Pure Understanding, the Categories, and Kant's Critique of Wolff

In Kate Moran (ed.), Freedom and Spontaenity in Kant. Cambridge University Press (2018)

Brian A. Chance
University of Oklahoma
The importance of the pure concepts of the understanding (i.e. the categories) within Kant’s system of philosophy is undeniable. As I hope to make clear in this essay, however, the categories are also an essential part of Kant’s critique of Christian Wolff. In particular, I argue that Kant’s development of the categories represents a decisive break with the Wolffian conception of the understanding and that this break is central to understanding the task of the Transcendental Analytic. This break, however, is not merely that Kant affirms while Wolff and his followers deny a sharp distinction between sensibility and the understanding, which is the aspect of Kant’s rejection of Wolff that scholars most frequently note. Rather, this break concerns differences in their views about the understanding itself. For while Wolff conceives of the understanding as a mental capacity to extract and make distinct content already present in the senses, Kant conceives of the understanding in its “real use” as a capacity to produce purely intellectual content.
Keywords Kant  Categories  Metaphysical Deduction  Pure Concepts of the Understanding  Christian Wolff
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 38,878
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

I—Hegel's Critique of Kant.Stephen Houlgate - 2015 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 89 (1):21-41.
Transformations of Transcendental Philosophy: Wolff, Kant, and Hegel.Karin de Boer - 2011 - Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain 32 (1-2):50-79.
Definitions of Kant's Categories.Tyke Nunez - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (5-6):631-657.
Kant on the Inapplicability of the Categories to Things in Themselves.Markus Kohl - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (1):90-114.
Kant’s Non-Conceptualism, Rogue Objects, and The Gap in the B Deduction.Robert Hanna - 2011 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 19 (3):399 - 415.


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes

Sign in to use this feature