New Work on Kant (II): Kant and the Philosophy of Mind

 

ANIL GOMES & ANDREW STEPHENSON (eds) | Kant and the Philosophy of Mind. Perception, Reason, and the Self | Oxford University Press, 2017


 

By Yoon Choi 

Kant and the Philosophy of Mind, edited by Anil Gomes and Andrew Stephenson, is a welcome collection of previously unpublished work on Kant, ranging over a selection of topics central to both Kant’s philosophy and to current debates in philosophy of mind. All contributions are primarily interpretative in aim, and most are deeply rooted in Kant’s texts and the secondary scholarship. Several also make connections with current philosophical and psychological work, sometimes to shed light on Kant’s views (e.g. Lucy Allais and Katherine Dunlop) and sometimes to bring Kant’s views to bear on ongoing debates (e.g. Patricia Kitcher and Ralph Walker). The resulting volume thus presents Kant “as engaged in the philosophy of mind”, as Gomes puts it (p. 6), and advances our understanding of Kant’s account of intuition, his theory of judgement, and his views on the self, self-awareness, and self-knowledge. Some may say the volume focuses on a handful of topics at the expense of representing the full range of work on Kant’s theory of mind. That is not wrong, but the editors are inclusive in other ways, and their priorities result in a volume that is exceptional in one way: it captures several substantive debates, in which contributors engage intensively with each other rather than presenting a series of different views on a topic. Indeed, every essay takes up or is taken up to some degree by another, and even when this takes the form of a passing footnote, it generates continuity and unity to the volume as a whole and conveys a sense of common purpose running through the disagreement. This must be the result of careful editorial design and encouragement; and it is, in my view, a real achievement.

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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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