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Das Apriori, seine Geltung und Entdeckung – ein Rekonstruktionsversuch

Herrmann, Kay

Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte, Bd. 56 (2015), Iss. 0: S. 58–76

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Herrmann, Kay


The problem of synthetic judgments touches upon the question whether philosophy is in fact capable of making independent truth statements. According toKant, synthetic judgments formulate the conditions for the possibility of objectively valid knowledge a priori. As far as empirical attempts at reinterpretationof the aprioristic fall short of this ambition, Kant’s a priori goes deeper. This is because modern science strives towards objective knowledge, although its statements are fundamentally fallible. The topic of synthetic a priori thus continuesto be relevant. This paper will show that, in order to be viable at all, a modernized version of transcendental philosophy must ›depart from‹ the concepts of »independence from empirics« and/or the »purity« of the aprioristic. Kant’s refl ections on nonpure synthetic a priori knowledge already contain attempts at this. Furthermore, the aprioristic validity of knowledge does not exclude the possibility, that it can be discovered empirically. Fries and, subsequently, Nelson proceeded with this separation (initially ascribed to Reichenbach) between the contexts of validity and discovery of knowledge, pointing out that the a priori can indeed be discovered empirically, yet never be proven. Currently, there are still a number of valid reasons for arguing that concepts from transcendental philosophy (space, time, substance, causality, freedom and the distinction between the noumenal and phenomenal worlds) continue to be of fundamental importance for the modern sciences. However, it must not be neglected that, even within a modernized framework of transcendental philosophy various unsolved problems remain and/or are created (such as the unfeasibility of the aprioristic claim to general validity and necessity, the problem of drawing a clear boundary between the noumenal and phenomenal worlds). Moreover, the »beautiful structure« of the Kantian system, which constitutes much of its persuasive strength, is lost.


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Kay Herrmann: Das Apriori, seine Geltung und Entdeckung – ein Rekonstruktionsversuch 57