Volume 11, 1998
Kant’s Categories Reconsidered
Adopting a Quinean criterion of ontological commitment, I consider the question of the ontological commitment of Kant's theory of our a priori knowledge of objects. Its direct concern is the customary view that the ontology of Kant's theory of knowledge in general, whether a priori or empirical, must be thought in terms of the a priori conditions or representations of space, time, and the categories. Accordingly, this view is accompanied by the customary interpretation of ontology as consisting of Kantian "appearances" or "empirical objects." I argue against this view and interpretation. My argument turns on the opposition between the necessity and universality of the a priori and the particularity and contingency of the existent. Its main point is that the a priori can remain necessary and universal only if the existence of objects is kept distinct from it.