Philosophical Topics 44 (1):75-125 (2016)

Authors
James Conant
University of Chicago
Abstract
A central debate in early modern philosophy, between empiricism and rationalism, turned on the question which of two cognitive faculties—sensibility or understanding—should be accorded logical priority in an account of the epistemic credentials of knowledge. As against both the empiricist and the rationalist, Kant wants to argue that the terms of their debate rest on a shared common assumption: namely that the capacities here in question—qua cognitive capacities—are self-standingly intelligible. The paper terms this assumption the Layer-Cake Conception of Human Mindedness and focuses on Kant’s argument against the empiricist version of the assumption, in particular, as that argument is developed in the B version of the Transcendental Deduction in the Critique of Pure Reason. The paper seeks to show how a proper understanding of the structure of the B Deduction reveals its aim to be one of making sense of each of these two capacities in the light of the other. For the front of the argument that is directed against the empiricist, this means coming to see how a reading of the text that is informed by the layer-cake conception is mistaken. For the front of the argument which is directed against the rationalist, this requires coming to see how a mere inversion of the central claim of such a reading would be equally wrong. It would require seeing how a discursive faculty of understanding able to traffic in nothing more than empty concepts would no more amount to a genuinely cognitive power than would a faculty of intuition able to traffic in nothing more than blind intuitions. That is, it requires seeing how each of these faculties depends on its relation to the other to be the sort of faculty that it is in a finite rational being.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind
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ISBN(s) 0276-2080
DOI 10.5840/philtopics20164417
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Kant and the Pre-Conceptual Use of the Understanding.Jonas Jervell Indregard - 2021 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 103 (1):93-119.
A System of Rational Faculties: Additive or Transformative?Karl Schafer - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 29 (4):918-936.

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