Naturalizing the Transcendental
A Pragmatic View
By Pihlstrom Sami
(Humanity Books, Hardcover, 9781591021049, 390pp.)
Publication Date: July 1, 2003
Categories: Movements - Pragmatism
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
Though it has often been claimed that pragmatism was formed as a synthesis of Kant and Darwin, most philosophers, including pragmatists themselves, have largely neglected Kant's crucial influence on pragmatist thinkers. In this powerful and original work, Finnish philosopher Sami Pihlström argues that the transcendental and the pragmatist traditions should converge, or at least supplement each other, instead of being regarded as rivals. According to Pihlström, Kant's basic transcendental project—i.e., of investigating the conditions of our ability to experience and represent structured reality—can be reconciled with a naturalist conception of the world and the place of human beings in it. He proposes a workable middle ground between extreme realism on the one hand and extreme postmodernist skepticism and relativism on the other.
Divided into two main parts, Pihlström's task is, first, to provide a pragmatist and naturalized reconstruction of what transcendental philosophy is and, second, to apply transcendental arguments to epistemology, philosophy of science, and ethics. One of his principal points is that the dispute over the status of transcendental philosophy and its relation to naturalism should not be restricted to metaphysics and epistemology. Along with Kant, Pihlström views ethics as the crown of philosophical reflections on what it is to be a rational being experiencing a structured reality. He concludes by suggesting that a pragmatic moral realism ought to be seen as a transcendentally established principle within our natural human practices of ethical evaluation.
This exciting rethinking of transcendental argumentation within a pragmatist, naturalistic framework, by a philosopher familiar with both analytic and Continental philosophy, makes a significant contribution to the development of the American philosophical tradition.
Sami Pihlström (Helsinki, Finland) is Docent and University Lecturer of Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Helsinki, Docent of Philosophy at the University of Turku and the University of Kuopio, and the author of Structuring the World: The Issue of Realism and the Nature of Ontological Problems in Classical and Contemporary Pragmatism; Pragmatism and Philosophical Anthropology: Understanding Our Human Life in a Human World; and three books in Finnish.