Magnitude, Matter, and Kant's Principle of Mechanism

Kant Yearbook (forthcoming)
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For Kant, inquiry into nature properly requires seeking to explain all material wholes merely mechanically, in terms of their parts. There is no consensus on how he justifies this Principle of Mechanism. I argue that Kant seeks to derive this claim about part and wholes neither from his laws or mechanics, nor from the mere discursivity of our understanding (two standard options in the literature), but instead from a priori principles laid out in the first Critique, which govern parts, wholes, and magnitudes. These principles are also fundamental to Kant’s account of mathematics. Therefore, Kant’s Principle of Mechanism and his philosophy of mathematics have common foundations.

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Aaron Wells
Paderborn University


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