Date of Award

Fall 1994

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The philosophy of Immanuel Kant contains an important rationalistic element, and the study and interpretation of this element has been a prominent feature of Kantian scholarship. In Kant's work there is also reference to the concepts of sensation, perception, and empirical intuition, and he refers to a connection between the agent and the world by means of these concepts. However, this aspect of his thought is so overshadowed by the rationalistic element that it is seldom analyzed or given an important function within the Kantian scheme. The result of this over-emphasis upon the rationalistic element of Kant's system leads to serious difficulties for his philosophy, e.g., a built-in, systematic bias. These difficulties are shared by other epistemological and scientific models of thought which have been influenced by the traditional interpretations of the Kantian model. Moreover, when the sensory element of Kant's thought is discussed, it is often presented in an impoverished manner--in a manner which is merely consistent with the over-emphasis upon the rationalistic element. I believe that the problems in Kantian philosophy can be avoided and a better understanding of objective thought generally can be provided if the sensory elements of Kant's thought are given a more central function. Systematically emphasizing the role of sensibility in Kant's philosophy requires giving up some common notions about Kant. For example, the perspective I offer requires abandoning any kind of reference to an imposition thesis, i.e., abandoning any reference to the idea that the understanding originatively and comprehensively determines all aspects of cognition. This view, I argue, is epistemically untenable, and, instead of it, I argue for a view of Kant which emphasizes not an imposition of rationalistic features, but an amplification of information-bearing properties already available to thought. In other words, I argue that there is a realistic element in intuition which makes potential information available for thought. This information is not created or constructed originatively by the understanding. Rather, the understanding provides a structure by which that potential information can be accessed, recognized as information and then used. I call this an amplification of sensory content such that content can be exploited by the epistemic agent. In this manner the problems referred to above are avoided, while the rationalistic element of Kant's philosophy retains its prominent place.



Restricted Access Item

Having trouble?