Kant's Theory of Knowledge: An Outline of One Central Argument in the Critique of Pure Reason

By Graham Bird | Go to book overview

4
SENSIBILITY AND UNDERSTANDING

'It is therefore just as necessary to make our concepts sensible, that is, to add the object to them in intuition, as to make our intuitions intelligible, that is, to bring them under concepts' (B 75).

THE distinction between sensibility and understanding is of an importance out of all proportion to the minute amount of space Kant formally devotes to it in the Critique (cf. B 29). It is, of all Kant's basic contrasts, between empirical and transcendental, synthetic and analytic, or a posteriori and a priori, the least carefully explained. Yet if the distinction made no evident sense, the central positive problem of the Analytic would be unintelligible. For this problem can be represented as arising out of the view that sensibility and understanding, although distinct faculties, produce knowledge only in partnership. Since Kant's aim is to explain certain general features of our knowledge he is directly involved in an explanation of this partnership. It is in the passages where Kant expresses his aim in the quasi-mechanical terms of a connecting link between the two faculties that his procedure and task seem philosophically most unclear. It is, even within psychology, difficult to give a sense to the claim that the two faculties are connected by imagination, as though the latter faculty worked like a clutch mechanism (cf. Ch. 1, pp. 9-11). Some philosophers (e.g. Prichard, op. cit., Ch. X; Warnock: Analysis, Vol. 9, pp. 77-82) have argued that Kant's problem expressed in this way (in the Schematism, for example) is not a genuine problem. Yet there are other clearer ways of understanding the distinction and the problem based on it.

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Kant's Theory of Knowledge: An Outline of One Central Argument in the Critique of Pure Reason
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • I - Phenomena And Phenomenalism 1
  • 2 - Noumena And Noumenalism 18
  • 3 - Transcendental And Empirical 36
  • 4 - Sensibility And Understanding 52
  • 5 - Intelligible Objects 65
  • 6 - The Transcendental Analytic 82
  • 7 - Categories And Judgments 91
  • (i) Introduction 110
  • 9 - The Transcendental Deduction (continued) 126
  • 10 - The First and Second Analogies 149
  • II - Personality 168
  • 12 - The Transition To Moral Philosophy 189
  • List of Books 205
  • Index 207
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