Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Philosophy

Abstract

I argue that in addition to having a constitutive conception of matter which can be determinately represented in terms of our spatiotemporal intuitions, Kant has a regulative conception of matter which cannot be perceived as having a spatiotemporal magnitude. Although Kant restricts the scope of our knowledge to empirical objects which can be determinately represented in terms of spatiotemporal magnitudes, he also implicitly introduces a regulative conception of matter as a metaphysical principle which grounds the material features of the empirical world. I investigate this metaphysical conception of matter which is operating in Kant's transcendental idealism in terms of how sensations on the subjective side, which Kant characterizes as the matter of empirical intuition (A42/B60), and matter as that which corresponds to sensation (A20/B34) on the objective side, can be considered to exist apart from our spatiotemporally determinate intuitions. I develop this thesis by defending constructivism, according to which sensory impressions are supposed to guide the establishment of empirical intuitions without being involved in the spatiotemporal framework of our intuitions, against intuitionism, according to which sensory impressions are supposed to be given to us as a spatiotemporal array. In defending constructivism, I follow the interpretations of the Kantian conception of sensibility presented by Wilfrid Sellars, Béatrice Longuenesse, and Konstantin Pollok, and I argue against Lorne Falkenstein, Henry Allison, and Paul Guyer in criticizing the intuitionist suggestion. I argue that the regulative conception of non-spatiotemporal matter is necessary for two reasons in Kant. First, Kant assumes the existence of non-spatiotemporal matter in order to make the receptivity of our sensory experience and the corresponding reality of objects intelligible. Kant argues that we cannot cognize the existence of an object through mere relations (B66-67) including real relations as well as purely formal relations (A284/B340) and that "everything in our cognition that belongs to intuition .... contains nothing but mere relations" (B66-67). In order to conceive our sensibility as a genuinely receptive faculty to which something is really given, non-spatiotemporal matter must be presupposed as something which is distinct from but fills the spatiotemporal forms of inner and outer intuitions. Second, the constructivist project of defending the postulation of non-spatiotemporal sensations against intuitionism is closely related to the project of defending Kant's transcendental idealism based on the transcendental distinction between appearances and things in themselves. The idea that non-spatiotemporal matter is given to us by something which is radically different from our mind presents a way of locating the notion of things in themselves within Kant's transcendental idealism in a coherent way. The idea that things in themselves must be actual as the transcendental source of non-spatiotemporal matter does not make the notion of things in themselves empty since it does not reduce the ontological status of things in themselves to that of our representations. The suggestion does not attempt to make some dogmatic claims about the determinate features of things in themselves either, since all cognitively meaningful determinations of experiences should still be attributed to the operations of our cognitive mind rather than to things in themselves or non-spatiotemporal matter.

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