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Kantian Humility: Our Ignorance of Things in Themselves (Hardback)
  • Kantian Humility: Our Ignorance of Things in Themselves (Hardback)
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Kantian Humility: Our Ignorance of Things in Themselves (Hardback)

(author)
£105.00
Hardback 248 Pages / Published: 30/07/1998
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Rae Langton offers a new interpretation and defence of Kant's doctrine of things in themselves. Kant distinguishes things in themselves from phenomena, and in so doing he makes a metaphysical distinction between intrinsic and relational properties of substances. Kant says that phenomena-things as we know them-consist 'entirely of relations', by which he means forces. His claim that we have no knowledge of things in themselves is not idealism, but epistemic humility: we have no knowledge of the intrinsic properties of substances. This humility has its roots in some plausible philosophical beliefs: an empiricist belief in the receptivity of human knowledge and a metaphysical belief in the irreducibility of relational properties. Langton's interpretation vindicates Kant's scientific realism, and shows his primary/secondary quality distinction to be superior even to modern-day competitors. And it answers the famous charge that Kant's tale of things in themselves is one that makes itself untellable.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198236535
Number of pages: 248
Weight: 560 g
Dimensions: 243 x 162 x 19 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
This is a marvellous book. Langton offers a fresh interpretation of Kant, the main tenets of which she states in a few bold propositions and then goes on to elaborate with great clarity and care. She supports her interpretation with a wealth of citations accompanied by insightful commentary. * Philosophy and Phenomenological Research *
This is one of the most original and thought-provoking books on Kant to have appeared for quite some time. Its scholarship and its philosophical insight are equally impressive, and it raises philosophical questions of considerable interest for the present day. * MIND *
Langton's interpretation of [the 1750s] Kant is extremely helpful, and she makes much more sense of him than others have usually done ... highly stimulating ... gives us all much to think about. * MIND *
A novel attempt to elucidate and defend a central Kantian thesis ... a most interesting, impressive, and scholarly exercise in Kantian interpretation. * P. F. Strawson *
Unlike most recent commentators, Rae Langton argues that Kant's distinction between appearances and things in themselves is based on his metaphysical denial of the reducibility of relations rather than on his epistemological conception of a priori knowledge. She situates this controversial claim in Kant's historical context and defends it with analytical rigor. Anyone interested in the perennially fascinating subject of Kant's transcendental idealism must reckon with this distinctive and challenging work. * Paul Guyer *
I leave it to others more qualified than I am to argue about whether Langton's Kant is the historical Kant. Whether he is or not, the case he makes for our irremediable ignorance of the intrinsic properties of substances is extremely interesting and, in my opinion, something very like his conclusion is true. Langton's book makes a major contribution not only to historical scholarship but also to metaphysics and epistemology. * David Lewis *
Admirably clear, tightly argued... an extremely engaging and thought-provoking book. * A.W. Moore, Philosophical Review *
Clever and highly readable book ... the mastery that Langton displays is impressive ... presents a powerful case for thinking of Kant as disposed to deny us access to things in themselves by a pre-critical vision of the world of substances, whose inner nature is concealed because we are condemned to encounter them only through their interactions with us. Langton's book is a significant contribution to the recent literature on Kant's idealism, and will be widely discussed - and doubtless widely disagreed with as well. * Stephen Grover, Times Literary Supplement *

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