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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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1.The philosophical reception and criticism of the schematism chapter


After having considered the function and role of the schematism chapter in the Critique of Pure Reason, I will turn my attention now to the major philosophical receptions of it.

The literature on the meanings of the notion of schema in the philosophical works after Kant is broader than the ones that preceded him, but it is still incomplete. The majority of studies are more focused on particular authors than on the influence that Kant’s schematism has on their doctrines. In the Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie, Herrmann (1992) presents an overview of the uses of the term ‘schema’ after Kant. Since its aim is not to analyse similarities and differences among authors, his overview is sometimes incomplete (for instance, there are no references to Wittgenstein nor to Horkheimer). Gasperoni (2016), again, highlights the legacy of Kant’s schematism chapter in authors such as Maimon, Herder, Hegel and Plessner. In Concepts and Categorization (Hommen, Kann & Osswald 2016), which focuses on the problem of conceptualization from many different viewpoints (history of philosophy, analytic philosophy, psychology, cognitive sciences and linguistics) Bartlett, Wittgenstein and Barsalou’s use of the notion of schema are presented. Naturally, there are many publications on Kant’s general influence on his successors (for instance, on the relation between Kant and Herbart: Bona Meyer 1870; Pettoello 2000; on Kant and Schopenhauer: Kelly 1909; on Kant and Heidegger: De Blasi 2000, Weatherstorn 2002; Guyer 2011). However, apart from some exceptions (e.g., Schaper 1964), they are often general overviews...

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