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IdealismNew Essays in Metaphysics$
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Tyron Goldschmidt and Kenneth L. Pearce

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746973

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198746973.001.0001

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Transcendental Idealism Without Tears

Transcendental Idealism Without Tears

(p.82) 6 Transcendental Idealism Without Tears

Nicholas F. Stang

Oxford University Press

This chapter is an attempt to explain Kantian transcendental idealism to contemporary metaphysicians and make clear its relevance to contemporary debates in what is now called ‘meta-ontology.’ It first introduces some Kantian ideas about what objects are and argues that we understand the concept <object> through understanding what can be the referent of singular mental reference by some intellect (what Kant calls an ‘intuition’), human or otherwise. It then argues that explanatory understanding requires the ability to understand instances of relevant concepts, which in turn requires the ability to intuit objects that instantiate relevant concepts. This places a constraint on our ontology: we can have explanatory understanding only if our quantifiers are restricted to objects we can intuit (so-called ‘phenomena’). We can speculate about some of the recherché objects of contemporary metaphysics (e.g. physical simples, instantaneous temporal parts) but we cannot understand them.

Keywords:   transcendental idealism, Kant, meta-metaphysics, explanatory understanding, cognitive limits

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