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  • Kant and the Science of Logic by Huaping Lu-Adler
  • J. Colin McQuillan
LU-ADLER, Huaping. Kant and the Science of Logic. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. 272 pp. Cloth, $74.00

Huaping Lu-Adler's Kant and the Science of Logic represents the very best that contemporary Kant scholarship has to offer. Lu-Adler's book combines analytical rigor, sensitivity to the historical context in which Kant thought and wrote, and mastery of an extensive body of scholarly literature with methodological insight and clarity of presentation. It is essential reading for Kant scholars, historians of logic, and other historians of philosophy.

The structure of Kant and the Science of Logic is straightforward. In the first chapter, Lu-Adler surveys the sources and materials that are necessary to reconstruct Kant's views on logic and explains how they are to be evaluated. She is rightfully suspicious of the textbook published as Kant's Logic (1800) by Gottlob Benjamin Jäsche. While Jäsche's logic can be helpful, it should never be read apart from Kant's Reflexionen, the transcripts of his lectures, and his other published works. It is only when these sources are compared, using what Lu-Adler calls a "perspectival approach," that Kant's distinctive views on logic can be understood. Once this approach has been adopted, Lu-Adler argues, the "critical eclecticism" of Kant's approach to logic becomes apparent. According to Lu-Adler, Kant's conception of logic is both critical and eclectic, because it begins [End Page 375] with "a constructive analysis of how past philosophers might have sought to build and support their systems." However, this is merely a preliminary phase in the construction of a system, in which one must evaluate one's own opinions and those of one's contemporaries, in order to arrive at sound principles and architectonic unity. Lu-Adler thinks this approach helps to avoid the problems of uncritical syncretism and dogmatic system-building, while connecting fruitfully with "Kant's view of what it means to become a genuinely independent thinker," which can be achieved only within "a community of autonomous truth-seekers, through an honest exchange of ideas and perspectives."

Chapters 2 and 3 reconstruct the problems that Kant's conception of logic was meant to address. Lu-Adler surveys, in chapter 2, the history of logic from antiquity to the renaissance, highlighting the place logic was thought to occupy within philosophy as well as the utility it was thought to have. Lu-Adler's chapter brings into sharp relief the ambiguous place logic has occupied in the history of European philosophy, showing that it is by no means clear, within that history, whether logic was a science; whether it is a theoretical or practical discipline; whether it has its own subject matter; whether it is merely an aid to grammar, ethics, or metaphysics; and whether the development of a technical, formal logical is to be celebrated or condemned. In chapter 3, she extends this inquiry into the early modern period. Lu-Adler argues that early modern European philosophers faced many of the same problems as their medieval and renaissance predecessors, though their views on logic were also affected by the new methods being developed in the natural sciences (Bacon), a new emphasis on intellectual freedom (Locke), as well as a desire to formalize the rules of thinking and explain their relation to mathematics (Leibniz and Wolff).

In chapter 4, Lu-Adler identifies two "breakthroughs" in Kant's philosophy of logic during the pre-critical period. The first is a distinction between (1) the logic of the common understanding and (2) the logic of learned understanding, which corresponds, roughly, to the distinction between pure and applied general logic. Kant insists in the transcripts of some of his logic lectures that the logic of the learned understanding is a science, because it is grounded in a priori principles, but he denies that the logic of the common understanding is a science, because it is grounded in empirical principles. The second breakthrough is the development of Kant's conception of transcendental logic, which Lu-Adler traces back to Kant's characterization of ontology as a subjective...


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pp. 375-378
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