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Gurwitsch’s Interpretation of Kant: Reflections of a Former Student

  • Henry E. Allison
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Part of the Contributions to Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 25)

Abstract

In Kants Theorie des Verstandes, we finally have the long awaited, definitive expression of Aron Gurwitsch’s interpretation of Kant’s theoretical philosophy.1 The broad outlines of this interpretation were presented in many seminars and lecture courses at the New School for Social Research, and important aspects of it are contained in his seminal study of Leibniz, as well as in the various versions of his article comparing the conceptions of consciousness of Kant and Husserl.2 But prior to the publication of this monograph, it was not available in toto and in detail. Thus, although the work contains few surprises for those of us fortunate enough to have been students of Professor Gurwitsch, its publication is none the less welcome, since it should facilitate the dissemination of this highly original and provocative reading of Kant to a wider philosophical public, including the world of Kant scholarship. It is as both a former student and a member of this latter world that I shall attempt to provide an account of this reading, assess its significance, and, as is only proper, offer some criticisms.

Keywords

Innate Idea Husserlian Phenomenology Sentiment Animal Kantian Conception Transcendental Deduction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Refenreces

  1. 1.
    Aron Gurwitsch, Kants Theorie des Verstandes, Thomas M. Seebohm (Ed.) (Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2a.
    See Leibniz Philosophie des Panlogismus (Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1974, esp. pp. 127–130;Google Scholar
  3. 2b.
    See Leibniz Philosophie des Panlogismus (Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1974, esp. 187–90); and “Der Begriff des Bewusstseins bei Kant und Husserl,” Kant-Studien, 55, 1964: 410–27, reprinted asGoogle Scholar
  4. 2b.
    Beilage I in Kants Theorie des Verstandes (pp. 135–56), and “La conception de la Conscience chez Kant et chez Husserl,” Bulletin de la Société française de Philosophie, Séance di 25 Avril 1959, 54, 1960: 65–96.Google Scholar
  5. 2c.
    “The Kantian and Husserlian Conceptions of Consciousness,” an English translation of the French version and subsequent discussion is contained in Aron Gurwitsch, Studies in Phenomenology and Psychology (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1966, pp. 148–74).Google Scholar
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    Leibniz, New Essays on Human Understanding, Book II, chap, i, □2 (p. 111). The now standard English translation by Peter Remnant and Jonathan Bennett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) uses the pagination of volume 5 the edition of C. I. Gerhardt, which Gurwitsch likewise cites.Google Scholar
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    Nicholas Jolley, Leibniz and Locke: A Study of the New Essays on Human Understanding (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984).Google Scholar
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  14. 10.
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  15. 11.
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  16. 12.
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  18. 14.
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  25. 21.
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  26. 22.
    Kants Theorie des Verstandes, p. 19. See also, pp. 35f, 51f, 79–81.Google Scholar
  27. 23.
    For Gurwitsch’s discussions of this letter see Leibniz Philosophie des Panlogismus, p. 129; Kants Theorie des Verstandes, p. 79 and Beilage III, 167–70.Google Scholar
  28. 24.
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  30. 26.
    Kants Theorie des Verstandes, pp. 21–22. See also p. 31, where he criticizes Cassirer’s purely logical reading of the conception of “consciousness in general,” which is the Prolegomena1’s surrogate for apperception, on the grounds that it fails to deal with the question of the root and origin of the (transcendentally) logical conditions expressed in the idea of consciousness in general.Google Scholar
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  34. 30.
    In the recent literature such a view is advocated by Malte Hossenfelder, Kants Konstitutionstheorie und die Transzendentale Deduktion (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1978). See also Hossenfelder’s critique of my own position in “Allison’s Defense of Kant’s Transcendental Idealism,” Inquiry, 33,1990: 467–79.Google Scholar
  35. 31.
    Kants Theorie des Verstandes, p. 39.Google Scholar
  36. 32.
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  38. 34.
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  39. 35.
    Kants Theorie des Verstandes, p. 52. It may be noted that I use virtually the same expression in Kant’s Transcendental Idealism (p. 139) referring to the “necessity of the possibility.” Although I do not recall Gurwitsch having used such a locution in his Kant seminar, he may very well have done so, in which case my own use of it might be taken as evidence of the importance of those petites perceptions.Google Scholar
  40. 36.
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  41. 37.
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    Reflexion 5661, 18: 318–19. For my analysis of this text see Kant’s Transcendental Idealism, pp. 275–78.Google Scholar
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    For a fuller discussion of this topic see my Kant’s Theory of Freedom (Cambridge and New York; Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp. 36–38).Google Scholar
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    For my analysis of this see Kant’s Transcendental Idealism, pp. 137–48.Google Scholar
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  49. 46.
    Interestingly enough, Gurwitsch deals only in passing with the problem of intersubjectivity or, more precisely, of an intersubjectively identifiable world in Kant and does not integrate it into his criticism, although he easily could have done so. In contrast to Paton, who attempts to account for this identity in terms of the universality of the conditions of experience, Gurwitsch sees the Kantian response to this problem to lie in the thing-in-itself. But rather than regarding this as a solution, he sees it as an explanation of why the problem never really arose for Kant. See Kants Theorie des Verstandes, pp. 44–47.Google Scholar
  50. 47.
    For the full version of this analysis see Kant’s Transcendental Idealism, pp. 217–28.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry E. Allison
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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