Reply to Dennis Schulting

 

ROBERT HANNA | Cognition, Content, and the A Priori. A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge | Oxford University Press 2015


 

By Robert Hanna

A more overtly challenging, edgy, provocative, and unorthodox, but also entirely accurate, alternative title for Cognition, Content, and the A Priori (henceforth, CCAP) would have been Good-Bye To Analytic Philosophy And All That (henceforth, GBTAP). By re-christening CCAP in this way, as GBTAP, of course I would be echoing the title of Robert Graves’s brilliant, edgy memoir of The Great War and England in the 1920s, Good-Bye to All That, and his bitter rejection of the late Victorian, fin de siècle, and early 20th century sociocultural and political system that relentlessly led up to the senseless, tragic slaughter of 9 million combatants from England, France, Germany, Britain’s colonial Empire (especially Canada and Australia), and the USA, not to mention the even more senseless, tragic killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, and its laying-waste to large swaths of the European countryside, between 1914 and 1918.

It also happened, although infinitely less violently and somewhat more slowly, that the leading philosophers of the combatant nations of the Great War and England in the 1920s, managed to lay waste to large swaths of Kantian and idealistic post-Kantian philosophical thinking, in the eight decades from 1870 to 1950.

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Dennis Schulting on Robert Hanna’s “Cognition, Content, and the A Priori”

 

ROBERT HANNA | Cognition, Content, and the A Priori. A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge | Oxford University Press 2015


 

By Dennis Schulting

Renowned philosopher and Kant scholar Robert Hanna’s most recent book Cognition, Content, and the A Priori. A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge is probably his most ambitious to date. It’s also an exhilarating read: an exemplarily lucid, fast-paced philosophical thriller replete with pithy nuggets of philosophical substance and in addition, as the allspice added to the main ingredient, jesting but no less scathing in-house attacks on the elementary dogmas set in stone and religiously patrolled by the vanguard of analytical philosophy. In his critique published earlier last January, David Landy focussed on Hanna’s topic of nonconceptualism, a main theme of the book. I have dealt with that subject in the past and also again in my own forthcoming book (Schulting 2017), and I think I have said enough about it. I personally believe Kantian nonconceptualism is now dead and buried, and the less said about it, the better. I say this with not a little irony, only very recently having edited myself an entire volume on the topic. I firmly believe though that whatever continues to be written about it can only be a repetition of past moves: it seems to me that every conceivable worthwhile position has been made sufficiently clear in the existing literature (see e.g. the most recent here).

For this notice, I therefore set out to concentrate on Chapters 4 and 5, which consider the far more interesting more strictly logical side of the subjects dealt with in Hanna’s book (most of my comments concern Chapter 4). I came away with the strong feeling—I always suspected it—that (a) the likes of Quine and especially Kripke and their latter-day acolytes can without regret be cast out from the canon, regardless of the misleading sophistication of their and their disciples’ logico-metaphysical puzzles, and, more intriguingly even, that (b) analytic philosophy as we know it is in fact not analytic philosophy properly speaking, or at least, cannot account for itself—which is kind of odd, to say the least, for an approach to philosophy that prides itself on its rigour. Hanna’s book should be read by any philosopher, in particular, self-declared analytic philosophers, worth their salt, especially as there are some substantial things about a core aspect of philosophy, certainly analytic philosophy, at stake that Hanna discusses in this important, somewhat unorthodox book, and which I would like to highlight here in terms of the Kantian context of the book and invite Hanna to cast some more light on.

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Dietmar Heidemann & Oliver Motz on Silvan Imhof’s “Der Grund der Subjektivität”

 

SILVAN IMHOF | Der Grund der Subjektivität. Motive und Potenzial von Fichtes Ansatz | Schwabe, 2014 


 

By Dietmar H. Heidemann and Oliver Motz

One of the greatest virtues one can praise a book on transcendental philosophy for is the way in which the author manages to interweave and balance systematic and historical considerations. In the case of Silvan Imhof’s Der Grund der Subjektivität, this concerns not only the style but just as much the essence of what is advanced in its 267 pages: Imhof wants to read Fichte’s account of subjectivity—the book’s central topic—not as a completely independent systematic enterprise that would take the absolute ‘I’ as an unquestioned, paradigmatic starting point (pp. 21–2), but rather as a very specific response to a very specific problem: the sceptical inquiries of Maimon and Aenesidemus Schulze directed at Kant and Reinhold.

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