Kant's Organicism: Epigenesis And The Development Of Critical Philosophy

Paperback | May 6, 2015

byJennifer Mensch

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Because it laid the foundation for nearly all subsequent epistemologies, Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason has overshadowed his other interests in natural history and the life sciences, which scholars have long considered as separate from his rigorous theoretical philosophy—until now. In Kant’s Organicism, Jennifer Mensch draws a crucial link between these spheres by showing how the concept of epigenesis—a radical theory of biological formation—lies at the heart of Kant’s conception of reason.
 
As Mensch argues, epigenesis was not simply a metaphor for Kant but centrally guided his critical philosophy, especially the relationship between reason and the categories of the understanding. Offsetting a study of Kant’s highly technical theory of cognition with a mixture of intellectual history and biography, she situates the epigenesis of reason within broader investigations into theories of generation, genealogy, and classification, and against later writers and thinkers such as Goethe and Darwin. Distilling vast amounts of research on the scientific literature of the time into a concise and readable book, Mensch offers one of the most refreshing looks not only at Kant’s famous first Critique but at the history of philosophy and the life sciences as well.

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Because it laid the foundation for nearly all subsequent epistemologies, Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason has overshadowed his other interests in natural history and the life sciences, which scholars have long considered as separate from his rigorous theoretical philosophy—until now. In Kant’s Organicism, Jennifer Mensch draws a...

Jennifer Mensch teaches philosophy and the history of science and medicine at the University of Western Sydney.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:258 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:May 6, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022627151X

ISBN - 13:9780226271514

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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction: Kant’s Organicism

1 Generation and the Task of Classification
   Mechanism and the Principle of Life
   Leibniz’s Organic Machines

2 Buffon’s Natural History and the Founding of Organicism
   Hales and the Physiology of Plants
   Buffon the French Newtonian
   Maupertuis, Buffon, and the Problem of Form
   Natural History and the History of Nature

3 Kant and the Problem of Origin
   Kant’s Eclecticism
   Matter and Cosmos
   The Spectacle of Life

4 The Rebirth of Metaphysics
   A Philosophy is Born
   From Original Acquisition to the Epigenesis of Knowledge
   Concepts and Objects: Kant’s Letter to Herz, 1772

5 From the Unity of Reason to the Unity of Race
   The Unity of Reason
   The Unity of Race
   A Germ of Reason and a Germ for Race

6 Empirical Psychology in Tetens and Kant
   Epigenesis and Evolution in Tetens’sPhilosophical Essays
   From Empirical Psychology to a Transcendental Theory of Imagination
   Transcendental Philosophy and the Physiology of Pure Reason

7 Kant’s Architectonic: System and Organism in the Critique of Pure Reason
   The Doctrine of Method: The Bauplan of the System
   The Transcendental Deduction: The
Bauplan at Work
   Organic Logic: A Cautionary Tale

Epilogue: A Daring Adventure of Reason

Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

Kant’s Organicism is an excellent and fascinating philosophical-historical study, well worth reading for any Kant scholar. It also provides a rich source of stimulating ideas for contemporary Kantian philosophers.”