L'intelletto kantiano come spontaneità organica

Una riflessione analogica sul sistema dell'epigenesi della ragion pura a partire dal confronto con Tetens e Blumenbach


  • Carolina La Padula Università di Pisa




epigenesis, understanding, Kant, Tetens, Blumenbach


This paper’s aim is to clarify Kant’s conception of understanding as spontaneity, specifically as a system of the epigenesis of pure reason, by means of a discussion of the notion of epigenesis in its original context – the theories regarding the generation, growth and development of organisms, particularly in Tetens and Blumenbach – and its analogy with the origin of the pure concepts of understanding (as well as their relationship with experience). First, I focus on the tension between a preformationist model and an epigenetic one underlying the Analytic of Concepts, tracing it back to the lively debate concerning generation in the 18th century biology. In this framework I consider the role of Johann Nikolaus Tetens, a Lockean empirical psychologist, whose Philosophische Versuche is crucial for Kant’s own development of the notion of epigenesis, although, as I argue, there is a distance between his and Kant’s meaning of the organic analogy. Finally, I examine Johann Friederich Blumenbach’s theory of Bildungstrieb and its similarity with the kantian account of organism in the Critique of Judgement: the aim is to highlight the main features of both theories and employ them as analogical terms of comparison to reflect retrospectively upon pure understanding as a system of epigenesis.