Abstract: The term Urbild (translated variously as archetype, prototype, or original image) is used throughout Kant’s critical writings to designate particular representations that convey universal ideas. I explain how this term plays a crucial role in Kant’s endeavors to mediate between the abstract ideas of practical reason and phenomenal reality as historically and culturally informed. Focusing on the role of Urbilder allows us to deepen our understanding of the role of historical representations in Kant’s ethics and philosophy of religion, and to show the consistency of the critical project in addressing these cultural representations. The manner in which Kant draws upon specific cultural representations for pedagogical purposes, and critically assesses them in light of ideals, is explained and clarified.
© De Gruyter