Kant’s Phenomenalist Interpretation of the Causal Theory of Time

  • Henry Mehlberg
  • Robert S. Cohen
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 19-1)


We usually associate Kant’s illustrious name with his idealist theory of space and time, as expounded in the Transcendental Aesthetic. Indeed the first and most impressive part of this masterpiece is explicitly devoted to the space-time problem. But the Aesthetic contains only the synthetic a priori aspects of the theory of sensory knowledge. Pure understanding, another source of our knowledge of the phenomenal world, must form the ordered objects of scientific experience from the chaotic diversity extended in space and time. The union of the forms of sensibility and understanding in the Transcendental Analytic could shed new light. We shall see, in fact, that a new aspect of the problem of time, identical in certain respects to that in the definitive theory of Leibniz, appears in the Kantian interpretation of the principles of pure understanding, and, in particular, in his ‘analogies of experience’, which deal with first, the indestructibility of substance, second, the principle of causality, and third, the principle of universal interaction. It is known that Kant deduced the validity of these three principles from the fact that they contain a priori conditions of all empirical knowledge; the transcendental proof of their validity consists in the fact that, being presupposed in each experience, they are logically prior to experience.


Empirical Knowledge Causal Theory Objective Time Subjective Time Objective Succession 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Mehlberg
  • Robert S. Cohen
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Philosophy and History of ScienceBoston UniversityUSA

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