Kant on Geometrical Intuition | Logic | Immanuel Kant

Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics


Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics
by Frode Kjosavik, Aas, Norwegen

Abstract: It is argued that geometrical intuition, as conceived in Kant, is still crucial to the epistemological foundations of mathematics. For this purpose, I have chosen to target one of the most sympathetic interpreters of Kant’s philosophy of mathematics – Michael Friedman – because he has formulated the possible historical limitations of Kant’s views most sharply. I claim that there are important insights in Kant’s theory that have survived the developments of modern mathematics, and thus, that they are not so intrinsically bound up with the logic and mathematics of Kant’s time as Friedman will have it. These insights include the idea that mathematical knowledge relies on the manipulation of objects given in quasi-perceptual intuition, as Charles Parsons has argued, and that pure intuition is a source of knowledge of space itself that cannot be replaced by mere propositional knowledge. In particular, it is pointed out that it is the isomorphism between Kantian intuition and a spatial manifold that underlies both the epistemic intimacy of the most fundamental type of geometrical intuition as well as that of perceptual acquaintance. Keywords: intuition, logic, arithmetic, geometry, formal system, spatial manifold

In this paper, I argue that geometrical intuition, as conceived in Kant, is still crucial to the epistemological foundations of mathematics. For this purpose, I have chosen to target one of the most sympathetic interpreters of Kant’s philosophy of mathematics – Michael Friedman – because he has formulated the possible historical limitations of Kant’s views most sharply.1 I claim that there are important insights in Kant’s theory that have survived the developments of modern mathematics, and thus, that they are not so intrinsically bound up with the logic and mathematics of Kant’s time as Friedman will have it. These insights include the idea that mathematical knowledge relies on the manipulation of objects given in quasiperceptual intuition, as Charles Parsons has argued, and that pure intuition is a source of knowledge of space itself that cannot be replaced by mere propositional knowledge. In particular, it is pointed out that it is the isomorphism between Kan-


In the following, I shall use “Friedman Ia” to refer to: “Kant’s Theory of Geometry.” In: The Philosophical Review XCIV, No. 4, 1985, 455–506; “Friedman Ib” to refer to “Kant on Concepts and Intuitions in the Mathematical Sciences.” In: Synthese 84, 1990, 213–257. Both are reprinted in Kant and the Exact Sciences, Cambridge, Mass. 1992, 55–95 and 96–135, respectively, and the page numbers will apply to this work. I shall use “Friedman II” to refer to “Geometry, Construction, and Intuition in Kant and His Successors.” In: Between Logic and Intuition: Essays in Honor of Charles Parsons. Ed. by Sher, Gila und Richard Tieszen. Cambridge 2000, 186–218. DOI 10.1515/KANT.2009.001

Kant-Studien 100. Jahrg., S. 1–27 © Walter de Gruyter 2009 ISSN 0022-8877


Frode Kjosavik

tian intuition and a spatial manifold that underlies both the epistemic intimacy of the most fundamental type of geometrical intuition as well as that of perceptual acquaintance. * Among those who have made weighty contributions to the interpretation of Kant’s philosophy of mathematics, three philosophers stand out: Jaakko Hintikka, Charles Parsons and Michael Friedman. Thanks to their analytic expositions, there has been renewed interest in Kant’s theory even after the flourishing of formal methods within modern mathematics. There are, however, significant differences in approach between these thinkers. While Hintikka and Parsons have both used elements from Kant’s theory to forge their own theories of logic and intuition, respectively, Friedman deals with Kant in a sort of backward-looking manner. No doubt, he has proven that such a pursuit is worthwhile, laying out in detail how Kant made profound sense of science as he found it, and, on this basis, how we can make more sense of Kant’s views of science, as well as of his entire philosophy. Still, his retrospective reading runs the risk of downplaying certain deep insights in Kant that do not merely reflect the stand of scientific theories that are now superseded. This was particularly true of his earlier interpretation of Kant’s philosophy of mathematics, where it is argued that it was the limited logic at Kant’s time that shaped his theory of mathematical construction. Friedman dubs this the “logical approach”, and it is contrasted with his more recent “phenomenological approach”, where it is suggested that Kant had a deeper reason for his views of space and time. Here I shall discuss critically both his approaches, and I shall maintain that even the later, richer interpretation does not capture the most essential feature of a Kantian intuition.

1. The “logical approach” in Friedman 1.1. Monadic Logic and Quantifier Dependence It was initially argued by Peirce that Kant’s lack of a polyadic logic gave rise to his theory of mathematics2, and in line with this, Russell maintained that Kant thought intuition had to be appealed to in order to guide inferences that cannot be grounded on mere logic – an appeal obviously rendered entirely superfluous by the development of a more powerful logic.3 Hintikka, by contrast, has claimed that Kantian intuition is called for in the logical inferences themselves in an essential way, and not


Cf. Peirce, Charles Sanders: “Collected Papers”, Vol. 2, § 361, Vol. 3, §§ 559–560, Vol. 4, § 232. In: Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Ed. by C. Hartshorne und P. Weiss. Cambridge, Mass. 1958–1960. Cf. Russell, Bertrand: The Principles of Mathematics. Cambridge 1903, 457 f.; Russell, B.: Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy. New York 1920, 145.

e. cannot be expressed: If we have n predicates at our disposal. This link can be broken. Jaakko: “Are Logical Truths Analytic?” In: Philosophical Review 74. quantifiers can always be driven in in accordance with the rules of prenex operations. which yield all the individuals needed. Sun-Joo: “Kant’s Syntheticity Revisited by Peirce. S.” In: Topoi 3.: “Kant’s ‘New Method of Thought’ and his theory of mathematics. i. we can formalize the notion of denseness through quantifier-dependence: ∀x∀y∃z(x < y → x < z < y) Friedman seems to take Hintikka’s interpretation a step further when he argues that this is also the reason why mathematical concepts are inadequate unless they are “constructed in pure intuition”. 63. and inferences which involve ∃-instantiations should still be considered synthetic. Friedman in his logical approach apparently defends both Hintikka’s view of the role of intuition in Kant as well as Russell’s view of its present relevance.4 Kant’s blunder. J. not the least.” In: The Monist 63.: “Kant on the Mathematical Method. Hintikka. or denseness. Hintikka. In fact. even after the success of modern logic. Frege. J. which is a property of space. In short. extending it indefinitely.’ But in such cases. in the steps in the proofs where new individuals are introduced. which antedated the logic of relatives developed by De Morgan. Peirce. Kant is restricted to a first order essentially monadic predicate logic6. Hintikka. as in Hintikka. Peirce’s First Real Discovery and its Contemporary Relevance. synthetic inferences are simply calculations. 1980. 4 5 6 Cf. J. J. however. was to link intuition in the sense of a representation of an individual to ‘sensibility’. but also into the very propositions themselves.: Logic. for instance through a procedure for bisecting a line segment. we can at most distinguish between 2n elements in our model. Dordrecht 1974. and. However. not analytic.. Hintikka. Jaakko: “C. in ∃-instantiations. as Kant puts it.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 3 merely as an aid to the inferences. Cf. . Friedman Ia. in polyadic quantification theory. where new individuals are introduced through functions. and drawing a circle by rotating a line segment. In other words. 99–108. infinite divisibility. It is argued that Kant’s view that space and time are inseparable from pure intuition derives from the somewhat meagre logical resources of his time. 1984. 1–41. according to Hintikka. Language-Games and Information. Hintikka. Oxford 1973.. “Essentially monadic” because it does not rule out formulae like ‘∀x∃y(Fx→Gy). 1997. 160–183. namely.: “Kant’s Transcendental Method and His Theory of Mathematics. 126–134. in particular. in Shin. Hintikka. It is argued that the two distinctions are not equivalent.” In: Synthese 113. Cf. At the heart of the argument lies the following fact: In a monadic logic. 1965. Similarly.” Ibid. in arithmetic. Hintikka takes the Kantian distinction to correspond to the one in Peirce between ‘theorematic’ and ‘corrolarial’ reasoning. intuition enters not only into the steps of an inference. though.5 In geometry.” In: Knowledge and the Known. 304–315. the synthetic inferences will be based on the three Euclidean operations of drawing a line segment. 178–203.

