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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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4.Analysis of the schematism chapter


The schematism chapter, which consists of no more than ten pages (A137–147), has often been considered to be the most obscure and controversial chapter of the Critique of Pure Reason. Although the studies on Kant are innumerable, the monographs exclusively dedicated to the problem of schematism are few in number (Califano 1968; Camartin 1971; Kang 1985; Gasperoni 2016; Fisher 2017); on the contrary, this chapter has been analysed and criticised by numerous authors in papers and in book chapters. The reasons for the difficulties of its interpretation are given, on the one hand, by Kant’s terminology, which sometimes seems contradictory and unclear, on the other hand, by the topic itself, which has often been considered as a redundant addition insofar as Kant has already argued in the Deduction that the pure forms of understanding are related to experience. One of the most important divisions in interpretations of the schematism chapter is the one between Cassirer and Cohen: whereas the former believes that the schematism is useless (as he declares in his Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophie und Wissenschaft der neueren Zeit, 1922–57), the latter (Kants Theorie der Erfahrung, 1871) underlines the fundamental role of schemata in the distinctions between, first, the logical and transcendental domains and, second, analytic and synthetic judgements. Another important contribution is given in 1937 by de Vleeschauwer (La deduction transcendentale dans l’oeuvre de Kant), who declares that the necessity of a schematism chapter can be explained only by referring to Kant’s distinction...

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