Space as Form of Intuition and as Formal Intuition: On the Note to B160 in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason

Philosophical Review 124 (1):1-58 (2015)
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In his argument for the possibility of knowledge of spatial objects, in the Transcendental Deduction of the B-version of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant makes a crucial distinction between space as “form of intuition” and space as “formal intuition.” The traditional interpretation regards the distinction between the two notions as reflecting a distinction between indeterminate space and determinations of space by the understanding, respectively. By contrast, a recent influential reading has argued that the two notions can be fused into one and that space as such is first generated by the understanding through an act of synthesis of the imagination. Against this reading, this article argues that a key characteristic of space as a form of intuition is its nonconceptual unity, which defines the properties of space and is as such necessarily independent of determination by the understanding through the transcendental synthesis of the imagination. The conceptual unity that the understanding prescribes to the manifold in intuition, by means of the categories, defines the formal intuition. Furthermore, this article argues that it is the sui generis, nonconceptual unity of space, when takenas a unity for the understanding by means of conceptual determination, that first enables geometric knowledge and knowledge of spatially located particulars.

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Author Profiles

Dennis Schulting
University of Warwick (PhD)
Chris Onof
Imperial College London

Citations of this work

A system of rational faculties: Additive or transformative?Karl Schafer - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 29 (4):918-936.
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Kant on the original synthesis of understanding and sensibility.Jessica J. Williams - 2018 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26 (1):66-86.
Kant’s Mereological Account of Greater and Lesser Actual Infinities.Daniel Smyth - 2023 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 105 (2):315-348.

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