Junior Fellow: April 2018–March 2019
Research Project: A Critical Reconstruction of the Philosophy of Solomon Maimon
Maimon is known as a powerful but obscure post-Kantian sceptic. To “critically reconstruct” his philosophy means to interpret it with respect to his own intention: “to uncover the given defects and holes in the critical philosophy, and to set up a new theory of thinking according to the demands of my own criticism.” Maimon, in contrast with his usual portrayal as a sceptical empiricist where strict rationalism fails, developed this “new theory of thinking” as a substantiation (rather than stultification) of Kantian critique. Accordingly, thinking, in order to be critical and determine the criteria for objectivity, must generate, objectify, and validate itself: it must be reflective.
The claim is that the derivation of practical and theoretical consequences from reflective thinking sets Maimon uniquely apart; and while he prefigured neo-Kantian philosophy (Lotze's validity logic, Cohen's emphasis on genesis rather than synthesis, Cassirer's functional relations), he receives truer fulfilment in the work of more recent “post-neo-Kantians” such as Hans Wagner and Kurt Zeidler. The value of the project should not lie merely in attention paid to “neglected” texts, but in working out the nature and consequence of reflection.
Timothy Franz is a PhD candidate at the New School for Social Research in New York City.