Lucy Allais on transcendental idealism
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Lucy Allais’s Manifest Reality offers an attractive new interpretation of Kant’s transcendental idealism. Kantian appearances are known through essentially manifest properties, but those properties are construed as belonging ultimately to things in themselves with intrinsic natures. This position can offer a nice account of the sense in which appearances and things in themselves are identical (different aspects of the same underlying things) and a metaphysically plausible way to construe appearances as strictly partially mind-dependent. The position is less convincing when it comes to explaining the sense in which appearances and things in themselves remain non-identical. I argue that such a non-identity thesis was in fact crucial to Kant’s use of idealism to explain the possibility of synthetic a priori knowledge, to his account of the apriority of the representation of space, and to his anti-Leibnizian point that our mathematical and scientific cognition provides not confused representation of underlying (non-spatial) things in themselves, but perfectly exact and strictly true cognition of something else. In closing, I suggest that the hylomorphic nature of Kant’s idealism points toward an alternative conception of the partial mind-dependence of appearances.