Imprints of the Thing in Itself: Li Zehou’s Critique of Critical Philosophy and the Historicization of the Transcendental
Kant’s concept of the “thing in itself” constitutes a formidable challenge to the project of “(anthropological-)historical ontology” with which the name of Li Zehou has become synonymous. Li’s radical reinterpretation of Kant’s critical philosophy, which locates the conditions of the possibility of knowledge and experience within historical and social evolution and thus seeks to allow for a form of human self-determination, brings us face to face with the close relation between the epistemological/ontological and normative dimensions of the notion of the thing in itself. My paper attempts to tease out some of the conceptual presuppositions and repercussions of Li’s approach to the thing in itself in the Critique of Critical Philosophy (Pipan zhexue zhi pipan 批判哲学之批判), while locating his reading in the broader context of Kant’s transcendentalism.
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