Never Mind the Intuitive Intellect: Applying Kant’s Categories to Noumena

Kantian Review 23 (1):27-40 (2018)
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According to strong metaphysical readings of Kant, Kant believes there are noumenal substances and causes. Proponents of these readings have shown that these readings can be reconciled with Kant’s claims about the limitations of human cognition. An important new challenge to such readings, however, has been proposed by Markus Kohl, focusing on Kant’s occasional statements about the divine or intuitive intellect. According to Kohl, how an intuitive intellect represents is a decisive measure for how noumena are for Kant, but an intuitive intellect would not represent using metaphysical categories like those of substance and causation. I argue that Kohl’s argument does not succeed, since it overlooks the possibility that the intuitive intellect only indirectly represents certain noumenal facts. In addition, in response to a secondary argument Kohl suggests, I argue that Kant’s apparently anti-metaphysical statements about the content of the categories can be read as merely describing the constitution of the categories, instead of what they represent. Thus, while Kohl advances the debate by raising an under-appreciated question, his argument against the strong metaphysical reading is unsound.
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