Review: Alfredo Ferrarin, The Powers of Pure Reason: Kant and the Idea of Cosmic Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).

Review: Alfredo Ferrarin, The Powers of Pure Reason: Kant and the Idea of Cosmic Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).
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  But really this is an important work. And really I do recommend itunreservedly. Nathaniel Goldberg Washington and Lee University email: Reference Allison, Henry ( 2004 )  Kant  ’ s Transcendental Idealism: an Interpretation and Defense ,revised and expanded edition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Alfredo Ferrarin,  The Powers of Pure Reason: Kant and the Idea of Cosmic Philosophy  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015Pp. 325ISBN 9780226243153 (hbk) $55.00doi:10.1017/S1369415415000370 For Alfredo Ferrarin, reason is that  ‘ something in us which transcendsnature ’ , which stands in opposition, but also in relation, to the givenness of our contingent, material condition (p.  284 ). More than a mere mechanism,responding to the brute facticity of our state as  fi nite, sensible beings, reasonis an active power that shapes, orders, constructs and even reforms the worldwe inhabit.  ‘ Reason is the institution of order and laws in its scopes of application for the sake of ends it sets itself  ’  (p.  283 ).Throughout this rich, erudite and provocative work, Ferrarin seeks toilluminate  ‘ the powers of reason and the compatibility between our  fi nitudeand reason ’ s essence as a priori synthesis and activity ’  (p.  283 ).Concomitantly, Ferrarin undertakes a thorough re-examination of Kant ’ sconceptionofreason ’ sstructure,itsinternalarticulationanditsdrivetounifyboth its experience of the world and its own activity. The questions of reason ’ s most fundamental powers and its ultimate unity are two aspects of thequestion of reason ’ s essence, and they prove to be interwoven, forreason is nothing but a synthesizing power active in multiple domains, the ulti-mate manifestation of which is reason ’ s re fl exive concern with its own unity.In three long chapters, each of which could stand alone as a shortmonograph, Ferrarin explores Kant ’ s  ‘ idea of a system of pure reason ’  and ‘ the philosophical problems that threaten its unity ’  (pp.  9 ,  2 ). Though at  fi rstthese three chapters appear somewhat disconnected, as one works through book reviews VOLUME 21  –  1  KANTIAN REVIEW |  151 Core terms of use, available at Downloaded from Boston College, on 07 Jan 2018 at 16:15:36, subject to the Cambridge  the book it becomes clear that each is an exercise in trying to  ‘ read Kant ’ sphilosophy as a developing whole ’  (p.  8 ). Accordingly, each provides adistinctwindowontheproblemofreason ’ sunity.FerrarinpresentsKantasazetetic philosopher continually probing this problem, searching for newinsight into reason ’ s problematic unity, exemplifying the restlessness of reason that seeks to know itself through knowing its limits, which are notmerely negative restrictions but also what gives reason a distinct eideticstructure.Chapter  1 ,  ‘ The Architectontic and the Cosmic Concept of Philosophy ’ ,provides a novel reading of the principal aims of the  Critique of Pure Reason and Kant ’ s place in the history of modern philosophy. Rejecting the standardthesisthatKantisprimarilyconcernedwithrefutingscepticismandprovidinga foundationalist epistemology, Ferrarin argues that Kant ’ s mostfundamental innovation consists in expounding an account of reason asteleological, wherein all cognitive activity is conditioned by reason ’ s strivingfor totality.This conceptual reorientation is explored through an analysis of thetensionbetweentwoimagesfoundintheArchitectonic: ‘ reasonisaseedfromwhichanorganismgrowsinternallyasasystematicallyarticulatedunity,andit is an architect who plans the edi fi ce of reason ’ s laws ’  (p.  22 ). Ferrarinobserves how Kant, in attempting to describe the dialectic between theseimages,  ‘ employs analogies that shift from an edi fi ce to an organism topersonality  …  from the realms of art, living nature, and morality ’  (p.  34 ).Reason ’ ssystematicunityanditspurposiveactivityseemtorequireaspectsof each of these analogies since it is simultaneously like an independent, self-sustaining and internally organized organic being, driven by needs andinterests, and a self-determining, legislative and poietic power that activelyconstructs its own order through its teleological projections.Thetensionbetweenorganismandarchitectre fl ectsthedoublenessofanidea,as ‘ bothatotalizingdrivebasedonreason ’ s needtoprojectawholeas aunitary scope for its objects and a necessary guide for reason ’ s activities ’ (p.  22 ). Ideas are the means by  ‘ which reason can think the completeness atwhichitaimsinadeterminateway ’ (p. 28 ).Unlikeanaturalorganism,whichsimplyhasdeterminate,givenends,reasongenerates itsownendstoguideitsactivity