unlike Hintikka. pinpoints the difference between the logical notion of intuition in the Jäsche-Logik (1800). Michael: “Functions of thought and the synthesis of intuitions”. Cf. Young. intuition apparently adds premises to the inferences – it does not ground an introduction of individuals from existential premises which are themselves independent of intuition. since ‘empirical intuitions’. Friedman Ia. Hence. and the notion of intuition in KrV. I suppose that this does not apply to intuitions in general. there is an aspect of mathematical concepts that is not captured through the Kantian general notion of concepts. 65.: The Foundations of Mathematics. and Kant’s theory of synthetic extensions of mathematical concepts through construction in intuition is partly intended to make up for this. the limits of logic of those days were bound to put certain constraints on conceptualisation in mathematics that were not properly removed until richer means of formalization came along. where an intuition is said to be merely a singular representation. by way of Skolem functions. 101–122. though. and the role of construction in intuition is then anal7 8 9 10 Actually.e. in no way did Kant anticipate such a generalization of monadic logic – he rather indicated that logic appeared complete and would not be able to advance significantly beyond the essentials of Aristotelian syllogistic. i. Hintikka.” In: . Indeed. J. I take it that Hintikka would rather translate functions into existential quantification followed by ∃-instantiation – thereby in effect crediting Kant with the anticipation of the synthetic status of this rule before the rule itself was invented. Evert W. Hildesheim 1961.7 Indeed. where there is an intimate connection between intuition and sensibility. since that would have required a sharp concept of monadic logic that was only possible after polyadic logic was developed. Amsterdam 1968. unlike a polyadic concept. Cf. Kant would have regarded our basic notions of space and time as concepts. in that an intuition is likened to a singular term10. tend to be indefinitely rich in their content. or perceptions. since Friedman. there is a difference. It is rather that our space and time intuitions are quite abstract notions – a bit like concepts in the first place – and space and time may be regarded simply as an invariant structure of our perceptions that can be fully conceptualized when logical resources are added. who in Grundlagen. Jaakko: “On Kant’s Notion of Intuition (Anschauung).. Cf. Frege. not intuitions.9 The Beth-Hintikka line of interpretation supports the logical notion. Beth. Ed. does not think that Kant reasoned explicitly along these lines. Cambridge 1992. Cf. which can be traced all the way back to Frege.4 Frode Kjosavik in so far as they contain concepts that cannot represent individuals adequately by way of monadic predicate logic alone. like particular line segments. by Paul Guyer. Gottlob: Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik. of course. 113 ff. which are infinitely divisible. A Study in the Philosophy of Science. Friedman. does not look to Kant for a justification of a rule like ∃-instantiation but rather for its elimination. § 12.8 The implication of this reasoning is clearly that if a polyadic logic had been at hand. The focus on the shortcomings of the logic of Kant’s time no doubt springs from the “logical” interpretation of the intuition-concept-distinction. In: The Cambridge Companion to Kant. This is also argued in Young on the basis of Friedman’s interpretation.

In: Mathematics in Philosophy: Selected Essays.e.: “Kantian Intuitions.” Ibid.: “Kant’s Transcendental Method and His Theory of Mathematics.’” (Parsons. Friedman.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 5 ogous to the role of free singular terms in predicates. according to Parsons. and the further claim that Kant and Frege do indeed have similar conceptions of logic is one that calls for substantial elaboration. 126–134. 1972. as it is now conceived. 160–183. 11 . Ithaca. J. which is offered in MacFarlane but not in Friedman. just as Poincaré charged that Russell’s “logical” principles were really intuitive. with predicates attached to them representing the concept they ‘construct. however. J. MacIntosh. J. This view of construction is also defended in Parsons: “A picture common to us [i. J.” In: Topoi 3.: “Kant’s ‘New Method of Thought’ and his theory of mathematics. This generality could be taken to mean that logic does not Kant’s First Critique. by T. Hintikka. 110–149. claims that intuition is demanded even to represent the existence claims. Dordrecht 1974. synthetic judgments in disguise. Hintikka. 341–345. intuition is needed to justify existence claims. Hintikka. The main characteristic of pure logic in Kant according to MacFarlane is that it is general. What does Kant Mean by “Logic”? This brings us to a major problem with Friedman’s logic-centred interpretation. like that of a dense linear order. 26 f. and argued more extensively in Friedman. 99–108. Let us therefore look briefly at MacFarlane’s analysis. as suggested in Russell. (MacFarlane 2002. so to speak.) So even if we were to accept that Kant’s view of the role of constructions in mathematics is connected to his view of the scope of logic. 1984. Charles: “Kant’s Philosophy of Arithmetic”. but a kind of abstract combinatorics. As John MacFarlane puts it: It would have been open to Kant to claim that Frege’s Begriffsschrift is not a proper logic at all. and this circumstance motivates a move to pure intuition and transcendental logic all by itself.2.. J.: “Kant on the Mathematical Method. 38–53. Penelhum und J. to Parsons and Hintikka] is of pure intuitions as analogous to free variables. Calif. NY 1983. Belmont. and then conclude that constructions in intuition are no longer needed in mathematics. since the required concept is not available within monadic predicate logic: “Mere general logic is entirely inadequate for even the representation of mathematical concepts and propositions.) However. they may be needed even in logic. Hintikka.129) 1.” In: Inquiry 15. 1969.” In: Knowledge and the Known. or topic-neutral. in that it does not take into account possible differences between Kant’s view of logic and later views. Rather. and that the meaning of the iterated quantifiers can only be grasped through construction in pure intuition. like that of Frege. there is more to pure intuition in Kant than this.” (Friedman Ib.. it does not follow that we can simply substitute a modern notion of logic for that of Kant. by “fulfilling” the concepts involved. 148.11 Accordingly. […] Kant might have argued that Frege’s expansion of logic was just a change of subject. Ed.

In the case of arithmetic. whereas Frege thinks there is a specific domain of logical objects. 25–65. but it also does not permit any existence assumptions regarding logical objects.. Of course.12 unlike geometry. 35). the generality of logic in Kant means that its application is not restricted to any specific domain of objects but that it obtains for objects in general. Charles: “Objects .6 Frode Kjosavik make any specific existence-claims. there are distinct logical objects. but rather to the existence of a potentially infinite domain of objects. Friedman does not think that there is an ontological commitment to any particular kind of objects. but MacFarlane argues convincingly that the truths of logic will also imply norms of how we ought to think according to Frege. logic for Kant is not just general but also formal. and then it is clearly incompatible with the Fregean notion of logic. “Frege.) Cf. At least.. MacFarlane. and the Logic in Logicism”. Fregean logic. ‘∀xFx → ∃xFx’ is a logical truth within standard monadic logic. The main difference between Kant and Frege might seem to be the fact that logic according to Kant is a set of rules. Parsons. though. J. 173 ff. 89. To put it in modern terms. though. This neat assimilation of Kant’s view to that of Frege at a normative level leaves us with the problem of ontological commitment at the descriptive level. 1986. In: The Philosophical Review 111. which corresponds to the rule of subalternation within syllogistic logic (i. On permutationinvariance. the existence claims of mathematics have to be translated into existence claims of logic. but to the extent that we accept logical truths that do not obtain in an empty domain. 33 f.15 In short. As Friedman argues that it is precisely ontological commitment that makes the difference between logic and mathematics for Kant. regardless of its subject matter” (MacFarlane 2002. they are both topic-neutral. In: What Does It Mean To Say That Logic Is Formal? Ph. unlike that of Frege. on the other hand. In this sense. so 12 13 14 15 It does not make any claims about the existence of a particular domain of objects. Friedman Ib. for instance. also “provides constitutive norms for thought as such. Friedman Ia. John. and if mathematics is to be reduced to logic. No.14 Still. this seems to follow from his claim that arithmetic only presupposes the indefinite or progressive iteration of procedures of construction (cf. diss.D. In particular. 1. 2002. but it does not hold within an empty domain. Alfred: “What are Logical Notions?” In: History and Philosophy of Logic 7. see Tarski. in that they have to be sensitive.e. It is not just that logic alone according to Kant does not permit any existence claims with regard to mathematical objects. there are not strictly speaking any mathematical objects in Kant’s weighty sense of object (“Gegenstand”) but only mere “forms” of objects (cf. like Kantian pure general logic. the numbers of arithmetic must be turned into logical objects. Kant. the logical notions are according to Frege not permutation-invariant. thus distinguishing it from mathematics itself. and that the logical notions discriminate between these. MacFarlane. 119 f. University of Pittsburgh.13 On MacFarlane’s view. ‘Every S is P’ ⇒ ‘Some S is P’). According to Frege. and for Frege a set of truths. it is clear that he cannot maintain that logic in Frege’s sense would also be logic in Kant’s sense. that is. Kant’s and Frege’s conceptions of logic were not really at variance with each other. logic does make the general existence claim that there is at least one object. To be sure. In particular.. 143–154. to the difference between the True and other objects. 2000.

It should be noted. in the case of geometry. on the other hand. if Frege’s ‘Begriffsschrift’ is general in Kant’s sense. Burton and Juliet Floyd: “Tautology: How Not to Use a Word”. Cf. KrV. and “positions” of events. rather than the other way around. and the same presumably applies to instances of the law of contradiction and the law of the excluded middle.). 126 f. 491–516). unlike Friedman. like denseness. that Friedman has yet to argue that modern logic is logic in Kant’s sense. Kant would have to accept it as logic in his own sense. Log. For Frege. though. logical truths could never be empty. not generality. Hence. AA 09: § 37. The generality can be taken to follow from the fact that the forms of judgment abstract from all content. along with ‘matter’. B 78). since in many contexts he emphasizes formality as the distinguishing mark of logic. Kant’s formal notion of logic is arguably the basis of Bolzano’s definition of logic by way of variation or intersubstitution of non-logical terms. and I shall return to this issue below. Furthermore. the fact that properties of space. generality is a more fundamental property of logic than formality in Kant. See Dreben. The difference between Kant’s notion and the modern one is mainly that Kant did not think it is arbitrary which terms are fixed as logical – it is precisely those terms that express “forms of thought”. Another argument in favour of this interpretation is that in Kant an instance of a logical principle like the law of identity is taken to be a tautology precisely because the principle is a law of thought. I do not think that this is the only likely scenario. Still. relating only to the unity of thought itself. the way MacFarlane has done. Logic is supposed to yield principles for the form of thought. as opposed to its matter. not its generality.16 Indeed. in that the latter is inferred from the former. it might even be argued that Kant infers generality from formality. rather than any specific views about logic. and thus a precursor to the modern definition of logic. 16 17 . 23–49. since. whereas the forms of intuition in addition relate to the unity of space and time. but at the same time admit that formality is not implied by generality. which is an orientational concept for all reflection. MacFarlane argues. it is ‘form’. After all. and if it had been consistent. I take Kant’s view of construction in mathematics to follow from his general epistemology. 27. 1991. just as there are ‘forms of intuition’. according to the Amphibolies of the Concepts of Reflection in KrV. Friedman Ib. If modern logic turns out to be mathematics. which in Friedman become “‘places’ in an iterative series” (Cf. in the case of arithmetic.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 7 “it abstracts from all content” (“abstrahirt sie von allem Inhalt”. however. since formality has not been shown to be incompatible with generality. In: Synthese 87.” In: The Monist 4. but he might still argue that logic is formal. though. can be expressed and Logic.17 I shall not pursue this issue further here. and there are ‘forms of judgment’. 1982. as they were in Kant. and thereby to some specific content of thought. Granted that faced with Frege’s Begriffsschrift Kant might have to concede that formality cannot simply be inferred from generality.

