Kant's Empirical Realism

Kant's Empirical Realism

Kant's Empirical Realism

Kant's Empirical Realism

Synopsis

'Kant's Empirical Realism challenges and enriches our understanding of Kant's philosophy... a rewarding book; the writing is clear, the structure is helpful and he uses some vivid examples.' -Lucy Allais, Times Literary SupplementPaul Abela presents a powerful, experience-sensitive form of realism about the relation between mind and world, based on an innovative interpretation of Kant. Abela breaks with tradition in taking seriously Kant's claim that his Transcendental Idealism yields a form of empirical realism, and giving a realist analysis of major themes of the Critique of Pure Reason. Abela's blending of Kantian scholarship with contemporary epistemology offers a new way of resolving philosophical debates about realism.

Excerpt

(i) “Realism with a wink” might best describe how even sympathetic interpreters of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason have viewed Kant's assertion that the broad transcendental idealist framework yields realism at the empirical level. There remains the common belief that Kantian appearances are mind dependent in a way that effectively excludes empirical realism from being accepted as a genuine form of realism. the word “appearance” (Erscheinung) itself is usually enough to scare off even the most well-intentioned realist. Add to this the idea that space and time are mere forms of intuition, and the (apparently) constructivist character of Kant's account of synthesis, and the door seems firmly closed to any realism worthy of the designation.

This book challenges that prejudice.

The main thesis of this work is that Kant's account of judgement, as developed in the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, offers the reader a genuine realist programme. I have developed the argument for this claim under the title of empirical realism to draw attention to the positive content of Kant's account of theoretical knowledge. Whereas transcendental idealism identifies Kant's grand theory of knowledge, morality, and aesthetics, empirical realism is the title Kant invokes for the positive account of possible experience. Developing Kant's position under this rubric also aids in connecting many of Kant's arguments with contemporary concerns in the realist/anti-realist debates in epistemology and philosophy of language. Issues relating to perceptual content, truth, and reference stand at the heart of Kant's analysis of judgement. and it is judgement, its forms and conditions, that stands at the centre of the Kantian conception of the epistemological relation of mind and world.

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