The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Apr 11, 2013
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
Philosophy Colloquium
Anja Jauernig (University of Pittsburgh)
Kant on Leibniz-Wolffian Things in Themselves

Kant conceives of things in themselves as mind-independent, supersensible, non-spatial, non-temporal entities that affect our sensibility and thereby ground appearances, and he holds that things in themselves thus conceived actually exist. He also claims that this is all that we can (synthetically) know or truly meaningfully think about things in themselves. This reading of Kant is supported by a wealth of textual evidence, and I am convinced that it is correct. Prima facie, it appears to be a problem for this reading that, at various places, Kant seems to commit himself to a different, more specific conception of things in themselves, which roughly corresponds to how the Leibniz-Wolffians characterize things in themselves. This conception includes, for example, that things in themselves are simple or composed of ultimate simples, that they are individuated by their intrinsic properties, and that they are completely describable in purely conceptual terms. The project for this talk is to show that the indicated problem is only apparent. The central ‘move’ will be to argue that Kant regards Leibniz-Wolffian things in themselves as a special kind of fictions.