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Kant's Transcendental Deduction of the Categories: Unity, Representation, and Apperception
 1498508480, 9781498508483

Table of contents :
1 Introduction
2 Preliminaries
3 The Fundamental Framework: Unity, Representation, and Apperception
4 The Initial Deduction and Kant’s Methodology
5 Representational Realism and Transcendental Idealism
6 The Three Syntheses
7 The Connected Deduction
8 The Revised Deduction: First Part
9 The Revised Deduction: Second Part
10 Other Commentaries
11 Theses and Arguments
Appendix A: The Transcendental Object: Additional Support
Appendix B: The Problem of Affectation
Appendix C: Specifying the Functional Role of the Categories
Appendix D: One Unifying Synthesis or Two?
Appendix E: Nativism
Appendix F: Kant’s Dualism
Appendix G: Strawson on Self-Ascription
Appendix H: Direct Realist Readings
Appendix I: Conceptual versus Non-Conceptual Content
Appendix J: Inferential Role Readings

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Kant’s Transcendental Deduction of the Categories

Kant’s Transcendental Deduction of the Categories Unity, Representation, and Apperception Lawrence J. Kaye

LEXINGTON BOOKS Lanham • Boulder • New York • London

Published by Lexington Books An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 www.rowman.com Unit A, Whitacre Mews, 26-34 Stannary Street, London SE11 4AB Copyright © 2015 by Lexington Books All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Kaye, Lawrence J. Kant's transcendental deduction of the categories : unity, representation, and apperception / Lawrence J. Kaye. pages cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-4985-0848-3 (cloth : alk. paper) -- ISBN 978-1-4985-0849-0 (electronic) 1. Kant, Immanuel, 1724-1804. Kritik der reinen Vernunft. I. Title. B2779.K39 2015 121--dc23 2015017497 TM The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.

Printed in the United States of America

In memory of my father Roy, and for my mother, Marie. Thank you for encouraging me to pursue my interests, no matter how difficult.


1 2 3

Introduction Preliminaries The Fundamental Framework: Unity, Representation, and Apperception

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

The Initial Deduction and Kant’s Methodology Representational Realism and Transcendental Idealism The Three Syntheses The Connected Deduction The Revised Deduction: First Part The Revised Deduction: Second Part Other Commentaries Theses and Arguments

Appendix A: The Transcendental Object: Additional Support Appendix B: The Problem of Affectation Appendix C: Specifying the Functional Role of the Categories Appendix D: One Unifying Synthesis or Two? Appendix E: Nativism Appendix F: Kant’s Dualism Appendix G: Strawson on Self-Ascription Appendix H: Direct Realist Readings Appendix I: Conceptual versus Non-Conceptual Content Appendix J: Inferential Role Readings References Afterword Index


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ONE Introduction

I am acquainted with no investigations more important for getting to the bottom of that faculty we call the understanding, and at the same time for the determination of the rules and boundaries of its use, than those I have undertaken in the second chapter of the Transcendental Analytic, under the title Deduction of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding; they are also the investigations that have cost me the most, but I hope not unrewarded, effort. (A xvi) 1 This deduction . . . was the most difficult task which ever could have been taken in the service of metaphysics; . . . this deduction alone can render metaphysics possible. 2 The crossing of the Great Arabian Desert can scarcely be a more exhausting task than is the attempt to master the windings and twistings of the Transcendental Deduction. 3

The Transcendental Deduction of the Categories is an enigma. It is the apparent centerpiece of The Critique of Pure Reason, and consists of material that, as the above quotes from Kant indicate, is the product of the intense application of his very substantial philosophical abilities. The text contains some of the conceptually densest and most philosophically challenging writing ever composed. Yet, right from the start, Kant’s readers were unable to follow the reasoning or to otherwise make sense of these passages. While both historical and recent scholarship has improved our understanding of many portions of the Critique, the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories 4 (hereafter, TD) has not yielded. Although it is fairly apparent that Kant thought that he had proved a substantial result, or set of results in these passages, commentators have been unable to find a clear line of argumentation that successfully establishes a significant philosophical conclusion. As a result, there is considerable disagreement 1


Chapter 1

about all aspects of the TD, including what Kant is trying to prove, what the overall argumentative strategy is and which premises he uses. And, while many commentators have attempted to extract significant lines of reasoning from specific passages, there is no available explanation of the complete text in either edition. Here are the primary obstacles that commentators, as well as all of Kant’s readers face. The A (first edition) TD is a mass of confusing passages and sections. Some of them appear to involve connected argumentation while others involve focus on specific, technical concepts that are being introduced. One is also struck by the highly psychological nature of the discussion. Kant appears to be attempting to establish a variety of truths about several general mental faculties, in particular, about the interrelation between sensibility—the passive receiver of sensations; and the understanding—the faculty that possesses concepts and applies them in judgments. This raises a second group of issues: Kant appears to be drawing on empirical psychological views from his era, and perhaps also engaging in some speculative psychology; but empirical psychology cannot serve as a basis for his philosophical investigations, especially since he appears to be defending doctrines that are supposed to be knowable a priori and that hold with necessity. So in interpreting these passages, we apparently either need to separate the philosophy from the psychology or else we must develop a deeper understanding of why this is something more than armchair psychology. The B (second edition) TD initially seems much more appealing, since it appears to present an interconnected line of argument. However, the overall reasoning has proved extremely illusive to extract. Although the psychological material appears to be less prevalent in the B version, there is still a fair amount of it, and the final, extremely brief summary of the deduction at B 168–9 concludes by describing the interrelation of form between three psychological components, viz., apperception, the understanding, and sensibility. In any case, the apparent discrepancy between the two editions raises the issue of whether Kant’s assertion in the B preface (B xxxvii) that he has “found nothing to alter either in the propositions themselves or in their grounds of proof” is accurate, or if he did in fact change his view substantially in the rewrite of the TD. A successful reading of the TD will thus, at a minimum, reveal cogent lines of argument in at least one edition that are not mired in unsubstantiated psychological assumptions and that reasonably support a priori philosophical results. It would be more preferable to have a reading that inter-relates the two versions of the TD, exhibiting and explaining both the similarities and the differences. And a more or less ideal reading would reveal primary argumentation that also allows for an understanding of all of the text in both editions, i.e., that enables us to see other portions of the TD text as part of a coherent set of philosophical investigations. And that is precisely what I have to offer.



I have uncovered several previously undetected arguments and related reasoning in the somewhat obscure, and seemingly preparatory “synthesis of recognition” section of the A TD. (A 103,ff.) This material allows us to see the TD in a new light, viz., as a strong and successful reply to Hume’s skeptical and minimalistic empiricism, one that establishes the categories as the necessary, a priori centerpiece of cognition and of our knowledge of the world. My primary discoveries concern the justification, explanation and interrelation of the necessary unity of consciousness, the concept of representation, and transcendental apperception. Here is a brief sketch of that reasoning and of the resulting framework. Kant begins with an argument that shows that the mere application of concepts to experience requires that consciousness is necessarily unified. This unity consists of structuring according to a priori rules, which turn out to be the categories. He then turns to an analysis of the concept of representation and argues that the conditions that constitute representation must be uniform across consciousness. The only candidate condition is the previously derived unity. So Kant identifies the concept of a represented object with the independently established necessary unity of consciousness. This amounts to a functional role view of representation, where the categories are the rules that constitute our ability to represent objects. And our nonempirical, thus a priori self-awareness—which Kant labels “transcendental apperception”—is understood as awareness of this necessary unification of consciousness. So Kant establishes the categories as the rules that simultaneously unify consciousness, that underlie representation and that constitute our “self”-awareness. 5 We will see that the collective result allows Kant to easily demonstrate that the categories unify experience, and the analysis of representation entails that the categories justifiably apply to the external world. As I argue later, I have thus discovered the reasoning that Kant terms the “Objective Deduction” (in the A preface). But I will also show that with an understanding of these intimately related notions of necessary unity, representation and a priori apperception, we are able to decode all of the rest of the text in both editions of the TD. We will see that many of these passages concern the task of showing how this abstractly established unity plays out psychologically. This material involves psychological explanations, albeit explanations that are driven by a priori philosophical argumentation. And I will show that the revised TD is a re-presentation of both the apperception-unity-representation framework and of the psychological details. So the discovery and understanding of this primary framework of three core ideas has enabled me to develop a complete textual explanation of the TD passages. I will also show that Kant’s treatment of representation yields a new understanding of his unique merger of realism and idealism. I will examine how his conception of the concept of an object as constructively im-


Chapter 1

posed by the mind allows him to maintain that we represent an external world—i.e., a non-phenomenalist outlook—while also maintaining that the necessary, a priori, categorical structure of the represented world originates from the mind, i.e., is idealistic. My reading spans both historical and contemporary approaches to the Critique. On the one hand, I am presenting a thorough explanation of the text that is intended to reveal Kant’s actual thinking at every point. But I also draw on contemporary Analytic philosophy to clarify, analyze, and evaluate his reasoning. And in examining his psychological views I at times draw on contemporary cognitive science both to explain them and to enhance their plausibility. These discoveries should be of interest from several different perspectives. They will of course be very useful to anyone who is interested in understanding both these passages and the Critique as a whole. But many of the arguments and results should also be of independent philosophical interest. The argument that establishes the necessary unity of consciousness is strong by contemporary standards. The analysis of representation should also be equally intriguing in its own right. And the resulting view of perception, realism and idealism presents an interesting challenge to our strongly realist contemporary outlook. And Kant’s arguments for the unity of consciousness and his view of representation should be of obvious interest from the perspective of cognitive psychology. In addition, we will see that the TD contains a fairly devastating set of critiques of extreme Humean associative empiricism, a view that is still influential in both philosophy and psychology. My results allow for the ready evaluation of other approaches to understanding the TD. Here is a partial preview. The primary argumentation that I present provides justification of the categories, both to experience and to the world. These are precisely the goals that Guyer has attributed to Kant, established via a priori reasoning of the sort that Guyer has been seeking to find in these texts. As I have indicated, the primary arguments can also be modeled in an ahistorical way; they exhibit strong reasoning that satisfies the analytically reconstructive approach that Strawson (1966) pioneered. But my reading of the rest of the TD text, beyond the passages that present these primary arguments, also reveals a philosophically cogent psychological application and extension of these results. Thus, contrary to the frequent anti-psychologism of Strawson, et al., this broadly supports “virtuous” psychological explanations. This is, perhaps, thus very broadly in the spirit of Kitcher (1990), although as I have indicated, these are more than empirical matters. The treatment of representation I exposit is at odds with Allison’s (2004) fundamental assumption that Kant thinks that objects are given to us in perception. It is, rather, the categories that create the representation of objects. And my reading also enables us to see that Kant was neither a phenomenalist nor



a direct realist, but rather held a unique version of idealist-flavored representational realism. The presentation runs as follows: chapter 2 contains several preliminary topics: I examine the apparent goals of the TD, I also argue for a precise reading of the term “transcendental,” and I offer an initial rundown of Kant’s psychological framework drawing on contemporary Philosophy of Mind to help explain it. Chapters 3–5 present my primary results. Chapter 3 contains an exposition of the heart of the TD, described above, viz., the primary conceptual framework that consists of the necessary unity of consciousness, the concept of representation (of an object) and transcendental apperception. It is, by the way, essential that readers familiarize themselves with this material before proceeding to other parts of the book. Chapter 4 continues the exposition of this framework. I examine Kant’s initial justification of the categories. I exhibit the reasoning and compare it with the reasoning strategies that various other commentators have attributed to the TD. I then contrast this reasoning with the more psychological material in other parts of the TD text; this supports the identification of the exhibited reasoning as the Objective Deduction, in contrast to the apparently distinct project of the Subjective Deduction. In chapter 5 I depart from textual exposition to explore the implications of the conception of representation that has been unveiled. I argue that it supports a representational realist view, offering textual support for this reading against a phenomenalist interpretation. I then consider Kant’s notion of the noumena, and the apparent idealism of the categories that the resulting view embodies. I close by examining the apparent balance of realism, idealism, and skepticism that this interpretation offers, and that is reflected in various passages in the Critique. In chapters 6 and 7 I return to exposition of the A TD text. Chapter 6 treats the introductory sections and the (remaining) syntheses sections. Chapter 7 first examines affinity, then exposits Kant’s “Third Section.” I label this the “Connected Deduction.” In chapters 8 and 9 I exposit the second edition, B TD. My thorough exposition of the A version allows for a ready understanding of the structure of the rewrite. I work through §15–20 in chapter 8. Chapter 9 contains an exposition of the rest of the B TD, beginning with §21. In chapter 10 I critically examine the readings of a number of other TD interpreters (in more detail than is appropriate for footnotes), including Kitcher, Guyer, Allison, and Longuenesse. Chapter 11 provides a reconstruction of the main arguments and lines of reasoning that have been uncovered in earlier chapters, along with some commentary. And finally, I provide a series of appendices which contain various topics that are not part of the primary exposition of the TD passages, and that thus are usefully presented separately. These include the problem of affectation,


Chapter 1

nativism, Kant’s dualism, Strawson on self-attribution, direct realist readings, and the issue of conceptual versus non-conceptual content. NOTES 1. Except where noted, all quotations from the Critique of Pure Reason are from the translation by Paul Guyer and Allen Wood, Cambridge University Press, 1998. Following standard practice, the page numbers in the text refer to the original pagination, which is listed in the margins of this and most other translations. “A” is used to denote passages from the first (1781) edition and “B” to denote passages from the revised (1787) edition. Note that italics in the quotes reflect Kant’s emphasis, unless otherwise noted. 2. Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics¸ 260, Carus, trans. 3. Paton (1936), p. 547. 4. As the above quote demonstrates, the passages in question were titled “Transcendental Deduction of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding.” Since Kant gives the “pure,” i.e., a priori concepts of the understanding the usefully brief label “categories”—he purports to be giving a corrected version of Aristotle’s Categories— the title is usually shortened to the “Transcendental Deduction of the Categories.” I will use the abbreviation ‘TD’ extensively to refer to these passages in both editions. 5. There have been a few recent steps in the direction of appreciation of this fundamental framework of unity, representation, and apperception, but only in terms of some understanding of one of the components. Landy (2009), following Rosenberg (2005), pp. 91–92, attributes an inferential role view of representation to Kant, which, as I will indicate below, is very broadly on the right track, but that is incorrect in its specifics. And Kitcher (2011) offers a treatment of transcendental apperception that in some respects accords with my understanding. But, as I show below, the missing piece of the puzzle is the independent establishment of necessary unity of consciousness; this serves as Kant’s basis for both his treatment of representation and of apperception.

TWO Preliminaries

In this chapter we will consider several issues that are usefully clarified prior to examining the text of the TD. From the outset, it would be nice to have some idea of what Kant means by a “transcendental deduction.” I will approach this in two steps, first by clarifying the meaning of the term “transcendental,” and second by looking at what, according to text, the TD is supposed to achieve. And we will also familiarize ourselves with some key features of Kant’s psychology. I will relate several aspects of his framework to views in contemporary philosophy in an effort to make them seem reasonable. “TRANSCENDENTAL” We begin with the task of clarifying the meaning of what is likely the most notorious term in Kant’s formidable philosophical lexicon, viz., “transcendental.” Although this is one of the primary technical terms that Kant introduces in this work and then uses extensively (especially in the A edition), he offers little in the way of precise definition. The lone passage that gives the appearance of a definition is in the introduction, where he introduces the term by telling us that “I call all cognition transcendental that is occupied not so much with objects but rather with our a priori concepts of objects in general” (A 11). This suggests that it is an epistemic term. The most superficial proposal 1 is that “transcendental” simply means “a priori,” which is supported by the fact that Kant often appears to use “transcendental” and “empirical” as contrast terms. But that cannot be correct, since Kant does not label synthetic a priori knowledge itself, such as mathematics, “transcendental” (see the passage below). And of course, Kant is perfectly happy to use the term “a priori” throughout the work, sometimes alongside “transcendental.” 7


Chapter 2

A seemingly more plausible interpretation, based on most of the uses of “transcendental” in the Analytic, is that the word means something like “necessary features of appearance.” 2 However, this interpretation encounters a similar difficulty to the previous one: if “transcendental” just means “necessary,” then why does Kant need the term along with both “necessary” and “a priori,” e.g., in passages at the heart of the TD? 3 Even though the latter two terms seem to be roughly co-extensive for Kant, it is apparent as to how their meanings differ, viz., “a priori” concerns knowledge whereas “necessary’ is a metaphysical term, i.e., a modality of truth. What sort of distinction, then, is conferred with the label “transcendental”? First, I suggest that the remark from the introduction is not, in fact a definition (certainly, Kant would not include the phrase “not so much” in a proper definition!) but rather a hint about what is to come, and in particular, what is to come in the first, positive part of the work, prior to the portion that concerns the critical limits of knowledge. 4 The entry that actually comes closest to defining the term is found in the section where Kant introduces the idea of a transcendental logic, where we get something like a specification via example: Not every a priori cognition must be called transcendental, but only that by means of which we cognize that and how certain representations (intuitions or concepts) are applied entirely a priori, or are possible. Hence neither space nor any geometrical determination of it a priori is a transcendental representation, but only the cognition that these representations are not of empirical origin at all and the possibility that they can nevertheless be related a priori to objects of experience can be called transcendental. (A 56/B 81)

What Kant seems to be telling us here is that the transcendental is what underlies or makes possible the a priori status of various representations. So if we find that a certain condition (e.g., psychological process) is what makes it possible to have a specific type of a priori knowledge, then that condition may be labeled “transcendental.” We should also note that the label “transcendental” is only concerned with the synthetic a priori—the type of a priori knowledge that is problematic to explain and justify, as opposed to analytic truths. And we should further note that Kant thinks that the a priori is co-extensive with the necessary. So, to use another of Kant’s terms, the transcendental is whatever grounds 5 synthetic a priori, necessary truths—it is whatever makes them both a priori knowable and necessary. This understanding of Kant’s use of the term “transcendental” allows us to make provisional sense of the transcendental idealist, transcendental realist contrast (cf. A 369). Philosophers who think that what makes (necessary) metaphysical truths true is the nature of a mind-independent world, and that we somehow (e.g., through a priori reasoning from con-



cepts) are able to get knowledge of these conditions are transcendental realists, since it is the mind-independent world that grounds our knowledge of it. 6 By contrast, Kant explains and argues for the view that it is various aspects of the mind that are both the ground of (necessary) metaphysical truths, and also the ground of our ability to know these truths (a priori); he is thus a transcendental idealist. 7 It is also useful to note that Kant often uses “transcendental” as an apparent contrast term with “empirical,” and infers from the fact that some feature of our cognitive systems is not based on experience, viz., is non-empirical to the conclusion that there must instead be a transcendental basis for it. This may seem a bit confusing since he tends to call a posteriori truths “empirical” as well. But if we stick to a narrower usage (as Kant would have us do with “transcendental”) then we have the following parallel: knowledge of a posterior, contingent truths is empirical, i.e. derived from experience, whereas knowledge of synthetic a priori, necessary truths is based on transcendental features of the mind. It would thus appear, not surprisingly, that a transcendental investigation must consist of a priori reasoning and analysis, since it is meant to establish results about what makes necessary truths knowable a priori. However, if the present interpretation of ‘transcendental’ is correct, then, contrary to the line of thinking that was originated by Strawson (1966), we should be cautious about assuming that Kant’s methodology will consist primarily of so-called “transcendental arguments.” In the current, Stawsonian philosophical usage (which I am suggesting is not Kant’s), a transcendental argument attempts to show that because we have a certain type of experience, certain metaphysical conditions must also hold. As we will see in subsequent chapters, Kant did sometimes offer arguments that have the structure: given that A is true of us, psychologically, B must also be true. But we will find that these arguments do not, as Strawson maintains, begin with the nature or content of experience. And given what we have just considered, this should not be surprising. If a transcendental investigation is simply an attempt to establish the basis of various a priori truths and knowledge, then we might instead expect the methodology to consist of any available form of a priori philosophical reasoning. And, as we will see, this is indeed the case—we will uncover conceptual analysis as well as something like a priori inference to the best explanation. So, for the moment I simply suggest that we keep an open mind about the methodology of the TD. KANT’S GOALS Before looking at argumentation in the TD, it will also be useful to know what Kant intends to establish here. But, as we will consider in chapter 4, there is no general agreement among commentators as to what Kant’s


Chapter 2

goals in the TD are. And this is because it has been so difficult to extract a line of argument that appears to achieve one or another result that is somehow in line with the apparent investigations of the Critique. However, we do get a direct statement from Kant about what a transcendental deduction is in the second paragraph of the introduction to the TD (“First Section”). After raising the issue of whether we are entitled to use certain concepts in the first paragraph, he then, in the second paragraph, tells us that we have concepts that are “destined for pure use a priori”—presumably the categories. And since they are not empirical concepts, it is obvious that experience does not justify their use. He then states that “I therefore call the explanation of the way in which concepts can be related to objects a priori their transcendental deduction . . .” (A 85/B 117) This immediately raises the issue of what Kant means by “objects,” a question we will resolve in the next chapter. But for the moment, we can simply presume that this designates the external world. The apparent question, then, is not about the existence of the external world but rather about what entitles us to make judgments about the world that involve the categories. 8 That is, how are applications of these concepts justified? The obvious target here would thus appear to be Hume’s skepticism about a necessary connection between cause and effect. 9 And this is supported by the final two paragraphs of the section (A 89–92/ B 122–4) where, after having spent several paragraphs contrasting his project with Locke’s “empirical deductions” of concepts, Kant raises the example of cause to illustrate the issue. In the final paragraph he dismisses Hume’s explanation of causation as regularity, indicating instead that the causeeffect relationship must involve a necessary connection between cause and effect that is in accord with “an absolutely universal rule.” And as we will see, causation is mentioned frequently in the TD as a sample category, particularly in passages where the issue of justification is raised. But the TD is not narrowly focused on the justification of causation, viz., on the concepts of “causation” and “necessity.” This is made clear, or clearer, in the introduction to the Prolegomena (260–61), which also lends strong support to the idea that the goal of the TD is to broadly justify applications of the categories. Kant tells us there that he tried to see “whether Hume’s objection could not be put into a general form, and soon found that the concept of cause and effect was by no means the only concept by which the understanding thinks the connection of things a priori, but rather that metaphysics consists altogether of such concepts [the categories].” He states that he then successfully carried out the deduction of all of these concepts, which solved Hume’s problem, “not merely in a particular case, but with respect to the whole faculty of pure reason . . .” 10 This concern about the applicability of a priori concepts in general is also explained in a slightly different way in the second to last paragraph that begins at A 89/B 122 where Kant points out that the categories are



concepts of the understanding, which need not have any relation to experiences. As he puts it, we must ask “how subjective conditions of thinking should have objective validity, i.e., yield conditions of the possibility of all cognition of objects.” This is the question of how we can have objective a priori knowledge, that is, of how it is possible to have a priori knowledge, of any sort, about the external world. Thus, we are again apparently seeking a way of showing that judgments about the world that apply the categories are justified. However, this paragraph also points to an important issue in understanding Kant’s approach. Questions about our knowledge of the world are here treated as equivalent to questions about our psychological faculties and mental processes. In particular, the question of how the categories apply objectively to objects—which seemingly means the world of external, i.e., non-mental objects—is considered to be the same as the question of how concepts in the understanding apply to experiences, viz., appearances or intuitions. And this is understandable, particularly if the focus is on Hume’s view of causation. Thus, as Kant explains, we might well have an a priori concept of causation but only experience contingent relations between (apparent) causes and effects, leaving the concept of (necessary) causation “empty, nugatory and without significance.” But, we might ask, why should a solution to the latter solve the former? Isn’t it possible, that although the categories can be shown to accord with experience (or vice versa), that this result still involves merely subjective conditions of thinking that do not have objective validity? This, I suggest, is an important part of what a successful reading of the TD must explain. 11 And we will indeed sort this out in the next two chapters. So based on Kant’s discussion in the opening section of the TD, as well as his discussion in the opening of the Prolegomena, it seems reasonable to provisionally accept that in the TD, Kant is seeking a justification of the application of the categories, both to experience and to the world. And, given our above considerations about “transcendental,” we can also assume that this will be an a priori philosophical undertaking that seeks results that will provide an a priori justification. KANT’S PSYCHOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK This undertaking will, apparently, involve a priori reasoning about various aspects of the mind. It will thus be useful to clarify various aspects of Kantian psychology. We may begin by noting that Kant is a realist about both consciousness and mental representation(s). 12 Thus, he assumes, as did virtually all of his predecessors and contemporaries, that consciousness is a robustly real phenomenon. He also shares the view of his age (and, for the most part, of our present milieu) that consciousness includes discrete mental states that have meaning (for Locke, “ideas”), i.e., states


Chapter 2

with content, i.e., mental representations. And, as we shall see, the main part of his investigation in the TD concerns issues about how the mind manipulates these representations, including the central question of what gives them their content. Kant is a representationalist in the sense that he conceived of all conscious states as being representational, 13 as it was put in later eras, consciousness is “consciousness of,” and, as the TD will make clear, he regards mental representation as the germane aspect of consciousness for philosophical inquiries. 14 Unlike Locke, Kant is not a simple ideationalist, but instead offers us an elaborate inventory of mental state types. 15 We will briefly consider those that will concern us in the TD. A sensation is how we are affected by things, either by the world or by our minds—roughly, a subjective reaction; sensations are thus the (informationally) “given,” i.e., the input to perceptual processing. Kant maintains, and not without good reason— this constitutes an important part of the TD argumentation—that the mind takes sensations and constructs intuitions, which he defines as our representations of individuals, viz, representations of the perceived external environment—physical objects, etc.—or of current mental (conscious) states. It thus seems reasonable to assume that intuitions are what we would now call our imagistic perceptual experiences (including other modalities along with visual representations). On the other hand, concepts are representations of generality. Judgments are concurrent mental states that apply concepts. Some judgments relate concepts to concepts, e.g., “dogs are animals,” while others apply concepts to intuitions, e.g., “this dog is brown.” Finally, “cognition” is an overarching term for both ways of representing, viz., specific and general; so both intuitions and concepts are cognitions. Kant thus maintains that our perceptual knowledge of the world consists of judgments that apply concepts to intuitions. 16 In this framework, the vehicle of truth is the act of judgment, in that representations connect with truth and falsity, and, in particular, truth and falsity about the world, only through judgment. As we will see, Kant does not simply assume that we have objective knowledge of the world. Rather, the explanation of what makes cognitions objective, and more generally how we are able to represent the world at all is an important part of the investigation in the TD. Note that in describing Kant’s view in the last two paragraphs, I have on the one had referred to “perceptual experiences” and also to “perceptual knowledge.” A “perception” can thus either mean the former, subjective type of state or the latter objective state, as Kant himself acknowledges at A 320/B 376–7. However, what he does not acknowledge—but has been often noted by commentators—is that he also uses the term “experience” in the same two senses. Thus, “experience” may mean “input to the senses,” which Kant typically contrasts with the a priori elements of the mind or it may mean “perceptual cognitions,” as in my



experience of a roomful of physical objects. I do not think that this results in any major confusions, since which sense is intended is usually clear from the context. However, it is worth noting that Kant’s ultimate view— that he develops in the TD—is that experiences (qua empirical cognitions) involve an a priori conceptual component as well as experience (qua sensory input). It should be clear that unless one keeps the two senses of the term in mind, confusions easily result. It is also worth noting the term “manifold,” which now seems a bit archaic. Kant typically uses this term to refer to a collection of mental states, and, in particular, a collection of sensory states. However, even the term “collection” does not quite capture the sense of “manifold,” since the former may imply some sort of unification or bringing together. But part of the project of the TD is to carefully distinguish unified from nonunified conscious states, to then determine what unification requires. So while I will sometimes paraphrase “manifold” as “collection” it is important to note that a manifold of representations is a completely non-unified non-organized plurality of representations. Appearance There is one additional term that Kant uses in connection with perceptual psychology, namely “appearance.” Unlike those noted above, this one is fairly problematic. I will provide a provisional explanation that will be confirmed by the overall TD framework that we will uncover in the next few chapters. The term is seemingly defined by this passage at the start of the Aesthetic: The undetermined object of an empirical intuition is called appearance (A. 20/B 34.)

One natural way to read this is that appearances are the things that our perceptual states represent, i.e., external objects, e.g., the “appearance” of the cup is what my current visual perceptions represent, namely, the external cup. However—this is the notorious difficulty—this is inconsistent with the many passages where Kant declares that appearances are representations. One of the most definitive is the following (from the A TD): Makes out of all possible appearances that can ever come together in one experience a connection of all of these representations. (A 108, my emphasis)

I suggest that the resolution of this apparent difficulty comes in realizing that by “undetermined object” in the previous passage, Kant does not mean the referent of the intuition, but rather its content, since, after all, an undetermined object is not really an (external) object at all. So an appear-


Chapter 2

ance is the empirical content of an intuition. In particular, it is the content that is the result of the way we are affected, as the following passage (from the end of the A TD) manages to clarify: As appearances they constitute an object that is merely in us, since a mere modification of our sensibility is not to be countered outside us at all. (A 129)

So, to return to the passage from the Aesthetic (A 20), the term “undetermined” apparently means “non-conceptual” or “non-conceptualized,” since for Kant, to “determine” a representation is to apply a concept to it, via a judgment. So appearances are the non-conceptual content of perceptual experiences. But they are not representations of the world. Rather, as the above passage indicates, they are the information that the senses register. So appearances are the subjectively given perceptual information, i.e., “sense data,” i.e., (perceptual) “qualia,” for instance, a blue patch, a bitter taste, a clanging sound, etc. 17 Faculties Kant also distinguishes various faculties that correspond to this division of representational types: sensibility is the faculty of receptivity, i.e., the ability to receive sensations, the understanding is the faculty that is the storehouse of concepts and that makes judgments using concepts, the imagination is the faculty that combines (and orders) representations in various ways, e.g., associations, and reason is the faculty of inference. So, putting all of this together, I might, as an effect of the world, receive brownish, rectangular sensations in sensibility which I combine (Kant will argue, using the imagination) into an intuition of an object in front of me, and then I am able to use my understanding and apply my concept of a table and judge that there is a (brown) table in front of me. These faculties are characterized in terms of cognitive abilities or powers. For instance, sensibility is simply defined as the ability (or power) to receive sense impressions. And when Kant talks about “acts” or “functions” that these faculties carry out, he is in fact talking about mental activities—thus, in the contemporary sense, processes—that take various kinds of representations as input and that produce representations that relate to the input via rules. His view is therefore highly consistent with contemporary understanding of functionalist explanation in psychology, and thus also with contemporary information-processing psychology’s explanations of mental abilities in terms of the rule-governed manipulation of representations. It is important to understand several things about functionalist explanation, and thus about Kant’s ideas of faculties. First, since functional explanation concerns nothing but representations in relations, it is ontologically neutral, so that, e.g., the manipulation of representations in



forming perceptual representations and applying concepts via judgments might, as Kant thought, be carried out by a non-physical mind, or they might, as many of us now think, turn out to be neural states and processes. Thus we can neatly set aside the mind-body problem in examining most of the Critique, and the TD in particular—there is no reason to think that talk of faculties is somehow essentially tied to the idea of a nonphysical mind. 18 Likewise, if we reconstructively adopt a physicalist outlook, there is no reason why such faculties must turn out to be isolated regions of the brain. So, for instance, if we accept it as obvious that we apply concepts to experiences by making judgments about them, then it follows that we must somehow “possess” concepts and there must be a judgmental ability that somehow applies to experiences; so the “understanding” is simply this collection of stored concepts and the processes that apply them. But there is no reason to think that there is a region of the brain that is a literal storehouse of concepts. Such storage and judgmental abilities might be distributed across the brain in various complex ways, and they might turn out to be (physically) interwoven with other cognitive processes. Functionalist explanation in general, and thus Kantian functionalist explanation, only requires that, for instance, our brains are indeed able to recall concepts and appropriately apply them. No specific implications about physical realization are entailed by such explanations, and thus no dubious physical implications are so entailed. Inner Sense Finally, it will be useful to consider Kant’s view of inner sense. Kant accepted the more or less standard contemporary account from Locke, Leibniz, etc., that our awareness of our own mental states is a form of inner perception, so that being aware of our thoughts is a matter of having representations of those thoughts. However, Kant additionally maintains that all of our experiences go through inner sense, including those from outer sense. Thus, in perceiving a book I am not only aware of the book (my intuition of the book—outer sense) but I am also aware that I am experiencing the book (my intuition of my thoughts—inner sense). Further, Kant realizes that if inner sense is to be truly analogous to the perception of outer objects, then it must likewise be indirect. So, just as on Locke’s view, in perceiving a book we are immediately aware of our perceptual representation of the book (for Locke, our “ideas” of the book), not of the book itself, so Kant would say that in being aware of a thought through inner sense, I am not immediately aware of the thought itself but rather I have a representation of the thought. It follows that there is a double indirectness built into the perception of outer objects— again, in experiencing a book I am only indirectly aware of the book, via perceptual representations, but I am also not directly aware of the mental


Chapter 2

states (sensations) that the book has caused in me, but rather I am aware of them via my representation of those perceptual representations. For those who might think that this is an implausible view, it is useful to see that Kant’s view of inner sense can be readily explicated using (one version of) the contemporary higher order thought (HOT) thesis. According to that account, consciousness is a matter of having representations of our representations, i.e., “second order” representations. 19 This already incorporates much of Kant’s view—we can identify these second order representations with inner sense. 20 They represent the first-order representations caused by external objects. We are aware of these first-order representations only because we have these higher-order representations. 21 Since we can understand Kantian inner sense using the HOT view, this shows that Kant’s conception of inner sense is, at the very least, a psychologically coherent model. We will return to the issue of why we should accept this view much later in the book, in connection with Kant’s discussion of inner sense near the end of the B TD. But by way of preview, consider that if we agree that conscious states are representational, then consciousness of thoughts should consist of representations of thoughts. But this is just what the (HOT) inner sense view claims. And, to echo Lycan (1996), if we approach the issue of awareness of (our) thoughts from the standpoint of psychological processing explanations, the inner sense view is the only model we have. It thus appears to be a very reasonable psychological assumption on Kant’s part. I thus suggest that, from the perspective of contemporary philosophy and of cognitive science, Kant’s discussions of the mind’s manipulation of representations, his frequent references to faculties, and his model of inner sense are all broadly cogent. However, if Kant is going to establish the objective validity of the categories, as we have considered above, then we should expect a priori reasoning rather than psychological explanations. And as we will see in the next chapter, that is precisely what we get in one crucial set of passages. After expositing this reasoning, we will then consider, in the second part of chapter 4, how Kant’s a priori investigation integrates with his apparent psychological explanations. NOTES 1. There is also what I call the “grandiose” family of meanings for the term, perhaps most familiar philosophically from Emerson, which treats “transcendental” as meaning something like “supersensible” (thus, the idea of a “transcendental God”). But as many have pointed out, this seems to confuse “transcendental” with “transcendent.” Moreover, the term filtered into popular culture in the early nineteenth century meaning roughly “sublime,” as in Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes. I will merely remark that there is no textual basis for such readings of the term. But since as a result it is possible that some readers will come to the text with expectations of the transcendental being, as it were, supernatural or otherwise fantastic, it is worth noting that, if my



reading is correct, the transcendental is fairly technical and boring, though, I think, very exciting epistemologically. 2. Ewing (1938) p. 25, Strawson (1966) p. 18, and Kitcher (1990) p. 184. 3. There is also an obvious further problem with this reading in regard to how Kant uses “transcendental” in the Dialectic. Several of the above commentators suggest that he is using it with a different meaning there, but I regard this as a rather uncharitable reading. 4. Actually, the B version of that passage is a bit more complicated: “I call all cognition transcendental that is occupied not so much with objects but with our mode of cognition of objects insofar as this is to be possible a priori.” For the moment, this doesn’t help much, but I think that what Kant means here becomes clear on the reading of “transcendental” that I am about to suggest. 5. For Kant, the ground of p is that which underlies the truth of p. Causes are one broad class of grounds, but not all grounds are causes. 6. Note that in A 369 Kant asserts that transcendental realism leads to skepticism. The apparent thinking is that the transcendental realist posits a mind-independent world but then finds that she is unable to establish its existence, let alone any (other) a priori truths about it. (The remarks at B 274–5 suggest that Kant takes Descartes’ view to be a prime example of this result. This, of course, presumes that the arguments in Meditations III-VI are unsuccessful.) 7. I believe that on this reading of “transcendental,” Kant can be shown to be using the term with a consistent meaning throughout the Critique; but that task is beyond the scope of the present work. 8. In chapter 4 we will return to the issue of what Kant means by a “deduction,” which includes the question of why he uses the term “explanation” here. 9. Later in the Prolegomena (310–1) Kant states that skepticism is also problematic for the other categories of Relation, viz., substance and community. 10. Keuhn (1996) provides a very interesting account of Kant’s likely understanding of Hume’s skepticism. I note some more about this issue in chapters 3 and 6. 11. Guyer (1992) emphasizes this concern, although he is unable to figure out how Kant resolved it. 12. Kant was also a dualist, of sorts—see appendix F. As I discuss there, it is possible that his view can be understood, i.e., reconstructed, in a (non-eliminativist) physicalist outlook—one that also includes a functionalist view of cognitive processing. Dedicated physicalists can thus, perhaps, understand Kant’s use of ‘mind’ as a metaphoric description of the brain. With this in mind, I will sometimes use the ontologically neutral term “cognitive system” rather than “mind.” 13. Being a realist about representations is not the same as a representational (indirect, Lockean) account of perception, although as I will argue in chapter 5, Kant is best read as adhering to that view as well. 14. There is, though, no reason to think that he shared the view of some contemporary philosophers who think than consciousness can be completely explained in terms of representations. Rather, the natural way to read him is as a realist about both qualitative conscious states (qualia) and about representational mental states. Whether or not qualia are somehow reducible to neural states would appear to be an independent issue. 15. See A 320/B 376–7 and also A 19–20/B 33–4. 16. Allison (2004) pp. 12–15 and passim terms this the “discursively thesis.” As he explains, this aspect of Kant’s psychology constitutes a major change from his philosophical predecessors. 17. It seems to me that it is consistent with Kant’s view to allow that it is up to empirical psychology to determine the nature of the information that the senses receive. 18. As I discuss further in appendix F. 19. The locus classicus of the HOT view is D. Rosenthal (1986), as well as his (1997). Substantial development of the HOT view is also found in Peter Carruthers (1996) and


Chapter 2

(2000). Note that, unlike many of these contemporary philosophers, Kant was not attempting to explain away qualia with the HOT model. 20. To avoid potential misleading implications, note that the two primary HOT pioneers, Rosenthal and Carruthers, do not accept an inner sense model of self-awareness; Rosenthal rejects the idea of inner sense for the rather dubious reason that there is no distinct sensory quality for inner awareness, a point that Kant was well aware of. Carruthers adopts a (roughly) dispositional account of HOT, a view at odds with an apparent primary assumption in Kant’s psychological model of knowledge, viz., that to know p requires an explicit representation of p. (Although one might view Carruthers as holding a dispositonalized inner sense view.) By contrast, William Lycan is the foremost advocate of inner sense in recent philosophy—see his (1996). He defends the inner sense model against Rosenthal and others in his (1997). In any case, the present point is not that anyone who accepts HOT must accept Kant’s idea of inner sense, but rather that the HOT approach can be helpful both in explicating Kant’s inner sense account and in making it seem plausible. 21. And, moreover, to say that we have such second-order representations is not to say that we are aware of having them—that would in turn require third-order representations of the second order representations. (I believe that Kant actually comes close to saying this at the note to B 157, although there he is concerned with [lack of] awareness of the “mind” that is creating the second-order representations.)

THREE The Fundamental Framework Unity, Representation, and Apperception

In this chapter I present a new reading of the (rather poorly labeled) “synthesis of recognition” section of the A TD, beginning at A 103. My analysis of the text will reveal previously undetected arguments that involve exceptionally strong reasoning. We will see that they yield what turns out to be the primary conceptual framework for the TD, namely, the intimately related trio of the necessary unity of consciousness, the concept of an object of representation and transcendental apperception. CONCEPTS, SYNTHESIS AND UNITY Before we delve into the main TD material, it will be useful to consider two further important aspects of Kant’s psychological outlook. The first is his understanding of concepts, namely that they are, or involve, unifying functions, “concepts [rest on] functions. By a function, however, I understand the unity of the action of ordering different representations under a common one” (A 68/B 93). To see what he means by this, consider several concepts that apply directly to experiences, “blue,” “triangle,” “water” and “coat.” If I judge that there is something blue in front of me, then this judgment, that applies “blue,” connects that particular experience (of blueness) with any other experience of blueness that I have had or that I might have—all of my actual and potential experiences of blueness. And, for that matter, this experience is thereby unified with every actual and potential thought I might have about blue things—my imaginings of blue things, my reasoning about blue things, etc. So, thanks to the concept “blue,” I am able to think that both my shirt and pants are blue, or that I 19


Chapter 3

have seen three blue things recently or that I would like to acquire another blue shirt. And the same holds true for my experiences and other thoughts about triangles, water, or coats. By contrast, more abstract concepts, although they may (perhaps) apply directly to experiences, primarily serve to unify other concepts. Thus, “color” unifies all of my color concepts, and similarly for “shape,” “liquid,” and “clothing.” As we will see, in the TD, Kant sometimes speaks of concepts not as unifying functions, but as unifying rules. To see why, consider the concept (apparently Kant’s favorite) “triangle.” In several other passages, he tells us that concepts consist of marks (A 320, B 377, R 2287), which apparently correspond to experiential features. The idea is that a concept is a collection of marks, so “triangle” will consist of something like “figure with three straight, intersecting lines.” These marks are applied in judgments, e.g., judgments that identify the relevant features in experiences. But Kant also adds, notably at A 105, that concepts have associated rules. To see why, consider our ability to imagine a triangle at will, which, for those with some visual imagery, is a matter of creating an appropriate mental image. This seems to require having a rule, or set of rules (perhaps, as we might now theorize, unconscious), for creating an image with the appropriate features. 1 It would appear that this rule is also what allows us to identify triangles in experiences, and thus permits the application of the concept in judgments. 2 It may seem that this involves several different ideas of what concepts are, viz., unifying functions, marks that characterize feature sets, and experiential rules. But it seems (as Kant apparently thinks—see, e.g., A 126) that they all come to roughly the same thing. A collection of marks is what is used in carrying out the unifying judgments, and the rules for classifying experiences are also unifiers, where for each concept, the associated rule involves experiential versions of the relevant features for the concept—it is easy to see how this works for “triangle.” 3 The marks, in application in judgments, and the rules together constitute the unifying function of concepts. However, we will see (and fully see when examining the first half of the B TD) that Kant thought that the categories consist only of unifying rules, one type of rule for judgments and a corresponding type of rule for experiences. Thus, to simplify a little, and to accord with the relevant TD passages, I will simply describe (Kant’s view of) concepts as unifying rules, with the understanding that, as we have just seen, the full explanation, at least for empirical concepts, is a bit more complicated. 4 We will turn now to another psychological notion that figures very prominently in the TD, namely synthesis. This term is initially introduced and defined at A 77/B 103 (in the Metaphysical Deduction [MD]):

The Fundamental Framework


By synthesis in the most general sense, however, I understand the action of putting different representations together with each other and comprehending their manifoldness in one cognition.

