SHS Web Conf.
Volume 161, 202312th Kant-Readings International Conference “Kant and the Ethics of Enlightenment: Historical Roots and Contemporary Relevance”
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Section||Enlightenment, Politics and Education|
|Published online||08 March 2023|
The peculiar fate of human reason. Reflections on Kant’s concept of astronomy
University of Graz, Universitätsplatz 3, 8010 Graz, Austria
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
The question whether and how Kant can introduce a concept of reason which is compatible with his critical claims of enlightenment is a perennial challenge. This question implies the problem of how reason can be the supreme touchstone of all rights and remedies without being affected by Kant’s despotism-reproach (WA, AA 08: 41). To defend Kant’s concept of reason, I reflect on the astronomy example as introduced in the fourth antinomy. With reference to Jean Jacques Dortous de Mairan, Kant considers a dispute between two astronomers concerning the question whether the moon turns on its own axis or not. Based on his own perspective resolution (i.e. the distinction between the perspective of the sun and the perspective of the earth), Kant presents his distinction between theoretical and practical philosophy. Simultaneously, he develops the possibility of understanding reason in its regulative use as well as in its historical dimension. Consequently, Kant refers to astronomy again in the “Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic”, and explains the historical progress of its underlying assumptions, i.e. the circular, elliptical, hyperbolic and parabolic motion of the courses of planets around the sun. From Kant’s point of view, these theories of movement build foci imaginarii and, for this reason, they are transformable, as the history of astronomy has shown. Regarding these astronomy examples, I argue that reason does not build an Archimedean Point but can fulfil its function as the highest judge in a regulative use.
Key words: astronomy / regulative use of reason / focus imaginarius / radical enlightenment / fate / antithetic
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2023
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