THE PRIORITY OF JUDGING: KANT ON WOLFF’S GENERAL LOGIC
One would be forgiven for suspecting that Kant did not think much of Christian Wolff’s contributions to logic. Wolff’s works on logic are, of course, implicated in Kant’s far-ranging verdict that the discipline has not taken a single step forward since Aristotle’s time, and Wolff in particular frequently comes up for criticism in Kant’s own lectures on the topic. In the Wiener Logik, for example, Kant is reported as referring to Wolff’s claim that the content of a concept can be completely analysed as “too dictatorial” and that as a result Wolff’s attempts to ground his philosophy on the precise definitions of concepts is “entirely false” (V-Lo/Wiener, AA 24: 917). Given this, it is to say the least surprising that (from the late 1770’s onwards1) Kant should regularly single out Wolff’s general logic in those lectures as “the best one has” (V-Lo/ Pölitz, AA 24: 509), “the best that one encounters” (V-Lo/Wiener, AA 24:796), or even simply “the best” (V-Lo/Busolt, AA 24: 613; cf. also Log 9: 20).2 Nor would this seem to be a sort of backhanded compliment, praising Wolff’s as only the best of a bad lot of modern general logics, since this high estimation is echoed by some of Kant’s closest disciples: so, we find unadulterated praise in L. H. Jakob’s preface to his Grundriß der allgemeinen Logik, where it is claimed “Wolff grasped the idea of a general logic exceedingly well,”3 a passage that is also approvingly quoted in Jäsche’s introduction to his edition of Kant’s Logik.
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