Kant and the “Oriental” poverty in concepts: A re-examination of the Kantian distinction between discursive and symbolic language in light of the reception of Kant’s thought in Chinese philosophy

Begin - Einde 
2024 - 2024 (lopend)



The starting point of this research proposal is that shedding light onto the question of whether there could be a markedly Kantian philosophy of language must pass through a thorough examination of Kant’s distinction between symbolic and discursive languages. Such a distinction is not only essential to illuminate the debate on the relationship between language and cognition in Kant’s transcendental philosophy, but it is also situated at the crossroads of several debates in Kant scholarship, such as the one on whether Kant’s racialism and racism may affect his transcendental project. Thus far, Kant’s racist claims have either been treated as a philosophically irrelevant personal prejudice or as an issue for his moral theory. There is instead a distinct gap in the literature when it comes to treating it as an explicitly epistemological problem, i.e., as an issue to be situated within his project of transcendental logic. At the same time, Kant’s universalist claims call for a confrontation with the “experienced reality” (Lu-Adler, 2022, p. 12) of the non-Western modes of knowing that they end up belittling. In order to tackle these issues, we propose to focus on one of the specific contexts Kant addresses, namely Chinese civilization, both to pave the way for an analysis of Kant’s system that goes beyond Kant himself, and to offer a tentative answer to Lu-Adler’s (2022) “conundrum”, i.e., whether Kant’s “ultra-rationalism” (ibid.) can tolerate empirical diversity. 




Externe medewerkers

Haiming Wen

Renmin University of China