From We to I. The Rise of Aesthetics between Rational and Empirical Psychology, in From Hamann to Kierkegaard, Ed. by José Justo; Elisabete M. Sousa, Fernando M. F. Silva, Lisbon: Centre of Philosophy of the University of Lisbon, 2017, pp. 21-3

From We to I. The Rise of Aesthetics between Rational and Empirical Psychology, in From Hamann to Kierkegaard, Ed. by José Justo; Elisabete M. Sousa, Fernando M. F. Silva, Lisbon: Centre of Philosophy of the University of Lisbon, 2017, pp. 21-37

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   From Hamann to Kierkegaard 21 FROM WE   TO I .THE RISE OF AESTHETICS BETWEENRATIONAL AND EMPIRICAL PSYCHOLOGY Gualtiero LoriniTechnische Universität Berlin  Abstract  While Christian Wolff’s empirical psychology is distinguished by its focus on what we can observe about the soul, Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten concentrates on the case of the  I   (ego), or my soul. How does this affect the relationship between empirical and rational psychology? The intent of both authors is to start from the empirical data collected by empirical psychology, and then to move to a more ab-stract and formalistic justification of these data in rational psychology. However, despite the undeniable methodological relevance Wolff attributes to empirical data as the beginning of the cognitive process, rationalistic formalism still seems irreduc-ible in his conception of experience. Baumgarten’s rational psychology also cannot avoid relying on the observations and the consequent definitions stated in empirical psychology, but Baumgarten’s employment of the  I   within the  Psychologia empirica  can be regarded as testifying to his deeper concern of the knowing subject in his sensible experience. Baumgarten’s concept of experience, even if apparently similar to Wolff’s, is indeed much more focused on the possibility of discovering a form of rationality that is peculiarly detectable from the sensible experience of the singular  I  . Thus, since Wolff’s concept of perception still relies on attention, he partially un-derpins even the possibility of experience on purely rational principles. Baumgarten instead puts his treatment of the “Sensus” soon after the exposition of the inferior cognitive faculty, as an independent source of the “Scientia sensitive cognoscendi et proponendi”, a discipline that he defines as  Aesthetics . Keywords  Wolff, Baumgarten, Kant, Psychology, Metaphysics     Experimentation and Dissidence 22 Introductory remarks  Works concerning A. G. Baumgarten’s thought usually emphasize two main features. The first consists of his determination of aesthetics as a discipline in its own right, that is, as a discipline based on the emancipation of the em-pirical sphere from pure intellectual principles. The second concerns Kant’s employment of Baumgarten’s  Metaphysica  as a handbook for his lectures on metaphysics throughout his entire academic career (1762–1795). Certainly, these two points are connected. Indeed, on the one hand, many of the meth-odological premises of the  Aesthetica  are stated in the  Metaphysica ; and, on the other hand, the acknowledgment of an independent status for sensibility is one of the main claims of Kant’s critical turn, although Kant’s distance even from Baumgarten is clear on this point.   The goal of this paper is to show a few further reasons why Baumgarten marks a division between the so-called Leibnizian-Wolffian tradi-tion and the Kantian transcendental revolution, and to emphasize that these reasons are rooted in psychology as it is conceived and treated in Baumgartens’s  Metaphysica . 1  In the first part, we will focus on the srcin of the distinction between the concepts of  I ( ego )   and the soul as it is characterized in modern philosophy. This will enable us to assess how Baumgarten’s conception of subjectivity tries to fill this gap by clarifying the ambivalence that had already emerged in Wolff’s distinction between empirical and rational psychology. This will require an analysis of the concept of the soul, which is directly linked to the faculties it can be endowed with. As a result, we will see that, although Baumgarten can still be included within the Wolffian tradition be-cause of the ordo expositionis of his  Metaphysica , this work nonetheless con-tains a deeper common thread that endows the system with a consistence we cannot find in its “schulphilosophische” predecessors. Finally, we will try to demonstrate the effectiveness of Baumgarten’s srcinal approach by underlining his contribution to the solution of some thorny problems Kant faced in key moments of the foundation of criticism. 1  Paragraph 1 and the first part of paragraph 2 of this essay are fundamentally a reformulation of a previous work of mine (cf. Lorini 2014).   From Hamann to Kierkegaard 23 1. Between the  I   and the soul In modern tradition,   Locke is considered the first to establish a sharp dis-tinction between the soul as substance ( res cogitans ) and the person as con-sciousness ( ego cogitans ), and by doing so he proposes a possible solution to a difficult ambiguity of the Cartesian perspective. 2  Locke raises an apparently opposite difficulty at the same time, since he seems to leave no alternative for finding a link between these two terms. Even Leibniz, whose monadological theory is not compatible with this scission, seems to endorse Locke’s perspective by admitting the basic dif-ference between the  I   and the soul. He obviously maintains the continuity between simple monad , soul-monad  and  I  , but in the  Nouveaux Essais  – where he notoriously addresses Locke’s positions – he states that the inherence and permanence of perceptions within the substance allow for determin-ing the continuity of personal identity also through the continuity of the consciousness. This continuity, moreover, is not necessary for Leibniz to produce personal identity, in the same way as its discontinuity is not enough to destroy it. 3 In modern scholarship, É. Balibar has questioned the difference between Locke and Leibniz on this point from a different perspective. He rejects Cassirer’s opposition of the Leibnizian-Wolffian conception of the soul as vis activa  to the Lockean one, which characterizes the soul as a simple passive faculty. 