1 June – 30 September 2018
Bio: Stephen Howard’s research focuses on Kant’s theoretical philosophy and natural-scientific writings, and, more broadly, explores the interrelation of metaphysics and natural science in seventeenth and eighteenth-century thought. He wrote his Ph.D. thesis at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University, London, on Kant’s conception of force (Kraft) and its systematic function in his philosophy. He has published on Leibniz’s dynamics in the British Journal for the History of Philosophy and has a number of articles forthcoming on Kant. Stephen has studied at the universities of Newcastle, Edinburgh and Kingston. He has undertaken research stays at Université Paris 8 and Universität Leipzig, and has been a postdoctoral teaching fellow at the University of Leuven.
Project title: Kant and Rational Cosmology
Project description: It is well known that Kant intended to follow the three Critiques with a full system of metaphysics, which, whilst following the structure of traditional Wolffian metaphysics, would possess a new legitimacy bestowed by Kant’s prior critique of pure reason. However, little research has been devoted to reconstructing Kant’s projected rational cosmology from his sketches and efforts towards its completion. This project will demonstrate that Kant’s engagement with cosmology is more nuanced and sympathetic than it is usually taken to be, and that cosmology is key to an understanding of the reformed metaphysics of nature that Kant sought to develop after the Critiques but never completed. Of the three branches of Wolffian ‘special metaphysics’, there exist detailed studies of Kant’s engagement with rational psychology and theology, but not yet of rational cosmology. The project seeks to fill this gap by: a) setting out the intellectual context for an understanding of rational cosmology in Kant’s thought; b) explaining Kant’s ‘critical’ treatment of rational cosmology; c) clarifying the place of rational cosmology within the full system of metaphysics that Kant intended to develop in the wake of the ‘epistemological’ innovations of the critical philosophy.