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Kant on Touch, Embodied Activity, and the Perception of Causal Force

Authors
  • Robertson, Rachel Siow1
  • 1 St Catharine‘s College, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street, CB2 1RL , (United Kingdom)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Kant-Studien
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Jun 08, 2021
Volume
112
Issue
2
Pages
217–238
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/kant-2021-0018
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

In the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, Kant claims that perception of force through touch is fundamental to our knowledge of substance in space. However, he also holds that perception cannot have modal content. Causation is a modal notion, so how can Kant allow perception of causal force? In response to this puzzle, I provide a new reading of Kant’s theory of touch. Touch does not involve perception of the necessity of a cause, but it does involve awareness of the activity of our body in relation to other bodies. Human embodied activity has a hitherto unrecognized central role in Kant’s accounts of empirical cognition of substance in space, the science of such a substance, and the irreducibility of its causal forces.

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