Saturday, July 12, 2008
Brueckner, Anthony. "Review of Michael Forster's KANT AND SKEPTICISM." NDPR (July 2008).
Forster, Michael N. Kant and Skepticism. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2008. Forster begins by asking: which forms of skepticism is Kant most worried about in the first Critique? Bucking the trend of much Anglo-American Kant commentary, Forster maintains that Kant's concern with what Forster calls "veil of perception" (hereafter vop) skepticism is something of a side show, nothing more than a "secondary concern" for Kant. VOP skepticism is what Kant calls "problematic idealism" in the Refutation of Idealism: it is Cartesian skepticism about knowledge of outer objects (e.g., cats) located in space. The problematic idealist "pleads the incapacity to prove, through immediate experience, any existence except our own". Forster makes a fairly reasonable textual case for downplaying the role of vop skepticism in Kant's thought. Further, there has always been the prima facie worry about how to square a concern with refuting Cartesian skepticism with a full embrace of transcendental idealism. But even so, in a book entitled Kant and Skepticism, one would have expected, for the sake of completeness, more than Forster's perfunctory treatment of the Refutation of Idealism and at least some discussion of the bearing of the Transcendental Deduction on vop skepticism. I will return to the latter issue later, and regarding the former, I note briefly the following criticism from Forster. Kant's premise in the Refutation of Idealism is "I am conscious of my own existence as determined in time". One plausible construal is that I know that I have had "mental states in a certain order over a stretch of time" (fn. 22, 97). However, according to Forster, "no 'veil of perception' skeptic worth his salt will concede this claim" (97). Against this, Cartesian skepticism is not about memory and does not challenge the sorts of knowledge about our own minds to which common sense lays claim (such as knowledge of the temporal ordering of at least some of our mental states). As Kant saw it, the Cartesian problem is about how to move from knowledge of our own minds to knowledge of the world apart from our minds. Kant claims to have solved that problem in the Refutation of Idealism. . . . Read the rest here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=13545.