Kant on Plants: Self-Activity, Representations, and the Analogy with Life

Philosophers' Imprint 21 (11) (2021)
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Do plants represent according to Kant? This is closely connected to the question of whether he held plants are alive, because he explains life in terms of the faculty to act on one’s own representations. He also explains life as having an immaterial principle of self-motion, and as a body’s interaction with a supersensible soul. I argue that because of the way plants move themselves, Kant is committed to their being alive, to their having a supersensible ground of their self-activity, and to their having desires (although these are not conscious). This has important ramifications for Kant’s teleology and philosophy of mind.

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Tyke Nunez
University of South Carolina


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