Kant on the Pure Forms of Sensibility

In Andrew Stephenson & Anil Gomes (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Kant. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Our aim in this chapter is to shed light on Kant’s account of the pure forms of sensibility by focusing on a somewhat neglected issue: Kant’s restriction of his claims about space and time to the case of human sensibility. Kant argues that space and time are the pure forms of sensibility for human cognizers. But he also says that we cannot know whether space and time are likewise the pure forms of sensibility for all discursive cognizers. A great deal of attention has focused on the first of these claims, both on how Kant argues for it and how it relates to transcendental idealism. But a satisfactory interpretation must also account for the second claim, and it must account for the fact that Kant endorses both of them. What we need is an explanation of why Kant thinks our knowledge that space and time are the pure forms of sensibility extends to all human beings but no further.

Author Profiles

Andrew Stephenson
University of Southampton
Anil Gomes
University of Oxford


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