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Subject Philosophy

People Kant, Immanuel

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631175353.1995.x


see also apperception , freedom , gemut , receptivity , synthesis Spontaneity is the theoretical aspect of freedom, and a close analogue to its practical aspect of autonomy. As in Kant's general discussion of freedom, spontaneity combines the two properties of freedom from external determination and freedom to self-legislate. The first aspect is prominent in CPR, where spontaneity is consistently opposed (and yet related) to receptivity. At the beginning of the ‘Transcendental Logic’ Kant identifies two sources of knowledge in the Gemut. ‘the first is the capacity for receiving representations (receptivity for impressions), the second is the power of knowing an object through these representations (spontaneity of concepts)’ (CPR A 50/B 74). The former is then described as sensibility, while the latter, or ‘the Gemut's power of producing representations from itself ’ (A 51/ B 75) is the understanding. Only through the combination of both may knowledge arise – ‘receptivity can only make knowledge possible when combined with spontaneity’ (CPR A 97) – but to understand how this takes place requires that their functions be first rigorously distinguished. The function of spontaneity is to combine the manifold given by the sensibility or to synthesize it in the production of experience (see CPR B 130). This requires of spontaneity not only that it be purified of all trace of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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