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Observations sur quelques dimensions du monde intellectual.


(Berlin, Haude et Spencer, 1770). 4to. No wrappers, as issued in "Memoires de l'Academie Royale des Sciences et Belles Lettres", tome XIX. Pp. 421-438. Very nice and clean. ¶ The rare first printing of one of the few of Lambert's philosophical works that appeared within his life-time. This is one of the three philosophical papers that he published in "Nova acta Eruditorum", which are of varying philosophical content.

The present work played a significant role in the rediscovery within philosophy of the concept of the "sublime", the foundational concept which was so famously treated by Kant in his third Critique (of Judgment). Neither the idea of the beautiful nor of the sublime was novel in the 18th century, as the distinction between the two had already been made in ancient philosophy. However, for several centuries, aesthetics had been dominated by the question of the beautiful, and it was only around Kant's and Lambert's time that the sublime had become a topic of interest again - this time primarily as the sublime in nature. When Lambert thus discusses the sublime in the present article, it is probable that his conception of it can have influenced Kant and his exposition in the "Critique of Judgment", which appeared a couple of decades later.

"Kant himself recognized Lambert as a philosopher of the highest qualities; and he expected much from his critical attitude. He had drafted a dedication of the "Critique of Pure Reason" to Lambert, but Lambert's untimely death prevented its inclusion.
Lambert's place in the history of philosophy, however, should not be seen only in its relation to Kant. The genesis of his philosophical ideas dates from a time when Kant's major works had yet to be conceived. It was the philosophical doctrines of Leibniz, Christian Wolff, and Locke that exerted the more important influence - insofar as one can speak of influence with a self-taught and wayward man such as Lambert... The two main aspects of Lambert's philosophy, the analytic and the constructive were both strongly shaped by mathematical notions; hence logic played an important part in his philosophical writing. Following Leibnitz' ideas, Lambert early tried to create and "ars characteristic conbinatoria", or a logical or conceptual calculus. He investigated the conditions to which scientific knowledge must be subjected if it is to enjoy the same degree of exactness and evidence as mathematical knowledge..." (D.S.B. VII:597).

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