The Poverty of Conceptual Truth: Kants Analytic/Synthetic Distinction and the Limits of Metaphysics

Hardcover | March 18, 2015

byR. Lanier Anderson

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The Poverty of Conceptual Truth is based on a simple idea. Kant's distinction between analytic and synthetic judgments underwrites a powerful argument against the metaphysical program of his Leibnizian-Wolffian predecessors - an argument from fundamental limits on its expressive power. In thattradition, metaphysics promised to reveal the deep rational structure of the world through a systematic philosophy consisting of strictly conceptual truths, which flow from a logically perspicuous relation of 'containment' among concepts. That is, all truths would be "analytic," in Kant's sense.Kant's distinction shows to the contrary that far reaching and scientifically indispensable parts of our knowledge of the world (including mathematics, the foundations of natural science, all knowledge from experience, and the central principles of metaphysics itself) are essentially synthetic andcould never be restated in analytic form. Thus, the metaphysics of Kant's predecessors is doomed, because knowledge crucial to any adequate theory of the world cannot even be expressed in the idiom to which it restricts itself (and which was the basis of its claim to provide a transparently rationalaccount of things). Traditional metaphysics founders on the expressive poverty of conceptual truth.To establish these claims, R. Lanier Anderson shows how Kant's distinction can be given a clear basis within traditional logic, and traces Kant's long, difficult path to discovering it. Once analyticity is framed in clear logical terms, it is possible to reconstruct compelling arguments thatelementary mathematics must be synthetic, and then to show how similar considerations about irreducible syntheticity animate Kant's famous arguments against traditional metaphysics in the Critique of Pure Reason.

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The Poverty of Conceptual Truth is based on a simple idea. Kant's distinction between analytic and synthetic judgments underwrites a powerful argument against the metaphysical program of his Leibnizian-Wolffian predecessors - an argument from fundamental limits on its expressive power. In thattradition, metaphysics promised to reveal t...

R. Lanier Anderson is Associate Professor of Philosophy (and by courtesy, of German Studies) at Stanford University, where he currently chairs the Philosophy Department. He works in the history of late modern philosophy with primary focus on Kant and nineteenth century philosophy, and is the author of a numerous articles about Kant, ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:432 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.19 inPublished:March 18, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198724578

ISBN - 13:9780198724575

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Containment Analyticity and Kant's Problem of Synthetic JudgmentPart I--The Traditional Logic of Concept Containment and its (alleged) Metaphysical Implications2. Containment and the Traditional Logic of Concepts3. The Wolffian Paradigm4. Narrowness and Trade-offs: Conceptual Truth in the 'Leibnizian-Wolffian' PhilosophyPart II--A Difficult Birth: the Emergence of Kant's Analytic/Synthetic Distinction5. Three Versions of Analyticity6. Methodological Beginnings: Analysis and Synthesis in the Published pre-Critical Works7. Making Synthetic Judgments Analytic: Kant's Long Road toward Logical Analyticity in the ReflexionenPart III--Ineliminable Synthetic Truth in Elementary Mathematics8. The Logic of Concepts and a 'Two Step' Syntheticity Argument9. Kant on the Syntheticity of Elementary MathematicsPart IV--The Poverty of Conceptual Truth and the Master Argument of the 'Transcendental Dialectic'10. The Master Argument11. The Soul and the World: the Master Argument in Kant's 'Paralogisms' and 'Antinomy'12. The Master Argument in the Critique of Rational TheologyEpilogue13. Empirical Concept Formation and the Systematic Role of Logical DivisionAppendix 1: Kant's Criticisms of the Ontological Argument in 1763Four Strands of Reflexionen on the Emerging Analytic/Synthetic DistinctionFriedman and the Phenomenological Reading