17-18 September 2019

Organizers: Silvia De Bianchi, Federico Viglione

Sala d'Actes (Department of Philosophy, Campus UAB)


Tuesday 17th September

Sala d’Actes – Philosophy Dept. UAB

10.30 – 10.45 Introduction, program information/changes

10.45 – 11.45 Lisa Shabel: “Kant’s Schematism”

12.00 – 13.00 Federico Viglione: “The mathematical antinomies: a perspective from contemporary metaphysics”


14.30 – 15.30  Claus Beisbart: “Kant’s Cosmological Conundrum
The Antinomy of Pure Reason in the Light of Problems for Present-Day Cosmology”

15.45 – 16.45  Ian Proops: “The inestimable world: Kant’s resolution of the mathematical antinomies”

Conference Dinner

Wednesday 18th September

 Sala d’Actes – Philosophy Dept. UAB

10.45 – 11.45 Fabian Burt and Thomas Sturm: “Kant’s early cosmology, systematicity,
and the ‘revolution in the way of thinking’”

12.00 – 13.00 Silvia De Bianchi: “Kant and Schelling on cosmology: a different take on Plato’s Timaeus?”


14.30 – 15.30 Cinzia Ferrini: “Hegel’s syllogism of analogy and systematic conception of the fixed stars: A speculative Kantian legacy?”

15.30 – 16.00 Final discussion and closing remarks




  • Kant’s Schematism
    Lisa Shabel, The Ohio State University, USA

Kant identifies two “stems of human cognition”, the faculties of sensibility and understanding, which work together to put us in a perceptual relation to objects that are distinct from ourselves. On Kant’s view, the mental representations at work in this process, intuitions and concepts, are both implicated in any act of cognition: when I perceive the computer screen as an object before me, it is as a result of a division of cognitive labor that delivers a representation of the computer screen as a particular individual (via intuition) that nonetheless shares general features or properties with other objects (via concepts). But, Kant claims further that the cognitive cooperation between sensibility and understanding is due to mediation by the imagination, which effects a “schematism” to connect concepts and intuitions. In this talk, I will describe the philosophical problem that Kant’s schematism aims to solve; I will survey various ways of interpreting Kant’s proposed solution; and I will, ultimately, argue for a distinctive way of understanding the schematism of specifically mathematical concepts. Clarity with respect to how Kant conceives the schematism of mathematical concepts is a crucial step toward clarity with respect to Kant’s schematism, broadly construed.

  • The mathematical antinomies: a perspective from contemporary metaphysics
    Federico Viglione, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

In the first part of the talk I will introduce and discuss some recent criticisms, coming mainly from the analytic tradition, to the soundness of the four arguments of the mathematical antinomies. In particular, I will underline (1) how, in agreement with these criticisms (Bennett 1974, Smith 1985, Le Poidevin 2003), at least the first thesis is to be considered an invalid argument; and (2) that once we agree to credit some of the conclusions that have been reached in contemporary philosophy of time and space, we shall concede that within all the mathematical antinomies’ arguments we find premises that are to be considered implausible. In the second part of the talk, I will try to show how the task of clarifying the weaknesses of the antinomies could bring valuable hints not only for the contemporary metaphysical enquiry on concepts such as time, change or the beginning of the universe, but also and especially when dealing with the choice and interpretation of speculative cosmological approaches (i.e. inflationary cosmology, quantum cosmology, multiverse theory, etc.).

  • Kant’s Cosmological Conundrum
    The Antinomy of Pure Reason in the Light of Problems for Present-Day Cosmology
     Claus Beisbart, University of Bern, Switzerland

In his passage about the Antinomy of Pure Reason, Kant does not only argue against the possibility of rational cosmology. His arguments are also supposed to show that empirical knowledge about the Universe is impossible. Such a claim seems challenged by present-day cosmology that has witnessed spectacular breakthroughs. Accordingly, in the last few decades, some scholars have tried to show how Kant’s assumptions led him astray. But didn’t Kant get something right too? After all, there are many problems and challenges for cosmology. For instance, the spatial size and topology of our spacetime are unknown; apparently, Dark Energy and Dark Matter have to be postulated to account for the dynamics of the observed Universe, and there is controversy as to whether we live in a Multiverse. This talk focuses on such problems rather than the breakthroughs from cosmology. The main question is whether such problems can be understood in Kantian terms. If this is so, then Kant may help us to better understand cosmology, and the latter may help us to better understand Kant

  • The inestimable world: Kant’s resolution of the mathematical antinomies
    Ian Proops, University of Texas, Austin USA

I offer an account of Kant’s resolution of the mathematical antinomies, suggesting that he offers two distinct complementary resolutions. Each resolution corresponds to a traditional way of attempting to generate counterexamples to the law of excluded middle.

