University of Tasmania
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Kant, cognitive synthesis, and causality

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posted on 2023-05-26, 04:50 authored by Green, JM
By marshalling Kant in new ways, this thesis explores the relationship between cognitive synthesis and causality. It is argued that the causal connections constitutive of cognitive experience are of a character that is radically different from that of causal connections that are not constitutive of cognitive experience. Whereas the latter are satisfactorily covered by Kant's conception of causality as rule-governed succession this is not true, it is argued, of the causality that is constitutive of cognitive experience. The idea, introduced by Hume and endorsed by Kant, that causality is nothing but a kind of rule-governed succession is one that cannot be maintained, it is argued, in the face of considerations regarding the nature of cognitive synthesis. The thesis examines Kant's arguments in the Analytic of Principles, for the Axioms of Intuition, the Anticipations of Perception, and the First and Second Analogies. The aim is to show that even where these arguments fail, their respective failures help towards the explication of a conception of synthesis that is constitutive of understanding as such. It is argued that the syntheses that are constitutive of understanding are unspecifiable in character ‚Äö- that is, they cannot be unambiguously described and defined ‚Äö- and that accordingly the causal connections through which these syntheses are effected could not be instantiations of any kind of rule-governed succession. The thesis thus has implications for what our conception of free will ought to involve. It implies both that free will is incompatible with determinism and that free will should not be thought of as requiring any disengagement from the causal concatenations of nature or of human life.


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