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Title: Kant's Copernican Revolution : an examination of the significance of the term in assessing Kant's relation to his predecessors' and his own early writings
Author: Brown, B.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1979
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This thesis has three major features : it is concerned with certain methodological problems in treating the history of philosophy; it deals with Kant's pre-Critical writings; and it argues that the significant difference between Kant and his predecessors (primarily Leibniz and Locke) is to be found in their respective theories of representation. The methodological question is how to deal with discursive continuities and discontinuities in a way which treats philosophy neither as the history of ideas, the thoughts of great individuals nor the by-product of science or religion. The question is set up through the metaphor of the Copernican revolution by which Kant himself characterises his difference from Loibniz and Locke. The connotations of this metaphor are read in such a way as to construct the pro-Kantian moment, although it is not the empiricism Kant suggests but the view, shared by rationalist acid empiricist alike, that representation in a species of intuition, that is, a direct mid unmediated relation between subject and thing as it is in itself. The difficulties end ramifications of this position and its alternatives are examined, both to fill in the picture of the pre-Kantian state of affairs and to demonstrate the continuity with which some of the clusters or sets of concepts determined by this view are preserved and placed within the Critique of Pure Reason. Kant's pre-Critical writings, which are primarily on scientific questions, are shown to pose an alternative structure to those offered by the pre-Kantian problematic. The thesis argues, however, that the "revolutionary" movement which makes possible the Critique does not consist of Kant's abandonment of these early views which first challenge the pre-Kantian structure, but in a logical extension of them: the pre-Critical works begin by discussing the forces and other properties of physical substances, a discussion which is subsequently extended to human agents (as substantial beings) and finally to the subject of knowledge or representation itself. Thus the relation of the Critique of Pure Reason to Kant's own early writings and those of his predecessors is set up as one in which, although no absolutely new beginnings may be supposed, the question of continuity and discontinuity can reasonably be raised. The discontinuity is found to consist ultimately in Kant's adoption of the view that representation is heterogeneous, requiring the combination or the disparate, formally identifiable elements, concept and intuition - elements which themselves pre-exist the Critique although their formal combination in an irreducible proposition does not.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available