Let us call the “putting together” a “unifying.” There are thus two parts to synthesis: the first is a unifying process, and the second is a cognition, i.e., a representation, either an intuition or a judgment (A 320/B 376–7), which is the product of the unifying action. We will consider the product first. Presumably, Kant is not thinking of the literal idea of physically combining representations. After all, physical combination makes no sense for dualists. And for the physicalist, if distinct representations are distinct neural states, there is no reason to think that the unified representation will, or must, consist of a physical combination of those neural states. What is at issue is rather unified or combined content. Thus, if a and b are the contents of distinct representations, then a synthesis will result in a representation with content ab. A deeper understanding of what this amounts to will be helpful. Kant says nothing specific about of what the “manifold” of perceptual representations consists of—this is presumably left to empirical psychology. But if we consider a few examples, the idea of synthesis as combination of contents becomes clearer. For instance, if stimulation to one part of my retinas results in me representing a blue patch on what I detect as the surface of an object and an adjoining part of the retinas results in a representation of green patch in an adjoining part of the surface, then a cognitive process (“synthesis”) will very likely result in my simultaneously representing (“seeing”) the blue and green portions of the surface. And, if I detect a flash and also detect a bang at the same time, then a cognitive process (“synthesis”) may result in my experience of a simultaneous flash and bang. And, if I detect a cup at a certain location and at the same time I also detect an adjoining saucer, a cognitive process (“synthesis”) will likely result in the experience of both together. Kant’s definition might initially suggest that “synthesis” is simply a matter of concatenation, but, given what he says about synthesis at various points in the Analytic, especially in the Principles, I suggest that a cognition produced by synthesis is one that involves any sort of relation between the contents of two or more distinct representations. And a little thought about examples such as those above will support this; e.g., the typical relation of a cup to a saucer is a little bit more than simple concatenation. As for the process, if we apply a functionalist understanding, this will consist of any cognitive process or processes that take the to-beunified representations—or their contents—as input and that outputs a representation of the relation between the contents. 5 The details of such processes are presumably a matter for empirical psychology to determine. But, as we will see, Kant will make important philosophical claims


Chapter 3

using the general notion of a synthesis, viz., about the need for unifying processes and about the resultant representation of the unity. Now, while a number of commentators in the recent era have balked at the introduction of this psychological concept which, we will see below, plays a fairly central role in the TD, it is fairly easy to see that it is not in fact problematic. First, we should note that Humean association is a paradigmatic type of empirical synthesis: 6 if X and Y are frequently experienced together then the thought of one will bring to mind the other. E.g., the experience of smoke being often accompanied by the experience of fire will produce the idea of fire when smoke is experienced. Since association has been accepted without hesitation by generation after generation of philosophers, synthesis should equally be accepted, since it is simply a more abstract type of psychological processing, of which association is a particular species. 7 Another important concern is that it seems that we are seldom, if ever, consciously aware of the perceptual processing that produces our experiences. We are not aware of how our brains manage to produce a uniform, and mostly stable visual experience, based on the inputs from the two retinas, of eyes that are typically in rapid motion. Nor are we aware of how inputs from the other senses, such as auditory input, is integrated into our visual representations. This is, I suspect, a primary reason why some commentators have either rejected Kant’s notion of synthesis or else have taken him to be referring to processes that only happen occasionally. 8 However, we can hardly deny that there must be processing, indeed, extremely elaborate processing, to take us from the information from the retinas, ear-drums, nervous system, etc., to our conscious, perceptual experiences. But the natural way to understand this processing is as preconscious, viz., our brains register input information and then process it in elaborate ways to yield our experiences, where only the final output is actually available to consciousness. Kant seemed to recognize this concern, since, in the paragraph after he first defines synthesis, he states that it is “the mere effect of the imagination, of a blind though indispensable function of the soul, without which we would have no cognition at all, but of which we are seldom even conscious” (A 78/B 103, my emphasis). When, as we will see shortly, Kant proves that there must be synthesis of a certain sort, this need not, and probably should not, be taken to mean that there is a mental process that we are consciously aware of. Rather, if we again consider the definition, to say that there is a synthesis is to say both there is a mental process and a result. If it turns out that we are just aware of the outcome, as in the apparent case of most perceptual processing, that is perfectly consistent with Kant’s notion of synthesis and thus with the many areas of his views where synthesis plays a role. So it is reasonable for Kant to insist that the only way to produce representational contents that involve the unification or interrelation of distinct representational contents is via cognitive processes that do so.

The Fundamental Framework


This is a cornerstone assumption of the empiricist outlook that Kant is criticizing. The presence of a representation that consists of the interrelated contents of distinct representations thus implies that there must be appropriate “synthesizing” processes that are able to produce such representations, albeit usually unconscious processes. STEP 1: ESTABLISHING THE NECESSARY UNITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS We now turn to the exposition and justification of the core framework of the TD, which I will present in three discrete steps. While Kant does not explicitly distinguish these as steps, they do correspond to the order of presentation in the initial exposition in the A version. (A 103–110) The first sentence and a half of subsection “3” at A 103 offers a quick but effective argument for the moment-to-moment unity of consciousness: Without consciousness that that which we think is the very same as what we thought a moment before, all reproduction in the series of representations would be in vain. For it would be a new representation in our current state.

To see the point, consider a simple recollection. Suppose that I see a dog, and later recall the fact that I have seen that specific dog, say, by reproducing my experience of the dog, i.e., I recall a (mental) image of the dog. In order for this to be a recollection I must recognize that I have had this same experience before. But in order to do that, I must conceive of myself as having been previously conscious, in order to have had the experience of the dog. If it is only others—other consciousnesses that I am not continuous with, i.e., not united with—who have seen the dog, then I am not recalling seeing the dog, rather the image of the dog is a new experience for my particular consciousness. Thus, to have an experience that I conceive of as a recollection, I must be able to represent my present consciousness as the same—the same representer/experiencer—as some past moment of consciousness when the original experience supposedly occurred (even if I am mistaken in my memory). Note that it does not follow that I must be aware of my consciousness as some sort of actually-identical-over-time metaphysical self (i.e., substance), although that would be one way of representing the identity of consciousness. The point is that I must, somehow, represent an identity of consciousness over time in order to coherently conceive of something as previously experienced. I will therefore describe the concept of the unity of consciousness that is being introduced here as the represented identity of consciousness. And Kant, of course, owes us an explanation of what such


Chapter 3

a representation amounts to. But first, we will uncover an argument that enhances the requirement of identity by adding necessity. The rest of the paragraph ties this represented identity to the act of counting, e.g., in order to count a second dog, I have to recall having counted a first dog, and thus represent my consciousness as identical to the one that counted the first dog—two separate consciousnesses counting “dog” do not result in the counting of two dogs. So the number concepts also require this unity of consciousness. 9 But the requirement is much more general than that, as the start of the next paragraph hints: “The word ‘concept’ itself could already lead us to this remark.” 10 The point is clarified in a footnote in the more or less parallel part of the B edition TD: “The analytic unity of consciousness [as Kant labels the unity in question in the B TD 11] pertains to all common concepts as such, e.g., if I think of red in general, I thereby represent to myself a feature that (as a mark [representation of the feature]) can be encountered in anything, or that can be combined with other representations (note at B 133). The argument thus appears to be that the ability to apply a concept to experience presupposes the represented unity of consciousness. First, note that the experience of redness is distinct from the concept “red.” To judge that an experience (of redness) is red is, on Kant’s view, to unify that experience with all other actual and potential experiences of redness. That is to say that, necessarily, all of my experiences of redness are unified under the concept “red.” But if all my experiences are, as the (e.g., Humean) empiricist would have it, merely empirically, contingently, accidentally connected, then necessary unity is not possible. That would mean that experiences of redness are only contingent instances of “red.” But they are necessarily instances of concepts that apply to them. 12 So there must rather be a necessary unity of consciousness that in turn underlies the unity of instances of a concept. I will refer to the latter as “unity under a concept.” Here is another way to see the point. If my consciousness only exists for a momentary experience of redness and then ceases, I cannot conceptualize this as red, since there are no other possible experiences to unify this experience with. And the unity of experience in a given moment must also be necessary. Suppose that I’m experiencing distinct red things in the left and right sides of my visual field. In order for these to qualify as multiple experiences of redness, and thus as multiple instances of “red,” there must be more than a contingent unity to my visual field. If, by contrast, two separate thinkers each experience redness, this does not qualify as a multiple experience of redness. I must be able to conceive of my experiences at a given moment as part of a necessarily unified moment of experience, in order to make it true that I’m experiencing two instances of redness. Otherwise, each experience of redness in each part of my visual field might as well be experiences of separate minds.

The Fundamental Framework


So I must be able to conceive of my experiences, and more generally my conscious states, as necessarily rather than contingently unified, both at any given moment, and over time. Only then am I to unify selected types of experiences (and conscious states) via concepts. So the general applicability of concepts requires the necessary (represented) unity of consciousness. 13 The concept of this unity cannot be acquired from empirical judgments about experience, since the required unity is unity across individual experiences. It is, rather, presupposed in all such judgments. Hence, it is non-empirical, and thus, in Kant’s terminology, it is “formal” unity, in that it is an a priori requirement for all judgments since they apply concepts. This result leads us back again to the interrelation of unity and synthesis, since, in Kant’s terminology, to say that we have the ability to think about X and Y together is to say that there is an available process to form a suitable complex representation (“synthesis”). 14 We may thus note a further expository point that Kant might have made here—one that he presents very clearly in the second paragraph of §16 of the B TD. Since I am able to conceive of all my consciousness as the same consciousness, I must be able to co-represent any two conscious states, and in so doing be aware that they are part of the same consciousness. And this in turn requires that there is an appropriate synthesis, viz., a psychological process (or collection of processes) available that yield the representation of a unified consciousness. Thus, the general unity of consciousness requires a corresponding synthesis. And given that this unity is a formal requirement that has been established a priori, we can thus apply any or all of these modifiers to this synthesis: necessary, a priori, “pure” (equal not empirical) and formal. So, the ability to apply concepts, as well as the ability to arbitrarily combine individual thoughts, requires the (represented) necessary unity of consciousness which in turn requires that there are non-empirical psychological processes to achieve the representation of this unity. 15 And here it is useful to emphasize again that there is no reason to think that we are consciously aware of these processes. Consciousness may seem like a sort of organic whole. But we have just considered a strong argument that shows that there must be processes, as it were, behind the scenes processes that insure that this whole is what we experience. And they are not contingent, empirically conditioned processes, since that would not insure the requisite necessary unity; they must rather be “pure.” We should also note both the impact and the ingenuity of this argument. Hume maintains that there is no necessary connection between any thoughts. Kant has devised a counter that relies on the bare claim that we apply concepts to experiences, a claim that neither Hume nor anyone else can deny. The argument establishes not merely that there are some neces-


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sary connections between thoughts, but rather that all thoughts are necessarily connected, viz., as part of the necessary unity of consciousness. And, given what we have just noted, Kant’s initial result already entails that there must be more to our cognitive processing that just empiricist association. So this argument refutes the extreme empiricist psychological model that postulates association as the only combinatorial process. But this is only the first step—there is much more to come. STEP 2: THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE UNITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND REPRESENTATION At this point Kant’s readers might well expect an elaboration of what the unity of consciousness consists in, but he instead (in the next paragraph at A 104) introduces a seemingly new topic, which we will also turn to: And here then it is necessary to make understood what is meant by the expression “an object of representations.”

In what follows, I will argue that what he is doing here is inquiring into the general concept of representation. That is, when he asks what an object of representation can be, he is in effect asking what it is for thoughts to have objects, which, in contemporary terms, is to say that he is seeking to determine what it is for mental states 16 to be able to refer to anything—to be representational in general. He is attempting to analyze and explain what it is for a mental state to have a correspondent. An immediate issue that arises with Kant’s terminology here is what the term “object” (Object) means. It has been suggested that Kant uses the term “object” (Object) to mean something like “intentional object”; 17 and it has also variously been suggested (including by Guyer and Woods) that the term is used ambiguously, e.g., to sometimes mean “physical object” and to sometimes mean something like “intentional object.” We will consider the issue of intentional objects in chapter 5, in relation to questions about Kant’s realism and idealism. But for the moment, I am suggesting that once we understand the project here as analyzing the notion of representation, then we should expect that ‘object’ will at least have the ambiguity of sometimes concerning physical objects, and sometimes concerning other “things” we might represent, such as events, collections, features, or thoughts. And the latter is borne out by a passage a little later in this section at A 108–9, where Kant tells us that “appearances are the only objects that can be given to us immediately” (my emphasis), and then a sentence later tells us that appearances are “only representations, which in turn have their object.” So in the first sentence, Kant is characterizing appearances as objects. And, in the following Reflexion, after mentioning the example of a plate, apparently as an object, he tells us that it is “round, warm, made of tin, etc.,” but then says that

The Fundamental Framework


these are not objects—for presumably, then are rather predicates of the plate. He then says, “although the warmth, the tin, etc., [are]” 18 (objects). Apparently, properties can also be “objects.” So, while physical objects are one important kind of object that thoughts can have, when Kant talks about the “objects” of thoughts, this will sometimes involve other kinds of correspondents. Before returning to the TD text, we may also consider the centrality of the topic of representation in the overall outlook of the Critique. This is revealed in Kant’s oft-cited letter to Herz of February 21, 1772. The letter was written roughly nine years before the completion of the first Critique, and, tellingly, it presents the question of the nature of how a priori concepts can apply to objects, but without a solution. However, Kant tells his former pupil where he is looking for a solution, and that is what is of vital interest to us here: I noticed that I still lacked something essential that in my long metaphysical studies I, as well as others, had failed to pay attention to and that, in fact, constitutes the key to the whole secret of hitherto still obscure metaphysics. I asked myself: what is the ground of the relation of that in us which we call “representation” to the object? If a representation is only a way in which the subject is affected by the object, then it is easy to see how the representation is in conformity with this object, namely, as an effect in accord with its cause, and it is easy to see how this modification of our mind can represent something, that is, have an object. Thus the passive or sensuous representations have an understandable relationship to objects, and the principles that are derived from the nature of our soul have an understandable validity for all things insofar as those things are supposed to be objects of the senses. In the same way, if that in us which we call “representation” were active with regard to the object, that is, if the object itself were created by the representation (as when divine cognitions are conceived as the archetypes of all things), the conformity of these representations to their objects could be understood. . . . However, our understanding, through its representations, is not the cause of the object (save in the case of moral ends), nor is the object the cause of the intellectual representations in the mind. Therefore the pure concepts of the understanding must not be abstracted from sense perceptions, nor must they represent the reception of representations through the senses; but though they must have their origin in the nature of the soul, they are neither caused by the object nor bring the object into being. 19

So, Kant, plausibly, thinks it makes no sense to say that tremendously abstract concepts like the categories represent in virtue of being the results of sensory effects. When we turn to the Critique, and back to the initial summary presentation of the TD at A 92–3, we find the same statement of the problem:


Chapter 3 There are only two possible cases in which synthetic representation and its objects can come together, necessarily relate to each other, and, as it were, meet each other: Either if the object alone makes the representation possible, or if the representation alone makes the object possible. If it is the first, then this relation is only empirical, and the representation is never possible a priori. And this is the case with appearance in respect of that in it which belongs to sensation. But if it is the second, then since representation in itself (for we are not talking about its causality by means of the will) does not produce its object as far as its existence is concerned, the representation is still determinant of the object a priori if it is possible through it alone to cognize something as an object.

The solution that follows in this passage is extremely short and cryptic, and I thus think that it is best put off until after we have examined the full TD framework in detail. So we will return to this passage in chapter 6. But my present point is that these passages from the letter and the Critique strongly indicate that the nature of representation, i.e., the relation of thought to represented objects, is central to the TD. To return, then, to A 104 and the investigation of representation, the next paragraph begins by dismissing two possible responses: We have stated above that appearances are themselves nothing but sensible representations, which, as such and in themselves, must not be taken as objects capable of existing outside our power of representation. 20

This looks to be an affirmation of the Lockean view of perception, viz., what we are immediately aware of is our “ideas,” not external objects. And this would appear to be a working assumption of the Critique—the “stated above” likely refers to the opening pages of the Aesthetic. 21 But, while this seems to direct realists like too much of an arbitrary or dogmatic commitment, it is important to see that the ensuing discussion is about the idea of representations and their corresponding objects, which is an issue that arises for any view that acknowledges mental representations. This is made clearer when Kant re-rehearses this same line of reasoning several pages later at A 109: “However, these appearances are not things in themselves, but themselves only representations, which in turn have their object.” So Kant’s seemingly benign assumption here is that, say, my experience of the table represents an external table, which is, again, something any realist should be happy with. This introductory remark leads to the issue: What does one mean, then, if one speaks of an object corresponding to and therefore also distinct from the cognition? It is easy to see that this object must be thought of as only as something in general = X, since outside of our cognition we have nothing that we could set over against this cognition as corresponding to it.

The Fundamental Framework


Kant, then, is seemingly adopting the prime facie obvious view, namely that representation involves correspondence. That is, if A represents a, then A must somehow correspond to a. But the problem is that we cannot know or otherwise represent that which we represent except through our representations, viz., judgments (that apply concepts) and experiences (intuitions). If I inquire as to why, e.g., my table-experience represents the table, the answer cannot be because I have on the one hand my table experience and on the other some independent contact with the table and I can determine that the former corresponds to the latter. So we have a puzzle here: what is it to conceive of our thoughts as being representational, i.e., as having corresponding objects, if we are aware of only one side of the correspondence relation? To provide an answer, Kant makes an observation that is based on the uniformity of the concept of representation: We find, however, that our thought of the relation of all cognition to its object carries something of necessity with it, since namely the latter is regarded as that which is opposed to our cognitions being determined at pleasure or arbitrarily rather than being determined a priori, since insofar as they are to relate to an object our cognitions must also necessarily agree with each other in relation to it, i.e. they must have that unity that constitutes the concept of an object.

To understand this passage, recall the idea of unity under a concept that we examined in the previous section, viz., all instances of a concept necessarily fall under that concept. Here, the additional point is that all instances of a concept must necessarily have all of the conditions that are required for being instances of the concept. For instance, all triangles necessarily have three sides, since those are features of the concept. So, if all our cognitions, and for that matter, all our conscious states, 22 fall under the same uniform concept: “(being) representational,” which we have just seen amounts to corresponding to something, then they must necessarily have the conditions or features that constitute representing some object or other. Thus, all cognitions—i.e., all representations—are necessarily united under the concept “having an object.” So now the question becomes, what do all thoughts necessarily share, that makes them representational? Before we turn to Kant’s answer, consider the seemingly obvious and perennially popular view that a mental state represents in virtue of causal connection to some object or state of the world, with the paradigm case being perceptions that would appear to represent in virtue of being caused by external (physical) objects that affect the senses. As we are about to see, Kant is going to replace that view of representation with another. So why not the causal view? The previous remark, that “we have nothing that we could set over against this cognition as corresponding to it,” suggests the following argument against the causal account: on a


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Humean view of causality, in order to know that A causes B, one has to simultaneously experience A as well as B, but Kant’s point is that we can’t do this for our cognitions and experiences. Now, perhaps given some non-Humean account of causation, one could insist that to conceive of experiences as representational is to conceive of them as being caused by an appropriate state of the world. However, the causal view also comes up against the point about unity under the concept of representation. It is surely false that all of our thoughts stand in some sort of uniform causal relation to what they represent—our experiences may represent something close up or at a distant part of the universe. And our thoughts may represent not only the immediate perceived but also the non-present, or the hypothetical. And of course there is also the daunting problem of thoughts about abstract objects. So there is no basis for claiming that all instances of the representation, i.e., all instances of “A corresponds to a” can be characterized as “A is caused by a.” In some of these cases there may be no obvious causal relation at all, and in others (e.g., abstract objects) no obvious candidate for the supposed causal antecedent, a. Thus, as far as causation is concerned, our thoughts are “determined at pleasure or arbitrarily” rather than in a necessarily uniform manner. Kant’s remarks here can thus be seen as raising serious problems for the causal theory of representation. But this would be even more decisive if there were a more plausible, alternative account. And that is what Kant proceeds to offer. To return to the main line of argument, Kant has argued that there must be some set of conditions that all thoughts necessarily have in common, that makes them representational; but these necessary conditions are not a matter of uniform (e.g., causal) relations between thoughts and their objects. So what is left? What do all thoughts necessarily have in common that could possibly make them representational? In the next paragraph, he infers that “the unity that the object makes necessary.” i.e., the conditions that all thoughts have that make them representational, “can be nothing other than the formal unity of consciousness in the synthesis of the manifold of the representations.” (Thus, the two apparently divergent lines of exposition connect up.) I read this as, roughly, an a priori inference to the best explanation: there must be something that all thoughts have, necessarily, that makes them representational. We have seen that it is not anything external to them. But what features could all thoughts possibly have in common? And necessarily have in common? Prime facie, nothing. However, we have independently established that all (conscious) thoughts have to be conceived as part of the formal unity of consciousness, which requires that they are necessarily subject to the synthesis (combinatorial processes) that allows us to conceive of them as unified. So Kant infers that this synthesis and the resulting formal unity are also what constitute being representational. 23

The Fundamental Framework


In order to appreciate what this amounts to, it will be helpful to take a brief look at some contemporary work on the concept of representation. While causal views of representation have been prominent in contemporary philosophy, there is also an important competitor, the so-called “functional role” (or “inferential” role or “conceptual” role) view that has been developed and defended most extensively by Block. 24 On this account, a thought has representational content in virtue of its relations to other thoughts. That is, it is the functional position of the thought—its place in the causal pattern of mental states—that constitutes its representational status. This might be characterized alternatively as the inferential role or the conceptual role of the mental state, but the more abstract phrase functional role is preferable. 25 On the functional role view of representation, a mental state represents in virtue of its relationship with other mental states; and any state in any system that instantiates the same relations will have the same representational content. It is the pattern or structure of mental states that makes them representations. It is important to understand that this is nothing more than a broad framework at the moment—as Block admits, “[t]here is no agreement among proponents of this framework about how the roles are constituted. By actual causal interactions among thoughts? All? Some? If some, which ones?” 26 As we will see, Kant’s offers not just a general commitment to a functional role theory of representation but also a fairly detailed set of answers to these questions. As a transition to examining Kant’s view, it will be useful to consider a few Kantian-themed explanations of the semantic roles of representations. My visual experiences of an apple represent the apple, and they are the result of a chain of causes leading back to the light striking the table and being reflected to my retinas. But this causal chain is not what makes them representational. These particular experiences are a small part of my general experiences and thoughts about the world, experiences that I not only undergo and make judgments about, but that I use as guides to navigation and planning. An experience thus represents something for me if I, so to speak, position it on my ongoing map of the world. I cannot perceive something as being a physical object unless I represent it as being somehow a part of the world, and to be a part of the world is to be ordered in relation to all of my other representations of the world, i.e., a thing, specifically an organic, edible thing, with potentially changeable properties, located in and taking up a specific space, standing in various relations to other physical things. Or suppose that I experience blueness. In order for this to be a representation of something in the world, rather than just a mental image of blueness, I must conceive the blueness as being a part of the world, e.g., the located color of a surface of an object that I am viewing, an object with additional properties including shape, size, location, etc.


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With the broad idea of a functional role view of representation at hand, we can now make sense of the view of representation that Kant is offering. Let us unpack the next two sentences (at mid A 105): “Hence we say that we cognize the object if we have effected synthetic unity in the manifold of intuition.” As we will consider momentarily, this is to say that we make our perceptual experiences representational, and in particular, make them representations of external objects, by organizing or structuring them in specific ways. First, though, consider the next sentence: “But this is impossible if the intuition could not have been produced through a function of synthesis in accord with a rule that makes the reproduction of the manifold necessary a priori and a concept in which this manifold is united possible.” Kant proceeds to take us through the idea of synthesis, to rule-governed a priori synthesis and the corresponding notion of a concept. But he might have said much more here. This is where the interrelations of those notions that we considered at the outset come to the fore. Where there is unity, there must be synthesis to achieve this unity, and since it is conceptual unity, the synthesis must involve the application of rules, i.e., concepts. Moreover, if this is necessary/a priori (“pure,” “formal”) unity then there must be a non-empirical synthesis that is the application of formal rules, and there thus must be a set of a priori concepts corresponding to this synthesis and resulting unity. What Kant really should have mentioned at this point is what he finally tells us at A 111, rather casually, namely that the set of the most abstract, a priori concepts is in fact the categories. These have been “adduced” as the logical forms of judgments—as the most abstract, nonempirical ways we unify via judgments. So we already have an inventory of the concepts/rules that underlie the unity of consciousness and thus the concept of (an object of) representation. As he finally makes clear in the second edition (at the end of B 128), the categories “are the concepts of an object in general.” So, with this clarification, we can understand the thesis more precisely: the categories are the rules (or as we shall shortly note, the primary rules) both for unifying consciousness and for making consciousness representational. 27 To get a richer appreciation of what this means, imagine isolated, empiricist sense qualities, as it were, qualia pixels, which, apparently, for Kant, as well as for empiricists (e.g., Hume), constitute the basic “matter” of experience. It is important to see that while they are the causal inputs to the cognitive system, as such, they represent nothing. Thus, an isolated blue pixel does not in and of itself represent part of a blue surface, or anything else external. But this is not to say that sensory input is meaningless, since the input must carry information about how the subject has been affected—as we have noted above, this is what Kant means by appearances being the “undetermined object of empirical intuitions” (A 20/B 34). Appearances are, as it were, poised information, ready to be conceptualized in a way that makes them representational. 28 The

The Fundamental Framework


mind must therefore subject them to rules to make them representations, either representations of thoughts or of the external world—we will just consider the latter. Since space is the a priori form of experience of the external world, qualia (i.e., sensory information) will be placed in spatial relations, e.g., think of colored qualia arrayed in the visual field. But merely so ordering them will not make this an “external” experience. For one, there is the vexing question that visual scientists have been struggling over during the past few decades—what is required for experience of more than two dimensions (i.e., three, or perhaps a viewer centered “2.5 D”)? In order to represent physical objects with surfaces, the cognitive system must, among other things, identify edges, where appropriate treat them as boundaries, and determine occlusions of partially visible objects. And—here is the key point that is relevant to Kant—the cognitive system must identify objects across changing input, and thus changing experiences. 29 For example, if I am pacing in front of a classroom, occasionally glancing down at the brown table in front of me, I will from moment to moment experience a series of slightly different shaped, different sized and also slightly differently colored table shapes that come in and out of existence as I look one way and then the other. Or at least that is what will result in the shaped-qualia model (qualia arrayed in spatial relations). But I will both conceive and experience these as sample views of a continuously existing table with, e.g., a continuous shape and color, that remains the same (at least during my pacing) even though my experiences of the shape and color vary with different viewing angles; and I of course conceive of the table as still subsisting after I leave the room. Thus, I must have a fairly complicated set of rules (and thus Kantian concepts) for object permanence and constancy. When I glace at the table and glance back again, I must treat the two successive patches of brown qualia as slightly different views of a continuously existing table. For Kant, this is to say that I am conceiving my experiences as of a continuously existing substance with slightly altering properties. So, the “synthesis” of the category of substance (and probably also the category of unity) in this example is the identification, moment to moment, of the qualia patches as ongoing views of the table. 30 Notice that extreme empiricism has no basis for producing such explanations. Successive experiences of patches of brown qualia—each at least slightly different—provide no reason for inferring the continuing existence of an external object. 31 Similarly, I must have rules for object identity so that when I toss a book down on the table I do not conceive of the two, and thus experience them, as merging into a book-table. Again, without the category rules for organizing these experiences, there is no reason not to treat the latter book on the table qualia as a representation of a single, merged entity. And experiencing the table as a solid object seems to presume that vari-


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ous causal principles will be true of it—most obviously that another solid object such as the book will meet resistance when the two come in contact. Reflecting on examples like these suggests several things, first that the categories of substance/accident (changing properties of constant existents) and causation (the common sense physics of motion, interaction, stability, etc.) are central to what makes experiences into representations of an external world. The experience of discreet colored patches arrayed spatially in the visual field requires the first six mathematical and logical categories, but it is not yet a representation of the external. Second, it seems likely that many more than the mere twelve categories are needed in order to achieve a typical experience of even just a few (physical) objects. Kant’s seemingly casual remark about additional concepts in the Metaphysical Deduction thus takes on a new significance: “The categories combined either with the modis of sensibility or with each other yield a great multitude of derivative concepts” A 82/B 108 (I suggest “edge,” “surface,” and also “sequence” as possible candidates). Notice, then, how synthesis and the corresponding conceptualization according to the categories make my experiences objective, in that I both experience and conceive of, say, my various table experiences as subjective samplings of an independently existing objective world—the world that corresponds to my experiences. While Kant does not explicitly explain this in the TD, or anywhere else in the Critique, as far as I am aware, we do find a clear statement in his unpublished notes: “The categories represent the objective unity of consciousness as concepts of things in general, because it is actually by their means alone that things are conceived as objects corresponding to our representations” R 3054 (Guyer, ed., 2005, p. 60, my emphasis). 32 If, then, the categories are the (primary) rules that both unify consciousness and that make consciousness representational, 33 it follows that anything (i.e., any “object”) that we are able to experience and thus represent will be subject to the categories. 34 As Kant later states (at A 111) when he at long last brings the categories into the TD framework, they thus have “a priori objective validity,” i.e., we (humans) know a priori that the world as we know it, as we are able to experience it, will conform to the categories. STEP 3: AWARENESS OF THE UNITY: TRANSCENDENTAL APPERCEPTION The remaining topic in the fundamental TD framework is transcendental apperception. This notion, that seems central to Kant’s investigation, has remained enigmatic—commentators have struggled to understand what it involves and what, if any, justification it has. As we will now see, the

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insight that Kant independently establishes the necessary unity of consciousness will allow for a new, coherent, and surprisingly simple understanding of transcendental apperception. What has not yet been accounted for is how we are aware of the unity of consciousness, and thus, how we have the required a priori knowledge of the categories in relation to experience. That is the point of the transitional paragraph at A 106 that begins, “Every necessity has a transcendental condition as its ground.” 35 Applying my recommended definition of “transcendental,” this is to say that there must be some condition that underlies and thus explains both how it is that the unity of consciousness is necessary and how we manage to have a priori knowledge of it. Now it may seem that the synthesis that produces this unity constitutes the appropriate condition, but it is important to see that while the synthesis of the manifold produces the unity of appearances, what we are now after is an explanation of what underlies the knowledge of this unity. The next two and a half paragraphs address this concern with a methodological interplay of explanation and justification. We will begin with the explanation, which takes precedent, unfortunately making it seem as though Kant is simply stipulating that transcendental apperception exists. But as we will consider below, he does offer a bit of justification for what he is explaining to us. In the following paragraph, Kant distinguishes transcendental apperception from empirical apperception, the empirical content of inner sense. He concedes to Hume that this empirical self-awareness is everchanging, so there is no abiding feature that can constitute the requisite necessity. He then says: That which should necessarily be represented as numerically identical cannot be thought of as such through empirical data. There must be a condition that precedes all experience and makes the latter [i.e., experience] itself possible, which should make such a transcendental presupposition valid. (A 107)

This is a clarification of what we are seeking, namely an explanation of how each of us is able to represent her consciousness as necessarily identical. And, obviously, nothing empirical will achieve this. Here, it is important to note that when Kant speaks of transcendental apperception “preceding” experience, and likewise in the next paragraph, this cannot mean temporally preceding; that would make no sense, since we are thinking about the unity of every moment of consciousness. So he should be interpreted as meaning logically preceding. We are thus looking for a condition that is a necessary requirement of all experience. The next sentence, that begins the following paragraph, appears to simply stipulate that there is a unity of conscious. But, on the present reading, we see that Kant is actually once again reminding us of what has already been establish, viz., that consciousness is (necessarily) unified—


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thus logically preceding all “data of the senses”—and that this unity is what constitutes our ability to represent objects. Kant then labels this “pure, original, unchanging consciousness” “transcendental apperception.” It is “pure” since it is non-empirical. The “original” apparently indicates that it is not derived from anything else. And, since it involves numerical identity, it must be “unchanging.” The rest of the paragraph explains the “transcendental” part of the name, and I will return to it below. But the obvious question that arises here is, what does the “apperception” part mean? It may be tempting to think that Kant is claiming that transcendental apperception gives us just the sort of awareness of a Cartesian self that Hume insisted that we do not have. And it is also tempting to assume that this is what the unity of consciousness amounts to, viz., a metaphysical unity of a mental substance. But I see no basis for any of that—Kant is not claiming that we are capable of any sort of pure consciousness of the self. And this is corroborated later on when, in the Paralogisms, Kant denies that we can have any knowledge of a Cartesian self, or any other knowledge of the identity of the self over time. 36 And, as we will see in chapter 9, this is corroborated by Kant’s discussion in §25 of the B TD. So if he is not asserting that we have knowledge of a metaphysical self, then what is he asserting? Here it is helpful to recall my suggestion above that we think of the necessary unity of consciousness as represented identity. So far, we have been told that we must have knowledge of this identity, and that it must consist of “pure, original, unchanging consciousness.” But we have not yet received an explanation of what this knowledge of identity consists in. That explanation is (finally) given in the second and third sentences of the paragraph at A 108: For this unity of consciousness would be impossible if in the cognition of the manifold the mind could not become conscious of the identity of the function by means of which this manifold is synthetically combined into one cognition. Thus the original and necessary consciousness of the identity of oneself is at the same time a consciousness of an equally necessary unity of the synthesis of all appearances in accordance with concepts, i.e., in accordance with rules . . . [that] determine an object for their intuition.

So the first point—which we will return to below—is that the necessary unity of consciousness could not exist without awareness of the unity. And, since as we have noted above, the unity consists of an a priori synthesis, viz., a process that results in unified representations. And, if this is to yield the requisite necessary unity, then the process, or “function” of unification must operate in a completely uniform way—arbitrary, accidental or otherwise empirical variance would at best produce empirical unity. So, as the first sentence states, the requisite awareness of unity must involve awareness of the uniformity, i.e., “identity” of this

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synthesis. Kant then, in the second sentence, explains necessary selfawareness as simply consisting of awareness of the sameness of this unifying syntheses, which, conveniently, is independently required. So we have a second “transcendental” identity: the content of non-empirical self-awareness has been identified with the necessary, synthetic unification of consciousness. (And the last clause in the above quotation again reaffirms the identity of this unity with the concept of an object of representation.) Let us step back from Kant’s technical language and take several passes at what he is telling us here. First, consider a typical conscious experience. Suppose that you are aware of a room full of various objects with various features (via outer sense, and via inner sense you also have the awareness that you are having this experience). This is unified as one moment of consciousness, and we know, a priori, that every moment of consciousness will be so unified. The unification does not consist in the awareness of any additional qualities or structure beyond the empirical contents that you are aware of. Rather, the unity is the way that the qualities, colors, sounds, etc., are (necessarily, a priori) ordered in space and time. This ordering is what makes this an experience of an external roomful of objects rather than just a blur of qualities (“something less than a dream”). Kant is now also telling us that this ordering is also what makes it my or your experience. The “I” in the “I am aware of . . .” is the conception of this ordering. Each of us knows, a priori, that a moment of (subjectively experienced) consciousness is my moment of consciousness. So, it is an experience of something, viz., the room and its contents, together with the knowledge that you are having this experience, where the ordering constitutes both the “of” (representation) and the “you.” 37 Or we may begin from the idea of the synthetic unity of consciousness. What makes my experience and conception of my unified consciousness mine? Even though you and I presumably both order our experiences according to the same (a priori) rules, it does not follow that your experiences and mine are united. Now, obviously, what distinguishes your experiences from mine is that you order yours and I order mine. But we are neither aware of a self that does the ordering, nor of any mechanisms of our brains that operate to produce the unity of consciousness. But still, I am aware of all my experiences being mine, as are you of yours being yours. Contrary to Hume, Kant says that my self-awareness is not the consciousness of individual thoughts that I am having—for their content, as empirical inner appearances, does not provide any notion of the identical self. Rather, my idea of my consciousness is simply being aware of having conscious states that are all united under the rules for ordering consciousness. Now, in a moment of awareness, as in the previous example, various representations are united in one (experienced) representation, but what distinguishes past thoughts as mine versus yours? The answer, which is none too obvious from the passages we


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are looking at, but is finally made clear in the note at A 117, is that it is the possibility of combining any two thoughts—their possible co-representation—that constitutes the overall identity of apperception and thus of consciousness. And it is not just simple co-representability, but complexly ordered co-representability. A past experience of mine is conceived by me as mine in virtue of the fact that any (empirical) recall of it thereby corepresents and, more generally, unifies, it with the other representations in the experience of that moment. That is, I know that all my experiences that represent anything are all mine since I know that all experiences I’ve had, am having, or will have are coordinated in the ordering which constitutes my on-going representation of the world and of my thoughts. It is important to understand that transcendental apperception involves not just unity, but awareness of the unity. Let’s say that I have a representation of a cup and another of a saucer. In order for these to count as representations for me, I have to potentially be able to co-represent, not just a cup and saucer, for that may just be an empirical synthesis and thus empirical unity, e.g., the cup is (empirically) on the saucer, but rather I must be able to have a representation of my representation of the cup and the saucer, viz., that I am aware of both the cup and saucer, viz., this unified consciousness includes representations of both the cup and saucer. Thus, it is through my awareness of my thoughts that the unity that creates both representation and consciousness is given. So the necessary, synthetic unity of consciousness is what we are constantly aware of, that thus constitutes awareness of our (a priori) identity. Now, while “apperception” means “self-awareness” Kant has explained the awareness of identity without appeal to knowledge of a metaphysical self; I will indicate this by referring to transcendental apperception as a priori “self”-awareness. I am thus offering a reading of transcendental apperception that avoids two principle concerns that are often raised about this notion. First, one may worry that in telling us that we have “transcendental” awareness of the self, Kant is thereby postulating a “transcendental self.” But we have seen that no such entity is required. 38 A related worry that is sometimes raised is that transcendental apperception seems to require that there is a transcendental self to carry out the unifying functions. But, I see no reason to think this. To see why, note that one could equally postulate a transcendental self to carry out empirical associations, since, according to the standard empiricist outlook, all we are consciously aware of are our thoughts and how they are so-combined. And here it may be useful to consider that according to a contemporary HOT reconstruction of Kant’s view of inner sense, we have second-order representations of our first-order thoughts. But we do not thereby have any knowledge of what is generating these higher-order representations—presumably, our brains. So, in an effort to ease any worries about the need for a transcendental self, a reconstruction of Kant’s view could be that it is

The Fundamental Framework


indeed our brains that are carrying out both empirical syntheses as well as a priori syntheses. (We will, consider this issue further in regard to §25 in chapter 9.) Let us then return to the issue of justification. As I mentioned above, this discussion seems to be mostly explanatory. And, perhaps it may thus seem arbitrary—Kant needs a way to explain awareness of the necessary unity of consciousness, so he seemingly just tells us that we are so aware. I think, though, that there is an argument that is at least hinted at in this sentence: “For this unity of consciousness would be impossible if in the cognition of the manifold the mind could not become conscious of the identity of the function by means of which this manifold is synthetically combined into one cognition.” What is it to say that consciousness is necessarily unified? Since conscious states involve awareness—being conscious that P requires being aware that P, i.e., having a representation of P—it thus follows that we must be aware of, and thus must represent this unification. So, given that the necessary unity can be independently established, it seems we must have a priori awareness of this unity. But what about the idea that this is what constitutes self (or “self”) awareness? We can, perhaps see the thinking: empiricist “self”-awareness is just awareness of disconnected thoughts. So, given that we must also have a priori awareness of unified thoughts, this will similarly be “self”-awareness—roughly, enhanced empiricist “self”-awareness. 39 And, as we have seen, reflection about what the necessary unity of consciousness amounts to does suggest that this is what each of us means by “my” consciousness. But it would be preferable to have an independent argument to establish this. As we will see, we do apparently get one, or at least the indication of one, in the B TD. Let us, finally, return to the issue of why this is labeled “transcendental” apperception. Kant tells us at A 107 that it “deserves this name” because the “purest objective unity, namely that of the a priori concepts (space and time) is possible only through the relations of intuitions to it.” This is a bit of an odd remark, since this is the first Kant mentions of the dependence of the unities of space and time to the overall unity of consciousness. (And it is not fully proved, or explained, until the end the B TD.) However, the intended point is apparently that the necessary, unity of consciousness that we are aware of in transcendental apperception is the supreme, overarching a priori basis that all other synthetic, a priori truths derive from. Thus, awareness of necessary unity involves awareness of the general a priori structure of consciousness. Specific synthetic a priori truths, e.g., synthetic a priori truths about space, or principles such as “all events are caused,” will thus rest on a priori unification that is the result of syntheses that apply the categories. And—what is at issue here—our ability to know such truths a priori rests on our ability to have a priori knowledge of the general a priori structure of consciousness, viz., transcendental apperception. Thus, a priori apperception grounds our


Chapter 3

knowledge of all other synthetic a priori truths, and thus deserves the label “transcendental.” Kant then closes the paragraph with this sentence (Kemp Smith’s rendering is preferable): “The numerical unity of this apperception is thus the a priori ground of all concepts, just as the manifoldness of space and time is the a priori ground of the intuitions of sensibility.” I take the “thus” not to refer to the point in the previous sentence. Rather, Kant is re-connecting here with the argument about concepts requiring the necessary unity of consciousness that opens section 3. The necessary unity of consciousness that we have constant, a priori awareness of grounds our ability to represent lesser necessary unities under our various concepts. E.g., my ability to represent all of my experiences of cups, and thus unify them, is dependent on my a priori awareness of the overall necessary unity of (my) consciousness. So the way this unity grounds concepts is (broadly) parallel to the way the ever-present a priori frameworks of space and time ground our perceptions. THE TRANSCENDENTAL TRINITY At A 108–9, before summarizing the interrelations of this trio of identities that he has introduced, Kant briefly embarks on a “more careful determination” of the concept of an object of representation. He runs through the same points as before (A 105), except that he now adds the label “transcendental” to the object of representation, i.e., “transcendental object.” There is a history of commentators taking Kant to be introducing a notion parallel to that of the noumena, or perhaps identical to it, and probably saying more about it than his system should allow, e.g., how can it be the object of every experience if it is in principle unknowable? But on the reading I am presenting, there is a much more straightforward explanation: the object of representation, which was introduced as the (roughly, generic) correspondent of the general concept of that which is represented, now also deserves the modifier “transcendental,” since, as we have just considered, the synthesis and resulting unity that constitute the concept of representation have now been explained as underlying a priori self-awareness (transcendental apperception), and, as such, they also underlie all of the synthetic a priori knowledge that transcendental apperception grounds, so the concept of an object is likewise “transcendental.” 40 Let us then consider the principle ideas that Kant has introduced, explained and inter-related in this section. At the heart of things there is the necessary, synthetic unity of consciousness. He has argued that representation is this unity, so the concept of an object of representation corresponding to our experiences (that they represent something or other) is the conception of this unity. And our a priori self-awareness, “transcen-

The Fundamental Framework


dental apperception” is explained as awareness of this unity. So we have the following interrelations: 41 The necessary synthesis of consciousness, which is the process of ordering consciousness according to the categories is what creates the necessary unity of consciousness and it is what constitutes the concept of the (transcendental) object of representation and it is the content of a priori “self”-awareness (“transcendental apperception”).