21 Schon Kant hat gelehrt – und zwar bildet dies einen integrierenden Bestandteil seiner Lehre –. Parsons. which was certainly acknowledged by Hilbert: So fängt denn alle menschliche Erkenntniß mit Anschauungen an. for instance. as a syntactical configuration. A 702/B 730. Stuttgart 1987. This is a quotation from KrV. The upshot of all the criticism. even though it can stand for only one object. i. without the help of general concepts. 232–267. Vols. C. The inadequacy of logical singularity alone is also acknowledged by Hintikka: “Some critics of my earlier work have thought that I interpret any representative which for conceptual reasons stands for only one entity as an intuition. Parsons. by Jan Berg. “Geometrical” Intuition of Formal Systems We may also question the very basis of the logical approach. Howell. the Vorstellung that goes together with a definite description is not an intuition in Kant.8 Frode Kjosavik within modern logic does not itself make them independent of intuition... C.g. 1979–1980. Ithaca 1983. Hintikka e il metodo della matematica in Kant. Hintikka’s interpretation of Kantian intuitions. Band I. 109–121.20 When it comes to intuition in mathematics in particular. 314–343. 79. David: Grundlagen der Geometrie. C. Synthesis. 1984. Parsons.. the most immediate objection to Hintikka’s logical interpretation would be that mathematical justification requires intuition of a formal proof itself. daß die Mathematik über einen unabhängig von aller Logik gesicherten Inhalt verfügt und daher nie und nimmer allein durch Logik begründet werden kann. 1993. No. i.3. Charles: “Mathematical Intuition. The same point is made in Bolzano’s Wissenschaftslehre. 1. as Parsons and Howell have stressed. 1973. geht von da zu Begriffen und endigt mit Ideen. of course not. Parsons. weshalb auch die Bestrebungen von Frege und Dedekind scheitern mußten. 233–246.” In: Topoi 3. Bernard: Wissenschaftslehre. 207–232. which I shall not recapitulate.e. 142–168. Cellucci.” In: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 80. 491–516. nor does it show that our basic representation of space is a concept rather than a pure intuition. 1972–1973. Robert: “Intuition. Maria Cappozzi: “J.18 It has been pointed out that not any singular term will do – not a definite description. 11/2 & 11/3. Manley: “Singular Terms and Intuitions in Kant’s Epistemology. Cf. C.: “Arithmetic and the Categories. In: Bernard Bolzano – Gesamtausgabe.e. and the latter has argued that it can only be a pure demonstrative. Thompson. Parsons. 1982. 1973.” (Hintikka 1984. is that logical singularity does not suffice to single out intuitions only. 108) Hilbert. on the other hand. contends that there are no counterparts to intuitions in natural language at all.” In: Mind 102. Stuttgart 1956. An intuition according to Kant represents its object qua particular.” In: Review of Metaphysics 26. Bolzano.: “On Some Difficulties Concerning Intuition and Intuitive Knowledge. Hence.” In: The Monist 4. . e. Howell and Thompson. This has been criticized on systematic grounds by Parsons. and on historical grounds by Capozzi Cellucci.19 Thompson. Vielmehr ist als Vorbedingung für die An18 19 20 21 Cf.: Mathematics in Philosophy. §§ 72.: “Objects and Logic.” In: Noûs 7. and Individuation in the Critique of Pure Reason.” In: Il Pensiero 18. Ed. but it is not at all clear what the adherents of the logical interpretation would wish to supplement it with.

Friedman Ib. it deals only with quantity – not with quanta – which is also why it has no axioms. David: “Über das Unendliche. not intuition of arithmetical truths.24 The quotation above should then provide us with an example of precisely this. in that proofs are conceived as sequences of symbols. Friedman Ia. den Corallen des Rechenbretts.22 Indeed. Young. Now. In Friedman. would be in the same spirit as Kant’s remark on Segner’s point arithmetic. this finitist framework is of course the basis of Hilbert’s proof theory. it has no ostensive constructions either. which at least Parsons has been careful to make. 496). Parsons 1982. J. so that Kant’s view of the latter might throw some light upon the role of symbolic construction within geometry. This is also argued in Parsons (cf. From this. in that sets with a particular cardinality are intuitable. Friedman mistakenly holds that Young and Parsons regard ostensive construction as some kind of seeing that arithmetical sentences are true. § III. außer-logische konkrete Objekte. What Young and Parsons have in mind is no doubt intuition of instances of arithmetical concepts. It is not just that formal proofs of geometrical theorems are symbolic. who regards numbers as “weakly intuitable”. (KrV. as in the finitist program of Hilbert. as the adherents of the logical interpretation would have it. i. Kant even speaks of images in connection with arithmetic: “So. it does seem to follow that the status of proof theory itself would have to be assimilated to that of arithmetic in Kant. 17–46. die vor Augen gestellt werden. Cf. 107. Rather. since arithmetic does not have any domain of objects of its own. oder den Strichen und Punkten. B 15. that it would depend on intuition in an essential way. . Cf. thus blurring the very distinction between intuition of and intuition that.. and not that the formalization of arithmetic within proof theory robs it of its intuitiondependence. 114. since there are no axioms for quantity (cf. like the constructions within arithmetic. In short. […] ist dieses ein Bild von der Zahl fünf. Parsons 1984. Young has argued persuasively that there are also ostensive constructions in arithmetic. B 179)25 There is thus no doubt that an aspiration to develop an arithmetic based on stroke configurations. wenn ich fünf Punkte hinter einander setze.” In: Mathematische Annalen 95. die anschaulich als unmittelbares Erlebnis vor allem Denken da sind. and not only in geometry.” In: KantStudien 73.e. diese aber an den Fingern.”(KrV. in that “instances” of arithmetical concepts are made intuitable in a way similar to the way geometrical figures “exhibit” geometrical concepts. KrV. and he clearly links mathematics to the manipulation of objects that are given in intuition: Der Begriff der Größe sucht in eben der Wissenschaft seine Haltung und Sinn in der Zahl. even if the numbers are not intuitable as such. 170 f. 1982. 1926.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 9 wendung logischer Schlüsse und für die Betätigung logischer Operationen schon etwas in der Vorstellung gegeben: gewisse. B 299) This indicates that we cannot examine the status of geometrical intuition and construction in Kant without also looking into their status within arithmetic. just as numerals are conceived as sequences of strokes. 120). Michael: “Kant on the Construction of Arithmetical Concepts. 111). Kant himself makes a reference to Segner’s “point arithmetic”23. if not the numbers themselves (cf. 89. 22 23 24 25 Hilbert. on the other hand.

According to Friedman. Their validity or invalidity had to be established independently of the symbolism itself. no symbolic construction of logical concepts.. Cf. geometrical figures. AA 09: § 21 and § 29. After all. exclusion. as in Hintikka. through the ostensive constructions just mentioned. the logical concepts are not themselves set theoretical. however. intersection. and since this logic was regarded as analytic by Kant.27 But whereas this validity test might be seen as a construction of concepts within naive set theory of inclusion.e. Friedman Ia.10 Frode Kjosavik One might object. in which both the Aristotelian term logic and the sentential logic of the stoics could be incorporated. AA 09: § 68. can be assimilated to geometry. This again links arithmetic to the introduction of individuals.. i. e. thereby bringing both ostensive and symbolic constructions together – a bit like the iconic signs and diagrams in Peirce. so no specific existence claims are made. we have a structurally conspicuous notation that models itself. union. In this way. in that there is an important respect in which a particular kind of “geometrical” individuals – numerals – are introduced in the formal proofs of elementary number theory. i. even in the Jäsche-Logik there are ostensive-symbolic diagrams which depict the structure of inferences as well as the species-genus relations between the subject and predicate concept in judgments of various forms. Arithmetic. etc. i. in line with the logical interpretation of Hintikka. logic is assimilated to arithmetic. f(a). that there was symbolism even within the formal Aristotelian syllogistic. As in Hilbert’s “geometry” of strokestrings. since the numerals (0 s0 ss0 sss0) are isomorphic to initial segments of an -sequence. unlike arithmetic. We also have a recursive successor function. and also reminds us of the extra-logical status of the axiom of infinity..e. namely. It may be argued that this is why logic is still analytic in Kant.e. and it might be argued that just as Euclidean geometry is based on iteration of three dif26 27 28 Cf. which even makes specific existence claims about a particular kind of individuals. the structure of the formal system may be an essential feature of its interpretation. .28 Furthermore. this was just a schematic representation or illustration of the various forms of arguments. Log. to the extent that logic was represented symbolically at Kant’s time. even if it does not make any specific existence claims about infinite domains of objects. symbolism by itself does not mean that we have a representation that involves intuition in an essential way. on the other hand. of extensions of concepts.. Indeed. etc.26 a bit similar to the Euler or Venn diagrams of modern logic.. through ostensive and symbolic construction. which cannot be iterated. f(f(a)). as in the case of the canonical Dedekind-Peano-notation.g.. Cf. the main difference between logic and arithmetic in Kant when reconstructed in modern terms is that the latter is concerned with substitution in functionsigns. Log. which can be iterated. 86. whereas logic deals with subsumption. FFa is not well-formed. The latter became possible only with the development of quantification theory. so there was nothing equivalent to the symbolic calculations within arithmetic. It is thus not the logical concepts that are constructed ostensively but mathematical concepts of the extensions of non-logical concepts.