  • Kant’s early cosmology, systematicity, and the ‘revolution in the way of thinking’
    Fabian Burt, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
    Thomas Sturm, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

We highlight a particular aspect of Kant’s notion of systematicity by comparing its use in his early Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens (UNH, 1755) with the meaning it obtains almost 30 years later in the Critique of Pure Reason. In part I, we show that Kant uses the language of “system” and its cognates in UNH in two different ways: Prevalent in UNH is an ontic meaning, which refers directly to empirical objects, here celestial bodies and their order as governed by basic physical forces. However, Kant also uses talk of “systems” in an epistemic way, referring to empirical doctrines or theories. This conception includes, at least implicitly, the idea of a methodologically fruitful change in the “standpoint” of the cognizing subject, such as the one Copernicus established through abandoning the geocentric in favor of the heliocentric model. For Kant, several further changes of standpoint are necessary for recognizing the system of the whole world, so that by means of analogical reasoning the heliocentric model is used for modelling the structure of the universe as a whole. Then, in part II, we compare this notion of systematicity with the idea of a change in the standpoint of the observer in the first Critique. This idea is explicitly connected with the notion of the “secure path of a science” (B VII). Since Kant defines science as systematic knowledge, we can understand this as implying that – at least in cosmology – he thinks that systematicity supports scientificity by way of successive broadening of perspectives. Furthermore, “systematicity” and the standpoint metaphor are linked to the “hypothetical” and “regulative” uses of reason and to the idea of systematically interconnected theories and progress in science. Systematicity, in the case of cosmology, does not only determine the structured interrelation of cognitions in a specific discipline and its demarcation to other related disciplines. It also enables us to “suitably determining the greatest possible use of the understanding in experience in regard to its objects” (A516/B544), i.e. it is the ground for systematically generating new hypotheses and, ultimately, new knowledge. In other words, systematicity does not merely relate to the completed structure of a body of knowledge, but more fundamentally to the heuristics or methods for attaining it.

  • Kant and Schelling on cosmology: a different take on Plato’s Timaeus?
    Silvia De Bianchi, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

My contribution focuses on Kant’s theory of measurement as deployed in the Critique of the Power of Judgment and explores its implication for his cosmology. Kant’s critique of rational cosmology as developed in the 1780s clearly identified the limits of theoretical cosmology according to the doctrine of transcendental idealism of space and time. However, what seems to be less explored and remains still a desideratum in the literature is the thorough investigation of the way in which Kant applied his philosophy to what we can call “observational” cosmology in the 1790s. After showing the implication of Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment for his cosmology in the late years, I will show how Kant’s Critique of Judgment had an impact on the young Schelling, with emphasis on his notes on Plato’s Timaeus (1794) and suggest a new possible way to read the structure of the critique of teleological judgment.

  • Hegel’s syllogism of analogy and systematic conception of the fixed stars: A speculative Kantian legacy?
    Cinzia Ferrini, University of Trieste, Italy

While dismissing what he regards to be the empty and external use of analogy in the futile play of his contemporary philosophies of nature, Hegel acknowledges the importance of analogy and appreciates its role in many empirical sciences’s discoveries. In the Logic, Hegel provides a speculative, essentialist criterion to distinguish between superficial and well grounded analogies, for both inorganic and living bodies, giving an example of his “syllogism of analogy” drawn from celestial mechanics. Hegel’s point is that from the speculative standpoint of the philosophical science what the empirical science views only as “parts” of a complex form are essentially mutually related as interdependent moments of one whole. The first part of my paper presents Hegel’s progressive determination of heavenly bodies, from a mechanical organism to a physical manifestation of the wholly universal cosmic life, through the role of the luminescent stars’s essential linkage with their orbiting planets. The second part aims to retrace the presence of a sufficient speculative legacy of Kant’s approach to the Milky Way in the Theory of the Heavens in Hegel’s mechanical account of the starry vault.