The Ockham Society (Wednesday - Week 7, TT21)
The culminating point of “Von dem ersten Grunde des Unterschiedes der Gegenden im Raume” (1768) by Immanuel Kant is an argument for an absolute nature of space, based on the observation that the only hand existing in an otherwise empty space has to be either left or right. Although this paper generated a heated discussion among the contemporary philosophers (see: the collection of papers ed. by van Cleve and Frederick 1991), they usually focus only on the short passage containing the argument itself and ignore the dozen or so pages of introduction, where Kant provided a broader context of this reasoning. What is particularly interesting and yet unnoticed in the literature, is that in the beginning of his paper he made an explicit reference to Analysis Situs, which was one of the great projects of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – and declared the intention of investigating it.
Therefore, instead of focusing on the famous argument, I will analyse the wider scope of issues described in the paper from 1768 in the context of Leibnizian philosophy. In particular, I will draw a link between two pairs of concepts that were essential for their conceptions of space. In particular, I will suggest that eponymous “regions” (ger. die Gegenden) that are essential in the Kantian narration, are supposed to correspond with Leibnizian “situations” (lat. Situs). Moreover, on the basis of the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence, I will argue that Kantian “incongruent counterparts” are in fact perfectly congruent according to Leibniz. Finally, on the basis of previous considerations, I will show that Kant’s argument already indirectly assumed the space being absolute and therefore, from the Leibnizian perspective, is circular.
Ockham Society Convenor: Steven Diggin | Ockham Society Webpage