Kant Lexicon

Sensibility: Sinnlichkeit (German)

Sensibility is one of the powers or capacities of the human mind. It is characterized by its “receptivity” or ability to receive presentations of objects. “The capacity (a receptivity) to acquire presentations as the result of the way in which we are affected by objects is called sensibility” (A19/B33).

Sensibility is the one and only basis for “intuitions”: “it alone supplies us with intuitions” (A19/B33). The immediate result of affection by objects is sensation, which by itself makes no reference to the affecting objects. Intuition is a presentation that refers to objects through sensation.

Sensibility is distinct from the mind’s power of “understanding.” They differ in that the understanding is spontaneous, as opposed to receptive, and that it presents objects through concepts, rather than through intuitions. The latter refer to objects directly, while the former refer to them indirectly.

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