The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 45, 1998

Theory of Knowledge

Andrew N. Carpenter
Pages 47-53

Kant, the Body, and Knowledge

I discuss the philosophical significance of Kant's great cosmological work of 1755, the Universal Natural History. I discuss how Kant's interest in Newtonian universal forces led him to affirm a peculiar version of the physical influx theory. I argue that Kant's speculations about life on other planets are highly significant because they point to a key feature of Kant's theory of physical influx, namely that "the nimble motions of the body" stand as necessary conditions of the possibility of knowledge. This work directs us to an important topic that has received little scholarly interest: the relation between the body and knowledge in Kant's philosophical writings.