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Document Details :

Title: Kant's Philosophy of Language?
Author(s): FORSTER, Michael N.
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie
Volume: 74    Issue: 3   Date: 2012   
Pages: 485-511
DOI: 10.2143/TVF.74.3.2174106

Abstract :
The critical Kant has often been read as a sort of dualist concerning the relation of thought and concepts to language — most famously by Hamann in his Metacritique of 1784, but also by many other commentators since. However, recent German scholarship has ascribed to Kant the same sort of anti-dualistic insight into the essential dependence of thought and concepts on language that Hamann and Herder became famous for. Which interpretation is right? This article argues that there is textual evidence supporting both interpretations, but that it belongs to different periods of Kant’s development: the dualism belongs to the period of the three Critiques, lasting until about 1790, after which Kant switched to anti-dualism. The article also argues that during the period of the three Critiques Kant gave an exaggerated impression of the strength of the dualism to which he was committed, before eventually abandoning it in the later period, and that in both cases this was largely due to the influence of Hamann and Herder, which in the first case caused Kant to try to distance himself from their position and in the second case eventually caused him to accept it.

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