Solomon Maimon: Monism, Skepticism, and Mathematics

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9780822941767: Solomon Maimon: Monism, Skepticism, and Mathematics
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The philosophy of Solomon Maimon (1753–1800) is usually considered an important link between Kant’s transcendental philosophy and German idealism. Highly praised during his lifetime, over the past two centuries Maimon’s genius has been poorly understood and often ignored. Meir Buzaglo offers a reconstruction of Maimon’s philosophy, revealing that its true nature becomes apparent only when viewed in light of his philosophy of mathematics.

This provides the key to understanding Maimon’s solution to Kant’s quid juris question concerning the connection between intuition and concept in mathematics. Maimon’s original approach avoids dispensing with intuition (as in some versions of logicism and formalism) while reducing the reliance on intuition in its Kantian sense. As Buzaglo demonstrates, this led Maimon to question Kant’s ultimate rejection of the possibility of metaphysics and, simultaneously, to suggest a unique type of skepticism.

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The philosophy of Solomon Maimon (1753-1800) is widely considered an important link between Kant's transcendental philosophy and German idealism. Yet, over the past two centuries, Maimon's genius has been poorly understood and often ignored.

Scholars have misunderstood Maimon ever since the publication of his Versuch uber Transcendentalphilosophie. Karl Leonard Reinhold, Kant's official interpreter, tried unsuccessfully for two years to understand Maimon. Even Kant, who expressed admiration for the work, would later admit, "I have never really understood what he was after, and must leave the reproof to others."

Meir Buzaglo offers a reconstruction of the philosophical system proposed by Maimon as a challenge to Kant's concept-intuition dualism, and carries out the detailed plan outlined in Maimon's Versuch. He reads Maimon as an independent post-Kantian thinker whose contributions should be measured on their own terms, and argues that the nature of Maimon's philosophical system will be revealed only in the light of his philosophy of mathematics.

Dialogue between Kant and Maimon began with the connection between intuition and concept, a question that Kant left open. (This is the quid jurisquestion, as opposed to the quid facti question that concerns the very existence of this connection.) Maimon's innovative approach avoids dispensing with intuition, as in some versions of logicism and formalism, and reduces the reliance on intuition in its Kantian sense. As Buzaglo demonstrates, this led Maimon to question Kant's ultimate rejection of the possibility of metaphysics and, simultaneously, to suggest a unique type of skepticism.

Buzaglo contends that any analysis of Maimon ought to develop out of Maimon's criticism of Kant's dualism through mathematics, that through geometry it is possible to show the unity of Maimon's thought, to point at the origin of his central moves, and even to find a way out of several apparent contradictions in his theories. Some of Maimon's murkiest principles-his rationalistic idealism, his critique of the thing-in-itself, his monism, the meaning of the infinite intellect and of the objection to the transcendental deduction-can be illuminated only after dealing with the intuition-concept in mathematics. Through Buzaglo's analysis, Maimon's work becomes more than an important bridge between Kant and German idealism. With his Kantian criticism fully realized, Maimon can be appreciated as an important philosopher in his own right.

From the Back Cover:

"No student of German idealism or neo-Kantianism can afford to ignore Solomon Maimon, and no student of Solomon Maimon can afford to ignore Meir Buzaglo's book. Buzaglo rightly emphasizes and clearly explains the mathematical dimension of Maimon's thought, which has all too often been ignored in previous scholarship." -Fred Beiser, Syracuse University

"Very few scholars have taken the pains to disentangle the thicket of Maimon's thoughts. Meir Buzaglo does and, in my opinion, he succeeds. This is a book which no one who is interested in the development of German idealism should miss." -Achim Engstler, University of Munster

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9780822985945: Solomon Maimon: Monism, Skepticism, and Mathematics

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Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002
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