Kant, Hume, feelings, and solidarity

Is this ‘academic’? If so, in what sense?

I read Kant’s Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics more than 20 years ago, and have just had to dip back into it. I love this quote (from the Introduction) for 3 reasons, at least:

– Kant refers to his feelings (It really hurts);

– Kant defends a fellow thinker (Hume);

– Kant puts his finger on how frustrating it is when others just don’t understand you (sic! They kept taking for granted things):

But metaphysicians have always suffered the misfortune of not being understood by anyone, and this is what happened to Hume. It really hurts to see how totally Hume’s opponents—Reid, Oswald, Beattie, and finally Priestley too— missed the point of his problem. They kept taking for granted things that he had called into question, and offered furious and often arrogant demonstrations of things he had never thought of questioning; so they didn’t pick up the pointer he had given to an improvement ·that metaphysics might undergo·. In this they failed so completely that at the end of the debate the status quo was still standing: it was as though nothing had happened! Hume had never cast doubt on the proposition that the concept of cause is proper, useful, and even indispensable for our knowledge of nature; that wasn’t in question. What was in question was whether reason could think that concept a priori. If it could, the concept of causation would be the source of an inner truth—truths coming just from itself, not from anything outside it given through experience—so that it could be applied to things other than merely the objects of experience. That was Hume’s problem. He wasn’t challenging our indispensable need for the concept of cause, but merely asking what its origin is. If the origin was settled, questions about the conditions governing the use of the concept, and about the domain in which it can be validly used, would automatically have been answered also.

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One thought on “Kant, Hume, feelings, and solidarity

  1. Pingback: Writing a PhD Chapter: incubating, owning, learning | Academic Emergence

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