Kant Lexicon

Cognition Erkenntnis (German), cognitio (Latin)

Cognition is a species of presentation. It is a perception (presentation with consciousness) that is objective, or directed at objects. (This is in contrast to sensation, which refers to a modification of the state of a perceiving subject.

An objective perception is cognition (cognitio). This is either intuition or concept (intuitus vel conceptus) (A320/B376-7.

Although the passage just quoted suggests that concepts or intuitions can by themselves be cognitions, Kant denies this in the second edition of the Critique.

Cognition involves two components: first, the concept (or category) through which an object as such is thought; and second, the intuition, through which the object is given. (B146)
Human thinking through concepts is not objective, and hence not a cognition, unless the concept is referred to an object of sensation.

Kemp Smith translates ‘Erkenntnis’ as ‘knowledge’ and its plural, ‘Erkenntnisse,’ as ‘modes of knowledge.’ In contemporary theory of knowledge, it is generally held that knowledge requires truth. But if this is so, then following passage would make no sense:

If truth consists in the agreement of knowledge with its object, that object must thereby be distinguished from other objects; for knowledge is false, if it does not agree with the object to which it is related. (A58/B83)
For example, the judgment expressed by the sentence ‘Immanuel Kant is now alive’ would be “false knowledge,” because the attribution of the property of being alive now does not agree with the object, Kant. Cognition is intended reference to knowledge, which, if successful, yields truth. The contemporary concept of knowledge is expressed by the German word ‘Wissen.’

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