Absolute Space as a necessary idea. Reading Kant’s Phenomenology through perspectival lenses.

In the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, General Remark to Phenomenology, Kant argued that absolute space “is therefore necessary, not as a concept of an actual object, but rather as an idea, which is to serve as a rule for considering all motion therein merely as relative” (AA 4: 560). I argue that Kantian absolute space as a necessary idea is congenial to Kant’s wider commitment to the faculty of reason (and its ideas) as foci imaginarii playing an “indispensably necessary” role for a correct empirical use of the faculty understanding, as he presents it in the Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic of the first Critique (CPR, A645/B673). I present a ‘perspectivalist’ reading of ideas of reason, and, in the light of it, I explain the central role that Kant attributes to absolute space in the Phenomenology chapter of the MFNS.

 

Massimi, M. (forthcoming) Absolute Space as a necessary idea. Reading Kant’s Phenomenology through perspectival lenses. In M. McNulty (Ed.) Critical Guide to Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Cambridge: CUP
Image: ‘Bright milky way with nebula and stars’ Egor Suvorov/Getty Images