Philosophical Topics 34 (1/2):189-220 (2006)

Thomas Land
Ryerson University
Philosophers seeking to formulate a philosophy of mind that offers an alternative to the cur-rently dominant reductionist positions frequently appeal to the Kantian thesis that the mind is essentially spontaneous. Yet it is far from clear what the content of this thesis is, and what recommends it. In this paper, I discuss this question and propose a new answer – one that makes better philosophical and textual sense of Kant’s own claims than I believe has hitherto been offered. I do this by focusing on Kant’s claim that, in particular, the represen-tation of categorial unity is spontaneous, rather than receptive. What I call the Single Spe-cies View of Spontaneity locates the rationale for this thesis in the fact that all representa-tion of categorial unity takes place in judgment and that judgment must be conceived as spontaneous. Against this I argue that Kant accepts a Two Species View of Spontaneity, according to which categorial unity can be represented in acts other than judgment. I defend this view by giving an account of Kant’s motivation for regarding categorial unity as spon-taneous, which has both a negative and a positive component. The negative component shows that categorial unity could not be accounted for by a mind whose representational capacities are entirely receptive. The positive component argues that Kant’s conception of cognition as the non-accidental agreement of a representation with its object requires him to hold that the mind is capable of an exercise of spontaneity that is directly involved in sense-perception and, therefore, distinct from judgment. It thus emerges that, properly under-stood, Kant’s thesis about the spontaneity of the mind has a much wider scope and rests on very different grounds than is commonly believed.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind  Kant  Spontaneity  Perception
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ISBN(s) 0276-2080
DOI philtopics2006341/28
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Kant on Perceptual Content.Colin McLear - 2016 - Mind 125 (497):95-144.
Spatial Representation, Magnitude and the Two Stems of Cognition.Thomas Land - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (5-6):524-550.
Minding the Gap: Subjectivism and the Deduction.Anil Gomes - 2018 - Kantian Review 23 (1):99-109.

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