Kant's Transcendental and Metaphysical Idealism

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Description: In this dissertation, I argue that the now-common understanding of Kant's transcendental idealism, which holds that Kant displaces metaphysics with the more sober work of epistemology, overlooks the implicit metaphysical underpinnings of Kant's supposedly metaphysically-neutral epistemology. By reading Kant alongside the writings of Wolff and the Wolffian school, the continuity between transcendental idealism and rationalist metaphysics emerges. The proximity of Kant's position to those of his rationalist predecessors, I argue, undermines interpretations of the former that take transcendental idealism to be merely a propaedeutic to metaphysical investigations. More specifically, I show that Kant's transcendental idealism maintains two principles central to the idealist tradition: (1) a metaphysical exceptionalism that identifies transcendental subjectivity as the ground of a distinct form of activity found nowhere outside of the thinking subject, and (2) an opposition between the ahistorical nature of logical form and the pure concepts of the understanding and the historical objects of whose intelligibility they condition. These two principles are necessary features of Kant's transcendental analysis of the conditions and limits of knowledge, and exhibit a metaphysical idealism implicit in Kant's transcendental idealism.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work