So the categories unify consciousness, they make consciousness representational and they form the content of our non-empirical self-awareness. We thus have the following apparent identities: The necessary unity of consciousness = the concept of the transcendental object of representation = the content of transcendental apperception

I will occasionally refer to these three notions as the “Transcendental Trinity” as a reminder that there is one unifying structure that also plays two other roles. This Trinity forms the core of the TD framework; together with a priori synthesis and the idea of affinity (see chapter 7), they fully constitute the conceptual framework of the A TD. And this synthetic unity, together with the a priori forms of sensation, viz., space and time, underlies all synthetic a priori knowledge and the corresponding necessary truths. We may, though, wonder what kind of connections are supposed to hold between these concepts. One possibility is analytic interrelations. I suggest that the doctrine of the concept of an object does plausibly qualify as an analysis of the concept of representation. Kant is analyzing what it means for a thought to be representational, and as I have suggested that he begins with the idea of correspondence, which is plausible as a first general pass at what representation is, viz., if A is representational then there is something that A corresponds with. He then adds the insight that we do not have any experience of anything corresponding to our mental states (as he calls them, our “representations” or “cognitions”), but we do conceive of them as representational. Thus, our concept of a corresponding something must be just that, a bare something that we have no awareness of. We can thus understand the concept of the transcendental object as synonymous with the concept “representation.” On the other hand, it is hard to see how representation can be regarded as the meaning of the concept of apperception, or vice versa. Rather, it would seem to be surprising news that these come to the same thing, viz., that what makes consciousness representational is the same general, necessary, unifying structure that makes (my) consciousness mine. Clearly, our concepts of representation and of self-awareness are distinct.


Chapter 3

So how can we understand the connection that Kant is asserting? At a minimum, it is that these notions are co-extensive. But his claim is surely stronger than that—this is not contingent co-extensiveness. I suggest that what he presents, though I think he did not realize it, are theoretical identities, similar to examples such as “water = H2O” or perhaps more appropriately, “rightness=maximized utility.” Following Kripke, we can understand such identities as discoverable, yet, if true, necessarily true. However, we should also note that the basis for Kant’s theoretical identities is not empirical explanatory success—so these are not empirical discoveries. Rather, he maintains, there is nothing else that applies to all representations, i.e., that is co-extensive with the concept of representation, that we are aware of, other than necessary unity. And likewise, there is nothing else in our inner experience that is available as a candidate for the content of necessary apperception other than the conceptualization of the necessary unity of consciousness. Kant’s investigation of apperception thus amounts to something like a discovered, a priori identity. 42 Kant is thus carrying out the same sort of highly abstract, largely or wholly non-empirical reasoning and conceptualizing that contemporary philosophers engage in when attempting to address questions about the nature of meaning, consciousness, knowledge, morality, justice, etc. So as I have suggested above, we can reasonably classify this simply as a priori philosophy, roughly, the project of developing broad, explanatory frameworks 43 by using conceptual analysis as well as other methods of a priori argumentation. And such investigations occasionally result in identity claims similar to those above. As for the reasoning, the interrelation of synthesis and unity can be understood either conceptually or perhaps as a causal principle. I.e., “unity is the result of synthesis” might reasonable be regarded as a conceptual entailment, namely that synthetic unity requires that there is a synthesis that produces this unity, just as a woven basket requires a process of weaving to produce it. Or, if there are objections to this being conceived as a conceptual connection, then at a minimum we can understand this as a truth that holds out of causal necessity, viz., given the broad empirical truth that our psychologies involve causal processes that manipulate representations, the effect of synthetically united consciousness necessary requires a synthetic unity producing cause, or, for short, a synthesis. Most of the rest of the reasoning would appear to be straightforwardly a priori, except for the treatment of transcendental apperception, which seems explanatory. (See chapter 11 for concise summaries.) However, as we will consider in chapter 8, Kant has an argument for transcendental apperception that once again applies the principle of necessary unity under a concept, viz., the fact that I conceive all conscious states that I undergo as mine, requires a necessary unity of this “self”consciousness that likewise necessarily unites it under this concept.

The Fundamental Framework


So I think it is reasonable to understand the Trinity as a conceptual framework based on a priori philosophical deliberations about the nature of concepts, consciousness, representation and “self”-awareness. And, as we will consider in the next chapter, with this framework in place, and given that the categories are the unifying rules that underlie this Trinity, it is very easy to show that they must apply both to experience and to the objects that experience represents, i.e., that both applications are justified. However, I hope it is obvious that in the quest to achieve this epistemic project, Kant has given us accounts of the unity of consciousness, of representation and of “self”-awareness that should be extremely interesting for both contemporary philosophy and cognitive psychology. The derivation and explication of the Transcendental Trinity is an astounding achievement. We can now fully appreciate why Kant characterized it as the “most important” and “the most difficult task” that “cost him the most effort.” NOTES 1. Later in the Critique he labels these “schemata.” 2. Surprisingly few commentators have focused on Kant’s conception of concepts as unifying functions/rules. Two notable exceptions are Rosenburg (2005), pp. 91 ff. and Landy (2009). Both also read Kant as advocating a role theory of meanings (see the next note). (I mention important disagreements with these readings below, when I introduce the functional role theory of representation). 3. This is the only shortcoming in Bayne’s (2004) otherwise useful exposition of the views of concepts in Kant and his immediate predecessors, i.e., he fails to appreciate how a list of marks could serve as a unifying rule. And as we will see, he is correct in thinking that the concepts as unifying rules view is necessary for transcendental idealism—or, to be a little more precise, it is at the core of the TD. 4. The view that concepts are unifying rules gives us our first look at a functional role conception of meaning. On that outlook, which I will discuss further below, the meaning of a given mental representation is its functionally specified role in cognition. Thus, a Kantian functional role view would explain the meaning of the concept “coat” as consisting of its role in unifying all experiences of coats as well as other thoughts that connected with this concept. And the meaning of “clothing” is explained as its role in unifying all specific clothing concepts, and thus all experiences of clothing, and likewise for other thoughts that contain this concept. 5. I here follow Kitcher (1990) pp. 74–75, which is echoed in her (2011), p. 140. 6. Kant mentions association as an empirical synthesis at A 100, A 121, and A 125. 7. Other examples of “syntheses” from Locke would be his explanations of the formation of complex ideas and of the formation of general ideas via abstraction. 8. A case in point is Bennett (1966), p. 108, who takes synthesis to consist of conscious inferences, and reasoning about experiences. 9. I discuss this passage on counting in more detail in chapter 6. 10. Longuenesse (1998), p. 46, plausibly proposes that what Kant has in mind here is the idea that Begriff suggests grasping, or pulling together, although she fails to in turn connect this with the unity that is involved with the “grasping” of multiple instances. 11. He also describes the unity of instances under a concept as analytic at A 78/B 104.


Chapter 3

12. Thus, the “analytic unity” appears to be that all instances of a concept fall under it, e.g., that all instances of redness fall under the concept “red.” 13. As we will see below and in later chapters, Kant has at least three related ways of arguing for the necessary unity of consciousness, in that there are at least three concepts that apply to all of a given subject’s conscious states, thus necessarily unifying them. These might be understood as enhancements to the just-presented argument since they all involve the same idea of necessary unity of the instances of a concept. The contents of the concepts are: 1) “being representational (intentional)”—we will consider this immediately, 2) “being one of my conscious thoughts”—this argument embodying transcendental apperception is found in the B TD, I will note it at the end of this chapter, and 3) “being a moment of (the single, unified) time”—this argument ends the B TD which we will examine in chapter 9. 14. The above quoted passage from the B TD also suggests a second argument for unity that is worth briefly noting, viz., “I thereby represent to myself a feature . . . that can be combined with other representations.” B 133, note. This suggests a line of reasoning that Fodor has drawn attention to in considerations about linguistic thought (see Kaye [1995] for a presentation of this material). It is a general principle of human thinkers that if we are able to think about A and are also able to think about B, then we are able to think about A and B together. Thus, anyone who has the ability to think proposition p and proposition q also has the ability to think p and q. And this principle appears to be necessary. Thus, it is not that anyone who has the ability to think proposition p and proposition q might have the ability to think p and q, but rather it is necessary that they are able to have the compositional thought. (It is of course an empirical matter whether anyone actually entertains any particular complex thoughts, but the ability is necessarily required.) We might adapt the argument—which Fodor uses to defend the idea of linguistic thought—to the unity of consciousness. Thus, the general ability to more or less arbitrarily combine conscious thoughts seemingly also requires a necessary unity of conscious thoughts. I am not sure that Kant ever actually contemplated this combinability argument—the gesture at it in the B TD passage is the only evidence that I am aware of. But his reasoning involving “affinity” in the A TD, which is examined in chapter 7, is broadly similar. 15. Strawson (1966), p. 34, argues that the synthesis that is supposed to underlie the necessary unity of consciousness “is exposed to the ad hominem objection that we can claim no empirical knowledge of its truth; for this would be to claim empirical knowledge of the occurrence of that which is held to be the antecedent condition of empirical knowledge.” But this is a complete misunderstanding of what Kant is doing here—he is not engaged in speculative, empirical psychology. The principle that the presence of complex representations requires that there are mental processes that create them is either a conceptual truth or else is a broad, causal claim (as we will consider at the end of the chapter). It does not rest on empirical, psychological knowledge. Moreover, as we have just seen, the justification of the necessary unity of consciousness is the result of a priori reasoning. Kant’s result requires that our psychologies—whether we ever come to fully know them empirically or not—must- contain appropriate processes that produce this unity that has been established with necessity. So this result does not concern the “imaginary subject of transcendental psychology” (p. 94), but rather it concerns mental processes in the empirically knowable mind (or brain). 16. Unfortunately, Kant does not have a term for mental states that does not also ascribe content to them—he simply refers to them as “representations.” As we will see below, this becomes problematic on those occasions when he is attempting to describe the conceptual possibility of mental states that are non-representational, e.g., in the famous “less than a dream” remark. 17. See Walker (1978), George (1981), Brook (1994), and Van Cleve (1999), chapter 1. 18. R 6350 (Guyer, ed., 2005, p. 387) 19. Zweig, trans. (1967) pp. 71–72. 20. I use Kemp Smith’s (1929) less tangled translation of this sentence.

The Fundamental Framework


21. We will consider Kant’s apparent commitment to a representational realist view in chapter 5. 22. Assuming that all conscious states are representational, which I think follows from the inner sense view: what we might potentially think is a non-representational conscious state, e.g., feeling sad, is understood on the inner sense view as a representation of a mental state, in this case, the fact that I am undergoing sadness. 23. Hatfield (1990), pp. 81ff., suggests that Kant’s transcendental methodology consists of a process of elimination. The present passage might be taken as an instance of this. But I prefer the idea of inference to the best explanation since the procedure is not simply to show that alternatives do not work, but rather to also establish positively that the remaining view is a successful candidate. This might be described as “inference to the only explanation,” but I prefer the traditional phrase. Further, while there may be other prominent instances of this method in the Critique, e.g., the main argument of the Aesthetic, I see no reason to think that this method is somehow constitutive of “transcendental methodology.” For example, the argument from concepts to the unity of consciousness does not fit this model. As we have considered in chapter 2, it is probably best to simply think of Kant as carrying out an a priori investigation, using any available strategies of argumentation or analysis. (I return to the issue of a priori inference to the best explanation near the end of the chapter.) 24. The locus classicus of a “role” theory of meaning is Block (1986), who provides an extended defense of this approach against other conceptions of representation/meaning. 25. As we are about to see, Kant appears to advocate a functional role view of representation, but this is not an inferential role view, since the relevant structure comes from understanding—the faculty of concepts; and the imagination—the faculty of combination; and not from reason—the faculty of inference. (See Appendix J for further critical discussion of the inferential role view.) 26. See Block (1998). Cummins (1987), chapter 9 offers a concise presentation and explanation of the functional role view. As we will see, Kant’s account addresses Cummins’s concern with conceptual/functional role views, namely that they do not explain why the functional roles in questions constitute representation. 27. A similar view, viz., that Kant is presenting a role theory of meaning that involves the categories and unity, has been presented by Rosenberg (2005), p. 91, ff., and by Landy (2009). While I agree very broadly with their approach, I have three main disagreements with the specifics. First, neither sees the connection (identity) with an independently established necessary unity of (all) consciousness. Second, as I note below in regard to Landy, both understand the connection between the categories, representation, and unity as involving the unification of empirical concepts of physical objects, governed normatively by the categories, which does not result in the requisite over-arching unity of consciousness, and which does not place the categories in the appropriate central role vis-à-vis the unity of consciousness and representation. And third, both attribute an inferential role theory to Kant. I have noted above why this seems incorrect—the TD does not concern the faculty of reason (inference). For further critical discussion of the inferential role view, see appendix J. Also, as I begin to explain below in this chapter and develop more fully in chapter 5, the concept of an object embodies the idea of correspondence. Rosenburg (pp. 133–34) explicitly rejects a representational realist view and then offers what looks to be a phenomenalist reading. Landy says that on his inferentialist reading, intuitions “picture of the world” (p. 23) but never cashes in the metaphor. (If this is an invocation of a representationalist view, then I concur.) 28. It is unfortunate that Kant classifies appearances as “representations,” which leads to the mistaken idea that they have content that represents the external world. We still do not have a simple term for them, indeed, the view of representation that I am attributing to Kant is perhaps more sophisticated than any contemporary account. Probably the awkward “sensory information bearing states” is the best we can do. The issue, then, is how cognition is able to take sensory information bearing states and


Chapter 3

yield representations, in particular, representations of an external world. The answer is that the information bearing states are organized and structured, i.e., unified, (i.e., synthesized), i.e., conceptualized, via the categories. 29. Although any current text in vision will provide a survey of visual science, Marr’s (1982) seminal text is still useful for philosophers since along with presenting the first decade of theory and results, it examines the methodology of the (ongoing) research program. 30. In the following Reflexion, Kant might be interpreted as describing the role of the categories—and of substance in particular—that the table example illustrates. “The category of substance is fundamental. Every beginning of a state of representation is always a transition from a previous one, for otherwise we would not perceive that something has begun. Thus, since the same subject is always valid for one object as well as for the other and also the boundary is common to them, the one that succeeds belongs to the one that precedes as to that which determines it. In the unity of the mind a whole is only possible insofar as the mind determines one partial representation reciprocally from the other and all are collectively comprehended in an action that is valid for all of them” R 4679 (Guyer, ed., 2005, p. 171). 31. As Hume famously argues in Book I, chapter II of the Treatise. 32. The following Reflexion supports my functional role reading of Kant’s view of representation: “Properly speaking, the representation of all things is the representation of our condition and the representation of one representation to another in accordance with our inner laws” R 3929, Notes and Fragments (Guyer, ed., 2005), p. 97. I provide additional support for this reading of the concept of an object in appendix A. Kant’s addition of the label “transcendental” is explained near the end of the present chapter. 33. I expand on the explanation of the functional role view of the categories in appendix D, where I explore the explanation of “substance” that Kant provides in the B version. 34. By the way, we can now make sense of Kant’s oft-cited remark at the start of the Transcendental Logic: “Without understanding, no object would be thought. Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind” (A 51/B 75). It is usually understood that “thoughts without content” means judgments that are not based on experience. We can now add that “no object would be thought” means, “nothing would be represented [without the understanding’s categories].” And the blindness of intuitions without concepts presumably means that without the categories, intuitions would not be representational. 35. Note that the rest of the paragraph reaffirms the identity of the necessary (synthetic) unity of consciousness and representation. 36. As Kant says in the Third Paralogism (A 363–4, including the footnote), it is possible, for all I know, that I might consist of a series of selves where each one in the series transmits the same conscious states to the next. 37. Landy (2009) shows some appreciation of the interrelation of apperception and representation (and unity): “Kant’s thought is that we conceive of ourselves as single, unified subjects of experience persisting through time by conceiving of our manifold of intuitions as being the result of multiple encounters with a single, lawful world of objects persisting in space and time.” (p. 14). However, he understands the representational unity as deriving from the unification of individual, empirical object concepts that are normatively governed by the categories. I do not see, though, how this is guaranteed to add up to an over-arching unity that is co-extensive with the concept “my consciousness.” We need to conceive all of our experiences, whether they happen to involve individually unified physical objects or not, as necessarily part of the single world. And that is a very different idea, viz. of the necessary unification of consciousness simpliciter, and directly (and non-normatively) unified by the categories. 38. I evaluate Strawson’s (1966) influential self-ascription reading of transcendental apperception in appendix G.

The Fundamental Framework


39. I thus agree with Kitcher (1990), chapter 4,ff., that transcendental apperception involves a reply to Hume’s “heap,” and that it does not involve an avocation of awareness of a Cartesian self. However, as we have seen, it is necessary unification. And unlike her, I see no reason to think that Kant is providing an account of personal identity—that would potentially take us into the sort of Cartesianism which she rightly rejects. It is the represented identity of conscious states that Kant is concerned with, not metaphysical identity of whatever underlies them. 40. See appendix A for additional textual support for the claim that the transcendental object is the concept of an object of representation. 41. These interrelations are rehearsed in the paragraph at A 108, and they are mentioned again in the last paragraph of the section, after Kant has finished discussing the role of the transcendental object. I annotate this discussion at the start of the next chapter. 42. We can of course discover things that have a priori status, e.g., the incompleteness of arithmetic. 43. I.e., investigations that provide explanatory answers to typical philosophical questions such as: “What is meaning?” “What is truth?” “What is value?” etc.

FOUR The Initial Deduction and Kant’s Methodology

This chapter begins with a completion of the exposition of the text in section 3. We will see how that material leads to the initial justification of the categories. I will then provide a fairly concise summary of the reasoning that yields the Transcendental Trinity and leads to this conclusion. This reasoning and result will allow for various reflections on the methodology of the TD. I will begin with an evaluation of several influential commentators’ claims about what Kant is attempting to prove here and how he is doing it. The extraction of this reasoning will also enable us to explore what Kant seems to mean by a “transcendental deduction.” I will maintain that this initial justification constitutes the Objective Deduction that is briefly characterized in the A preface. But we will also see how the apparent psychological explanations in other parts of the TD text—that we will examine in later chapters—can be understood as part of the overall TD project. THE INITIAL DEDUCTION In expositing the Transcendental Trinity of unity, representation and apperception in the previous chapter, I explained the central role that the categories play in this framework. However, Kant does not actually mention the categories until the third paragraph of section 4. And when he does, he quickly concludes that they have been shown to be justified. We will examine this conclusion shortly, but it will be useful to begin by focusing on the discussion in the final paragraph of section 3 which is the reasoning on which the conclusion in section 4 is based.



Chapter 4

The first two sentences finish the discussion of the object of representation in the previous paragraph. As I have noted in the previous chapter, the discussion is similar to the initial presentation of the concept of an object of representation at 104–5, but it is now characterized as the “transcendental” object, since, thanks to the explanation of transcendental apperception, it is now apparent that in every moment of awareness we have a priori knowledge of the unification that is carried out by the application of the rules that make up the concept of an object. Since this concept—i.e., these rules—underlie something a priori, viz., the a priori unity of (a priori) awareness, they have been shown to be transcendental. The first sentence in the final paragraph parenthetically mentions the uniformity of the concept of the transcendental object, i.e., it is the completely abstract concept of being representational, and then equates the idea of being related to an object, i.e., representing an object, with “objective reality.” 1 The next sentence states that the concept “cannot contain any determinate intuition” presumably because any specific perceptual content would be at odds with the required uniformity. Kant then concludes that the concept “concerns nothing but that unity which must be encountered in a manifold of cognition in so far as it stands in relation to an object.” This is an apparent reminder of the representation not being “determined at pleasure or arbitrarily” (A 104). In other words, any collection of representations (“manifold of cognitions”) must share some features that unify them under the concept of being representational (being in “relation to an object”). In the next sentence, Kant repeats his identification of the concept of representation and the necessary unity of consciousness, which as I have said above, appears to rest on the ground that there is nothing other than the independently established unity of consciousness that all cognitions have in common, viz., there is no other candidate for what constitutes the uniform characteristic of being representational. He now, though, further infers that the relation of representation is a matter of the synthesis that produces the unity (the “one representation”). This is presumably based on the principle that in order to achieve unification of mental representations, there must be unifying processes, i.e., “syntheses” that yield this result. Kant begins the next (very) long sentence by pointing out that this unity must be “necessary a priori,” “since the cognition would otherwise be without an object.” i.e., any representational thought must, necessarily, be part of the unity that makes it representational. (I suspect that the “a priori” indicates that this is an a priori truth). He then continues the inference: the representational status of our thoughts, i.e., their objective reality “rests on the transcendental law that all appearances, insofar as objects are to be given to us through them, must stand under a priori rules of their synthetic unity, in accordance with which their relation in empirical intuition is alone possible.” I take this to mean that it is an a priori principle that in order for our experiences to be representational, they

The Initial Deduction and Kant’s Methodology


must be unified, i.e., organized and structured, by a priori, unifying rules; this is what constitutes their ability to represent individual objects (empirical intuition). Kant then concludes the sentence by characterizing being subject to this rule-governed unity as “conditions of the necessary unity of apperception,” thus reaffirming the transcendental trinity. These conditions are then compared with space and time, the a priori conditions of sensibility. After reflecting broadly on this unity in the first paragraph of section 4, and after noting in the second paragraph that empirical concepts are unable to achieve necessary unification, in the third paragraph Kant returns to the point about a priori conditions. In the first sentence he equates the “a priori conditions of a possible experience” with “conditions of the possibility of the objects of experience.” As the final paragraph of section 3 has just clarified, the a priori conditions of experience—of the necessary unity of transcendental apperception—are also what constitute the concept of the transcendental object, i.e., they are the a priori conditions that make thoughts representational, viz., that give thoughts their objects. It follows that these will be conditions of any object of experience, i.e., anything we can possibly represent. In the second sentence, Kant then “asserts” that the categories (that have been “adduced in the Metaphysical Deduction”) are these conditions. While there is no immediate explanation for this seeming leap, if we again return to the paragraph that ends the third section, we find that the conditions in question must involve “a priori rules” that create the necessary unity, and these rules are thus what constitute the concept of an object. (The following paragraph does clarify that the categories are the “universal functions of synthesis” “in accordance with concepts,” and mentions that all-important example of the category of causation.) Since the Metaphysical Deduction involves an inventory of our most abstract, “pure” (non-empirical) concepts, 2 and since concepts are, or involve, unifying rules, it follows that these previously inventoried concepts must be the a priori unifying rules in question. Kant then proceeds to identify the categories as “conditions of thinking,” which presumably means conditions of judging. He then concludes that the categories are “also fundamental concepts for thinking objects in general for the appearances.” We might re-phrase this as “they are the fundamental concepts for representing.” Thus, they are what establish the correspondence relation between appearances and what is represented. So, as we have considered in chapter 3, this means that the categories will validly apply to any thing we can possibly represent, thus we know a priori that they will hold true of any state of the world that we can possibly experience, and Kant thus concludes that the categories have “objective validity.” This, is then to say that the categories will correctly apply both to experience and to the world that experiences represent. Thus,


Chapter 4

applying several of the specific categories, the world must consist of substances with measurable qualities that casually interact. In order to reflect on what we have here, it is useful to have a fairly concise, but nonetheless complete presentation of the reasoning. I will thus present the core reasoning for each of the elements of the Transcendental Trinity, together with the final conclusion that we have just considered, (with steps in the reasoning that Kant does not explicitly present in brackets): 1. Experienced instances of a concept are necessarily unified under the concept. Since concepts are generally applicable to (conscious) experiences, it follows that consciousness must be necessarily unified in order to provide the unity that application of specific concepts requires. [There must thus be a “pure” synthesis that produces this necessary unity. Since this is a non-empirical synthesis, there must be a priori rules that are applied in the synthesis to produce the unity.] 2. Representation is a matter of correspondence between the representation and that which it represents (the “object”). However, we are not independently aware of the objects of our representations, we are aware of them only by having the thoughts that represent the objects. Thus, our concept of representation is not based on experiencing two distinct things that stand in correspondence, viz., thoughts and their objects. Further, all representations must have something in common that makes them representational, viz., that unites them under the concept “representational.” [Causal connections do not offer a uniform commonality.] [Since all conscious states are representational, and since the only feature that all conscious states necessarily share is being part of the necessary unity in (1)], the rules that necessarily unify consciousness must also constitute the concept of an object of representation. And, the synthesis that unifies consciousness is thus also what makes thoughts representational. 3. Each individual must be able to be aware of the necessary unity of their consciousness (that was established in [1]). [But there is no experience or any other sort of awareness of the self as a substance]. And empirical awareness of conscious states is not uniform, but varied and constantly changing. Therefore, there must be an a priori (“transcendental”) “self”-awareness (“apperception”) that consists of awareness, in each moment of thought, of the synthetic unity of consciousness. 4. The categories are the (most abstract) pure concepts, and thus in application (synthesis) are the (most abstract) a priori unifying rules.

The Initial Deduction and Kant’s Methodology


Therefore, (by #1) the categories are what necessarily unify consciousness. (By #3) it is a unity that each of us is constantly aware of. And (by #2) any object we represent, via experience, necessarily stands under the categories. We see, then, that the otherwise puzzling initial deduction of the categories is the outcome of the establishment of the Transcendental Trinity in the previous section. Note as well the elegance of this framework: unity of consciousness shows the necessity of the categories, representation establishes their objective validity, and apperception underwrites our a priori knowledge of the categories’ application, the latter making this framework “transcendental.” And, while no philosophical argument or analysis is beyond reproach, this does have the appearance of very impressive philosophical work. As we will consider shortly, there do not seem to be any dubious premises or assumptions. The argument for unity is very strong, and the analysis of representation is well-justified. And transcendental apperception, although it perhaps may appear to be a little bit of an explanatory leap 3, rests strongly on the independently established necessary unity of consciousness, viz., how else could we be aware of the unity? Thus, it seems that at this point, Kant has already established the objective validity of the categories. It is also well worth noting that in the space of just a few pages, Kant has provided a strong rejoinder to the three main aspects of Hume’s (apparent) skepticism in Book I of the Treatise. The reasoning about unity establishes that there must be necessary connections between, not just some, but all mental states. The analysis of representation counters Hume’s skepticism about causation—as the fourth paragraph in section 4 mentions. And, as finally becomes clear when substance is explained in the Principles, Hume’s skepticism about the continuing existence of objects is likewise discredited by this treatment of representation. And, as we have considered above, the doctrine of transcendental apperception offers a view of self-awareness that, while not a metaphysical theory of personal identity, does mitigate Hume’s insistence that our self-awareness reveals nothing more than completely isolated impressions. 4 EVALUATION OF OTHER CONCEPTIONS OF THE TD Let us then compare this result with the broad conception of the TD on the part of a number of the more influential commentators. (More specific readings are considered in chapter 10.) On the one hand, this seemingly shows that Guyer (2010) is correct in maintaining that “what Kant wants to demonstrate is that [the categories] necessarily apply to any and all experience that we might have” (p. 121) and he is additionally correct in characterizing the goal as showing that the categories apply not just to


Chapter 4

thoughts but also to the objects of thoughts. (Guyer, 1987, p. 11 and passim) However, he is mistaken in maintaining that “[f]ormally speaking, the Transcendental Deduction is a failure” (Guyer 1992, p. 155). We can indeed see the above considerations as the missing reasoning that Guyer, despite his diligent efforts, has been unable to find, reasoning that demonstrates that Kant did indeed provide a (candidate) successful justification of the categories. This also shows us that the idea, voiced by Guyer (2010), pp. 148–49, that we need to look to the Refutation of Idealism to find a plausible justification of the categories, is mistaken. The A TD does achieve the goal that Kant sets for himself in the opening pages of that material. We are now also in a position to be able to reflect on the strategy of the basic TD reasoning. A vast number of suggestions have been offered about what the premises of the TD reasoning are, with little resulting agreement. 5 The TD reasoning that we have considered above rests on the following more or less substantial premises: 6 1. All represented instances of a concept are necessarily unified via that concept. 2. Contingent connections between representations, e.g., empirical associations, are not sufficient for this necessary unity under a given concept. 3. Representation consists of a correspondence between the representational state and that which it represents (“the object”). 4. We are aware of objects only through our conscious experiences of them. 5. I do not have experience or any other sort of awareness of myself as a substance. 6. Concepts are, or involve, unifying rules. 7. Non-empirical unity must be the result of the application of nonempirical (thus a priori) rules. Premise (1) might be regarded as the primary basis for the TD, since it is used in both the argument for unity of consciousness and in the analysis of representation, and, perhaps in the development of transcendental apperception too. Premise (2) which is used in the unity argument, would seem to be a potentially analytic truth, viz., contingency cannot yield necessity. As I noted in chapter 3, premise (3) seems to be a first step in the analysis of the concept of representation, and, as such seems quite reasonable. Premise (4) is somewhat of a truism about representation and consciousness, which seemingly has to be granted by anyone who agrees both that we have mental representations and conscious experiences. Premise (5) is an apparent suppressed premise in the development of the transcendental apperception doctrine. While it is not beyond dispute, it is a claim that nearly all contemporary philosophers would find agreeable. Premise (6) is probably the strongest claim on the list. As I have discussed

The Initial Deduction and Kant’s Methodology


in the previous chapter, it is a very plausible view of concepts. It is not simply stipulated, but is perhaps best understood as part of the analysis, or explanation of how concepts are applied in judgments, which also seems very reasonable. And finally, premise (7) seems to rest on inference to the only available explanation—there do not appear to be any other candidate explanations of how non-empirical unification could be achieved other than via such rules, especially when we add that the unification in question is necessary, thus constant and on-going. It is not as though any of these claims are beyond dispute. However, none of them are philosophically loaded assumptions. They are basic observations about the nature of concepts, consciousness, and representation. The TD is a deduction based on very little; it is primarily the result of the examination of concepts and unity, and an analysis of representation. However, in Kant’s presentation, the reasoning slips by so quickly— especially the proof of the necessary unity of consciousness—that it may seem that he is simply assuming these notions. (As we will see, this is even more characteristic of his presentations of transcendental apperception, unity and representation in opening sections of the B TD.) So many commentators have taken Kant to be starting the TD with one of these notions, typically either apperception or unity. And this, of course, makes it highly problematic to see how he is engaging Hume, or who or what else he is trying to address with such strong assumptions. It has also frequently been suggested that Kant is somehow assuming that we have experience, or experience of external objects or perhaps even knowledge of external objects. We will consider the two primary versions of this kind of reading momentarily, but, first, note that with the above framework and result, it becomes trivial to show that the categories are justified in relation to these notions. Thus, the premise that we do indeed have experiences immediately entails that the categories are justified for those experiences (since experiences are conscious, so the categories necessarily unify, and thus structure those experiences). Likewise, if we take the premise that we have experiences as of an external spatial, temporal world, by overall result and specifically by the doctrine of representation, it similarly follows that the categories are justified for that apparent world. And finally, if we assume that we actually have knowledge of an external spatial-temporal world, by a similar application it follows that they are justified for that known (and represented) world. However, the resultant justifications do not rely on any details of the premise about experience or knowledge. That is, all of the justificatory work is accomplished by the arguments and reasoning that produce the Transcendental Trinity. Thus it is not surprising that none of the passages we have examined so far begin with any such premises concerning experience or knowledge of the world.


Chapter 4

It follows that the so-called “progressive” reading of the TD that was initially suggested by Strawson (1966) is shown to be completely mistaken. This interpretation claims that Kant begins with the basic idea of selfconsciousness, subjective experience, and somehow proves that in order to have such experience, there must be an objective world of (physical) objects that we are experiencing (Strawson, pp. 86–88), thus apparently countering veil of impressions/Meditation One skepticism. As I have just emphasized, the fundamental TD reasoning does not involve any premises about experience, subjective or otherwise. The result of this reasoning is to establish the validity of the categories, both for experience and for the world that experience apparently represents. But this reasoning remains neutral about whether the represented world does in fact exist. Thus, as I suggested in chapter 2, the fundamental reasoning of the TD does not consist of a so-called “transcendental argument” that moves from having a certain sort of experience to a result about what must exist externally. And as we have noted, the result of the TD does indeed counter Humean skepticism of another sort, viz., about the continuing existence of external objects. 7 But this is not the same as veil of impressions skepticism about the external world. 8 And there is also no basis for the “regressive” reading of the TD that has been defended by Ameriks (2003). This approach is based on (one line of argument in) the Aesthetic, where Kant assumes that we have a priori knowledge of geometry, and then accounts for this knowledge with the attribution of space as the a priori form of outer sense. Ameriks maintains that the TD has a similar proof structure, viz., beginning from the assumption of ordinary experience of an external, physical world, Kant derives the categories (p. 5). Ameriks characterizes this as a “metaphysics of experience” (ibid). We see, though, that there are no assumptions about ordinary experience. Thus, Kant does not regress from apparent ordinary knowledge to the conditions of such knowledge. However, Ameriks’ view is much closer than the progressive reading to the actual TD, since Kant does indeed derive a metaphysics. But it is a metaphysics of representation, i.e., the a priori form of all representation. THE OBJECTIVE AND SUBJECTIVE DEDUCTIONS I have so far only focused on a portion of the text of the TD, and mostly text from the A version. So to fully demonstrate that this is the fundamental framework for the TD, an exposition of the rest of the text is required. And that is what I undertake in chapters 6–9. However, it will be useful to begin with some broad reflections about what we will find there, and what this tells us about Kant’s methods. Much of the rest of the material in the A TD is highly psychological. The passages that precede

The Initial Deduction and Kant’s Methodology


section 3 concern synthesis, as do those that follow, with additional focus on the faculties, particularly imagination. And, while the B TD may initially seem less psychological in character, it also involves substantial discussion of synthesis, and the topic of the role of the imagination is again raised in a later section. So we need an explanation of why we have all of this additional material, and why it is so psychological in character. Part of the answer comes from noting that the Transcendental Trinity concerns a pure (nonempirical) synthetic unity. It is one thing to provide an a priori justification of the existence of this unity and of the two additional roles that it plays, viz., representation and apperception. It is another to understand how these roles play out in our cognitive systems. That is, how exactly do the categories unify experience, and how, exactly, does this make mental states representational? 9 (And, as we have considered previously, the introduction of transcendental apperception seems to involve an inference to the only available psychological explanation.) Such enhancing explanations of synthesis will, to use a phrase of Kant’s, “make comprehensible” this abstractly established conceptual framework. And, it should be apparent that such explanations continue through the Schematism and the Principles, where we finally get detailed accounts of how individual (or trios of) categories structure experience and constitute representation. These explanations are, though, not blind thrusts into speculative empirical psychology, but are rather mandated by the a priori reasoning that we have been examining. But this is only part of the psychological material. As we will consider in detail in chapter 7, the second half of the A TD passages are focused on showing how this necessary synthesis is involved in both the conceptual and also the perceptual aspects of our psychology, that is, the understanding and sensibility. The third faculty, the imagination, i.e., combinatorial processing, is used to explain and underwrite the unification of the other two faculties. And this project of connecting the faculties is found in the revised TD as well. Alison (2004) endorses the view that the B TD consists of two parallel tasks, the first of showing that a “thought of an object of sensible intuition in general . . . necessarily stands under the categories.” The second task “is to establish the applicability of the categories to whatever is given under the conditions of human sensibility. . . . In short, it attempts to link the categories . . . to the perception rather than merely the thought of objects” (p. 162). What the initial justification of the categories in the A TD indicates, however, is that the narrow justificatory task can be carried out merely through considerations involving (general) consciousness, representation, and apperception—and really, primarily the first two. The further task of demonstrating how this synthetic unity plays out psychologically, viz., in terms of judgments that apply concepts to experiences, and also experiences themselves, will in large part consist of broad, psychological


Chapter 4

explanations, along with, perhaps, further justificatory arguments. So, insofar as we are narrowly concerned with the philosophical justification of the categories, it may seem that some, maybe even a lot of this material is superfluous. However, when we look at passages in which Kant is characterizing what he will do, or has done in the TD, we find that many of them refer to an explanatory project. On the one hand, at A 97 he tells us that “it is already a sufficient deduction of [the categories] and justification of their objective validity if we can prove that by means of them alone an object can be thought.” And in the passage we considered above A 111, after stating the result that the categories have a priori objective validity, he remarks that this “was just what we really wanted to prove.” But on the other hand, in his very first pass at describing the TD, he says that he will call “the explanation of the way in which concepts can relate to objects a priori their transcendental deduction” (A 85/B 117). And at the end of the A (first) edition deduction, he concludes: The pure understanding is thus in the categories the law of the synthetic unity of all appearances, and thereby first and originally makes experience possible as far as its form is concerned. But we did not have to accomplish more in the transcendental deduction of the categories than to make comprehensible this relation of the understanding to sensibility and by mean of the latter to all objects of experience, hence to make comprehensible the objective validity of its pure a priori concepts, and thereby determine their origin and truth. (A 128)

And, finally, in his brief summary at the end of the B TD (B 168), Kant describes the TD as the “exhibition of the pure concepts of the understanding as principles of the possibility of experience” (my emphasis in each of these quotes). At first pass, these passages might suggest that Kant has a broad conception of “deduction” that involves explanation—apparently, psychological explanation—along with justificatory reasoning. To sort this out, it is useful to begin with Heinrich’s (1988) explanation that Kant’s use of the term “deduction” is related to the idea of the now obsolete judicial procedures for justifying legal claims, so-called “deduction writing.” Such a deduction was “intended to justify convincingly a claim about the legitimacy of the possession of a claim or usage” (p. 34). As we have seen, Kant’s initial result does indeed justify the application of the categories both to experience and to the world. Further, and more importantly for present purposes, the method of deduction writing involved tracing “the possession someone claimed back to its origins” (p. 35). And in the quoted passage above, we seen Kant invoking the same term, viz. “origin.” In the case of the categories, this will apparently mean their psychological origin, or, better, their psychological role. 10 And this suggests why there appears to be both a narrower and a broader version

The Initial Deduction and Kant’s Methodology


of the TD. In the narrower sense, what Kant means by “deduction” is simply justification. And since what is sought is a priori justification rather than empirical support—as he makes clear at A 86–87/B 119 in contrasting his undertaking with Locke’s—Kant is thus seeking a transcendental deduction, viz., a result that will justify the categories’ a priori applicability. But further, since the categories are concepts, and thus, are types of psychological states, and since Kant is developing a transcendental idealist view, the justification should explain the psychological role of the categories. But such explanations should not be a matter of empirical psychology, but should instead rest on a priori philosophical considerations. And we can see that while the Transcendental Trinity provides a substantial explanation of what the categories do psychologically, it is in a sense only the beginning; the result that there is a necessary synthesis that underlies all consciousness, and experience in particular, a synthesis that applies the categories, raises questions about what types of psychological processes these are exactly. And here the discussion of the a priori syntheses of apprehension and reproduction from early in the A TD starts to make sense. But the predominant psychological issue, as the quote above indicates, is the relation of the understanding to sensibility. And we can see why this becomes central to the presentation of the TD. As we have considered in chapter 2, Kant frames the issue of Hume’s skepticism about the causation, generalized to all of the categories, as the possibility that appearances would not “accord” with the conditions of the understanding. (A 90/B 122–23) This project of showing that experience must conform to the categories, then gets characterized as what I will call the faculty coordination problem, viz., showing that sensibility is subject to the same rules that unify the understanding. This is reinforced by the fact that the categories are first “deduced,” i.e., inventoried, in relation to forms of judgment. As such, their applicability to sensations remains unexplored. We should also consider that Kant is effectively enhancing the barren empiricist associationist psychology with a much richer collection of faculties, rules and processes. 11 It is one thing to prove in the abstract that the categories must unify all of consciousness, and thus experience, it is another to make this plausible by beginning to sketch out how this is carried out, viz., by the imagination unifying experiences by following the same rules that unify judgments. Such explanations will fill out the deductions by more fully exhibiting and explaining the roles that the categories play in our psychology. And this expanded explanation must also be in place for the explanation and justification of the roles of individual (or trios) of categories in the Principles. But perhaps most importantly, a successful, justified explanation of how the categories unify experience is needed in order to establish the limits of their legitimate application. As we have seen, the representation


Chapter 4

of objects—whether aspects of the physical world or thoughts—is the product of unification, i.e., structuring via the categories. But this means that there must be materials for this unified structuring, viz., empirical ingredients from outer or inner sense that can be organized and thus conceptualized as a representation of something external to the representing cognitive state. By contrast, the broad thesis of the Dialectic is that attempts to apply the categories beyond the senses, and thus with no organizing material, result in failure. In order to establish this limitation thesis, Kant must have a positive account of how the categories structure inner and outer sense. So it appears that the TD is an amalgam of two distinct but closely related projects: 1) the justification of the objective validity of the categories, achieved by a priori philosophical argumentation and analysis, and 2) the solution of the faculty coordination problem. The latter is achieved partly with psychological explanations, albeit explanations that are in the service of philosophical argumentation. We might expect (1) to be primary, and, as we will see in chapters 6–9, it is indeed the framework of the Transcendental Trinity in application that fulfills (2). But the second project is an important step in the overall goal of establishing the categories as central, indispensable elements of human psychology. And, given the importance of the limitation thesis to Kant’s weltanschauung, it is perhaps not surprising that the faculty coordination problem is given such prominence. We are now in a position to make sense of Kant’s remarks about the TD in the A preface. At A xvi-ii he tells us that it has two sides: One side refers to the objects of the pure understanding, and is supposed to demonstrate and make comprehensible the objective validity of its concepts a priori; thus it belongs essentially to my ends.

This, we may infer, is the reasoning and result we have been considering in this chapter, i.e., the reasoning that establishes the Transcendental Trinity. Kant continues: The other side deals with the pure understanding itself, concerning its possibility and the powers of cognition on which it itself rests; thus it considers it in a subjective relation, and although this exposition is of great importance to my chief end, it does not belong essentially to it.

