Hermann Cohen on Kant, Sensations, and Nature in Science

Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (4):647-674 (2019)
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Abstract

The neo-Kantian Hermann Cohen is famously anti-empiricist in that he denies that sensations can make a definable contribution to knowledge. However, in the second edition of Kant’s Theory of Experience (1885), Cohen considers a proposition that contrasts with both his other work and that of his followers: a Kantian who studies scientific claims to truth—and the grounds on which they are made—cannot limit himself to studying mathematics and logical principles, but needs to also investigate underlying presuppositions about the empirical element of science. Due to his subjectivist approach, Cohen argues, Kant not only failed to explain how scientific observation and experiments are possible, but also misconceived the role of the ideas, particularly the idea of a system of nature.

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Charlotte Baumann
University of Sussex

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