Malone-France, Derek. Deep Empiricism: Kant, Whitehead, and the Necessity of Philosophical Theism

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MALONE-FRANCE, Derek. Deep Empiricism: Kant, Whitehead, and the Necessity of Philosophical Theism. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2006. 200pp. Cloth, $70.00--Immanuel Kant and Alfred North Whitehead each began as mathematicians who shifted to mathematical physics and finally to philosophy. For Kant, the shift was to the Newtonian perspective, whereas for Whitehead, the shift was to relativity physics. Further, each produced a magnum opus: Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and Whitehead's Process and Reality. However, whereas Kant's concept of experience made objects derivative and largely dependent on the imposed conditions of subjectivity, Whitehead inverts this account of experience by claiming that subjectivity arises from the web of prior relations among objects. Malone-France's book explores these and other similarities and differences between these two great thinkers. His sympathies, it should be noted, lie primarily with Whitehead. It is only by understanding and partially overcoming the Kantian legacy that a wider appreciation for Whitehead's philosophy can occur.

The book is intended not only for process thinkers, however, but also for Kantians, neo-Kantians, and post-Kantians. Malone-France himself engages in a transcendental inquiry, but it is a reformed transcendental inquiry that is more Whiteheadian than Kantian. The author's attempt to revitalize transcendental inquiry against its contemporary critics involves a careful examination and criticism of Henry Allison's purely methodological or epistemological interpretation of Kant. Malone-France wonders, in contrast to Allison, whether the formal elements of discursive experience are intrinsically in the manifold itself. The interpretation of Kant fostered here is closer to that of Lorne Falkenstein.

Among the most original contributions of the book are the treatments of at least two types of objection to transcendental inquiry: (1) from defenders of narrative (for example, MacIntyre), who are convinced that human historicity is primary and history gets in the way of the a priorism that characterizes (Enlightenment inspired) transcendental inquiry; and (2) from defenders of neopragmatist denials of transcendental inquiry (for example, Rorty), who claim that the linguistic character and constitution of human understanding makes it impossible for us to understand genuinely transcendental claims.

Malone-France's responses to these objections involve the following ideas, respectively: (1) MacIntyre's objection is no less purely formal than the proposals defended in transcendental inquiry. That is, the principle that we should "pursue the quest for the good that is specific to our historical setting" is itself purely formal in the sense that it is independent of any given material telos. …