WAYNE WAXMAN | Kant’s Anatomy of the Intelligent Mind | Oxford UP 2014
By Colin McLear
Perhaps no distinction is more central to the Critical philosophy than that between sensibility and the ‘higher’ cognitive faculties of the intellect (e.g. understanding, judgement, reason) broadly construed. Upon this distinction in faculties Kant founds a central epistemological insight, namely, that cognition “in its proper sense” (A78/B103) comes only with the combination or unity of representations made possible by their joint cooperation. The seemingly deep dichotomy between these two faculties, whose functions “cannot be exchanged” (A51/B75) seems to present a problem for Kant, and the post-Kantian Germanic tradition in philosophy quickly strove to overcome or undermine it, with Hegel famously reading Kant as saying that,
the original synthetic unity of apperception is recognized also as the principle of the figurative synthesis, i.e., of the forms of intuition; space and time are themselves conceived as synthetic unities, and spontaneity, the absolute synthetic activity of the productive imagination, is conceived as the principle of the very sensibility which was previously characterized only as receptivity. (Hegel 1977:69–70)
While Hegel takes himself to merely be presenting Kant’s true view—a view he construes as somewhat misleadingly presented by Kant himself—the interpretative and philosophical issues surrounding Kant’s distinction have reverberated down to the present day. It is not at all obvious that Hegel is right, either about Kant, or about sensibility.
EFRAÍN LAZOS | Disonancias de la Crítica. Variaciones sobre cuatro temas kantianos | Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas UNAM 2014
By Edgar Valdez
Efraín Lazos’s Disonancias de la Crítica is a collection of four essays that seek to resolve four of the most prevalent polemics in contemporary interpretations of Kantian epistemology. Each essay provides new insights into debates that have held the attention of contemporary Kant scholarship for decades. In the first, Lazos deals with the relationship between concepts and intuitions, making a contribution to the debate between conceptualism and nonconceptualism. In the second and third essays, he seeks to distinguish Kant’s idealism from the idealism of Berkeley and Descartes respectively, by overcoming their dogmatism and scepticism. Lazos in turn shows why Kant is not susceptible to the same criticisms as the others. In the final essay, Lazos considers transcendental apperception and in distinguishing it from Descartes’s cogito considers what is unique to Kant’s theory of self-consciousness. The essays do not comprise a single argument but they certainly comprise an integrated view of Kant’s epistemology.
DENNIS SCHULTING (ed.) | Kantian Nonconceptualism | Palgrave Macmillan, 2016
By Jessica Williams
Is Kant a conceptualist or a nonconceptualist? Very roughly, this amounts to the following question: Do intuitions depend on concepts in order to represent objects? Much recent Kant scholarship is devoted to answering this question, which is of interest not only for its connection to contemporary debates in philosophy of mind and perception, but also because the answer one provides has important implications for how one understands crucial features of Kant’s account of cognition.
While conceptualism was for some time the default interpretation of Kant, this is no longer the case. In fact, one now finds a number of competing nonconceptualist interpretations of intuition, and conceptualists have in turn divided in their characterisations of the way in which intuitions depend on concepts in order to represent objects. As Lucy Allais notes in her contribution, an important result of this recent debate is “lively dispute and clarification of key terms in Kant’s philosophy, such as intuition, sensation, perception, cognition, and synthesis” (p. 2). The essays in this volume continue in this vein. Engaging with them has certainly helped me to clarify my own understanding of key features of Kant’s account of cognition, including his account of space and spatial representation; his precise strategy in the second-half of the B-Deduction; and the nature and role of intuitions.