Here we may assume that the “subjective relation” is the psychological relation of the understanding to sensibility. So this is the secondary project of both demonstrating and explaining how the unifying concepts of the understanding unify the representations of sensibility as well. Kant’s next remark clarifies that his overarching goal in the Critique is to investigate the possibilities of a priori knowledge, viz., “what and how much can understanding and reason cognize free of all experience?” So it appears that psychological explanations, viz., the investigation of how “the

The Initial Deduction and Kant’s Methodology


faculty of thinking itself [is] possible,” are developed only insofar as they are mandated to fully carry out the former investigation. And, as the remarks that follow about “opinion” seem to indicate, any such psychological explanations must not consist of empirical conjectures, but must be justified by philosophical reasoning. So I suggest that the present reading provides a strong case for resolving the question that arises from this passage, namely, what exactly are the “objective” and “subjective” deductions that Kant mentions near the end of the paragraph? 12 The reasoning that establishes the Transcendental Trinity, together with the brief inference to the objective validity of the categories is the Objective Deduction. What I have been calling the secondary project of faculty coordination, viz., showing that the categories unify not only concepts and judgments but also sensibility’s representations, is the Subjective Deduction. 13 The latter is “subjective” in that it primarily involves psychological concerns about how the faculties, and thus various psychological processes operate. The former is “objective” both in terms of result and by contrast—it establishes a necessary synthetic unity of consciousness, but, thanks to the analysis of representation, this approach establishes the validity of the categories not only for experience but for the world as well. The details about how this synthesis plays out in our cognitive system is left to the other side of the TD, and, again, is not fully explained until the subsequent sections (viz., the Schematism and the Principles). Identifying the subjective side of the deduction as the psychological side, by the way, highlights a peculiarity with Kant’s use of the word “subjective.” Here it seems to mean “psychological.” Yet, it is used in contrast with the term “objective” which suggests the contemporary meaning, as in “subjective experiences.” I suggest that for Kant, the two meanings coincide, since as a dualist, he presumed that knowledge of psychological states must come from introspection, which is, in the contemporary sense, a purely subjective source. With that said, though, as we have considered above at various points, Kant’s psychological descriptions and explanations are consistent with a modern functionalist outlook. And functionalist explanation is not itself subjective. 14 While it has often been assumed that the Objective and Subjective Deductions are presented in precisely segmented portions of the A TD passages, what we now see is that the division is not absolute. The examinations of the three syntheses is presumably part of the psychological, thus subjective side of the investigation. So it has often been suggested that all of the second section is the subjective deduction. But as we have seen, the introduction of the third synthesis leads abruptly to the derivation of the fundamental framework of unity, representation, and apperception and the immediately following justification of the categories, i.e., the Objective Deduction. And as we will see in chapters 6 and 7, Kant then turns back to the subjective side for the rest of the A TD passages. 15


Chapter 4

This clarification of the two sides of the TD, viz., objective and subjective enterprises, allows us to weave together a number of seemingly inconsistent approaches to this material. On the one hand, the Objective Deduction that I have now uncovered fulfills the search begun by Strawson and Bennett for a priori, analytic reasoning, or reasoning that can be reconstructed as such. 16 E.g., the initial argument that moves from the application of concepts to the necessary unity of consciousness is something that should appeal to any contemporary Analytic philosopher—it requires no empirical psychological assumptions. And as I have noted, the Objective Deduction provides the result that Guyer has been seeking, viz., an a priori, thus, non-psychological, demonstration of the objective validity of the categories. However, the objective result entails a necessary unity of consciousness, and so requires mental processes (syntheses) to carry out this unification, thus taking us deep into the realm of psychological explanation, viz., the subjective side of the TD. And this in turn provides some vindication of Kitcher’s (1990) pro-psychological approach to the TD (and to the Critique) and also partially supports her thesis that Kant’s project involves the investigation of the cognitive capacities (faculties) that underlie our cognitive tasks. But she is mistaken in thinking that the investigation of the faculties is primary. 17 It is instead secondary, driven by the Objective Deduction. Kant’s project (we are here only concerned with the TD) is indeed a matter of “transcendental psychology,” to borrow Kitcher’s (1990) apt phrase, in that both sides of the TD together add up to a full determination of the psychological role of the categories, a role that underwrites their a priori validity, thus making the investigation “transcendental,” in that term’s correct usage. However, the objective side can simply be characterized as a priori philosophy, albeit with psychological concepts as the topic. And finally, we may note something that will be important to keep in mind when we examine the rest of the TD text in subsequent chapters. This understanding of the two sides of the deduction suggests that along with philosophical argumentation aimed at justification of various aspects of the TD framework, we should also expect to find psychological explanations. And we will. But as we will see, these twin tasks of justification of the framework and explanation of how it plays out psychologically occasionally compete as far as Kant’s presentation is concerned. So, at times, when we are expecting a justification we will instead find ourselves in the midst of an apparent psychological explanation. In such passages, the present result about the two sides of the TD will be a valuable guide. 18

The Initial Deduction and Kant’s Methodology


NOTES 1. This raises the puzzling question of how conceptualization of thoughts can create a relation to the external world. We will examine this issue in the next chapter. 2. So I agree with the view that (to borrow the title of J. Rosenthal [1993]) the TD amounts to a deduction of the categories without the categories. It is, rather, a deduction of a priori unifying rules, which—if the inventory of the MD is correct--turn out to be the categories. 3. As well will see in chapter 8, the presentation of apperception in the B TD expands a little on the reasoning behind the explanation. 4. We will examine Kant’s overall response to Hume further in chapters 6 and 7. 5. See Ameriks (2003), pp. 85–87 (originally published 1982) for a list of attributed TD premises; all of these involve the “progressive” reading that I mention below. And see Guyer (1987), pp. 73ff. who considers a wide range of possible premises, but finds none of them satisfactory. 6. I provide the main arguments in chapter 11. (This also includes reasoning from other parts of both the A and B TDs.) As is shown there, an explicit reconstruction reveals several premises that are seemingly too trivial for Kant to have explicitly stated, beginning with “we possess concepts and apply them to conscious states, such as experienced instances.” I thus characterize the premises that I present here as “more or less substantial,” even though most of them seem equally unproblematic. 7. Although, to be clear, a full understanding of how this is accomplished requires a full explanation of the category of substance, which is not provided until the Principles. 8. We will explore the implications of Kant’s conceptual role view of representation for realism and idealism in the next chapter, but the present point is simply that the fundamental TD reasoning does not address external world skepticism. 9. And I myself have already offered explanations along these lines in chapter 3 in order to both clarify Kant’s treatment of representation and to help make it plausible. 10. After presenting the practice of deduction writing, Heinrich suggests that we turn to the idea of reflection to help understand the TD. But I see no basis for this in the text of the Critique. Perhaps Kant might have described his reasoning about consciousness, representation, and apperception as reflective, but this sheds no additional light on the matter. 11. This is very similar to Hatfield (1990), p. 85, who suggests (as one possibility for understanding the role of psychology in the Critique) that Kant’s project builds on empirical psychology. Hatfield, though, rejects this idea in favor of a normative reading, since empirical psychology cannot support a priori truths and justification. However, as we have seen, Kant is able to successfully enhance empirical psychology by extracting a priori results from considerations about a few fundamental psychological notions. And these results thus underwrite the psychological additions to the empiricist psychological framework. So there is no need to turn to an attempted normative reading of Kant’s investigation. And I see no textual evidence for a normative interpretation of the TD. 12. Another puzzling remark of Kant’s here is what he says about A 92–3 being “sufficient by itself.” We will examine the passage he refers to in chapter 6. 13. So Allison (quoted above) is correctly characterizing the subjective side of the deduction but is overlooking the objective side. He is focused on the B TD, but, as we will see in chapters 8 and 9, the same two objective and subjective sides are found in the B TD as well. 14. As I indicated in chapter 2, functional explanations are ontologically neutral. So the “subjective” deduction will involve psychological explanations that specify causal relations between mental states, e.g., between concepts and experiences. If Kant’s view can be reconstructed in terms of physicalism—see appendix F—then these will turn out to be purely objective explanations of the brain.


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15. So I agree with Bauer (2010) that if there is an isolated section of the A TD that deserves the label “subjective,” it is the third section. However, since the passages in the second section that introduce and examine the first two syntheses and also affinity present material that is then applied in the third section, it is also reasonable to think of all those passages combined as the subjective side of the deduction. 16. See chapter 11 for a reconstruction of all of the main arguments and reasoning, including some content that we will consider in later chapters. 17. We will also see in chapter 6 that Kitcher (1990) is correct in attributing a critique of Humean associationism to the TD. 18. It is similarly useful to note that this duality of justification and (psychological) explanation is found in the Principles as well.

FIVE Representational Realism and Transcendental Idealism

In this chapter we will take a break from the exposition of the TD in order to examine the broader implications of the account of representation that we have examined in chapter 3. I have exposited and explained the view that unification of experiences via the categories is what constitutes representation of corresponding objects, in particular of external, physical objects. Seemingly, this involves mind-world correspondence, thus something like representational realism. But at the same time, it may seem that this entails that the unification actually creates objects, which would seem to be something like phenomenalist idealism, and thus at odds with correspondence realism. In what follows, I will continue the development and defense of the representational realist reading, first by arguing against a phenomenalist interpretation of Kant. And I will show how the representationalist view, in connection with the functional role view of representation, allows for an understanding of one main aspect of transcendental idealism. The result will constitute a new understanding of both Kant’s realism and his idealism. 1 PHENOMENALISM VERSUS REPRESENTATIONAL REALISM Throughout the Critique there are passages that seem to support an extreme idealism. One of the foremost is his definition of “transcendental idealism” in the fourth (A) Paralogism: I understand by the transcendental idealism of all appearances the doctrine that they are all altogether to be regarded as mere representations and not as things in themselves. (A 369)



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And, at various points in the book, we are reminded that our epistemology is limited to dealing with representations, e.g., “we have everywhere only to do with appearances” (A 129), and that “we have only to do with our representations; how things in themselves may be (without regard to representations through which they affect us) is entirely beyond our cognitive sphere” A 190/ B 235.) And there is the oft-cited passage that opens section six of the Antinomies: . . . everything intuited in space or in time, hence all objects of an experience possible for us, are nothing but appearances, i.e., mere representations, which, as they are represented, as extended beings or series of alterations, have outside our thoughts no existence grounded in itself. (A 490-1/B 518-9)

These and similar passages have suggested to Kant’s readers, right from the start, that he was offering some sort of Berkelean phenomenalism. However, this was a charge—he apparently took it to be a critical accusation—that he vehemently denied, both in the Prolegomena (374–5) and in various correspondence. Nonetheless, the doctrine that the unification of consciousness is what constitutes the representation of objects might seem to support a phenomenalist reading. A useful example of a commentator who presents a straightforward version of such a view is Van Cleve (1999), chapter 1. He characterizes Kant’s objects as “virtual,” i.e., objects are “logical constructs out of perceivers and their states. That makes Kant a phenomenalist, that is, one who holds that all truths about physical things are derivable from truths about states of perceivers” (p. 11). Van Cleve is not, I think, intent on defending phenomenalism, which he somewhat disparagingly calls “old-fashioned idealism.” It is rather that he sees no alternative way of making sense of Kant’s talk of objects. But as we shall see below, there is indeed a preferable alternative. Consider that despite the occasional seeming avocations of full-blown idealism, there is also very substantial textual evidence that indicates that Kant held, or at least thought he was holding, a Lockean, representational realist view, i.e., a view on which our perceptions correspond to an external world. There are a number of places where Kant characterizes what is real, or actual, in terms of that which corresponds to intuitions. Here are two such notable passages: [e]very outer perception therefore immediately proves something real in space, or rather is itself the real; to that extent empirical realism is beyond doubt, i.e., to our outer intuitions there corresponds something real in space. (A 375, my emphasis) . . . outer sense is already in itself a relation of intuition to something actual outside me. (B xl, n., my emphasis)

The first quote is from the A edition’s Third Paralogism, which many commentators have read as advocating a Berkelean idealism, and the

Representational Realism and Transcendental Idealism


second is from the B preface note that amends the Refutation of Idealism, which is the material where Kant is apparently most realist. Yet the message appears to be the same in both, viz., a correspondence of representation to world, viz., a representational realism. The idea of correspondence would not seem to be consistent with a phenomenalist understanding of objects. But there are even more severe problems for the latter reading. One is that Kant apparently held a strong form of the Lockean view of secondary qualities, viz., that colors, tastes, etc., do not exist in the external world, but are rather properties of mental states: The pleasant taste of a wine does not belong to the objective determinations of the wine, thus of an object even considered even as an appearance, but rather to the particular constitution of sense in the subject that enjoys it. Colors are not objective qualities of the bodies to the intuition of which they are attached, but are also only modifications of the sense of sight, which is affected by light in a certain way. (A 28)

This seems to presuppose—as Locke notably held—that the external world is something distinct from our representations, and is thus more or less invisible to us. On that outlook, it is perfectly reasonable to believe that the secondary qualities which appear to be in the world are in fact merely features of our subjective mental states. However, a phenomenalist is not able to draw this distinction. While given phenomenal experiences can be rejected as illusionary, one can’t maintain that, say, the whole class of visual experiences of a blue cup do not represent the real nature of the cup, since on the phenomenalist view, the cup just is some collection of (colored) cup experiences. The phenomenalist cannot accept the view that the external world does not include the secondary qualities because we never experience the world without these properties, they are the qualities that fill out our experiences and thus constitute them. Kant’s apparent scientific realism about “invisible” qualities is supported, and extended, by what he says about magnetism: Thus we cognize the existence of magnetic matter penetrating all bodies from the perception of attracted iron filling, although an immediate perception of this matter is impossible for us given the constitution of our organs. For in accordance with the laws of sensibility and the context of our perceptions we could also happen upon the immediate empirical intuition of it in an experience if our senses . . . were finer. (A 226/B 273)

Notice how he interprets the unobservable as possibly observable, albeit in the remotest possible way. 2 Now it may seem that anything that is a possible experience is also consistent with a phenomenalist reading, but note that Kant is describing experiences that we know no human will ever have. If we understand objects as identical with sets of experiences, then it would seem that magnetic fields are not actual—are not some-


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thing that humans can ever actually intuit—but they are possible for beings with different sense organs. So, for the phenomenalist, the scientifically real but unobservable mistakenly comes out as non-actual, albeit (in a remote sense) possible. But Kant, like any scientific realist, seemingly wanted magnetic fields to be understood as actual. Finally, consider a brief but crucial passage in which Kant clarifies his view of substance. In the second edition B preface, while slightly modifying the Refutation of Idealism passages, he notes that he is not saying that we have a constant representation of outer substance: The representation of something persisting in existence is not the same as persisting representation. (B xli, n.)

I take this to be a way of saying that, e.g., the table is still conceived as existing when, for instance, no one is perceiving it. But it also reflects the fact that even when I or anyone else is experiencing the table, we are representing a permanence that exceeds our immediate experiences of changing qualities, viewing angles, etc. I do not see how the phenomenalist is able to acknowledge this greater permanence, since experiences are all that that outlook has to work with. If the table qua object thus qua substance is nothing more than a collection of table-experiences, then there is no basis for the representation. The phenomenalist is stuck with Hume’s problem that there is no basis for belief in the continuing existence of objects. Finally, I will note a somewhat notorious passage that seems to support some sort of direct realism, namely the first Note to the Refutation of Idealism, where he says that “here it is proved that outer experience is really immediate” (B 276–77). This is to say that the awareness of space (outer sense) is immediate, which is seemingly a different and stronger claim than what the Lockean, indirect theorist could accept. In any case, given the other passages above about a “corresponding real in space,” it also seems inconsistent with any phenomenalist reading. REPRESENTATION AND CORRESPONDENCE A plausible account, then, will be somehow consistent with all of these passages, or at least will explain what lead Kant to advocate such apparently divergent views. For most of the above quotes a seemingly preferable reading is that of indirect, representational realism. 3 We may begin by examining Kant’s defense of his position against a (Berkelian) idealist interpretation in the Prolegomena (288–91). He opens with a description of his view that is seemingly straightforwardly phenomenalistic: “All bodies, together with the space in which they are, must be considered nothing but mere representations, in us, and exist nowhere but in our thoughts.” But he then insists that this is not (phenomenalistic) idealism,

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since he accepts the existence of (what is apparently) a mind-independent world: [t]hings as objects of our senses existing outside us are given, but we know nothing of what they might be in themselves, knowing only their appearances, that is, the representations they cause in us by affecting our senses.

He then explains that his view can be understood as an extension of the secondary quality view to “all the properties which constitute the intuition of a body.” In the next remark he defends his view against the charge that this turns the “whole world of sense into mere illusion.” The crucial part of the reply, for our purposes, is this passage: But the difference between truth and dreaming is not ascertained by the nature of the representations as they are referred to objects (for they are the same in both cases), but by their connection according to those rules which determine the coherence of the representations in the concept of an object, and by ascertaining whether they can subsist together in experience or not.

Now, it may seem that Kant is maintaining that his view does not make experience in general a matter of illusion because he is still able to draw the illusion versus reality distinction within the system of representations. But this would seem to miss the point, since surely the real worry is that even for those beliefs upheld as “true,” there is no basis for thinking that they correspond to the mind-independent world that causes appearances. So this suggests that although he does hold an indirect, representational view of perception, it is not a successfully realist account. However, as I will now explain, I think that Kant’s outlook does have the resources to deal with this concern in the much more sophisticated and complex presentation in the Critique, although the Prolegomena passages do offer some interesting supplement to the main account. As a way in to a fuller grasp of Kant’s view, consider his seemingly curious statement above that both truth and dreaming are “equally referred to objects.” On a standard correspondence, realist view, what dreams represent, or, say, what illusory experiences represent, does not correspond to states of the world (“objects”). So what can he mean? To see the answer, we will return to the crucial discussion of representation at A 104-5. Here Kant argues that the unity of concept of an object is “nothing other than the formal unity of consciousness,” which, as we have seen, is the unification of consciousness via the categories. What I want to now emphasize is that in the first paragraph of this passage (“And here then it is necessary . . .”), Kant says he is analyzing the notion of an object “corresponding to and distinct from our representations.” And, a paragraph later, he mentions the idea that our cognitions “relate to an


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object” (my emphasis in both quotes). So his thesis is that the concept of an object, understood in terms of functional role unification, is what constitutes our conception of correspondence. But, as he points out here, and as he repeatedly reminds us, we “have to do,” i.e., epsitemicly, with only one side of the correspondence relation, namely with our representations. So the view is that structuring and organizing our representations, via the categories, is what constitutes our conception of relation to objects beyond our representations. In the case of representations (i.e., experiences) of the external world, this conception of correspondence is thus a conception of objectivity. This is nicely explained, together with the functional role view of representation, in the following passage: We have representations in us, of which we can also become conscious. But let this consciousness reach as far and be as exact and precise as one wants, still there always remain only representations, i.e., inner determinations of our mind in this or that temporal relation. Now how do we come to posit an object for these representations, or ascribe to their subjective reality, as modifications, some sort of objective reality? Objective significance cannot consist in the relation to another representation (of that which one would call the object) for that would simply raise anew the question: How does this representation in turn go beyond itself and acquire objective significance in addition to the subjective significance that is proper to it as a determination of the state of mind? If we investigate what new characteristic is given to our representations by the relation to an object, and what is the dignity that they thereby receive, we find that it does nothing beyond making the combination of representations necessary in a certain way, and subjecting them to a rule. (A 197/B 242–3)

So when Kant speaks of representations “having an object,” in many, many passages including the one above from the Prolegomena, he is invoking, or presupposing, his view that the concept of a (corresponding) object is a matter of “combining” (i.e., structuring, organizing) representations via applications of the categories. Is this to say that such combination creates the world? As we have seen, in the passage from the Prolegomena, the answer is no, in that there is something apart from the mind that causes input, i.e., sensations, i.e., appearances. But, then, all the same, does this not mean that the mind creates objects? As I am about to explain, I think the answer is, in a carefully qualified sense, “yes.” In our contemporary age of realism, this may strike us as absurd. However, as I will attempt to show in the rest of the chapter, we can, along with Kant, see why it is not unreasonable. But it is also well-justified—in chapter 3, we have seen Kant’s strong reasoning that establishes this view.

Representational Realism and Transcendental Idealism


To fully understand Kant’s discussions of representations and objects, we need to appreciate the deep consequences of the rejection of a causal view of representation. On that outlook, our representations represent, i.e., correspond to their objects, because those objects cause them. For the causal view, representation is a world to mind relation. On the alternative, functional role view of representation, the relation works the other way, viz., the structuring of representations creates a mind to world relation. The structuring, as Kant likes to put it, “gives representations their objects.” This is not to say that representations of objects are arbitrarily invented. They involve the structuring of sensations, which consist of information about how the senses are affected. 4 But this is not thereby a representation of the world. So in Kant’s view, the world to mind relation registers information about the effect, but representation of the corresponding world, that caused the sensations, is the result of functional roles, i.e., synthesis, and is thus mind to world. Note that one could hold this view independent of Kant’s primary thesis, viz., that the forming of representations involves substantial a priori structure. So it is important to appreciate that the functional role view of representation in and of itself alters the conceptual framework of the relations of mind and world. We can thus say that the world that we represent via experience is not a creation of the mind (our cognitive systems), since the content of our experiences is a joint product of sensory input and cognitive processing. But it is true that the mind creates the abstract structure of the world, i.e., objects. And this would again seem to be a surprising claim, contrary to our ordinary understanding. Kant at one point does seem to acknowledge and address this kind of worry: A proposition which must of course sound peculiar is that a thing can exist only in the representation of it, but it loses its offensive character here, because the things which we have to do are not things in themselves but only appearances, i.e., representations. (A 375 n.)

It may seem that Kant’s antidote is phenomenalism. But I suggest that what he has in mind is rather the point (from A 104) that “we have nothing that we could set over against [a representation] as corresponding to it.” So everyone must acknowledge that we have access to only one side of the representation relation, viz., the representations, i.e., appearances. 5 The further question, then, is whether representation is a matter of world to mind or mind to world relation. Kant offers some strong argumentation in favor of the latter, via offering argumentation and analysis that supports a functional role view. This account shows us that representation is determined in the other direction, viz., objects, i.e., referents, of representations are determined by representational structuring. I suggest, then, that in the many passages where Kant reminds us that we have only to do with appearances or representations, he is not advo-


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cating phenomenalism. Instead, he is reminding us that we have access to only one side of the representation relation, which, again, is something everyone must accept. This is thus a seeming truism. However, the assumption of the causal view lends itself to the idea that, say, my experience of the cup somehow takes me to the external cup itself, the supposed cause of my experience. But this is also, of course, where skeptical philosophy (e.g., Descartes or Hume) points out that for all I know, my experience was not caused by an external cup. Kant, though, pulls us back from the initial absurdity of thinking we somehow have the external world by reminding us that we have access only to our representations. And, with that reminder in place, we can then inquire as to whether the representation relation is world to mind or rather mind to world. REPRESENTATIONAL REALISM I will suggest several metaphoric terms for the view that has so far emerged from our considerations. According to Kant’s outlook, we depict the external world; but since our means of so-depicting it involve the abstract structure of the categories, the depicted world thus must have this structure. In other words, any world that we are capable of depicting must conform to the categories, which as we have seen above, is the result of the Objective Deduction. We project this abstract structure onto the world. 6 As we will consider shortly, this embodies one main aspect of Kant’s idealism. But it will be useful to begin by considering the realist aspects of this view. First, as far as ordinary experiences are concerned, we seem to have a run-of-the-mill correspondence realism. Thus, if I experience a cup on a table, this represents that there is an external, corresponding cup on a table, which is empirical, correspondence realism. It does not follow, of course, that every experience must be accepted as veridical. So, as the above quote from the Prolegomena suggests, we might determine that a given experience is illusory, say, of a bent stick half immersed in water. This experience will still “have an object,” since structuring according to the categories in effect projects such an object. But we can nonetheless, based on other experiences, e.g., feeling the stick while it is in the water, decide that that depiction is non-veridical, i.e., not part of the world. It would also seem that Kant is able to adopt the same sorts of scientific realism that the representational view otherwise allows. Thus, if some combination of philosophical and scientific investigation convinces us that the secondary qualities are merely subjective—that as we have noted Kant seemed to accept—then we can depict a colorless, tasteless, odorless world. Our experiences will, nonetheless, continue to falsely depict that, e.g., colors are in physical surfaces. But, in like manner to the rejection of

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dreams, we can reject this whole (large) class of property-depictions as illusory. And, consider the magnetism example again. There, Kant understands the unobservable as possibly observable, in a very remote way, which is what we should expect, in that any aspect of the projected world must still be connected with the conditions of experiences, viz., the unifying synthesis of the categories. It would not make sense to allow features of that world that were not somehow connected with possible experience. But the idea of extended sense organs—or, as noted above, even different sense organs—allows the representational view to correctly depict magnetism as actual, but not actually perceivable. Let us then turn to Kant’s seeming shift into a stronger direct realism in the Refutation passage. I will begin by adding that, as is rarely noticed, a very similar claim is made in the A Fourth Paralogism, but there in connection with idealism: [t]he transcendental idealist is also an empirical realist, and grants to matter, as appearance, a reality which need not be inferred, but is immediately perceived. (A 371)

This might be read as evidence of phenomenalism. But as I will now explain, both this and the Refutation passage are in fact consistent with our representational (realist) reading of Kant. Consider again the representation thesis. On the causal representational view, the experience of space or matter does not offer their immediate reality. We must rather infer that such space or matter really exists externally and is thus the cause of our experiences. By contrast, on Kant’s view of representation, the experience of space or matter as external does not involve this further degree of epistemic freedom, since conceiving space or matter as external constitutes the representation of such external objects. Thus, the experience “immediately” gives us the object. We still have the option, as we have just considered, of for some reason deciding that these depictions are illusory. But the representation relation, in and of itself, does not force such doubts on us. So Kant’s account of representation has a huge advantage over the causal view, namely that it avoids this threat of global skepticism. And, thus, one more aspect of Hume’s negative results in Book I of the Treatise is resolved. While we are indeed within the veil of impressions, we have only to do with appearances. This is not an epistemic situation that allows no basis for accepting the truth of our perceptual experiences. Sans the causal theory, we can conceptualize our experiences as corresponding to the external world. 7


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THE NOUMENA AND TRANSCENDENTAL IDEALISM But given Kant’s apparent correspondence realism, why doesn’t this entail that there are external mind-independent objects that corresponds to our experiences? To provide a suitable answer, we need to examine the notion of the noumena, i.e., things as they are in themselves apart from the human cognitive system. The noumena are defined as objects that would be “given” (presumably, known) to a non-sensible intuition (A 249). This characterization is, apparently, slightly expanded in the B TD at B 139 “an understanding through whose representations the objects of the representation would at the same time exist,” although Kant does not actually mention there that such objects would be the noumena. In the B version, the noumena also include “other possible things, which are not objects of our senses at all” (B 306). And at A 254/ B 310, a “noumenon” is identified with “a thing in itself,” a phrase that he had been using up to that point to contrast with appearances. The concept of the noumena is thus drawn psychologically, based on an imaginary type of understanding that intuits the world directly, without need of perception. We are told, however, that we can only legitimately use this notion in a negative sense (B 307–9) as a boundary concept (A 255/B 310–11) marking the limit of what it is possible to know. And that limit concerns the categories, viz., that apart from the unity of spatial and temporal intuitions, “thus in the case of the noumenon, there the entire use, even all significance of the categories completely ceases” (B 368). So we have no basis for thinking that the categories apply to things as they are in themselves, i.e., the world considered apart from our cognitive systems, i.e., the human-mind-independent nature of the world. This is a negative limit to our knowledge—the unknowability of the noumena. If we then incorporate this into our emerging Kantian picture, the external world affects us—though we are only aware of the effect, viz., sensory states (appearances) which the mind synthesizes, applying the categories, together with the forms of space and time, to produce representations of the external world, i.e., “intuitions of objects.” Since, as we have seen, we can prove that there is a necessary structuring involved with this construction, viz., unification via the categories, and since this structuring is what constitutes the representation of objects, we know, a priori, that these concepts validly apply to the world as we represent it. But this a priori structure (including space and time) has not been derived from the input. So the a priori form and structure of the represented, external world comes from the mind. This is, then, the positive plank of transcendental idealism, namely that the necessary form and structure of the world, as we know it, comes from the mind. It is not somehow derived from the world.

Representational Realism and Transcendental Idealism


The negative side of this idealism is that we have no basis for thinking that beings with different psychologies than ours, i.e., with more direct epistemic access to the world, would affirm that this form and structure are correct. So transcendental idealism, thus far, is the view that the necessary, a priori form and structure of the world comes from our minds, and we have no basis for determining if it is true of the world for all varieties of cognition. This is, though, a much weaker restriction than the one from the Aesthetic, viz., that space and time are not things in themselves, but are mere forms of representation. The result of the reasoning there seems to be that space and time are plausibly thought to be a priori forms of sensory representation, and that they cannot reasonably be understood as anything else. This is a stronger degree of idealism, since it is a positive claim about space and time, i.e., that their basis is only mental, whereas the lesser degree of ideality of the categories is that for us they have a mental origin, and there is no possibility of knowing if they are nothing but mental structure. I will set aside the stronger degree of idealism, mainly since my concern throughout is with the categories, i.e., their “deduction.” And as I will continue to indicate, I think that the weaker idealist thesis is defensible, even though, it is quite strong by our contemporary hyper-realist standards. It is, by the way, notable that in the B preface, at B xvii–iii, when characterizing his Copernican revolution, Kant focuses on the representation thesis, viz., that in order to be represented, objects must be cognized via our concepts, viz., the categories. (This passage also substantially supports my thesis that Kant’s functional role view of representation is at the heart of his outlook.) The paragraph then concludes with the oftquoted phrase “that we can cognize of things a priori only what we ourselves have put into them.” This is consistent with either the stronger or weaker forms of transcendental idealism, since it is concerned only with the positive claim that the a priori form and structure of experience is not derived from experience, but comes from the mind. So pursuit of the weaker thesis seems consistent with Kant’s overall epistemic goals. However, idealism aside, it may seem that the view we have uncovered is not actually realism. Conceding that we do not know if the categories apply to the mind-independent nature of the world would seem to be straightforward skepticism. This would seem to be to say that I do not know if the cup I am now experiencing really is a substance, composed of matter, capable of interacting with other such objects, etc. One solution that has variously been suggested is to posit two worlds—the world of the noumena can thus be conceived as somehow completely separate from the world of experience. But I think that this solves nothing, for then there is still a world to be skeptical about, and it would seem to have a greater claim on reality than the world we experience.


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I suggest instead that Kant’s account of representation together with a proper understanding of the noumena show that his view does not result in skepticism. Let us return again to the sketch of generation of experiences: the external world affects our senses, 8 causing appearances which the mind synthesizes, and thus structures, yielding experiences of the external world. We project this structure onto the world, i.e., we depict a world of more or less discrete objects. It is tempting to think of the noumena as similarly consisting of differentiated objects. But since we have no basis for thinking that the categories apply to the world as it is in itself, there is no basis for thinking it involves objects, which involves the categories, notably substance and causation, as well as space. 9 So it is useful to think of the noumena as possibly consisting of a Heraclitus-like realm of continual flux, with no stable objects, or as a Parmenides-like indivisible, seamless whole, or of something of unspecified, and perhaps unspecifiable form, e.g., the Tao. There is, then, no basis for thinking that there are mind-independent objects that correspond (or not) to our experiences. 10 Thus, there is no reason to think that my experience of a cup, my depiction of the world as containing a cup with specific properties in a specific location, is either made true or else falsified by mind-independent objects. I stress this point since there has been a tendency in recent Kantian scholarship to think of the noumena as physical objects, and this appears to be the result of a (usually tacit) assumption of a causal theory of representation. Under that assumption, the (non-illusory) experience of a cup requires that there is an external object, viz., a cup that is causing the experience. And seemingly, the mind-independence of the cause means that the cup is a mind-independent noumenal object. However, with those assumptions, we cannot see how Kant thought that he had managed to justify the applicability of the categories to the world. But when we abandon the causal view, all we know concerning causation from having the experience is that the external world is causing our sensations. And upon further analysis, we find that both our conception of the cup as an object and as an external object is the result of the a priori form and structuring of our mental states. The external world is thus guaranteed to conform to the categories. If it is categorical structure that creates representation, and thus correspondence with objects, i.e., that constitutes the conception of external correspondence, then it would seem to follow that the truth of empirical judgments is dependent on these a priori aspects of representation, which we might, perhaps, characterize as being relative to this categorical framework. That is, the truth conditions do not exceed ways that the cup can be experienced—they do not concern a noumenal cup. So while it is true that there is a cup on the table just in case there is an external cup on an external table, the basis for the evaluation of this truth must involve the experienced, and thus categorically represented world. And this is

Representational Realism and Transcendental Idealism


consistent with our ordinary evaluation of empirical judgments. If I judge, for instance, that there’s a cup on the table that contains coffee, then it would seem that all that is relevant to the truth of this judgment are empirical conditions, viz., that can be verified by looking in the cup or tasting the liquid. But this is not to say that truth is a matter of the coherence of my beliefs. One of the first things that Kant declares at the start of the Analytic is that he is granting and supposing “the nominal definition truth, namely that it is the agreement of cognition with its object” (A 58/B 82). So to accept such an empirical belief as true is to conceive of it as corresponding to the external world. But, as I have just indicated, the dependence of truth conditions to the categorical framework does seems to result in a coherence view of justification, as the Prolegomena quote seems to indicate. And, apart from the categories, it is not that such a belief is false, rather there simply is no representation and thus no truth conditions. And to return once again to the point at A 104, it would seem that even if representation did somehow involve a correspondence to a mindindependent world, we would not thereby have that world for epistemic access. So a pre-critical realist view would accept the same platitudes about evaluating the sample empirical belief. And Kant actually says something like this in the next paragraph of the Prolegomena passage, in regard to the even stronger thesis of regarding space as nothing but a representation, “there is nothing that can lead astray or cause illusion…” Everything in regard to experience “remains just as if I had not departed from the common view” (291–92) REALISM, IDEALISM, AND SKEPTICISM Kant’s framework is thus a brilliantly crafted balance of realism, idealism, and skepticism. But it is a delicate balance—over-emphasizing one aspect can, as it were, upset the equilibrium. Thus, we might say that Kant is a skeptic about the possibility of knowledge of the mind-independent nature of the world. And, though he would have greatly disliked this characterization, it seems to me correct. However, we can right the balance again by noting that this is not skepticism about the nature of the external, physical world that we experience, and likewise it is not skepticism about the world as characterized by science. Similarly, to say that external objects are nothing but representational projections invites the response that this is not in any sense realism, since the realist asserts the real, metaphysical existence of the external world. For clarification, let us define “metaphysical realism” as the belief that the external world that we experience exists mind-independently, with the structure we represent it as having, including space, time, substance, causation, etc. It is important to see that, while, on my reading, Kant is


Chapter 5

not a so-defined metaphysical realist, his view is nonetheless consistent with our commonsense, pre-philosophical realist beliefs and epistemic practices. Projected, representational realism upholds ordinary beliefs about the existence and reality of the external world. We can understand our empirical experiences to be partial revealers of the nature of this external world, and they are our evidence for what this world is like. The world, although known only via mental projection, is not a mental invention. We create or, better, impose the abstract structure of the world, but we do not thereby create the world itself. For my experiences of the table that are my basis for thinking that it exists and what it is like are not arbitrary mental creations, but rather are the product of external input, organized according to the categories. The table is empirically real, and objective, unlike my experiences of it which are subjective. The rules of both truth and knowledge are thus internal to the projected (“phenomenal”) realm, but they constitute and uphold correspondence realism within that sphere. It is, of course, surprising vis-à-vis common sense to learn that we project the abstract structure of the external world. But Kant’s clever insight is that one doesn’t have to be a metaphysical realist in order to uphold ordinary, common sense realism (viz., “empirical realism”). And moreover, his view is consistent with scientific realism, construed as the thesis that science seeks to characterize the underlying nature of the world that we represent via experience; and scientific theories, if true, correspond to this world—they describe the true nature of this world, even though its real properties may well differ from those that we experience. To put it another way, on the one hand, Kant is not a metaphysical realist—he does not believe that we can know that the abstract structure that we depict in the world is mind-independently part of the world. On the other hand, he is what we may term an epistemic realist about the nonsubjective, external world. And, as I have just suggested, this appears to be consistent with the metaphysical and epistemic claims of common sense realism, such as: “I’m seeing a (n external) table,” “It’s true that there is a table in front of me,” and “I know that there’s a table in front of me.” So the surprising Kantian result is that the external world is partly mind dependent. We do find plenty of passages where Kant over-emphasizes the idealism in his framework, especially in the first edition. As we have noted above, he tends to characterize the existence of objects in a way that makes them seem purely ideal, i.e., phenomenal. Another emphasis on the ideal, seemingly ruining the balance with realism, occurs when, in the A TD he proclaims that “the understanding is the source of the laws of nature” (A 127). In the B TD this is weakened to the somewhat more reasonable “the laws of nature must agree with the understanding” (B 164). (We will examine these passages below, in chapters 7 and chapter 9 respectively.) This is, in part, the proclamation of the idealist result that

Representational Realism and Transcendental Idealism


the necessary structure of the represented world comes from the mind. But the initial phrasing makes it seem like Kant thinks that the mind fully invents the scientifically portrayed structure of the world. As we will see below, the second edition discussion is more careful, and thus helps to avoid the seeming tip to extreme idealism. And there are passages later in the Critique where he over emphasizes skepticism about the mind-independent, e.g., in the passage from the Antinomies that I quote above. But this is crucial for his overall project, since his seeming skepticism about knowing the mind-independent nature of the world is consistent with the postulation of free will, souls, and God. I suggest that we think of the balance of realism, idealism, and skepticism as allowing for a flexibility that enables Kant to ground various aspects of his weltanschauung in different ways, i.e., idealistic lawful necessity, correspondence realism for ordinary empirical beliefs and skeptical limits to theoretical knowledge in regard to the postulations of the practical. So I have shown how the functional role account of representation underlies both Kant’s realism and a major strain of his idealism. And the argumentation that we have already uncovered, along with the reasoning that further exegesis below will reveal, provides substantial support for both this account of representation and also the rest of the TD framework, including the idealist thesis of necessary, a priori structure. NOTES 1. I am thus venturing into the topic of how to understand Kant’s idealism (as well as his realism), which has recently become somewhat populated territory, as Schulting’s (2011) useful survey indicates. While a systematic comparison with each of these other approaches is beyond the scope of the present work, I do consider a number of these views at other points in the book, typically in regard to their treatment of the TD material. In addition, Allison’s (2004) epistemic conditions approach is briefly examined in chapter 10, and Allais’ direct realist reading of Kant is evaluated in appendix H. 2. It is of course not true that we would merely need “finer” grained sense organs to experience magnetism, but rather a wholly different type of sense organ that would detect magnetic fields. And this is what Kant does describe in (a parallel passage in) the lecturers on metaphysics—see Metaphysik Mrongovius, Ak. 29:883 (p. 251 in Ameriks, Naragon, trans.). But still, the ability to somehow sense magnetic fields with sense organs is in the realm of the physical possibility, which seems to be the point that Kant has in mind. 3. Allais (2007) instead takes the passage about the real in space and the magnetism passage as evidence for direct realism. I discuss her views at length in appendix H. 4. As I mentioned in chapter 2, Kant defines sensation as: “The effect of an object on the capacity for representation, insofar as we are affected by it” (A 19–20/B 33–34). And Guyer and Woods note that Kant added in his copy of the first edition: “Intuition is related to the object, sensation merely to the subject.” 5. I think it is telling that even Collins (1999), p. 34, in the process of developing a direct realist reading of Kant, accepts this point.


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6. As I noted in chapter 3, some commentators have characterized Kant’s objects as “intentional objects.” But I would discourage this, since Kant’s account of the representation of objects is fairly unique. In particular, as we are examining here, a representational object is a corresponding object. We might classify this as a particular take on the notion of an intentional object. However, the label “intentional” invites connections with other aspects of contemporary accounts of intentionality or of Brentano’s early views that Kant may not share. And, by the way, it is also important to keep in mind that Kantian objects include not just physical objects, but also thoughts, and also apparently events and properties. 7. If my reading of Kant is correct, then we can understand why First Meditation/ veil of impressions skepticism seems not to be addressed in the first edition of the Critique. The account of representation takes care of it, as the admittedly incredibly opaque quoted remark from the Paralogisms seems to indicate. 8. See appendix B for a discussion of the problem of affection, which includes the point that we cannot technically say that the noumena affect us, since that involves an application of the categories to the noumena. So as Kant tells us, we need to substitute the concept of the transcendental object, i.e., of a completely abstract something external. 9. To put this in perspective, consider that, Kant aside, an influential school of thought in contemporary physics tells us that reality consists of a soup of extremely tiny strings that vibrate and interact in ten dimensions, that are the building blocks of quarks and thus of larger particles. Our representation of ordinary, middle-sized physical objects greatly simplifies, and somewhat falsifies the reality described by physics. Thus, the mass/energies that make up the cup and the table exist in more than four dimensions. And the representation of them as solid is at best misleading, since they consist primarily of empty space, and the representation of them as completely separate entities is also misleading, since, when, say, the cup rests on the table, a fair amount of particle interaction occurs between the two supposedly discrete surfaces. And contemporary physics also postulates that the vast majority of mass and energy in the universe, including the mass and energy in our environs, is “dark,” i.e., imperceptible. So our experiential representation of the world may be drastically incomplete as well. It is thus not unreasonable—again, Kant, aside—to think that ordinary, middle-sized physical objects are a representational creation of our cognitive systems. (I am not suggesting that the world of physical theory is the noumena.) 10. This may explain why Kant uses the locution “things in themselves” rather than “objects in themselves.” Similarly, in the Prolegomena passage he chooses “bodies,” rather than “objects.”

SIX The Three Syntheses

Having uncovered the primary framework of the TD (chapters 3 and 4) and having briefly explored its epistemological and metaphysical implications (chapter 5), we will return to the A TD and examine the remaining passages. As we have considered in chapter 4, the rest of the text of the TD proper is the Subjective Deduction, viz., psychological explanations, based on philosophical reasoning, that establishes the psychological role of the categories. But before looking at the first part of that material, viz., the syntheses, we will begin with the introductory sections. THE TRANSITION The first, long paragraph of the “transition” to the TD (A 92/B 125) provides an initial sketch of how Kant will demonstrate the objective validity of the categories. He begins with the same point that is found in the letter to Herz (that we examined in chapter 3). Kant tells us that synthetic representations can be connected to objects in only two ways. The first is via the object causing the representation, which produces only empirical, sensory knowledge. In the letter, the second alternative was the representation creating the object. There Kant rejected this option too, thus leaving him with no means of explaining how a priori concepts can apply to objects. Here in the Critique the solution is achieved by revising the second choice, viz., “the representation . . . does not produce its object as far as its existence is concerned, [but] the representation is still determinate of the object a priori if it is possible through it alone to cognize something as an object.” And, as Kant then tells us, this is indeed the case. It is only through the categories “that any object or experience can be thought at all.” 81


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The paragraph as a whole, though, does little to make the doctrine of representation clear, and is thus not very helpful to the uniformed reader. He states that “all experience contains . . . a concept of an object that is given in intuition, or appears . . .” But it is odd to say that experience “contains” the concept. Given our understanding of Kant’s view of representation, we can see that the idea is that in order to experience intuitions as corresponding to objects, the concept of an object is required. Since we do experience intuitions as corresponding to objects, it follows that those experiential mental states must be structured according to the categories, thus, in a sense, containing the concept, or rather, containing that structure. Kant then switches to the plural, viz., concepts of objects in general, and characterizes them as “a priori conditions” of experiential cognition, which as we have seen in chapter 4 is the phrase he uses in making the initial justification of the categories. 1 He then indicates that the categories are a priori concepts. Putting this all together, we see the categories are the a priori concepts of objects in general, which are required in order to represent (think of) any object, which is what the final phrase does indicate. This passage, perhaps, serves well enough as an initial introduction to the nature of the investigation. In particular, it highlights the centrality that representation plays in the justification of the categories, although there is of course no hint of the functional role view here, nor even a mention of synthesis. 2 What makes this lack of detail puzzling is that in the preface, in making the contrast between the Objective and Subjective Deductions, Kant cites this passage as an instance of the former that “should even be sufficient by itself” (A xvii). The paragraph at A 92–93 does indeed focus on the epistemological issue, keeping the psychology to a minimum. But is it hard to see that it actually provides any justification, since Kant simply stipulates that the a priori concept of an object is necessary in order to represent objects. It is thus hard to see how this is “sufficient.” I do suggest, though, that if we recall my point about justification vs. explanation near the end of chapter 4, we can perhaps see what Kant was thinking here. He is, in a minimum way, explaining how the categories apply to objects a priori, and that is, in fact the stated goal of the TD at A 85. A paraphrase, designed for our contemporary mindset, can help us appreciate this: The categories are the a priori unifying rules that are required in order to conceive of experiences as representational, i.e., as corresponding to objects. It thus follows that anything (any “object”) that we represent will be represented in accord with the categories, and thus we know a priori that they validly apply to anything we can experience.

