The Systematic Unity of Reason and Empirical Truth in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason

Kant Studien 114 (3):435-462 (2023)
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Abstract

This paper attempts a reconstruction of reason’s contribution to empirical truth in connection with Kant’s definition of truth as the agreement of cognition with its object. I argue that Kant’s treatment of truth in the Transcendental Analytic gets completed in the Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic with an often neglected but compelling argument (what I shall call the Variety Argument). This argument postulates such a variety in the appearances as to undermine any attempt at formulating empirical truths. Crucially, I argue that this variety does not depict an extreme-case scenario, but our own epistemic situation without reason. Reason completes Kant’s theory of truth by allowing the understanding (i.) to form empirical concepts and (ii.) approximate to empirical truth.

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Lorenzo Spagnesi
Universität Trier

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