and to bring the activity of its various faculties into some order, for ‘ an idea is at once an end and a principle of organization of parts ’  (p.  43 ).Moreover, in its projection of these ideal totalities,  ‘ reason becomes aware of its internal articulations and limits ’  (p.  30 ). That is, reason obtainsself-knowledge throughtheprojectionofandre fl ectiononits ideas.Reason ’ sself-knowledge is concurrent with its striving for unity.Ferrarin argues that properly attending to the signi fi cance of reason ’ spower to project ideas for the sake of directing and ordering its operations book reviews 152 |  KANTIAN REVIEW  VOLUME 21  –  1 Core terms of use, available at Downloaded from Boston College, on 07 Jan 2018 at 16:15:36, subject to the Cambridge  shows how even though  ‘ reason as a whole  is divided into three faculties thatdirect themselves to different objects and function according to differentrules ’ ,  ‘ they are not  disiecta membra,  isolated faculties to be treated each as aseparate substantial agent. They are the different modalities of a unitarypower ’  (p.  45 ).Accordingly, the philosophic orientation complementing this under-standing of reason must encompass the range of its activities while beingpre-eminently concerned with the ultimate unity of this plurality. For Fer-rarin, Kant ’ s cosmic concept of philosophy seeks to uncover how all of rea-son ’ squestionsareconnectedtooneanotherinasystemandultimatelytothequestion of   ‘ our  fi nal destination and the highest good: a world in whichmorality and happiness can coincide. This is the idea underlying all otherideas that satis fi es reason ’ s highest need and the idea behind a system of philosophy ’  (pp.  58 – 9 ). That is, the highest good assures the coherence of reason ’ smultipleendeavoursbyprovidingaprinciplefororderingitsvariousprojects. Cosmic philosophy, guided by its  Weltbegriff,  i.e.  ‘ the idea of anabsolute and unconditional totality ’ , coordinates all essential ends  ‘ in anorganic unitarysystem ’ ,throughsubordination toone  fi nalend, namely,  ‘ theultimate destination of human beings ’  (pp.  86 ,  81 ). Cosmic philosophy is,thus,  ‘ the science of the relation of all cognitions to the essential ends of human reason ( teleologia rationis humanae ) ’ , and the philosopher  ‘ thelegislator of human reason ’  (A 839  /B 867 ).Chapter 2 , ‘ APrioriSynthesis ’ ,complementstheexaminationofreason ’ sunity by illuminating  ‘ how reason ’ s a priori synthesis is the effect of aninnerly articulated reason, that is, a reason that is inclusive of pure intuition,understanding, and reason proper ’  (p.  108 ). Moreover, in keeping with hisholistic interpretation of Kant ’ s oeuvre, Ferrarin argues that the problem of the possibility of synthetic  a priori   judgements is not con fi ned to the  fi rst Critique , but remains  ‘ the  problem of Kant ’ s critical philosophy ’  (p.  108 ).Ferrarin begins from the thesis that all thought entails synthesis. Allthought is, in some way or another, the activity of unifying a multiplicity.This act of forming an ordered whole from a preliminarily given manifold is ‘ a pure spontaneity ’  and constitutes  ‘ pure reason ’ s power to go out of itself and determine something real that was not implicit or given in its startingposition ’  (pp.  113 ,  107 ). Ferrarin introduces what he calls a  ‘ form-content ’ pair to describe what is created in any  a priori   synthesis and to distinguishthe activity of reason in this mode of judging from a purely logical one,wherereason,disregardingcontent,looksformerelyformalconsistencyinitsanalysis of conceptual relations.While Ferrarin explains how the generation of   ‘ the pair form-content,[which] is a rule, a law, a principle we constitute ’ , works in various domains(moral, mathematical, transcendental, aesthetic and metaphysical), his book reviews VOLUME 21  –  1  KANTIAN REVIEW |  153 Core terms of use, available at Downloaded from Boston College, on 07 Jan 2018 at 16:15:36, subject to the Cambridge  account of how this productive activity grounds objectivity is especiallyinteresting (p.  106 ). Arguing that every empirical synthesis presupposes andcorresponds to an  a priori   synthesis, Ferrarin shows that objectivity is  ‘ auniversal and necessary projection ’  and that  ‘ knowing objectivity is the apriori cognition of a frame in which individual experience ’  may occur(p. 122 ).Thuseventheostensiblepassivityofsensibility ’ sreceptivitydependson the spontaneous power of reason, on a synthetic  a priori   activity, which ‘ produces judgments that extend our cognitions ’  (p.  180 ).This power of extending our cognitions, however, underlies  ‘ both thepositive and immanent part of metaphysics, that is, the production of objec-tivity in the Analytic, and its negative and transcendent part, that is, the vainpretension to determine the noumenon that we need to censor in the Dialec-tic ’  (p.  126 ). Thus the same power