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Kantianism - Kant In The Later Twentieth Century

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Kantianism in the early twentieth century was not limited to the self-designated neo-Kantian schools, however. The 1928 Logical Structure of the World (trans. 1967) by Rudolf Carnap (1891–1970) was clearly a modernization of Kant's theory of our application of the forms of logic to the raw data of our experience, as was the nearly contemporaneous Mind and World Order (1929) by the American Clarence Irving Lewis (1883–1964), who was himself influenced by the many Kantian elements in the works of Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914). The main revival of interest in Kant in the Anglo-American world came after World War II, however. In Britain, a great revival of Kantian philosophy was stimulated by two books by Sir Peter Strawson (1919–), Individuals: An Essay on Descriptive Metaphysics (1959) and The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1966). Strawson based his appropriation of Kant on a theory of meaning, arguing that a subject can apply the concept of his own self only in contrast to a concept of an objective world, while Jonathan Bennett (1930–) stayed closer to Kant in his Kant's Analytic (also 1966), arguing that it is our judgments about our own experience that can be confirmed only within a structure of judgments about the external world.

The work of Strawson and Bennett initiated a major debate about "transcendental arguments" in the United States as well as Britain that continued into the twenty-first century. Meanwhile, in the United States interest in Kant was independently inspired by the work of Wilfrid Sellars (1912–1989), whose famous attack upon the "myth of the given" in his "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" (1956) was clearly intended as an alternative to C. I. Lewis's version of Kant and whose Science and Metaphysics: Variations on Kantian Themes (1968) presented a Peircian version of Kant using the resources of contemporary philosophy of language.

The strongest influence of Kant on contemporary philosophy, however, was mediated by the political philosopher John Rawls (1921–2002), whose A Theory of Justice (1971) was Kantian in both method and substance. Rawls argued that principles of distributive justice should be chosen in an "original position" of impartiality that models Kant's conception of universality and that the principles that would be so chosen would prioritize equal liberty over other forms of equality, reflecting Kant's emphasis on autonomy as the fundamental moral and political value. Rawls's work has inspired a great deal of further work on Kantian moral and political philosophy in Britain and the United States and has also been influential in Germany, although there an independent version of Kantianism, the theory of Jürgen Habermas (1929–) that political principles should be chosen in an "ideal communicative situation" has also been widely influential.


Beiser, Frederick C. The Fate of Reason: German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987.

——. German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism, 1781–1801. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Bennett, Jonathan. Kant's Analytic. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1966.

——. Kant's Dialectic. London and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1974.

Carnap, Rudolf. The Logical Structure of the World: Pseudoproblems in Philosophy. Translated by Rolf A. George. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.

Cassirer, Ernst. An Essay on Man: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Human Culture. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1944.

——. The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. Vols. 1–3 translated by Ralph Manheim. Vol. 4 edited by J. M. Krois and D. P. Verene. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1953–1956 and 1996.

——. Substance and Function; and, Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Translated by William Curtis Swabey and Marie Collins Swabey. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 2003.

Cohen, Hermann. Religion of Reason: Out of the Sources of Judaism. Translated with an introduction by Simon Kaplan. Introductory essay by Leo Strauss. New York: Frederick Unger, 1972.

Guyer, Paul, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Kant. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. A multiauthored introduction to main themes in Kant's philosophy with an extensive bibliography.

Habermas, Jürgen. Knowledge and Human Interests. Translated by Jeremy J. Shapiro. Boston: Beacon Press, 1971.

——. Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action. Translated by Christian Lenhardt and Shierry Weber Nicholsen. Introduction by Thomas McCarthy. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990.

——. The Theory of Communicative Action. Translated by Thomas McCarthy. Boston: Beacon Press, 1984–1987.

Herman, Barbara. The Practice of Moral Judgment. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993.

Hill, Thomas E., Jr. Dignity and Practical Reason in Kant's Moral Theory. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1992.

——. Human Welfare and Moral Worth: Kantian Perspectives. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

——. Respect, Pluralism, and Justice: Kantian Perspectives. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Kant, Immanuel. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Edited by Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. 16 vols., 12 published as of 2004. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1992–. The standard English translation of all of Kant's published works as well as extensive selections from his lectures, correspondence, and posthumous material.

——. Kants gesammelte Schriften. Edited by the Royal Prussian, subsequently German, then Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. 29 vols., 28 published as of 2004. Berlin: Georg Reimer, subsequently Walter de Gruyter and Co.: 1900–. The standard German edition of Kant's writings.

Köhnke, Klaus Christian. Entstehung und Aufstieg der Neukantianismus: Die deutsche Universitätsphilosophie zwischen Idealismus und Positivismus. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Suhrkamp, 1986. Translated without endnotes as The Rise of Neo-Kantianism: German Academic Philosophy between Idealism and Positivism. Translated by R. J. Hollingdale. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Korsgaard, Christine M. Creating the Kingdom of Ends. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Lewis, Clarence Irving. Mind and the World-Order: Outline of a Theory of Knowledge. New York: Dover, 1956.

Nell (O'Neill), Onora. Acting on Principle: An Essay on Kantian Ethics. New York: Columbia University Press, 1975.

O'Neill, Onora. Constructions of Reason: Explorations of Kant's Practical Philosophy. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Pinkard, Terry. German Philosophy 1760–1860: The Legacy of Idealism. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Rev. ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.

——. "Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory." In his Collected Papers, edited by Samuel Freeman. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Rickert, Heinrich. The Limits of Concept Formation in Natural Science: A Logical Introduction to the Historical Sciences. Edited and translated by Guy Oakes. Abridged ed. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

——. Science and History: A Critique of Positivist Epistemology. Translated by George Reisman. Princeton, N.J.: Van Nostrand, 1962.

Sellars, Wilfrid. Science and Metaphysics: Variations on Kantian Themes. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968.

Strawson, P. F. The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason." London: Methuen, 1966.

Strawson, P. F. Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics. London: Methuen, 1959.

Willey, Thomas E. Back to Kant: The Revival of Kantianism in German Social and Historical Thought, 1860–1914. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1978.

Wood, Allen W. Kant. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2005. An excellent short introduction to Kant's philosophy.

Paul Guyer

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