ERIC WATKINS (ed.) | Kant on Persons and Agency | Cambridge University Press 2018
By Christian Onof
This volume of papers features an excellent line-up of many among the most influential contemporary Kant scholars so that the reader is entitled to expect much food for thought. And this expectation is fully met with a selection of thought-provoking papers around the topics of the person and agency, therefore dealing both with Kant’s theoretical and practical philosophy. The types of paper range from careful analyses of Kantian texts (from the Critical period) to developments of ideas that have a Kantian origin, but sometimes move well beyond that. This mixture is welcome: Kant’s philosophy is kept alive through new interpretations of the letter of his philosophy and through drawing upon insights taken from his writings and developing them in directions that may be said to be in the spirit of Kant’s writings but clearly go beyond its letter. Of course, this raises the question of how far beyond the letter one can go while remaining within the spirit of the Critical Kant, as we shall see.
IRAD KIMHI | Thinking and Being | Harvard University Press 2018
By Robert Hanna
Irad Kimhi’s Being and Thinking begins with “Parmenides’s didactic poem On Nature”, which, Kimhi says, “is the first work of philosophy, where this is understood as the logical study of thinking and of what is (being)” (p. 1). Indeed,
[o]ne can look to this poem for the origin of the very idea of philosophical logic—the idea of a study that achieves a mutual illumination of thinking and what is: an illumination through a clarification of human discursive activity in which truth (reality, aletheia) is at stake. Philosophical logic, so understood, is a first-personal engagement from within the activity of thinking, one which allows the articulation and comprehension of thinking to emerge out of itself. The personal, so understood, is the logical. It is the activity of the logical “I” […]. (pp. 1–2)
MICHELA MASSIMI & ANGELA BREITENBACH (EDS) | Kant and the Laws of Nature | Cambridge University Press 2017
By Robert Hanna
Kant and the Laws of Nature, edited and with an introduction by Michela Massimi and Angela Breitenbach, is a collection of thirteen uniformly excellent essays on Kant’s philosophical views on the nature and (metaphysical or epistemic) status of laws of nature, produced under the aegis of a three-year international research network running from 2012–15.
But as contemporary Kantian philosophers and not merely as Kant-scholars, why should we care about laws of nature? In my opinion, there are at least four good reasons.
ANIL GOMES & ANDREW STEPHENSON (eds) | Kant and the Philosophy of Mind. Perception, Reason, and the Self | Oxford University Press, 2017
By Yoon Choi
Kant and the Philosophy of Mind, edited by Anil Gomes and Andrew Stephenson, is a welcome collection of previously unpublished work on Kant, ranging over a selection of topics central to both Kant’s philosophy and to current debates in philosophy of mind. All contributions are primarily interpretative in aim, and most are deeply rooted in Kant’s texts and the secondary scholarship. Several also make connections with current philosophical and psychological work, sometimes to shed light on Kant’s views (e.g. Lucy Allais and Katherine Dunlop) and sometimes to bring Kant’s views to bear on ongoing debates (e.g. Patricia Kitcher and Ralph Walker). The resulting volume thus presents Kant “as engaged in the philosophy of mind”, as Gomes puts it (p. 6), and advances our understanding of Kant’s account of intuition, his theory of judgement, and his views on the self, self-awareness, and self-knowledge. Some may say the volume focuses on a handful of topics at the expense of representing the full range of work on Kant’s theory of mind. That is not wrong, but the editors are inclusive in other ways, and their priorities result in a volume that is exceptional in one way: it captures several substantive debates, in which contributors engage intensively with each other rather than presenting a series of different views on a topic. Indeed, every essay takes up or is taken up to some degree by another, and even when this takes the form of a passing footnote, it generates continuity and unity to the volume as a whole and conveys a sense of common purpose running through the disagreement. This must be the result of careful editorial design and encouragement; and it is, in my view, a real achievement.