Reinhold and the transformation of philosophy into science
Upon its first publication, the Critique of Pure Reason was widely perceived as advocating a form of subjective idealism or skepticism. Following the illustrious Moses Mendelssohn's portrayal of its author as "all-crushing," the work was increasingly misunderstood as promoting a destructive enterprise.1 Things began to change dramatically when, from August 1786 to September 1787, the celebrated Weimar journal Der teutsche Merkur published a series of imaginary letters — later to be collected, and expanded upon, as the first volume of the Briefe über die Kantische Philosophie (Letters on the Kantian Philosophy). Through them, Karl Leonhard Reinhold (1757–1823) would come to shape the way that Kant was understood by an entire generation. The approach he takes in the letters is (and continues to be) unique in the unusual extent to which it relies on the Doctrine of Method to unravel the overall aim and significance of the work. Reinhold sees Kant's critique of reason as offering a viable route to meeting "the most pressing philosophical needs of our time," namely, those arising from uncertainty over "the right and power of reason in matters of religion" (LKP 5 [BKP 105])2 — a clear allusion to the Atheismusstreit raging at the time.3 The public success of the letters led to the appointment of their author to a chair specially installed by the Duke of Weimar at the University of Jena for the study of the Kantian philosophy — an event which established the small university town of Jena as the mecca of post-Kantian speculative idealism for the next two decades.
Goh, K. (2014)., Reinhold and the transformation of philosophy into science, in M. C. Altman (ed.), The Palgrave handbook of German idealism, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 243-263.
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