I demonstrate that the pre-Critical Kant is essentialist and intellectualist about the relational properties of substances. That is to say, God can choose whether or not to create a substance, and whether or not to connect this substance with other substances, so as to create a world: but God cannot choose what the nature of the relational properties is, once the substance is created and connected. The divine will is constrained by the essences of substances. Nonetheless, Kant considers that essences depend upon God, in that they depend upon the divine intellect. I conclude by gesturing towards some possible implications of this interpretation, when considering the role that might be played by God – both historically and conceptually – in relation to the notion of ‘laws of nature’, and when understanding Kant's transcendental idealism and his Critical conception of freedom.
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