Do thought experiments provide “evidence” or just new mental frameworks? Current accounts of thought experiment turn to theories of reason and explanation rather than perception to explain how thought experiments work. I offer Kierkegaard’s own view of thought experiment, which is influenced by Kantian idealism rather than scientific empiricism. Drawing on philosophical research in aesthetics, I then show how all perception is a hybrid of sensory content and conceptual structures. On this Kantian-Kierkegaardian account, thought experiments help us see differently and gain new evidence through new kinds of experiences. My project retrieves the original Danish context of the term “thought experiment” [Tankeexperiment] and offers a new understanding of thought experiments as both sensory and conceptual, like perception itself.
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