4  In Balibar’s opinion, Locke’s concept of consciousness represents the real foundation of rational psychology, which Wolff would have relegated to the empirical rank in order to leave space for his own rational psychology. This is clearly a bold statement because there are several Lockean passages that enable the traditional interpretation. At the same time, Cassirer’s posi-tion surely needs to be questioned, but through a different strategy – name-ly, by noting that Wolff does not univocally define the soul as a vis activa . 5   2 Locke 1975: 337–341 (book II, chapter XXVII, §§ 13–17). 3  Leibniz,  Nouveaux Essais sur l’entendement humain ,  PS  5: 220 (book II, chap. XXVII, § 9).  About this reconstruction, cf. Perini 2005: 219–220. 4  Locke 1998: 76. For the passage addressed by Balibar, cf. Cassirer 1998: 160–161. 5 Cf. Casula 1979: 562–563. Casula underlines that in the Deutsche Metaphysik  (hereafter DM  ),  Wolff defined the substance as that which has in itself the source of its mutations (§ 114), and added that this source is called force [  Kraft ] (§ 115); in the Ontologia, he claims the substance   Experimentation and Dissidence 24  When we consider Wolff’s extensive treatment of this topic, we face a tension between the soul conceived as a passive faculty, and consciousness as the foundation of personal identity – namely, of the  I  . Thus even if Wolff does not systematically pose this distinction, it seems to be consistent with  Wolff’s treatment, since in the  Psychologia rationalis  he defines vires as the capabilities of the soul to express itself “in continuo agendi conatu”, and  facultates as the passive expressions of the soul. 6  This reveals Wolff to be in Locke’s debt, insofar as Wolff distances himself from Leibniz while still keeping his terminology. A good example is provided in Wolff’s admission of some perceptions that are immediately endowed with consciousness, 7  even if the Leibnizian distinction between perception and apperception is still endorsed. 8  Furthermore, in the  Psychologia rationalis  the concept of  person , and of the  I as person, depends upon the continuity of consciousness and memory, 9  something Leibniz rejects in the  New Essays . Yet Wolff did not know the  New Essays , since they were published only in 1765, which was thirty-three years after his  Psychologia empirica and thirty-one years after his  Psychologia rationalis (and, by the way, also eleven years after Wolff’s death). Regardless, this attests to the fact that Wolff’s proximity to Locke is inde-pendent from any polemical aim against Leibniz (as his definition of  person within the DM   and the  PR  aptly attests to this). 10 Thus, on the one hand, Wolff tries to keep himself in the Leibnizian track by settling an unsolvable reciprocal implication between empirical percep-tion and rational apperception, which – as we will see – will raise an argu-mentative circularity. On the other hand, in keeping with his logic of the facul-ties , Wolff is aware of the different steps that characterize the elaboration of sensible data and therefore seems unable to provide that unitary image of the to be “subjectum, cui insunt essentialia et attributa eadem, dum modi successive variant” (§ 770). This subjectum  can be associated with the Aristotelian definition of “ens, quod per se subsistit et sustinet accidentia” (§ 771). 6  C. Wolff,  Psychologia rationalis (hereafter  PR ),   § 54. 7  C. Wolff,  Psychologia empirica (hereafter  PE ),   e.g. § 436;  PR , §§ 10–13. In addition, the pri-macy of consciousness is clearly stated since the beginning of the DM  , cf. § 1. 8  C. Wolff,  PE , e.g. §§ 24, 48, 52;  PR , §§ 26–27. On this point cf. Poggi 2007: 74–77. 9  C. Wolff,  PR , § 743. 10  Cf. Wolff’s definition of  person within the DM  , § 924 and  PR , § 743. Cf. Poggi 2007: 92.   From Hamann to Kierkegaard 25 psychological subject, which is nonetheless still required by formal logic. 11  In this sense, Wolff shares the difficulty that Locke denounces in the  Essay : how is it possible to psychologically interpret the sense of the identity/continuity of self-consciousness without deriving its content from a sort of “substantial support”? 12  Obviously Locke and Wolff reach almost the same problem, but through different paths. Locke focuses on the analysis of the cognitive faculties of the subject, and in this sense he holds a perspective that would be defined today as exclusively epistemological. Instead, Wolff con-siders psychology in the wider context of the so-called  Metaphysica specialis .  As a result, he interprets the object of psychology as a  particular [ specialis ] de-termination of that being, whose most general and undifferentiated expres-sion is investigated by the so-called  Metaphysica generalis  – namely, ontology. The problem of individuating a determined object for psychology is strictly linked with, and to a certain extent coincides with, the division of psychology into empirical psychology and rational psychology. The dif-ferent perspectives from which these two branches investigate this object should not weaken the clearness and definiteness of it. The main obstacles to the possibility of univocally defining the object of psychology arise from the need to clarify its status with respect to sensibility. This object is indeed constitutively ambivalent: on the one hand, it is the object of self-conscious-ness within introspective self-analysis; on the other hand, it is simply an object among others in the world. This latter element points to the need for a clear definition of the value attributed to the knowledge gained on the sensible level. It is at this stage that Baumgarten emerges as the promoter of a cru-cial turnaround. 2. Baumgarten’s “discovery” of sensibility The autonomy of the sensible dimension, from which aesthetics arises as a discipline in its own right, rests upon an implicit but unavoidable methodo-logical assumption of a unitary conception of the finite subject. 13  This allows 11  About this point Pozzo disagrees with Kuehn’s underestimation of Wolff’s actual psycho-logical perspective in the treatment of logic, cf. Pozzo 2007:   51 and   Kuehn 1997: here 230. 12  Locke 1975: 340–341 (book II, chapter XXVII, § 16). Cf. also Perini 2005: 220. 13  Cf. Kaehler 2008: 123–124.
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