A Critique of the Kantian View of Geometry

A survey of Kant's views on space, time, geometry and the synthetic nature of mathematics. I concentrate mostly on geometry, but comment briefly on the syntheticity of logic and arithmetic as well. I believe the view of many that Kant's system denied the possibility of non-Euclidean geometries is clearly mistaken, as Kant himself used a non-Euclidean geometry (spherical geometry, used in his day for navigational purposes) in order to explain his idea, which amounts to an anticipation of the later discovery of the general concept of non- Euclidean geometries. Kant's view of geometry and arithmetic as synthetic was, I believe, essentially correct, in that geometry and arithmetic are both synthetic a priori if considered as branches of mathematics independent of the rest of mathematics. However, the view that somehow logic is analytic, while mathematics is synthetic for Kantian reasons, is mistaken. All three disciplines—logic, arithmetic and geometry—are synthetic as disciplines independent from one another. However, they have a common basis, recursion theory, which I prefer to identify with mathematics as a whole. As a result, I do not say, as is often considered to be the Kantian view, that mathematics is synthetic while logic is analytic. Rather, I prefer to say that mathematics is analytic, while logic is synthetic. This is perfectly consistent with Kant's system, since it was arithmetic and geometry individually that he argued were synthetic. What Kant called the analytic is recursion theory, which could be considered as a basic formulation of mathematics or logic—or better, both mathematics and logic could be recognized as essentially the same discipline. However, if "logic" is taken to mean "predicate logic", as is often the case in modern times, then it is mathematics that is closer to Kant's analytic, not logic. Such ambiguities, of course, can be avoided by simply associating Kant's analytic with recursion theory, and avoiding the controversies as to what counts as mathematics or logic..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 22,660
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Kristina Engelhard & Peter Mittelstaedt (2008). Kant's Theory of Arithmetic: A Constructive Approach? [REVIEW] Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 39 (2):245 - 271.
Yuval Steinitz (1994). Russell's Reductionism Revisited. Grazer Philosophische Studien 48:117-122.
Jeremy Heis (2011). Ernst Cassirer's Neo-Kantian Philosophy of Geometry. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (4):759 - 794.
Carol A. Van Kirk (1986). Synthesis, Sensibility, and Kant's Philosophy of Mathematics. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:135 - 144.
Lisa Shabel (2004). Kant's "Argument From Geometry". Journal of the History of Philosophy 42 (2):195-215.
Seung-Kee Lee (2009). The Synthetic a Priori in Kant and German Idealism. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 91 (3):288-328.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

9 ( #393,503 of 1,938,822 )

Recent downloads (6 months)


How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.