Why Kant Is a Non-Conceptualist But Is Better Regarded a Conceptualist

Kant Studies Online (1):170-201 (2014)
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ABSTRACT This paper deals with the problem of characterizing the content of experience as either conceptual or non-conceptual in Kant’s transcendenta l philosophy, a topic widely debated in contemporary philosophy. I start out with Kant’s pre -critical discussions of space and time in which he develops a specific notion of non-conceptual content. Secondly, I show that this notion of non-conceptual intuitional content does not seem to match well with the Transcendental Deduction. This incongruity results in three interrelated problems that are inherent to Kant’s Transcendental Deduction in the Critique 1 : the ‘Independency Disagreement’, the ‘Conceptualism Contradiction’ and the ‘Intuition Inconsistency’. These three problems derive from apparently contradictory claims concerning the possibility of non-conceptual content. Contemporary Kantian conceptualists and non-conceptualists tend to take a stance at either side of the dilemma rather than trying to dissolve these tensions. In response to this, I propose a new solution to these difficulties based on a distinction between two kinds of conceptualism. This will reveal why Kant is a non-conceptualist in one significant sense, but also why he is still better regarded a conceptualist.
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