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Article

Kant and the Pre-Conceptual Use of the Understanding

Does Kant hold that we can have intuitions independently of concepts? A striking passage from §13 of the Critique of Pure Reason appears to say so explicitly. However, it also conjures up a scenario where the categories are inapplicable to objects of intuition, a scenario presumably shown impossible by the following Transcendental Deduction. The seemingly non-conceptualist claim concerning intuition have therefore been read, by conceptualist interpreters of Kant, as similarly counterpossible. I argue that the passage in question best supports an underappreciated middle position where intuition requires a pre-conceptual use of the understanding. Such preconceptual use of the understanding faces both textual and systematic objections. I show that these objections can be rebutted.