Nathaniel Jason Goldberg, Kantian Conceptual Geography, New York 2015, 271 p., ISBN 9780199215385. Goldberg draws “from the history of philosophy, and especially Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1998/1787) to illuminate issues in analytic epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics” (p. 3). Throughout the book, the focus is on KrV B in the English translation of the Cambridge edition. No other Kantian texts are considered, no references to the German original. Curiously enough, however, Goldberg acknowledges right away he “is not contributing to Kant scholarship,” although he considers “some of what Kant says,” nor is he “arguing that there always have been explicit historical connections between Kantian claims and what [he identifies] as ‘Kantian’ ones,” nor is he “attempting to establish the truth of particular claims” (p. 5). He leaves the task of establishing the truth of particular Kantian claims to “recent analytic Kant scholarship” of which he gives a concise a taxonomy (p. 12-18) and refers further to Leslie Stevenson’s Inspirations from Kant (Oxford 2011) and to Robert Howell’s paper in volume 44 of Metaphilosophy on “Kant and Kantian Themes in Recent Analytic Philosophy” (2013, p. 42-47). What Goldberg aims at instead is “engaging in Kantian conceptual geography: exploring conceptual connections among myriad issues by appealing to Kantian tools” (p. 5). This is an interesting way of starting a research endeavor, no doubt, which requires however some explanation. Goldberg quotes Wilfrid Sellars’ remark that he sees enough close parallels between the problems confronting Kant and the steps he took to solve them, so that it is “helpful to use him as a means of communication, though not as a means only” (Science, Perception, and Reality, Ridgeview 1991/1963, §39-41), and adds “Sellars […] has something like my notion of conceptual geography in mind” (p. 4). Which is a start, indeed. In fact, the title of Goldberg’s book is not a little bit misleading simply because Kant himself prepared some fundamental treatises that deal with the syntagma “conceptual geography”, first and foremost the “Mathematische Geographie” in the Entwurf of 1757 and the Vollmer edition of the Vorlesungen über physische Geographie, the essay of 1786 Was heißt: sic him Gedanken zu orientieren?, and the “Geschichte der reinen Vernunft,” in which Kant promises “einen flüchtigen Blick auf das Ganze der bisherigen Bearbeitungen derselben zu werfen, welches freilich meinem Auge zwar Gebäude, aber nur in Ruinen vorstellt ”(KrV A 852-856). Goldberg does not consider any of the seminal works on Kantian geography contributed by Erich Adickes: neither Kant als Naturforscher (DeGruyter 1924/25) nor the Untersuchungen zu Kants physischer Geographie (Mohr 1911). In fact, the metaphor of orienting oneself in thought has very sound geographical foundations and well-known sources (e.g. Valentin Weigel’s Vom Ort der Welt, written in 1576 and published in 1614). More than that: the human being put in front of a geographical map has a philosophical task to achieve in as far as he/she does for space in geography what it does for time in history, namely to set out the lines for an anthropology of space and time, which has been recently codified by Setha M. Low and Denise Lawrence-Zúñiga in their Anthropology of Space and Time: Locating Culture (Blackwell 2003). It is true that new trends identify the anthropology of space and time with the history of mentalities, cultural history, ethnohistory, microhistory, history from below, etc. the reader has however a hard time finding a connection with Goldberg’s understanding of the syntagma “conceptual geography,” which goes back to what Gilbert Ryle had called “logical geography”, i.e. trying to support “people who know their way about their own parish, but cannot construct or read a map of it, much less a map of the region or continent in which their parish lies” (The Concept of Mind, Chicago 2000/1949, p. 7-8). The auspice of Goldberg, eventually, is to have philosophers try what it means to be “conceptual geographers – exploring, surveying, and mapping how concepts relate to one another and the broader conceptual world” (p. 4). Having said that, we might say that more than at a book on Kant’s geography we are looking at a book that proposes a new literary genre within analytic philosophical literature. Goldberg lists six reasons (p. 4-5) that account for the importance of Kantian “conceptual geography” (the way he means it) for analytic philosophy: (1) to map out issues (e.g. the nature of subjective, objective, and empirical; constitutive principles, acquisitive principles, and empirical claims), (2) to survey Kantian territory (or rather the territory of Kantian interpreters, because Goldberg limits itself to the English translation of KrV B), (3) to reduce disciplinary disparity (between ethics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics), (4) to make apparent that there are implicit instances of Kantian epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics already in analytic philosophy, (5) to disclose new land within the borders of Kantianism that have until now remained uncharted (e.g. meaning and truth), and (6) to survey Kantian territory together with the territory of other views that touch it at its borders (e.g. various forms of realism, idealism, pragmatism, and hybrid views). The rich and well-argued discussions that make the body of Goldberg’s book have been in part published as separate essays in journals and books (the list at p. xii). What they share is the attention for establishing borders. In part one, Goldberg draws the “external border” of Kantianism; in part two he shows that there are views of great breadth within Kantianism’s borders that are alive and well in analytic philosophy; while part three is about “defending Kantianism’s borders” and part four about looking for new land within the borders of Kantianism; finally, part five “looks back at the full expanse of Kantian territory relative to the broader conceptual world” (p. 24-25). That the intent is doxoscopic is confirmed by Goldberg’s reiterated declaration he is “not determining the truth of any particular claim.” The aim of the book boils down to show that Kant and Kantianism offer issues “of the utmost importance to analytic epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics” (e.g. to Philip Pettit, Thomas Kuhn, Donald Davidson, Rudolf Carnap, W.v.O. Quine, and Michael Friedman) and that “exploring conceptual connections among myriad issues by appealing to Kantian tools” is a work in Kantian conceptual geography that is worth pursuing. (Riccardo Pozzo, Rome)

Nathaniel Jason Goldberg: Kantian Conceptual Geography. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 271 Seiten. ISBN 978-0-19-921538-5. Kant-Studien

Riccardo Pozzo
2018

Abstract

Nathaniel Jason Goldberg, Kantian Conceptual Geography, New York 2015, 271 p., ISBN 9780199215385. Goldberg draws “from the history of philosophy, and especially Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1998/1787) to illuminate issues in analytic epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics” (p. 3). Throughout the book, the focus is on KrV B in the English translation of the Cambridge edition. No other Kantian texts are considered, no references to the German original. Curiously enough, however, Goldberg acknowledges right away he “is not contributing to Kant scholarship,” although he considers “some of what Kant says,” nor is he “arguing that there always have been explicit historical connections between Kantian claims and what [he identifies] as ‘Kantian’ ones,” nor is he “attempting to establish the truth of particular claims” (p. 5). He leaves the task of establishing the truth of particular Kantian claims to “recent analytic Kant scholarship” of which he gives a concise a taxonomy (p. 12-18) and refers further to Leslie Stevenson’s Inspirations from Kant (Oxford 2011) and to Robert Howell’s paper in volume 44 of Metaphilosophy on “Kant and Kantian Themes in Recent Analytic Philosophy” (2013, p. 42-47). What Goldberg aims at instead is “engaging in Kantian conceptual geography: exploring conceptual connections among myriad issues by appealing to Kantian tools” (p. 5). This is an interesting way of starting a research endeavor, no doubt, which requires however some explanation. Goldberg quotes Wilfrid Sellars’ remark that he sees enough close parallels between the problems confronting Kant and the steps he took to solve them, so that it is “helpful to use him as a means of communication, though not as a means only” (Science, Perception, and Reality, Ridgeview 1991/1963, §39-41), and adds “Sellars […] has something like my notion of conceptual geography in mind” (p. 4). Which is a start, indeed. In fact, the title of Goldberg’s book is not a little bit misleading simply because Kant himself prepared some fundamental treatises that deal with the syntagma “conceptual geography”, first and foremost the “Mathematische Geographie” in the Entwurf of 1757 and the Vollmer edition of the Vorlesungen