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The Divorce of Reason and Experience: Kant's Paralogisms of Pure Reason in Context


I consider Kant's criticism of rational psychology in the Paralogisms of Pure Reason in light of his German predecessors. I first present Wolff's foundational account of metaphysical psychology with the result that Wolff's rational psychology is not comfortably characterized as a naïvely rationalist psychology. I then turn to the reception of Wolff's account among later German metaphysicians, and show that the same claim of a dependence of rational upon empirical psychology is found in the publications and lectures of Kant's pre-Critical period. Considering the Paralogisms in this context reveals Kant's conception of rational psychology to be distinctly novel and has important consequences in shifting the argumentative focus of the chapter.