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Thursday Night Philosophy Workshop: Gideon Freudenthal on “Overturning the narrative: Maimon vs. Kant"

Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Wolff Conference Room, Room D1103, Albert and Vera List Academic Center 6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003, Room D1103

Gideon Freudenthal is professor emeritus at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel-Aviv University. 

He is the author (or co-author) of: 

Atom and Individual in the Age of Newton (1986)

Exploring the Limits of Preclassical Mechanics (1991)

Classical Marxist Historiography of Science: The Hessen-Grossmann-Thesis (2009)

No Religion without Idolatry. Mendelssohn’s Jewish Enlightenment (2012) 


In my talk, I wish to outline an alternative to a chapter in the history of modern philosophy, and present Kant's tenets in the Critique of Pure Reason in the spirit of the Vienna Circle, the origin of analytic philosophy. 

According to the traditional narrative, Kant overcame the limitations of British empiricism (Hume) and German rationalism (Leibniz) and with his "transcendental philosophy" raised philosophy to a new and superior level. Contemporary Leibnizian critics failed to appreciate the novelty of his approach. Although Kant complimented Salomon Maimon (1753-1800) for having best understood him among his critics, he saw no reason to accept Maimon's criticism.

From the point of view of the Vienna Circle in the 1920-1930, the traditional narrative should be reversed. In the view of its members, there are no synthetic judgments a priori, and the Kantian project was therefore misconceived in principle. The "Kantian intermezzo", as Neurath called it, should be skipped and philosophy should rather return to Hume and Leibniz. Exactly this was Maimon's position. He characterized himself as a "rational dogmatist and empirical skeptic", referring explicitly to Leibniz and Hume respectively. 

I will present Maimon's criticism of Kant's synthetic judgments a priori and claim that it is valid. With this, questions concerning the progress of philosophy and its historiography will naturally rise. 

Presented by The New School for Social Research (NSSR) Philosophy Department

Event Type

Lectures and Panel Discussions


General Public


Intellectual Culture and Big Ideas


The New School for Social Research, Department of Philosophy




Free; No Registration required

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