Kant, Wittgenstein, and Transcendental Chaos


School of Philosophy
University of East Anglia
Norfolk NR4 7TJ


Wittgenstein sought to uphold ‘realism without empiricism’. This paper identifies in Wittgestein's and in Kant's philosophies a common line of argument that provides a genuinely transcendental argument for (not from) mental content externalism. This line of argument has not been previously recognized in either thinker's work. The common thesis defended by both Wittgenstein and Kant alike is that, if we human beings did not inhabit a natural world structured by a recognizable degree of similarity and variety among the objects or events we perceive, we could not so much as think, so we could not so much as be self-conscious. (This line of argument is independent of Kant's idealism, and ultimately shows that Kant's transcendental idealism is false and unsupportable.)