Kant on Relational Properties and Real Changes


In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant often remarks that phenomena consist only in relations. This is a highly puzzling thesis that is not easily reconcilable with the explanation of natural processes. More specifically, it is not clear whether and how a network of mere relations (such as ‘being higher than’, ‘being next to’, etc.) can give rise to genuine changes in nature. I call this the problem of global relationality. In this paper, I suggest a solution to this problem by showing that Kant’s specific sense of relationality is ultimately grounded in the spatiality of phenomena and differs from the one usually assumed in the contemporary debate. I argue that a subset of empirical properties can be regarded as ‘comparatively intrinsic’ since they preserve a genuine sense of intrinsicness while being fully relational in space. As a result, real changes can take place in the phenomenal realm if they concern comparatively intrinsic properties of empirical objects.

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Lorenzo Spagnesi
Universität Trier


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