Abstract

In what follows, I aim to develop our understanding of the role the imagination plays in Kant’s Critical account of geometry and suggest, in particular, that the peculiar interpretation of the imagination that Kant forwards in the First Critique helps secure the certainty of geometrical knowledge. To make my case, I first consider the account of geometrical reasoning Kant presents in his 1764 Prize Essay, a text in which geometrical certainty is tied to the power that the mind (or understanding) has to perceive the geometrical objects presented before it. I highlight the problems that emerge from this pre- Critical account of geometrical certainty in order to make better sense of why Kant, in 1787, fashions the imagination as he does and specifically, why he dissolves any connection between the imagination’s power of perception—what he terms our “degree of sensibility”—and the certainty of geometrical knowledge. In general, as I hope my treatment brings to light, paying attention to the transition in Kant’s thinking about geometrical reasoning grants us added perspective on the role the imagination is intended to serve in the Critical account of geometrical cognition.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9274
Print ISSN
1063-6145
Pages
pp. 409-431
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-07
Open Access
No
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