The Three Syntheses


If one wants, in a minimal way, to understand how Kant resolves the dilemma of how a priori concepts can be valid of objects, then an explanation such as this does indeed suffice. The next paragraph presents a “principle” for the “entire investigation,” namely that the a priori concepts (viz., categories) “must be recognized as the a priori conditions of the possibility of experiences.” Since we have already seen how Kant will achieve this, it is now easy to appreciate what he is saying here. The categories are what enable thoughts to be representational. Thus (last sentence of Kant’s paragraph), without the role that the categories play, our thoughts would not have objects, viz., they would not represent. They are (second sentence) the ground that necessarily, and thus objectively, makes experience possible, as opposed to being nothing more than a mere “subjective” (psychological) cause of experience. By contrast, (third sentence) an “unfolding of experience in which they are encountered,” i.e., a description or analysis of an experience (such as my example from chapter 3 of seeing a table) that shows the role that the categories are playing in that experience does not provide the needed conceptual (necessary, a priori) justification of the categories, but presumably, merely serves to illustrate the doctrine that requires a conceptual defense. The final paragraph is an attempt to preview the subsequent discussion of the syntheses. However, it is not particularly helpful in this regard. Kant tells us that we have three “sources” or “capacities” or “faculties” that “contain the conditions of the possibility of all experience.” The list is a bit odd, viz., sense, imagination, and apperception, since normally the understanding is the third faculty that Kant contrasts with sensibility and the imagination. The trio of corresponding psychological activities is also unusual: while synthesis is normally tied to the imagination, “synopsis” is a new term that, as we will see, is mentioned just once more then ignored. And while unity will indeed be related to apperception, as we shall also see, later passages in the A TD are focused on showing that this unity is achieved via the imagination. I suggest that the best way to understand this latter contrast is in terms of contemporary cognitive psychology. Input is registered (“synopsis”), combinatorial processing is carried out (“synthesis”) and the resulting unification is represented in higher-order thought, i.e., apperception. In any case, as I say, this is an odd way of introducing the subsequent material, and thus is best ignored. INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND SECTION The next section begins with four fairly straightforward paragraphs that examine and clarify the idea that is presented in the first two just-mentioned paragraphs in the “Transition.” The explanation returns to the


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previous topic; in order for concepts to be related to objects, they must somehow be connected with experiences, since it is only via experience that objects are “given” to us. Thus, our only semantic and epistemic connection to (external) objects is through experience. However, a concept derived from the empirical content of experience would not be a priori. So a priori concepts that are related to objects must somehow apply to all experiences, empirical content aside, and thus “be conditions” for any possible experience. Kant then terms these “pure” concepts of the understanding. This might seem redundant—why not just call them a priori? But we can understand the role of the term when we consider that calling something “empirical” has two distinct connotations, first that the thing in question, e.g., belief or judgment is justified via experience, or second that it is psychologically produced by experience, that is, that undergoing a certain sort of experience is required, psychologically, for the presence of the representation. Hence, empirical beliefs are both justified by experience and derived from experience, but empirical concepts are only derived from experience. It does not make sense to refer to the justification of a concept, except in application. “A priori” means “justified independent of experience,” so Kant needs a parallel notion to describe a psychological element that is not derived from experience, thus, “pure.” 3 It is not until the start of the fourth paragraph that Kant tells us that the categories are these pure concepts, which refers back to the result of the Metaphysical Deduction, where he thinks he has satisfactorily inventoried the most abstract pure concepts. 4 To return to the paragraph at A 86, then, Kant proceeds to explain how these pure concepts viz., the categories, can be used apart from experience to create concepts that are not found in experience. The first example is “spirit” which presumably lacks the category of “substance,” and thus is, as Kant says, possible in and of itself but it cannot possibly be experienced (at least in outer sense), since, we may gather, all experiences of an external objects require “substance.” The second example is “God” which, as we learn in the Dialectic, Kant analyzes as involving the concept of the unconditioned, which exceeds all possible experience. So the point is that our ability to represent things that are (necessarily) not found in experience rests on the same representational ability—the categories as ground of all content—as do actual experiences. The final sentence mentions “fantasies,” by which Kant seems to mean arbitrary creations that do not resemble the world of actual experience in any way. But, he insists, even such arbitrary creations must still involve the categories, otherwise we are not representing anything, i.e., without the categories there is no representational content. And, he concludes, if we exclude both the data from the senses and the categories, then there is nothing to “arise” in thinking.

The Three Syntheses


This passage thus provides support for the present reading. Kant is explaining the general notion of representation, i.e., how we are able to represent anything, the empirically possible, the impossible, and even that which transcends experience, and it is the “pure concepts of the understanding,” viz., the categories, that enable us to represent in any and all of these ways. After noting that he has been discussing the categories, Kant then describes how he will justify their objective validity, namely by showing that they are what allow us to represent objects. The phrase “by means of them alone an object can be thought” again invokes the view that the categories constitute representation. The final sentence begins the transition to the discussion of the syntheses by noting that when we consider the relation of the categories to experience there is “more at work” than just the understanding, i.e., more, psychologically than just application of concepts. It will turn out that several additional psychological processes—several syntheses and also apperception—must be elucidated. To understand the point about “transcendental constitution,” recall that on the present reading, this is to say that Kant is going to argue that the psychological underpinnings of experience involve aspects that support a priori knowledge and necessary structure as well as empirical knowledge, thus making them “transcendental” aspects. The following paragraph takes a somewhat drastic turn, now switching to apparent analysis of our psychologies. To appreciate what Kant is doing, consider that the primary purpose of the TD is to justify the categories, and the primary obstacle to such justification is Humean skepticism about several of the categories. Beginning here, and proceeding through the next several pages, Kant attempts to fully engage Hume by beginning from the sparse psychology of the radical empiricist and arguing that much more that what the empiricist officially acknowledges is required to account for experience. The first sentence, then, begins with the idea of isolated sense data—as it were, isolated qualia—that, according to the radical empiricist model of the mind, constitutes the empirical input. Kant points out that cognitions consist of “compared and connected representations.” And, seemingly, the empiricist will grant this, as anyone must. However, as Kant will argue subsequently, in order to explain the compared and connected representations of experience, we must first of all acknowledge three additional types of psychological processes in addition to empiricist association, viz., processes (“syntheses”) of apprehension, reproduction, and recognition, and, we must also acknowledge these three syntheses must each be possible in a pure as well as an empirical form. These pure versions of the syntheses will be psychological grounds for a priori representations and knowledge. As we have considered above, the most important synthesis is recognition, which leads Kant into the exposition of the central notions of the TD, viz., the necessary unity of consciousness, the concept of a represented object


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and transcendental apperception. So I suggest that the overall expository structure of this first portion of the A TD involves the development of an enhanced psychology vis-à-vis the radical empiricist model. Although, as Kant notes in the preface, he is not simply offering an alternative empirical psychological model—each step is justified by a priori reasoning. Returning to the text, the second sentence “ascribe[s] a synopsis to sense.” The term “synopsis” is puzzling since this is only one of two places Kant uses it. (The other, as we have noted above, is the final, “preview” paragraph of the Transition.) The meager basis for interpreting it is thus the second clause of the sentence where he contrasts “receptivity” with “spontaneity.” I suggest, then, that by “synopsis,” Kant simply means the registering of information. (We will consider the contrast in a moment.) It appears that he only needed it for this present contrast, and apparently, in order to fill out the parallel trio of psychological activities at A 94–95. In any case, the main point here is the contrast of “receptivity” versus “spontaneity.” The fact that, say, one’s retinas or eardrums have been affected in a certain way does not determine what types of cognitive processes will operate as a result, or how they will operate. Such input will probably set the processes in motion, but which processes these are is a matter of how the cognitive system is set up. Analogously, typing, say, “1,” “2,” “3” into a computer will have different effects depending on which programs are running—it may not even be registered. I thus suggest that what Kant means by “spontaneity” here is “that which comes from the mind (cognitive system), rather than the input.” 5 As we have just noted, the fact that there is input does not dictate that there must be synthesis, let alone conceptual unity. The point, then, is that cognitions, and, really, experience, are possible only if there is cognitive processing performed on the input. 6 We can thus credit Kant with an important insight into more or less speculative psychology, namely that experience is the product of cognitive processing. And, by the looks of contemporary perceptual theory, visual science in particular, it is extremely elaborate processing. 7 This is an important general insight, one that is still all too often overlooked or even denied in contemporary philosophy. And, as we have considered in chapter 3, as Kant more or less acknowledged, it may be that all of this processing is pre-conscious, i.e., that we are only aware of the product. But if analysis or reflection tells us that the product is composed or otherwise derived, then such processes must have occurred. Kant proceeds to preview the three syntheses that he will exposit in the subsequent sections. The final sentence mentions “subjective” sources which is to say psychological sources. It also underscores that what he is about to uncover is required in order to be able to have experiences and to be able to apply concepts (which is the function of the understanding) to experiences.

The Three Syntheses


The “Reminder” paragraph notes the textual structure of the initial exposition followed by the connected presentation (in the third section). As we have now seen, this is rather misleading, since the third subsection turns into an exposition of the central notions of unity, representation and apperception, resulting in the objective deduction (justification) of the categories. The final sentence serves as a sort of psychological buffer for readers, preparing them for the “unavoidable obscurity” of a “thus far entirely unexplored” path that Kant nonetheless optimistically hopes he has “completely illuminated.” (I, of course, have the same ideal goal for our understanding of Kant’s text.) APPREHENSION The first paragraph of the discussion of apprehension reminds us that all of our representations “belong” to inner sense, i.e., are the product of this process, and that therefore they are ordered according to the relations of the a priori temporal framework. We see one of the implications of this in the discussion that follows. However, despite this reminder, the A TD tends to underplay the role of inner sense and thus of time, a deficiency that, as we shall see, is corrected in the second half of the B TD. The following paragraph offers a brief argument that both introduces and defends the synthesis of apprehension. Kant begins with the claim that “every intuition contains a manifold in itself” which appears to mean that every experience is of a variety of sensory qualities, which seems correct—virtually all experiences involve a vast diversity of sensory qualities. And, if we think of sensation, and in particular, the visual field, as consisting of “pixels” of color, then any (visual) experience will consist of a “manifold” of pixels, even if many or all of them happen to be of uniform color—each will occupy a distinct visual space. The brief argument that follows is that the multiplicity of sensations requires that the mind has sensed a succession of distinct impressions, “for as contained in one moment no representation can ever be anything other than absolute unity.” Thus, Kant argues, in order to create a unified representation (intuition) from various distinct sensed qualities, the mind must “run through and then take together” these sensed qualities. He terms this process of creating a unified, complex representation, the “synthesis of apprehension.” Intuition, he tells us, “provides a manifold, but can never effect this as such,” viz., cannot yield a unified representation, “without the occurrence of such a synthesis.” There are a number of things to consider here. First, we must be clear about what Kant is describing. It is a psychological process of creating a complex representation from isolated sensory qualities, the isolated qualities which according to empiricism are what we get as sensory input. The label “apprehension” is thus a bit misleading, since it is really mutual


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or co-apprehension that he is concerned with. “Apprehension,” in Kant’s more or less technical usage, is thus a combinatorial process (or group of processes) that take isolated sensory qualities and produce a unified representation. 8 And, for the moment, we are concerned with empirical combination. This is made much clearer when Kant returns to apprehension in the connected presentation in the third section: But since every appearance contains a manifold, thus different perceptions by themselves are encountered dispersed and separate in the mind, a combination of them, which they cannot have in sense itself, is therefore necessary. There is thus an active faculty of the synthesis of this manifold in us, which we call imagination, and whose action exercised immediately upon perceptions [sensory inputs] I call apprehension. For the imagination is to bring the manifold of intuition into an image; it must therefore antecedently take up the impressions into its activity, i.e., apprehend them. (A 120)

As we will also note below in regard to reproduction, the faculty of imagination was, in Kant’s era, the faculty of combination. In particular, in Hume’s usage, the imagination was responsible for associations. On a contemporary functionalist reconstruction, this simply becomes a label for the collection of psychological (sensory) processes that produce (more) unified, complex representations from sensory input. To appreciate the point about why we must acknowledge such combinatorial processes, consider some very basic and obvious facts about human perception. We register various types of information via various sense organs, but our experience is of a world where sensory qualities are united and integrated in various complex ways. Suppose, for example, that I am simultaneously looking at a (non-digital) clock, hearing it tick and touching it to feel its vibrations. I will experience the visual appearance, the sound and the vibration and the feel of the surface of the clock as all part of a unitary physical object. And even if we just stick to one sense modality, it is clear that we do not experience isolated sensory qualities. We do not experience pixels of color, but rather fields of color (typically, surfaces) that are often related in complex ways, as when one colored surface partially occludes another, or similarly when one colored object appears in the foreground against a more distant colored background. So we see that experience must at least be empirically unified and inter-related in a large variety of ways. But it must be true that there are various psychological processes that produce this unified experience, as the clock example usefully illustrates. There must at a minimum be processes that integrate and order the data from the senses, and for that matter, from the two retinas and the two ears, as well as the complex array of information that is constantly received about the status of the various parts of the body, including orientation, pressure, location (e.g., of limbs), temperature, injuries, and other regularities and irregularities.

The Three Syntheses


So it seems that we can readily acknowledge that experience is the result of (quite a lot of) combinatorial processing. However, to turn to another concern, Kant’s stated description of how this works presumes that all representations that contribute to perceptual experience must be consciously sensed—we sense them individually and then “take them up.” If we were to grant that, then Kant’s point about time would follow, viz., that in order to be aware of distinct qualities, they must be sensed separately at distinct moments, since if A and B are sensed at the same moment, they are part of a unified representation. That is, it cannot be that I am aware of A and B at the same moment and there is no connection between A and B, since at the very least they are part of my experience of that moment. It follows that awareness of completely non-unified representations requires separate initial awareness in separate moments. And it is important to note that this is made apparent by certain psychological processes, 9 in particular, that of counting, which Kant uses at the start of the “recognition” section to illustrate how the three syntheses are tied together. But what if, as various theories in contemporary empirical psychology suggest, the perceptual processes are largely unconscious, so that there are non-conscious or pre-conscious representational (or at least informational) states? We can still support the claim as follows, without making use of the appeal to moments of experience. Perceptual experience consists of a collection of (represented) qualities from diverse sources, i.e., the various senses, etc. There is no unification without something to unify, so our cognitive systems must have independently registered this information, from the various diverse inputs, before it was combined. And, in order to produce a unified, single representation of these qualities from these diverse sources, our cognitive systems must represent these various registered qualities and carry out (combinatorial) processes in order to produce the unified representation, i.e., the mind must “run through them,” i.e., perform a synthesis. And as for the “taken together,” given that the end product is a conscious representation, we can now apply the point above. In order to be aware of both A and B at a given moment, I must have a unified representation of A and B. This contemporary reconstruction abandons the reliance on moments of time that is made in the initial presentation of apprehension at A 99. But I do not think that this is any great loss, since the passage from the third section does not reiterate the points about time. What Kant is trying to establish here is that our complex experience must at least be the product of empirical combinatorial processing. He then argues there is also pure processing, with his ultimate concern being the application of the categories to create non-empirical unity. And this does not seem to require conscious moments of apprehension of isolated inputs. Let us, finally, turn to the third paragraph. The line of reasoning so far does not imply that anything but empirical synthesis underlies the unity


Chapter 6

of apprehension. But Kant now points out that we have a priori knowledge of space and time, and, we may presume, since any given experience involves a complex set of spatial relations, and since we experience the steady flow of temporal relations, he infers that this synthesis must also be carried out in a non-empirical, i.e., “pure” manner. This assumes that if a priori representations are processed empirically, then the result no longer yields a priori knowledge, which seems reasonable. So there must be some non-empirical, i.e., “pure” synthesis as well. 10 Let us first consider an example that Kant would have thought unproblematic, viz., that we know a priori that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and moreover that we know this because we see or draw lines (even just in imagery) between two points, it is obvious that the straight one is the shortest. 11 Or consider the claim that any given experienced moment will be experienced either before, or after any other experienced moment. This appears to be true a priori, and thus by the reasoning we are presently considering, there must be something non-empirical, i.e., pure, about the way we temporally order our experiences. While Kant stops the initial consideration of apprehension here, we might follow through on two points. First, what would such pure synthesis involve? Since the synthesis needed for the a priori status of spatial and temporal relations must be rule-governed ordering, this is to say that there must be a priori rules that are applied in the synthesis of apprehension. And, if we accept the results of the Metaphysical Deduction, the categories have been shown to be the (most abstract) rules of a priori combination. So we have established that experience is at least partially unified by the categories. Second, it seems reasonable to claim that we know a priori that every moment of experience will involve a unified moment of time that is part of the single time, and that every external experience will be of the single space that constitutes our world. It follows that a pure synthesis must underlie this unity, and, since every experience is temporal, every experience must be unified by the categories, which we might call the simplest transcendental deduction of the categories. (We will eventually get this line of reasoning from Kant at §26 of the B TD.) REPRODUCTION In the synthesis of reproduction section, Kant examines the one synthesis that empiricists postulate, namely association. The first, and very subtle point that is made is that association is an instance, or perhaps, a special case of the synthesis of reproduction. If A is associated with B, then thought of A brings B to mind, so this is to say that that B is reproduced as a result of thinking of A. This may seem like a quibble, but it is actually a clever insight on Kant’s part. The notion of reproduction is much

The Three Syntheses


broader than that of association. And, whereas it makes no sense to conceive of a priori or necessary association, as we see in the next paragraph, it is easy (or easy for Kant anyway) to show that there must be necessary reproduction as well as empirical reproduction. The first paragraph and the first three sentences of the second paragraph, though, provide a different line of reasoning. Kant argues that the ability to empirically reproduce, i.e., associate, in turn requires “that the appearances themselves are actually subject to such a rule, and that in the manifold of their representations an accompaniment or succession takes place according to certain rules.” The examples that follow may suggest that Kant is claiming that we must represent a coherent and relatively constant world in order to be able to make associations at all. 12 But that does not match up with the just quoted remark, nor with the conclusion drawn at the start of the next paragraph. Rather, Kant’s claim seems to be that the capacity to follow the rule of association requires a general capacity to follow rules. The examples, then, are an apparent attempt to illustrate a cognitive system that has a completely disorderly and chaotic set of experiences, in an effort to demonstrate that there would be no foothold for associations to occur. Now, it may seem that the empiricist, in particular, the non-skeptical empiricist who thinks that we empirically represent an external world of physical objects, can simply claim that the input to the cognitive system is sufficiently orderly so as to allow for associations. However, if we consider the moral that Kant draws at the start of the next paragraph, we can appreciate the point. “There must therefore be something that itself makes possible this reproduction of appearances by being the a priori ground of a necessary synthetic unity of them.” This is, of course, an allusion to the necessary unity of consciousness that will be established in the next section. And, since we already understand how that will be explained i.e., as consisting of the ordering of representations via the categories, then we can see the point that Kant is driving at here. One could not, e.g., associate cups and saucers unless one is first able to conceive of them as external objects with associated identity conditions. And, if we turn instead to the mere idea of associating sensory qualities, e.g., yellow and sweet, this in turn requires the ability to re-identify those qualities, which is an application of the first six categories. And an association of sensory qualities also requires the ability to experience them together in a single moment of time, which, Kant would be quick to point out, is the result of a synthesis of apprehension rather than of association. The starting point of empiricist epistemology will seemingly consist of informational inputs from the various senses, including (from a contemporary perspective) the two retinas and the two ears. One can then see Kant’s point that such a disparate array (“manifold”) of information requires substantial conceptualization and unification in order to in turn support the ability to create empirical associations.


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However, it may seem that his conclusion is much too strong. Why, e.g., aren’t empirical apprehension and unification sufficient? As we will see, Kant returns to this line of argument—that empirical association rests on transcendental unity—twice, under the label of “affinity,” although as we will also see, it is only in the third such passage that we finally find an argument that does have a claim to establishing the conclusion drawn here. The second sentence reminds us both that we are only dealing with appearances and specifically appearances that are determined by inner sense, which, in turn tacitly implies that we are dealing with the a priori form of inner sense, viz., time. The third sentence calls for decoding. “Now if we can demonstrate that even our purest a priori intuitions provide no cognition except insofar as they contain the sort of combination of the manifold that makes possible a thorough-going synthesis of reproduction, then this synthesis of the imagination would be grounded even prior to all experience on a priori principles and one must assume a pure transcendental synthesis of this power, which grounds even the possibility of all experience (as that which the reproducibility of the appearances necessarily presupposes).” What Kant is going to show is that there are instances of necessary reproduction. This will in turn mean that the “synthesis of the imagination,” i.e., cognitive processes that reproduce mental states, come in a pure form as well as an empirical form. Since such pure reproduction results in a priori knowledge (or, really, a priori representations—that is what the examples concern), it follows that there is “transcendental” reproduction. It is, though, again, a rather unjustified leap to infer either that this pure reproduction makes empirical association (the “thorough-going synthesis of reproduction”) possible, or that it “grounds even the possibility of all experience.” However, as we have considered in chapter 3, Kant does indeed establish the latter with the arguments in the next section, and as we will see in the next chapter, the affinity argument(s) establishes the former. So, we will examine the examples that follow to see if they show that there must be non-empirical reproduction. The first two involve thinking about—assuming the results from the Aesthetic—the a priori forms of intuition, viz., of space and of time, and the third, of a seemingly a priori object, a number. In each case he argues that reproduction is required in order to have these representations, since “if I were always to lose the preceding representations (the first parts of the line, the preceding parts of time, or the successively represented units) from my thoughts and not reproduce them when I proceed to the following ones, then no whole representation . . . could ever arise.” The examples, though, are not ideally suited to illustrating this result. First, I suggest omitting the drawing a line example. It is problematic since one might claim that as the line extends, they are maintaining the representation rather than reproducing

The Three Syntheses


the earlier parts. The second example is a little better, since to be able to represent the passage of a day, one needs to be able to reproduce representations of the earlier parts. Or, better, to conceive of the passage of a minute, which is presumably longer than our awareness of the present moment which only lasts a second or two, one must be able to reproduce representations of (at least some of) the successive “nows” during that span. So, the conceptualization of periods of time that are longer than the present moment involves reproduction. And this appears to necessarily require reproduction—someone who is unable to recall past moments cannot have the ability to think of a day or even of the passage of a few seconds. So attributing concepts such as “day” and “minute” to a person appears to entail that they have suitable reproduction abilities. I.e., if I have these temporal concepts then it cannot be a contingent matter as to whether I am able to reproduce representations of past times or not. The third example, of thinking of a number, seems to presume Kant’s view of a number that he offers several paragraphs later. As we will consider below, this appears to be that the concept of a number is the concept of a position in a sequence. But to avoid deeper issues about the nature of numbers, we can simply switch to the idea of counting. Again, it would appear that in order to conceive of the third member of a series, necessarily one must be able to reproduce representations of members one and two. It is, though, important to see that, as Kant puts it several times in the next section, the thesis is that appearances are necessarily reproducible which is not to say that, necessarily, we reproduce all of them. So various effects of experience will shape and potentially interfere with the pure processes, e.g., distraction in counting, but, nonetheless, it is necessary that we possess these non-empirical reproductive abilities. In the final paragraph, Kant links together apprehension and reproduction as “inseparably combined,” so that like pure apprehension, pure reproduction is a transcendental (i.e., a priori supporting) “ground of all cognition.” This interrelation is the idea described in the previous section of “running through and taking together,” which we now see involves reproduction to achieve the taking together part. Kant is thus leading us toward the view that the pure syntheses of apprehension and reproduction are needed for creating the necessary unity of consciousness, and thus for creating representation. He then concludes that this capacity can be called “the transcendental faculty of imagination,” which as we have noted, he understands as the general faculty of combination that thus performs both apprehension and reproduction. Or, on a functionalist reconstruction, we can simply treat “imagination” as a designation of the collection of cognitive processes that carry out these tasks. So we have established that, necessarily, there are non-empirical processes of combination and of reproduction. 13


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RECOGNITION The exposition of the synthesis of recognition begins with points that are closely related to the expositions of the previous two syntheses. The main line of argument has been that additional cognitive processes are required in addition to empiricist association. Kant now argues that recognition is required in order to have the capacity for memory (in association, or otherwise). He begins with a mathematic example, to show, as with apprehension, that there must be a pure, i.e., a priori, form of this synthesis as well as an empirical one. However, the discussion quickly shifts into very different territory. As we have seen in chapter 3, Kant argues that all concept use (conceptual recognition) requires the ability to represent the a priori unity of consciousness, which leads to the expositions of the central notions of the TD, viz., the concept of the (transcendental) object of representation and transcendental apperception. We have already examined much of the text in this section in connection with those notions. Here I will cover the remaining passages and content. First, consider the example in the first paragraph of counting. Suppose that I look at a table with a number of books on it and count, say, five books that I can simultaneously see. Kant would call this the “generation of the multitude” and it is also a “synthetic unity.” In order for me to correctly conceptualize the books as five, I must be aware that I have counted all of them, and thus, after I have counted each one, be able to recall counting it, and so I must be able to progressively recognize each book as “counted” rather than as “uncounted.” If this seems like a questionable claim it is probably because we can imagine seeing five books and immediately becoming aware that they number five. However, the point is more obvious with an example that involves a slightly larger number. But as we consider such an example, we see that more needs to be said about how the consciousness of counting works. And I think Kant gives a hint of this when he says in the next paragraph that consciousness (presumably of the whole quantity) will often be “weak, so that we connect it with the generation of the representation only in the effect, but not in the act itself, immediately.” Suppose that I am standing by a highway and counting passing cars that vanish from my view after I see them. Let’s say that I count to 100. It is clearly not possible to have a unified experience of all 100 cars. Rather, what happens is that after each counted car, I reproduce a numeral as a stand-in for the whole series. Thus, in order to get to car number 25, I don’t need to be aware separately of the previous 24 car-experiences, nor even in principle aware of them—a typical person will likely only be able to recall a few of the specific cars viewed in this kind of situation. But I do need to be able to reproduce and recognize the fact that I have already counted 24 cars, and to recognize the next one I apprehend as the 24+1, i.e., 25th car. What this suggests is that while there is apprehension, reproduction, and recognition for each

The Three Syntheses


counted item, in the end there may only be a representation of the final sum. Thus, the three-part synthesis is “connected with the generation of the representation only in the effect.” 14 It is also worth noting the remark that ends the first paragraph, “for this concept consists solely in the consciousness of the unity of the synthesis.” Apparently, the concept in question is “number.” So we have a hint of an account of numbers, namely that they are completely abstract, temporal sequences—a successive synthesis that involves recognition of each member as the successor of previous members. This would explain why Kant thinks that mathematics is essentially based on time, the a priori form of inner sense, in a manner that is analogous to geometry being essentially based on space, the a priori form of outer sense. We will skip past the material that we have analyzed in chapter 3 and focus on the example of a triangle that is offered at the end of the first paragraph of A 105: Hence we say that we cognize the object if we have effected synthetic unity in the manifold of intuition. But this is impossible if the intuition could not have been produced through a function of synthesis in accordance with a rule that makes the reproduction of the manifold a priori necessary and renders possible a concept in which [this manifold] is united. 15 Thus we think a triangle as an object by being conscious of the composition of three straight lines in accordance with a rule according to which such an intuition can always be exhibited.

The first sentence affirms the functional role account of representation. It says that we represent an object by unifying our sensations (manifold of intuition). The second sentence invokes the principle (that we have noted in chapter 3) that unity requires synthesis, and since it is conceptual unity, it must be rule-governed synthesis. The phrase “makes the reproduction of the manifold a priori necessary” I suspect refers to the idea of the schemata of a triangle. If I have that concept, and am thus able to apply it to experiences, then I must be able to generate, i.e., reproduce the features of a given experience that qualify as a triangle, and thus as he says in the next sentence, “such an intuition can always be exhibited.” 16 It is necessary that I am able to do this if I have mastered the relevant concept. 17 The point is that this concept unites every possible triangle experience, and that this unifying function is what constitutes “representing a triangle.” While this example is appealing in its simplicity, it is unusual, qua example of representation, in that a triangle is an abstract object. Now, it should be surprising that a book that attempts to explain or explain away every issue in metaphysics makes virtually no mention of the problem of universals. And I think that this deceivingly simple passage indicates why—on Kant’s view of representation, the problem vanishes! As we have considered in the previous chapter, the physical world is under-


Chapter 6

stood as a sort of projection, via the application of organizing rules to sensations, so that we cannot know the mind-independent nature of the world, but only the world as we represent it. So issues about the application of concepts are completely in the realm of the mental, i.e., on the side of representation 18 I.e., the question of how our concept—the discursive (linguistic) rule—is connected to instances of triangles, is a matter of how individual representations of triangles are unified—i.e., via the triangle schemata—and of how this schemata is connected with the concept. But these are ultimately matters for the psychologist rather than the metaphysician to explain. 19 Returning then to the final sentence, “Now this unity of rule determines every manifold, and limits it to conditions that make the unity of apperception possible, and the concept of this unity is the representation of the object = X, which I think through those predicates of a triangle.” The specific example of a triangle is now linked to the Transcendental Trinity. All experiences (“manifold”) are rule-united (by the categories), thus (conceptually) “determined” by them. And it this unity that is the content of (transcendental) apperception. 20 The concept of this unity is (identical to) the representation of the object, in general, and thus of a specific object such as a triangle. I have remarked on the subsequent paragraph in chapter 3 both in regard to the concepts as unifying rules, and in relation to a functional role approach to representation. One additional point worth noting is that the use of the term “represents” in the third sentence is a bit puzzling. I suggest that this is a poorly chosen word, given that Kant has just provided a technical, philosophical explanation of the concept of representation. What he should be trying to convey is that it can be a rule of intuitions only if, necessarily, we can reproduce sensations that count as bodies and recognize them as such, thus unifying all sensations that fall under the rule, i.e., all sensations that represent bodies. The attribution of the concept of body to someone “represents,” i.e., is constituted by, having those abilities. We have already examined most of the rest of this section in chapters 3 and 4. However, it may be useful to provide annotation for the two passages that reiterate the relations between the main concepts of the TD framework. The first is at the end of A 106, as Kant is about to begin the explanation of transcendental apperception: A transcendental ground must therefore be found for the unity of the consciousness in the syntheses of the manifold of all our intuition, hence also of the concepts of objects in general [since the concepts of an object are the categories, which are the rules for the necessary synthesis that creates the unity of consciousness], consequently also of all objects of experience, without which [i.e., without the concepts of objects in general] it would be impossible to think of any object for our intuitions [i.e., they could not represent anything without these concepts and the

The Three Syntheses


synthesis that applies them]; for the latter is nothing more than the something for which the concept expresses such a necessity of synthesis [i.e., objects are what is conceptualized by this necessary, unifying synthesis].

The second passage, at A 108, weaves transcendental apperception into the conceptual framework, and provides the clearest statement of the identity of the Transcendental Trinity: Thus the original and necessary consciousness of the identity of oneself [transcendental apperception] is at the same time a consciousness of an equally necessary unity of the synthesis of all appearances in accordance with concepts [primarily the categories] i.e., in accordance with rules [since the categories are unifying rules] that not only make them necessarily reproducible 21 but also thereby determine an object for their intuition [i.e., this synthesis according to the categories also makes mental states representational—it “gives them objects”]; the concept of something [an “object”] in which they are necessarily connected.

Having now explained all of the material in this section, I will simply note how misleading the title is. It is only really the first paragraph or two that actually discusses the synthesis of recognition, along with, to some extent, the example of the concept of a triangle. The rest of the section is actually about the necessary, conceptual unity of consciousness, and how this constitutes the Transcendental Trinity. THE “PROVISIONAL EXPLANATION” SECTION And Kant does not do much better in labeling this next section, which contains a motley of topics. It begins with some cryptic observations about unity that should have been given more detailed explanation, proceeds to complete the objective deduction of the categories, then raises two new topics, viz., affinity and the idealism of nature. It seems that at this point, Kant has abandoned the seemingly carefully structured exposition that began with the first two syntheses, and is simply running through the content he needs to introduce, largely disregarding the official topics of the headings. Thus, this title refers to only the second of the several topics here. In any case, we have already examined the Objective Deduction in chapter 4. And it will be useful to examine affinity and the remarks on nature in connection with the third section. So we will just examine the first two paragraphs here. The section begins with the claim that “[t]here is only one experience.” Presumably, Kant means that for each subject (person) there is only one experience. This is what the necessary unity of conscious amounts to. And, as the paragraph elaborates, this unity is now understood as the product of the necessary synthesis that organizes consciousness via the categories. We may also note that although Kant mentions the parallel


Chapter 6

unity of space and time, he does not mention that it is in fact the very same necessary synthesis that produces both the unity of consciousness and the unities of space and time—this is finally made clear at the end of the B TD. Perhaps he assumed that readers had already inferred this. In retrospect, an explicit explanation would have been very useful. The second paragraph is one of two passages in this section—the other is the final sentence in the fourth paragraph—which attempt to describe what mental states would be like if they were not part of the necessary, unifying synthesis. While there are three memorable phrases here, admittedly, none of them help very much. We are asked to imagine “a swarm of appearances fill[ing] up our soul without experience being able to arise from it” so that they would be “as good as nothing for us.” These would be “a blind play of representations,” “something less than a dream.” Given the reading I have developed here, I think we can easily explain what Kant is getting at, albeit in rather less poetic language. First and foremost, without the necessary synthesis, mental states would not be representational, 22 they would not represent either the world or other mental states; they would simply have no content. Now, and this I think is the real problem here, if Kant’s view is correct, then all conscious states are representational, and, since they are part of the necessary unity synthesis that constitutes representation, it seems that they are necessarily representational. So in seeking to imagine mental states not part of the unity produced by the necessary synthesis, we are trying to imagine the kind of mental states we not only never actually undergo, but that we necessarily never undergo. So it is no surprise that Kant’s metaphoric phrasings have only served to puzzle. Perhaps the best description is that such a situation would involve isolated qualia that represented nothing— no world and no self—and that could not have concepts applied to them. But we of course cannot actually coherently imagine that. 23 NOTES 1. This corresponding use of phrases, as well as the fact that both passages justify the application of the categories to objects by the view of representation, provides additional support for my claim that that the reasoning that begins here and that ends in “4” is the Objective Deduction. 2. This makes the shift to discussion of the three syntheses baffling. 3. One might think that “pure” thus just means “innate.” However, as I discuss in appendix E, Kant was very cautious—I suggest, overly cautious—about nativism. 4. It is worth noting that the terms “categories” is simply a kind of nickname for the (most abstract) pure concepts. 5. Elsewhere, Kant’s use of this term invokes the idea of freedom from causation, but this is not what he has in mind here. A cornerstone of his moral philosophy is the view that we are able to coherently postulate that we are spontaneous, i.e., free, i.e., non-deterministic agents that freely initiate our actions, which he refers to as “transcendental freedom.” But I see no reason to think that this brief mention of spontaneity is meant to invoke that notion.

The Three Syntheses


6. We will return to these points in considering the B TD, whose opening paragraphs make very similar claims. 7. Again, see Marr (1982), or any current text on vision. In the note at A 120, Kant chides psychologists for not recognizing that the imagination—and this corresponds to the contemporary idea of combinatorial processing—is a “necessary ingredient of perception.” He says that they think that the “senses [passive receptivity] do not merely afford us impressions but also put them together.” It is not unreasonable to suggest that it has taken psychology several centuries to appreciate this. 8. Van Cleve (1999), p. 86, argues that Kant’s explanation of synthesis in this passage seems to require that apprehension, and even the full three-fold synthesis, is needed in order to produce apprehension (as in the counting example discussed below), and he takes this to be a refutation of the idea of synthesis. But the solution is to see the point about co-apprehension being a combinatorial process. So the experience of an isolated sensory quality does not involve any synthesis, such experience is rather the input to syntheses, a “synopsis.” Van Cleve is equivocating on the term “apprehension,” applying it in the ordinary sense to the grasp of initial qualities, and then switching to Kant’s technical meaning, and inferring that such initial sensing must on Kant’s view involve prior sensing and “taking up,” which of course is incoherent, as the product of equivocations usually are. As we have considered in chapter 3, the central claims of the TD revolve around the unity of consciousness, which must be a product of unifying processes, viz., synthesis. Without this notion of synthesis, Kant’s view consists of the idea that we have unified representations which are not given empirically, but without processes that produce the unification, which is unintelligible. A reading that ignores or dismisses the notion of synthesis cannot make sense of the TD. 9. The experience of structure in music, e.g., melodies or cadences, may be another. Thus, to experience a melody I must both experience each note and also then experience the collective melody, the inter-related sequence of notes. 10. I do not think that this implies that this must be psychologically isolated processes of pure synthesis. Thus, if there are processes that do indeed structure sensory experience according to the categories, they may well be integrated with our other empirical sensory processes. All that seems to be required is that we can reconstruct the result as an application of nothing but a priori rules, i.e., we can abstract this out of what may in actuality be more complicated processing. 11. I think it can reasonably be maintained that this is an a priori truth about how we experience points and lines (on a flat surface), even though it is not, as Kant thought, an a priori geometric truth. 12. As, e.g., Westphal (2004), chapter 3 maintains. I discuss his view in the next chapter in connection with affinity. 13. Overall, the arguments and examples in this section are not particularly strong, which is perhaps why this material is not repeated in the B TD. But they do at least serve the apparent main purpose of moving the reader away from the austere Humean/empiricist model of cognition which consists of nothing but empirical associations of sensory states towards an outlook that involves substantial commitments to “pure” (non-empirical) processing. 14. However, if Kant’s claim that our consciousness may be “weak” means that he thinks that we must have some recollection, albeit very faint, of each counted item, then this is at best highly questionable. And it is plainly false (and I do not think that Kant is actually suggesting this) that my judgment that I have counted 100 cars somehow involves a representation of all of them together. 15. I use Kemp Smith’s translation for the last part of this sentence from “a priori” on, together with my parenthetic indication of the reference of the pronoun. 16. “Thus I construct a triangle by exhibiting an object corresponding to this concept, either through mere imagination, in pure intuition, or on paper, in empirical intuition . . .” (A 713/B 741).


Chapter 6

17. Guyer (1987), p. 437 fn. 21, accuses Kant of systematically committing the fallacy of inferring from “necessarily, if p then q” to “if necessarily p, then necessarily q,” and this might be one of the instances he has in mind. But I think, properly understood, this is rather a case of failing to distinguish “necessarily if p then q” and “if p, then necessarily q.” But both are true here, i.e., it is necessary that if I have the concept “triangle,” then I am able to reproduce representations of what qualify as triangleexperiences. And, if I have the concept “triangle,” it is necessary that I am able to reproduce representations of what qualify as triangle-experiences. (I will mention Guyer’s concern again in connection with a similar passage later in the A TD.) 18. So Kant is a conceptualist about abstract objects, and properties, but the usual issue for conceptualist, viz., the question of what underlies the application of concepts to physical objects, does not arise for him since he is also a conceptualist about physical objects. 19. Although this is not to say that it will be easy to explain. Kant characterizes the concept-schema connection as “a hidden art in the depths of the human soul, whose true operations we can discern from nature and lay unveiled before our eyes only with difficulty.” (A 141/B 180–1). 20. Although this mention of the unity of apperception is oddly out of place, since Kant has not yet exposited transcendental apperception. This suggests that he may have added this example in a revision. And perhaps it was only after a reader’s appeal for clarification, given Kant’s negative attitude toward examples—see A xviii-xix. If there was such an insertion, it probably also included the subsequent paragraph with the example of the concept of “body,” which veers away from the main line of investigation. 21. See the note on Kant’s use of this phrase, in expanded form at A 123, in the next chapter. 22. As I note in chapter 3, unfortunately Kant lacked a term such as “mental state” that allows us to abstract away from such states’ content (even if all mental states do have content). So in the second paragraph he is stuck trying to depict “representations” that don’t represent anything. 23. I suggest that if Kant is correct, the synthesis that applies the categories is so ubiquitous that we simply overlook it.

SEVEN The Connected Deduction

In this chapter we will complete our examination of the A TD by expositing the third section, which takes on the faculty coordination problem. But we will begin by looking at the discussion of “affinity” in the third to last paragraph of the “Provisional Explanation” section. AFFINITY After completing his presentation of the Transcendental Trinity, which results in the Objective Deduction, i.e., the demonstration of the objective validity of the categories for both experiences and all represented objects, Kant then sketches a criticism of the psychology of “radical,” i.e., Humean, empiricism. The radical empiricist maintains that the only source of knowledge of the world is the process of association, which is driven by experience. Representations that are not given immediately by experience are built via association from data given in experience. Kant does not actually mention Hume, but the target is fairly apparent, given the focus on association and on laws in Kant’s discussion. This reasoning concerning “affinity” is very similar to the argument that recognition requires stable reproductive synthesis that we have examined above. And Kant returns to the issue of affinity in (what I will call) the Connected TD, strengthening and clarifying the argument. It will thus be useful to examine both of the affinity passages together. In the first passage (A 112–13), Kant begins with two sentences that decry Hume’s treatment of causation. He tells us that any attempt at explaining the “pure concepts of understanding” from an empirical origin are “vain and futile.” He has just concluded his exposition of the main framework of the deduction, in which the categories (“pure concepts”) are explained as a priori organizing (synthesis) rules for experi101


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ences. So of course there can be no empirical explanation of such a priori rules. He then says that he “will not mention” that the concept of causation involves necessity. That is, the argument that follows does not turn on the disagreement between Kant and Hume over this point. He then continues: But that empirical rule of association, which one must assume throughout if one says that everything in the series of occurrences stands under rules according to which nothing happens that is not preceded by something upon which it always follows—on what, I ask, does this, as a law of nature, rest, and how is this association possible?

So the question is, what are the requirements for a cognitive system that operates via a rule of association? Kant then describes and labels the condition that he thinks is problematic for the empiricist: The ground of the possibility of the association of the manifold, insofar as it lies in the object, is called the affinity of the manifold. I ask, therefore, how do you make the thoroughgoing affinity of the appearances (by means of which they stand under constant laws and must belong under them) comprehensible to ourselves?

