Speaking in circles: completeness in Kant's metaphysics and mathematics
Robinson, Elizabeth Ann
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This dissertation presents and responds to the following problem. For Kant a field of enquiry can be a science only if it is systematic. Most sciences achieve systematicity through having a unified content and method. Physics, for example, has a unified content, as it is the science of matter in motion, and a unified method because all claims in physics must be verified through empirical testing. In order for metaphysics to be a science it also must be systematic. However, metaphysics cannot have a unified content or method because metaphysicians lack a positive conception of what its content and method are. On Kant's account, metaphysicians can say with certainty what metaphysics does not study and what methods it cannot use, but never how it should proceed. Without unified content and method systematicity can only be guaranteed by some either means, namely, completeness. Without completeness metaphysics cannot have systematicity and every science must be systematic. Completeness can only be achieved if we severely limit the scope of metaphysics so that it contains only the conditions for the possibility of experience. This dissertation defends the claims made about the centrality of completeness in understanding Kant's conception of metaphysics as a science in two ways. First, the first two chapters point to a substantial body of textual evidence that supports the idea that Kant was directly concerned about the notion of completeness and links it to his conception of metaphysics as a science. Chapters 3 and 4 consider some possible objections to thinking that metaphysics as a science can be complete, giving special consideration to Gödel's incompleteness theorem. Chapter 5 explains why, if this position is as clear as this dissertation has argued, previous scholars have failed to acknowledge it. Giving a full answer to this question requires considering the general neglect of the "Doctrine of Method" section of Kant's primary theoretical text, The Critique of Pure Reason. The Doctrine of Method contains many of the passages which most directly support my thesis. Chapter 6 explains why scholars have ignored this important passage and argues that they should not continue to do so.