restricted access Two Kinds of Unity in the Critique of Pure Reason

I argue that Kant’s distinction between the cognitive roles of sensibility and understanding raises a question concerning the conditions necessary for objective representation. I distinguish two opposing interpretive positions, namely Intellectualism and Sensibilism. According to Intellectualism, all objective representation depends, at least in part, on the unifying synthetic activity of the mind. In contrast, Sensibilism argues that at least some forms of objective representation, specifically intuitions, do not require synthesis. I argue that there are deep reasons for thinking that Intellectualism is incompatible with Kant’s view as expressed in the Transcendental Aesthetic. We can better see how Kant’s arguments in the first Critique may be integrated, I suggest, by examining his notion of the “unity” (Einheit) of a representation. I articulate two distinct ways in which a representation may possess unity and claim that we can use these notions to integrate Kant’s arguments in the Aesthetic and the Transcendental Deduction without compromising the core claims of either Sensibilism or Intellectualism—that intuition is a form of objective representation independent of synthesis, and that the kind of objective representations that ground scientific knowledge of the world require synthesis by the categories.