New Open Access Kant Journal

A new open-access, peer reviewed Kant journal, Kant Studies Online.  Details:

Kant Studies Online publishes articles written in English on all aspects of Kant’s works including historically informed studies, applications of Kantian thought to contemporary problems, the relationship between Kantian and Neo-Kantian thinking, and detailed scholarly works on interpretation of Kant’s works. It will also include review articles of secondary works on Kant. An issue of the journal will be deemed to exist whenever an accepted article is published. The journal is edited by Gary Banham in association with an editorial board and is published in the spirit of the open access movement. Whilst its target audience is academic philosophers and students it aims to attract non-academic readers by making all its material freely available without restriction.

(h/t Self and World)

Know Thyself (Kantian Style)

Owen Ware’s essay on the problem of self-knowledge in Kant can be found online here on his page. Here’s an abstract:

Kant is well known for claiming that we can never really know our true moral disposition. He is less well known for claiming that the injunction “Know Yourself” is the basis of all self-regarding duties. Taken together, these two claims seem contradictory. My aim in this paper is to show how they can be reconciled. I first address the question of whether the duty of self-knowledge is logically coherent (§1). I then examine some of the practical problems surrounding the duty, notably, self-deception (§2). Finding none of Kant’s solutions to the problem of self-deception satisfactory, I conclude by defending a Kantian account of self-knowledge based on his theory of conscience (§3).

Ware does a good job discussing the paradox that I have often referred to in terms of Kant’s vision of ethics: one ought to act only for the sake of the duty and never for the sake of any inclinations, yet once the decision is made to act in a certain way, one never knows exactly what the motivation is (was) that propelled one to act this and not that way. Ware writes: Continue reading

Normativity (in sensu cosmico)

Reading a bit of Jäsche Logik this afternoon, came across some observations on the nature of philosophy. Since the status of this text is different from even your usual student lectures, it’s hard to cite it as belonging to Kant himself, although it is clearly in the spirit of what Kant writes elsewhere on the matter (see below):

Philosophy is thus the system of philosophical cognitions or of cognitions of reason from concepts. That is the scholastic concept [Schulbegriff] of this science. According to the worldly concept [Weltbegriff] it is the science of the final ends of human reason. This high concept gives philosophy dignity, i.e., an absolute worth.


In this scholastic sense of the word, philosophy has to do only with skill [Geschicklichkeit], but in the relation to the worldly concept, on the other hand, with usefulness [Nützlichkeit]. The the former respect it is thus a doctrine of skill; in the latter, a doctrine of wisdom, the legislator of reason, and the philosopher to this extent not an artist of reason but rather a legislator. 

The artist of reason… strives only for speculative knowledge, without looking to see how much the knowledge contributes to the final end of human reason; he gives rules for the use of reason for any sort of end one wishes. The practical philosopher, the teacher of wisdom through doctrine and example, is the real philosopher [der eigentliche Philosoph]. For philosophy is the idea of a perfect wisdom, which shows us the final ends of human reason. [9:24] (English translation from Cambridge edition, 537) Continue reading

Time Before Time

Stumbled across this interesting (and short) essay by Rüdiger Vaas, “Time before Time: How to Avoid the Antinomy of the Beginning and Eternity of the World” (.PDF):

Immanuel Kant (1781/1787), in his Critique of Pure Reason, argued that it is possible to prove both that the world has a beginning and that it is eternal (First Antinomy of Pure Reason, A426f/B454f). As Kant believed he could overcome this “self-contradiction of reason” (“Widerspruch der Vernunft mit ihr selbst”, A740) by the help of what he called “transcendental idealism”, the question whether the cosmos exists forever or not has almost vanished in philosophical discussions. This is somewhat surprising, because Kant’s argument is quite problematic (cf., e.g., Heimsoeth 1960, Wilkerson 1976, Smith 1985, Wike 1982, Schmucker 1990, Falkenburg 2000). In the twentieth century, however, the question became once again vital in the context of natural science, culminating in the controversy between Big Bang and Steady State models in modern physical cosmology (Kragh 1996).

In recent years, it has reappeared in the framework of quantum cosmology (Vaas 2001b & 2002a), where, on the one hand, there are Instanton models that assume an absolute beginning of time (Vilenkin 1982 & 1984, Hawking & Hartle 1983, Hawking & Turok 1998), while other scenarios suppose that the Big Bang of our universe was only a transition from an earlier state (Linde 1983 & 1994, Blome & Priester 1991, Khoury et al. 2001, Steinhardt & Turok 2002), and that there are perhaps infinitely many such events.

Kant Congress CFP Deadline Extended

Just a note for those who are interested, submission deadline extended from May 31st to September 15th:

In response to the many requests for an extension received, the deadline for the submission of papers to the organizers of the XI International Kant Congress has been postponed to15 September 2009.

All other instructions contained in the Call for Papers on the congress website remain unchanged.

I Hate Science: Another Monstrous Distortion.

Levi offers another one of his characteristic “pick and choose” and wildly distorted interpretations of my comments on Speculative Heresy – it’s all nicely quoted and nicely summarized there. It is clear that I hate science – but hey what has it ever done for me and my armchair (actually, an ottoman kind of like this one – I know, weird, but I like my sitting arrangement, does it make me an ottoman philosopher?)? 

Shahar, a preventive comment to your typed-as-we-speak friendly email about why I even bother with this debate anymore – once in a while, there are interesting issues being brought up and I’d like to hope there’s some value in all of these exchanges…

P.S. Google Maps is tracking the swine flu – nothing to worry about, I dont’ believe in science so it’s not going to affect me.

Eckart Förster’s Essay on Kant, “Transition” and Opus Postumum

As some might have already noticed and I was pretty slow to discover this, some edited volumed available for preview on Google Books sometimes have full essays avaiable for your scholarly interest. May I wholeheartedly recommend this essay by Eckart Förster, “Fichte, Beck and Schelling in Kant’s Opus Postumum” which begins with a nice summary of Kant’s view of science and, specifically, physics? Förster’s contribution to the study of Opus Postumum is well known, of course, and I think in light of the recent discussions of science, realism, so-called correlationism and such, it is important to understand what Kant actually wrote, as opposed to various crude misinterpretations of his philosophy. Kant, as is also well known, began his philosophical career as a philosopher of nature (a philosopher of science would be a good modern designation) and, as Förster, shows in his Introduction to the English edition of Opus Postumum and various essays on the subject, ended his philosophical career working on a manuscript that would complete his system. 

I think Förster’s opening citation from the second preface to the first Critique is essential, as far as I am concerned, in any discussion of the workings of science – because I’m lazy, here’s a text from Norman Kemp Smith’s translation available online: Continue reading

Wolff’s Deutsche Metaphysik (Online)

Christian Wolff’s Vernünfftige Gedancken von Gott, der Welt und der Seele des Menschen, auch allen Dingen überhaupt that is also referred to as Deutsche Metaphysik is on Google Books – there are several editions, some are horrible scans, but this one looks very nice and clean (with only some pages poorly scanned here and there). This book was basically a major textbook that someone like Kant would read in order to “get into” metaphysics – fun read, I think…