Kant and the Sciences

Kant and the Sciences

Kant and the Sciences

Kant and the Sciences


Kant and the Sciences aims to reveal the deep unity of Kant's conception of science as it bears on the particular sciences of his day and on his conception of philosophy's function with respect to these sciences. It brings together for the first time twelve essays by leading Kant scholars that take into account Kant's conception of a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, and anthropology.


I want to have only a piece of the system of the whole of human cognitions, namely the science of the highest principles, and such a project is modest.

Kant, Metaphysik Mrongovius, 29:748

THE relationship between Kant's philosophy and modern science continues to be the object of fruitful studies that concern issues of considerable exegetical and technical complexity. At a more general level, however, I believe that there remain some basic and relatively simple issues that have not yet been given adequate attention, and that may profit from a perspective that takes a somewhat more distant view than one tends to find in much Kant scholarship. I have in mind a constellation of problems having to do with the basic form of the Critical philosophy, its peculiar place in philosophical history, and the metaphilosophical problem of the methodological status of philosophy itself vis-à-vis what is called science.

I will begin with a preliminary section that offers a sketch of the peculiar problem of the standing, within the overall framework of Kant's philosophy, of all types of knowledge that, like philosophy itself, fall in between the extremes of rudimentary “common knowledge” and exact scientific knowledge. Against this backdrop, I will go over again, in more detail in the second and main section, the historical context of Kant's answer to the specific question of the scientific status of his own philosophy. This section will focus on comparing Kant's conception of the key requirement of systematicity with other very influential conceptions of it right before and after him. Throughout, I will be arguing for a way of looking at Kant's philosophy that takes its claim to “modesty” seriously, and that can thereby defend it as an especially appropriate model in our own time for approaching the crucial and often neglected issue of the role that philosophy can play as a mediator, rather than a guarantor, of common knowledge and science.


The introductory observations of the first section fall into three brief subsections: (1.1) a reminder of some basic options within the era of modern philosophy, (1.2) . . .

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