On Waxman on Intuition and Apperception


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.[1] 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)[2]

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.

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Reply to Edgar Valdez


EFRAÍN LAZOS | Disonancias de la Crítica. Variaciones sobre cuatro temas kantianos | Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas UNAM 2014


By Efraín Lazos

Edgar Valdez’s thoughtful critique of my book centres on the main thesis of its initial chapter, Conceptos e intuiciones, namely, on the psychological independence between intuitions and concepts. This is, of course, a version of what has been known as the Heterogeneity Thesis. What I shall do here is, first, dwell and elaborate on what I take to be the most dramatic aspect of the psychological independence thesis that may be attributed to Kant, namely, its being metaphysical independence. I propose that Heterogeneity is best understood as metaphysical independence between concepts and intuitions. In the second part, I shall try and respond to the main worries expressed by Valdez on behalf of Kant and of some of his recent interpreters. That my reading of Heterogeneity seems too radical motivates the first two worries: on the one hand, a full commitment to independence might endanger the possibility of bridging the divide between concepts and intuitions; on the other, Valdez fears that genuine independence may be out of reach, given the intermingling of our representations. A third worry is that, although psychological independence stands opposed to a strict conceptualism about intuition, it does not provide an explanation for spatial or even geometrical unities.

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Edgar Valdez on Efraín Lazos’s “Disonancias de la Crítica”


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.

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New Work on Kant (I): Kantian Nonconceptualism


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.

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