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Kant's View of Space


I AM quite willing to leave the readers of NATURE and the students of Kant to decide on the propriety, in English philosophical discourse, of calling Space and Time “forms of Thought,” the more so as Sir W. Hamilton—a great stickler for philosophic precision—uses the term in that sense and would have been surprised to hear that he had misrepresented Kant in so doing. My opponents persist in limiting the term Thought to the restricted meaning given to it in Kant's terminology, which, in English, is restricting it to Conception or Judgment: on this ground they might deny that Imagination or Recollection could be properly spoken of as Thought. Throughout I have accepted Thought as equivalent to mental activity in general and the “forms of Thought” as the conditions of such activity. The “forms of Thought” are the forms which the thinking principle (Kant's pure Reason) brings with it, antecedent to all experience. The thinking principle acts through three distinct faculties: Sensibility (Intuition), Understanding (Conception), and Reason (Ratiocination): to suppose Thought absent from Intuition, is to reduce Intuition to mere sensuous impression. Therefore, whatever is a form of Intuition must be a form of Thought.


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LEWES, G. Kant's View of Space. Nature 1, 386 (1870).

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