Kant, Husserl, and the Case for Non-conceptual Content

In Faustino Fabbianelli & Sebastian Luft (eds.), Husserl and Classical German Philosophy. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer (2014)
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In recent debates about the nature of non-conceptual content, the Kantian account of intuition in the first Critique has been seen as a sort of founding doctrine for both conceptualist and non-conceptualist positions. In this paper, I begin by examining recent representative versions of the Kantian conceptualist (John McDowell) and Kantian non-conceptualist (Robert Hanna) positions, and suggest that the way the debate is commonly construed by those on both sides misses a much broader and more important conception of non-conceptual content, one for which resources can be found in Husserl’s later thought. Husserl’s account of the object as “transcendental clue” [Transzendentaler Leitfaden] in the context of his later genetic phenomenology suggests a less reductive account of non-conceptual aspects of experience that respects central insights of Kant’s transcendental idealism but does not reduce the role of the non-conceptual to a mere formally-determined, not-yet-conceptualized “fodder.”
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