Kant and Spinoza Debating the Third Antinomy

Omri Boehm

in The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza

Published in print October 2017 | ISBN: 9780195335828
Published online November 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780199984732 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Kant and Spinoza Debating the Third Antinomy

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  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Metaphysics


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If Kant wanted to combat dogmatism—if he wanted to deny knowledge in order to make room for freedom and faith—he must have taken Spinoza seriously. In considering the case of the third Antinomy, the chapter argues, contrary to the prevalent view, that he did. The first part of the chapter challenges the historical pieces of evidence (allegedly) supporting the conclusion that Kant never engaged with Spinoza in the first Critique. The second part considers the third Antinomy, arguing that its Antithesis, eliminating freedom by invoking the Principle of Sufficient Reason, articulates a Spinozist position—not a Leibnizian one, as is commonly assumed. The third part explores the chief Spinozist challenge to the Antinomy, drawing on Spinoza’s understanding of infinity, freedom, and adequate ideas. The conclusion defends Kant’s position by confronting Spinoza’s position on infinity and freedom with Kant’s account of the sublime.

Keywords: Kant; freedom; adequate ideas; infinity; the sublime

Article.  14685 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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