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The chapter looks at the ways in which the analytic method adopted in Parts I and II, where Kant addresses the possibility of mathematics and natural science, bears on the status of metaphysics. The essay canvasses two possible accounts of how mathematics and science relate to metaphysics as a priori cognition – the ‘Necessary Conditions’ view, and the ‘Examples First’ proposal – and rejects each. Rather, Kant denies that metaphysics can be a science not because it fails to achieve the necessity that we find in mathematics and natural science, but instead because metaphysics does not amount to cognition at all. The analytic method Kant adopts does not lead to a quick rejection of metaphysics as not being something we in fact possess, but requires a subtler and more complex case to show that metaphysics cannot have any cognition of an a priori object, though it still has some other methodological value to offer.
The chapter takes up the question of how and why Kant marks the limits of metaphysics, particularly in light of the skeptical challenges to reason’s use raised by Hume and Bayle. Here Kant’s distinction between our cognitive faculties – the heterogeneity thesis – plays a crucial role, since it allows Kant to set the boundaries of metaphysics at the cognizable, which requires sensible content that dogmatic metaphysics is unable to provide. Kant’s account of limits and boundaries bears a suggestive similarity to the claims Wittgenstein makes in the Tractatus, and the essay lays out some of the fruitful ways in which the latter work can help shed light on Kant’s argument in the Prolegomena.
Almost every reader’s first encounter with Kant comes through either the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals or the Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, but while the former work occupies a central and revered place in the philosophical canon, the Prolegomena is often viewed much more ambivalently.
Kant's Mathematical World aims to transform our understanding of Kant's philosophy of mathematics and his account of the mathematical character of the world. Daniel Sutherland reconstructs Kant's project of explaining both mathematical cognition and our cognition of the world in terms of our most basic cognitive capacities. He situates Kant in a long mathematical tradition with roots in Euclid's Elements, and thereby recovers the very different way of thinking about mathematics which existed prior to its 'arithmetization' in the nineteenth century. He shows that Kant thought of mathematics as a science of magnitudes and their measurement, and all objects of experience as extensive magnitudes whose real properties have intensive magnitudes, thus tying mathematics directly to the world. His book will appeal to anyone interested in Kant's critical philosophy -- either his account of the world of experience, or his philosophy of mathematics, or how the two inform each other.
This chapter explores the complex relation between Kant and common-sense philosophy. In the Prolegomena, Kant is notoriously dismissive of thinkers like Beattie and Oswald, but his attitude toward common-sense philosophy is more sympathetic than these remarks might suggest. Kant shares some of the common-sense philosophers’ worries about the vanities of metaphysics, but sees them as caught up in just the kind of ‘enthusiasm’ that besets more traditional metaphysicians. The essay suggests that for Kant, the proper strategy against either form of enthusiasm is to deflate it using raillery and humor, and the paper is devoted to providing a fascinating literary analysis of the Prolegomena, to show just how the rhetorical strategies of the work can contribute to a greater understanding of the critical project as a whole.
The chapter focuses on Kant’s rather surprising claim that although we cannot have any direct cognition in metaphysics, we can nonetheless have “cognition by analogy” of things such as God and the world-whole. While Kant says relatively little about what this involves, the essay makes the case that cognition by analogy, and in particular the symbolic cognition of God, shows that Kant’s account of how we meet the criteria for cognition is far more flexible than is typically recognized. The analysis of Kant’s use of analogy more generally widens the scope of how we as humans, who are at once sensible and intelligible, stand in relation to the world of experience.
Benedict (Baruch) de Spinoza (1632–1677) was one of the most systematic, inspiring, and influential philosophers of the early modern period. From a pantheistic starting point that identified God with Nature as all of reality, he sought to demonstrate an ethics of reason, virtue, and freedom while unifying religion with science and mind with body. His contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, ethics, politics, and the analysis of religion remain vital to the present day. Yet his writings initially appear forbidding to contemporary readers, and his ideas have often been misunderstood. This second edition of The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza includes new chapters on Spinoza's life and his metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of religion, and biblical scholarship, as well as extensive updates to the previous chapters and bibliography. A thorough, reliable, and accessible guide to this extraordinary philosopher, it will be invaluable to anyone who wants to understand what Spinoza has to teach.
