Volume 20, Issue 2, Spring 2016
J. Colin McQuillan
A Merely Logical Distinction
Kant's Objection to Leibniz and Wolff
Throughout his career, Immanuel Kant objects that Leibniz and Wolff make the distinction between sensible and intellectual cognition into a “merely logical” distinction. Although it is not clear that anyone in the Leibnizian-Wolffian tradition actually holds this view, Kant’s objection helps to define the “real” distinction between sensible and intellectual cognition that he defends in his inaugural dissertation in 1770. Kant raises the same objection against Leibniz and Wolff in the Critique of Pure Reason, but replaces the “real” distinction he defends in his inaugural dissertation with a new “transcendental” distinction between intuitions and concepts. This paper examines Kant’s objection to Leibniz and Wolff and the different alternatives he proposes, in order to highlight an important element in the development of his critical philosophy.