Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Kant on Logical Form

Newton, Alexandra Mary (2011) Kant on Logical Form. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (819kB) | Preview


Most philosophers today assume what Kant might have called a 'material' conception of logic. According to the material conception, the laws of logic obtain independently of our consciousness of them, because they are either objective 'laws of truth', laws governing linguistic practices, or laws innate to our cognitive capacities. But it is often overlooked that this view of logic faces intractable difficulties in providing an adequate explanation of how these laws govern the mind. (Both rationalist and empiricist attempts to offer an explanation have been made.) The material conception immunizes logic from these problems, since it assumes that they do not concern logic, but merely concern epistemological views about what it is to have knowledge of logic. In this dissertation I argue that Kant avoids the epistemological difficulties because he has a 'formal' conception of general logic, according to which logical operations and rules articulate self-consciousness in any exercise of the understanding. That is, they are not rules or procedures for generating intellectual acts (such as judgments), nor are they products of intellectual acts. Instead, they bring to (self-) consciousness the necessity (or 'necessary synthetic unity') in the activity of the understanding itself. Logical cognition thus is not material cognition of that which is distinct from our cognition of it, but instead is formal cognition, or cognition that any act of cognition has of itself. I argue that we cannot fully appreciate these points if we assume an 'analytic approach' to Kant's logic, according to which logical operations consist in mere acts of comparison (or analysis) of representations. General logic must primarily concern itself with the understanding's acts of synthesis in cognition, acts that are directed at an inner telos or purpose (namely, systematic unity in the whole of cognitions). Kant's conception of logical form thus invokes an organic notion of 'form' that is linked to the teleological structure of our cognitive capacities.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Newton, Alexandra Maryamn14@pitt.eduAMN14
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairMcDowell, Johnjmcdowel@pitt.eduJMCDOWEL
Committee CoChairEngstrom, Stephenengstrom@pitt.eduENGSTROM
Committee MemberSchafer, Karlschaferk@pitt.eduSCHAFERK
Committee MemberRescher, Nicholasrescher@pitt.eduRESCHER
Committee MemberBrandom, Robertrbrandom@pitt.eduRBRANDOM
Committee MemberRödl Ordinarius, Sebastian
Date: 30 January 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 30 September 2010
Approval Date: 30 January 2011
Submission Date: 15 December 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: concept; inference; judgment; Kant; philosophy of logic
Other ID:, etd-12152010-080153
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:11
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:54


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item