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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 11, 1998

Modern Philosophy

Wing-Chun Wong
Pages 199-204

A Kantian Interpretation of Demonstrative Reference

According to Kant, we refer to what is out there in the world by performing a demonstrative act, like pointing at an object with a finger. A Kantian mode of demonstrative reference is characterized by the existence of a real, 2-placed affective relation between an intuiting subject and the referent. Parsons suggests that Kantian intuition is both singular and immediate, and immediacy demands an object of intuition to be present, a condition clearly satisfied by objects within our immediate perceptual field. But since we do not have an immediate relation with remote objects, the scope of our demonstrative reference is severely restricted by intuitional immediacy. I wish to develop a global Kantian intuition in order to extend the scope of demonstrative reference. Kant's ontology of space entails that the global representability of space be given to an intuiting subject as a form of intuition. According to Melnick, Kantian intuition is a kinematic operation which involves directing attention and moving about. To make contact with the world, the subject must move away from its locale: although a spatially remote object (W) is not immediately present, we can shift our location by taking a path such that W will become so. Once we are close enough to be affected by W, we will be able to point at W and say "This." Thus, the intuitive scope of demonstrative reference is globalized as we shift our location.

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