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Which clippings match 'Gottfried Leibniz' keyword pg.1 of 1
03 MARCH 2013

The trouble with Kant's spatial metaphor

"In consequence of this revolutionary assertion Kant states that: 'Space is not an empirical concept which has been derived from outer experiences.' (B/38) On the contrary: '…it is the subjective condition of sensibility, under which alone outer intuition is possible for us.' (A/26; B/42)

In other words, Kant asserts that space (and time) are not objective, self–subsisting realities, but subjective requirements of our human sensory–cognitive faculties to which all things must conform. Space and time serve as indispensable tools that arrange and systemize the images of the objects imported by our sensory organs. The raw data supplied by our eyes and ears would be useless if our minds didn't have space and time to make sense of it all. ...

Kant's view of space (and time) is the groundwork of his Critique [of Pure Reason], However the inseparable bond he claimed between geometry and the nature of space serves to undermine his case rather than support it. ...

When Kant refers to geometry, he must mean Euclidean geometry, since Non–Euclidean geometry, the brainchild of the 19th Century, was unknown to him. Hence space, in Kant's philosophical system must conform to Euclidean geometry. Norman Kemp Smith, in his Commentary on the Critique, remarked that for Kant '…space in order to be space at all, must be Euclidean.'

Space, in Euclidean Geometry, is a concept which is independent of the attributes of our human minds and senses. The word Geometry is derived from Greek – geo 'earth', and metron 'to measure', namely 'earth measurement'. With such semantic–conceptual roots its hardly conceivable that Euclid regarded Geometry as divorced from an objective independent space."

(Pinhas Ben–Zvi, 2005, Philosophy Now)

Ben–Zvi, P. (2005). "Kant on Space." Philosophy Now, January/February 2005(49).


cartographic metaphor • Critique of Pure Reason • empirical concept • Euclidean geometryeyes and earsgeometryGottfried Leibniz • human minds • human perception • human senses • human sensory-cognitive faculties • Immanuel KantIsaac Newtonlogical-analytical paradigmmetaphors of reality • nature of space • Non-Euclidean geometry • Norman Kemp Smith • noumena • noumenon • objective independent space • objective knowledgeobjective realityobjective world • outer experiences • philosophical system • self-subsisting realities • semantic construct • sensory organs • space and timespatial metaphorsubjective conditiontime


Simon Perkins
08 MARCH 2010

Encyclopaedia is assumed as an historical production always incomplete, unfinished, precarious, condemned to the voracity of knowledge progress

"In the line of [Francis] Bacon Instauratio Magna, encyclopaedia is assumed as an historical production always incomplete, unfinished, precarious, condemned to the voracity of knowledge progress: "it does not suppose that the work can be altogether completed within one generation, but provides for its being taken up by another"[1]

If encyclopaedia is never a dictionary, yet they have one point in common. They both are discontinuous texts made of independent segments or entries, either alphabetically organised or structured in larger conceptual, thematic or disciplinary frameworks. Those semantic fields never present well–defined borders. Each entry opens (explicitly or implicitly) to other entries which, in turn, open to others in such a way that each entry is virtually connected with all others. In that sense, encyclopaedia is not so much a monumental reunion of all knowledge in one closed place, but the free circulation of unity throughout the dense and sensual effectivity of its volumes and pages. Not a static totality but a dynamic entity, not a mausoleum but a "living intellectual force" as Otto Neurath, the big organiser of neo–positivist International Encyclopaedia of Unified Science (1937–38) used to say [3]. Not an additive totality but a vast, waving horizon, a net of multidimensional elements which can be connected according to multiple relationships. That is to say, encyclopaedia supposes a deep, floating continuity underlying its superficial discontinuity. This is the point in which encyclopaedia most clearly revels itself as a strong configuration of the unity of science. In fact, it is the only attempt of unification of knowledge, which is effectively realised, the only material realisation of unity of science that condenses and presents to the eyes of everybody a large scope of materials, which could never be confronted in any other way."

(Olga Pombo)

[1] F. Bacon, Instauratio Magna, Preface, in The Works of Francis Bacon, edited by J. Spedding, 1857–1874, London: Ellis and Heath, vol. IV: 21.

[3] I quote Neurath from his famous "Unified Science and Encyclopaedic Integration": 'a living being and not a phantom, not a mausoleum or an herbarium, but a living intellectual force', "Unified Science and Encyclopaedic Integration", in O. Neurath (ed.), International Encyclopaedia of Unified Science, Chicago/Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1938, vol. I: 26.

Leibniz and the Encyclopaedic Project, Actas del Congresso Internacional Ciência, Tecnologia Y Bien Comun: La Catualidad de Leibniz (Valência, 21–23 Marzo de 2001), Valencia: Editorial de la Universidas Politecnica de Valencia, 2002, pp. 267–278.


becomingconstellationsdictionarydiscursive fieldencyclopaediaFrancis BaconGottfried Leibnizhorizon • Instauratio Magna • mausoleum • multidimensional • orderingOtto Neurath • segment • semantic • unification of knowledge


Simon Perkins

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