Historically, philosophical discussions of relations have featured chiefly as afterthoughts, loose ends to be addressed only after coming to terms with more important and pressing metaphysical issues. F. H. Bradley stands out as an exception. Understanding Bradley's views on relations and their significance today requires an appreciation of the alternatives, which in turn requires an understanding of how relations have traditionally been classified and how philosophers have struggled to capture their nature and their ontological standing. Positions on these topics range from the rejection of relations altogether, to their being awarded the status as grounds for everything else, to various intermediary positions along this spectrum. Love them, hate them, or merely tolerate them, no philosopher engaged in ontologically serious metaphysics can afford to ignore relations.
The Prolegomena is often dismissed as Kant's failed attempt to popularize his philosophy, but as the essays collected here show, there is much to be gained from a careful study of the work. The essays explore the distinctive features of the Prolegomena, including Kant's discussion of philosophical methodology, his critical idealism, the nature of experience, his engagement with Hume, the nature of the self, the relation between geometry and physics, and what we cognize about God. Newly commissioned for this volume, the essays as a whole offer sophisticated and innovative interpretations of the Prolegomena, and cast Kant's critical philosophy in a new light.
Prior to 1800, Schelling had tried to overcome Kant’s alleged formalism with a theory of nature which presented the latter as a process of progressively more complex forms of inanimate and organic existence. The process culminated in the reflectively intelligent life which made idealism possible. As Schelling contended regarding Fichte, in his Science the latter had abstracted only this last moment of the process, and this was a claim that Fichte could not accept. By 1800, Fichte was thus defending his Science of the “I” on two fronts – against Kant who in 1799 had singled it out as being empty logic and against Schelling who was in effect making the same claim. Chapter 2 is dedicated to an account of these events and the exposition of the texts associated with them. What transpires from Fichte’s response to Kant, and his controversy with Schelling, is that there was a disconnect between all involved because of an ambiguity inherent to the monism, and the intuitionism the latter required, which all concerned accepted (Kant only hypothetically, by default). The ambiguity was an encumbrance from classical metaphysics that still affected the new Idealism. It was Spinoza’s challenge.
This brief concluding chapter summarizes the argument of the volume and draws attention to a chief outcome of the entire book, viz., pragmatic transcendental humanism. It is also briefly considered in what sense the discussion of the book is committed to (pragmatist) project of metaphysics and why exactly this pragmatist undertaking needs the kind of Kantian transcendental backing that the earlier chapters argue it does.
I argue that Hegel’s immaterialist metaphysics provides a viable alternative to those dissatisfied with a “disenchanted” materialism. I defend a “minimalist critique of materialism.” I show that what Hegel criticizes in materialism is not the reality of matter, but only its ultimate reality. I show that he maintains a “minimalist conception of immateriality.” I argue that he operates with a very specific notion of matter referring to mutually independent entities formed by means of external action upon them. So he is referring to entities that are not material, i.e. that are not mutually interrelated and/or are formed by means of their internal activity upon themselves. Adopting this “minimalist conception,” Hegel thinks, changes how we see the way things are. He thus starts to speak about how all things strive toward some ultimate immateriality. This is the “transformational conception of immateriality.” While this part of Hegel’s critique is problematic, I contend that Hegel’s extravagances are just his way of incorporating an expansive, “re-enchanted” conception of nature that allows material reality to exist alongside immaterial entities as Hegel conceives them.
Many powers-realists assume that the powers of objects are identical with the dispositions of objects and, hence, that ‘power’ and ‘disposition’ are interchangeable. In this article, I aim to disentangle dispositions from powers with the goal of getting a better sense of how powers and dispositions relate to one another. I present and defend a modest realism about dispositions built upon a standard strong realism about powers. I argue that each correct disposition-ascription we can make of an object is made true by the manifestations towards which a given power or collection of powers of the object is directed.
The opening chapters of Anselm's Monologion contain a ‘proof’ of a perfect being, which has received far less attention than the more famous Proslogion proof, and the ontological arguments derived from it. I wish to rectify this by developing an argument in defence of a crucial premise of the Monologion proof. This premise states that ‘the Good’, i.e. that in virtue of which numerically distinct things may all be good, must itself be a supremely good thing (if it exists). I motivate the argument before considering objections to both premises, as well as putative ‘parodies’ of my argument. Part of the motivation of my argument will involve the claim that the Good, if it is good at all, must be a paradigm good thing. I conclude that theists have a second kind of ontological argument at their disposal.
