Bolzano on conceptual and intuitive truth: the point and purpose of the distinction

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (1):13-36 (2013)
Mark Textor
King's College London
Bolzano incorporated Kant's distinction between intuitions and concepts into the doctrine of propositions by distinguishing between conceptual (Begriffssätze an sich) and intuitive propositions (Anschauungssätze an sich). An intuitive proposition contains at least one objective intuition, that is, a simple idea that represents exactly one object; a conceptual proposition contains no objective intuition. After Bolzano, philosophers dispensed with the distinction between conceptual and intuitive propositions. So why did Bolzano attach philosophical importance to it? I will argue that, ultimately, the value of the distinction lies in the fact that conceptual and intuitive truths have different objective grounds: if a conceptual truth is grounded at all, its ground is a conceptual truth. The difference in grounds between conceptual and intuitive truths motivates Bolzano's criticism of Kant's view that intuition plays the fundamental role in mathematics, a conceptual science by Bolzano's lights.
Keywords analyticity  Bernhard Bolzano  concepts
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DOI 10.1080/00455091.2013.774839
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