Theoretical dimension of freedom in kantian transcendentalism
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freedom, transcendentalism, spontaneity, theoretical discourse, aporeticity, empirical thought

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Ilyina, A. (2021). Theoretical dimension of freedom in kantian transcendentalism. Multiversum. Philosophical Almanac, 2(1), 55-80.


Article deals with the instances of freedom (as idea and principle) in theoretical scope of Kant’s transcendentalism: its forms and special aspects. Author points out that, notwithstanding some historico-philosophical stereotype whereby the problem of freedom associates primarily with Kantian practical discourse, important conceptual grounds of theme of freedom are discovered also in theoretical area of classical transcendentalism. By analyzing thorough works on Kantian concept of freedom by L. W. Beck and M. Kohl, in conceptual focus of which are such problems as multiplicity of meanings of Kant’s freedom concept (Beck) and question of freedom of “empirical thought” (Kohl), author pays attention to non-simplicity and ambiguousness of Kantian discourse on freedom, that cause both necessity to call into doubt a rigidity of opposition between realms of nature and freedom and possibility to define understanding’s activity of judgment in terms of freedom. The important function of concept of spontaneity is noted as being such a form of embodiment of freedom that is characterized by some universality: namely, applicability both to theoretical and practical discourses (to domains both of understanding and reason). Article brings to light that freedom appears in Kantian theoretical philosophy mainly in the essentially transcendental mode of possibility. Author makes clear that it is “methodological turn” that turns out to be a factor of liberation of Kant’s discourse on freedom from main inconsistencies. By deconstruction of “two words” ontology, this turn permits to think elements of distinction “phenomenal-noumenal”, not as opposite ontological domains, but as contextually conditioned aspects. Drawing on investigation of Kohl’s approach, author fixes a close link between freedom and errorness and shows that whereas “negative freedom” within theoretical (empirical) thought is due to non-determination of thought-acts by sensible causes, “positive” mode of subject’s freedom (when it comes to subject of theoretical thought) consists in “reflective control”, instantiated in principles a priori of understanding. The aporetic relation between freedom (spontaneity) and conditionality is found out inherent to theoretical discourse of transcendentalism of Kant’s type. Author shows, that this relation forms a connection with basic transcendental aporia, according to which principles of difference and otherness are inscribed a priori in the realm of subjectivity as single, simple, self-reliant, total, autonomous, spontaneous etc. She also notes that in the development of transcendental tradition some implications of “freedom / determination” aporia are found within phenomenological discourse and in deconstructive thought they come to the fore, taking form of hyperbole.
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