29 As is well-known. Hilbert suggested that the physical universe is finite – in conformity with elliptic geometry (cf. however. which may or may not have any concrete instances. it is also noteworthy that primitive arithmetical structure is retained by “adjectival” translations of elementary arithmetic into first order quantification theory. The syntactical configurations in Hilbert cannot be construed nominalistically. Friedman Ia. Indeed. Cf.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 11 ferent geometrical operations. A constructive Skolem function could then be identified with a function that is primitive 29 30 31 32 33 Cf. just like constructive Skolem functions. in that there is.” In: The Philosophical Review 84. a linear relation between the number of steps in the computation of a recursive addition function and the size of its second argument. 1975. . even some symbolic constructions within logic itself may be regarded as ostensive constructions.32 Another option is to interpret the existential quantifier modalistically – which seems to be in conformity with the emphasis Kant puts on constructibility in arithmetic. Cf. Kitcher.33 This may be a reasonable way of looking at it from a modern perspective. 138 f. Friedman observes that procedures of construction of individuals. 120. From a logicist or deductivist point of view. since he allows stroke strings which are too lengthy to ever be inscribed.31 The ontological status of such stroke strings in Hilbert himself is not clear. it is clear that it does make sense to speak of quasi-geometrical configurations that exhibit the structure of progressions in elementary number theory or that of finite sets in predicative set theory. Cf. 164 f. This would also correspond to Kitcher’s distinction between a ‘form space’ and an ‘object space’. The distinction between an abstract strokestring and a concrete one would then correspond to the distinction in Kant between one that is only given through pure – or “formal” – intuition and one that is given in empirical intuition. and it is taken for granted in Friedman that they are therefore limited to geometry. 30. ostensive construction seems to be equated with geometrical construction in Kant. which would mean that there is not only a practical limit to how long a physical stroke configuration might be. such a translation of the formula “2+2=4” will contain the following pattern of quantifiers: ∃∃ (…) ∃∃ (…) → ∃∃∃∃ (…) For this reason.30 But whether or not Kant himself thought that there could be ostensive constructions in arithmetic. for instance. Hilbert 1926. This means that we are faced with symbolic constructions which are also ostensive in Kant’s sense. Philip: “Kant and the Foundations of Mathematics. One way of dealing with it is to conceive of the stroke strings as abstract objects. Parsons 1983. 65. To be sure. Peano arithmetic is based on iteration of a successor operation.). Friedman Ib. seem to take the place of existential formulae in Kant.

. Friedman Ib. Cf. KrV. B 204. KrV. Bishop. than there is in the naive set theory of Cantor. It is then precisely because of the limitations of the logic of Kant’s time that he had to relate arithmetic to time. but not the laws themselves. also Goodstein. New York 1968. etc. since we do not have any induction schema. Cf. the way they are conceived in Parsons. from this point of view. 113. 119. This is not in conformity with a Kantian constructivism. B 182 and B 300. like the Euclidean ones of drawing line segments. the system has only a finite number of proper axioms. Wet. on the other hand. however. intuitive algorithms which are not Turing-computable are accepted on the basis of the belief that there are mathematical objects which cannot be described symbolically. who takes numbers in Kant to be “sets modulo cardinal equivalence”. It is an important property of Robinson’s system that whereas all recursive functions are representable in it. Rather. for instance. Friedman suggests that Kant’s theory of arithmetic should be reconstructed within a quantifier-free subsystem of recursive arithmetic.: Constructive Formalism. Brouwer. be it within first order logic or within set theory. and all instances of the laws of arithmetic (like that of commutation. who was strongly influenced by Kant. Amsterdam 1928.41 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 Cf. This emphasis on symbolic construction also puts a restriction on what kind of constructivism that can be recognized as Kantian. association. there is a stronger arithmetical component in ZermeloFraenkel set theory. Cf. Friedman Ib. since the sequence of repeated applications of such a rule constitutes an initial segment of an w-sequence. as has been pointed out by Parsons40.35 This is taken to be in accordance with Kant’s claim that there are no axioms in arithmetic. 116. J. Cf. Leicester 1965. Parsons 1984. In Bishop’s neo-constructivism. Errett: Foundations of Constructive Analysis. thereby rendering the notion of construction more precise. Geometry. like Robinson’s system.37 The Kantian basis of constructive functions may then taken to be the arithmetical “synthesis of the homogeneous”. Kant does not take arithmetic to deal with a particular successor function at all. Parsons 1984. Reuben L.38 in that one and the same operation is iterated on the basis of a recursive rule. Cf. Indeed. 374–379. Cf. Cf.: “Intuitionistische Betrachtungen über den Formalismus. since he thinks that Kant permits ostensive construction in geometry only. this might again be considered as an ostensive construction.36 We know that Brouwer. is a theory of the iteration and composition of special basic operations.39 Indeed.12 Frode Kjosavik recursive. Akad. 112.” In: Proc. prolonging them indefinitely and producing circles. according to Friedman. ed. stressed constructivity in terms of recursive definitions as a similarity between intuitionism and formalism. and in no way can sets be regarded as instances of numbers. Presumably. specific arithmetical statements. like ‘7+5=12’.. 2. and not only a symbolic one. This cannot be Friedman’s view. Luitzgen E. Cf.34 and the existential quantifier could be interpreted modalistically in terms of recursive computability. with its iterative conception of a set.) will be theorems within the system. which only has free-variable generality. In particular. Indeed. rather than dealing with it axiomatically. it is a theory of iterative operations in general. 108.

since it would be compatible with a wide variety of 2-spaces. be it through ostensive or symbolic 42 43 44 Cf. even though there were no formal proofs in arithmetic at Kant’s time.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 13 Anyway.42 since any -sequence has a linear order as its substructure. or the asymmetry between past and future. I have thereby pointed out another major problem with the “logical approach”. be it through symbolic representations alone. even if it can be argued that construction within Peano arithmetic relies on intuition in some sense. At the level of types. London & New York 1959. Strawson.43 The problem with this is that in a non-spatial world there can at most be room for a token of the formal system. of temporal successions as spatially represented. we would need the permanence of a weakly objectified time. or also through ostensive ones. that the formal system is given in a No-Space world. which are themselves sequences of symbols. the unboundedness of the space of formal proofs must be temporally represented. Furthermore. Space and time are therefore both presupposed in an epistemology of formal systems. that is the basis of our representation of a linear order. and from a Kantian point of view.. 59–86. like the one suggested by Strawson. Peter F. or of formal systems and their modelling. i. This. just as the directedness of time is spatially represented44. whereas time is intrinsically directed because of its irreversibility. in that it does not take the semantics and epistemology of proofs. . Kant is clearly concerned with the issue of justification or verification of existence-claims within arithmetic. it is an initial segment of a second level linear order of initial segments of first level linear orders. To be sure. it could be argued that it is time. and the fact that it is only a substructure of intuitive space that is essential to the representation of a formal system does not eliminate the role of intuitive space altogether. Indeed. the formal system is itself instantiated in an intuitive 2-space. does not tie the formal system to intuitive space in any intimate way. We might imagine. since there is no direction that is intrinsic to space itself. and the same goes for the iterability of symbol-generating operations in any proof-theoretical practice. An interpretation of Kant which argues that his view of the representation of space and time would change in the light of subsequent developments within logic. Cf. at least in the backward-looking manner it is presented in Friedman. it may not be clear whether the intuition in question is spatial or temporal. On the other hand.e. B 154–156. this might be the reason why Kant thought that there was some link between arithmetic and time. like the open-endedness of the successive application of a recursive functor. however.: Individuals. since arithmetic had yet to be axiomatized. then. B 438. If the formal proof is conceived of just as a sequence of formulae. also has to ask if his views of representation within pure logic would change when logical proofs are formalized. seriously enough. KrV. which is filled only with sounds. Cf. An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics. not space. and is therefore bound to have at least some structure in common with such a space. KrV.

