nLab Salomon Maimon



Was Maimon anbelangt, sage ich Ihnen, was ich denke. Meine Verehrung für das Talent dieses Mannes ist grenzenlos; und ich glaube fest, daß durch ihn sogar die Kantische Kritik, so wie sie durchgängig und auch von Ihnen verstanden worden, völlig umgestoßen wird. Das alles hat er getan, ohne daß es jemand merkte. Die zukünftigen Jahrhunderte werden, glaub ich, unsres Zeitalters spotten. Fichte Briefentwurf an Reinhold März/April 1795

Salomon Maimon (1754?-1800) was a Polish-Lithuanian philosopher of Jewish origin. His father being a rabbi, Maimon was trained as a talmud scholar but his study of Spinoza and intellectual curiosity led him eventually to travel to Berlin then a center of Jewish enlightenment headed by the rationalist philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. There he developed a “neo-leibnizian” philosophy in constant dialogue with Kant’s transcendental philosophy that anticipated ideas evolving into the systems of German idealism e.g. he defined philosophy as the science of the form of science which parallels Fichte’s concept of Wissenschaftslehre and foreshadows Hegel’s absolute idea; he claimed that antinomies of reason are more ubiquituous than just the paralogisms listed in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and produced the first broadly neo-aristotelian logic in the context of transcendental philosophy, two things that presumably weren’t lost on Hegel though the latter doesn’t refer directly to Maimon in his writings.

Maimon’s acquaintance with mathematics (as well as with Leibniz’ philosophy) led him to two other highly original and modern proposals: on the hand, he stressed the role of infinitesimals in philosophical epistemology, an idea that was rediscovered by Hermann Cohen in the context of neo-Kantianism eighty years later; on the other hand, he held a relational view of numbers thereby becoming likely the first explicit advocate of structuralism in the philosophy of mathematics!

Maimon’s lively account of his time and life (up to 1790) was edited by the German poet Karl Philipp Moritz and is a classical document of Jewish life and the epoch of enlightenment.


  • Zwi Batscha (ed.), Salomon Maimons Lebensgeschichte von ihm selbst erzählt und herausgegeben von Karl Philipp Moritz , Jüdischer Verlag Frankfurt am Main 1995[1792].

  • Meir Buzaglo, Solomon Maimon - Monism, Skepticism, And Mathematics , University of Pittsburgh Press 2002.

  • Friedrich Kuntze, Salomon Maimons theoretische Philosophie und ihr Ort in einem System des Kritizismus , Logos 3 (1912) pp.285-308. (digiZeit pdf)

  • Salomon Maimon, Versuch über die Transzendentalphilosophie , Meiner Hamburg 2004[1790].

  • Salomon Maimon, Versuch einer neuen Logik oder Theorie des Denkens , Felisch Berlin 1794.

category: people

Created on March 2, 2020 at 10:29:50. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.