underlies both what makes experiencepossible and what can carry us beyond all possible experience. Reason ’ s a priori   synthetic capacity is the source of intelligibility and of reason ’ s ‘ peculiar fate ’ .Chapter  3 ,  ‘ Kant on Kant ’ , provides a meta-level analysis of Kant ’ s re fl ection on his own work and raises questions about ambiguities andequivocations encountered in his writings. Painstakingly tracing subtlechanges in the meanings of important notions and technical terms such asconcept, intuition, idea, knowledge, faculty and objectivity, Ferrarinmeticulously reconstructs various shifts and developments in Kant ’ s maturethought. His remarkable display of erudition, which ranges across Kant ’ swhole corpus, serves the philosophic purpose of trying to understand  ‘ whyKant proves so indecisive about the de fi nition of knowledge, the status of transcendental philosophy, the role of metaphysics, and the propaedeuticfunction that the critique of pure reason has with regard to metaphysics ’ (p.  23 ).Though Ferrarin does not shy away from acknowledging the problemsgenerated by such ambiguities, he never simply criticizes Kant. Rather thanan indication of confusion or carelessness, changes in the meaning orapplicationofatermareoftentheeffectofwhatFerrarincallsKant ’ s ‘ hungerfor relentless [philosophic] progress ’  (p.  3 ). This hunger, however, alwaysremainsguidedbytheideaofaunityofreason,whichFerrarincompares ‘ toapalimpsest, written upon many times with remnants of earlier, imperfectlyerased writing and marks still visible ’  (p.  5 ).Ferrarin ’ s careful deciphering of this palimpsest helps, in particular, toilluminate Kant ’ s recasting of the relations between reason ’ s faculties. Forexample, he calls attention to how, from the vantage point of the  Critique of  Judgement,  the two previous critiques take on a new relation to one anotherand how  ‘ the power of judgment mediates between the legislations of theunderstanding and of reason ’  (p.  275 ). book reviews 154 |  KANTIAN REVIEW  VOLUME 21  –  1 Core terms of use, available at Downloaded from Boston College, on 07 Jan 2018 at 16:15:36, subject to the Cambridge  Ferrarin ’ s work over fl ows with challenging arguments, helpful obser-vations and provocative questions. His magisterial presentation of reason as ‘ a legislative, end-setting, self-organizing, architectonic, unifying and auton-omouspower ’ willcertainlyopenupnewpathsforKantscholarshipandnewways of understanding the revolutionary signi fi cance of Kant ’ s thought(p.  292 ). In conclusion, I would like to illustrate the fecundity of Ferrarin ’ swork by focusing on one tacitly suggested line of thought. Ferrarin cites, asthe epigram to the  fi rst chapter, Kant ’ s famous statement on theodicy fromthe  Bemerkungen in den Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen : Newton saw for the  fi rst time order and regularity combinedwith great simplicity, where before him was found disorder andbarely paired multiplicity; and since then comets run in geome-trical courses. Rousseau discovered for the  fi rst time beneath themultiplicity of forms human beings have taken on, their deeplyburied nature and the hidden law by the observation of whichprovidence is justi fi ed. Before that the objection of Alphonsusand Manes still held. After Newton and Rousseau, God isjusti fi ed and Pope ’ s theorem is true. ( 20 :  58 – 9 ) Giventheprominentlocationofthiscitation,itisnotablethatneitherthesubjectof theodicy nor the notion of providence receives any explicit treatment. Whythen does Ferrarin choose this passage for the  fi rst chapter ’ s epigram?Ferrarinseems tobesuggestingthatthe account ofreason ’ s unitythatliesat the heart of Kant ’ s critical project is a kind of theodicy. However, ratherthan seeking to justify God ’ s ways, it is reason itself that is on trial. Criticalphilosophy asks reason to give an account of itself and its activity. If FerrarinintendsforthereadertodrawacomparisonbetweenKant ’ sendeavourandhisdescriptionofNewtonandRousseau,thenKantjusti fi esreasonbyuncoveringan order or unity, where there ostensibly was only chaotic multiplicity. Thisraisesthequestion:isthemerediscoveryofreason ’ sessentialunitysuf  fi cientto ‘ make Pope ’ s theorem true ’  or must reason justify itself through activelybringingorder into the world? If the latter, thenthe misuse ofreason ’ s powerswould leave the world unjusti fi ed. This possibility makes the criticism anddiscipline of reason all the more signi fi cant. In other words, is Kant ’ s philo-sophic project, which intends to promote the right use of reason, i.e. toencourage us to follow  ‘ the critical path ’ , an exercise in theodicy? Paul T. Wilford Tulane University email: book reviews VOLUME 21  –  1  KANTIAN REVIEW |  155 Core terms of use, available at Downloaded from Boston College, on 07 Jan 2018 at 16:15:36, subject to the Cambridge
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