1st Edition

Limits of Intelligibility Issues from Kant and Wittgenstein

Edited By Jens Pier Copyright 2023

    The chapters in this volume investigate the question of where, and in what sense, the bounds of intelligible thought, knowledge, and speech are to be drawn. Is there a way in which we are limited in what we think, know, and say? And if so, does this mean that we are constrained—that there is something beyond the ken of human intelligibility of which we fall short? Or is there another way to think about these limits of intelligibility—namely, as conditions of our meaning and knowing anything, beyond which there is no specifiable thing we cannot do?

    These issues feature prominently in the writings of Kant and Wittgenstein who each engaged with them in unique and striking ways. Their thoughts on the matter remain provocative and stimulating, and accordingly, the contributions to this volume address the issues surrounding the limits of intelligibility both exegetically and systematically: they examine how they figure in Kant’s and Wittgenstein’s most significant works and put them in touch with contemporary debates that are shaped by their legacy. These debates concern, inter alia, logically and morally alien thought, the semantics and philosophy of negation, disjunctivism in philosophy of perception and ethics, paraconsistent approaches to contradiction, and the relation between art, literature, and philosophy. The book is divided into four parts: Part I gives a first assessment of the issues, Part II examines limits as they feature in Kant, Part III as they feature in Wittgenstein, and Part IV suggests some ways in which the questions might be reconsidered, drawing upon ideas in phenomenology, dialetheism, metamathematics, and the works of other influential authors.

    Limits of Intelligibility provides insight into a theme that is central to the thought of two of the most important figures in modern philosophy, as well as to recent metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of logic, epistemology, and ethics.

    Introduction: Where Intelligibility Gives Out Jens Pier

    Part I: Limits Assessed

    1. Metaphysical Dissatisfaction Barry Stroud

    2. The Bounds of Sense A. W. Moore

    Part II: Limits in Kant

    3. Kant on Why We Cannot Even Judge about Things in Themselves Guido Kreis

    4. The "Original" Form of Cognition: On Kant’s Hylomorphism Andrea Kern

    5. Logical and Moral Aliens Within Us: Kant on Theoretical and Practical Self-Conceit G. Anthony Bruno

    Part III: Limits in Wittgenstein

    6. Wittgenstein on the Limits of Language Hans Sluga

    7. The Threefold Puzzle of Negation and the Limits of Sense Jean-Philippe Narboux

    8. Truth and the Limits of Ethical Thought: Reading Wittgenstein with Diamond Gilad Nir

    Part IV: Limits Reconsidered

    9. On Transcending the Limits of Language Graham Priest

    10. Art, Authenticity, and Understanding David Suarez

    11. No Limit: On What Thought Can Actually Do Jocelyn Benoist

    12. On the Speculative Form of Holistic Reflection: Hegel’s Criticism of Kant’s Limitations of Reason Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer.



    Jens Pier is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of Leipzig, Germany. His current research focuses on metaphysics, the philosophy of self-consciousness, Kant, Wittgenstein, and the prospects for a critical philosophical methodology. In thinking about these issues, he puts special emphasis on how a proper articulation of the self-conscious structure of human mindedness might elucidate the relation between conceptions of philosophy aimed at systematicity and scientificity on the one hand, and those aimed at diagnosis, therapy, or explication on the other.