Chemical dissolution and Kant's critical theory of nature

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Abstract

Kant conceives of chemical dissolutions as involving the infinite division and subsequent blending of solvent and solute. In the resulting continuous solution, every subvolume contains a uniform proportion of each reactant. Erich Adickes argues that this account stands in tension with other aspects of Kant's Critical philosophy and his views on infinity. I argue that although careful analysis of Kant's conception of dissolution addresses Adickes' objections, the infinite division inherent to the process is beyond our human cognition, for Kant. Nevertheless, such infinite division may be considered as an idea of reason to make comprehensible chemical reactions, revealing reason to play a pivotal role in the foundations of chemistry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-556
Number of pages20
JournalKant-Studien
Volume109
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • Chemistry
  • Infinity
  • Nature
  • Reason

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