Kant's Rejection of Reducibility

Rae Langton

in Kantian Humility

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780199243174
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597909 | DOI:
 Kant's Rejection of Reducibility

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In his early work (1747‐56), Kant is Leibnizian in his commitment to a distinction between things in themselves and phenomena, grounded on a contrast between intrinsic and relational properties. He is anti‐Leibnizian in his argument that there is Receptivity, since there is real causal influence; and anti‐Leibnizian in his argument that there is Irreducibility, since relations fail to supervene on intrinsic properties. The latter argument is of considerable interest, and open to interpretation: whether it moves illicitly from unilateral to bilateral reducibility; which notions of intrinsicness are appropriate; whether it concerns relations in general, or causal power (specifically attraction and impenetrability in a pioneering field theory). Irreducibility here yields a doctrine of superadded force: since ‘substance never has the power, through its own intrinsic properties, to determine others’, such power is added by God.

Keywords: causal power; field; force; intrinsic; irreducibility; Kant; Leibniz; reduction; relational; superaddition; supervenience

Chapter.  12923 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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