Volume 30, 2013
Concepts - Contemporary and Historical Perspectives
Why the “Concept” of Spaces is not a Concept for Kant
In the “Metaphysical Exposition” Kant argues that our representation of space is a pure intuition. Kant also claims there that “Space is not an empirical concept that has been drawn from outer experiences.” However, it is not clear how these two claims fit into the overall structure of Kant’s argument. I maintain that the second claim is a premise for the first and that Kant has an independent argument for the premise. By considering the question whether the notion that Kant calls “the general concept of spaces in general” is derived by abstraction for Kant—deciding that it is not—I arrive at a formulation of this argument. Finally, I argue that this notion is not a concept in Kant’s technical sense but something related to it he calls elsewhere “declaration” (Declarationen) (Akad. IX, 142). A Declarationen is a statement of the meaning of a general term that does not express a general concept in Kant’s precise sense. My main thesis is that the meaning of the general term “spaces” for Kant is given by a Declarationen rather than a concept.