Twenty-first-century philosophy has been drawn into a false opposition between speculation and critique. Nathan Brown shows that the key to overcoming this antinomy is a re-engagement with the relation between rationalism and empiricism. If Kant's transcendental philosophy attempted to displace the opposing priorities of those orientations, any speculative critique of Kant will have to re-open and consider anew the conflict and complementarity of reason and experience. Rationalist Empiricism shows that the capacity of reason and experience to extend and yet delimit each other has always been at the core of philosophy and science. Coordinating their discrepant powers, Brown argues, is what enables speculation to move forward in concert with critique.
Sweeping across ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophy, as well as political theory, science, and art, Brown engages with such major thinkers as Plato, Descartes, Hume, Hegel, Marx, Heidegger, Bachelard, Althusser, Badiou, and Meillassoux. He also shows how the concepts he develops illuminate recent projects in the science of measurement and experimental digital photography. With conceptual originality and argumentative precision, Rationalist Empiricism reconfigures the history and the future of philosophy, politics, and aesthetics.
Introduction: The Philosophical Conjuncture
Chapter 1. Absent Blue Wax: On the Mingling of Methodological Exceptions
Chapter 2. Althusser’s Dream: The Materialist Dialectic of Rationalist Empiricism
Chapter 3. Hegel’s Cogito: On the Genetic Epistemology of Critical Metaphysics
Chapter 4. Hegel’s Apprentice: From Speculative Idealism to Speculative Materialism
Chapter 5. Hegel’s Kilogram: Taking the Measure of Metrical Units
Chapter 6. The Technics of Prehension: On the Photography of Nicolas Baier
Chapter 7. Where’s Number Four? The Place of Structure in Plato’s Timaeus
Chapter 8. Badiou after Meillassoux: The Politics of the Problem of Induction
Chapter 9. The Criterion of Immanence and the Transformation of Structural Causality: From Althusser to Théorie Communiste
Chapter 10. The Analytic of Separation: History and Concept in Marx
Conclusion: The True, the Good, the Beautiful