Mea culpa – Anachronistic Metaphor Interference:
Synthesis as nexus and compositio
28 October 2018
The postings on https://criticalidealism.org make no claim to perfection because the limits to reason are so ubiquitous and pervasive. Furthermore, because the postings are (and must be) reflections stimulated by Kant’s writings, they make no claim to know what Kant “really meant.” To make such a claim would be to succumb not only to the arrogance of hermeneutical certainty denied by the very limits to reason so central to Kant’s project but also to the illusion of the intentional fallacy.
Nonetheless, it is painful to have to acknowledge that one has made the same error that one has pointed out in the writings of other interpreters: anachronistic, metaphor interference. This is a label for the assumption that what a metaphor means today (or at the point in time of an interpreter’s writing) is what the metaphor meant for Kant. Jean Paul wrote in his Vorschule der Aesthetik in 1804 in Sämmtiche Werke, Vol 42 (Berlin: S. Reimer, 1827): 24-25 that “each language is a dictionary of faded metaphors.” Given that all language is metaphorical, not literal, it should come as no surprise that the meaning of a term for a particular author must be arrived at through careful attention to its context of usage. However, interpreters pro and con of Kant have acceded to metaphor interference with respect to core elements in Kant’s terminology: a few examples are autonomous freedom, Enlightenment, a priori synthetic judgment, radical evil, Anlage and Hang, critique, Copernican Turn, subreption, Ding an sich, Noumenon and Phenomena, regulative and constitutive ideas, “pure”/rein, Anschauung, etc.