The Transcendental Exposition of the Concept of Space


The Transcendental Exposition of the Concept of Space postulates that humans have a pure instinct of space, a concept that is commonly referred to as the argument from geometry. Accordingly, Kant has tried to assume a theory of space as untainted instinct from a postulation about mathematical cognition. This paper will attempt to explain the third argument in the metaphysical exposition of space.

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The theory of Space

According to Kant, the main aim of the transcendental exposition of the theory of space is to explain the logic in which our idea of space acts as a basis for our attainment of other artificial (a priori) cognitions (Shabel 46). Kant offers several arguments to support his concept of space as a pure a priori cognition contrary to the postulations of the idealists and realists. In his first argument, Kant states that outer experiences are only feasible as a result of the pre-existing depiction of space. It is vital to note that outer does not imply external in a spatial way; on the contrary, it connotes separate from the individual.

To fully grasp Kant’s argument, it is vital to appreciate his counterarguments since he sums up his arguments in negative terms. According to some of his opponents (realists), space is viewed as a concept drawn from our experience of numerous spatial relations between ourselves and external phenomena (Shabel 47). However, Kant objects to this position. According to him, if the depiction of space was a posteriori, it would then have been created pragmatically due to the experience of outer entities. However, this is impossible since outer experience entails the representation of space. According to Kant, this is an unfathomable mystery that nullifies the position of the realists. Kant postulates further that the concept of outer must be real before objects can be represented according to the realists’ position (Shabel 49).

Kant states that space is an essential representation (a priori) that is the basis of the entire outer intuitions. He states further that no one can argue that space is nonexistent; however, one can argue that objects are not present in space. Kant’s first argument eliminates the realist concept of space. However, his second argument is meant to disprove the alternative left open by the first argument; that it is impossible to represent space without an enclosed world of entities as per the theory of the idealists. Kant argues that if the representation of both outer entities and space are equally dependent, then space cannot precede the outer world. In order to dismiss this option, Kant argues that it is possible to create an empty space via the abstraction of outer objects. He explains that it is unfeasible to characterize the absence of space; doing so would be synonymous to the representation of an outer world free from space, which is an impossible task (Shabel 51).

In general, the link between outer objects and space is obviously not one of codependency. This statement can be demonstrated with the illustration of incongruent counterparts. This illustration demonstrates the manner in which spatial relations cannot be drawn from entities, in more open way than the conjectures in the Exposition of Space. Take an example of a world where every entity except two hands, have been abstracted. These hands are complements since they are identical in the sense that they inhabit the same amount of space and are absolute equals in any conceivable aspect except their right and left handedness.

Kant opposes Leibniz by asserting that if Leibniz were accurate, the absurdity of the two hands would be infeasible since one hand would be completely complementary for the other. On the contrary, Kant objects to this view. He argues that, irrespective of their similarity and equality, the right hand cannot be attached in the same bounds as the left one. In other words, both hands are incongruent (Mohr et al. 35).

What Kant means by this statement is that it is impossible to append the right hand into a right glove and vice-versa. Both hands are not congruent, a reality that Leibniz cannot explain. According to Leibniz view of space, if two entities have identical attributes, they will be identical in every aspect. In addition, any effort to diminish the way in which the incongruity of both hands entails to that of relations is likely to fail. According to this example, the world is perceived as empty except for two hands, which are dissimilar with respect to one another only spatially. Therefore, the spatial attributes of entities must be inherent (and hence irreducible), with the aptitude to differentiate two identical entities that stem from our conclusion of them with respect to a universal space.

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In addition, Kant assumes that the illustration of incongruent counterparts also demonstrates that space is intuitional. He argues that the dissimilarity in orientation between the left and right hand cannot be made understandable by any theory. To put it another way, the first course of action in an unparalleled clarification of wherein a dissimilarity of orientation compositions must perpetually be to merely point to it since it is impossible to identify without a preliminary physical separation (Mohr et al. 36).

Works Cited

Mohr, Michael, et al. Space &Time: Kant’s Transcendental Idealism. 2009. Web.

Shabel, Lisa. Reflections on Kant’s concept and intuition of space. Stud. Hist. Phil. Sci.34 (2003): 45-57. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "The Transcendental Exposition of the Concept of Space." May 25, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "The Transcendental Exposition of the Concept of Space." May 25, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'The Transcendental Exposition of the Concept of Space'. 25 May.

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