Volume 24, Issue 1, Fall 2019
J. Colin McQuillan
The Remarriage of Reason and Experience in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason
This article argues that Immanuel Kant recreates in his critical philosophy one of the most distinctive features of Christian Wolff’s rationalism—the marriage of reason and experience (connubium rationis et experientiae). The article begins with an overview of Wolff’s connubium and then surveys the reasons some of his contemporaries opposed the marriage of reason and experience, paying special attention to the distinctions between phenomena and noumena, sensible and intellectual cognition, and empirical and pure cognition that Kant employs in his inaugural dissertation On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and the Intelligible World (1770). The final section of the article argues that, in the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/1787), Kant rejects the anticonnubialist positions he defended in his inaugural dissertation and introduces a new account of the relation between reason and experience that recreates Wolff’s connubium within the context of his critical philosophy.