Knowledge, Reason, and Taste

Knowledge, Reason, and Taste: Kant's Response to Hume

Paul Guyer
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Knowledge, Reason, and Taste
    Book Description:

    Immanuel Kant famously said that he was awoken from his "dogmatic slumbers," and led to question the possibility of metaphysics, by David Hume's doubts about causation. Because of this, many philosophers have viewed Hume's influence on Kant as limited to metaphysics. More recently, some philosophers have questioned whether even Kant's metaphysics was really motivated by Hume. InKnowledge, Reason, and Taste, renowned Kant scholar Paul Guyer challenges both of these views. He argues that Kant's entire philosophy--including his moral philosophy, aesthetics, and teleology, as well as his metaphysics--can fruitfully be read as an engagement with Hume.

    In this book, the first to describe and assess Hume's influence throughout Kant's philosophy, Guyer shows where Kant agrees or disagrees with Hume, and where Kant does or doesn't appear to resolve Hume's doubts. In doing so, Guyer examines the progress both Kant and Hume made on enduring questions about causes, objects, selves, taste, moral principles and motivations, and purpose and design in nature. Finally, Guyer looks at questions Kant and Hume left open to their successors.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2447-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Credits
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Sources and Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. 1-22)

    In theProlegomena to Any Future Metaphysics that could come forth as Sciencethat he published in 1783 in the hope of both defending and popularizing theCritique of Pure Reasonthat he had published two years earlier, Immanuel Kant famously wrote “I freely admit that theErinnerungof David Hume was the very thing that many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investigations in the field of speculative philosophy a completely different direction” (Prolegomena, Preface, 4: 260). I have leftErinnerung, which typically means “recollection” or “remembrance,” but could also mean “reminder” in the sense...

    (pp. 23-70)

    Is the refutation of skepticism a central objective for Kant? Some commentators have denied that the refutation of either theoretical or moral skepticism was central to Kant’s concerns. Thus, inKant and the Fate of Autonomy,¹ Karl Ameriks rejects “taking Kant to be basically a respondent to the skeptic.” According to Ameriks, who here has Kant’s theoretical philosophy in mind,

    What Kant goes on to propose is that, instead of focusing on trying to establish with certainty—against skepticism—that the objects of common sense exist, let alone that they have philosophical dominance, or, in contrast, on explaining that it...

    (pp. 71-123)

    In theEnquiry concerning Human Understanding, Hume presents his discussion of causation under the section titles “Sceptical Doubts concerning the Operations of the Understanding” and “Sceptical Solution of these Doubts”; since the work was first published readers have naturally enough taken him to question the truth of our beliefs about causation. A problem about the rationality of induction is particularly prominent in Hume’s discussion, the problem, namely, that although our particular beliefs about causal connections are evidently based not on any a priori reasoning from the concept of the cause to the concept of the effect, but on repeated prior...

    (pp. 124-160)

    In theProlegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, as we have seen, Kant asserted that “Hume started mainly from a single but important concept in metaphysics, namely that of the connection of causes and effects” (Preface, 4: 257), and claimed for himself the originality of having generalized Hume’s doubts about causation to other metaphysical concepts, in order then to answer those doubts about causation as part of a more general defense of metaphysical concepts:

    So I tried first whether Hume’s objections might not be presented in a general manner, and I soon found that the concept of cause and effect is...

    (pp. 161-197)

    It seems as if there could hardly be two more opposed positions on the relations between reason, desire, and action than those of Hume and Kant. Hume famously holds that reason is incapable of furnishing a motive and end for action, and is strictly limited to determining suitable means for the realization of ends that are set by desire alone. Thus, “Reason is, and ought to be only the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them” (Treatise, II.iii.3, 266), and “’Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction...

    (pp. 198-254)

    Kant’s ambitions in theCritique of the Power of Judgmentare vast. The Introduction to the book, while setting the stage for the issues to be addressed in its two main parts, not only returns to an issue first broached in the Appendix to the “Transcendental Dialectic” of theCritique of Pure Reason, the idea of a system of empirical laws of nature, but also suggests for the first time that theirsystematicitycan ground the necessity of such laws, a clear addition to the theory of experience of the firstCritique. The first main part of the book, the...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 255-262)
  12. Index
    (pp. 263-267)