Kant, Intuition and Direction of Fit

Nothing teaches better than teaching.  I’ve been trying to ease (!) my Intro students into Kant’s Prolegomena.  In the last class, we talked about directions of fit, world-to-mind and mind-to-world.  It had never struck me (clearly) that Kant’s story about intuition makes it the case that pure intuition enjoys one direction of fit, world-to-mind, while empirical intuition enjoys another direction of fit, mind-to-world*.  I suppose that is or ought to have been obvious to me, but it didn’t seem to be.  I may have missed it (if we need an explanation other than my not being overly bright or my being careless) because I had gotten so focused on the distinction between spontaneity and receptivity, and the differences in their respective directions of fit, and in thinking of the categories as spontaneous and intuition as receptive, that it hadn’t occurred to me that intuition could itself embody both directions of fit.

I guess we could say that intuition itself has a spontaneity (call it “anticipation”) and a receptivity.  Its having a spontaneity is what makes pure mathematics possible (since pure mathematics constitutionally involves the spontaneity of intuition).  –The Copernican revolution reaches all the way into intuition.  Huh.  It seems I had thought of it as reaching only into judgment, categorically.  I mean, of course I knew that intuition was both pure and empirical, but I did not (fully) see that as already thematizing the synergy of spontaneity and receptivity.  –Duh.

*I’ve edited the terminology here from the initial post.  I had reversed the use of the standard terms.  Apologies.

“Color is its own Reward”

–or so sang Croweded House.  The department here at AU is hosting a conference, “Color and Philosophy”.  Today is the second and final day.

Wittgenstein writes that “colors spur us to philosophize”.  That seems right.  I reckon it is, in part, because colors are strangely phenomenologically mobile.  They seem to move from being ‘in’ us to ‘out there’ and back again.  They seem now existentially dependent upon me, and now existentially dependent upon the object they color; now wholly intimate with me, now wholly indifferent to me.  How can something be such that what it is–say, what it is essentially–is revealed completely even to a more or less casual glance (how can color be, to use Johnston’s term, “revelatory”) and still be something that I know only as a perceiver, as receptive?  Is color that, well, shallow?  And if it is, how can something so shallow, even infinitely shallow, find a place among the deep dark densities of the outer world?

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