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

Kant and the Meaning of Existence: A Modal Account

Blecher, Ian (2012) Kant and the Meaning of Existence: A Modal Account. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (383kB) | Preview


It is a distinctive claim of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason that what exists outside the mind is always represented under a modality — i.e. as possible, actual or necessary. The interest of this claim is not widely appreciated. Most commentators have ignored it; a few have rejected it out of hand. Since the Critique presents modality as a basic aspect of human knowledge, however, this is a serious oversight. My dissertation is an attempt to rectify it. The main idea is that, for Kant, the knowledge of what exists is connected with a certain kind of progress in the mind — a progress from the capacity to know (possibility) to the act of this capacity, (actuality), and finally to the perfection of that act (necessity). To the extent that the representation of this progress figures in our knowledge of what exists, such knowledge is thus at least implicitly modal. I argue, however, that Kant also intends something stronger: viz. that knowledge of what exists is constituted by its representation within the progress of modalities. It follows that modality is not just one feature of this knowledge among others, but its characteristic form.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairEngstrom, Stephenengstrom@pitt.eduENGSTROM
Committee MemberMcDowell, Johnjmcdowel@pitt.eduJMCDOWEL
Committee MemberBrandom, Robertrbrandom@pitt.eduRBRANDOM
Committee MemberRescher, Nicholasrescher@pitt.eduRESCHER
Committee MemberGubar, Marahmjg4@pitt.eduMJG4
Date: 24 September 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 August 2012
Approval Date: 24 September 2012
Submission Date: 8 August 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 86
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: Kant, modality, epistemology, metaphysics, modern philosophy
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2012 21:47
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:01


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item