Volume 50, Issue 2, Summer 2020
Juan Felipe Guevara-Aristizabal
Experimenting on the Margins of Philosophy
Kant, Copernicus and the Unsettled Analogy
Kant’s Copernican turn has been the subject of intense philosophical debate because of the central role it plays in his transcendental philosophy. The analogy that Kant depicts between his own proposal and Copernicus’s has received many and varied interpretations that focus either on Copernicus’s heliocentrism and scientific procedure or on the experimental character of Kant’s endeavor. In this paper, I gather and review some of these interpretations, especially those that have appeared since the beginning of the twentieth century, to show the many disparate and often contradictory stances that the Copernican turn has elicited. Despite the controversies between the different interpretations, they all are follow ups and reinventions of the single philosophical event named the Copernican turn. This common origin allows me to advance a narrative that portrays that event as an experiment, following Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s philosophy of experimentation. My position does not entail that an experiment such as Kant’s conforms to what a scientific experiment is, although their histories could be narrated using a similar conceptual framework. In the end, my argument advances an experimental reading of the history of philosophy.