Cassirer and Kant on the Unity of Space and the Role of Imagination

Kant Yearbook 12 (1):115-135 (2020)
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The focus of this paper is Cassirer’s Neo-Kantian reading of Kant’s conception of unity of space. Cassirer’s neo-Kantian reading is largely in conformity with the mainstream of intellectualist Kant-scholars, which is unsurprising, given his own intellectualist view of space and perception and his rejection of the existence of a ‘merely sensory consciousness’ as a ‘formless mass of impression’. I argue against Cassirer’s reading by relying on a Kantian distinction first recognized by Heinrich Rickert, a neo-Kantian from the Southwest school, between Kenntnis (roughly knowledge by acquaintance) and Erkenntnis (roughly propositional knowledge). Correspondingly, I claim that concepts and categories are conditions for Erkenntnis of objects as such, namely for thinking of and apprehending the pre-existing unity as an object, rather than for the ‘constitution’ of this very unity.

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Roberto Horácio De Pereira
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro


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