Alfredo Ferrarin, The Powers of Pure Reason: Kant and the Idea of Cosmic Philosophy, Chicago 2015, 325 p., ISBN 9780226243153. While not doubting that “Kant’s revolution in thinking is utterly pivotal in the history of philosophy,” Alfredo Ferrarin does not believe “that full justice has been done to it.” He thinks the best way to pay a tribute to Kant’s depth is “to take seriously and address the philosophical problems that threaten its unity” (p. 2). This is what the book is about, especially because “some of the more notable readings” of critical philosophy “are one-sided precisely insofar as they are reductive” (p. 4). Ferrarin aims instead to read “Kant’s philosophy as a developing whole.” The key and premise to his interpretation are the architectonic description of reason in the “Doctrine of Method” and of “the ideas as a result of reason’s totalizing need” (p. 5). Special attention is given to the role of metaphysics and to the propaedeutic function that the KrV has with regard to metaphysics. Throughout the book, Ferrarin provides a careful consideration of the “many shifts hesitations, and subtle changes expressed by Kant” in order to understand how and why, as early as the Prolegomena and throughout the 1780s and 1790s, Kant continuously modified and indeed began to abandon the standpoint of the KrV as regards “the positive role of ideas, the function of sensibility, the definition and internal articulation of pure reason, and the relation among faculties” (p. 23). It is a fact that “Kant never tired of exploring, recasting, returning afresh to and shifting positions on his basic theses.” Metaphysics, critical philosophy, and transcendental philosophy or philosophy relentlessly shift their function and relative position […] As Kant’s work progressed over the years, they hardly ever referred to the same object” (p. 235). And the sixteen tables reconstructed by Giorgio Tonelli, presenting diagrams with different classifications of the sciences, of philosophy, of knowledge, are the best evidence of these continuous transformations (Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason within the Tradition of Modern Logic, Berlin 1994, p. 325-341). Coming back to the question, when Kant started to work on the KrV, what kind of discipline did he want to write on? Ferrarin points out that Kant had tried to show that “metaphysics is a science and a system because its source – pure reason – is an organism and a subjective system of a priori syntheses guided by ideas” (p. 237). On this last question, let me argue, it has been shown that on the basis of the number of its pages, objective, propaedeutic argumentation level, and especially its being “externally tacked on” to the “Transcendental Analytic” (as noticed first by Norman Kemp-Smith) the opening pages of the Transcendental Logic in the KrV (A50-64/B74-88) “Introduction: Idea of a Transcendental Logic” fulfill all requirements for an academic program to be (Philosophical Academic Programs of the German Enlightenment, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 2012, p. xv). This provides us with an essential information on the process of composition of the KrV (as a set of layers) and especially with the quite substantial information that in the seventies Kant had indeed thought of lecturing at the Alma Albertina – the University of Königsberg – on the book he was working on (Vorlesungsverzeichnisse der Universität Königsberg 1720-1804, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1999, p. xxxvii, 458, 466, 472, 496) in close proximity to circulating textbooks on logic and metaphysics such as, e.g., Johann Georg Heinrich Feder’s Logik und Metaphysik (Göttingen 1769), which Kant knew well, because he had adopted it in class. Things eventually did not take this course, and the “Idea of a Transcendental Logic” did not appear first as an academic program. It is nonetheless important to keep in mind that for a certain number of years Kant’s intention had been that of writing the KrV as a logic and metaphysics textbook for students. (Riccardo Pozzo, Rom)

Alfredo Ferrarin: The Powers of Pure Reason: Kant and the Idea of Cosmic Philosophy, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015, 325 p., ISBN 9780226243153

Pozzo, Riccardo
2017

Abstract

Alfredo Ferrarin, The Powers of Pure Reason: Kant and the Idea of Cosmic Philosophy, Chicago 2015, 325 p., ISBN 9780226243153. While not doubting that “Kant’s revolution in thinking is utterly pivotal in the history of philosophy,” Alfredo Ferrarin does not believe “that full justice has been done to it.” He thinks the best way to pay a tribute to Kant’s depth is “to take seriously and address the philosophical problems that threaten its unity” (p. 2). This is what the book is about, especially because “some of the more notable readings” of critical philosophy “are one-sided precisely insofar as they are reductive” (p. 4). Ferrarin aims instead to read “Kant’s philosophy as a developing whole.” The key and premise to his interpretation are the architectonic description of reason in the “Doctrine of Method” and of “the ideas as a result of reason’s totalizing need” (p. 5). Special attention is given to the role of metaphysics and to the propaedeutic function that the KrV has with regard to metaphysics. Throughout the book, Ferrarin provides a careful consideration of the “many shifts hesitations, and subtle changes expressed by Kant” in order to understand how and why, as early as the Prolegomena and throughout the 1780s and 1790s, Kant continuously modified and indeed began to abandon the standpoint of the KrV as regards “the positive role of ideas, the function of sensibility, the definition and internal articulation of pure reason, and the relation among faculties” (p. 23). It is a fact that “Kant never tired of exploring, recasting, returning afresh to and shifting positions on his basic theses.” Metaphysics, critical philosophy, and transcendental philosophy or philosophy relentlessly shift their function and relative position […] As Kant’s work progressed over the years, they hardly ever referred to the same object” (p. 235). And the sixteen tables reconstructed by Giorgio Tonelli, presenting diagrams with different classifications of the sciences, of philosophy, of knowledge, are the best evidence of these continuous transformations (Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason within the Tradition of Modern Logic, Berlin 1994, p. 325-341). Coming back to the question, when Kant started to work on the KrV, what kind of discipline did he want to write on? Ferrarin points out that Kant had tried to show that “metaphysics is a science and a system because its source – pure reason – is an organism and a subjective system of a priori syntheses guided by ideas” (p. 237). On this last question, let me argue, it has been shown that on the basis of the number of its pages, objective, propaedeutic argumentation level, and especially its being “externally tacked on” to the “Transcendental Analytic” (as noticed first by Norman Kemp-Smith) the opening pages of the Transcendental Logic in the KrV (A50-64/B74-88) “Introduction: Idea of a Transcendental Logic” fulfill all requirements for an academic program to be (Philosophical Academic Programs of the German Enlightenment, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 2012, p. xv). This provides us with an essential information on the process of composition of the KrV (as a set of layers) and especially with the quite substantial information that in the seventies Kant had indeed thought of lecturing at the Alma Albertina – the University of Königsberg – on the book he was working on (Vorlesungsverzeichnisse der Universität Königsberg 1720-1804, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1999, p. xxxvii, 458, 466, 472, 496) in close proximity to circulating textbooks on logic and metaphysics such as, e.g., Johann Georg Heinrich Feder’s Logik und Metaphysik (Göttingen 1769), which Kant knew well, because he had adopted it in class. Things eventually did not take this course, and the “Idea of a Transcendental Logic” did not appear first as an academic program. It is nonetheless important to keep in mind that for a certain number of years Kant’s intention had been that of writing the KrV as a logic and metaphysics textbook for students. (Riccardo Pozzo, Rom)
9780226243153
Immanuel Kant
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