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A representationalist reading of Kantian intuitions

  • Ayoob ShahmoradiEmail author


There are passages in Kant’s writings according to which empirical intuitions have to be (a) singular, (b) object-dependent, and (c) immediate. It has also been argued that empirical intuitions (d) are not truth-apt, and (e) need to provide the subject with a proof of the possibility of the cognized object. Having relied on one or another of the a-e constraints, the naïve realist readers of Kant have argued that it is not possible for empirical intuitions to be representations. Instead they have argued for a relationalist reading of empirical intuitions in terms of an acquaintance relation between the subject and the intuited object. For the sake of argument, I will grant the naïve realist reader of Kant that empirical intuitions should satisfy all the (a)–(e) constraints. Nevertheless, by incorporating these constraints, one by one, into a representationalist theory of empirical intuitions, I will show that not only doesn’t a naïve realist reading of empirical intuitions follow, but also that the naïve realist has hastily overlooked a range of perfectly representationalist readings of intuitions available to Kant and his representationalist allies. On the positive side, I will argue that there is an extra constraint on intuitions—i.e., that givenness does not require presence to consciousness—that directly goes against any naïve realist account of intuitions.


Kant Empirical intuitions Representationalism Naïve realism 



This paper has benefited from comments by (and/or discussions with) Lucy Allais, Jonathan Cohen, Matthew Fulkerson, Farid Masrour, Clinton Tolley, Brian Tracz, and Eric Watkins. I am especially grateful to Jonathan Cohen, Clinton Tolley, and an anonymous referee for multiple rounds of detailed comments.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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