” (Friedman II. like those for a dense linear order. 135. even if the object of an empirical intuition has to be present. 166 and Parsons 1983. – In Peirce. He here distinguishes between the logical approach that he has advocated earlier and a “phenomenological approach”. Vol. The Justification of the Axioms of Geometry I have now looked into Friedman’s logical approach to intuitive space and geometrical intuition in Kant. Cf. Peirce himself thinks that ‘intuition’ in Kant simply means “non-discursive cognition”. and is what ‘schematizes’ the concept of infinity in geometry. It follows from the phenomenological view that even if Kant would come to know about modern logic. the usage of ‘intuitus’ in the sense of “knowledge of the present as present” is traced back to Anselm’s Monologion. he would still stick to his view of geometry as in need of constructions in space if its axioms are to be justified. on the other hand. however. and his interpretation is thus closest to that of Hintikka. which can then be taken to provide us with evidence for or to verify the axioms of geometry. as it were. Peirce 1960. in this approach. is to acquaint us. Friedman partly distances himself from his earlier view. those of historical reconstruction. and we have seen good reasons why it is unsatisfactory even when judged on its own premises. 186) The infinity of space is a perceptual or quasi-perceptual fact that we are acquainted with. with certain phenomenological or perceptual spatial facts. which has been advanced in particular by Parsons. . namely. it is the deductions on the basis of the axioms that have to be justified by intuition – in terms of universal introductions and existence eliminations – and not the axioms themselves. the “primary role of Kantian geometrical intuition. which is taken to be intuition-dependent in a strong sense in Kant – despite its abstractness. 2. Parsons 1980. In Friedman II. and he brings in a passage from Kant’s 45 Cf. but rather that the object of an intuition is present in some phenomenological sense. 112 and 144 f. In the logical approach. one has to discuss whether the justification of these will be different from justification within algebra.45 According to Friedman. i. immediacy in Kant does not simply mean that an intuition does not refer by means of conceptual marks. The difference between the two approaches is related to the dispute between Hintikka and Parsons with regard to whether immediacy is an additional property of an intuition – besides singularity – or whether it is merely a “corollary of the individuality criterion”.. Friedman now agrees that there is more to the Kantian view of space than has been encapsulated in the logical approach.1. 342) On Parsons’s view. as Hintikka has argued. what grounds the legitimacy of its application. we might say. Hence. The “phenomenological approach” in Friedman 2. (Hintikka 1972.e.14 Frode Kjosavik constructions. when specific existence-assumptions are introduced into pure logic by adding non-logical axioms. V.

this cannot be so general as to permit spaces without a determinate curvature. After all. along the lines of Parsons’s interpretation. Princeton 1978. 1955–1956. he thinks. Friedman does not subscribe to the view that metaphysical space is epistemically prior to geometrical space in Kant.48 In other words. 80 f. intuition would not be needed to represent them to begin with. be supplemented by considerations congenial to the phenomenological approach”. Instead. Brittan. unlike Parsons. to the effect that any straight line segment can be extended indefinitely. . and that “the infinity of geometrical spaces is grounded in the single. has earlier been advanced in Beck. Indeed. each more extensive than its predecessor. respectively).). Friedman Ib.46 which. AA 10: 419–421. 168–181. geometrical construction is still the modo cognoscendi of metaphysical space. Russell 1903. uniquely given metaphysical space” (Friedman II. and as long as intuition is required. who argues that Kant does not take them to follow analytically from our geometrical concepts precisely because he foresaw the development of alternative geometries. 188). The view that the inferences are analytic. at the very least. then. Cf. so it cannot justify the second axiom of Euclidean geometry. and that it is only because of the justification of the axioms that geometry is synthetic. Gordon: Kant’s Philosophy of Science. Cf. infinite extension cannot be given to us like a phenomenological fact. Friedman has an operational interpretation of geometry in that “what grounds the possibility of geometrical construction.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 15 dispute with Eberhard in 1790. Apparently. 189 f. geometrical concepts in Kant are not abstract enough to serve the purpose of uninterpreted terms in formal systems.47 In particular. geometry is possible because we can do it. and we can apparently imagine a potentially infinite sequence of such finite spaces. where the quantifier dependence of axioms of both Euclidean geometry and Peano arithmetic (according to the modern conception) are seen to be translated into constructions. Indeed. is simply the immediate activity of our a priori imagination by which we draw or describe a straight line in thought and then rotate such a line around a fixed point” (Friedman II. as it were. and its truth follows from 46 47 48 Cf. if they were that abstract. through mere “intuitive insight”. Cf. Lewis White: “Can Kant’s Synthetic Judgements Be Made Analytic?” In: Kant-Studien 47. This means that perceptual or quasi-perceptual facts about metaphysical space cannot be used to justify or verify the axioms of geometry. in the sense that geometrical knowledge can be founded on some kind of direct acquaintance with facts about metaphysical space. which picks out the existing space among all the possible spaces. Br. and 98ff.. While this contrasts with the Russellian view that it is the inferences from the axioms that are synthetic in Kant. The view that the axioms are synthetic has also been defended by Brittan. Kant claims that any finite geometrical space is in a way “cut out” from an infinite metaphysical space. 126. This view is rightly rejected in Friedman Ia and Ib (cf. The point is also made in the earlier logical approach. 456 ff. Russell also touches upon this idea when he suggests that a Kantian might argue that the definition of space can only be justified by pure intuition. bears out “that the logical approach to Kantian geometrical intuition must. the view that he attributes to Kant is that while metaphysical space is the modo essendi of any geometrical space. However.

M. Hans: “Die Krise der Anschauung”. it requires “geometrical intuition and perceptual spatial ‘facts’” within the phenomenological approach. cf. Friedman Ib.50 This yields full continuity. as opposed to the phenomenological approach. 86–114. Peano (1890) even demonstrated how one such curve could go through all the points of a square. In: Hans Hahn. Friedman II. 1988. Empirismus. 72 ff. that there are ‘monster’ curves which are continuous. Cf. For instance. For historical reasons. B 211–212 as well as B 555. Friedman’s scepticism with regard to spatial intuition as a mere source of geometrical insight or knowledge is easily granted – even if we leave the controversy over Euclidean versus non-Euclidean geometry aside. Br. geometry does not deal with point sets. Ed. i. 213. it is thus not directly related to our representation of metaphysical space. and I take it to be in accordance with Kant’s own emphasis on the role of continuous quanta as opposed to discrete ones within geometry51. This kinematical interpretation is also part of the earlier logical approach. though. . 49 50 51 52 Cf. Mathematik. Logik. In this approach. and later by Weierstrass (1861).). that Kant never thought that intuition alone was a source of mathematical knowledge but only construction of concepts in intuition.16 Frode Kjosavik this possibility. 126 ff. this is no different from how a straight line emerges as the limit of an iteration of the procedure of extending a given line segment by its own length within the framework of elementary Euclidean operations – a straight Euclidean line can never be given as such in intuition either. 1790. This. Friedman Ia. KrV. which means that they can only be constructed through ‘motion of a point’ in an abstract sense. which is taken to consist in the “motion of a point”. nor even to Euclidean geometry.. i.52 and even the concepts of these ‘pathological’ curves are constructible in some sense. Hahn. by B.e. Cf.e. Kant’s letter to Rehberg. In a way. Newton’s calculus (cf. All we have to do is to look at how the concept of a curve evolved after Kant’s death. It is there connected to the strong quantifier-dependence in the axiom of Cauchy-completeness. and Sierpinski (1915) discovered one that intersects itself at each and every point. McGuinness Frankfurt a. – The claim is repeated in Kitcher 1975. it was noted by Bolzano (1834). I think. AA 12: 375 ff. even though they lack a tangent at any point. Cf. supports Friedman’s operational interpretation of Kant’s theory of geometry. On the alleged “crisis of intuition”. though. This is precisely what Hahn overlooks when he argues that the development of the concept of a curve has dealt a death blow to Kant’s theory of geometry. that whereas the possibility of a geometrical operation follows from having a Skolem function for an existential quantifier within the logical approach. 41. as opposed to mere denseness. It is important to realize. in that the curves emerge as the limit of a recursive procedure..49 He also has a kinematical interpretation of geometrical construction. and it is argued that Kant’s motivation is to account for the method of fluxions. It should be noted.

