A representationalist reading of Kantian intuitions

Synthese 198 (3):2169-2191 (2021)


There are passages in Kant’s writings according to which empirical intuitions have to be (a) singular, (b) object-dependent, and (c) immediate. It has also been argued that empirical intuitions (d) are not truth-apt, and (e) need to provide the subject with a proof of the possibility of the cognized object. Having relied on one or another of the a-e constraints, the naïve realist readers of Kant have argued that it is not possible for empirical intuitions to be representations. Instead they have argued for a relationalist reading of empirical intuitions in terms of an acquaintance relation between the subject and the intuited object. For the sake of argument, I will grant the naïve realist reader of Kant that empirical intuitions should satisfy all the a-e constraints. Nevertheless, by incorporating these constraints, one by one, into a representationalist theory of empirical intuitions, I will show that not only doesn’t a naïve realist reading of empirical intuitions follow, but also that the naïve realist has hastily overlooked a range of perfectly representationalist readings of intuitions available to Kant and his representationalist allies. On the positive side, I will argue that there is an extra constraint on intuitions—i.e., that givenness does not require presence to consciousness—that directly goes against any naïve realist account of intuitions.


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The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Origins of Objectivity.Tyler Burge - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
The Contents of Visual Experience.Susanna Siegel - 2010 - Oxford University Press USA.
Reference and Consciousness.J. Campbell - 2002 - Oxford University Press.

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