Jacobi’s Dare: McDowell, Meillassoux, and Consistent Idealism

In Dominik Finkelde & Paul M. Livingston (eds.), Idealism, Relativism, and Realism: New Essays on Objectivity Beyond the Analytic-Continental Divide. De Gruyter. pp. 35-56 (2020)
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Does Kant’s restriction of knowledge to phenomena undermine objectivity? Jacobi argues that it does, daring the transcendental idealist to abandon the thing in itself and embrace the “strongest idealism”. According to Bruno, McDowell and Meillassoux adopt a similar critique of Kant’s conception of objectivity and, more significantly, echo Jacobi’s dare to profess the strongest idealism – what McDowell approvingly calls “consistent idealism” and Meillassoux disparagingly calls “extreme idealism”. After exposing the Cartesian projection on which Jacobi’s critique rests, Bruno shows that McDowell’s and Meillassoux’s critiques make the same projection. He argues that whereas McDowell offers an inconsistent alternative to Kant’s idealism, Meillassoux begs the question against it. Finally, Bruno sketches the account of objectivity that follows from Kant’s distinction between general and transcendental logic.

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G. Anthony Bruno
Royal Holloway University of London


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