This chapter argues that contemporary claims about what empiricist history can offer international law are part of a longer tradition. A particular vision of law and figure of the lawyer have been central to claims made by empiricist historians of political thought for at least a century. The chapter focuses on four influential scholars whose work has influenced the method debates in international law – Herbert Butterfield, JGO Pocock, Quentin Skinner, and Ian Hunter. It traces the figure of the lawyer as apologist for power that reappears in their texts and against which their historicizing methods are staged. While the figure of the lawyer appears in different guises – as Whig constitutionalist for Butterfield, English common lawyer for Pocock, Italian scholastic lawyer for Skinner, and Prussian natural lawyer for Hunter – in each narrative the lawyer functions as the foil for a new heroic figure. That figure, the historicizing humanist, arrives on the scene to offer an anti-metaphysical challenge to the oppressive authority of received tradition. This chapter situates debates over the turn to method in international law within that longer story, in which historians are able to take up their preordained place as radical disrupters of orthodoxy.
This chapter challenges the representations of international law that dominate the turn to history. The vision of international law as metaphysically grounded and of lawyers as scholastics or moralising judges is resonant because it shores up a familiar fantasy. Yet that vision bears little relation to the ways in which contemporary international lawyers use the past in the practice of making legal arguments. This chapter explores the indeterminacy and capaciousness of the past materials out of which international legal arguments are assembled and the varied roles lawyers are trained to adopt in making such arguments. It shows that international lawyers are already immersed in a centuries-long debate over the grounds of law’s authority, into which historicising techniques and anti-metaphysical approaches have long been incorporated. Many influential forms of international legal thought, including legal realism, positivism, critical legal studies, and game theory, have been informed by an anti-metaphysical orientation. Far from being a revolutionary insight, the claim that historicising a text can settle its meaning is just one of many claims that are already part of the broader argumentative world of international lawyers, and no more likely than any other to resolve interpretative controversies or offer the truth of legal history.
The introductory chapter of this book offers a brief account of the relation between action theory and moral philosophy in Aquinas. It argues that Aquinas has a descriptive, metaphysical account of the human act, one that investigates the human act’s ontology as well as its aetiology, that is, respectively, what the human act is and how it is explained. This account brackets normative considerations about what acts are morally good or bad. The introduction specifies that the book deals with this descriptive theory, and it also motivates the book’s main textual focus, which is on one aspect of Aquinas’s Prima secundae discussion of the human act, namely, the phase leading from choice (electio) to the actual performance of the human act. Finally, the introduction states the main thesis of the book, which is that both choice and the human act that it explains are hylomorphically structured, for Aquinas. Choice is a composite of a volition and a preferential intentional structure inherited from a previous judgment, and the human act is a composite of a volition and a power-exercise caused by volition, such as a bodily movement.
The significance of this project ought to be evident. First, it shows that Plato’s Forms simply are essences, not things that have an essence and that Plato’s theory of Forms is just that, a theory of essence. Secondly, it shows that, if we have reason to raise and take seriously the ti esti (‘What is it?’) question, then we have reason to take seriously Plato’s theory of essence, the theory of Forms, with the remarkable characteristics that Plato attributes to essences and Forms. thirdly, it presents a challenge to those philosophers today who think that essentialism is an optional item on the philosophical menu. Finally, it presents a challenge to the tendency, typical to the essentialists of today, to think that the only option is Aristotelian essentialism, and that Platonic essentialism, if it can be made out at all, is simply Aristotelian essentialism with the addition of certain Platonic commitments that are both unattractive and optional. The projects demonstrate that Plato’s essentialism is a well-argued, rigorous and coherent theory, and a viable competitor to Aristotle’s essentialism.
Maimonides makes extensive use of metaphysics in the Guide, but he does not discuss the discipline’s nature or many of the basic issues it addresses. Instead, the Guide’s readers would need to be familiar with the tradition of metaphysical inquiry that Maimonides draws on, which is that of the peripatetic philosophers. Aristotle’s Metaphysics stands at its head, and Maimonides received it mediated through Greek and Arabic commentaries. Among the major Arabic commentators, Al-Farabi is known as “the second teacher,” after Aristotle; the titles are accorded them by Avicenna, who credits Al-Farabi with enabling him to understand the Metaphysics.