The Loss of the Great Outdoors: Neither Correlationist Gem nor Kantian Catastrophe

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This article concerns Quentin Meillassoux’s claim that Kant’s revolution is responsible for philosophy’s catastrophic loss of the ‘great outdoors’, of our knowledge of things as they are in themselves. I argue that Meillassoux’s critique of Kant’s ‘weak’ correlationism and his defence of ‘strong’ correlationism are predicated on a fallacious argument (termed ‘the Gem’ by David Stove) and the traditional, but in my view mistaken, metaphysical interpretation of Kant’s transcendental distinction. I draw on Henry Allison’s interpretation of Kant’s idealism to argue that when Kant’s transcendental distinction is understood epistemologically we can avoid the fallacious reasoning underpinning Meillassoux’s argument, and at the very least attenuate his concerns about the ‘Kantian catastrophe’.

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