17 January 2009

Eliminating Externality

I found this Sebastian Roedl paper while looking through some old e-mails. It's a response to McDowell's "Hegel's Idealism as a Radicalization of Kant" (now available in "Having the World in View"); the first footnote in McDowell's paper refers to a response by Roedl from when the paper appeared in English, and that's what this is.

It's good. I really don't have anything to add to it; just go and read it. It's only 14 pages.

The last part has Roedl working out in more detail how the Critique of Pure Reason's categories turn into the Science of Logic's categories, once one eliminates a problematic part of the intuition/concept dualism. The example is a fairly standard one for the from-Kant-to-Hegel genre -- it's a Hegelian treatment of the first Antinomy -- but Roedl's presentation is one of the nicer versions I've encountered. Roedl also looks at why Hegel doesn't have a Kantian architectonic, which isn't a topic I can recall seeing explicitly treated of before. It was nice to see the details of that laid out.

Roedl also disagrees with McDowell's reading of the structure of the Transcendental Deduction; that particular topic is one I'd need to do more work on to judge concerning it. Roedl's reconstruction looks more like what's actually going on in Kant's text, from what I recall of it, but I'd have to go through the Deduction with McDowell's version in mind to really decide the matter.

In any case, Roedl seems to me to be entirely right in saying that Mind and World isn't really concerned with trying to be a "simple route" from the first Critique to Hegelianism, nor is it trying to be another version of the Transcendental Deduction (contra the last footnote in McDowell's paper). In the responses in "Reading McDowell" McDowell made it pretty clear that he wanted to avoid having to give a Transcendental Deduction a la Kant, and that avoiding this obligation was one of the goals of Mind and World. And while McDowell certainly intended Mind and World to be a bridge to Hegel in many respects, calling the book a "simple" version of what Hegel does in the Science of Logic is just disingenuous. The Science of Logic is concerned with a good deal more than just correcting Kant's idealism. Mind and World is a much more modest work. Which of course is no criticism of it; McDowell's rhetoric simply got away from him, I think.

4 comments:

Tom said...

Thanks for this -- it's dense but juicy. Like you I think it may help to reread it with a copy of the first Critique in hand.

J said...

Ah looks interesting. On the other hand, some consumers of the Kantian klassic encounter problems even before the deduction or antinomies. Like that wacky section where Herr Doktor K insists on the a priori nature of causality, and thus of classical physics itself. So like "every event has a cause": known, even before baby-dan sees the light of day?? Imprinted in his synthetic a priori, like (as are categories and forms of intuition as well?). One can perhaps avoid that issue by "cognitivizing" the First Critique: but that's not what IK intended.

Hume would have sliced that prussian liberal freak the F. up, and his Hegel bastards as well.

G. Anthony said...

as far as i know, the concepts of classical newtonian physics are empirical and hence not categories on kant's view (though he was a hewtonian about physics). also, the categories are not innate on kant's view, and so not known literally (i.e., temporally) prior to experience. the priority of categories is justificatory, not temporal. kant may have been a freak and the hegelians bastards. but i don't know. :)

J said...

kant's view (though he was a newtonian about physics).

Newton held that time, space, and motion were absolute and objective; for that matter, he confirmed his theories with a great deal of empirical evidence-- and correlated that evidence with his mathematical formulas. Gravity and inertia however unsexy quite an improvement over the usual quasi-thomistic/aristotelian dynamics.

Kant may claim to be defending Newtonian mechanics, but he begins the Critique of pure reason by asserting space and time are subjective forms of intuition, that causality can be known a priori (hah), that some unobserved entity he calls the synthetic a priori exists, and posits unknowable noumena (one of his greatest faux-pas's said Schoepenhauer).

Moreover, apart from a few concepts (the aforementioned) Kant relies upon Aristotle a great deal: the categories nearly verbatim, as well as the term logic.

That's not to reject the First Critique, but he's really as much proto-cognitivist (how does thinking function? what is the relation between sensation, and perception/understanding etc) as "philosopher." For that matter, he can't shake the idea of a transcendent lutheran soul--even though he seems tempted. The nearly sublime generalization of the 3rd antinomy: that's Kant's bipolar brain speaking.