Degree Granting Department
Martin Schönfeld, Ph.D.
Roger Ariew, Ph.D.
Sidney Axinn, Ph.D.
Charles Guignon, Ph.D.
Deduction, Logic, A priori, Space, Time
Kant's critical philosophy promises to overturn both Empiricism and Rationalism by arguing for the necessity of a passive faculty, sensibility, and an active faculty, understanding, in order for cognition to obtain. Kant argues in favor of sense impression found in standard empirical philosophies while advocating conceptual necessities like those found in rational philosophies. It is only in the synthesis of these two elements that cognition and knowledge claims are possible. However, by affirming such a dualism, Kant has created yet another problem familiar to the history of philosophy, one of faculty interaction. By affirming two separate and exclusive capacities necessary for cognition, Kant has bridged the gap between the two philosophical traditions, but created a gap that must be overcome in order to affirm his positive programmatic. Kant himself realizes the difficulty his new philosophy faces when he claims the two sources of knowledge must have a "common, but unknown root." To complete Kant's program one must ask: "What bridges the gap between sensible intuition and conceptual understanding?"
In my dissertation, I turn to Kant's philosophy and find the answer to this question in the productive imagination. In order to evaluate the viability of this answer, I problematize the imagination as it has been found in the history of Western philosophy. By tracing the historical use of the imagination in archetypal figures from both empiricist and rationalist traditions, one finds a development of imagination that culminates in the fundamental formulation found in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. In his critical philosophy, Kant synthesizes the imagination (Einbildungskraft) and the use of imagination found in both traditions, thus demonstrating its role in both sensation and understanding. By employing the imagination at both sensorial and conceptual levels, Kant has found, I argue, the liaison that overcomes the dualism established by his requirements for knowledge, as well as the common root for both.
Scholar Commons Citation
Thompson, Michael, "Roots and Role of the Imagination in Kant: Imagination at the Core" (2009). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.