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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: September 2009

4 - The Kantian route to Hegel's inferentialism


Kant's legacy within analytic-styled theoretical philosophy tends to be centred on those parts of the Critique of Pure Reason that are dealt with in the ‘Transcendental Analytic’. From this point of view, the lessons of the even longer ‘Transcendental Dialectic’ can be summed up in its generally anti-metaphysical purport: one cannot discover truths about the world from pure thought alone – or at least, pure thought when it is restricted to reasoning schematized by syllogistic logic. Viewed from this perspective, Hegel looks to be a regression, as he seems to want to re-instate some sort of metaphysics just on such syllogistic logical grounds. While Kant had warned in the ‘Paralogisms’ and ‘Antinomies’ that pure reason conceived theoretically (‘metaphysics’) would be wrecked on the reef of contradiction, Hegel seems to have taken this entanglement in contradiction as revealing something about reality itself – its contradictoriness – and this alone has commonly been taken as sufficient warrant to exclude his response to Kant from serious consideration. But as we have seen, working from Sellars's critique of any idea of an intuitable logical ‘given’, Brandom claims to have resurrected the rational ‘inferentialist’ core of Hegel's very appeal to ‘Reason’ over ‘the Understanding’. While Hegel's controversial approach to contradiction will be examined in later chapters, in this chapter I trace the complicated relations between Kant and Hegel on the status of inferential reason.