German Idealism as Constructivism

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University of Chicago Press, May 3, 2016 - Philosophy - 203 pages
The culmination and distillation of distinguished philosopher Tom Rockmore's researches over some forty years, this book is his definitive statement on the debate between representationalism and constructivism that plagues both the history of German Idealism and the whole epistemological project today. Rockmore contends against prevailing opinion that Kant himself is an idealist and that his idealism centers on the Copernican revolution or a constructivist approach to knowledge. He shows that despite what Kant says in the first Critique he is not and cannot be a representationalist, and that the so-called double aspect thesis also fails. Positioning Kant as responding to Plato, he reads Plato as in turn responding to Parmenides. In Rockmore's view the Parmenidean intervention has two singularly important consequences: it focuses attention, running throughout the entire tradition, on the grasp of the mind-independent world--metaphysical realism--and it points toward the criterion of knowledge as the identity of identity and difference, a thesis that becomes explicit in Hegel. Rockmore examines the constructivist dimensions of the views of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel in detail, pointing out that Fichte's effort to reformulate constructivism while intended to solve a residual difficulty in Kant's version of constructivism actually undermines the claim for objective cognition. Moreover Schelling's view of the parallel between transcendental philosophy and philosophy of nature, which is influenced by Spinoza, is based on a different kind of identity and it follows that Schelling does not later leave German idealism behind since in a deep sense he was never a German idealist. The book concludes with a short discussion of cognitive constructivism arguing that it remains viable at the present time as an alternative to metaphysical realism, while preserving the other Parmenidean suggestion, the identity of identity and difference.

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Kant and Cognitive Constructivism
1 Kant Idealism and Cognitive Constructivism
2 Reinhold Maimon and Schulze
3 Fichtes Transcendental Philosophy the Subject and Circularity
4 Schelling the Philosophy of Nature and Constructivism
5 Hegel Identity and Constructivism
6 Cognitive Constructivism after German Idealism

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About the author (2016)

Tom Rockmore is the Distinguished Humanities Chair Professor and professor of philosophy in the Institute of Foreign Philosophy at the Peking University and was formerly a McAnulty College Distinguished Professor at Duquesne University. He is the author of numerous books, including Kant and Phenomenology and Art and Truth after Plato, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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