“The Shape of a Four-Footed Animal in General”: Kant on Empirical Schemata and the System of Nature

Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 10 (1):1-23 (2020)
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In this paper, I argue that although Kant’s account of empirical schemata in the Critique of Pure Reason is primarily used to explain the shared content of intuitions and empirical concepts, it is also informed by methodological problems in natural history. I argue that empirical schemata, which are rules for determining the spatiotemporal form of objects, not only serve to connect individual intuitions with concepts, but also concern the very features of objects on the basis of which they were connected and ordered in taxonomic systems based on similarity of form. I then suggest that Kant likely had scientific illustrations in mind in his discussion of empirical images in the Schematism chapter and that his account of schemata can help explain the epistemic function of these images in early modern science.

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Jessica Williams
University of South Florida


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