How can an
abstract concept be applied to a concrete object? How can a cause and an effect
be connected? For empiricists, e.g. Hume, there is an eternal gap between them.
For Hume, just because causality cannot be perceived by our senses alone, he
concludes that it does not exist. To argue against Hume’s view, Kant poses the
conception of transcendental schematism to bridge the gap between physical and
to Kant, the transcendental schema shares something in common not only with the
concepts, i.e. the category, but also with the objects, i.e. the appearance. This
means that it must be as pure or abstract as the category without any empirical
content and yet of some concrete features in order to be “sensible” (Kant 181), for only by this
way can it combine the two parties together. For Kant, time, as “the connection
of all representations” (Kant 181), is the kind of
transcendental schema, for time, as “a pure form of sensible intuition” (Kant 75), is not only as
abstract a priori as the category but also as concrete or sensible as the appearance
for “time is contained in every empirical representation of the manifold” (Kant 181). Therefore, Kant
concludes that the category can be applied to the appearance and cause can be
connected with effect via time.
As far as
the schema of the concept is concerned, although schema is “a product of
imagination” (Kant 182) and similar to image,
it is very different from image for it is something between the image and the
concept of an object. In other words, it is more abstract than the image and more
concrete than the concept and thus becomes the middle ground connecting the
image (appearance) with the concept. And Kant further points out that schemata
are the condition of the existence of images for “these images can be
connected with the concept only by means of the schema to which they belong” (Kant 183).
there is an important proposition in Kant’s theory, that is, the cognitive form
is always prior to the cognitive content, and the former is the existent
condition of the latter. The relationship between schemata and images is also
that between the cognitive form and content. That is why images cannot be
possible without schemata.