über physische Geographie, the essay of 1786 Was heißt: sic him Gedanken zu orientieren?, and the “Geschichte der reinen Vernunft,” in which Kant promises “einen flüchtigen Blick auf das Ganze der bisherigen Bearbeitungen derselben zu werfen, welches freilich meinem Auge zwar Gebäude, aber nur in Ruinen vorstellt ”(KrV A 852-856). Goldberg does not consider any of the seminal works on Kantian geography contributed by Erich Adickes: neither Kant als Naturforscher (DeGruyter 1924/25) nor the Untersuchungen zu Kants physischer Geographie (Mohr 1911). In fact, the metaphor of orienting oneself in thought has very sound geographical foundations and well-known sources (e.g. Valentin Weigel’s Vom Ort der Welt, written in 1576 and published in 1614). More than that: the human being put in front of a geographical map has a philosophical task to achieve in as far as he/she does for space in geography what it does for time in history, namely to set out the lines for an anthropology of space and time, which has been recently codified by Setha M. Low and Denise Lawrence-Zúñiga in their Anthropology of Space and Time: Locating Culture (Blackwell 2003). It is true that new trends identify the anthropology of space and time with the history of mentalities, cultural history, ethnohistory, microhistory, history from below, etc. the reader has however a hard time finding a connection with Goldberg’s understanding of the syntagma “conceptual geography,” which goes back to what Gilbert Ryle had called “logical geography”, i.e. trying to support “people who know their way about their own parish, but cannot construct or read a map of it, much less a map of the region or continent in which their parish lies” (The Concept of Mind, Chicago 2000/1949, p. 7-8). The auspice of Goldberg, eventually, is to have philosophers try what it means to be “conceptual geographers – exploring, surveying, and mapping how concepts relate to one another and the broader conceptual world” (p. 4). Having said that, we might say that more than at a book on Kant’s geography we are looking at a book that proposes a new literary genre within analytic philosophical literature. Goldberg lists six reasons (p. 4-5) that account for the importance of Kantian “conceptual geography” (the way he means it) for analytic philosophy: (1) to map out issues (e.g. the nature of subjective, objective, and empirical; constitutive principles, acquisitive principles, and empirical claims), (2) to survey Kantian territory (or rather the territory of Kantian interpreters, because Goldberg limits itself to the English translation of KrV B), (3) to reduce disciplinary disparity (between ethics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics), (4) to make apparent that there are implicit instances of Kantian epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics already in analytic philosophy, (5) to disclose new land within the borders of Kantianism that have until now remained uncharted (e.g. meaning and truth), and (6) to survey Kantian territory together with the territory of other views that touch it at its borders (e.g. various forms of realism, idealism, pragmatism, and hybrid views). The rich and well-argued discussions that make the body of Goldberg’s book have been in part published as separate essays in journals and books (the list at p. xii). What they share is the attention for establishing borders. In part one, Goldberg draws the “external border” of Kantianism; in part two he shows that there are views of great breadth within Kantianism’s borders that are alive and well in analytic philosophy; while part three is about “defending Kantianism’s borders” and part four about looking for new land within the borders of Kantianism; finally, part five “looks back at the full expanse of Kantian territory relative to the broader conceptual world” (p. 24-25). That the intent is doxoscopic is confirmed by Goldberg’s reiterated declaration he is “not determining the truth of any particular claim.” The aim of the book boils down to show that Kant and Kantianism offer issues “of the utmost importance to analytic epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics” (e.g. to Philip Pettit, Thomas Kuhn, Donald Davidson, Rudolf Carnap, W.v.O. Quine, and Michael Friedman) and that “exploring conceptual connections among myriad issues by appealing to Kantian tools” is a work in Kantian conceptual geography that is worth pursuing. (Riccardo Pozzo, Rome)
978-0190215385
Immanuel Kant
Geography
History of Concepts
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