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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Relationship Between Baumgarten and Kant

The book that I am presently reading, Baumgarten and Kant on Metaphysics, Edited by Courtney D. Fugate and John Hymers, is a collection of eleven essays on the relationship between the metaphysics of Baumgarten and the philosophy of Kant. Fugate and Hymers begin their Introduction to the book with these lines: “The relationship between Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (1714–62) and Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) is as profound as any in the history of philosophy. In depth, it rivals such rightfully famous relationships as those between Socrates and Plato, between Aristotle and Aquinas, between Russell and Wittgenstein.” The editors note that Kant lectured on Baumgarten’s Metaphysica “from his first year of teaching in 1756 until his last in 1796, in total nearly fifty times over a span of four decades.” An examination of Kant’s personal copy of the Metaphysica suggests that Kant evolved many of his own views by constantly correcting and reworking Baumgarten’s ideas. Fugate and Hymers write: “Though physically a small book [Baumgarten’s Metaphysica], Kant’s miniature handwriting covers not only every bit of the pages interleaved, but also the text itself, the spaces between the lines, the margins, and even the gaps within the page ornaments. These notes, which in total amount to several times the length of the original book, provide a unique insight into how Kant evolved many of his own views through a constant correcting and reworking of Baumgarten’s ideas.”

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