Concepts of Idea

Cesare Ripa: Iconologia, overo Descrittione dell'imagini universali cavate dall' antichita et da altri luoghi. Venice 1645, 362.

The concept of “idea” undergoes a fundamental change of meaning at the end of the 18th century, which is largely due to the use of the term in Kant’s transcendental philosophy. Whereas “idea” had become a synonym for any content of consciousness (representation) in the early modern period, Kant redefines its meaning following Plato. In doing so, the concept plays a crucial systematic role in the Critique of Pure Reason, the Critique of Practical Reason, as well as in the Critique of Judgment.

Following Kant’s transcendental philosophy, his predecessors developed the concept of “idea” from four different perspectives:



A two-volume anthology on this topic will be published (together with Gideon Stiening) in 2024. Its aim is to examine the concept of “idea” in the late 18th century and the first half of the 19th century, based on a historical reconstruction and systematic analysis. We compile a compendium of the relevant texts (part I), comment and reflect on them analytically (part II), and, finally, present the common horizon of this development. For a list of contributing authors, see the conference program from November 2022.

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