Newman as Transcendental Idealist?

Here’s a thought: what if Newman’s distinction in the Grammar between “notions” and “things” was basically akin to Kant’s distinction between sensibility and cognition? Kant said that intuitions without concepts are blind, and that concepts without intuitions are empty; Newman insisted that a pure notion would be an empty cipher with no bearing on the world, while equally insisting that things are only intelligible by virtue of being subsumed under various notions. Newman denies that notions are things in the world, a claim that has drawn the charge of nominalism; but perhaps we ought to interpret this too along Kantian lines; for Kant (after Hume), concepts aren’t features of things themselves, but the transcendental conditions for getting things in mind. (And if you pair that reading with Newman’s repeated affirmation, in connection with his “sacramental principle,” of “the unreality of material phenomena,” then you perhaps get something quite close to Berkeley’s idealism.)

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