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Title: Kant's critique of the human sciences
Author: Cohen, A.-A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2005
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Kant famously identified ‘What is man?’ as the fundamental question which summarises the whole of philosophy. This statement has occasioned numerous exegetical works, and yet, surprisingly enough, there has been no concerned effort amongst Kantian scholars to examine Kant’s actual philosophy of man. The aim of my dissertation is thus to fill this gap in Kantian scholarship by providing an original, Kantian account of the human sciences, their underlying unity, their presuppositions and their methodology. The first central claim of my thesis is that within the Kantian framework the human sciences occupy a unique standpoint which goes beyond traditional divisions between the theatrical and the practical, the agent and the spectator, the phenomenal and noumenal or the sensible and the intelligible – namely the pragmatic standpoint. The uniqueness of the approach of the human sciences lies in their commitment to investigating human phenomena for the purpose of understanding others and interacting with them both prudentially and morally. Far from merely presenting theoretical observations about human beings, they are value-embedded disciplines which play the crucial role of providing a map for man to orientate himself in the world and realise his purposes. The second central claim of my thesis that for Kant it is the biological rather than the physical sciences that provide the model for the human sciences. To support this claim, I offer a comprehensive account of the connection between Kant’s philosophy of biology and his account of the human sciences, showing that this connection operates at a number of levels: methodological, epistemological, metaphysical, anthological and historical. One of the most unexpected implications of the connection I draw between biology and the human sciences is that there is an essential functionalist component in Kant’s account. On this basis, I argue that Kant’s legacy in the social sciences must be entirely re-evaluated, a task I undertake by focusing on the hitherto neglected aspects of functionalism and teleology as principles of explanation in the human sciences. The conclusion of my dissertation offers a new Kantian picture of the human sciences which advocates firstly, a two-fold methodology for the study of man (intentionalist and functionalist), and secondly, a value-embedded project directed towards man’s cultivation, civilisation and ‘moralisation’.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available