How Does Transcendental Idealism Overcome the Scandal of Philosophy? Perspectives on Kant’s Objekt/Gegenstand Distinction

Stephen R. Palmquist, Guy Lown, Brandon Love

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Abstract

We argue that, although interpreters typically regard them merely as synonymous terms for “object”, Kant explicitly distinguishes “Objekt” and “Gegenstand”; moreover, this distinction illuminates certain contours of Kant’s theory of intuition and its relation both to transcendental idealism and to his moral philosophy. After summarizing several previous interpretations of this distinction, we offer textual evidence for the relevance of two perspectival distinctions in the first Critique, between viewing objects (1) either as appearances (whereby Gegenstände are given in intuition) or as things in themselves (whereby we conceptualize things as actually existing, empirical Objekte), and (2) as two types of Gegenstände (phenomena or noumena). We explain why Kant’s Refutation of Idealism, responding to Jacobi’s criticism of transcendental idealism, refers only to “Gegenstand”, and never mentions “Objekt”, in attempting to overcome the “scandal of philosophy” (Bxxxixn). As such, this distinction serves as a bridge from theoretical to practical philosophy, where “Gegenstand” demarcates the relationship between will and moral action, while “Objekt” is the effect of the will. God, freedom, and immortality are Gegenstände in theoretical philosophy but attain objective reality in practical philosophy through their relation to the highest good, the ultimate Objekt of moral striving.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKant on Intuition: Western and Asian Perspectives on Transcendental Idealism
EditorsStephen R. Palmquist
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter1
Pages3-22
Number of pages20
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9780429491771
ISBN (Print)9781138589247, 9780367732523
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Eighteenth-Century Philosophy
PublisherRoutledge

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