In this article the Author introduces a historiographical thesis that is of general importance for understanding canon-formation in the history of philosophy. This is the thesis that, while historians of philosophy tend to look primarily at philosophical successes, philosophical failures, and failed syntheses in particular, can contribute just as significantly to the lasting influence of a philosopher. He illustrates this thesis by examining the reception of one of the most prominent examples of (what was originally broadly perceived as) a failed synthesis: Kant’s synthesis of empiricism and rationalism. In particular, the Author argues that this perceived failure contributed importantly to an original and diverse reception of Kant’s philosophy and thereby also to the latter’s lasting influence.
Keywords: Kant, Fichte, Fries, rationalism, empiricism, synthesis, historiography, reception.