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). I address issues that are raised concerning objectivity, the nature of the object, the role of transcendental apperception and the imagination, and idealism. More in particular I respond to an objection against my reading of the necessary existence of things in themselves and their relation to appearances. I also briefly respond to a question that relates to the debate (...) on Kantian nonconceptualism, more in particular, the question whether Kant allows animals objective intentionality. Lastly, I respond to one objection against my reading of Hegel’s critique of Kant. (The copy uploaded here is an English translation of the original Dutch version that is published in the journal.). (shrink)
Biology in the Critical Philosophy and the Opus postumum Hein van den Berg. Parts of Chap. 2 have been previously published in Hein van den Berg (2011), “ Kant's Conception of Proper Science.” Synthese 183 (1): 7–26. Parts of Chap.
This is a précis of my book Kant's Radical Subjectivism, to be published as part of a symposium dedicated to the book, with critics Hein van den Berg, Karin de Boer, Henny Blomme en Joris Spigt, including a reply by me. The symposium is in Dutch, but the pre-print uploaded here is in English!
Kant’s views on animals have received much attention in recent years. According to some, Kant attributed the capacity for objective perceptual awareness to non-human animals, even though he denied that they have concepts. This position is difficult to square with a conceptualist reading of Kant, according to which objective perceptual awareness requires concepts. Others take Kant’s views on animals to imply that the mental life of animals is a blooming, buzzing confusion. In this article I provide a historical reconstruction of (...) Kant’s views on animals, relating them to eighteenth-century debates on animal cognition. I reconstruct the views of Buffon and Reimarus and show that (i) both Buffon and Reimarus adopted a conceptualist position, according to which concepts structure the cognitive experience of adult humans, and (ii) that both described the mental life of animals as a blooming, buzzing confusion. Kant’s position, I argue, is virtually identical to that of Reimarus. Hence Kant’s views on animals support a conceptualist reading of Kant. The article further articulates the historical antecedents of the Kantian idea that concepts structure human cognitive experience and provides a novel account of how the ideas of similarity and difference were conceptualized in eighteenth-century debates on animal cognition. (shrink)
We propose a new method for the history of ideas that has none of the shortcomings so often ascribed to this approach. We call this method the model approach to the history of ideas. We argue that any adequately developed and implementable method to trace continuities in the history of human thought, or concept drift, will require that historians use explicit interpretive conceptual frameworks. We call these frameworks models. We argue that models enhance the comprehensibility of historical texts, and provide (...) historians of ideas with a method that, unlike existing approaches, is susceptible neither to common holistic criticisms nor to Skinner's objections that the history of ideas yields arbitrary and biased reconstructions. To illustrate our proposal, we discuss the so-called Classical Model of Science and draw upon work in computer science and cognitive psychology. (shrink)
Kant is well known for his restrictive conception of proper science. In the present paper I will try to explain why Kant adopted this conception. I will identify three core conditions which Kant thinks a proper science must satisfy: systematicity, objective grounding, and apodictic certainty. These conditions conform to conditions codified in the Classical Model of Science. Kant’s infamous claim that any proper natural science must be mathematical should be understood on the basis of these conditions. In order to substantiate (...) this reading, I will show that only in this way it can be explained why Kant thought (1) that mathematics has a particular foundational function with respect to the natural sciences and (2) as such secures their scientific status. (shrink)
This paper analyzes Immanuel Kant’s views on mechanical explanation on the basis of Christian Wolff’s idea of scientific demonstration. Kant takes mechanical explanations to explain properties of wholes in terms of their parts. I reconstruct the nature of such explanations by showing how part-whole conceptualizations in Wolff’s logic and metaphysics shape the ideal of a proper and explanatory scientific demonstration. This logico-philosophical background elucidates why Kant construes mechanical explanations as ideal explanations of nature.