To understand this passage, first recall that the “manifold” is the collection of sensory qualities, i.e., the array of empirically given sense data. And by the (somewhat unfortunately chosen) phrase “as it lies in the object,” Kant is indicating that we are talking about the representations themselves, qua psychological states, not what they represent. 1 So the explanatory problem is, what gives the empiricists’ array of sensory qualities the capacity to fall under constant psychological laws, in particular, the law of association? I will interject that this last clause makes a somewhat stronger claim than Kant needs—he is anticipating his explanation in the next paragraph of how his system allows for and, indeed, requires necessary psychological rules (“laws”). However, the empiricist, who denies necessity altogether, might object that the principle of association, although it is a universal psychological rule, is simply that, and not a necessary law. And Kant seems to grant that in the next paragraph. So the previous remark could well have been, how can you explain the affinity of appearances falling under universal rules? It is important to see that the empiricist must agree that association is such a universal rule. Otherwise, no psychological explanation of anything is possible, and certainly not the attempted explanation of the cause-effect association. Kant has already indicated this in the paragraph that begins the discussion of the synthesis of reproduction (A 100) where he makes the point that association must rest on a universal rule of reproduction. If, for instance, X is associated with Y, so that the thought of X brings Y to mind, then it must be that Y is capable of regular recall, and

The Connected Deduction


thus universally rule-governed recall. As his many examples in that paragraph illustrate, a cognitive system that does not uniformly reproduce representations cannot be said to have associations. In the next paragraph (of A 112–13) Kant notes how this affinity (and thus, associability) of sensations is easily explained within his framework. He briefly retraces part of the TD, from the idea of being a representation to being part of the necessary unity of consciousness (“numerical identity”) to transcendental apperception—the awareness of this identity, and then to the result that this unity is the product of a synthesis—of apprehension, since we are here concerned with empirical input—according to “a priori conditions” (i.e., the categories, which he does not actually mention). This is to say that appearances are necessarily subject to the categories as rules of synthesis. The categories are thus the universal, unifying conditions that all representation must be “in accord” with. Since these conditions are universal Kant labels them “rules” and since they are necessary, the label is upgraded to “laws.” So since consciousness is necessarily united by unifying rules, it follows that all appearances must be part of this “transcendental” (necessary/a priori supporting) affinity. It of course follows that such a cognitive system is also potentially capable of following a (universal) rule of empirically associating any appearances, so as he says, the empirical affinity is a consequence of the transcendental. But we have still not seen why the empiricist must accept Kant’s answer, i.e., why is the radical empiricist unable to explain affinity? This is made clear when Kant returns to the topic of affinity at A 121–22. The first sentence states that in order to generally be able to associate representations (imagination has now been characterized as the faculty of combination), there must be some objective “ground” that insures that they “fit into a connection of human cognitions.” Kant then makes his main argument: For even though we had the faculty for associating perceptions, it would still remain in itself entirely undetermined and contingent whether they were also associable; and in case they were not, a multitude of perceptions and even an entire sensibility would be possible in which much empirical consciousness would be encountered in my mind, but separated, and without belonging to one consciousness of myself, which however, is impossible.

The reasoning here appears to be a reductio aimed at proving that all experiences in a given consciousness must necessarily have an empirical affinity, i.e., be capable of being subject to universal empirical psychological rules such as the law of association. 2 The Humean, who denies that there is any necessary structure for consciousness needs to claim that for a given consciousness, the associability (empirical affinity) of impressions holds contingently but not necessarily. So, presumably, since “not neces-


Chapter 7

sary” entails “possibly not,” Kant says that this implies that it would be possible for a given consciousness to have “separated” experiences. To see why he draws this inference, note that the association of X and Y requires the co-experience or co-representability of X and Y. Otherwise, there is no reason to claim that they are associated—if I think X and then you think Y, this is not an association of XY. But, Kant concludes, it is “impossible” for a consciousness to undergo multiple but separate experiences, i.e., experiences that are not capable of co-representation. While he does not elaborate, I suggest that such separateness would be a basis for concluding that we are in fact talking about multiple consciousnesses rather than a single consciousness. If I experience X and I experience Y, then it follows that I have experienced both X and Y, and thus, I must be able to potentially represent XY. So it seems that, necessarily, multiple experiences in the same consciousness, e.g., associated experiences, are co-representable. To help underscore the argument, note that a dominant line of theory in contemporary psychology maintains that there are subsystems of the brain that are informationally isolated (“encapsulated”). Representations in discrete subsystems will not be subject to association, or to any other joint computation process. If we ask, then, if two representations, A and B, are associable, an appeal to the fact that the brain has many other associations is irrelevant. A and B must both be part of unified, rather than discrete processes in order to be possibly associable at all. If we switch to the idea of conscious representations, it may seem that if A and B are both part of the same conscious mind, if the same subject is conscious of both A and B, then they are thereby associable. But that begs the question. One of the main lines of inquiry in the TD is the analysis and explanation of the unity of consciousness—how it is possible to have unified consciousness. The empiricist does not get this for free, and indeed, seemingly cannot explain the requisite unity at all. Discrete, isolated perceptual qualia do not add up to a unified consciousness—that is the upshot of the passage we have just examined. Thus, the ability to have empirical associations at all requires something more, and the seemingly only available explanation is Kantian transcendental idealist affinity. 3 So empirical affinity is a necessary requirement of any consciousness that is conceived along Humean lines as a mere contingent bundle of associable impressions. But the Humean has no basis for explaining the necessity of affinity, since she denies that there is any necessity or necessary unity to consciousness. Kant then proceeds to explain how on his view the unity of apperception guarantees the requisite affinity. To put it a bit more clearly than he does, any two pair of my representations will be experienced, via transcendental apperception, as part of necessarily unified consciousness. As such, they will necessarily be inter-related in lawful ways (by the categories). So, since my representations are necessarily inter-related, this in turn allows for the thesis that there is an addi-

The Connected Deduction


tional psychological law (or rule) that allows any representations to be empirically associated. Thus, the transcendental unity of consciousness explains the empirical affinity of association. Notice what an incredible reply to Hume these lines of reasoning provide. Hume claims that our judgments about causation do not involve any justifiable attributions of necessary connections between causes and effects but are merely the result of empirical associations. However, Kant argues, the general availability of such associations presupposes the necessary unity of consciousness, which, in turn, is the result of synthesis according to the categories, including causation and necessity. So the empiricist rule of association presupposes that which Hume sought to explain away via appeal to that rule. (The discussion of “nature” in the final paragraph of the second section previews points that are made at the end of the Connected Deduction, which we will consider below.) THE CONNECTED DEDUCTION: FIRST PART The third section purports to present a unified and connected version of the TD material. What we might expect is a codified version of the fundamental framework of unity, representation and apperception, together with the resultant objective validity of the categories. But instead, there is focus on the faculties and thus faculty coordination problem. So this is the “subjective,” i.e., psychological side of the TD project. 4 The first two paragraphs introduce the material, not by mentioning the principle faculties, viz., sensibility and the understanding, but again, as in A 94, by mentioning the trio of psychological processes that underlie the cognitive system, viz., sense, imaginations and apperception. Kant specifies the empirical function of each of these cognitive components, although the first is oddly worded, “sense represents the appearances empirically,” which presumably means roughly that “the empirical portion of the representation of objects is from sensory input.” He then proceeds to list the corresponding a priori aspects of each of these functions that “ground” the empirical process, i.e., the necessary framework or necessary processes that underlies the empirical ones. As I have suggested in chapter 3, I do not think that this is to say that there are two separate processes, empirical consciousness, and a priori apperception. Rather, I believe that Kant is best understood as claiming that all selfawareness involves an a priori awareness of the identity of experience along with the awareness of one’s current experiences of objects and thoughts, which is the empirical part. The final phrase of the first paragraph is actually something new. Kant tells us that (empirical) apperception is the “empirical consciousness of the identity of these reproductive representations with the appear-


Chapter 7

ances through which they were given, hence in recognition.” Presumably, this primarily concerns the re-identification of ordinary objects. This is the sort of explanation of the empirical synthesis of conceptual recognition that we might have expected in section 3, where instead Kant shifts to expounding the Transcendental Trinity. (So this passage at least confirms that, as we might expect, there is an empirical version of conceptual recognition as well as the a priori conceptual unity of consciousness.) The subsequent twelve paragraphs form what I label “the connected version” of the TD. Kant here carries out the task set out in A 90/B 122–23, namely to show that sensible intuitions “must accord with the conditions that the understanding requires for the synthetic unity of thinking.” This is thus the faculty coordination problem. And as I have discussed in chapter 4, this will not only involve arguments to show that intuitions do so accord, but, in the process, Kant will provide psychological explanations that fill out the new framework that is a substantial enhancement of associationist empiricism. We can thus understand this as a “subjective” path through the psychological faculties, one that is philosophically guided, i.e., that exhibits their necessary connections and that thus achieves the epistemic result of demonstrating that the categories justifiably apply to all experiences. This is accomplished from two angles: the first four paragraphs begin with transcendental apperception, and result in the conclusion that “appearances have a necessary relation to the understanding” (A 119). The next seven paragraphs start with the idea of empirical sensations; Kant proceeds to demonstrate their necessary relationship to the unity of apperception. The final paragraph summarizes these connections and then notes that the categories are the rules that underlie the necessary unity that has been exposited. We will work through these passages in the next two sections. But before proceeding, we may well ask why Kant undertakes this bidirectional approach. I see no textual basis for an answer, yet the question is worth reflection, since as we see, the B deduction retains this same broad structure. I suggest two possible, and not mutually exclusive, explanations. First, Kant is establishing the necessity of synthesis via the categories both for consciousness in general and for sense experience. While the truth of the former entails the truth of the latter, since experience is obviously conscious, it greatly strengthens support for the framework that he is presenting if it can be shown independently, by beginning from the idea of empirical sensation, that this necessary unity is required. 5 Second, I suggest that the second half is needed in order to tie together the investigations in the first two syntheses sections, where Kant argues that our psychologies must involve more than what the associationist empiricist postulates. So, in both parts combined, we have both an explanatory review of the new Kantian psychological components and their interrelations and also a line of argument intended to show that the

The Connected Deduction


Lockean/Humean cognitive system must be “upgraded” to include the additional “transcendental” aspects. Both considerations support Kant’s epistemological conclusion vis-à-vis the faculties, i.e., that the categories (of the understanding) justifiably apply to experiences in sensibility. 6 Kant begins the first half of the Connected TD by mentioning transcendental apperception, and we might perhaps expect what follows to be an argument for it. But I think the rest of the paragraph is best read as an explanation, in effect, a reminder explanation of two of the primary notions that he has previously explained and justified—apperception and unity. So this immediately makes it clear that this is not the primary philosophical project of the Objective Deduction, but is rather the secondary, subjective (psychological) side of the investigation. He starts by making the assertion that intuitions have to be “taken up” into general consciousness in order to become cognitions, i.e., be subject to judgment. The third sentence connects transcendental apperception with any such representations, since “we are conscious a priori of the thoroughgoing identity of ourselves with regard to all representations that can ever belong to our cognition.” The parenthetic explanation of this is that a representation can “represent something in me” only because it belongs “with all the others [i.e., other representations] in one consciousness, thus they must at least be capable of being connected to it.” This is, perhaps, a very brief and thus extremely obscure gesture at the functional role view of representation, and of the identity with the necessary unity of consciousness. If a mental state represents something, then it does so because it has been subject to the categories, which also serve to create the necessary, a priori unity of consciousness. But what really matters here is just the unity aspect. If I, say, see an apple, then that experience will be connected, first of all, with any other representations I am undergoing at the moment, e.g., seeing an orange. Also, for any other representational state I have been aware of undergoing, X, I could in principle think that I’ve been aware of both an apple and X. If this were not the case, then they would not both be representations in one particular consciousness, viz., in my consciousness. So, a representation’s being conscious places it within the unity of consciousness, since transcendental/a priori self-awareness unifies it as well as all other conscious states. The next sentence designates this a “transcendental principle,” which is to say that it is a principle that underlies a priori knowledge, which in turn is to say that our (synthetic) a priori knowledge is a result of this unity of consciousness. Kant expands on the principle in the final sentence. We are reminded that unity is synthetic, which is to say it is not given, but is the result of combination. Thus this general a priori unity of consciousness, and thus of sensory intuitions in particular, entails that all our sensory representations (the “manifold”) are part of this synthetic unity.


Chapter 7

The principle is not explicitly stated in the main text, but is in the note at A 117 where Kant tells us that: “the synthetic proposition that every different empirical consciousness must be combined into a single self-consciousness is the absolutely first and synthetic principle of our thinking in general” (the latter emphasis mine). Guyer (1987), pp. 134ff. points out a problem here, since Kant seemingly mentions the same principle in a parallel passage in the B TD (B 135). But there, he says it is analytic. The solution, which I think Allison (2004), p. 167, correctly detects, is that they are in fact different principles. (Although my following explanation of the principles and why they differ is very different from Allison’s). I will first suggest an explicit formulation of the B version, analytic principle: necessarily, if X is a representation that is part of my consciousness, then I am aware of X in relation to the necessary unity of conscious states. This principle is analytic, since being part of the apperceived unity is Kant’s analysis of what “my consciousness” consists in, or, equivalently, what “I” (or “I think”) consists in—as he indicates in the note at A 117, and also explains in §16 of the B TD. That is, this is a conceptual analysis of the concept “my consciousness.” And here, we are at the heart of the Transcendental Trinity—the principle in question is the identity that connects a priori “self”-awareness with the independently justifiable necessary, synthetic unity of consciousness. On the other hand, the principle in the A version is an application of that identity. If conscious (“self”) awareness = awareness of the necessary unity of consciousness, then it follows that all empirical consciousness, i.e., awareness of any empirical representation, must be part of, or combined into, this unified “self”-awareness. The A (first) principle is a psychological description of what must be the case given the analytic principle. But why should Kant have two first principles? And why should he begin here with a synthetic one? I think the answer is that the passage we are looking at is the start of the treatment of the faculty coordination problem, thus, the Subjective, i.e., psychological Deduction. So the first principle for that investigation is, not surprisingly, psychological. On the other hand, as we will see in chapter 8, the passage that discusses the analytic first principle is a re-presentation of the Objective Deduction, i.e., of the Transcendental Trinity. So an appreciation of the two different projects explains why Kant would seemingly take two different principles as the fundamental starting point. 7 So, we can understand this first paragraph, explanatory details aside, as simply involving the move from the notion of transcendental apperception, viz., the awareness of the represented unity of consciousness, to the corresponding notion of synthetic unity of consciousness, which according to this principle is what this unity consists in. The lengthy, very clearly written footnote at the bottom of the page slightly expands the explanation: any representation is connected with possible empirical consciousness, but all empirical consciousness is nec-

The Connected Deduction


essarily connected with transcendental apperception. Thus, if I have a representation of a cup of coffee, I will (probably) experience it along with some set of other representations—a combined “manifold” of empirical sensations, e.g., a location of the cup, e.g., a table that it is resting on, etc. But whatever those sensations are, and however they are combined, they must fall under the general a priori unity of all consciousness. And Kant also explains here for the first time in the TD that it is this unity of consciousness that “grounds” the synthetic a priori judgments that are the main object of investigation in the first half of the Critique. The second to last sentence explains that the meaning of “I” just is this transcendental unity. The final remark is that “it does not matter here whether this representation [“I”] be clear (in empirical consciousness) or obscure, even whether it be actual.” The first point is easy enough to understand: whatever other empirical meaning each of us attaches to “I,” it has no bearing on this connection to a priori unity. 8 The second point about the representation “I” not even needing to be actual should apparently be understood as follows: the represented unity that constitutes transcendental apperception need not be associated with a corresponding term. That unifying process (to use a contemporary term) must be present in all consciousness, and in turn this allows for a functional role (“logical form”) that relates a term to all such inter-related (empirical) conscious states, as in (to anticipate the B TD) being able to attach “I think” to any of my representations. But even if no such term is ever adopted, the unifying processes are still occurring, and the unlabeled unity is still represented. The following two paragraphs make some fairly obvious points, although due to the complexity of their wording it may seem that Kant is introducing something substantial. But all that he is saying is that, given that there is a synthetic unity of consciousness, there must be a synthesis—i.e., a mental process (or set of processes)—that produces this unity. And since the unity is necessary and a priori, it follows that this process must also be necessary and a priori. Proceeding sentence by sentence, Kant first remarks that a synthetic unity presupposes a synthesis, which is to say that a combination of representations requires a combinatorial process to produce this result. 9 He then points out that this process of synthesis must be a priori. This obviously follows, since a merely empirical synthesis could not produce a necessary unity. (Although in keeping with his terminology, he really should have termed it a “pure” synthesis.) Kant then refers to the “synthesis of the imagination,” since the imagination is the faculty of combination, i.e., synthesis. To say that “the transcendental unity of apperception is related to the pure synthesis of the imagination” is thus to say that a priori self-awareness requires, and is thus related to, a process of a priori combination (or, better, ordering), i.e., a process that applies a priori rules (concepts). And to say that it is “an a priori condition of the possibility of all composition of the manifold


Chapter 7

in cognition” is to say that this a priori ordering is the fundamental framework that underlies all other structures and relations of conscious states. We are then told that this cannot be “reproductive synthesis,” i.e., empiricist association, since that is empirical rather than a priori. So this must be a “productive” synthesis, i.e., something the mind imposes on consciousness and, in particular, experience, as opposed to being something drawn from experience. The final sentence summarizes these remarks with the phrase “necessary unity of the pure (productive) synthesis of the imagination.” Kant tells us that it is “prior” to apperception, meaning logically prior, i.e., required for apperception, which is obvious since apperception is awareness of the unity that this process creates. The point, once we cut through all of the adjectives, is simply that this synthesis is “the ground of the possibility of all cognition, especially that of experience,” i.e., is a necessary and fundamental ingredient of all consciousness, and, in particular, of all empirical representations. The subsequent paragraph adds a relatively simple observation with, again, regrettably complex wording. The first half of the first sentence explains that a synthesis is called “transcendental” if it “concerns nothing but the connection of the manifold a priori.” That is, if it produces an a priori (knowable) connection, it is “transcendental,” since the transcendental is that which grounds the a priori. And, the unifying synthesis under consideration is indeed transcendental, since it is “represented as necessary a priori in relation to” (or, better, just “in”) “the original, [i.e., non-empirical] unity of apperception.” So, again, since the unity is what underlies, or really constitutes, the necessary, a priori identity of consciousness, it is “transcendental.” Kant then says that since the latter— and I take it this means the unity of apperception—”is the ground of the possibility of all cognitions”—this is what he explained two paragraphs earlier—it follows that the “transcendental unity of the synthesis of the imagination”—the unity produced by the unifying processes just discussed—”is the pure form of all possible cognition.” So, to restate the content of these two paragraphs much more simply: since there is a necessary unity of all conscious states, there must be nonempirical cognitive processes that create this unity. And any cognition will be subject to the forms (or structure) that these unifying processes create. Since we know a priori that this unity must exist, we know a priori that any representation, including all cognitions (judgments), will be subject to this formal unity. Kant’s final remark that “through which, therefore, all objects of possible experience must be represented a priori” is at best an obscure phrasing. What he is apparently saying is that we thus know, a priori, that anything (object) we represent will be subject to this form, viz., that the a priori form of experience will be the a priori form of anything experience represents. This is a result of the identity of the necessary unity of consciousness and representation: anything we are able to represent is (nec-

The Connected Deduction


essarily) represented via the functional roles that create content, and that also constitute the unifying form in question. So we know, necessarily and a priori, that anything we represent will be subject to this form. (A reminder explanation of Kant’s view of representation would, of course, have been helpful). The next paragraph opens with a puzzling statement: The unity of apperception in relation to the synthesis of the imagination is the understanding, and this very same unity, in relation to the transcendental synthesis of the imagination, is the pure understanding.

What can it mean to say that unity “in relation” to a process by one faculty, is another faculty? The answer comes from noting that the understanding is the faculty of concepts (as well as their application, in judgments). So, I suggest, the only way to make sense of this remark is to read Kant as telling us that the unity in question is conceptual, rule-governed unity, i.e., that the imagination’s synthesis is an application of concepts. Once we understand this, the next few remarks follow obviously: since the transcendental synthesis is a priori, i.e., “pure,” i.e., non-empirical, the resultant unity is “pure,” which is to say that it is the application of a priori concepts. And since the categories have been previously delimited as the a priori concepts that underlie all judgment, it follows that all consciousness and, in particular, all appearances are structured according to the categories. Thus, we may infer that the formal structure that we represent in all experience is a structure that is based on the categories. Kant concludes by stating the conclusion in terms of faculty psychology, viz., that “appearances have a necessary relation to the understanding,” which is to say that all experience is necessarily conceptual. But really the main idea is that the categories have a necessary relation to all appearances, and in particular, that since appearances involve a necessary synthesis—a structuring according to the categories—necessarily, the categories apply to all appearances. 10 This is, then the intended goal of the faculty coordination problem: to show that the unifying conditions of the understanding must also apply to (sensibility’s) intuitions. So the follow-through reasoning is clear, but what is the basis for the assertion that the unity in question is conceptual unity? Here we must look back at the initial exposition of the unity of consciousness. At A 105 the unity of consciousness is identified with the concept of an object of representation, and since concepts are, or have, unifying rules, it follows that there must be a rule, or rules for determining the application of this concept. Since this concept (of representation) has been identified with this unity, the rules that constitute this concept must thus be the rules of synthesis that produce this unity. So the unity in question, as Kant here puts it, is “unity of rule,” i.e., conceptual unity. Thus, since it is conceptual unity, and since the understanding is the faculty of concepts, it must be


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that the imagination carries out the synthesis in question by drawing on (conceptual) elements from the understanding, viz., the categories. 11 Notice too that since the categories have been introduced in relation to judgments, and since, for Kant, all knowledge, including knowledge of experience, is a matter of judgment, it should follow that judgments about experiences apply to the categories. But there is no actual mention of judgments here. As we will see, this scant treatment of judgment is remedied in the parallel passages in the B rewrite. What has thus happened in this first half of the connected version of the TD is that, beginning from transcendental apperception, we have proceeded to necessary unity, and then to the idea that this unity is the result of a synthesis and that this synthesis involves the categories. So we have traced a route through the conceptual framework that has been established in the preliminary exposition, thus explaining how the categories are necessary for any experience. The explanation is primarily psychological but also has the epistemic consequence of showing that experience is necessarily structured according to the categories, thus indicating their validity, where this epistemic consequence derives from the necessary connections between these psychological notions. However, there are no arguments for these notions or their necessary connections, this is just explanation. The supporting reasoning that establishes this framework, as we have seen, is contained in the preliminary exposition that establishes the Transcendental Trinity. So those who would read this part of the connected deduction as an argument for the validity of the categories will find nothing but a frustrating string of assumptions on Kant’s part. But given the reading I have developed above, it seems reasonable to understand the earlier, preliminary explanation as the justification of the TD framework, and this first half of the connected presentation as an amplifying explanation of that framework—one that addresses the details of the interrelation of the faculties. It is rather puzzling that the concept of the transcendental object, arguably the most central notion in the framework—the notion that establishes both the conceptual aspect of the unifying synthesis and that yields the objective validity of the categories, in that they necessarily apply to anything we can represent as external—is wholly absent from the Connected TD. The only explanation I can give is that the Connected TD really is primarily psychological, i.e., it is an explanation of the mental faculties and processes that underlie consciousness, and thus does not actually concern the objects that experience represent. However, as we have noted, it does seem that the invocation to the conceptual nature of the unity of apperception rests on what is established in the identification of necessary unity and representation, viz., that the unity is a matter of the concept of an object. So, again, it seems that a reminder of that result would have been appropriate here.

The Connected Deduction


THE CONNECTED DEDUCTION: SECOND PART Kant proceeds to again demonstrate that the a priori rules of the understanding—i.e., the categories—necessarily apply to appearances, this time from the idea of empirical input. 12 The path that is traced is from the notion of appearances to (empirical) apprehension, then to association and reproduction, and these notions are then connected to transcendental apperception via the concept of affinity. Kant concludes this portion of the TD with a discussion of the role of the imagination in experience, and then finally reintroduces the categories. (Note that we have already considered the discussion of apprehension, imagination, and images, in considering apprehension in chapter 5, and we have examined the argument concerning affinity at the start of the present chapter.) Kant begins by stating that “the first thing that is given to us is appearance, which if it is combined with consciousness is called perception.” This supports my reading of the term “appearance” from chapter 2, namely as information about how empirical stimulations, i.e., sensory “input” information. He then parenthetically argues that appearances must “stand in relation” to “an at least possible consciousness,” since otherwise “appearance could never become an object of cognition for us and would therefore be nothing for us,” i.e., if a (supposed) representation were completely unconscious, then we could not have any knowledge of its existence—we would not cognize that we had such a representational “object.” Further, since such a purported non-conscious representation “has no objective reality in itself and exists only in cognition, it would be nothing at all.” This latter claim amounts to an assertion of a dualistic view of consciousness, viz., to be a mental state is to be a state of consciousness, or somehow connected to consciousness. By contrast, those who hold a physicalist view of cognition can allow that there is sensory information that is registered and even elaborately processed, but that is not available to consciousness, for instance, in so-called “blindsight.” Likewise, a dualist who believes that there are unconscious mental states could allow that there are non-conscious representations. However, this seems to me to not be a particularly important issue here, if we delimit the project as an effort to show that the categories apply to conscious experiences, which is, after all, how Hume and the empiricists characterized (possible) knowledge. The slightly refined point can then be made that sensory information (“appearances”) that are not somehow related to possible consciousness are thus irrelevant to conscious experience. The subsequent assertion that “perceptions by themselves are encountered dispersed and separated in the mind” supports the interpretation that Kant thought that we can have conscious awareness of non-combined individual elements of the manifold—as we have considered in regard to the synthesis of apprehension in the previous chapter—since


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otherwise, the idea of a synthesis or combination as an activity of the mind would make no sense, for there would then not be anything to operate on. We also again see the supposition that the input to the cognitive system, i.e., “sense,” consists of a “manifold” of completely nonconnected, non-structured elements. This appears to follow from the idea that sensory processing begins from the mind’s grasp of individual qualities. This might potentially seem like an arbitrary, and perhaps dubious assumption on Kant’s part, but it seems acceptable for the following reasons. First, since the main purpose of the TD is to establish, contrary to Humean associationism, that experience involves necessary conceptual structure, and since Hume also assumes that perception begins with isolated sensory data, it is reasonable for Kant to make a similar assumption, thus engaging the view he is criticizing and replacing. Second, even though contemporary cognitive science might determine that initial sensory input involves some structure, as we have also noted previously, in regard to contemporary visual science, it is also clear that the input is hugely lacking in structure. And third, input from the various senses, including the two retinas, needs to be integrated. It is thus apparent that the initial input to our perceptual systems does not contain sufficient information to constitute an objective representation of the world, or really any representation at all, and that a vast amount of computation (“synthesis”) is necessary in order to produce this representation. Thus, even a modified conception of the sensory manifold that allows some input structure will still suffice to support Kant’s subsequent points. Kant’s first claim, then, repeats the point made at A 99, that the manifold requires a synthesis of the imagination in order to achieve apprehension, i.e., simultaneous awareness of various sensory qualities. In this passage, however, he turns to empirical psychology, describing apprehension as bringing the manifold “into an image,” which is presumably to say, a unified sensory (e.g., visual) representation. In the next paragraph he raises the point from A 100–1 that the unity of appearances in general requires processes of reproduction as well as apprehension, now applying this point to the empirical process of generating an image. So far then, all that has been shown is that perception requires at least (the imagination’s) empirical syntheses of apprehension and reproduction. (He also notes that empirically rule-governed reproduction is association.) Having established the need for these two (or three) empirical syntheses in perception, Kant then invokes the affinity argument that we have considered above, namely that in order to have the contingent possibility of association of any particular representations, there must necessarily be the possibility of association (or for that matter, other empirical syntheses) between any representations. But since there must be an explanation for this necessary affinity, and the empiricist lacks one, Kant invokes transcendental apperception, which explains the a priori necessary structure of consciousness in general, and thus is able to account for the law-

The Connected Deduction


like nature of the possibility of association, viz., any of my representations can potentially be associated since they are part of the mental states that I represent as necessarily unified in every moment of (my) consciousness. So, when Kant says that “we cannot encounter this anywhere except in [transcendental apperception],” this appears to again be an inference to the best explanation: he can explain affinity, empiricists cannot, and no one else has ever offered any other explanation either. After explaining affinity as the consequence of necessary, a priori unity and apperception, viz., the objective ground of lawful connection of representations, Kant concludes the paragraph by referring to the unity as “objectively necessary,” and in the next short paragraph he refers to this as “objective unity.” These uses of “objectivity” are meant to contrast with the subjective, i.e., psychologically arbitrary nature of association. This may seem to differ from the early discussion in the preliminary exposition where “objective” is used in connection with the idea of giving thoughts objects. However, since thoughts are given objects through this necessary unity, for Kant, both senses of being objective are achieved in the same way: thoughts are unified by the necessary syntheses which embody non-empirical, i.e., non-subjective, rules that also result in those representations having content—having objects—and thus representing an objective world. Finally, we may also note that this paragraph (on affinity) is the only one in the Connected TD that contains an argument—and a new argument at that—as opposed to offering explanations that apply the notions that have been exposited and justified in the preliminary exposition. And even that topic was initially introduced in the previous section. So what we have here is not a deductive justification of the categories so much as a set of philosophically driven psychological explanations that establish and clarify the interrelation of the understanding’s categories to appearances. The next four paragraphs gradually close the second half of the Connected TD. Appearances have now been shown to be necessarily connected to the transcendental unity of apperception, and are thus subject to all that the latter involves. While I will discuss a number of remarks in these passages, it is important to see that the rest of this section does not introduce any new content but merely elaborates what has been established. All the conceptual and psychological connections have been drawn and it remains to reflect on the results. Kant proceeds in the next two paragraphs (beginning with “[t]he objective unity”) to connect apperception, as well as affinity, with the productive, transcendental synthesis of the imagination, thus effectively intersecting with the first half of the Connected TD. 13 The last phrase in the first paragraph, though, is rather annoyingly unclear: “for without them no concepts of objects at all would converge on experience.” I presume that Kant is not talking about the categories—


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the “concept(s) of objects,” but rather reminding us of the argument that we examined in chapter 3, namely that the necessary (i.e., law-governed) unity of consciousness is required for the application of any empirical concept to experience. The next paragraph is probably the most poorly worded in this section. I think that Kant is making a fairly simple point as part of a transition to finally explicitly introducing the categories. In order for the pure imagination to be able to produce a priori self-awareness, it must apply a priori conceptual rules (the categories), and this allows the understanding (the intellect, the conceptual) to be connected with the sensible. The first sentence, which unfortunately makes transcendental apperception seem like Cartesian self-awareness, mentions the pure concept “I,” which is the awareness of the necessary unity of consciousness. Thus, we are aware of any representation only in relation (“correlation”) to transcendental apperception. Kant then tries to further explain it by drawing a parallel with the a priori form of all intuition, time. The second sentence tells us that transcendental apperception “must be added to the pure imagination in order to make its function intellectual.” It is of course difficult to make sense of “adding” one type of psychological process to another. My suggestion is that Kant is simply telling us that in addition to the pure synthesis of imagination, which as he illustrates can reproduce a priori types of figures such as triangle shapes, we must also acknowledge that the pure synthesis of imagination applies conceptual rules to produce the unity of transcendental apperception. (If we recall that the starting point of this discussion was the bare psychological realm of the radical empiricist, the idea is that this is something that must be added to empiricist psychology.) The last two sentences again connect the understanding and sensibility. The first explains that while the (necessary) synthesis of the imagination is a priori, it “combines the manifold as it appears in intuition”—that is, the processes in question involve a priori rules for combining, or more helpfully, organizing sensations. The final sentence adds that through this relation, concepts that “belong to the understanding can come about, but only by means of the imagination in relation to sensible intuition.” This seems to mean that the concepts in question—which, we are about to be told, are the categories—while they are rules for unifying, and thus concepts, are appropriately applied only as rules for organizing experiences. 14 The long paragraph at A 124–25 is by contrast refreshingly clearly written. It nicely summarizes the inter-relations that have been established between sensibility, the imagination and the understanding, and between appearance and apperception. Once again Kant has waited until the end to introduce the categories. He states that they underlie all aspects of empirical experience, including the four empirical syntheses. (And he finally mentions recognition, which he has mostly ignored since its introduction.) And at the end of the third sentence we again get an

The Connected Deduction


allusion to the crucial point about representation, viz., that without a priori synthesis there would be no representation, i.e., appearances would have no objects. Here the reader must have mastered the earlier material—nothing in the immediately preceding discussion serves to explicate that point. Similarly, previous understanding is required to make sense of the mention at the end of the next sentence of “objective validity (truth),” which is the result of this synthesis-structuring experience so that it can be conceptualized as representing the external, objective world, thus potentially truly. In any case, this paragraph ties together both halves of the Connected TD, and also includes allusions to those notions (representation, recognition) that apparently did not fit efficiently into this highly psychological, faculty-based presentation of the TD framework. The next three paragraphs present an extended discussion of the thesis, or result, first introduced at the end of the previous section, that the unity and “order and regularity” of nature, i.e., of the world, is constituted by the unity, i.e., the necessary structure, of appearances; and thus that the mind creates the unity and necessity of the world. The explanation is facilitated in the second, long paragraph by the characterization of the understanding of the faculty of rules. This is not surprising—as we noted in chapter 3, Kant conceives of concepts as having associated rules for application to experiences. Since the necessary structure that we represent in the world thus comes from our cognitive processing, Kant thus says that we “legislate” nature, and that without the understanding “there would not be any nature at all.” This is one of the passages where Kant’s attempt to summarize his position yields what sounds like a Berkelean idealist view. This is also true of the first pass at this topic at A 114 where he identifies “nature” both as the “sum of appearances” and as a “multitude of representations.” A more careful statement of the outlook is that the world as we can possibly know it, i.e., as we represent it, must conform to our a priori synthesis of appearances (the content of empirical input), that is, of the ordering and conceptualization of a “multitude of representations.” Without such synthesis, not only would we be unable to know any natural laws, we would not be able to represent a world at all. So the natural world that we know would not exist without the application of the categories to sensory input. And since the input does not determine that we structure our sensations in this way, we can say that we “legislate” a world that obeys the laws that we represent it as following. 15 Kant then rehearses the point that appearances are subject to the necessary unity of apperception, which he again cites as a transcendental ground, this time of the general law-likeness of appearances. 16 The paragraph leads up to a useful parallel: just as space and time are the a priori forms of all appearances, so the categories constitute the a priori rule-


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governed structure of all appearances, which amounts to another “formal possibility.” 17 The subsequent paragraph now attempts to clarify the idea of the understanding (and apperception) “legislating nature,” i.e., the laws of nature. One might think that this amounts to a completely rationalist conception of, say, physics, but Kant clarifies that the laws of nature are (also) dependent upon experience, although they are “particular determinations of the laws of the understanding,” which is responsible for making them law-like, i.e., necessity, as opposed to mere contingent generalizations. This is similar to the remark in the previous paragraph that “[a]lthough we learn many laws through experience, these are only particular determinations of yet higher laws, the highest of which . . . come from the understanding itself a priori.” 18 It may be puzzling as to what Kant has in mind here, since there are no examples, and since it might seem that a “particular determination” of something a priori would itself be a priori. The general idea is clear—the content of the laws of nature is supposed to come from experience, whereas their necessity comes from the built-in structure of our cognitive systems. But what this amounts to in detail is left unexplained, although perhaps essentially so. On the one hand, an example of a single experience of causation is easy enough to explain. Let’s say that I experience the heating of some water in a pan as caused by the flame under it. Kant’s point is that the connection of the particular kinds of events here—a flame burning beneath and water and pan heating—is due to experience. And of course the concepts of water, flame, heat, etc., are empirical. But the fact that the connection between these events is experienced and judged to be necessary rather than arbitrary, Kant would say, has its origin in the understanding’s rules, i.e., the categories, and not in sensory input. I thus experience the sequence flame, then heated water, as necessarily occurring in that order, and moreover I thereby conceive of the connection between flame and heated water as necessarily following some rule—one or more laws of nature, although the single experience does not make it apparent which laws are involved. 19 But, regardless of the details of our knowledge of causations, Kant’s overall view is that ordinary experience and ordinary beliefs, as well as scientific beliefs, are subject to the necessary unity of consciousness, which is the source of any necessity in these beliefs. Moreover, when we add the thesis—which is hardly mentioned in these passages—that this unity is what creates our representation of the world, i.e., our conception of an external world, we can see why Kant should say that the necessary structure of nature is put there by us, i.e., by our cognitive processing. By the way, it is useful to note the likely reason that this extended discussion of the basis of the laws of nature occurs here. If, as I have been maintaining, the primary purpose of the TD is to counter Humean skepticism about causation and necessity, then along with the justification of

The Connected Deduction


the categories in general, and really, as we have seen, an explanation of their role in the cognitive system, Kant needs a slightly more specific explanation of his alternative understanding of how we represent and know the laws of nature, to replace Hume’s account of empirical association. Given the design of the book, a detailed treatment of causation and of necessity is not presented until the Principles. So what we have instead in this section is the general explanation of “nature,” which as I say is not informative about the particulars of Kant’s view. Kant then concludes the connected A TD with a short and clearly written paragraph that begins with a restatement of the just-discussed result that the understanding “makes experience possible as far as its form is concerned.” He then tells us that “we did not have to accomplish more” in the TD “than to make comprehensible this relation of the understanding to sensibility and by means of the latter to all objects of experience”; this is, then, the explanation of the role that the categories play in representation and empirical knowledge. The sentence continues “hence to make comprehensible the objective validity of its pure a priori concepts, and thereby determine their origin and truth.” This may make it seem as though the largely explanatory treatment of the faculty coordination issue alone suffices for the justification (“objective validity and truth”) of the categories. But as we have seen, the bulk of the justification occurs in the midst of the expository first pass at the TD material, which turns into the derivation of the Transcendental Trinity and the resultant Objective Deduction. 20 The final “summary representation” is not just an explanatory summary, but does attempt a justification of the framework of sorts, and one that may help us understand why the Connected TD is so explanatory. The title that Kant gives to this concluding paragraph tells us that he is presenting both the “correctness and unique possibility” of this deduction of the categories. It is, in effect, a review of how the framework of the TD constitutes Kant’s transcendental idealism, although he avoids that label here; and it also makes the case that this is the only possible way to explain how they apply a priori and with necessity to the world of objects. The argument revisits the dilemma that was raised at the start of the “transition” to the TD (A 92), and now seemingly resolves it, but it has been restated as a choice between possible philosophical views. The first, and thus the alternative that Kant is here arguing against, is transcendental realism, which maintains that the objects of experience are things in themselves. But, Kant argues, we could not have a priori concepts that apply to these objects, since any concepts drawn from the experience of these objects would be empirical. And for any concepts that are due solely to our invention, there would be no basis for justifying their application to external objects, and so they would simply have no meaning (“be empty”). The rest of the paragraph summarizes Kant’s alternative, viz., to abandon transcendental realism in favor of transcendental ideal-


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ism, and in particular, the synthesis/representation/apperception Trinity. (I will mention various details momentarily.) The overall conclusion is that this means of explaining the possibility of a priori concepts, and thus knowledge of objects is “the only possible one among all.” So Kant is apparently telling his readers, “I have a framework that explains how synthetic a priori knowledge is possible (and for that matter, that provides an alternative and thus a solution to Hume’s skeptical challenge about necessary causation). No one else has such an explanation, and, moreover, we have seen why any metaphysical realist attempt at such an explanation will fail. Thus, you should accept my account.” This is, then, another sort of appeal to the best—and as Kant says, only (available)— explanation; to borrow Fodor’s apt phrase, it is the only game in town. I suggest that this final “best explanation” argument helps explain why the A TD, and in particular, the Connected TD is so heavy on explanation of the new framework, and, by present standards, is relatively short on justifying argumentation. But, as I have just noted, this seems to me a not unreasonable way for Kant to have approached the presentation of an extremely novel outlook. Turning then to the details of this final paragraph, Kant begins with the motto that “we have to do everywhere only with appearances,” which, as I have been maintaining, is a reminder that we are only aware of one side of the representation relation; and this insight also then invokes the representationalist view of perception. The next sentence is interesting in that it explains appearances as constituting “an object that is merely in us.” One is apt to read this as Bereklean phenomenalism, but we have seen many reasons against this interpretation. I think it is rather one of the best cases for supporting the view that by “appearances” Kant means something like sensory content, i.e., information about how the senses have been affected. Thus, an “object” is what is represented, and to say that what sensory states (not yet synthesized/cognized by the categories) represent is “in us” can be reasonably understood as a representation of how we have been affected, as he explicitly says here, “by a modification of sensibility.” The next two sentences re-introduce the Transcendental Trinity. The first mentions the unity of apperception, and the second identifies (“consists in”) the form of representation (belonging to one object, viz., the transcendental object) with this same unity. The third sentence brings in the categories as underlying both the form of experience in general and the “a priori formal cognition” of all objects, viz., the category-related synthetic a priori judgments that are true of any represented objects. And the fourth sentence completes the short review by linking this unity with synthesis, and with the faculty of synthesis, the imagination. 21 The summary thus provides substantial support for the reading that I have developed, where this identification of unity, representation and apperception are the central claims of the TD, and where the functional role view of representation allows for a representative real-

The Connected Deduction


ism combined with idealism about the a priori forms that provides a successful alternative to the unworkable transcendental realism. ASSESSMENT OF THE A TRANSCENDENTAL DEDUCTION I will now offer some evaluation of the A TD, but mostly in terms of the presentation—as I have indicated at various points, Kant has presented us with an ingenious reply to the Humean outlook, with strong reasoning in support of the primary claims. (I provide summaries of specific arguments along with some evaluation in chapter 11.) Perhaps the most striking thing about the layout of the A TD is that the broad thread of discussion is extremely confusing. We begin with arguments that purport to show that there must be two more syntheses in addition to the empiricist’s association, and that there must also be pure (non-empirical) forms of these processes. But after a quick pass at the third synthesis, viz., recognition, Kant, without warning, leads us into an exposition of the fundamental notions of the TD, synthetic unity of consciousness, representation and apperception. The central role of the categories—that they underlie the necessary synthesis that enables a priori self-awareness and that also makes thoughts representational in general—effectively justifies them since they must be part of any conscious states, and in particular they constitute the form of anything we can represent. However, Kant does not even explicitly mention the categories until the next sub-section, the “provisional explanation,” but by then all of the argumentation is done and the interconnections are in place, so it appears that the categories are “objectively deduced” from arbitrary assumptions. He then annexes two topics that he did not manage to weave into the early exposition, viz., affinity and the laws of nature. So, not only by Kant’s rather rigorous standards for organization, but by any reasonable standard, this first portion is very poorly divided and labeled. The most important arguments for the three central notions are effectively hidden under the “recognition” rubric. And then, as we have considered above, the seemingly more obvious Connected TD leaves out the central topic of representation, only bringing it in at the closing in a way that is certain to seem obscure to anyone who has not completely followed the previous investigation. And there is only a small bit of supporting argumentation in the Connected TD; Kant is content for the most part to just explain the new framework, tracing through the necessarily supported psychological connections. This is rather odd, given that he was typically eager (e.g., in other parts of the Critique) to offer multiple arguments for the same position, and often new arguments in what purported to be closing or summary sections. And lastly, the Connected TD does not focus on the central role of the categories in this new framework, but instead highlights the role of the combinatorial faculty of the imagina-


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tion. It is again only at the very end that he mentions that the categories are the rules that the imagination applies. This makes it seem as though the TD is more concerned with psychology—with the faculties themselves—than with the justification of the categories. 22 As we will see in the next two chapters, some of these shortcomings are corrected, or at least improved, in the rewritten version of the TD, with the exception of the treatment of representation, which, unfortunately, becomes even more obscure in that version. In looking ahead to the B TD, we can also note two other apparent concerns with the A TD that Kant addresses, viz., the relation of the TD to the two previous sections of the book, namely the Aesthetic and the Metaphysical Deduction. The lack of connection with the latter is a more glaring problem—Kant has inventoried the categories by matching them up with types of functions of judgment. Yet there is no explicit mention of judgments at all in the A TD. The concern with the Aesthetic is less obvious: there, Kant has argued that space and time are each experienced as a unity, and thus an a priori unity. One might wonder if there is some tight connection between this unity and the a priori unity of consciousness. While Kant mentions this in an offhand way at A 107, this would seem to be worthy of more detailed consideration, as, again, the B TD confirms. One other merit of the A edition is the “affinity” critique of radical empiricism. As we will see, a more abstract set of arguments against this view is presented in the B TD, albeit one that becomes even more difficult to appreciate. But on the other hand, Kant’s application of this line of reasoning in the second part of the Connected TD seems misguided. After presenting the enhanced account of empirical syntheses—viz., apprehension and recognition are required along with the empiricist’s association—Kant then connects appearances with transcendental apperception via the affinity argument. But this does not require the early points at all; merely beginning from association would have been sufficient. What we might have expected is some recount of the previous argumentation that demonstrated that apprehension and recognition must involve pure forms as well as empirical versions. And we might additionally have expected some connection with the a priori forms of appearances, viz., space and time. Thus, while the affinity critique of empiricism is interesting in its own right, it is not actually suited to a treatment of the faculty coordination issue. It is a bit of a deus ex machina that interferes with the sensory side of the explanations of the Subjective Deduction. It is also true that the first half of the Connected TD in a sense proves too much, since once we have established that experiences are necessarily structured via the imagination, it is unclear why we need to begin the investigation again, this time from sensory input. So I suggest that the Connected TD is poorly executed. As we will see, this is one of the principle remedies of the B TD presentation.

