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Title: Kant's Theory of Intuition: On Singularity and Unity
Authors: Villinger, Rahel
Advisors: Hogan, Desmond
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Subjects: Philosophy
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The dissertation defends an interpretation of Kant's critical philosophy on which singular and immediate representation of objects is independent of the kind of unity that is the characteristic contribution and function of discursive human understanding. It includes sustained critique of a widely accepted reading according to which Kant holds that the singularity of space and time, as the forms of reception and individuation of human sensible representation, is itself an achievement of understanding qua spontaneous capacity of cognition. The argument draws on a neglected critical doctrine according to which the attribution of perception and imagination to non-rational animals and not-yet-rational children cannot be excluded a priori. Kant embraces a view on which empirical intuitions and their associative-imaginative reproductions are indeterminate and not distinguished from their objects prior to the application of understanding. Further considerations establish that space and time, as singular forms of all human sensible intuitions, could not in principle depend on discursive understanding in Kant's sense. The critical epistemology entails that humans sensibly represent an actual infinity of continuous filled space and time on the occasion of affection; further, that a discursive understanding cannot represent such infinity. It follows that the discursive, i.e. successively operating understanding Kant attributes to human beings cannot in principle determinately represent, at each moment of self-conscious perception, the singularity and continuity of spaces given in receptive intuition. An inherent limit of conceptual representation in Kant's sense, one certainly absent from later logics allowing the representation of infinitary structures, thus constrains his account of the relation of sensibility and understanding. It is further argued that interpretations on which the singular form of spatiotemporal intuition depends constitutively upon understanding cannot explain the unity of human spontaneity itself as an irreducibly discursive (non-intuitive) self-consciousness. Finally, the dissertation offers a reading of the project of a Transcendental Deduction of the Categories as defensible on the assumption that intuition of objects is entirely independent of discursive understanding. The only possible role of such an understanding in cognition according to the tenets of critical philosophy is the combination of several intuitions in accordance with laws of unity.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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