CHAPTER II
THE SENSIBILITY AND THE UNDERSTANDING

THE distinction between the sensibility and the understanding1 is to Kant fundamental both in itself and in relation to the conclusions which he reaches. An outline, therefore, of this distinction must precede any statement or examination of the details of his position. Unfortunately, in spite of its fundamental character, Kant never thinks of questioning or criticizing the distinction in the form in which he draws it, and the presence of certain confusions often renders it difficult to be sure of his meaning.

The distinction may be stated in his own words thus: "There are two stems of human knowledge, which perhaps spring from a common but to us unknown root, namely sensibility and understanding."2 Our knowledge springs from two fundamental sources of the mind; the first receives representations3 (receptivity for impressions); the second is the power of knowing an object by means of these representations (spontaneity of conceptions). Through the first an object is given to us; through the second the object is thought in relation to the representation (which is a mere determination of the mind). Perception and conceptions constitute, therefore, the elements of all our knowledge, so that neither conceptions without a perception in some way corresponding to them, nor

____________________
Cf. B. 1, 29, 33, 74-5, 75, 92-4; M. 1, 18, 21, 45-46, 57.
B. 29, M. 18
3
For the sake of uniformity Vorstellung has throughout been tnanslated by 'representation', though sometimes, as in the present passage, it would be better rendered by 'presentation'.

-27-

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