Kantian Journal

2017 Vol. 36. No. 4

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Analytical Kant studies, transcendental idealism, and the thing in itself



In modern theoretical analytical philosophy, the interest in Kant is primarily due to discussions on the nature of sensory perceptions, on the epistemological status of experience, and on the so-called ‘constructivism’. The conflict of interpretations goes so far that some consider Kant to be a conceptualist, while others consider him an anti-conceptualist. For some, he is an internalist and, for others, an externalist. For some, he is a constructivist and, for others is a realist. This paper develops the main arguments pro and contra possible interpretations of Kant’s texts and presents the author’s interpretation of some key points of Kant’s theory of knowledge. Contrary to the analytical mainstream in Kant studies, the author argues that Kant’s ‘transcendental idealism’ in the field of the theoretical reason is completely compatible with epistemological realism. Hence, the term ‘thing in itself’ expresses neither ontological nor epistemological dualism. Rather it has a methodological function and it serves to indicate the possibility of different forms of discourses — religious, ethical, etc. The thesis is proven in three steps. First, the notion of ‘appearance’ is considered as ontologically identical to the thing in itself. Then, the author proposes her own reconstruction of Kant’s transcendental theory of experience and analyses the transcendental structure of experience to demonstrate the realistic status of Kant’s cognitive objects. In conclusion, the author stresses the significance of Kant’s project from the perspective of the contemporary theory of cognition.


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