Sensations as Representations in Kant

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (3):492-513 (2014)
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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

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Tim Jankowiak
Towson University


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