In the present paper I investigate the role that analogy plays in eighteenth-century biology and in Kant’s philosophy of biology. I will argue that according to Kant, biology, as it was practiced in the eighteenth century, is fundamentally based on analogical reflection. However, precisely because biology is based on analogical reflection, biology cannot be a proper science. I provide two arguments for this interpretation. First, I argue that although analogical reflection is, according to Kant, necessary to comprehend the nature of (...) organisms, it is also necessarily insufficient to fully comprehend the nature of organisms. The upshot of this argument is that for Kant our understanding of organisms is necessarily limited. Second, I argue that Kant did not take biology to be a proper science because biology was based on analogical arguments. I show that Kant stemmed from a philosophical tradition that did not assign analogical arguments an important justificatory role in natural science. Analogy, according to this conception, does not provide us with apodictically certain cognition. Hence, sciences based on analogical arguments cannot constitute proper sciences. (shrink)
Kant’s teleology as presented in the Critique of Judgment is commonly interpreted in relation to the late eighteenth-century biological research of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. In the present paper, I show that this interpretative perspective is incomplete. Understanding Kant’s views on teleology and biology requires a consideration of the teleological and biological views of Christian Wolff and his rationalist successors. By reconstructing the Wolffian roots of Kant’s teleology, I identify several little known sources of Kant’s views on biology. I argue that (...) one of Kant’s main contributions to eighteenth-century debates on biology consisted in demarcating biology from metaphysics. Kant rejected Wolffian views on the hierarchy of sciences, according to which propositions specifying the functions of organisms are derived from theological truths. In addition, Kant argued that organic self-organization necessitates a teleological description in order to show that self-organization does not support materialism. By demarcating biology and metaphysics, Kant made a small yet important contribution to establishing biology as a science. (shrink)
This paper presents the current state of development of GlamMap, a visualisation tool that displays library metadata on an interactive, computer-generated geographic map. The focus in the paper is on the most crucial improvement achieved in the development of the tool: GlamMapping Trove. The visualisation of Trove’s sixtymillion book records is possible thanks to an improved database structure, more efficient data retrieval, and more scalable visualisation algorithms. The paper analyses problems encountered in visualising massive datasets, describes remaining challenges for the (...) tool, and presents a use case demonstrating GlamMap’s ability to serve researchers in the history of ideas. (shrink)
Libraries provide access to large amounts of library metadata. Unfortunately, many libraries only offer textual interfaces for searching and browsing their holdings. Visualizations provide simpler, faster, and more efficient ways to navigate, search and study large quantities of metadata. This paper presents GlamMap, a visualization tool that displays library metadata on an interactive, computer-generated geographic map. We provide detailed discussion of how GlamMap benefits the work of librarians and researchers. We show how geographic representations help librarians to perform tasks such (...) as collection assessment and how geographic information helps researchers to identify important scientific resources. (shrink)
The step to e-research in philosophy depends on the availability of high quality, easily and freely accessible corpora in a sustainable format composed from multi-language, multi-script books from different historical periods. Corpora matching these needs are at the moment virtually non-existing. Within @PhilosTei, we have addressed this corpus building problem by developing an open source, web-based, user-friendly workflow from textual images to TEI, based on state-of-the-art open source OCR software, to wit Tesseract, and a multi-language version of TICCL, a powerful (...) OCR post-correction tool. We have demonstrated the utility of the tool by applying it to a multilingual, multi-script corpus of important eighteenth to twentieth-century European philosophical texts. (shrink)
The History of Ideas is presently enjoying a certain renaissance after a long period of disrepute. Increasing quantities of digitally available historical texts and the availability of computational tools for the exploration of such masses of sources, it is suggested, can be of invaluable help to historians of ideas. The question is: how exactly? In this paper, we argue that a computational history of ideas is possible if the following two conditions are satisfied: (i) Sound Method . A computational history (...) of ideas must be built upon a sound theoretical foundation for its methodology, and the only such foundation is given by the use of models , i.e., fully explicit and revisable interpretive frameworks or networks of concepts developed by the historians of ideas themselves. (ii) Data Organisation. Interpretive models in our sense must be seen as topic-specific knowledge organisation systems (KOS) implementable (i.e. formalisable) as e.g. computer science ontologies. We thus require historians of ideas to provide explicitly structured semantic framing of domain knowledge before investigating texts computationally, and to constantly re-input findings from the interpretive point of view. In this way, a computational history of ideas maximally profits from computer methods while also keeping humanities experts in the loop. We elucidate our proposal with reference to a model of the notion of axiomatic science in 18th -19th century Europe. (shrink)