Furthermore. on this account. but he does speculate on types of space of higher dimensionality. who made a distinction between formal.54 This is also the view held by Carnap. Ein Beitrag zur Wissenschaftslehre. no matter how one views the relation between geometrical and metaphysical properties. in Gedanken von der wahren Schätzung der lebendigen Kräfte (1747). thereby wedding Kant to the kinematical conception of spatial intuition in Helmholtz. Carnap’s view is discussed in Friedman. Sellien. our knowledge of the finiteness or infinity of metaphysical space would depend on geometrical knowledge. we would have to take in perceptual facts to determine which geometry that is true of metaphysical space. . despite the fact that Helmholtz himself viewed this as an anti-Kantian idea. and in Friedman. and geometry itself can only provide us with finite spaces as well as with the potential infinity of a sequence of spaces where each contains its predecessor. so to speak. Carnap. and any object can be traced kinematically. thereby anticipating the later works of 53 54 55 Cf.55 This distinction between various types of spaces is not suggested by Kant himself.: A Parting of the Ways. Cambridge 1999. Berlin 1922.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 17 2. One may still wish to distinguish this intuitive space from the space of physics. Still. as did some of the neo-Kantians in their reply to Reichenbach’s criticism. since we could at some point reach a boundary of metaphysical space. AA 04: 480. even if he disagreed with Kant over which properties this space has. Illinois 2000. Cassirer. Rudolf: Der Raum. is much more problematic. Hence. the first three axioms of Euclidean geometry describe the kinematics of our moving our point of perceptual attention. and who clearly understood Kant’s theory of geometry as pertaining to intuitive space. Indeed. and Heidegger. intuitive space is only “infinitesimally Euclidean”. so the infinity of metaphysical space cannot be inferred from geometry or kinematics. Chicago and Lasalle. it is clear that space according to Kant cannot have any properties that are incompatible with the geometry of his time. Cf. and thus on spaces that lie beyond the realm of perception. MAN.2. if we were faced with alternative geometries. the latter cannot be grounded on the former in the first place.53 This is clearly not mere geometrical or kinematical knowledge. intuitive and physical space. through translation and rotation. Cf. Berlin 1919. so according to Friedman’s interpretation. 44–58. M. like higher dimensionality or curvedness. in that he now transforms the motion of a geometrical point into the motion of a perceptual focus. however. like Sellien. as Kant would put it. According to Carnap. or “phoronomically”. Michael: Reconsidering Logical Positivism. Carnap. however. This is supposed to account for how our knowledge of metaphysical space depends on our knowledge of Euclidean geometry. as Parsons has argued. though. Ewald: Die erkenntnistheoretische Bedeutung der Relativitätstheorie. Geometrical Knowledge of Metaphysical Space Friedman’s next step. 64–69. Metaphysical space is thus identified with perceptual or demonstrative space. in that every possible position and orientation in intuitive space can be constructed geometrically.

but 56 Cf. An Alternative Phenomenological Approach 3. Concepts It is noteworthy that Friedman in his phenomenological approach no longer considers the property of denseness.18 Frode Kjosavik Grassmann and Riemann. alternative spaces are ruled out in so far as he is now concerned with accounting for the conditions of our actual experience. the reference to spatial intuition is replaced with a conceptual Riemannian metric. and spatial intuition is only needed to explain the origin or application of the mathematical concept of space.e. Grassmann.56 He also theorizes that there may be a connection between the forces that act in space and the structure of space. die von ganz anderm Wesen sind. Hermann: Die lineale Ausdehnungslehre. 3. ein neuer Zweig der Mathematik. I shall argue below. that even a Riemannian manifold has a property which only intuition can represent adequately.. and that this property is precisely why even Riemannian manifolds are geometrical spaces rather than just algebraic structures. which was pivotal in his logical approach. be they Euclidan. so to speak. i. Leipzig 1844. It should then in principle be possible. on the other hand. when Kant says that all spaces must be part of one and the same space. […] Räume von dieser Art könnten nun unmöglich mit solchen in Verbindung stehen. 200) For Helmholtz. of course. daher würden dergleichen Räume zu unserer Welt gar nicht gehören. since all spaces with constant curvature will satisfy the conditions of the Helmholtz-Lie theorem. Now. sondern eigene Welten ausmachen müssen. The Ausdehnungslehre deals with n-dimensional vector spaces. Friedman seems to think. elliptic or hyperbolic. Rather. (Friedman II.1 The Structure of Intuitions vs. AA 01: 24–25) In his critical philosophy. which he takes to permit only one kind of space. die ein endlicher Verstand untersuchen könnte. according to Friedman. (GSK. pure geometry as such need not involve spatial intuition at all. for one and the same subject to point to all positions in this space with a “Euclidean geometrical finger”. I take it to mean not only that all discrete spatial regions are part of a single continuous space. . but also that there is only one type of space. Hence. in particular. through translations and rotations of one’s field of perception. however. free mobility of rigid bodies only yields a substructure of Euclidean space. as if it were a rigid body moving freely through space. between gravity and dimensionality: Eine Wissenschaft von allen diesen möglichen Raumesarten wäre unfehlbar die höchste Geometrie. this is why Helmholtz supports an empiricist conception of geometry: The axioms of specifically Euclidean geometry are neither necessities of thought (because we can consistently develop the more general concept of Riemannian metrical manifold) nor necessities of intuition (because the formal structure of spatial perception leaves all three classical cases of constant curvature still open). As Friedman points out.

and the fact that our intuitions can mirror this unity. one may miss an important facet of the German term which has to do with unity of content rather than uniqueness of reference. 103. I take it that it is the intrinsic unity of space. subregions. in that everything we intuit must belong to one and the same space and time. are not composed of pre-given 57 Cf. he has earlier ruled out that we have any perception or quasi-perception of the infinite divisibility of metaphysical space.e. durch die eben dasselbe Bewußtsein als in vielen Vorstellungen. A concept in Kant is either simple or finitely complex. just as space can be indefinitely divided into regions. Diese Einzelheit derselben ist wichtig in der Anwendung (siehe § 25).. etc. but rather with that of extension. On the interpretation I am offering. I would like to argue that what matters is not simply that we cannot conceptualize denseness within logic. Contrary to the emphasis on the developments of logic within the logical approach. . on the other hand. or “an infinity in act”. the “Einzelheit” is important because it forms the basis of the synthetic unity of all intuitions. he is clearly not concerned with the potential infinity of division. A vast array of tropes can be taken in without effort precisely because intuitions. including the empirical ones. in that there are only one space and one time. (KrV. Fn.57 I have already suggested an alternative phenomenological approach to arithmetic. can be indefinitely divided. which is to ground the potential expansion of any geometrical space. sondern viel Vorstellungen als in einer und deren Bewußtsein enthalten. The point is not just singularity. as opposed to an intuition. mithin als zusammengesetzt. in that space and time exhibit homogeneity in a very strict sense. whereas actual infinity. Ästhetik). whereas the content of an intuition. belongs to metaphysics. which takes denseness rather than infinite extension as its point of departure. aber doch ursprünglich angetroffen wird. mithin nicht bloße Begriffe. I shall now propose an alternative phenomenological approach to geometry itself. but also simplicity. but rather that a concept cannot itself have a dense structure. subsubregions. Still. which takes the geometrical features of the formal systems seriously. Friedman Ib.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 19 rather the infinite extension of metaphysical space. that underlies our experience of the richness of everyday perception. B 136. Thus. mithin einzelne Vorstellungen mit dem Mannigfaltigen. since our senses are only finitely acute. and this unity must ultimately point to what Kant calls “the synthetic unity of transcendental apperception”. because the visual field is itself always limited. das sie in sich enthalten (siehe die transsc. despite the complexity they present us with. by translating “einzeln” into “singular”. i. When he argues that the potential infinity according to Kant belongs to geometry. it grounds the unity of the manifold of perception. just as he rules out that we are in any way directly acquainted with the infinite extension of metaphysical space. folglich die Einheit des Bewußtseins als synthetisch. The characteristic unity of content in an intuition is brought out in the following important passage: Der Raum und die Zeit und alle Theile derselben sind Anschauungen.) Note in particular the use of “Einzelheit” here.

are in general composed of other concepts: all the complex ones consist of other full-blown concepts. Thus. d. i. Concepts. (Log. or else.i. sondern Totum nennen. each concept that is a part of a concept is also said to be a mark of that concept. In the last instance. and this has to do with the unity of space itself. with its actual simplicity and potential complexity. there must be simple concepts.17–19) By contrast. in that all local regions of global space are connected as tightly as is conceivable: […] Compositum. and the whole depends on the parts. (KrV. Kant says: Die Reihe subordinirter Merkmale stößt a parte ante. like a complex concept. but not the other way around. ‘unmarried’ and ‘man’. subordinated marks. it is still not decomposable into a set of simple point-intuitions. and where each part as well as the whole itself are subsumable under the same concept. AA 09: 59. With regard to the subordinated marks. 5834 and no. in eine wechselseitige Verbindung gesetzt wird und dadurch Eines ausmacht.17–24). die sich ihrer Einfachheit wegen nicht weiter zergliedern lassen. B 40). AA 18: 366..58 Against the background of such a spatial totum.e. and where there is no causal interaction that keeps the parts together. We now see that the so-called synthetic unity of an intuition is widely different from that of a concept. even if an intuition of a geometrical figure is interdependent on the construction of the referent itself. in a way that the perception of a physical object is not. all concepts would be infinitely complex. als ob er eine unendliche Menge von Vorstellungen in sich enthielte” (KrV. 5843 (HN.. i. the concept of bachelor has two co-ordinated marks. an intuition can be densely packed with determinations in a way that a concept can never be. Den Raum sollte man eigentlich nicht Compositum. To give an example. Some or all of these marks might have further marks. Each and every part that is contained in the intuition is connected with the other parts in a much more intimate way. . then. and the same goes for an intuition. We analyse a concept by making a list of its independent. an unauflösliche Begriffe. The concept of man has as one of its marks ‘human being’. on the other hand. oder auf Seiten der Gründe. The singularity of an intuition is 58 See also Reflection no. An intuition is not a sum of minimal parts that can be given independently of it. there are no simple building blocks of which space and time are composed. weil die Theile desselben nur im Ganzen und nicht das Ganze durch die Theile möglich ist.05–07 and 367. 113. which would be at odds with Kant’s statement to the effect that “kein Begriff als ein solcher kann so gedacht werden. and Parsons 1984. in the Kantian theory of ‘marks’ (“Merkmale”) in the Jäsche-Logik.20 Frode Kjosavik sub-intuitions. co-ordinated. B 466) What Kant here names a ‘totum’ is a whole which can only be divided and subdivided arbitrarily.e. so ‘human being’ is a subordinated mark of ‘bachelor’. just as space is not composed of pre-given sub-spaces. welches abgesondert (wenigstens in Gedanken) gegeben. die zufällige Einheit des Mannigfaltigen. marks. Indeed.

