Wolff's Empirical Psychology and the Structure of the Transcendental Logic

In Corey Dyck & Falk Wunderlich (eds.), Kant and his German Contemporaries. Volume 1. Cambridge University Press (2018)
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It is often claimed that the structure of the Transcendental Logic is modeled on the Wolffian division of logic textbooks into sections on concepts, judgments, and inferences. While it is undeniable that the Transcendental Logic contains elements that are similar to the content of these sections, I believe these similarities are largely incidental to the structure of the Transcendental Logic. In this essay, I offer an alternative and, I believe, more plausible account of Wolff’s influence on the structure of the Transcendental Logic, one that puts the focus on his empirical psychology rather than his logic. In particular, I argue that the structure of the Transcendental Logic is deeply indebted to a conception of purity that Wolff introduces in his empirical psychology and that this conception sheds more light on the overall structure of the Transcendental Logic than the accepted view. In section one, I outline two conceptions of purity found in Kant and trace them to similar views in Wolff. In section two, I turn to Kant’s views about logic as they are expressed in the Critique and argue that it is best to interpret Kant’s taxonomy of logic on its own terms rather than reading it through its terminological similarities to aspects of the Wolffian tradition. In section three, I argue that the second of the two conceptions of purity identified in section one is central to the structure of the Transcendental Logic. In doing so, I argue against the widespread view that this section of the Critique is modeled solely on what Kant calls pure general logic as opposed to both pure and applied general logic. I then conclude by briefly reviewing my account and considering some of its broader implications for our understanding of Kant.
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