XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

The Real Use of the Understanding and Metaphysics in Kant's Inaugural Dissertation

Paulo Roberto Licht dos Santos

Edificio: Facoltà di Agraria
Sala: sala Wolff
Data: 26 maggio 2010 - 17:00
Ultima modifica: 13 aprile 2010


Kantian scholars, although diverging on many points, usually agree about the importance of Kant's Inaugural Dissertation to his philosophical development. In general, it is regarded as an enduring contribution to the "Critique", Kant's discovery that in man, sensibility and the understanding are two radically distinct sources of knowledge, and, secondly, that space and time are subjective forms of the sensible or phenomenal world. On the other hand, Kant's explanations about the intellectual forms and the intelligible world have been regarded as a suspicious pre-critique doctrine. The reason for this has been said to lie particularly in Kant's theory of the real use of the understanding, which is assumed to express Kant's belief in the possibility of metaphysical cognition of the intelligible world. The point that I want to make is that this reading, by not considering the role that the Dissertation assigns to the pure concepts in empirical cognition, by the same token renders incomprehensible his position towards metaphysics, in particular, ontology. Accordingly, I shall here argue that, for Kant, the real use of the understanding in ontology provides no substantial knowledge of the things as they are in themselves, but a mere conceptual and abstract representation of the intelligible world.