Colloquium Series

Colloquium: Sasha (Alexandra) Newton (UC Riverside)

Fri April 12th 2024, 3:30 - 5:30pm
Building 90-92Q

Title: Kant on Truth and its Source in Reason

Abstract: It is common in the literature on Kant to ascribe a ‘hybrid’ conception of truth to Kant, according to which he has a ‘correspondence’ theory for empirical truths (in line with his ‘empirical realism’) and a ‘coherentist’ theory for logical and transcendental truths (in line with his ‘transcendental idealism’). Whereas empirical truths have their source in conformity to an empirical object, general and transcendental logical truths have their source in conformity to reason. These hybrid accounts abandon the search for a unitary conception of truth, and of its source, and instead leave the question of the relation between the two conceptions for an inquiry that is external to the question of truth. In this paper I will argue, on the contrary, that all truth for Kant has its source in reason, which can be understood as the Truth or standard of truth, conformity to which makes particular judgments true. ‘Formal truth’ (the agreement of cognition with itself) articulates this standard of truth and itself comes very close to the ancient notion of ‘aletheia’ or Unhiddeness. ‘Material truth’ (the agreement of cognition with its object), by contrast, can be understood as the correctness [Richtigkeit] of a cognition. As we will see, Kant does not simply juxtapose formal and material truth as two separate kinds of truth, but shows that material truth has its source in, and is determined by, formal truth.

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