In this paper we provide a mathematical model of Kant’s temporal continuum that yields formal correlates for Kant’s informal treatment of this concept in the Critique of Pure Reason and in other works of his critical period. We show that the formal model satisfies Kant’s synthetic a priori principles for time (whose consistence is not obvious) and that it even illuminates what “faculties and functions” must be in place, as “conditions for the possibility of experience”, for time to satisfy such principles. We then present a mathematically precise account of Kant’s transcendental theory of time—the most precise account to date.
Moreover, we show that the Kantian continuum which we obtain has some affinities with the Brouwerian continuum but that it also has “infinitesimal intervals” consisting of nilpotent infinitesimals; these allow us to capture Kant’s theory of rest and motion in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science.
While our focus is on Kant’s theory of time the material in this paper is more generally relevant for the problem of developing a rigorous theory of the phenomenological continuum, in the tradition of Whitehead, Russell, and Weyl among others.