The Idea of Purposiveness in Kant and German Idealism

November 28, 2014 - November 29, 2014
University of Leuven


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Main speakers:

Stefan Bird-Pollan
University of Kentucky
James Kreines
Claremont McKenna College
Gertrudis Van de Vijver
University of Ghent
Lea Ypi
London School of Economics

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Whereas Descartes, Spinoza and their followers discarded the Aristotelian
idea of purposiveness, Kant realized that a purely mechanistic account of
the world failed to satisfy the demands of pure reason. Reintroducing the
idea of purposiveness in modern philosophy, he again granted thought the
capacity to conceive of a manifold as an organized whole, albeit not without
qualifying the idea of purposiveness as merely subjective. Kant’s various
discussions of purposiveness in the Critique of Judgment and other texts
have been the subject of much debate. However, much less attention has been
paid to the impact of the idea of purposiveness on the development of German
Idealism. In this regard, three elements of Kant’s thought seem to be
particularly relevant. First, the idea of purposiveness allowed Kant, in the
Critique of Judgment, to conceive of the various parts of his critical
philosophy as a unity. Second, this idea can be said to inform his
conception of moral self-determination in the Critique of Practical Reason.
Third, the idea of purposiveness seems to underlie the account of the human
faculties in the Critique of Pure Reason as well as Kant’s conception of a
system of pure reason in this work. There is no doubt that Fichte, Schelling
and Hegel developed their philosophical systems by drawing on one or more of
these elements. It is less clear, however, how exactly they appropriated and
modified Kant’s views. Addressing Kant’s critical philosophy as a whole
rather than the third Critique alone, the conference aims to investigate
Kant’s multi-faceted conception of purposiveness and, on that basis, trace
its further development and transformation in German Idealism.

Organizers: Karin de Boer (Leuven), Gesa Wellmann (Leuven), Henning
Tegtmeyer (Leuven), Geert van Eekert (Antwerp), and Gertrudis Van de Vijver

University of Leuven
Institute of Philosophy
Kardinaal Mercierplein 2
3000 Leuven

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