Kant's Newtonian Revolution in Philosophy

Synopsis

Hahn boldly corrects the misconceptions of Kant's Copernican revolution in philosophy and explains the specific Newtonian model used by Kant to construct his own philosophy in the Critique of Pure Reason.

Relying on resources familiar to Kant- Newton's Opticks and Principia and especially Christian von Wolff's commentary on scientific method- Hahn argues that Kant viewed Copernicus as the proponent of a novel hypothesis while seeing Newton as the formulator of a rigorously deductive method. Intellectual revolutions, for Kant, are signaled by the formulation of rigorous deductions.

The revolution that Kant proposes to effect in the Critique of Pure Reason is based on Newton's deductive method, not the hypothesis of Copernicus. Thus, the commonplace that Kant effects a Copernican revolution misrepresents Kant's expressed views on the matter, it distorts Kant's view of Copernicus, and it misleads us in our efforts to understand what the revolution in natural science meant to him, as the very model on which his metaphysics rests.

Additional information

Contributors:
Includes content by:
  • Richard H. Popkin
  • Richard A. Watson
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Carbondale, IL
Publication year:
  • 1988