Kant and the Apriority of Space

Philosophical Review 107 (2):179-224 (1998)
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The first major section of the Critique of Pure Reason, the Transcendental Aesthetic, is concerned with the nature of space and time, and with the nature of our representation of them. In interpretations of this part of the Critique, there is a very widespread tendency to present Kant’s discussion of space as attempting to establish that the representation of space is a condition for individuating or distinguishing objects, and that it is on this basis that Kant establishes the apriority of this representation. I believe that this way of interpreting the Aesthetic is wholly misguided. The interpretive tendency I have in mind takes a number of different forms. On one approach, the role of space is to allow us to distinguish objects even if they are qualitatively identical. This represents Kant as making a certain kind of anti-Leibnizian point, one that concerns Leibniz’s principle of the identity of indiscernibles. On another approach, space—or something closely analogous to space—is regarded as essential on account of its role in allowing us to re-identify objects over time. Interpretations of Kant that follow the second approach are largely inspired by Strawson’s discussions of these matters in chapter 2 of Individuals.



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Daniel Warren
University of California, Berkeley

Citations of this work

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