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Language of Cognition and Conation in Kant's Philosophy

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Item Code: NAM110
Author: Sandhya Basu
Publisher: Rabindra Bharati University
Language: English
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 8186438556
Pages: 142
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 400 gm
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Book Description

About the Author

Sandhya Basu is Professor of Philosophy at Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. She has published one book and many papers in a number of philosophical journals and anthologies Realism: Responses and Reactions (2000) published by Indian Council of philosophical Research was co-edited by Professor Basu. She has also presented papers in some international conferences. She was a Fulbright postdoctoral research fellow in the United States in 1982-83 and National fellow of the University Grants Commission during 1992-94


I begin with a quotation from Johann Gottfried Herder. “I have had the good fortune”, he writes, “to know a philosopher. He was my teacher. In his prime he had the happy sprightliness of a youth, he continued to have it, I believe, even as very old man. His broad forehead, built for thinking, was the seat of an imperturbable cheerfulness and joy. Speech, the richest in thought, flowed from his lips. Playfulness, wit and humour were at his command. His lecture were the most entertaining talks. He incited and gently forced other to think for themselves, despotism was foreign to his mind. This man, whom I name with the greatest gratitude and respect, was Immanuel Kant.”

Immanuel Kant was a rather late bloomer in Philosophy. But he is becoming and more important as philosopher, as determining the entire course of Philosophy after him. He was able to take his Master’s degree when he was thirty one and at the age of 36 he was appointed to the chair of logic and metaphysics at Konigsberg in which town he was born, lived and died. But his startling appearance on the philosophical scene of Europe was even later. The then philosophical thinking of Europe was dominated by German philosophers like Leibniz and Wolff, on the one hand, and British philosophers like Locke, Berkeley and Hume, on the other.

Kant’s appointment to the Logic and Metaphysics chair at Konigsberg was no fluke or accident. He earned it, for by then he got recognition as an erudite scholar in German learned circle. Thought on the True Estimation of Living Forces, Kant’s first published work came out in 1747 and after an interval of three/four years an incessant flow of writing was presented to the German world. In1755 we get a very important scholarly work titled General History of Nature and Theory of Heavens dealing with Natural science and Astronomy. Publication of Critique of Pure Reason (First Critique), Kant’s magnum opus “was eagerly awaited” by Kant’s friends and philosopher colleagues, but when it came out in 1781 the general reaction was more of bewilderment than admiration. This is extremely unfortunate for after the English translations were published philosophers round the world included it as indispensable in their reading list. In any case Kant was not disheartened. He tried to improve the situation by writing a small book titled Prolegomena to Any future Metaphysics which will Be Able to Come Forth As Science (1783). “Because of the central position the Critique occupies in Philosophy”, L.W. Beck writes “the Prolegomena thus makes a major contribution to an understanding of the chief problems of general philosophy metaphysics, theory of knowledge, philosophy of science and ethics”. Four years later, revising some important sections of the Critique Kant turned up with a second edition of the Critique. Both these editions begin with one wonderful preface each of which serves as real preface for the books and makes us acquainted with various problems of the Critique.

Critique of Pure Reason is regarded as the first treatise on Philosophy of Science, it is a treatise on metaphysics, metaphysics of experience (H.J. Paton), immanent metaphysics and metaphysics as natural disposition. It lays the foundation of a new science called epistemology or theory of knowledge.

Kant will perhaps never be forgotten for his noble task of fighting against the dogmatists and the sceptics. “Time was when metaphysics was entitled the Queen of all the sciences.” But Kant laments that “the changed fashion of the time brings her only scorn, a matron outcast and forsaken.” Kant restores metaphysics to her original status of honour by establishing the possibility of synthetic a priori judgements. The fate of the possibility of synthetic a priori judgements and the fate of the possibility of metaphysics stand and fall together. This may be and has been challenged by some. Kant’s renowned predecessors leave no room for synthetic a priori judgements in their systems. Kant, on the contrary, begins his Critique with just stating that there are synthetic a priori judgements at least in mathematics and natural science. This statement is based on some simple but conclusive arguments. There is no dearth of post-Kantian philosopher who just whisk away these arguments and drive out synthetic a priori judgements altogether. In his seminal paper “Tow Dogmas of Empiricism” (1951) W.V. Quine argues at length against the analytic-synthetic distinction and finally cancels the distinction altogether.

To come to synthetic a priori judgements Kant presents definitions and criteria of analytic, synthetic, a priori and a posteriori drive out synthetic a priori judgements altogether. In his seminal paper “Tow Dogmas of Empiricism” (1951) W.V. Quine argues at length against the analytic-synthetic distinction and finally cancels the distinction altogether.

To come to synthetic a priori judgements Kant presents definitions and criteria of analytic, synthetic, a priori and a posteriori judgements. Refutation of synthetic a priori judgements is just one side of the picture. A bolder and more destructive step, we have seen, is taken by Quine who is a very important figure among Kant’s critics.

Critique of Pure Reason is acknowledged as an excellent reconciliation between two outstanding controversies in philosophy, controversy between empiricism and rationalism, on the one hand, and realism and idealism, on the other. Both the debates can be traced back to early Greek philosophy and still continuing unabated. Nevertheless, Kant’s reconciliation has been seriously considered by the post- Kantian philosophers, though questioning doubting and criticising Kant’s solutions have been no less intriguing. A comprehensive discussion of these two pairs of issues and the pro-Kantian and varieties of anti-Kantian theories on these problems is absolutely necessary for interpreting and reinterpreting Kant. Kant, we all Know, is an empiricist for on his view knowledge begins with experience. The boundaries of possible sense-experience are the boundaries of possible knowledge. He is nota full-fledged rationalist for he does not subscribe to the view that intellect or understanding is a source of knowledge by itself. But understanding has a very important role to play in the knowledge-situation for without the categories of the understanding objects of knowledge remain undetermined and cannot be called be called objects of knowledge at all. Thus we can either say that Kant is both a rationalist and an empiricist, or that he is neither an empiricist nor a rationalist, he is a critical philosopher.

The other controversy between between realism and idealism Kant handles in a beautiful way. Realism we can abandon only at our peril, for (1) we have no source of matter of knowledge are valid for all objects of experience. At the time Kant is a transcendental idealist. His famous refutation of idealism is to be compared and contrasted with transcendental idealism.


1Language of cognition and conation in Kant's philosophy1
2Kant, Fodor and Cognitive Science22
3Schematism in Folk Psychology A Kantian Picture39
4Renunciation or Resurrection of Metaphysics?59
5Knowing the World-Myth of the Given vs Kantianism67
6Kant's Principle of Universalisability: A Defence Tirthanath Bandyopadhyay88
7Status of The Formulations of The Categorical Imperative99
8Where there is a will104

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