Maimon’s Theory of Differentials As The Elements of Intuitions

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Maimon’s theory of the differential has proved to be a rather enigmatic aspect of his philosophy. By drawing upon mathematical developments that had occurred earlier in the century and that, by virtue of the arguments presented in the Essay and comments elsewhere in his writing, I suggest Maimon would have been aware of, what I propose to offer in this paper is a study of the differential and the role that it plays in the Essay on Transcendental Philosophy (1790). In order to do so, this paper focuses upon Maimon’s criticism of the role played by mathematics in Kant’s philosophy, to which Maimon offers a Leibnizian solution based on the infinitesimal calculus. The main difficulties that Maimon has with Kant’s system, the second of which will be the focus of this paper, include the presumption of the existence of synthetic a priori judgments, i.e. the question quid facti, and the question of whether the fact of our use of a priori concepts in experience is justified, i.e. the question quid juris. Maimon deploys mathematics, specifically arithmetic, against Kant to show how it is possible to understand objects as having been constituted by the very relations between them, and he proposes an alternative solution to the question quid juris, which relies on the concept of the differential. However, despite these arguments, Maimon remains sceptical with respect to the question quid facti.
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First archival date: 2017-05-09
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