G. Anthony Bruno

Email: g.anthonybruno [at] gmail.com
Personal website: ganthonybruno.weebly.com
Academia website: mcgill.academia.edu/GAnthonyBruno
Office: TBD

I am a SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University (2016-18). Prior to this, I was a Faculty Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto Scarborough (2015-16), where I taught continental philosophy, early modern philosophy, existentialism and biomedical ethics. Before that, I was an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bonn (2013-15). I completed my PhD in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto in November 2013 under the supervision of Paul Franks. My research focuses on Kant and post-Kantian philosophy. I am particularly interested in: transcendental arguments and transcendental idealism; the relation between human freedom and systematic conceptions of nature; skepticism about justification and normativity; finitude and mortality; and nihilism and the contingency of value.

My SSHRC research project is a book-length study entitled “Facticity and the Fate of Reason”. It begins with a question concerning Kant’s critical turn. What is the relation between the restriction of reason to the bounds of experience and the fact that the conditions of experience, while necessary according to the peculiar constraints of transcendental logic, are contingent according to the weaker constraints of general logic? How does Kant’s diagnosis of the misuses of reason relate to his admission that the conditions of experience are radically contingent features of the human standpoint, brute facts with no further ground in an absolute principle of reason? What, in other words, is the connection between a critique of reason and what we might call our facticity?

I will answer this question by offering (1) an analysis of Kant’s conception of the radical contingency of what I call the anthropic necessity of the conditions of experience and (2) an inquiry into this conception’s impact on two major developments in post-Kantian philosophy. The first is Fichte and Hegel’s German idealist project of removing radical contingency from critical philosophy through a systematic derivation of the conditions of experience from reason, that is, by eliminating their externality to the power of reason. Here, I will account for Schelling’s role as an internal critic of German idealism, focusing on his detection of the contingency of reason’s inescapable presuppositions. The second is Heidegger’s phenomenological project of returning radical contingency to the core of critical philosophy in the form of the facticity or thrownness of Dasein’s existence, as exemplified by its historical situation, social entanglement, and constraint by unchosen norms. Here, I will address contemporary concerns about the compatibility of facticity with human freedom. Tracing the arc that leads from and partially returns to Kant will serve to clarify the nature of the critical turn as well as the systematic ambitions and existential restrictions it engenders over the course of 19th and 20th-century philosophy.

My work on Kant and post-Kantian philosophy appears in journal articles in Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review, Idealistic Studies, Comparative and Continental Philosophy, Northern European Journal of Philosophy, and Analecta Hermeneutica, and in book chapters in Rethinking Kant Vol. 4 and Continental Realism and its Discontents. I am currently editing two collections of essays in which my own research will also appear: one on the philosophy of F.W.J. Schelling for Oxford University Press, and one on historical and contemporary inquiries into skepticism for Routledge.