[SydPhil] Samantha Matherne (Harvard) at UNSW Philosophy Seminar, 29 November

Melissa Merritt m.merritt at unsw.edu.au
Wed Nov 13 09:05:38 AEDT 2019

UNSW Philosophy seminar

29 November 12:30-2

Morven Brown 310

Samantha Matherne, Harvard University

Title: The Role of Imagination in Kant’s Theory of Empirical Concept Formation


Many have worried that Kant’s theory of empirical concept formation is circular.  His account of the process through which we generate concepts appears to presuppose the very concepts that are supposed to be generated.  A number of commentators have attempted to rescue Kant’s view by appealing to the role that imagination plays in this process.  According to this line of thought, it is not concepts, but rather a certain representation of imagination, e.g., a so-called ‘schema’ (Longuenesse, Allison) or an associative disposition (Ginsborg), that Kant presupposes for this process.  While I think that this general strategy, viz., appealing to imagination, is key to understanding why Kant’s account of empirical concept formation is not circular, in this paper I argue that the role of imagination in this process has been misunderstood.  My aim in this paper is thus to clarify Kant’s account of the contribution of imagination to empirical concept formation and how this helps avoid the charge of circularity.

Samantha Matherne is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Harvard University.  She specializes in Kant, Neo-Kantianism, Phenomenology, and Aesthetics.  She is the author of Cassirer (forthcoming) for the Routledge Philosophers Series.  She is currently writing a book about Kant’s theory of imagination and she is exploring the aesthetic theory of the phenomenologist Edith Landmann-Kalischer.

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