1st Edition

Metaphysics as a Science in Classical German Philosophy

Edited By Robb Dunphy, Toby Lovat Copyright 2024
    380 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume is dedicated to questions about the nature and method of metaphysics in Classical German Philosophy. Its chapters offer original investigations into the metaphysical projects of many of the major figures in German philosophy between Wolff and Hegel.

    The period of Classical German Philosophy was an extraordinarily rich one in the history of philosophy, especially for metaphysics. It includes some of the highest achievements of early modern rationalism, Kant’s critical revolution, and the various significant works of German Idealism that followed in Kant’s wake. The contributions to this volume critically examine certain common themes among metaphysical projects across this period, for example, the demand that metaphysics amount to a science, that it should be presented in the form of a system, or that it should proceed by means of demonstration from certain key first principles. This volume also includes material on influential criticisms of metaphysical projects of this kind.

    Metaphysics as a Science in Classical German Philosophy is a useful resource for contemporary metaphysicians and historians of philosophy interested in engaging with the history of the methodology and epistemology of metaphysics.

    Introduction: Metaphysics as a Science in Classical German Philosophy Robb Dunphy and Toby Lovat

    1. Wolff on Ontology as Primary Philosophy Dino Jakušić

    2. Baumgarten on the Nature and Role of Metaphysics Courtney D. Fugate

    3. Lambert on the Certainty and Generality of Metaphysics and Geometry Katherine Dunlop

    4. The Methodological Role of Intellectual Intuition in Kant’s Critique Toby Lovat

    5. Kant’s Promise of a Scientific Metaphysics Catherine Wilson

    6. Can Metaphysics Become a Science for Kant? Gabriele Gava

    7. Scientific Metaphysics and Metaphysical Science: The Demand for Systematicity in Kant’s Transition Project Michael J. Olson

    8. Kant, Reinhold, and the Problem of Philosophical Scientificity Karin de Boer and Gesa Wellmann

    9. Reinhold on the Deduction of the Categories Elise Frketich

    10. Schulze’s Scepticism and the Rise and Rise of German Idealism Robb Dunphy

    11. The I and I: The Pure and the Empirical Subject in Fichte’s Science of Science Kienhow Goh

    12. The Science of All Science and the Unity of the Faculties: Schelling on the Nature of Philosophy Benjamin Berger

    13. Two Models of Critique of Metaphysics: Kant and Hegel Dietmar H. Heidemann

    14. Quietism, Dialetheism, and the Three Moments of Hegel’s Logic G. Anthony Bruno

    15. Metaphysics on the Model of Natural Science? A Kantian Critique of Abductivism Nicholas Stang


    Robb Dunphy is an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Germany. He has previously held research fellowships at the Goethe University Frankfurt, University College Dublin, and the University of Hamburg, and has taught philosophy at Northeastern University London, the University of Winchester, and the University of Sussex. His primary research interests are in the theoretical philosophy of Kant and the German Idealists and in the history of scepticism. He is the author of Hegel and the Problem of Beginning: Scepticism and Presuppositionlessness and has published research articles in journals, including The Review of Metaphysics, the Hegel Bulletin, and Apeiron.

    Toby Lovat teaches in the school of humanities and social science at the University of Brighton, UK. His PhD (2018) and most recent publications develop a Kantian critique of Quentin Meillassoux’s ambitious argument in After Finitude, largely on the basis that Meillassoux, and many others, fundamentally misunderstand Kant’s theoretical philosophy. In other teaching and research, Toby’s work ranges widely over broader issues in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and political and social theory, taking in German Idealism, Frankfurt school critical theory, Marxist political economy and social theory, and the histories and ideologies of liberalism and conservatism.

    "This excellent collection directs much deserved attention to the meta-philosophical and meta-metaphysical debates within and surrounding the German idealist tradition about the nature and form of metaphysical and philosophical knowledge as well as its relationship to skepticism, dogmatism and empirical experience.

    To this effect, the book reconstructs the most relevant arguments about the nature of scientific metaphysics by the pre-Kantian thinkers Wolff and Baumgarten before engaging in detail with Kant’s re-definition of the metaphysical enterprise as well as his critique of rationalism and examining the responses by post-Kantian thinkers such as Schulze, Reinhold, Fichte, Hegel and Schelling.

    Going beyond the confines of historical reconstruction, the contemporary and systematic relevance of the discussed positions provides a consistent and most rewarding focal point for the accomplished contributors."

    Sebastian SteinUniversität Heidelberg, Germany

    "This excellent collection of essays examines a crucial but often neglected thread running through Classical German Philosophy from Wolff to Hegel: the ‘meta-metaphysical’ idea that metaphysics itself should be a ‘science’. The essays, which are impressive in their scholarship and eminently readable, pay close attention to the sometimes subtle, sometimes significant differences between Wolff, Kant, Reinhold, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel (and others). Yet they also enable the reader to see the easily overlooked continuity that unites these thinkers into an identifiable tradition: the thought that metaphysics must be systematic, demonstrative and rational. The essays also consider the relation between such ‘scientific’ metaphysics and a wide range of other disciplines, such as geometry and theology, and other concepts, such as freedom, idealism and scepticism. In so doing, these essays cast an original and very welcome light on one of the greatest periods of philosophy in our history."

    Stephen Houlgate, University of Warwick, UK

    "It has become customary to oppose scientific rigor to metaphysical laxity. This volume shows why this opposition should not be taken for granted. Revisiting an extraordinarily fertile moment in the history of philosophy, it considers why philosophers argued that metaphysics should aspire to science and science should aspire to metaphysics. Anyone interested in debates about the nature and limits of science, naturalism, and metaphysics, will find this volume indispensable."

    Raymond Brassier, American University of Beirut