Overturning the narrative: Maimon vs. Kant

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In this paper, I sketch a reading of Salomon Maimon's philosophy that frees him from the shadow of Kant. As a rule, Kant's philosophy is considered the culmination of philosophy in the eighteenth century. The common periodization: Pre- Kantian, Kantian and Post-Kantian philosophy conveys this message and defines the possible roles other philosophies of this period may play: they may either contribute to Kant's philosophy or originate in it and contribute to German Idealism. Whatever does not fit into the line "From Kant to Hegel" is marginalized or forgotten. This was the fate of Fries, Beneke, Herbart, or: Bolzano and Brentano. I argue that the philosophy of Salomon Maimon was another such alternative that was lost from sight. The view from other philosophical positions opens new vistas. Logical Empiricism (The Vienna Circle) marks such a position. The basic provocative thesis of this school was that there are no synthetic judgments a priori. Maimon argued for the same position a century and a half earlier and refuted Kant's arguments to the contrary. From the vantage point of the Vienna Circle, Kant and German Idealism were merely an "intermezzo" between Leibniz and Hume on the one hand, Frege and Mach on the other. Philosophers of this persuasion would have found Maimon's philosophy of great interest - had they only known of it. In this paper, I review Maimon's arguments that there are no synthetic judgments a priori.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-68
Number of pages22
JournalDiscipline Filosofiche
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Quid facti
  • Quid juris
  • Synthetic Judgments a priori
  • System of Philosophy
  • Systematic Philosophy


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