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The Ideality of Space and Time: Trendelenburg versus Kant, Fischer and Bird

  • Edward Kanterian (a1)

Trendelenburg argued that Kant's arguments in support of transcendental idealism ignored the possibility that space and time are both ideal and real. Recently, Graham Bird has claimed that Trendelenburg (unlike his contemporary Kuno Fischer) misrepresented Kant, confusing two senses of ‘subjective/objective’. I defend Trendelenburg's ‘neglected alternative’: the ideas of space and time, as a priori and necessary, are ideal, but this does not exclude their validity in the noumenal realm. This undermines transcendental idealism. Bird's attempt to show that the Analytic considers, but rejects, the alternative fails: an epistemological reading makes Kant accept the alternative, while an ontological reading makes him incoherent. As I demonstrate, Trendelenburg acknowledged the ambiguity of ‘subjective/objective’, focusing on the transcendental, not the empirical sense. Unlike Fischer, Bird denies Kant's commitment to things-in-themselves in favour of a descriptivist, non-ontological reading of transcendental idealism as an inventory of ‘immanent experience’. But neither Bird's descriptivism, nor Fischer's commitment to things-in-themselves, answers Trendelenburg's sceptical worry about transcendental idealism.

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H. Allison (1976) ‘The Non-Spatiality of Things in Themselves for Kant’. Journal of the History of Philosophy, 14, 313321.

H. Allison (1996) Idealism and Freedom: Essays on Kant's Theoretical and Practical Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

G. Bird (2006) ‘The Neglected Alternative: Trendelenburg, Fischer, and Kant’. In Graham Bird (ed.), A Companion to Kant (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell), pp. 486499.

J. L. Buroker (1981) Space and Congruence: The Origin of Kant's Idealism. Dordrecht: D. Reidel.

G. Frege (1956) ‘The Thought: A Logical Inquiry’. Mind, 65, 289311.

P. Guyer (1987) Kant and the Claims of Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

P. Herissone-Kelly (2007) ‘The Transcendental Ideality of Space and the Neglected Alternative’. Kant-Studien, 98, 269282.

D. Hogan (2009) ‘Three Kinds of Rationalism and the Non-Spatiality of Things in Themselves’. Journal of the History of Philosophy, 47, 355382.

D. Hogan (2009a) ‘How to Know Unknowable Things in Themselves’. Noûs, 43, 4963.

K. Westphal (2004) Kant's Transcendental Proof of Realism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Kantian Review
  • ISSN: 1369-4154
  • EISSN: 2044-2394
  • URL: /core/journals/kantian-review
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