The Connected Deduction


Finally, while many commentators focus on the B edition TD rather than on the A edition, often exclusively so, particularly those working in the Analytic tradition, I believe that the A version is essential for understanding the overall TD framework. In particular, the explication of representation is essential—it is found nowhere else in Kant’s published works. And, as a result, the passages in the “recognition” section are Kant’s clearest presentation of the Transcendental Trinity—even though the treatment of transcendental apperception is somewhat lacking. This is admittedly a dauntingly difficult set of densely argued and (perhaps) under-explained views. But this may be unavoidably necessary, given that it presents a number of broad, profound, interrelated doctrines. The idea of a separate, prior exposition of these views, remains, even in retrospect, a reasonable expositional plan. The treatment of these key notions might well have been much longer. My bottom line, then, is that particularly because of the presentations of representation and of the Transcendental Trinity as a whole, and to a lesser extent of affinity, one is ill-advised to begin with the B TD. However, since we have both versions readily available, there is no reason to ignore one in favor of the other. I have already drawn on the B TD in developing the above reading of the A TD, and I will likewise draw liberally on my understanding of the A TD in decoding the B version. NOTES 1. Cf. the end of A 108, “All representations, as representations, have their object, and can themselves be objects of other representations in turn” (my emphasis). 2. Barker (2001) provides an explanation of why Kant’s use of a reductio here is consistent with his seeming repudiation of indirect proofs in transcendental investigations at A 789/B 817. (I disagree a little with Barker’s treatment of this argument—I think the appeal to transcendental apperception occurs after the reductio is completed, thus establishing the need for a grounding of empirical affinity. Transcendental apperception provides this.) 3. Westphal (2004), chapter 3, examines these passages on affinity and (in his §25) argues that actual, empirically based associations are primary, so that transcendental affinity rests on actually having a coherent set of such associations. He then infers that considerations of affinity support transcendental realism—a realism connected with empirical input—rather than Kant’s transcendental idealism. His reasoning seems to be that in order to be able to associate representations, they must have some sort of similarities, and we must have repeated experiences of those regularities in order to then associate them: “affinity concerns specific characteristics of the content of sensations, [etc.],” (p. 112). Westphal’s reasoning appears to involve a rather odd understanding of empiricist associationism, since the standard empiricist assumption is that any two sensations can potentially become associated through co-occurrence, even if they have nothing in common, say, the taste of meat and the sound of a bell. But suppose that actual associations do rest on similarities that must, in turn, be repeatedly experienced. Nonetheless, as we have just considered, in order for sensations to be potentially associable, they must be part of a unified consciousness that is able to corepresent them. No amount of empirical input will create the relevant unity—it will not create the ability of co-representation itself. And, Westphal continues: “To make it


Chapter 7

the case that some characteristics recurred often enough for us to recognize them, we would have to produce the appearances with those characteristics.” This seems to be a confused version of Kant’s point at A 100–1 that in order to have association, law-like reproduction is required. Westphal seems to think that such reproduction rests solely on frequency of (empirically caused) experience, but Kant would argue that frequent experiences strengthen recall only under the assumption of a cognitive system with regular, law-like reproductive abilities, which are not explainable by appeal to experience, and thus which no amount of experience will create. Westphal thus confuses the (supposed) empirical underpinnings of associations with the idea of associability in general. The former requires the latter, which transcendental idealism can account for, but empiricist realism cannot. 4. So I agree with Bauer (2010) that that this is the Subjective Deduction, or at least this is where that side of the investigation takes center stage. We might also include the examination of the first two syntheses and the initial pass at affinity as part of the subjective deduction. 5. As we will see, Kant’s does a much better job of achieving this (apparent) goal in the B rewrite than he does in the A TD. 6. Bauer (2010) maintains that the first half of this section is aimed at rationalists, forming an obvious contrast with the second half which is aimed at empiricists, a view he credits to James Conant. However, the first half does not do much in the way of addressing rationalists. Beginning from the idea of a concept in general, the rationalist’s source of knowledge, would have formed the appropriate contrast. But Kant instead begins from the idea of transcendental apperception, which is not something that his rationalist predecessors would have conceived as a starting point. So I see no basis for the suggested contrast of the two halves. 7. Nevertheless, it is obviously bad form on Kant’s part to create confusion by declaring two slightly different principles “first” in the two editions. 8. Another way of putting it would be that “I” has a “pure” content for each of us, as well as contingent, empirical, content that varies from person to person, and perhaps varies over time for each person. If I, say, wonder what my cultural role or standing is, or should be, I am not wondering about the identity of my consciousness. 9. A number of commentators have thought that something important is indicated by the phrase “or includes it.” But I think that there is a simple explanation: as we noted at the start of chapter 3, Kant’s definition of “synthesis” specifies not only the process but also the product of the synthetic, i.e., the cognition that comprehends the unified representations. Thus, unified consciousness includes—or really, is—that part of the synthesis, so defined. 10. The phrase “appearances as data for possible experiences” may seem rather odd, since one might think that appearances are experiences. But I suggest that Kant is using “experience” in the weighty sense here to mean empirical judgments. 11. By the way, Kant seems to maintain that anything non-empirical, e.g. processes or representations, must be conceptual. The reasoning—as far I am aware, never stated—seems to be that anything non-conceptual, i.e., non-rule governed will be accidental, and thus contingent, and thus empirical. 12. I believe that the “beginning from beneath” remark is explained by this passage from the Jӓsche Logic: “It is customary to call sensibility also the lower faculty, understanding on the other hand is the higher faculty, on the ground that sensibility gives the mere material for thought, but the understanding manages this material and brings it under rules or concepts.” (AA 9:36) I borrow this from Bayne (2011), p 134, n., who is also the translator—he cites it for purposes not related to the TD. 13. As I noted in the previous chapter, here, rather than mentioning “necessary reproduction,” Kant describes “reproduction in accordance with laws.” And for Kant, laws involve necessity. So I suggest that this passage helps to counter Guyer’s charge that Kant’s use of the phrase “necessary reproduction’ is the result of a modal fallacy.” 14. Although this is very poorly stated—Kant’s view is not that the categories are somehow created by the unification of experiences, but rather, as we will see in regard

The Connected Deduction


to the B TD, that their only representation-yielding application is to experience. (It is also possible that Kant is reminding us again, albeit rather obscurely, that concepts in general rely on the necessary unification of consciousness.) 15. Notice that we can imagine other type of beings that organize (synthesize) input differently, and that thus represent a completely different world from the one we know, that thus “legislate” a different “nature.” 16. The parenthetical phrase “determining it out of a single one” may seem confusing. Kant is probably trying to indicate that transcendental apperception involves a conceptualization (“determination”) of a numerical unity, viz., of the “manifold of representations.” 17. Kant puts this rather awkwardly. Presumably, ”[a]ll appearances as possible experiences . . . lie a priori in the understanding” is to say that the possible content that appearances embody—of becoming representations of the external world—that that possibility lies in the understanding. It otherwise makes no sense to say that appearances lie in the understanding. This again supports my reading that “appearance” means roughly “information from empirical input.” It is the possibility of transforming this information into a representation of the external world that lies (a priori) in the understanding. 18. I will consider this remark about “the highest laws” in chapter 9 when we examine Kant’s similar discussion of the laws of nature near the end of the B TD. 19. Kant provides a similar example of the experience of an instance of causation (involving the sun melting wax) at A 766/B 794. 20. So, I think that one of the main reasons why the A TD has been so hard to understand is that many of the most clearly written passages are in the part that is mostly explanatory. It has thus seemed as though Kant is making extraordinarily strong assumptions and thus providing little justification for the views offered in the TD. 21. As in all these passages, “precedes” should be taken to mean “logically precedes,” i.e., “is a pre-condition for” rather than “is temporally prior to.” 22. While we can only speculate on the reasons why Kant composed the (A) TD as he did, as I have already suggested in chapter 2, it is reasonable to think that the focus on the imagination in the Connected TD is meant to serve as a response to Hume’s view, as he summarizes it in the conclusion to Book I of the Treatise (section VII). Kant has shown that the imagination has a transcendental (a priori supporting) function as well as an empirical function, and, as I noted in chapter 3, in applying the categories of substance and causation (and necessity), on Kant’s account, the presence of this transcendental function of the imagination counters the skeptical consequences that Hume presents there (about the existence of external objects and causation). One can thus read the Connected TD as a philosophical antidote to that passage in Hume. (I draw here on Callanan [2006], section V, who in turn credits Kuehn [1996].)

EIGHT The Revised Deduction First Part

Kant completely rewrote the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories for the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason One possible method would be to try to make sense of the text independent of the A version, and only then compare the two. And many commentators have taken this approach; indeed, many have focused exclusively on the B version. But, with a thorough understanding of the A TD before us, I think it makes more sense to attempt to map the B material onto that of the A version. As I will now show, this can be done very successfully. THE OVERALL STRUCTURE OF THE B DEDUCTION In regard to the second edition of Critique as a whole, Kant asserts, in the B preface, that “I have found nothing to alter either in the propositions themselves or in their grounds of proof.” This presumably includes the TD, which is the part that involved the most substantial textual changes. However, commentators who compare the two editions usually conclude either that Kant drastically altered his proof strategy or even that he changed aspects of his overall philosophical outlook. However, as I will show in this chapter and the next, although there are a few new arguments and a number of new explanations, the overall framework of unity, representation, and apperception remains the same as does the broad proof strategy. Here is an initial, very abstract summary of the changes and structuring. The preliminary exposition of the fundamental topics is eliminated. Kant now begins with the deduction proper. He first justifies and ex127


Chapter 8

plains the Transcendental Trinity §16–17 then turns to the faculty coordination problem which takes up most of the rest of the deduction, §18–26. The final section transitions into closing material which parallels the closing of the A TD. The two primary changes address major shortcomings of the A version. First, while the categories are “derived” in the Metaphysical Deduction as unifying functions that correspond to judgment types, the A deduction says nothing at all about judgments. Kant fixes this by introducing a new explanation in §19 that connects judgment with (the unity of) transcendental apperception. The second shortcoming of the A version that is remedied concerns the necessary unity of space and time, a unity that is treated in the Aesthetic. In the A TD Kant mentions that this is the same as the necessary unity of consciousness, but offers no argument or explanation is presented in support of this. In the B TD, this is addressed in §26. Let us now take a second pass at the B TD’s structure in more detail. Section 15 makes a point about unity and synthesis that is similar to a remark at the beginning of the examination of the syntheses in the A TD. The Transcendental Trinity is then introduced in §16, now beginning simultaneously with necessary unity and transcendental apperception. Representation is introduced very briefly, and thus cryptically in §17. In the second paragraph of that section, Kant draws the conclusion of objective validity, in parallel to the conclusion of the Objective Deduction. He then turns to the faculty coordination problem, viz., the Subjective Deduction. As we have considered in regard to the A TD, this investigation involves a fair amount of psychological explanation, and this is true of the B version as well. 1 Section 18–19 are explanatory. Then, in sharp methodological contrast, an explicit deduction is presented in §20 that links the categories to the necessary unity of intuitions via judgment and apperception. Section 21 then turns to sensibility to begin the second half of the Subjective Deduction, viz., independently showing the connection between sensibility and the understanding. This material is complicated by the fact that Kant sees fit to offer a number of clarifying explanations here, that, while mostly helpful, are not part of the Subjective Deduction project proper. The second half of that is actually quite short. The first paragraph of §21 introduces it, an explanation of syntheses is presented in the first three paragraph of §24, and the first three paragraphs of §26 conclude that part of the investigation. That section closes with a discussion of the ideality of nature, in parallel with the A TD. And §27 corresponds with the “summary representation” at A 128–9. This broad map of the B TD will be more fully justified as we work through the text paragraph by paragraph, although I hope that this sketch has clarified the similarity to the A TD; it is the same philosophical framework and the same overall structure of proof and explanation.

The Revised Deduction


Before looking at the seeming official beginning of the B TD text, viz., §16, we will first examine the revision that was inserted just before the TD proper. THE NEW INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS Kant replaced the final paragraph of the “Transition” to the TD (A 94–5) with three new paragraphs. This is not surprising, because the supplanted paragraph introduced a complex, and, as we have noted, a somewhat misleading overview of the principle faculties and their roles in Kant’s psychological architecture. Since the rewrite deemphasizes the faculties, a new lead-in is needed. The first two new paragraphs continue the discussion of a priori concepts from the previous paragraph, but now Locke and Hume are mentioned as representing the mistaken empiricist views that Kant is providing an alternative to. The discussion raises nothing new in regard to Kant’s understanding of either figure’s position, but it is worth noting that the fact that Hume in particular is mentioned here helps to underscore that the primary goal of the TD is to counter his skeptical conclusions. The discussion in the first paragraph supports the idea that what Kant sees himself as enhancing the empiricist framework. He claims that while Locke detected the pure concepts (categories) in experience, he was unable to find an empirical origin for them. Nor could Hume, who is described as explaining the categories (or at least, we assume, causation) in terms of “subjective necessity” which he acknowledged could not go “beyond the boundary of experience,” which presumably means it does not hold with metaphysical necessity. 2 Hume, and presumably also Locke, are charged with failing to think of the alternative that Kant is now presenting. This is characterized as the view that categories come from the understanding and are thus the “originator[s] of the experience in which objects are encountered.” This is presumably a gloss on the idea that the categories originate or create the structure of experience and thus give experiences objects, i.e., make them representational. As we have just seen above in regard to the summary that ends the A TD, this again conceptualizes the task of the TD as that of presenting a new, and previously overlooked alternative explanation, one that offers the only successful account of a priori concepts and knowledge. The final sentence of the paragraph continues this idea, but in a slightly different direction by invoking the argumentative strategy that is emphasized in the B introduction to the Critique, namely that we do have some clearly legitimate a priori knowledge, viz., mathematics and the foundational principles of physics, so there must be some explanation of this knowledge.


Chapter 8

The third and final new transitional paragraph begins with an important explanation. Kant identifies the categories as the “concepts of an object in general.” As we have seen in examination of the A edition, this is exactly what we should expect, since the categories are the concepts that constitute our representation of objects in general. The rest of the sentence and paragraph present an interesting explanation. Kant tells us that the categories determine the logical functions of judgments. He proceeds to explain how this works for one (crucial) category, viz., substance. The example is an explicit explanation of the functional role of a category (and thus provides substantial confirmation of my reading of Kant’s view of representation). It is thus worth examining in detail. I do so in appendix C, since the matters I consider there are not directly related to the reasoning in the B TD. This explanation is, though, marginally helpful in relation to the reasoning in §21, and might well have been placed there instead. COMBINATION Moving into the revised TD proper, §15 exposits the idea of combination in general, which leads immediately into the introduction of synthesis. This section would seem to be a slight expansion on the opening remark at A 97 that contrasts synopsis, i.e., receptivity, with synthesis, i.e., spontaneity. Here in §15, Kant defends two main points: 1) (sensory) input does not provide combined (and especially not unified) representations so that, 2) complex representations must therefore be the result of combinatory processes, i.e., “syntheses.” The first half-sentence of §15 tells us that a “manifold of intuitions”—a collection of sense data, or sensory information—can be “given in an intuition that is merely sensible” which is identified with being “nothing but receptivity.” Kant then states that the same is true of the a priori form(s) of such data, viz., space and time. To understand what this means, we can look ahead to the next sentence and the concept that is introduced there, combination. Since he clearly intends this notion in the most general sense, we can explain his claim in terms of relations or ordering, viz., that a set of sensory inputs can be given completely unordered, and the same holds true of the forms of space and time, which we can think of as a catalogue of possible (spatial and temporal) relations. In the first part of the (extremely long) second sentence, Kant then asserts that combination of the sensory array cannot come through the senses, and cannot “already be contained in” the a priori forms of space and time. 3 His argument, or rather, explanation, is that it is “an act of the spontaneity of the power of representation,” and a little later, that it “is an action of the understanding,” thus a conceptual rule-governed action. But these remarks may strike readers as highly problematic, since it

The Revised Deduction


seems, prime facie, that it is possible that sensory inputs are given as combined. One might think, for instance, of two adjacent retinal stimulations, or from a dualist perspective, of a structured array of sense data. So, seemingly, some argument is needed to show that combination is not given by input. I can think of two possible supporting arguments. The first is the reasoning in the second paragraph of the second section, #1, of the A TD (A 99), where he argues that in order to apprehend a unity of the manifold, we have to “run through and then take together this manifoldness.” This is meant to demonstrate that awareness of unity requires synthesis, which is also one of the points that Kant will make in this section. However, as we have seen, the A 99 argument appears to rest on the idea that any apprehension of any quality is a unified moment, so to perceive combined qualities we must separately represent them and then create a unified representation. If this were correct, then it would mean that initial inputs must always consist of completely uniform, isolated qualities, roughly, pure sense pixels. We have also considered that this argument rests on the now dubious idea that any cognitive information must involve conscious awareness. But, regardless, it does not appear that this is what Kant has in mind, since, first, he does not state that argument or even provide the slightest hint of it, but, more importantly, the long second sentence mentions “non-sensible intuitions” and also includes combinations that we are not conscious of. Since apprehension is conscious, this passage does not seem to rest on the A 99 argument. So I suggest that the best way to make sense of what Kant has in mind here is by turning to a contemporary information processing outlook. Now, it is problematic, indeed, false, to say that all inputs are unordered. We would, rather, think that all inputs are temporally ordered, and, at least for vision, they might be thought to be spatially ordered as well. Kant does not, of course, equate input to the cognitive system with input to the physical senses, and is thus able to conceive of the input as not (yet) spatially or temporally ordered. However, regardless of any spatial or temporal structure, what a given system will do with the input is completely a function of the programming. In particular, whether or not a cognitive system will register or represent any particular relations between any of the inputs, and what if any ways it will combine them, is not determined by the input. Thus, when fed two numbers, a computer might add them, multiply them, store them in sequence, out of sequence, or ignore them completely. It is also true that if we conceive of the input in terms of complexly structured elements, e.g., sentences, what the system will do, e.g., parse it, store it, translate it, revise it, etc., is equally dependent on the system’s programming—which aspects of the complex structure of the inputs it will recognize, through processing and representation, are program-dependent. Thus, even though we might think of our cognitive input as temporally and spatially ordered information from the (physi-


Chapter 8

cal) senses, whether or not our cognitive systems recognize that structure, and how much, in what ways they recognize it, are determined by processing and not by the input (or input structure) itself. Kant’s point then is that any representations of multiple sensory qualities or of relations between sensory qualities does not come from the senses, conceived as passive inputs. 4 Any relations that are “extracted” from the input, or any ways that the input is combined or ordered is a result of cognitive processing, or “synthesis.” So it is true that any relations we represent as external or objective (“as combined in the object”) are a result of cognitive processes that either detect or else construct those relations. His main point thus seems correct. And, if my interpretation is right, then it is also more or less evident why he does not present an argument for it. Anyone who understands the concept of cognitive processing will see that processing is not determined by input. Kant is, in effect, struggling to state the obvious. Perhaps, though, the choice of “combination” is less than completely helpful, since, as I noted, it is easy to conceive of sensory arrays as already combined. I think it is preferable, in light of contemporary cognitive science, to put the claim this way: any relations or ordering of data that we represent as a result of input is dependent on our cognitive processing and is not determined by the input. There are, though, two additional claims that Kant makes in this second sentence that are seemingly more problematic. The first is that the power of representation is “spontaneous.” As we have noted above in chapter 6, this is plausibly understood as meaning roughly “non-stimulus determined.” Thus, to say that representation is “an act of the spontaneity of the power of representation,” an “act of its self-activity” is to say no more than what we have just considered, namely that representation is dependent on a cognizer’s cognitive processes, and is not determined by the input. This, does, by the way, allow that, given that a cognizer has certain processes, a given input will cause a specific representation, but it still does not follow that the input alone caused the representation, which is, I believe, sufficient for what Kant is seeking to establish with this point. A second problematic set of claims in the sentence that we are considering are Kant’s assertions that combination involves representation, and that therefore combination is the result of the understanding, which has been defined as the faculty of concepts. This seems directly at odds with the idea from contemporary cognitive science of formal computation. Kant’s assertion appears to be that all mental processing, whether conscious or unconscious, rational or perceptual, involves concepts. While it is far from clear how much, if any, mental processing is non-conceptual, it is certainly conceivable that at least some is purely formal. And, moreover, the idea of so-called non-conceptual content has come into vogue in recent philosophical psychology.

The Revised Deduction


Now, as we have seen, part of Kant’s overall thesis is that perceptual experiences are concept laden, but this is a contentious result that cannot simply be asserted. However, it turns out that Kant does not actually need this stronger thesis in order to support the points that he is making. We are heading toward the result that a conscious awareness of combination involves concepts, and that result will stand even if the cognitive system also involves some non-semantic computation or non-conceptual content. But, to return to the present point, it is true that cognitive processes are not determined by input regardless of whether then are conceptual or not. 5 One additional assertion is made in this sentence, viz., that any combination of representations requires a synthesis, i.e., mental/cognitive process, in order to produce this combination. Unlike the other points in this paragraph, this one is strongly supported by current cognitive science. As we have noted in our examination of Kant’s use of synthesis in the A TD, a unified representation requires a unifying process to produce it. The next sentence begins with yet another unexplained claim, namely that we can “easily see” that the combinatorial process must be “unitary,” i.e., uniform. First, let me say that this is on the face of it an entirely baffling claim, since it is easy to conceive of different types of cognitive process, and Kant of course maintains that there are distinct types of syntheses. I suspect though, that what Kant has in mind here is not a claim about the ontology of cognitive processes, but rather the idea that there must be a uniform and entirely general combinatorial process underlying consciousness. And this is easy to see, since for any two representations that we are conscious of, it is possible to co-represent them, and thus that there must be a process of co-representation that is completely universal and general across all representations. The final part of this same sentence opens a running theme of the B TD by noting that if a representation can be decomposed by analysis, then it must have been assembled by synthesis. This is a point that the empiricists would be happy with, e.g., Locke explained complex ideas— which can be analyzed into simple ideas—as the product of mental combination. It is perhaps directed at rationalists who might think that the confused ideas delivered by perception are for the first time decomposed through the clarification of rational analysis. But it may also be directed at potential confusions between synthetic judgments vs. a process of synthesis, which Kant explains more fully later on. We will return to the issue then. So, despite the fact that the opening paragraph might reflect at least one psychological assumption that has been somewhat compromised by contemporary psychology (about conceptual combination), Kant still comes out with the result that in order to combine representations, (1) there must be a (set of) process(es) that does the combining, viz., “synthesis,” and (2) these processes are not determined by input.


Chapter 8

While the first paragraph at least has the merit of purporting to explain the points that are being made, the second simply creates confusion, at least for a reader who has not already understood Kant’s framework. The second sentence asserts that “combination is the representation of the synthetic unity of the manifold.” Rather than explaining why this is the case, or offering an argument, Kant proceeds to draw a moral, namely that combination cannot produce unity. He then ends the paragraph and section by distinguishing this unity from the category of unity. We will return to these additional points momentarily. But first and foremost, we must ask, what is Kant doing here? The initial thing to note is that he has obviously switched from the idea of combining representations to the idea of a conscious representation of conjoined representations. So really, what he should have said is that awareness of a conjoined manifold (of representations) is the representation of the synthetic unity of the manifold. Since no argument is offered, I take this to be a sort of introductory explanation of the connection between conjoining and unity. But as such, it is rather baffling. What Kant means only becomes apparent, if at all, at B 137 where he tells us that all representations stand under the unity of apperception “insofar as they must be capable of being combined in one consciousness; for without that . . . the representations would not have in common the act of apperception, I think, and thereby would not be grasped together in a self-consciousness.” So take the awareness of the combination of X and Y. Kant is saying (or the part of what he is saying that is relevant here) is that in order to move from the awareness of X and the awareness of Y to the awareness of XY, it must be true that X and Y are represented as being part of the same consciousness. If one mind represents X and another represents Y, no representation of their combination is possible. Since, as the intermediary passages explain, the synthetic unity of the manifold is our conception of the unity of consciousness (the “I”), we can see that awareness of a conjoined manifold is the representation of the synthetic unity of the manifold, i.e., same consciousness. (So he might instead have said that “combination rests on or requires the synthetic unity of the manifold.”) Because we thus have to conceptualize identity of consciousness in order to represent combination, it is thus apparent that as Kant says at B 131 representation of unity cannot arise from combination, but rather makes this conception possible. 6 The final remark that the (transcendental, synthetic, a priori) unity of consciousness is distinct from the category of unity should be clear since the former is a feature or aspect—as Kant would put it, a “combination”—of consciousness, whereas the category is a concept. We may also note that, on the one hand, we are applying this category when we think about the unity of consciousness. However, this unity of consciousness involves the application of all of the categories, not just of the category of unity. And as Kant is about to explain, this general unity is what consti-

The Revised Deduction


tutes both self-awareness and representation, and is thus “higher,” i.e., more fundamental or foundational to the explanation of consciousness and knowledge as compared to one specific concept, among others, that is used to create this unity. APPERCEPTION AND UNITY The next section, §16, begins with the statement that “the I think must be able to accompany all my representations.” Many commentators have taken this to be a new tact taken by Kant in the B TD to establish transcendental apperception. However, I think this is wrong in two ways. First, a similar claim is made in the note at A 117 (for “I” rather than “I think”). And second, although there is some argumentation in this and the following paragraphs, it is important to see that this material is also partially explanatory. Kant is providing what he thinks is the only feasible explanation of “self”-awareness. 7 In the rest of the sentence, Kant appears to be making the following argument: suppose for reductio that P is a “representation” (mental state) that cannot be accompanied by “I think.” This is to say that the judgment that “I think that P” would be false. So then either it would not in fact be “represented in me” (i.e., P would not have content, i.e., be representational as we are supposing, thus “impossible”—RAA) or else P would not actually be one of my thoughts, hence “nothing for me.” The next sentence tells us that an intuition is “given prior to all thinking.” This of course does not mean that it is temporally prior to thinking in general. The point is that an intuition is an independent input to consciousness and to the cognitive processes of judgment in particular. By the result from the first sentence, it follows, as the third sentence states, that, within a human cognitive system (“subject”), all intuitions stand in a necessary relation to the “I think” representation. Kant then reiterates that this representation—and really, the relationship to this representation—is “an act of spontaneity.” This means that it is a function of the cognizer’s mental processes, as opposed to being determined by input. He is thus applying the point made in the first paragraph of §15 to the particular type of combination now under discussion, viz., possible conjoining with “I think.” The next sentence introduces the label “apperception,” contrasts “pure” or “original” apperception with “empirical apperception” and closes with a somewhat puzzling remark. Here, it is important to note that Kant has not yet fully explained either apperception or the unity of consciousness; that occurs in the subsequent paragraph. This is merely his lead-in. And the contrasting empirical apperception is not fully clarified until two sections later. He is thus introducing labels for notions that he is gradually explaining. And part of this clarification comes when he


Chapter 8

tells us that apperception “since it is that self-consciousness which, because it produces the representation I think, which must be able to accompany all other [representations] which in all consciousness is one and the same, cannot be accompanied by any further representation.” I take this to be more of an explanation than an argument. What he apparently means is that the content of “I” in the universal, necessary “I think” cannot include any further representation of consciousness, i.e., no further empirical content. The point, then, is that we must represent ourselves in a uniform, unchanging way in order to have an unchanging representation, viz., “I think,” to stand in a uniform relationship to all of our other representations. As is apparent from other passages, including several subsequent ones in the B deduction, Kant accepts Hume’s characterization of (empirical) introspection as an ever-changing array of impressions. If, say, yesterday I thought of myself as wise, but today I see myself as foolish, then yesterday’s empirical “I” has a different content from today’s empirical “I,” and so they are not identical representations (assuming identity of representations means identity of content), and so neither is a suitable candidate for an unchanging representation, to as it were, stand as an anchor in relation to all other representations. So the content of this “I” must be “pure,” “original,” i.e., unchanging rather than empirical. The following sentence parenthetically notes that the label “transcendental” applies to the unity of consciousness. Kant tells us it is because it “designates the possibility of a priori knowledge.” 8 As we have seen in examining the first edition, the complete explanation is that it is “transcendental” because the structure of this unity is the necessary structure of experience and of the world, a structure which is knowable a priori. The final sentence begins with “for,” but this is misleading since the connection is with the earlier part of the paragraph, not the remark about “transcendental.” Kant points out that all my representations, even those that I am not conscious of, e.g., potential representations that I might entertain, are, necessarily, “mine” in virtue of this relationship to my selfconsciousness. This seemingly tautological claim is actually an argument to show that there must be a universal self-awareness that is something over and above empirical representation of thoughts. For example, there is a difference between “triangle” (or even “triangle now”) and “I’m experiencing a triangle.” The latter, Kant argues, reflects the fact that the representation of a triangle has been brought into “accord” with the conditions of (my) self-awareness. What those conditions are becomes clearer in the next few paragraphs. But for the moment, the point is that in order for a thought to be mine, it must be related to my self-awareness, which is to say it must stand in a necessary relation of unity to all of my other thoughts. All my thoughts are unified in that they all possess the

The Revised Deduction


property, i.e., stand in the relation, of being thoughts that I am able to be conscious of. So what Kant has both explained and defended here is one identity of the Transcendental Trinity, namely, “self”-awareness = the representation of the necessary, synthetic unity of consciousness. This time he has not argued for necessary unity independently (although he does do that in the footnote). Instead, the necessary synthetic unity is offered as an explanation of the unity required by the concept “I think.” So we have a third argument for the necessary unity of consciousness: I am (and must be) able to conceive of all of my conscious thoughts as mine. Thus, all these conscious thoughts are unified under the concept “my (conscious) thoughts.” By the (presupposed) principle of unity under a concept, all these conscious states must necessarily have something in common that (synthetically) unifies them under this concept. Therefore, all conscious states of each individual must be somehow necessarily, synthetically unified. This argument is a badly needed completion of the Trinity framework, since, as we have considered in chapter 3, the presentation of transcendental apperception in the A TD does not offer reasoning to support the identity of “self”-awareness and the necessary unity of consciousness; so that seems to be simply explanatory. But we can easily adapt the above reasoning into such an argument (if it is not already apparent): the conception of “my consciousness” requires the necessary unification of consciousness. Since this concept is also co-extensive with (the independently established) necessary, synthetic unity of consciousness, and since there is no other candidate for what the unity underlying “my consciousness” could consist in, the inference to the only available explanation is this identity. The next paragraph supposedly begins with a set of points that can be “inferred” from this a priori unity (“original combination”), but really leads into a fuller explanation of this unity. The first three sentences finally clarify how, according to Kant, we can be aware of a combination of representations. The third sentence provides a simple and clear explanation. We are told that this awareness is a matter of “adding one representation to the other and being conscious of their synthesis.” So, I become aware of x, y by, via a process of “synthesis,” creating a representation with the content xy (or xRy—placing them in some relation), a (co-) representation that I am consciously aware of. Thus, Kant says that apperception “contains” a synthesis since the combined content is part of the content of the appreciative representation, e.g., “I am thinking of xy.” Awareness of x and awareness of y does not constitute awareness of xy unless there has been a combinatorial process and a resulting representation of xy. It is important to keep in mind that although Kant speaks of “adding” or “connecting,” what this actually amounts to is ordering sensations


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according to the categories (a priori conceptual rules) using spatial and temporal relations. The simplification to “connection in general” provides a useful abstraction away from the great complexity of the details of the categories and of time and space. And it also allows for easy comparison with empiricist association, which is a simple (temporal) connecting. One of the main thrusts of these passages is to make it clear why empirical association will not suffice to explain the unity of consciousness. An association of “red now” with “hot now” does not produce “I am experiencing both red and hot now.” There must be some conception of an unchanging “I” to form the common background for the concatenation of these representations. So here in the B TD we have a somewhat fuller explanation of transcendental apperception. “Original” apperception and thus the content of “I” are nothing more than the representation of the a priori synthesis that necessarily unifies consciousness and that makes empirical combination possible. Thus, I am aware of myself as an ordered, organized consciousness, and to be a thought of mine is to be related to thoughts via the a priori ordering (synthesis)—according to the categories—that organizes all of my thoughts. As Kant puts it in concluding summary near the end of the paragraph, “[s]ynthetic unity of the manifold of intuition, as given a priori, is thus the ground of the identity of apperception itself.” 9 As I conceive and represent myself, I am an interrelated set of thoughts. As I proposed in considering the A version, this can be described as the represented identity of consciousness. 10 As I have already discussed in chapter 7, Kant refers to this identity as an analytic first principle, e.g. at the start of the third paragraph of this section, but does not explicitly state it. I suggest this formulation: necessarily, if X is a representation that is part of my consciousness of, then I am aware of X in relation to the necessary unity of conscious states. It is important to see, though, that the analyticity of this principle is not the same as what he means by “the analytic unity of consciousness.” The latter is the idea that all of my conscious representations are unified under the concept “my conscious representations.” So they are analytically united under that concept. But, as Kant thus explains, this analytic (conceptual) unity is possible only because of a necessary synthetic unity. I am able to conceive of all my conscious states as mine only because of the necessary synthetic unification that occurs via (as we have not yet been told) applications of the categories. If it were not for this synthesis, there would be no “mineness.” Each awareness of each individual sense datum would be a separate self, with nothing to unite it with any of the other representations. Thus, “I” would not be a unified consciousness; there would be no “I,” but merely redness, blueness, etc.—”as multicolored and diverse a self as I have representations.” 11 In the footnote, Kant briefly recalls the argument from conceptual unity that we have examined in the A TD. As he here explains it, different

The Revised Deduction


instances of a kind (concept) must be distinct, i.e., they must “have something different in themselves.” Thus the identity of my consciousness cannot come from an identity of the instances, but must of course be the product of a priori synthesis. The parenthetical point about possible representations is this: suppose that you have a concept that you have only experienced one instance of. Still, in order for the concept in question to have generality, you have to be able to conceive other possible instances of it, thus possible instances that you could possibly be aware of, thus requiring the apperceive self-identity of consciousness. The note then ends by telling us that the unity of apperception “is the understanding itself,” which alludes to the fact that apperception applies the categories, which are concepts, so this unity is part of the understanding, which is the storehouse and applier of concepts. The sentence directly after the note helps to explain non-occurrent conscious thoughts or representations, e.g., things that I might experience but have not actually experienced, which are thoughts that I (potentially) can unite in my self-consciousness. I take it that the phrase “it itself is not yet the consciousness of the synthesis of the representations” refers to representations that can be united in self-consciousness but have not actually been united. I seemingly conceive these representations in an unspecified relation to my other thoughts. And, by the way, it seems to me that the specificity of the consciousness of this synthesis, i.e., interrelation, can come in degrees. I can think in a completely abstract way that I have never experienced diving to see a coral reef, or I can attempt to imagine what that would be like (with mental imagery), which in Kant’s terms amounts to generating a synthesis meant to simulate that experience, or finally if I actually experience diving to see a coral reef then I do literally experience the synthesis of these representations. In the middle of the final paragraph of §16, Kant contrasts our understanding with one “in which through self-consciousness all of the manifold would be given.” Later on he will offer the same contrast in terms of the intuition of objects (§21, also §17), but here the point is that such an understanding could intuit itself, whereas we must represent our identities via representing the unity of sensory intuitions. As I have noted in chapter 5, this is a preview of the psychological thought experiment that Kant uses to form the idea of the noumena. And, with the understanding of Kant’s representational realism in hand, we can, then attempt to sort out what he means by an understanding that could intuit. This may seem odd, since intuitions are perceptions, and thus seemingly not in the territory of the understanding. An indication of what he has in mind is given at §17 (B 138–39) when he describes an understanding that could intuit objects as “an understanding through whose representations the objects of the representations would at the same time exist” and likewise at §21 (B 145) an understanding that “would not represent given objects, but through whose representations the objects would themselves at the same


Chapter 8

time be given.” Based on these descriptions, I suggest that the contrast being drawn in all three passages is between indirect as opposed to direct awareness. Assuming the correctness of Kant’s view, we have merely indirect awareness of both external objects and of our thoughts that is the outcome of processing, i.e., synthesis. By contrast, we could imagine a being that had direct awareness of both, in particular, direct awareness of its own consciousness. Such a being would not need to rely on representations of its representations (i.e., would not need an inner sense), and their synthesized unity, to conceive of itself. And such a being would be directly aware of its metaphysical identity, e.g., it might intellectually intuit itself qua Cartesian mental substance, but given the inherent indirectness of our cognitions, we are only able to represent our identities, via the synthetic unity of experience. . . . AND REPRESENTATION §17 begins with an explanation of the remark in the section’s title, viz., just as the Aesthetic has established that all sensations “stand under,” i.e., are subject to, i.e., are organized in, “the formal conditions of space and time,” so the “manifold of intuition,” i.e., all sensations, “stand under conditions of the original synthetic unity of apperception,” which as we will eventually learn, is to say that they are “synthesized” (structured) according to the categories. The rest of the paragraph repeats several of the main points about combination, unity, and apperception that were established in the previous section. Having raised the topic of sensibility, Kant adds a footnote that provides an important clarification for the later part of the TD, although it is not very easy to understand. Citing a result from the Aesthetic, he tells us that space and time are “intuitions, thus, individual representations” which is to say that they are not “mere concepts by means of which the same consciousness is contained in main representations, but rather are many representations that are contained in one and in the consciousness of it.” The point about concepts refers to the awareness of multiple instances of a kind, e.g., dog—all intuitions that I apply this concept to are part of the same, viz., my consciousness, but it is certainly not true that all my experiences of dogs are united in one intuition. However, we do not experience separate times and spaces, but rather separate regions of one, unified, singular space and moments of one unified, singular time. Thus, we are (necessarily) aware of various individual spatial and temporal relations as part of unified space and unified time, i.e., we cannot be aware of a region of space or a moment of time without experiencing them as parts of unified space or unified time. So Kant states, or, perhaps, infers, that our experiences of space and time contain or include the synthetic unity of consciousness, i.e., they are singularly unified in the same

The Revised Deduction


way that consciousness is. As we will see, similar points are made, albeit in somewhat more complex and thus less clear language, in the footnote to §26. (So I suggest that the “25” is a typo for “26”). The second and third paragraphs of §17 play a crucial role, in that they introduce the concept of representation, and thus complete the Transcendental Trinity, i.e., the three-way identity between transcendental apperception, the a priori unity of consciousness, and the content of the object of representation in general (the concept of an object). Kant has stripped down the arguments concerning representation from the A preliminary exposition to a bare minimum. He has eliminated the argument against external correspondence, as well as any explicit avocation of the functional role account, and has also simplified his terminology, dropping the concept of the transcendental object. 12 I do not, however, see any reason to think that this constitutes a change in view. There are a good number of passages elsewhere in the Critique that refer to the transcendental object , and Kant left them unchanged in the rewritten edition. And, as we will see, the lone argument that he invokes here about representation does establish the identity of the concept of representation and the unity of consciousness, and thus still retains the same functional role view of representation. I suspect that, dissatisfied with the lack of understanding on the part of his readers of his presentation of his material in the first edition, he attempted to simplify his discussion of representation down to the minimum that he felt he needed in order to argumentatively support the overall framework. And that minimum was apparently simply the result that mental sates are made representational, i.e., given their object, in virtue of their participation in the a priori unity of consciousness. 13 The second paragraph contains an argument to establish the identity of representation and unity and the third then offers further explanation via an example. Unfortunately, it appears that Kant went too far in the direction of conciseness; I find it hard to imagine that anyone would understand the reasoning if they had not already grasped the related points in the A edition. He begins the argument by pointing out that cognitions, which psychologically belong to the understanding, i.e., are conceptual, “consist in the determinate relation of given representations to an object.” This is to say that cognitions involve mental states that have meaning, i.e., that are representational, i.e., that correspond to an object. We are then given the main, and unfortunately cryptic premise: “an object, however, is that in the concept of which the manifold of a given intuition is united.” It is tempting to think that Kant is thinking of specific physical objects which unite various (empirical) qualities. But while that is a specific way of unifying representations, it is not the only way they are united. To see what this passage is actually about, we need to note that it directly parallels the argument at A 104–5, which concludes that “insofar


Chapter 8

as they are to relate to an object our cognitions must also necessarily agree with each other in relation to it, i.e., they must have that unity that constitutes the concept of an object.” Kant reaches that result by first establishing the unity of consciousness of all instances of a concept, and then applying that to the obvious point that all cognitions are representational, i.e., they fall under the concept of an object of representation. It is apparent that this is the same point, but, as I say, without the discussion of the synthesis of recognition, it becomes rather difficult to appreciate what the basis for this claim is. What he is thus saying, in the second and third sentences respectively, is that 1) all of our cognitions are representational, so 2) the concept of representation, i.e., having an object, thus applies to all cognitions, so they are united under this concept. He then reminds us that “all unification of representations requires unity of consciousness.” This would imply that all representation—all content—requires the unity of consciousness. But Kant infers something stronger, namely that the unity “constitutes” representation. This is of course exactly what we should expect, given the A TD framework—this is the third part of the Transcendental Trinity, viz., unity, apperception and now representation. However, not even the slightest hint of argument for this identification is given here. What the “consequently” skips over is the additional premise that there is nothing else that all cognitions have in common beyond their relation to, or participation in, this unity, which then leaves this identity as the only feasible explanation of the content of the concept of the object of representation. In closing the sentence, Kant infers the “objective validity” of representations from their “relation . . . to an object.” Unfortunately, this notion of objective validity is also completely unexplained in this passage, even though it plays a central role in the next two sections. If we again look back to the A TD, we find that at A 109, in explaining the concept of the transcendental object, Kant says that this concept “is that which in all of our empirical concepts in general can provide relation to an object, i.e., objective reality.” So, first, it is apparent that when he speaks of “relation to an object” in the B TD, he is invoking exactly the same notion that he labeled “(the concept of) the transcendental object” in the A TD. As we have considered in chapter 5, to say that a thought has an object is to say that it represents something (or other), and since representing is a matter of having something (or other) correspond to our thoughts, it thus embodies the idea of there being a reality beyond our immediate experiences that we represent. Second, it is also true that since the concept of an object is the unity of consciousness, which is a priori, and since the unity is a result of a synthesis that applies various a priori rules, it follows that all humans (and all beings with the same general cognitive design as humans) will represent the same reality, i.e., will represent the same formal structure of reality. That is, the objects that we project for our thoughts will have the same formal structure. So having an object

