, Volume 186, Issue 1, pp 231-255
Date: 07 Mar 2012

Kant on geometry and spatial intuition

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Abstract

I use recent work on Kant and diagrammatic reasoning to develop a reconsideration of central aspects of Kant’s philosophy of geometry and its relation to spatial intuition. In particular, I reconsider in this light the relations between geometrical concepts and their schemata, and the relationship between pure and empirical intuition. I argue that diagrammatic interpretations of Kant’s theory of geometrical intuition can, at best, capture only part of what Kant’s conception involves and that, for example, they cannot explain why Kant takes geometrical constructions in the style of Euclid to provide us with an a priori framework for physical space. I attempt, along the way, to shed new light on the relationship between Kant’s theory of space and the debate between Newton and Leibniz to which he was reacting, and also on the role of geometry and spatial intuition in the transcendental deduction of the categories.