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Kant´s Notion of a Transcendental Schema

The Constitution of Objective Cognition between Epistemology and Psychology


Lara Scaglia

The main aim of this book is to provide a critical and historical inquiry into Kant’s schematism chapter contained in the Critique of Pure Reason. More specifically, the book argues that Kant’s schematism chapter is a necessary step within the project of the Critique. It deals with a problem of its own, one which is not the object of the previous chapters: How can categories be applied to intuitions? The author shows that the term ‘schema’ has an interesting and long tradition of different philosophical uses that finds in the works of Kant a point of no-return. In the philosophical works written before Kant, the notion of schema did not have a specific and distinctive meaning and function of its own but was rather used in different contexts (from rhetoric to logic to psychology). After Kant, all philosophers who speak of schemata refer in one way or another back to Kant’s distinctive notion, which possesses a specific, epistemic meaning. Moreover, this book aims to provide a contribution to the understanding of the relation between philosophy and the sciences. It is by means of demonstrating the importance of the schematism chapter not only within the Critique but also from a broader perspective, deriving from the fact that Kant’s doctrine of schemata had an impressive influence not only on philosophers but also on psychologists.

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2.Kant’s pre-critical notion of schema


Before dealing with the use of the notion of schema in the Critique of Pure Reason, it is important to realise that its use is not limited to Kant’s opus magnum, but it is present in pre-critical (as well as in later) works of Kant, as I will demonstrate in this second chapter.

The literature about the meaning and uses of the term ‘schema’ before the Critique of Pure Reason is very scarce. The Kant-Lexikon ignores the problem, while in the Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie from 1992 Stegmeier stresses the presence of the notion in two pre-critical works: the Nova Dilucidatio and the Dissertation from 1770, De mundi sensibilis atque intelligibilis forma et principiis. However, they do not go into the details of Kant’s uses and changes of the meaning of the term. Besides, an interesting paper written by Alba Jiménez Rodriguez from 2016 (Die Projektion des Schematismus in den vorkritischen Schriften Kants: Das Problem der mathematischen Konstruktion), focuses on the anticipation in the pre-critical works of a kind of schematism intended as a constructive process of the imagination similar to that of mathematical47 construction. More specifically, Rodriguez points out that Kant’s pre-critical use of ‘schema’ might be related to the Baconian concepts of schematism. As shown in the previous chapter, Bacon’s notion of schema refers to the structure of nature or the ways in which properties are related to each other and ordered in the different substances. According to Rodriguez, the Baconian meaning...

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