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date: 14 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

For Kant and post-Kantian German idealists, responding to skepticism is an essential task of philosophy; the corresponding conceptions of knowledge, however, change rapidly. Kant primarily discusses the possibility of Erkenntnisse: mental representations which refer to objects, but can be false. Knowledge—Wissen—is a minor topic in the first Critique. In Fichte and Hegel, Wissen moves from the margins to the center of their projects. Philosophy itself is considered the paradigm case. The mental activity of construction involved in producing an evident insight (Fichte) or the embeddedness of a proposition in an organism-like network of thought (Hegel) become the new characteristics of knowledge. Mid-nineteenth century attention shifts towards the mathematical sciences—Helmholtz, Cohen, Natorp. Results of systematically applying the methods of the sciences have higher credibility than any anti-skeptical philosophical reasoning can provide. Philosophy presupposes and reflects on the ‘fact of science’ without introducing standards of validity from the outside.

Keywords: skepticism, knowledge, science, psychologism, Kant, German Idealism, Helmholtz, neo-Kantianism

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