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Chapter Six - The Second Phase: Developing a Systematic Structure for Guiding New Inquiry and Explanation c.1770– c.1790

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2021

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Summary

It is unfortunate that only after we have spent much time in the collection of materials in somewhat random fashion at the suggestion of an idea lying hidden in our minds, and after we have, indeed, over a long period assembled the materials in a merely technical manner, does it first become possible for us to discern the idea in a clearer light, and to devise a whole architectonically in accordance with the ends of reason. Systems seem to be formed in the manner of lowly organisms, through a generatio aequivoca from the mere confluence of assembled concepts, at first imperfect, and only gradually attaining to completeness, although they one and all have had their schema, as the original germ, in the sheer self-development of reason.

Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 1784 [A 835, B 863]

Kant articulates perfectly the generational change of thought as a new metaparadigm begins—from “the collection of materials in a somewhat random fashion at the suggestion of an idea” in the initial phase to the devise of “a whole architectonically,” i.e., systematically. Yet even then the careful inquiry and observation that will solve the problems addressed in the first instance of definitional purview, solidified now into a system, will require the third phase of in-depth inquiry and conflict with traditional modes of generating knowledge.

In this second phase of the second Modern metaparadigm, thinkers in all the arts and sciences were compelled by human precedent in the tasks of new ideation, problem formulation, inquiry design insofar as systematic projection, to take up the new ideation of the first phase. And, how profound this new ideation was! It generated the idea of evolutionary progress, in the species and in each endeavor of the species. Humanity was leveled to equality, and democracy, as we have seen with Rousseau, became a scientifically supported fact. But not to all thinkers. Johann Gottfried Herder, who will be both commended and condemned by Immanuel Kant, his contemporary, wrote a new historiographical model for historical research that argued for monarchical dynasty, a similar argument as presented by Thomas Hobbes—a spiral return as it were, with more evidence.

I will reference Herder both in the philosophy of history and in the new evolutionary science in this chapter.

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The Metahistory of Western Knowledge in the Modern Era
Four Evolving Metaparadigms, 1648 to Present
, pp. 101 - 116
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2021

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