which is why such a space is a form of intuition. Synthetic extensions of representations on conceptual grounds would therefore not have the same transparency as those on intuitive grounds. but also its epistemic singularity. since the whole is prior to its parts. Cf. As a form of intuition. According to Coffa.60 The problem with this suggestion is that these extensions would have a very different status from those which take place in a field of intuition. intuitions do represent the structure of their referents precisely by way of their structural similarity to their referents. Cambridge 1991. Kant has overlooked the possibility of a conceptual ground beyond that of mere analysis and logic. and. then. in that. even though this does not follow from an analysis of the very concept of a triangle. § 72. After all. Coffa. it has no real parts. It is clear. but on coherence within a field of meaning. J. Cf. there could also be synthetic extensions of geometrical concepts in a holistic field of meaning.. that even if Kant had disposed of a polyadic quantification theory. as when the sum of angles in a triangle is demonstrated to equal that of two right angles. it is also the basis of synthetic extensions of geometrical concepts.. it would not follow from this that it would represent this indefinite complexity. nor would it turn the concept into a complete percept – like a conceptum infimum – since only a limited number of predicates can occur in its formal representation: Aber einen niedrigsten Begriff (conceptum infimum) oder eine niedrigste Art. i. Judgments which are true “by virtue of meaning” may thus be synthetic in one sense and analytic in another. hence. this would not necessarily make the concept given by this formula under the intended interpretation isomorphic to a dense substructure of Euclidean space. even if a concept were to be indefinitely complex.e. This semantic basis turns out to be a “propositional context” that “is prior in the sense that the context defines the concept” (ibid. as concepts in general do not represent their own structure. On the other hand.. Coffa argues that Kant has confused the class of judgments that are true in virtue of analysis and logic with those which are true on a “purely conceptual ground” (ibid. a spatial intuition could not represent a dense space if it were not itself dense. Wissenschaftslehre. In other words.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 21 thus not just the logical – or referential – singularity that is the cornerstone of the Hintikka interpretation. not the same legitimacy either. and not just a form of the intuited. . giebt es in der Reihe der Arten und Gattungen nicht. 59). like space itself. the semantic extension of the concept is not based on correspondence with an object that falls under it. only ideal ones. worunter kein anderer mehr enthalten wäre. in the form of a semantic basis. synthetic judgments that are not based on mere conceptual analysis in Kant’s sense – a view he attributes to Helmholtz. 19) (‘clarificatory’ as opposed to ‘ampliative’ in Kant). through construction. 59 f.59 To be sure. so that denseness could be expressed through nested quantifiers. Alberto: The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap: To the Vienna Station. In particular. and have labelled both ‘analytic’. weil ein sol59 60 Bolzano’s definition of a Kantian intuition as a representation that is both singular (“einzeln”) with regard to its extension (logical singularity) and simple (“einfach”) with regard to its intension (epistemic singularity) is very much in accordance with this.

This argument does not rest on the mistaken general assumption that there must be a one-to-one correspondence between the parts of the representation of an object and the parts of the object itself.62 Coffa agrees with this. though. That it is not obvious what the answer would be indicates that intuitions are epistemically privileged with regard to our representation of space even when the more refined Fregan theory of concepts is taken into account. the third. that of second order quantifiers.22 Frode Kjosavik cher sich unmöglich bestimmen läßt. Coffa 1991. who points out that there are many concepts where this is not the case. like ‘a land without mountains’ or ‘the eye of the man’. since only concepts can be exposed. and extension. § 63. Recall Frege’s criticism of Kant’s view of concepts in Grundlagen §§ 88–89. the second. namely. This view is criticized in Bolzano. Wissenschaftslehre. Thus. this must be in a weaker sense than the isomorphism between an intuition and its referent. like space itself. on Frege’s more refined notion. Wissenschaftslehre. and the syntactical representation can lie at different levels – the first being the predicate level. oder die wir aus der Acht lassen. there can be no general assumption in KrV of isomorphism underlying any representation. since only concepts can enter into pure propositional knowledge. and he cites a passage from Reflexionen to back it. etc. intension. that of first order quantifiers. Bolzano takes Kant to subscribe to this view – that is one reason why Kant claims that our representation of space has to be an intuition. and that it also leaves no room for hierarchical quantification. that this Kantian notion of a concept is a very crude one. rather than a concept. since the relation between the parts of a concept is much more abstract than is the spatial relation between the 61 62 63 Cf. Indeed. (Log. die wir entweder nicht bemerken.) It would rather be a concept of a type that Kant cannot really account for. there could be no judgments about space if there were no concept of space. § 65. there will be a trichotomy between syntactical representation.63 To this it might be objected that there is of course also a concept of space in Kant – it is just that it has to be derived from a pure space intuition. AA 09: 97. The question is then whether a Fregean concept can bear a relation to space that is just as intrinsic as that of intuition. Cf. Hence. Denn haben wir auch einen Begriff. a merely syntactical notion of the intension of a concept. . It is also clear that to the extent that there is to be a structural similarity between a concept and an object that it applies to. not intuitions. One may object. Cf. 31 f. Fn. den wir unmittelbar auf Individuen anwenden: so können in Ansehung desselben doch noch specifische Unterschiede vorhanden sein. The Metaphysical Exposition is after all an exposition of the concept of space. since only an intuition can be infinitely divisible.61 Still. This I take to be equivalent to the question whether the intension of a third level concept of a dense linear order is isomorphic to a dense linear order or not.

since concepts can be more or less abstract. It is also because of this isomorphism between arbitrary partitions of an intuition and those of the space of its referent that an intuition can pertain to a lot more determinations than a concept. and denseness is a property attributed to space-time in modern physics as well. contrary to Kant’s claim.65 Hence. there is an important difference between the case of infinite divisibility. on the other hand. – A quantized spacetime where particles jump from one position to another – corresponding to the Planck distance and Planck time – has been suggested as an explanation of why high-energy particles can reach the Earth without being annihilated through collisions with other particles. a pure finite space. 115–140. 2: Spinor and Twistor Methods in Space-Time Geometry. on the other hand. as is a Riemannian manifold with variable curvature. Forrest argues that it is an open question whether space-time is continuous or discrete. it would still be dense. Peter: “Is Space-Time Discrete or Continuous? – An Empirical Question. To be sure. since even a finite but unbounded space would be compatible with the way Kant conceives of the unity of space in his epistemology of perception.64 as it applies to everything. can neither be made more general. as it grounds the very distinction between the unity of an intuition and that of a concept. it has no real parts. Ed. which is equivalent to “zooming in” on particular features of its referent. The latter can be seen to be a contingent property of intuitive space in Kant. even if mainstream physics has held on to continuous spaces. 1988. Log. Brian. which is what Friedman starts out with in Friedman 1992. depending on how many marks they contain. with regard to the developments within pure and applied geometry after Kant. More recently. has a completely different status in his epistemology. as he also held. Roger and Wolfgang Rindler: Spinors and Space-Time. which is the mathematical property he ends up with analysing in Friedman II. is dense. Logik. but precisely for that reason it has no parts either. 64 65 Cf. by narrowing down its scope. and it can only be divided arbitrarily into parts. since only a totum can have an indefinite potential for perceptual complexity. ‘Something’ (‘etwas’) is according to Kant the most abstract concept. Also. Penrose. so even if we accept that intuitive space is not infinite. it means that the parts of the object can outnumber the parts of the concept by far.” In: Synthese 103. Frankfurt a. AA 09: 95. Hans: “Gibt es Unendliches?” In: Hans Hahn.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 23 parts of its object. Vol. Infinite divisibility. there are notable exceptions. 327–354. . or denseness. like an elliptical space. nor more specific. Mathematik. Empirismus. An intuition. in Penrose. – See also the discussion in Forrest. by McGuinnes. Like space itself. Furthermore. the geometrical points of a continuous space-time are replaced with fuzzy intersections between ‘twistors’. M. and there is an isomorphism between it and its referent because of the spatial unity of both. For instance. and the case of infinite extension. Cf. Hahn in 1934 toyed with the idea of a discrete physical space-time (cf. even if he identified unboundedness with infinity. Cambridge 1986. 1995. nor flat. Hahn.

