Dyck, C. W. (2016): Spontaneity before the critical turn: the spontaneity of the mind in crusius, the pre-critical kant, and tetens

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  author = {Dyck, Corey W},
  title = {Spontaneity before the Critical Turn: The Spontaneity of the Mind in Crusius, the Pre-Critical Kant, and Tetens},
  shorttitle = {Spontaneity before the Critical Turn: The Spontaneity of the Mind in Crusius, the Pre-Critical Kant, and Tetens},
  journal = {Journal of the History of Philosophy},
  volume = {54},
  number = {4},
  pages = {625–648},
  year = {2016},
  abstract = {The introduction of a spontaneity proper to the understanding in the Kritik der reinen Vernunft is often thought to be one of the central innovations of Kant’s Critical philosophy. Yet a number of thinkers within the eighteenth-century German tradition in the time before the KrV had already developed a robust conception of the spontaneity of the mind. In this paper, I consider three influential accounts of the spontaneity of the mind—those of Crusius, the pre-Critical Kant, and Tetens—which, while distinct, nonetheless relate to and explicitly draw upon one another in important ways, forming the interconnected and, thus far, largely overlooked pre-Critical context for Kant’s discussion of the spontaneity of the understanding.},
  file = {~/Library/Mobile Documents/iCloud~com~sonnysoftware~bot/Documents/be-library/dyck2016a_Spontaneity_Before_the_Critical_Turn-_The_Spontaneity_of_the_Mind_in_Crusius,_the_Pre-Crit.pdf},
  doi = {10.1353/hph.2016.0073},
  url = {},
  langid = {},
  location = {},
  keywords = {kant; self-consciousness; review; rationality; reflection},}

A useful discussion of notions of spontaneity in Leibniz, Crusius, Kant, and Tetens. Makes a convincing case that Crusius, Kant, and Tetens are all plausibly relating to one another (or at least in that order) in the articulation of their views. Perhaps not the most philosophically rich discussion, as Dyck often ignores or fails to discuss philosophical issues of the views he describes, as opposed to simply delivering a straightforward gloss on their views. But certainly a helpful summary nonetheless.

The Crusian notion of spontaneity is one according to which a faculty (Vermögen) is actualized in such as way that these actualizations—i.e. exercises of the faculty or power—occur wholly in accord with principles that “constitute the essence” of that faculty or power (see, e.g. p. 633). I’m not sure what it is for a principle to constitute the essence of a faculty. But the notion still seems very Leibnizian, perhaps going beyond the explicit doctrine in the Theodicy, but certainly compatible with it, being at best a kind of elaboration of what it is for an act to “have its source in the subject” (T §301). It is also interesting, though Dyck doesn’t note this, that spontaneity in Crusius applies to a faculty and not directly to the agent. The same seems to go for the pre-critical (e.g. ID of 1770) Kant, who characterizes the difference between faculties by appeal to the different sorts of laws by which they operate.

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