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March 2012

The Principles of the First Critique, JAMES HEBBELER

In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant claims that he is offering a science of reason grounded on principles.  Given Kant’s frequent but diverse use of the term “principle” throughout the work, it is unclear what exactly this term is supposed to signify, whether there are more or less fundamental principles and on what basis, and whether there is supposed to be some way in which the diverse instances of them are related to form a unified science of theoretical reason.  The aim of this paper is to offer a theory of Kant’s principles that will provide answers to these questions.  First, the article clarifies what Kant understands by the term “principle” by briefly looking to his metaphysics lectures and then to the use of the term by two thinkers contemporary and influential to Kant—namely, Hume and Newton.  The resulting hypothesis is that Kant conceives of principles in an Aristotelian fashion.  While it is common to think of Kant’s theory of theoretical reason as uncovering the formal principles of cognition, the article next argues that such principles should be understood in the broader context of Kant’s teleological conception of theoretical reason, which contains also efficient transcendental principles, and whose unifying transcendental principle is a final cognitive aim.  Finally, the article suggests that this teleological conception of reason has implications for a proper understanding of the highly disputed metaphysical results of the Critique.—Correspondence to:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


What Goodness Is: Order As Imitation of Unity in Augustine, SAMANTHA E. THOMPSON

Augustine of Hippo is notorious for arguing that evil is nothing more than a privation or lack of good.  He also thinks that goodness is equivalent to existence and that there are degrees not only of goodness but also of existence.  Critics have charged that such abstractions have no purchase in the concrete world of our experience.  This article investigates what Augustine means by both goodness and existence in the illuminating context of his view that the world is a dependent or derivative creation.  It does so by showing how order (ordo) is a further correlate of both goodness and existence.  Augustine points out the existence of two radically different realities:  that which changes (creation) and that which is unchangeable (God the creator, identified as truth).  For Augustine, the orderliness exhibited by the former constitutes both its dependence on the latter, and its goodness and existence:  order is essentially an imitation of unchanging unity.  This article therefore provides the framework for a more substantive and intelligible understanding of Augustine’s conception of evil, not only as lack but as disorder.  More broadly, it shows that the idea of order is central to the metaphysics in which Augustine’s ethics is grounded.—Correspondence to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Peirce's Incomplete Synthetic Turn, GIOVANNI MADDALENA

Peirce did not achieve a final systematization of his work. Beyond the difficulties in explaining so many philosophical tools that he introduced—suffice it to mention semiotic, abductive logic, a heuristic based on continuity, scholastic realism—, there is a theoretical reason for this incompletion. All those new philosophical tools indicated a conception of synthesis very different from the one he received from Kant. Peirce did not realize the profound direction of his enquiry so that he did not directly question neither Kant’s legacy on this issue nor the idea of necessity that presides over it. Starting from Peirce’s conception of continuity and change, this paper will give a new definition of synthetic and analytic judgments and reasoning, completing the picture with a third “vague” judgment and reasoning. In this new definition a synthetic judgment is a judgment that recognizes identity through changes. An analytical judgment is a judgment that loses identity through changes. A vague judgment is a judgment that it is blind to identity through changes. How do we perform synthetic reasoning? Following Peirce’s semiotic study of elements of Gamma Graphs as the sheet of assertion and the line of identity, the paper will first individuate the semiotic characteristics necessary for the recognition of identity. These characteristics lead us to discover “complete gesture” as the tool that we use in our every-day reasoning in order to acquire new knowledge synthetically. “Complete gestures” are actions through which we carry and recognize significant meanings. This new paradigm should provide an improved account of common-sense knowledge as well as of particular creative and hypothetic stages of conception in both scientific and humanistic thought.


Order and the Determinate: The Good As a Metaphysical Concept in Aristotle, CHRISTOPHER V. MIRUS

Aristotle twice affirms that being is better than nonbeing. Throughout the corpus—in both practical and theoretical works—he explicates this claim in terms of three main concepts, each of which serves to link being with goodness. These include completeness and self-sufficiency, which are well-known from Aristotle’s ethics and politics. Even more fundamental, however, are the closely related concepts of order and determinacy, which the present essay explores. Beginning with the causal role of the good in Aristotle’s accounts of nature and human life, it proceeds to his identification of order as characterizing both the being and the goodness of natural things. After pausing to consider the relation between goodness and beauty, it then moves from order to determinacy as a general characteristic of being by examining his concepts of limit and the unlimited. It concludes by discussing determinacy and the good in Aristotle’s ethics and metaphysics.—Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Ethics and History in Hegel's Practical Philosophy, MARK ALZNAUER

Hegel’s contextualization of ethics in history has often been understood as implying the possibility of “world-historical” justifications for unethical actions.  Critics have seen this as a category mistake that violates the authority of the ethical sphere; defenders have argued that it represents one of Hegel’s most revolutionary insights, the idea that customary morality should not stand in the way of human liberation.  In this essay, I argue that both of these reactions are based on failure to properly distinguish between rational justification and contextual justification. Properly understood, Hegel’s practical philosophy is restricted to the former task; the authority to determine whether norms are binding in any given circumstance is retained by context-sensitive ethical judgment.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 06 November 2014 03:24 )