Kant on the spontaneous power of the mind

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (3):565-588 (2017)
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It is well known that at the heart of Kant’s Critical philosophy is the claim that the mind possesses an essentially spontaneous power or capacity. It is also sometimes maintained that Kant’s appeals to this spontaneous power are intimately tied to his recognition of there being a fundamental and irreducible normative dimension to judgement. However, I attempt to complicate this picture by way of appeal to some less appreciated influences upon the development of Kant’s epistemology. A different conception of the role of spontaneity in judgement has clear precedents, I claim, in the works of Cudworth and Rousseau. There the imagined role for the active power of the mind is not to identify criteria that might serve as norms for epistemically responsible judgement. Rather the spontaneous power of the mind is cited as the source of representational contents that secure the truth conditions of our everyday claims to empirical knowledge.



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John J. Callanan
King's College London

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References found in this work

Mind and World.Huw Price & John McDowell - 1994 - Philosophical Books 38 (3):169-181.
The Sources of Normativity.Christine Korsgaard - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (196):384-394.
Mind and World.John Mcdowell - 1994 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 58 (2):389-394.
The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.P. F. Strawson - 1966 - New York: Harper & Row, Barnes & Noble Import Division.

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