rather. is not merely due to indexicality. Friedman II. unboundedness. Friedman does not think that knowledge of metaphysical properties of space can be independent of knowledge of its mathematical properties.e. But this very abstract unity-condition is not merely conceptual either. 197. even though metaphysical space. is itself conceptual. B 160. by virtue of allowing free mobility. in so far as it deals with continuous spatial manifolds. conditions the possibility of particular geometries. Rather. If that were the case.24 Frode Kjosavik 3. even if it is determined by it. Cf.2 Indexicality and Isomorphism as Extra-Conceptual Facts It is this important phenomenological fact that Friedman has overlooked in his phenomenological approach. i. To be sure. of space are thus ascertained by the very same procedure.68 I think it is correct that the synthetic unity of transcendental apperception is not itself token-reflexive. KrV. As was pointed out earlier.. even though he does discuss another metaphysical property of space – unity in terms of all-inclusiveness and indexicality. through translation and rotation of its perceptual focus. but is rather an expression of a normative unity-constraint that is put on all thought. even if the unity of apperception. but on the basis of Kant’s characterization of the relation between finite geometrical spaces and infinite metaphysical space it is in Friedman connected to the all-inclusiveness of metaphysical 66 67 68 Cf. Indeed. and not with a “subjective” one. not conceptual. as that would not rule out the conceptual possibility of a multitude of parallel non-discernable metaphysical spaces.e. which only deals with objective spaces. it would be irrelevant to geometry. and the infinite extension. together with infinite extension. The extra-conceptual unity of space and time. the Euclidean operations of translation and rotation are demanded to justify or verify that perceptible spatial regions are interconnected and without fixed boundaries. the “I” of the “I think” does not function egocentrically as an essential indexical in Kant. infinite extension as a geometrical property could in principle be subject to the same logical approach as infinite divisibility. Friedman II. since he does not take into account the metaphysical property of space that enables its indefinite potential for perceptual complexity. Both the unity. either. i.67 this is according to Friedman simply because the relation ‘is reachable from here’ is indexical. on the other hand. which conditions the unity of space. as there is an isomorphism between intuitions and space and time themselves. in terms of all-inclusiveness and indexicality. or. it is also rooted in the fact that a totum-unity cannot be conceptualized adequately.. the distinction between numerical and qualitative identity is non-enforcable by either intuitions or concepts alone. 198. Hence. unity in this sense.66 When Kant claims that the unity of space does not belong to the understanding. and this is relevant to geometry. Cf. in that all regions of metaphysical space must ultimately be accessible to one and the same subject. . are now said to be the “two key features of intuitive space”.

intuition can. whereas that of divisibility still remains open to “logicistic” reduction within polyadic quantification theory. or definitely complex. the geometrical property of extension is in a way phenomenologized. This distinguishes my phenomenological interpretation from that of Friedman.. as it were. according to Friedman’s interpretation. there is no difficulty at all in 69 Cf. and it cannot be satisfactorily understood. rather than that of infinite extension. as opposed to Kantian or Fregean concepts. There is. 1969. however. on the other hand. like a perceptual ‘noema’ in Husserl. involve no sensations or actual perceptions at all.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 25 space and to the indexical representation of this all-inclusiveness. It is only because there is no room in Kant’s own conception of logical. on his phenomenological approach. This property has been phenomenologized by Kant himself through his distinction between a totum and a compositum. of course. i. for a wholly nonconceptual faculty of pure spatial intuition. 680–687. as opposed to empirical. For Helmholtz. Friedman’s proto-Helmholtzian manoeuvre can be avoided if one picks the geometrical property of infinite divisibility as the essential one. there is no reason why empirical intuition. in terms of its structural similarity to space itself. I believe.” In: The Journal of Philosophy 66. and the post-Kantian enrichments of logic and geometry have in no way altered its status. . Friedman still thinks that only the logical approach can explain why Kant had to introduce pure intuition: Indeed. representations. or indefinitely complex. Dagfinn: “Husserl’s Notion of Noema. Since. is only required to represent a pure geometrical space. Hence. accordingly. by contrast. or perception. While we might still posit meaning-entities which are indefinitely complex. or analytic thought for anything corresponding to pure mathematical geometry that there is a place. conceptual.e. or so it seems. If one then takes the epistemic intimacy of a pure spatial intuition seriously. The isomorphism between spatial intuition and intuitive space is thus a fundamental synthetic premise of Kantian epistemology. Pure intuition. which are digital.69 it is clear that only digital concepts can be represented within formal logic. he is then forced to give a highly speculative account of the Kantian connection between Euclidean geometry and the indexicality of our representation of metaphysical space as an extra-conceptual fact. Føllesdal. as in Helmholtz’s physical geometry. one realizes that intuitions are analogue. not even with regard to knowledge of mathematical objects. which cannot be fully conceptualized within monadic predicate logic. except by invoking the basic ideas of the logical interpretation of this doctrine. and we have seen that it parallels the dichotomy between intuitions and concepts. Indeed. according to Føllesdal’s interpretation. not much textual evidence to support the contention that Kant thought the extension of the indexical “is reachable from here” has to be geometrically determined. Kantian pure. Thus. a priori knowledge of metaphysical space depends on geometrical knowledge. Kant’s doctrine of space as a pure form of outer intuition is in this sense entirely unique. that kinematical construction of line segments and circles enters into the very acts whereby parts of metaphysical space are demonstratively identified. should not suffice to represent intuitive space.

their totum-connectedness. 202) In other words. in that he considers it to be a separate faculty – or just view it as an invariant feature of our sequences of empirical intuitions or perceptions. or that we do not know for sure that the world is infinitely complex. The objection that there is a limit to how fine-grained our perceptions can be. and an appeal to spatial intuition or perception is only then necessary to explain the psychological origin and empirical application of the pure mathematical concept of space. i.. (Friedman II. there is still a constructive Euclidean basis of our representation of denseness or continuity. Moreover. Furthermore. as opposed to a theory of structures in general. with its emphasis on introduction of individuals through definite procedures of construction. which are just nominally identified as “spaces”.e. As Friedman thinks there is both a logical or constructive and a phenomenological side to Kantian intuition. this means than any Kantian “phenomenology of space” has to be limited to homogeneous manifolds. the way they are in the case of geometrical spaces of constant curvature. as Kant would put it – and a dense or continuous spatial manifold points to a Kantian phenomenology of space of even wider scope. even if the truths of Euclidean geometry are not known a priori in the sense Kant envisaged. this holds whether we accept pure intuition as an independent mode of representation – as Friedman clearly does. since the geometrical intuition that underlies our anticipations of open-ended continuous sequences of perceptions – or of the analogue nature of perspectival variation – is that of a totum rather than of a compositum. Only if there is a relation to Kantian intuition within the semantics – or modelling – of axiomatic systems in geometry can it be a theory of space. Instead.. his phenomenological approach to pure geometry can also be generalized – by way of group theory and Weyl’s idea of infinitesimal rotation and translation in a metrical field.e. like a formal space in Carnap. is no longer compatible with the phenomenological approach. the isomorphism between a manifold of potential co-referential spatial intuitions – all “contained in a single actual intuition”. It could then just as well be considered as a concept of a mere settheoretical structure. there is no need for pure. Furthermore. on my interpretation. On the other hand. as opposed to empirical. with no reference to spatial intuition whatsoever (via the Riemannian conception of metrical manifold). since it does not matter if the space in question has constant or variable curvature – it is still infinitely divisible. according to Friedman. To put it in Kantian terms. as soon as a pure geometrical space can be represented by way of concepts alone. This means that the logical approach to the grounds of geometrical knowledge.26 Frode Kjosavik formulating pure mathematical geometry conceptually or analytically. As Friedman points out. like an intuition itself. but Euclidean constructions in an extended sense of each and every point are then no longer possible. misses the point. this . there would be no strong reason why a “pure mathematical concept” should be a concept of space if a Riemannian manifold does not resemble intuitive space in some important respect. however. intuition. there will be two different foundations of pure geometry – one that is merely conceptual and intuition-independent. be it pure or empirical. i. if there were no link to intuition. and one that is phenomenological and intuition-dependent.

This is not to deny that mathematical intuition includes more abstract types of pure spatial intuition. it is quasi-perceptual intuitions that constitute the epistemological foundations of pure mathematics – not conceptual representations of abstract structures. i. Topological intuitions. With regard to the modelling of the numerals. are based on conceptual analogies and algebraic generalization. that a phenomenological account must be given of its conditions of applicability. the quasiperceptual modelling of the axioms of a Riemannian manifold does hinge on the totum-unity of perceptual space.e. are based on the concept of bicontinuous transformations.70 70 I am grateful to Michael Friedman for comments on an earlier draft of this paper. But from a Kantian perspective.. the “concrete” type of geometrical intuition that would be transparently isomorphic to space as a form of the intuited – whichever be the properties of such a space – is bound to be epistemically privileged. Furthermore. in the form of stroke configurations. besides the one that is based on isomorphism between intuition and what is intuited. only a discrete substructure of perceptual space is required. Kant might still have been wrong with regard to some of the properties of intuitive space that he took to be necessary – like its Euclidean metric. I have also benefited from discussions with Øystein Linnebo. but a Kantian geometrical intuition is still the only transparent way in which they can be given to us. or that of the corresponding intuition. for instance. and intuitions of higher-dimensional spaces. In short.Kant on Geometrical Intuition and the Foundations of Mathematics 27 means that the ‘schematism’ of the original mathematical concept of space must be taken seriously. as has been pointed out. to the extent that there are such intuitions. since its affinity to perception enters into the quasi-perceptual modelling of the most basic mathematical terms. . The conceptual possibility of radically different forms of spatial intuition is also not ruled out – where denseness or continuity or free mobility or differentiability would not play the same part as in the kind of geometrical and kinematic intuition that we have looked into. but these are parasitic on conceptualization in a way that quasi-perceptual intuitions are not.

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