Kant's Better-than-Terrible Argument in the Anticipations of Perception

Kantian Review (forthcoming)
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Scholars working on Kant’s Anticipations of Perception generally attribute to Kant an argument that invalidly infers that objects have degrees of intensive magnitude from the purported fact that sensations do. I argue that this rests on an incorrect disambiguation of Kant’s use of Empfindung (sensation) as referring to the mental states that are our sensings, rather than the objects that are thereby sensed. Kant’s real argument runs as follows. There is a difference between a representation of an empty region of space and/or time and a representation of that same region as occupied by an object. Both have the same extensive magnitude. Thus, in addition to their extensive magnitude, objects must be represented as having a qualitative matter. This implies the possibility of varying an object’s (intensive) magnitude independently of variations in its extensive magnitude. Since it is the presence of sensation in a cognition that marks the difference between representing only the spatiotemporal form (extensive magnitude) of the object and representing the object as a whole, it is sensation that represents its intensive magnitude.
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Archival date: 2019-04-29
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