Kant, Soemmerring and the Importance of the Sense of Hearing

Mirella Capozzi


The following essay takes its cue from the importance that Soemmerring attributes to the sense of hearing in the Über das Organ der Seele (1796), a text published with a comment by Kant. First, I point out that the idea of a primacy of the sense of hearing is shared by Soemmerring with Heinse, a famous writer of the time (and by Heinse with Herder). Second, I compare these ideas with Kant’s growing interest for the close connection between the sense of hearing, language and thought, giving due attention to his theses on deafness. Finally, I propose the hypothesis that not a late and tacit agreement with Herder, but Soemmerring’s statement that hearing is the most important of our senses, might be the reason for the strengthening of Kant’s conviction that “thinking is speaking and the latter is hearing”, testified by the Opus Postumum

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