Kant's Schematism of the categories: An interpretation and defence

European Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):30-64 (2022)
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Abstract

The aim of the Schematism chapter of the Critique of Pure Reason is to solve the problem posed by the “inhomogeneity” of intuitions and categories: the sensible properties of objects represented in intuition are of a different kind than the properties represented by categories. Kant's solution is to introduce what he calls “transcendental schemata,” which mediate the subsumption of objects under categories. I reconstruct Kant's solution in terms of two substantive premises, which I call Subsumption Sufficiency (i.e., that subsuming an object under a transcendental schema is sufficient to subsume it under the corresponding category) and Real Possibility (i.e., that it is really possible to subsume objects under each of the transcendental schemata). These two principles, together with a trivial modal one (the Subsumption-Possibility Link), entail that it is possible to subsume objects under categories; in other words, the argument of the Schematism is valid. The main work of the paper consists in reconstructing Kant's arguments for, and explanations of, these premises. I argue that they hinge on Kant's claim that transcendental schemata are “time-determinations,” which I interpret to mean: rules for reflexively representing the temporal relations among our own representational states. On the basis of this reading, I reconstruct Kant's argument for Subsumption Sufficiency, category by category. I also explain why Real Possibility follows almost immediately. Granting Kant the argument up to this point in the Critique, the argument of the Schematism is sound.

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Nicholas Stang
University of Toronto, St. George

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