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May 2002
184 pages  

6 x 9
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Solomon Maimon
Monism, Skepticism, and Mathematics
Buzaglo, Meir
Even though the philosophy of Solomon Maimon (1753-1800) is usually considered an important link between Kant’s transcendental philosophy and German idealism, his ideas have been neglected over the past two centuries. In this book Meir Buzaglo reconstructs Maimon’s philosophy, emphasizing the importance of its mathematics.

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Meir Buzaglo is a lecturer in the department of philosophy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of The Logic of Concept Expansion and Until the Day Prevails.
“No student of German idealism or neo-Kantianism can afford to ignore Solomon Maimon; and no student of Solomon Maimon can afford to ignore Meir Buzaglo's book. Buzaglo rightly emphasizes and clearly explains the mathematical dimension of Maimon's thought, which has all toooften been ignored in previous scholarship. It gives us a new appreciation for the depth and insight of one of the most gifted thinkersof the German idealist tradition.” —Fred Beiser, Syracuse University

“Immanuel Kant called Solomon Maimon (1753-1800) ‘the most astute of my critics.' Indeed Maimon is the only one of Kant’s early critics who directed his thoughts straight at the central issue of the ‘Critique of Pure Reason.' i.e. the question quid juris. Every scientific law claims necessity and universal validity, that is, in Kant’s phrase, it applies a priori concepts. But how can one be assured that this application is legitimate? This is the question with which Maimon deals in numerous different approaches in his ‘Versuch ueber die Transcendentalphilosophie' (1790), a book which despite its obscurity was highly regarded by Fichte. Very few scholars have taken the pains to disentangle the thicket of Maimon’s thoughts. Meir Buzaglo does and, in my opinion, he succeeds. He shows convincingly that Maimon tries to answer the question quid juris in two steps. To clarify the question he asks it at first with respect to mathematics. In mathematics, Maimon says, it is a question of applying one sort of concepts, the pure, to another, the a priori. This application is legitimate if we are able to ‘reduce' the latter to the former, i.e. if we are able to define the a priori in terms of the pure. Maimon’s second step is to ask whether the procedures of the empirical sciences are capable of doing the same, i.e. whether there are procedures with which we can define the intuitive in terms of the a priori. Maimon’s notorious theory of the ‘given,' which forms an important step towards the evolution of ‘subjective idealism,' belongs, as Buzaglo shows, in this context. To sum up, this is a book which no one who is interested in the development of German Idealism should miss.”—Achim Engstler, University of Münster

“Thoughtful, college-level writing on such diverse topics as substance and causality make [this book] an intriguing treatise for philosophical studies supplemental reading lists, as well as for academic reference collections.”—Wisconsin Bookwatch

“It is rare to find a book of such great intelligence and seriousness . . .”—Choice

“Clearly a very important contribution to the existing literature on Maimon . . . Bold, innovative, and fascinating. Buzaglo is probably the most qualified person among Maimon scholars to study the crucial subject of Maimon’s philosophy of mathematics.”--I>Iyyun: The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly

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Philosophy of Science

The philosophy of Solomon Maimon (1753–1800) is usually considered an important link between Kant’s transcendental philosophy and German idealism. Highly praised during his lifetime, over the past two centuries Maimon’s genius has been poorly understood and often ignored. Meir Buzaglo offers a reconstruction of Maimon’s philosophy, revealing that its true nature becomes apparent only when viewed in light of his philosophy of mathematics. This provides the key to understanding Maimon’s solution to Kant’s quid juris question concerning the connection between intuition and concept in mathematics. Maimon’s original approach avoids dispensing with intuition (as in some versions of logicism and formalism) while reducing the reliance on intuition in its Kantian sense. As Buzaglo demonstrates, this led Maimon to question Kant’s ultimate rejection of the possibility of metaphysics and, simultaneously, to suggest a unique type of skepticism.


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