An important problem in the interpretation of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction is that of the relation of the transcendental synthesis of the imagination to space and time, the forms of human sensibility. ‘Non-conceptualists’ understand the synthesis to yield a representation of those forms of which they are, in their nature, independent; ‘conceptualists’ understand it to enter into the constitution of the forms themselves by grounding one or more of their formal characteristics: essential individuality, infinity, whole-to-part priority. Each position faces major interpretive problems. I propose, in developing an unacknowledged alternative, a renewed emphasis on the position of the synthesis and the forms in the structure of the cognitive capacity as the capacity for empirical judgment. The synthesis indeed enters into the constitution of space and time, but it does not ground their formal characteristics. Rather, in constituting the unity of the understanding with sensibility, the first actuality of cognition, it constitutes space and time as the unity of the actual on the side of cognition’s object: the unity, according to Kant’s conception of actuality, of the empirically judgeable.
Post-Kantian European Philosophy Seminar Convenors: Joseph Schear, Manuel Dries, and Mark Wrathall