This paper defends an interpretation of the representational function of sensation in Kant's theory of empirical cognition. Against those who argue that sensations are ?subjective representations? and hence can only represent the sensory state of the subject, I argue that Kant appeals to different notions of subjectivity, and that the subjectivity of sensations is consistent with sensations representing external, spatial objects. Against those who claim that sensations cannot be representational at all, because sensations are not cognitively sophisticated enough to possess (...) intentionality, I argue that Kant does not use the term ?Vorstellung? to refer to intentional mental states exclusively. Sensations do not possess their own intentionality, but they nevertheless perform a representational function in virtue of their role as the matter of empirical intuition. In empirical intuition, the sensory qualities given in sensation are combined with the representation of space to constitute the intuited appearance. The representational function of sensation consists in sensation being the medium out of which intuited appearances are constituted: the qualities of sensations stand in for what the understanding will judge (conceptualize) as material substance. (shrink)
Phenomenalist interpretations of Kant are out of fashion. The most common complaint from anti-phenomenalist critics is that a phenomenalist reading of Kant would collapse Kantian idealism into Berkeleyan idealism. This would be unacceptable because Berkeleyan idealism is incompatible with core elements of Kant’s empirical realism. In this paper, I argue that not all phenomenalist readings threaten empirical realism. First, I distinguish several variants of phenomenalism, and then show that Berkeley’s idealism is characterized by his commitment to most of them. I (...) then make the case that two forms of phenomenalism are consistent with Kant’s empirical realism. The comparison between Kant and Berkeley runs throughout the paper, with special emphasis on the significance of their theories of intentionality. (shrink)
In the first Critique, Kant attempts to prove what we can call the "Principle of Intensive Magnitudes," according to which every possible object of experience will possess a determinate "degree" of reality. Curiously, Kant argues for this principle by inferring from a psychological premise about internal sensations (they have intensive magnitudes) to a metaphysical thesis about external objects (they also have intensive magnitudes). Most commentators dismiss the argument as a failure. In this article I give a reconstruction of Kant's argument (...) that attempts to rehabilitate the argument back into his broader transcendental theory of experience. I argue that we can make sense of the argument's central inference by appeal to Kant's theory of empirical intuition and by an analysis of the way in which Kant thinks sensory matter constitutes our most basic representations of objects. (shrink)
According to “intentionalist” interpretations of Kant’s transcendental idealism, Kant’s empirical objects are to be understood as mere intentional objects. This interpretation requires a corresponding account of intentionality and intentional objects. This paper defends an account of how the intentionalist should understand the intentional structures at work in the sensory consciousness of physical bodies. First a relational conception of intentionality (articulated in terms of an object’s presence to consciousness) is distinguished from a non-relational conception (articulated in terms of representational content). I (...) argue that the intentionalist’s claim that Kant’s empirical objects are mere intentional objects is primarily a claim about non-relational intentionality. I then ask whether the intentionalist should also recognize a role for relational intentionality as well. After rejecting two possible answers (that there is no relational intentionality, or that there are intentional relations to things in themselves), I argue that sensory consciousness involves having spatially arrayed collections of sensations presented to consciousness in intuition, and then conceptualizing these sensation-arrays as physical objects. The obvious worry about such a phenomenalist interpretation has to do with the consistency of this interpretation with Kant’s empirical realism; these concerns are addressed in detail in the final section. (shrink)
The metaphysical “Law of Continuity of Alterations” says that whenever an object alters from one state to another, it passes through a continuum of intermediate states. Kant treated LCA as a transcendental law of understanding. The primary purpose of the paper is to reconstruct and evaluate Kant’s three arguments for LCA. All three are found to be inadequate. However, a secondary goal of the paper is to show that LCA would have more naturally been construed as a regulative principle of (...) reason. I conclude with some remarks about how this could work. (shrink)
This chapter describes Immanuel Kant's conception of anthropology and the most basic distinctions he draws when invoking faculties throughout the anthropology transcripts. It explains Kant's account of the objective senses (hearing, sight, and touch), and shows that the sensory material provided by these senses are empirical conditions of experience that supplement the a priori conditions articulated in the Critique of Pure Reason. The chapter also describes some of the central details of Kant's account of the imagination, focusing on his distinction (...) between wit and the power of judgment and on the law of association he endorses. It outlines Kant's account of both the deficiencies of the mind and the perfection of cognition. By showing how the transcendental faculties are manifested at the level of actual, concrete experience, the anthropology transcripts can help to illuminate Kant's understanding of the operations and functions of the human mind. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant Towards the end of his most influential work, Critique of Pure Reason(1781/1787), Kant argues that all philosophy ultimately aims at answering these three questions: “What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope?” The book appeared at the beginning of the most productive period of his career, and by the […].