Facing the bounds of tradition: Kant's controversy with the Philosophisches Magazin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The main subject examined in this paper is Immanuel Kant's controversy with Philosophisches Magazin regarding Kant's new theory of judgments. J. A. Eberhard, editor of Philosophisches Magazin, and his colleagues wanted to vindicate the Wollfian traditional concept of judgments by undermining Kant's claims. As will be demonstrated, their arguments were effective mainly in exposing the ambiguity that was inherent in Kant's concept of the synthetic a priori; an ambiguity that resulted from Kant's desire - central to his critique of metaphysics - to present judgments pertaining to mathematics, (dogmatic) metaphysics, and pure natural science as judgments which shared a common form. Exposing this ambiguity was not the intended result, and it was insufficient for the purpose of vindicating the Wollfian tradition. The contributors to Philosophisches Magazin ignored the important properties shared by the class of judgments falling under Kant's concept of synthetic a priori judgments. They also ignored the fact that their position was unable to account for the logical phenomena that motivated Kant to present a new theory of judgments. On the other hand, Kant's theory of judgments was insensitive to the important differences that exist among the distinct types of judgments falling under his concept of a synthetic a priori judgment. This latter point is clearly shown in the controversy regarding the novelty of Kant's concept of a synthetic a priori judgment, and in the controversy regarding the function of intuitions within synthetic judgments. A result of the controversy was that Kant's concept of the synthetic a priori, which he believed to be an exact concept, was revealed to be a metaphor: no more than an invitation to view certain intellectual fields in the light of others. On the other hand, Eberhard and his colleagues failed to come up with satisfactory answers to Kant's questions within their traditional concept of judgment. Both parties refused to acknowledge this result. Consequently, the search for a new logic, a new architectonic order, and a new unity within reason became a general problem for the new generation of philosophers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-228
Number of pages24
JournalScience in Context
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998


Dive into the research topics of 'Facing the bounds of tradition: Kant's controversy with the Philosophisches Magazin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this