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transcendental philosophy


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


Transcendental philosophy is characterized by the attempt to ground the possibility of certainty in a conception of the human being as a detached knower or agent, and by the related commitment to the primacy of scientific knowledge over other modes of knowing and relating to the world. As such, transcendental philosophy is a foundationalist project committed to characterizing and vindicating precisely the conception of the human S ubject which is criticized by P ostmodernism . Transcendental philosophy is widely acknowledged to have been initiated and most significantly influenced by K ant . He was the first thinker to maintain a rigorous distinction between “transcendent” and “transcendental,” where the former term signifies that which lies beyond the scope of human thought and experience, and the latter term refers to those most fundamental and unchanging characteristics of human subjectivity which serve as “the conditions for the possibility” of coherent experience generally and scientific knowledge in particular. In Christian medieval thought, God had been conceived as the transcendent; Kant's turn to the transcendental conditions for the possibility of coherent human experience and certain knowledge brings with it a rejection of the idea, advanced by the likes of Aquinas and Descartes, that God's existence could be demonstrated cognitively in addition to being an article of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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