Variations on transition : a study in Kant’s opus postumum

Thomson, Terrence (2022) Variations on transition : a study in Kant’s opus postumum. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


In this study, I propose a new way of reading Kant’s unfinished drafts for his final work – now known as Opus postumum – through a deepening of the concept of transition at play in his thinking. I push off from the complex twists and turns of Opus postumum navigated through the prism of both the pre-Critical and Critical philosophy. The study traces out transitions of architectonic, faculty, matter, force, aether, world and God via Kant’s early (Universal Natural History and Physical Monadology) and middle works (Critique of Pure Reason and Metaphysical Foundations), culminating in Opus postumum. The overarching structure of the work moves from method to epistemology, epistemology to ontology, ontology to cosmology and finally cosmology to theology and philosophy. My approach to Opus postumum involves a close reading in which continuity and discontinuity are allowed to emerge both within the drafts themselves and in relation to Kant’s other work. Developing a series of variations on transition, this study argues that reading Opus postumum is an interruption into the process of philosophizing rather than the reception of a crystallized philosophy. This allows Opus postumum to be used as a manual for reading Kant, opening an untrodden path which reveals the movement of his work and the many transitions it harbours.

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