The Revised Deduction


amounts to objectivity, i.e., objective reality and thus objective validity in that it is 1) in the case of spatial objects, a depiction of a reality apart from (subjective) thoughts, and 2) the synthetic structure that constitutes representation is a priori, i.e., is necessarily the same for all of us—it is how all humans conceive of reality. 14 This is, then, the parallel to the passage at A 111, which I consider the conclusion to the Objective Deduction. And here it is even more apparent that representation is the component of the Trinity that underlies objectivity. However, in this presentation, Kant has not mentioned the categories at all. That connection is left exclusively to the second, faculty coordination phase of the deduction. However, as I say, Kant’s efforts to simplify his treatment of representation have obviously gone way too far—this paragraph makes sense only if the reader already understands the notion of the (transcendental) object of representation, and moreover, already understands his arguments for the identity of the object of representation with the unity of consciousness. Fortunately, we have that understanding and can follow the rest of the discussion. 15 The third paragraph describes the a priori synthetic unity of apperception as that on which the whole rest of the use of the understanding is “grounded,” which is to say that, in particular, there can be no content/ representation without this unity. An example follows. Kant tells us that in order to obtain a cognition of a line, we must draw it, by which he presumably means either physically draw it or construct it in mental imagery, 16 which is a synthesis. He concludes that “the unity of this action is at the same time the unity of consciousness (in the concept of a line), and is thereby an object (a determinate space) first cognized.” So the simultaneous awareness of all of the points or segments of the line is a unified awareness of combined representations, and this is also an experience of a line as an object, located in real (or imagistic) space. This example illustrates not only the point about representation and unity, but also shows how the dormant form of space requires the unifying synthesis of consciousness in order to produce an experience. We can thus understand why the lead-in to this discussion of representation involves mention of the forms of sensibility. And the subsidiary point here along with the identification of representation with the unity of consciousness is that neither sensations nor the a priori forms of sensations represent anything until they are combined in the unity of apperception. The paragraph closes with what appears to be an exceedingly obscure contrast, “[t]he synthetic unity of consciousness is therefore an objective condition of all cognition, not merely something I myself need in order to cognize an object but rather something under which every intuition must stand in order to become an object for me” It may seem that there is no difference between “cognizing an object” and “becoming an object for me.” However, if we recall that, on the reading I have developed of


Chapter 8

Kant’s transcendental idealism, that the a priori unity of consciousness is what constitutes representation, and since representation is a matter of correspondence to objects (i.e., that which is represented), unity is literally what creates or “projects” that which I represent, i.e., it gives my mental states their objects, not through a connection with a mind-independent world, but rather, it establishes the structure of the world that I represent. So this sentence mentions “cognizing an object,” which is presumably a matter of the (synthetic) unity that a given concept brings with it, as in the triangle example from the A TD, viz., judging that something is a triangle requires being able to unite all possible triangle experiences. But such unity is consistent with the object existing independent of the synthesis, whereas the (necessary) synthetic unity of consciousness, on Kant’s view, does much more, it makes thoughts representational, thus the contrast is with “becoming an object for me,” i.e., giving thoughts their objects, i.e., projecting a corresponding object. Having finished this extremely concise treatment of representation, Kant closes the section with two paragraphs that really just repeat results from the previous section. The only potentially puzzling phrase is his reference to “this last proposition,” which I take it refers to the principle of the synthetic unity of apperception, since the points that follow, beginning with the analyticity of the principle that rests on synthetic unity, are recaps of the explanation of the synthetic unity of apperception from the previous section. The final paragraph likewise opens by citing “this principle,” and again contrasts our indirect cognition that involves the synthesis of experience with a being that directly intuits itself and the world. In a seemingly odd final remark, Kant states that “the human understanding cannot form for itself the least concept of another possible understanding; either one that would intuit itself or one that, which possessing a sensible intuition, would possess one of a different kind than one grounded in space and time.” One might object that he has thereby conceptualized both possibilities! But surely the point is that, to invoke Nagel’s apt phrase, we cannot form any conception of what it would be like to have direct experience of ourselves or of the world. And, as we have considered in chapter 5, the reason for this limitation is that the associated notion of the noumena is a merely negative, limiting notion. A positive conception of such an understanding would potentially allow a positive conception of the noumena, which Kant thinks is impossible. JUDGMENT AND THE CATEGORIES Having thus completed the exposition of the Transcendental Trinity of transcendental apperception, necessary unity and representation, Kant turns immediately to the faculty coordination task. The next section, §18, provides a clarification that sets up Kant’s linking of the categories with

The Revised Deduction


judgments. He contrasts the unity of apperception, which has been shown to be “objective” with the subjective unity of consciousness. We are told that it is objective because “it is united in the concept of an object,” which is to say that it is representational. This is, though, on the face of it highly problematic as a contrast with “empirical,” since we obviously have all sorts of empirical representations. Given our considerations above, we can see that what he really means here is that as a result of the fact that the manifold is united under the concept of an object, that unity is thereby “objective.” In particular, the concept of an object/unity is a priori for all of us, and thus as he later puts it, “necessary and universally valid.” The rest of the paragraph contrasts this a priori synthesis and unity of consciousness with empirical synthesis and unity, which are a matter of the contingent relations in inner sense that provide various associations of representations and that have no objective validity. As Kant says at the end of the paragraph, 17 “[t]o one man, for instance, a certain word suggests one thing, to another some other thing,” e.g., “beer” for me brings to mind a richly flavored ale, while for someone else it may be a watered-down lager. 18 There is also the earlier remark that “[w]hether I can become empirically conscious of the manifold as simultaneous or successive depends on the circumstances or empirical conditions.” This concerns the contingency of psychological processes underlying perception, including attention. Thus, it is hardly a priori or necessary that I am able to see my computer keyboard and monitor at the same time, or that I am able to attend to the positions of both of my hands at the same time, although both examples describe experiences that also involve the a priori, necessary synthesis and unity of consciousness along with various non-universal, subjective empirical connections that may or may not hold from experience to experience. But what Kant also mentions here, and that is easy to overlook, is that a priori unity “grounds the empirical synthesis [or better, syntheses],” and that “empirical unity . . . which is also only derived from” the original a priori unity. Another way to put it is that the a priori, objective unity of consciousness is a formal unity that underlies contingent, empirical partial unities, and, generally, empirical relations. While all my representations count as mine because they stand in relation to my other representations via this formal unity, it does not follow that I am aware of them all at once—empirical circumstances determine that. Likewise, the formal unity of consciousness is necessary in order to combine any of my representations empirically, and empirical circumstances determine which ones get combined and how. In §19, Kant raises the topic of judgment, which was wholly omitted from the A TD, and problematically so, since in the Metaphysical Deduction the categories are “deduced” in connection with judgment. That problem is addressed in this and the next section.


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In the first paragraph and the attached note, Kant expresses some misgivings about the standard account of judgments as “the representation of a relation between two concepts,” i.e., “P is Q.” 19 But he provisionally adopts the subject-predicate model and then raises the main issue, viz., how are we to understand this relation, the “is” in such judgments? He first tells us that a judgment is the “way to bring given cognitions to the objective unity of apperception.” He then states that the “aim,” viz., role of the copula “is” is “to distinguish the objective unity of given representations from the subjective.” An example follows which exhibits the difference between a judgment with objective validity, viz., “bodies are heavy [i.e., have weight]” versus one that has mere subjective validity, viz., “if I carry a body, I feel pressure of weight.” Two points are being made here. The first continues the contrast from the previous section, namely, empirical association can only support produce subjective validity; something more is needed in order to achieve objectivity. The second and main point appears to address the concern that since it is the necessary unity of consciousness that provides objective validity, we must somehow be able to connect our thoughts with that validity. Judgment, and specifically, the role of ‘is’, is thus offered to explain what underlies this needed connection. The first point should be clear. We will consider the second part in more detail. First, note that while Kant mentions both apperception and unity, the explanation of objective validity presumably concerns representation, since objective validity was just “deduced” in connection with that notion at B 137. So the connection with necessary unity in turns connects with objective validity in that unity also constitutes representation which in turn provides objective validity. The mention of apperception here is both not needed and thus very unhelpful. If one understands the identities of the Trinity, then it is apparent that the connection with apperception is thereby not only a connection with necessary unity but also with (the general concept of the object of) representation. But Kant’s presentation in this passage offers little hope of making that connection for the reader who has not already appreciated it. 20 Second, the claim that judgment, and in particular “is,” “brings” representations to necessary unity seems to be purely explanatory., i.e., there must be some way that this connection is made, and this would seem to be the only set of candidates. However, if we recall that we have now moved into the faculty coordination issue, thus seemingly the psychological, Subjective Deduction, then this makes sense. For we are no longer looking for a justification of the application of the categories to either experience or of the represented world, but are instead trying to understand how this generally established synthesis plays out in terms of psychological details. (And Kant is thereby seeking to connect the TD with the results of the Metaphysical Deduction.)

The Revised Deduction


Finally, note that this example might suggest a contrast between judgments that do and do not involve the categories. But that is a misunderstanding, since presumably the contrasting subjective judgment represents thoughts, and thus also involves categories. (As I explain below, it would appear that all judgments involve multiple categories.) The underlying difference rather seems to be that the objective judgment involves the category of “substance.” And, as we have seen earlier in the book, this is the crucial category for representation of the external world—in this case, the representation of a universal truth about that world, as opposed to the psychological truth of the contrasting example. Section 20 might appear to be a precise summary of the reasoning in all of the previous sections of the B TD. But that is incorrect; and it is perhaps the most misleading aspect of the B TD. What we have here is rather a fairly analytically pristine formulation of the first half of the subjective deduction, viz., explicitly connecting the categories with the intuitions. Thus, the first premise does not mention the reasoning behind the analysis of transcendental apperception and unity, but merely applies the result to intuitions, viz., the necessary, synthetic unity of consciousness is what grounds all further unities (including both further conceptual and also empirical unities) so all intuitions, as part of consciousness, are thus necessarily united. This makes it seem as though Kant is merely assuming either transcendental apperception or necessary unity. But, as I say, this is not a summary of the reasoning concerning these topics but is rather an application of the result. While this premise, as stated, supports the subsequent reasoning, it is worth noting that Kant seemed to intend something that is slightly different from what is actually presented here. The note attached to the first sentence of the next section says that the “grounds of proof [of the just stated result in §20] rest on the represented unity of intuition through which an object is given” (my emphasis), which Kant then says “always includes a synthesis” and “contains the relation to the unity of apperception.” This suggests that the first premise is the result of the following reasoning: a sensible intuition represents (“gives”) objects. But representation in general consists in the necessary unity of consciousness (by §17). (So once again, we are concerned not with apperception, but rather representation, and the identities of Transcendental Trinity are thus supposed rather than explained.) So an empirical representation must “stand under” the necessary unity of consciousness. The second premise restates the (explanatory) result just drawn in the previous section, namely that the logical function of judgment is how representations are “brought under an apperception,” i.e., connected with the necessary unity of consciousness. We then have a sub-conclusion that also expands the explanation. We will consider it in two parts. First, all representations (“manifold”) “insofar as they are given in one empirical intuition,” i.e., a united intuition, by the first premise, some-


Chapter 8

how “belongs under” the necessary unity of consciousness. 21 So, by the second premise, it must thus be brought to this necessary unity via judgment. Kant then adds that this means that it is “determined in regard to one of the logical functions of judgment.” This, though he does not mention it, comes from the Metaphysical Deduction, viz., judgments are functions of unity and every judgment thus involves one (or more, as I consider below) functions of unity. Judgments are application of concepts that thus “determine,” i.e., conceptually unify. So what we have so far is that all unification of intuitions is grounded in the necessary unity of consciousness. Judgments are the psychological mechanisms for connecting representations with this general unity, at least as far as the understanding is concerned. 22 (They consist of various forms of unifying function). So a unified intuition must be the result of unification via judgment. Kant then adds, apparently citing the Metaphysical Deduction, 23 that the categories “are nothing other than these very functions for judging, insofar as the manifold of a given intuition is determined with regard to them.” It thus follows that all representations “in a given intuition necessarily stand(s) under the categories.” This is the desired faculty coordination result that necessarily connects the categories with representations in intuitions. It might appear that the Metaphysical Deduction has established that the categories are simply identical with the unifying forms of judgment, although the “insofar” clause may suggest that it is not quite so simple. (I discuss this in appendix C.) However, as long as the categories are at least closely connected with every judgment, the inference is fine. What does seem problematic, though, is that §19 has not established that every judgment is connected with necessary unity, but only those that exhibit objective validity. So presumably, what Kant must mean here is that since every intuition involves necessary unification, there must be (possible) judgments that involve objective validity that thus connect the understanding with the necessary unity of consciousness. And this is obviously correct as far as experiences of the external world are concerned, since as we have considered at various points above, the representation of the external world involves the category of substance which is just the sort of judgment of objective validity that Kant presents. On the other hand, experiences of thoughts do not involve this category. However, with representations of thoughts we connect with the point about potentially being able to judge “I think,” thus connecting with transcendental apperception and thus necessary unity. So, with these clarification about judgments, the argument seems successful. I will add, though, that there is no reason to think that Kant is telling us that just a single category serves to unite a given intuition. Rather, it would seem that, a typical experience involves a wide variety of applications of the categories. The argument applies a minimal claim, namely that a judgment involves at least one of the categories. But if we look at a

The Revised Deduction


sample case, it is clear that most judgments will actually involve four of the categories since they exhibit four of the logical functions, one from each of the four “titles” (see §9). For instance: Some dogs are friendly.

is a particular, affirmative, categorical, assertoric judgment. And thus four of the categories are seemingly in play here, viz., “plurality,” “reality,” “inherence/predication” and “existence/actuality.” However, again, the purpose of the argument in §20 is not to establish precisely how the categories apply to intuitions but merely to broadly connect the two. NOTES 1. The side of the B TD that concerns psychological explanations of the necessary unity of consciousness is nicely expounded by Edgar (2010), although he simply ignores all of Kant’s argumentation. 2. Kant could have described this, in a more helpful way, as explanation via a “psychological law.” 3. As we will see, this becomes a crucial point at the close of the second half of the TD in §26. 4. Alternatively, one can think of the “senses” (e.g., the retinas) as active processors of input, but it will still be possible to distinguish the initial inputs from the “sensory” processes. In a functionalist understanding of Kant’s faculty psychology, any such processing would be a synthesis, attributed to the imagination. 5. Notice that the view that concepts are rules for combining representations makes concepts less distinct from the rest of cognitive processing—as it were, less special—than the history of philosophy would have us believe. In particular, it does not limit concepts to a linguistic cognition or a “language faculty.” It then becomes much easier to see how concepts (or non-linguistic equivalents, viz. “schemata”) could be involved in relatively early perceptual processing, including pre-conscious processing. 6. And the footnote at B 131 clarifies that being aware of the same representation at different times also requires the synthetic unity of consciousness, viz., that it is the same consciousness at both times. Thus, e.g., while “A = A” is an analytic truth, that truth does not account for the identity of “I represent” in “I represent A at t1 and I represent A at t2.” 7. See appendix G for a critical evaluation of Strawson’s self-attribution treatment of apperception. 8. Note that this sentence provides strong support for the reading of “transcendental” that I introduced in chapter 2. 9. This seems to reverse what we are apparently told at A 106–7, viz. that transcendental apperception is the ground of necessary unity (and thus also of the concept of the object of representation). The B version seems correct to me—necessary, synthetic unity that is the basis of both a priori “self”-awareness and of representation. 10. The content of the “I think” is further clarified in §25, which I discuss near the end of the next chapter. 11. The phrasing in this sentence is not ideal, because really the point is that there could not be co-consciousness of diverse representations. In Kant’s defense, one might argue that consciousness as we know it, i.e., what it’s like to be a conscious human, is necessarily unified, so we have no way to portray what it would be like to have disunified (Humean) experience. Seemingly, there would be no “what it’s like” and no “experience.”


Chapter 8

12. So, sans the discussion of correspondence and thus of the transcendental object, the B presentation of representation would almost seem to be consistent with a phenomenalist interpretation. This is somewhat ironic since in the Prolegomena and at other points in the B version of the Critique, Kant clearly wanted to show that he was a realist and not a Berkelean idealist. 13. An additional reason for the greatly abbreviated treatment of representation may be that in the A addition the only way that the categories are connected with unity and apperception is via representation, i.e., the “concept of an object in general.” As we will soon consider, Kant brings judgment into the B TD, thus connecting the TD framework with the inventorying of the categories in the MD. 14. The inter-subject aspect of objectivity is highlighted in §22 of the Prolegomena. 15. So it seems to me that one cannot fully understand the B TD unless they consult the A version as well. 16. Recall the remark about the parallel example of the triangle in the A TD, and the explanation at A 713/B 741. 17. Here I use Kemp-Smith’s translation which makes the point much clearer. 18. Perhaps it may seem that Kant is being unfair to the empiricist here, for surely even if there are many completely arbitrary or wildly varying associations, there are also many associations that everyone should have since they are caused by important features of the external world, e.g., the association of smoke and fire. However, 1) still, there is no guarantee that all people will have even the most common associations and 2) according to standard associationistic psychology, the strength of association will vary from person to person, depending on how often the combination has been experienced. 19. The remark in the note mentions the thesis that the categorical form of judgment is somehow primary, which he must reject since he has argued in the Metaphysical Deduction (§9) that there are twelve distinct forms of judgment, that in turn correspond to the twelve distinct categories. Since none of the latter is in any sense primary, none of the former can be either. One might, charitably, also read into these remarks the first glimmerings of the insight that a different conception of logical form (viz., truth functional connectives) is required in order to fully explain the semantic structure of sentences. 20. As I mention again below, the note attached to the first sentence in §21 does clarify the connection with representation, but I do not see why Kant did not simply mention it here. 21. There have been worries about the translation of the pronoun here, viz., should it be “an intuition,” or, as adopted by Guyer and Wood, “one intuition”? I think that Kant’s point concerns a unified intuition, so the latter seems preferable. 22. It may seem that Kant is telling us that the categories unify only via their application in judgments, which would appear to be a drastic change from the A edition explanation of the categories’ role in the unifying synthesis of intuitions. But I do not think that his view actually changed between editions—see appendix D. 23. As Guyer and Wood note, it has been suggested that the “§13” is a typo for “§10,” the Metaphysical Deduction. And this is what I have assumed here. But it may be that it is the paragraph at the very end of §13, that explains the categories, using “substance” as an example, that Kant is referring to—see appendix C.

NINE The Revised Deduction Second Part

The second half of the B TD raises the immediate question of why further considerations are needed at all. WHY A SECOND PART? The “remark” in §21 puzzles most readers, since it seems that Kant has fulfilled the main goal of the TD by justifying the application of the categories to any intuition. But after summarizing the argument of the previous section in the first paragraph and accompanying note, Kant tells us that this shows that the “empirical consciousness of a [unified] intuition stands under a pure a priori self-consciousness” and then says that this is the beginning of a deduction of the categories. Why, we wonder, is this not enough to finish their deduction? Since it has been shown that the categories validly apply to any empirical intuition, why is this not already sufficient? What Kant proceeds to tell us is that the proof so far has only established the necessity of the categories in regard to the understanding; he has abstracted away from “the way in which the manifold for an empirical intuition is given.” He then tells us that in §26 he will show that “from the way in which the empirical intuition is given in sensibility that its unity can be none other than the one the category prescribes to the manifold of a given intuition in general,” and that by doing this, “the aim of our deduction will first be fully attained.” With the reading I have developed we can make ready sense of these remarks. Kant has just connected the categories with the synthetic unifi151


Chapter 9

cation of intuitions that constitutes the Trinity of apperception, unity, and representation. This, in the new version, is the first half of the faculty coordination project. The remaining task to be completed is to also connect the categories with the a priori forms of sensibility, viz., space and time. This will then complete the second project, the Subjective Deduction, and thus fully complete the overall TD undertaking. 1 And this is significant—the relationship between the two types of a priori forms, viz., space and time, and the categories, was not explicitly defended or even otherwise explained in the A TD. So one might well wonder exactly how the forms of sensibility are connected with the general synthetic unity that has been derived in the primary TD framework. And this primarily explanatory answer is what we now get. But, as I mentioned in the previous chapter, the text of the second part of the B TD is highly misleading, since, as we will see, the main investigation is very short. Kant takes advantage of this brevity by inserting a substantial amount of subsidiary material that clarifies various notions that are mentioned in the process of “deducing” the categories. However helpful some of these explanations may be, they are not essential to the main explanations and arguments of the TD. Specifically, what I will now show is that (the first part of) §24 and §26 alone carry out that main purpose. I proceed to explain these sections, and the concluding remarks, and will then offer explanations of the supporting passages. SENSIBILITY AND UNITY Section 24 opens with an unfortunate instance of Kant’s occasional lapses into extreme verbosity, particularly in the long third sentence. It is thus useful to begin by noting the points made in the first two paragraphs before examining the text itself. We have established that there is an a priori synthesis that applies to consciousness in general, and thus to any possible intuition. This synthesis amounts to a set of rules, viz., the categories, for combining and generally ordering representations. But since, as Kant has argued in the Aesthetic, our senses have a priori forms, viz., space and time, there is also a more specific a priori synthesis—the synthesis that applies the categories to these specific forms, i.e., that combines and orders spatial and temporal relations. Kant terms this “figurative” synthesis, which is particularly apt for the synthesis of spatial relations, since this includes geometric figures. And likewise, the figurative temporal synthesis is what, according to Kant, underlies mathematics. He does not however here mention any of this, which might have made his point clearer. Indeed, he does not even explicitly mention space or time. A relatively simple point is being made in the lengthy first paragraph, namely that we can distinguish conscious synthesis in general from the synthesis of the specific a priori forms of our sensibility, viz., space and

The Revised Deduction


time. This, incidentally, is distinct from any empirical syntheses of sensory input. Turning to the text, the first sentence tells us that the categories are “forms of thought,” related to “objects of intuition in general.” Kant is saying that we have a priori rules for combining and organizing sensory input, regardless of what it is like. But without any specific sensory input, there is no actual ordering of elements 2 (since there is no input to order) and thus nothing is actually represented—”no determinate object is yet cognized.” What we have is purely conceptual synthesis, without the representation of concrete objects, or for that matter an actual world. Kant labels this a “purely intellectual” synthesis, which results in the unity of consciousness (apperception) in general. The next sentence begins by mentioning “a certain form of sensible intuition a priori,” that is, the a priori forms of space and time, that exist as a “capacity for representation,” i.e., they involve the potential for representation, but only when we both receive sensory input, and, as Kant is about to tell us, synthesize the input according to the categories. Since sensibility has these a priori forms, the understanding, through synthesis of appearances, can create an a priori representation of sensory objects in general, i.e., “think a priori synthetic unity of the apperception of the manifold of sensible intuition.” To put it another way, since there is a priori structure, i.e., a priori material in sensibility, it can undergo the synthesis of apperception. Thus, it is possible for us to have an a priori representation not just of intuitions in general, but of the spatial-temporal world. That is, it is possible for us to discern the a priori spatial, temporal structure that “all objects” that we experience through the senses must conform to. This form would thus constitute the a priori structure of the objective world, and since it would be a result of synthesis according to the categories, the categories would validly apply to it, viz., to the objective world. Such a synthesis of the a priori forms of sensibility would produce spatial and temporal “applicability” conditions (roughly, truth conditions) for the categories. The intellectual synthesis in and of itself does not yield any such conditions. What this apparently means is, for example, that since time is the a priori form of all our actual sensations, we can form an a priori conception of causality, viz., as a cause necessarily preceding an effect, or, using space, we can know a priori that substance is the “perduring” matter in which attributes adhere. But without any specific form of intuition, causality is simply the necessary connection between cause and effect with the latter dependent on the former, and substance is simply that in which properties (or predicates) adhere. The important thing to realize here is that this is all merely explanatory. Kant is conceptually distinguishing intellectual versus figurative synthesis, and noting that the latter is possible given that we have a priori forms of sensibility. I have summarized his explanations subjunctively, since he has not yet established that we do carry out such a synthesis—in §26 it is established that we must do so. But the purpose of the present


Chapter 9

section is to explain the idea of a synthesis that applies to the specific (a priori) forms of sensation as opposed to a synthesis that applies just to consciousness in general, and thus to distinguish the synthesis that was under discussion in the first half of the TD from the one that is relevant for the second half. And, as I say, this explanation sets up the main point in §26, although Kant does not actually use his newly defined term (“figurative”) there. And as we will also see, this explanation is also important in the explanation of the a priori status of the laws of nature. The distinction does raise several questions. It suggests that there are two different orderings, the figurative and the intellectual, but this cannot be right, since there is only one unified consciousness. And the categories are the basis for both unifications. Thus, what Kant is distinguishing must be two types of possible applications of the unification that applies the categories, one that operates on sensory input which includes the a priori forms of sensibility, and the other that unifies consciousness in general. 3 The main point of the subsequent paragraph is to explain that although the figurative synthesis involves structure from the senses, it nevertheless also involves a priori rules from the understanding, i.e., the categories. Put this way, there is seemingly nothing to explain, but Kant must reconcile this with elements of his functionalist faculty psychology. In particular, he needs to deal with the fact that the imagination is conceived as the faculty of sensory combination, viz., empirical association. 4 In the A TD, Kant argued that the imagination must also have a conceptual, transcendental function, namely it must apply the categories as a part of sensory syntheses. That is re-explained here, but in the second to last sentence, he tells us that the intellectual synthesis does not use the imagination. But he does not explain what intellectual synthesis consists in. However, if we consider that synthesis is a matter of unifying representations, and that judgment involving unifying functions, then the obvious explanation is that purely intellectual synthesis involves only conceptual reasoning, which is of course what the remark “merely through the understanding” suggests. Commentators have often thought that this passage marks a change from the A TD, since in the first half of the connected TD, the synthesis of the unity of apperception was attributed to the imagination. However, there is no reason to think that in virtue of this distinction, Kant is somehow implying that this purely intellectual synthesis, i.e., purely conceptual reasoning, is what generally underlies the unity of consciousness. (Although, presumably, when we conceptually reason, we are often making judgments that [connecting with the point in §19] “bring their cognitions to the unity of apperception.”) Having thus clarified figurative synthesis—and really, it is primarily the first paragraph that turns out to be relevant to the completion of the deduction—Kant resumes the main argument in §26. The first sentence

The Revised Deduction


recalls both the Metaphysical Deduction and the first portion of the TD. (Here we may note again that although he claims to have “established” the “origin” of the categories in the MD, in truth he did not fully explain the relationship between the categories and types of judgments until the last paragraph of §13.) And it is also noteworthy that he mentions both §20 and §21, which is puzzling, since the first half of the deduction supposedly ends at §20. Perhaps he is acknowledging that it is only in the footnote to the first sentence of §21 that the reasoning that underlies §20 is fully explained. In any case, Kant then proceeds to tell us what he thinks he still needs to establish. It is not the possible a priori cognition of “the form of intuition”—that is presumably the a priori form that underlies representation, and thus the Trinity, viz., the unity in the first premise of §20. Rather, the deduction is not yet complete because he has not accounted for the “laws of combination” of “whatever objects may come before our senses.” Since what is yet to happen in the investigation is the explicit connection with space and time, this implies that these laws of combination are somehow essentially spatial and temporal. And this is, indeed, reasonable conception of physical (scientific) laws. So seemingly, until the overall unity of consciousness is appropriately connected with the forms of space and time, it is possible that our experiences, although they are synthesized and unified so as to represent objects, depict a haphazard world (or a non-unified world), one that does not consist of well-formed spatial objects that behave in accord with natural law, and thus not according to the categories. This enhances the importance of this part of the project, perhaps making it clear why the Objective Deduction alone was not sufficient for Kant’s purposes. 5 Kant then introduces the synthesis of apprehension, the topic that began the A TD. He does not explain it, but there is no reason to think that he has anything different in mind than he did in the prevision edition. What is important to note, though, is that the synthesis of apprehension is normally conceived as empirical, which was explained in the A version, and is also mentioned a little later at B 164. What Kant needs to show is that there is an a priori, and necessary synthesis of apprehension in addition to the empirical one. 6 The next long paragraph presents the concluding argumentation of the main TD investigation. Kant first points out that all synthesis of appearances must “be in agreement” with the a priori forms of space and time, which is apparently to say that all experiences must contain spatial and temporal relations as their form. The next sentence tells us that in addition to representing (i.e., experiencing) space and time as forms of intuitions, they are also “intuitions themselves (which contain a manifold), and thus with the determination of the unity of this manifold in them.” What he is saying is that we experience a single, unified space and


Chapter 9

time; we experience spatial relations as part of the space, and all times are part of the time. Kant refers us to the Aesthetic for these claims. He probably has in mind the passages where he argues that “one can only represent a single space, and if one speaks of many spaces, one understands by that only parts of one and the same space” (A 25/B 39), and likewise for time. There he concludes that space and time are (originally) intuitions, not concepts. The point now is that they are unified intuitions, that consist of a collection (“manifold”) of things, including spatial and temporal relations, that have been unified. Thus, I know a priori that every external experience that I will have will be of a unified portion of the single space, and likewise every experience will be of a unified moment of the single time. 7 The attached note is meant to clarify this, but the first sentence is unfortunately obtuse. Here is what he is saying: an example of “space represented as object” would be the experience of a square, e.g., a visual image of a square. To see what Kant means by “the form of intuition,” imagine a list of all of the spatial relations of the figure, viz., four joined straight lines of equal length, four right angles, all listed individually, e.g., line of length one, angle of ninety degrees, etc., along with a specification of where the lines are located in visual space. The “comprehension” of the figure is the simultaneous experience of all of these relations and features; thus, the “formal intuition” is different from the list, the “form[s] of intuition.” The formal intuition is the result of unifying, i.e., collecting together and ordering, the manifold of the form of intuition. Kant admits that he attributed this unity to the sensibility in the Aesthetic, since it is not (purely) conceptual. As he has explained in §24, this a priori unity is a result of applying the categories to the a priori forms of space and time. To say that this unity “belongs” to space and time is to say that the result is an intuition that we experience as (a) unified space and time. The next sentence also contains several problematic clauses. First, “unity of the synthesis of the manifold, outside or within us,” i.e., unity of synthesis of the manifold that represents that which is outside or within us and thus is experienced as being outside or within us. Second, “a combination . . . is already given a priori along with (not in) these intuitions.” Since Kant has used and highlighted the word “combination,” this presumably invokes the point made in §15 that combination does not come from the input. Rather than saying “is given along with,” Kant might have said “is added to (rather than given in).” So the point is that it is an a priori condition of all apprehension is that we experience a unified space and a unified time, and this a priori unity is the result of cognitive processing, i.e., synthesis. Kant then argues that this unity “can be none other than” the a priori unity of general consciousness, viz., the result of synthesis via the categories, applied to sensible intuition. He does not bother to offer a reason for this seemingly crucial inference, although there are at least two

The Revised Deduction


possible reasons. One might argue that since there can only be one a priori unity of consciousness, this a priori unity must be one and the same with the unity of apperception. But this doesn’t exactly specifically show that it has to be the categories that were used to create this unity. Better, then, would have been the argument that since space and time are experienced as objective, i.e., this unity represents them as the structure of the objective world, and since representation is identical with the general a priori unity of consciousness, it follows that the a priori unity of space and time is this same general unity. 8 If we connect this result with §20, as Kant appears to do implicitly, it follows that since we unify and thus represent space and time as part of the same a priori ordering that underlies the general unity of consciousness, the categories are thus guaranteed to apply to the thus represented spatial, temporal world. And, I might add, what we really have, if we connect the previous points, is a psychological explanation of the unities of space and time that were established in the Aesthetic. They are the result of a figurative synthesis of apprehension by the productive imagination that applies the categories. That is, it is imagistic, non-stimulus-driven perceptual processing that assembles a unified representation from parts (“apprehension”), applying the (schematized) categories as structurally unifying rules. WRAP UP: EXAMPLES, LAWS, AND FORMAL IDEALISM After concluding the primary investigation, Kant presents two examples that are meant to illustrate the result that the unity of space and time is unity that is structured by the categories. The first one is reasonably intelligible. It is similar to the example of the square that I gave above. “Apprehension of the manifold” is explained as drawing the shape of the house “in agreement with” a priori synthetic spatial unity, that is, it involves categorical organization of spatial relations. The long-winded second sentence simply indicates that if we abstract away from spatial relations, we are left with the category of quantity. That is, the only characteristics of the shape that are not spatial are the quantitative aspects, i.e., the lines have a measurable length and the angles have a measurable degree. In the attached footnote, Kant says that this is an instance of “proving” that the empirical synthesis of apprehension must agree with the synthesis of apperception, which is to say that the former, like the latter, is unified via the categories. One could also say that this shows that apprehension has an a priori as well and an empirical component, or that there is an a priori synthesis of apprehension as well as an empirical one. And all of these are ways of saying that the processes that underlie apprehension follow not only empirical but also a priori rules, viz., the categories.


Chapter 9

This note also suggests that if there is any doubt that the unity of apprehension involves exactly the same concepts as does the a priori unity of apperception, we can abstract away from spatial and temporal relations to verify that the same concepts underlie both unities—that is what I take the “proof” to consist in. The second example is of perceiving freezing water: we experience a sequence of two temporal states, first water then ice. We must determinately perceive the events in this order, otherwise we would be experiencing melting rather than freezing. If we abstract away the idea of temporal sequence, we are left with the categorical concept of cause and effect. In the process of making this simpler point, Kant also mentions that time is the form of inner intuitions, that the (necessary) determination of the order of these events is a result of the synthetic unity of inner experience, and that the concept of cause determines “everything that happens in time,” that is, the determinate order of all events is conceived as a result of cause and effect. This particular example is useful since it explains how the concept of causation can be applied temporally, which is perhaps the least obvious temporal application of a category, thus previewing the more detailed treatment of causation in the Principles. Kant then turns to the topic that closes the second half of the A TD, viz., that “nature” follows our a priori concepts. In particular, there is the question of why it should be that the laws of nature, viz., scientific laws, conform to these concepts. The discussion is similar to that of the A edition, and perhaps a little more helpful, although Kant leaves out the explanation of the understanding as the faculty of rules. The first sentence begins with the point that it is unproblematic to explain how the laws of appearances conform to the categories. The explanation is in the subsequent sentence, but it is another instance of Kant’s awkward verbosity. Kemp-Smith’s wording is preferable, 9 “For just as appearances do not exist in themselves but only relatively to the subject in which, so far as it has senses, they inhere, so the laws do not exist in the appearances but only relatively to this same being, so far as it has understanding.” A slightly simpler and more explanatory way of putting it would be that just as appearances exist only under the conditions of sensibility in the perceiving subject, so the laws of appearances exist only in relation to the combinatorial conditions of the understanding. The next two sentences tell us, respectively, that although the lawfulness of things in themselves would have no relation to our cognitive system, appearances do have such a relation. Kant is invoking his transcendental idealism; as he usually puts it, “we have to do only with appearances, not with things in themselves.” This passage thus shows, contrary to those commentators who would suggest that Kant transformed himself into a metaphysical realist in the B edition, that he is still adhering to the same sort of idealism that was in play in the A edition. 10

The Revised Deduction


What follows in the next three sentences is a recap of the second half of the deduction, specifically, about how our cognitive processes interweave sensibility and the categories, viz., all connection comes from cognitive processing; the imagination unifies sensations via the categories. The first half of the next sentence then reviews what was established earlier in the section, that all empirical apprehension depends on the transcendental unity of space and time, so that everything that “reaches empirical consciousness, i.e., all appearances of nature, stand under the categories.” Kant then proceeds to present what is seemingly the same view of scientific laws that he offered in the A version, viz., that the lawfulness of nature depends on the categories, but this time with a slight modification. He characterizes nature in general as “a priori laws,” and contrasts this with “particular laws” that “concern empirical determined appearances” so that they “cannot be completely derived from the categories.” He adds that “experience must be added in order to come to know particular laws at all.” These latter two points are seemingly illustrated in Kant’s example from the Transcendental Doctrine of Method, “[t]hus if wax that was previously firm melts, I cognize a priori that something must have preceded (e.g., the warmth of the sun) on which this has followed in accordance with a constant law, though without experience, to be sure, I could determinately cognize neither the cause from the effect nor the effect from the cause a priori and without instruction from experience” A 766/B 794. This is consistent with what he says about the “legislation of nature” in the A version, and I have already discussed the issues that raises about scientific methodology. I will now add a few remarks about the first point Kant suggests here, viz., that the categories are the “necessary ground” of the “original lawfulness” of nature. One could take the phrase “original lawfulness” to refer to the Principles, e.g., necessarily, every event has a cause. And that is what the above quoted example suggests, viz., we know a priori that whatever happens, necessarily happens as the effect of a cause in accordance with some constant law. However, I suspect that Kant had a more substantial conception of the a priori laws of nature—and thus a priori science—in mind here. Recall that between the editions of the Critique, he produced the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, in which he offers proofs for a substantial number of principles about motion, purportedly derived completely a priori from the categories together with non-empirical considerations about space and time. 11 This is apparently what underlies Kant’s statement at B 165 that the lawfulness of appearances as concerns “nature in general” rests solely on the categories and space and time. It is also consistent with his remark in the A TD that the “highest” laws of nature “come from the understanding itself a priori, and are not borrowed from experience” (A 126).


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Having presented his view that we can have a priori knowledge of nature in general, in the first paragraph of the next section Kant now argues that a priori knowledge is limited to knowledge of “objects of possible experience.” The justification focuses on the concept of an object, viz., that we cannot either “think” (i.e., make a judgment about) “an object except through the categories” or “cognize” (i.e., represent) “an object except through intuitions that correspond to those concepts.” Kant might explained more fully that since our ability to represent (an object) is constituted by the unity prescribed by the categories, they are a necessary ingredient in any knowledge, and thus in any a priori knowledge. He hastens to add, in the footnote, that intuition is not required for thinking of objects, and that there are “true and useful consequences” of so doing, in regard to “the subject and willing.” What he has in mind here is clearly his views concerning the foundations of ethical theory that he had, seemingly, developed more fully after the first edition of the Critique was complete, in particular, the view that practical reason depends on the postulation of responsible agents with free will, even though we cannot know that we are such beings via the application of theoretical reason. I will consider this remark further when I examine §23, which appears to contradict this point. For the time being, I will merely mention that what Kant says in the note is certainly consistent with the functional role reading I have developed; it can be maintained that the functional roles that constitute meaning exist in the cognitive system abstractly, apart from experiences, i.e., there are interrelations of the concepts/rules, that can be used in thinking, apart from their application to experiences, which is what Kant needs for his approach to ethics. The next paragraph once again returns to the topic of the initial dilemma (A 92/B 124–25), and thus broadly corresponds to the “Summary representation” at A 128-30, although the discussion here is very different—no effort is made to summarize the Trinity. This time when Kant restates the seeming prongs, it is not presented as a dilemma, but is instead given as a pair of options that underscore the project of the TD. The second choice is no longer that “representation makes the object possible”—which is seemingly one way to understand Kant’s view—but rather the less idealistic idea of an agreement between experience and the concepts of its objects. As usual, he rejects the initial alternative since a priori concepts cannot come from experience, and explicitly accepts the latter option, which, following the discussion in the previous paragraphs, he describes as the categories containing “the grounds of the possibility of all experience,” viz., the understanding creates the a priori structure of experience. Perhaps the most interesting part of the paragraph, though, is his use of the term “epigenesis” to describe his view. Guyer and Wood note that this comes from “the biological theory that the germ cells of the two parents give rise to the embryo as a new product, rather than as the evolution of something preformed.” This coheres with my reading of

The Revised Deduction


Kant’s realism/idealism as the view that the synthesis of apperception takes perceptual input and applies the categories so as to represent an external world; the (“phenomenal”) world is thus projected out of these ingredients. The final paragraph might be an attempt to add support to the claim that closes the A version, viz., that the ground that has been used for the deduction is “the only possible one among all.” Kant considers and rejects one other alternative, viz., the categories have been innately implanted in us by God who has designed us and the world so that our use of them agrees with the laws of nature in the world. 12 He parenthetically remarks that this would require an endless supply of predetermined judgments, but then rests his dismissal of that view on the fact that such judgments would lack genuine necessity—they would rest on the subjective feeling of necessity rather than on actual necessity. 13 One more final, very, very brief summary follows. Here Kant focuses exclusively on the faculty coordination issue. He tells us that he has “exhibited” the categories, which, again, invokes the idea of explanation as much as argumentation. He first mentions the result about the categories as “principles of the possibility of experience” which seemingly alludes to §20 and then mentions the result from §26 about the “determination” (i.e., necessary unity) of space and time. Both of these more specific results are then connected with the unity of apperception, which completes the faculty coordination task. LIMITATIONS AND BOUNDARIES Since we can understand the sections that I have covered in the second half of the B TD as presenting a cogent line of explanation and reasoning that concludes in §26, the remaining passages can best be understood as consisting of explanatory asides that are not part of any of the main arguments. Nonetheless, we will now work through these passages, both for the sake of textual completeness, and for the purpose of developing as complete as possible an understanding of Kant’s overall outlook. 14 The first aside begins with the second paragraph of §21. Kant tells us that in the earlier portion of the TD he could not abstract away from the fact that “the manifold for intuition must already be given prior to the synthesis of understanding and independent of it.” This is to say that our cognitive system is designed to require some sort of sensory input, so that he was unable to explain the role of the categories without presupposing some sort of intuition, although he was able to extract away from the precise way form sensations that are given in, viz., in space and time. The next two sections are an extended set of reflections that are related to this point.


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In the next sentence, Kant again mentions an understanding that, unlike ours, is able to have direct intuitions of objects. This time he suggests that such an understanding might be “divine,” perhaps because he also suggests that the objects might be “produced” by the understanding, rather than given. Note that this suggests a way that there could be direct awareness. On the one hand, it seems that any representation of things external to the thinker must involve some indirectness, as it were, the gap between the representation and the thing represented. However, if the act of representation thereby creates the object, then this is about as direct a connection as there could be. The rest of the sentence and that which follows provides an extremely interesting clarification. Kant tells us the categories would have no “significance at all,” since, (skipping to the end of the next sentence) their proper use is to combine and order “the material for cognition,” i.e., sensory input. I remark that “order” is Kant’s best turn of phrase for the role that the categories play. (I have been using the term throughout). In any case, what he is telling us here is that it is a mistake to think that we can somehow apply the categories to things as they are in themselves independent of sensory mediation. It is thus tempting to think that the categories are literally meaningless apart from sensation, but Kant does not quite say that here, only that we cannot cognize via the categories without sensation. As we will see shortly, this allows him to maintain both a boundary on possible metaphysics as well as to allow for the valid use of the categories beyond experience in his approach to ethics. The final sentence is perhaps the most interesting one in this passage. Kant tells us that there is no “further ground,” i.e., no possible explanation, of why we have the a priori forms of space and time, the categories, and the functions of judgment that we do. This shows that any interpretation of the TD that takes him to be proving something about any possible consciousness, or any possible empirical perceiver, is mistaken. It also shows that Kant is not proving, in either the TD or the Metaphysical Deduction (MD), that we must have the categories that we do have. Rather, it would seem that in the MD he thinks he has discovered the categories that we do in fact have, and the TD explains and argues for the valid application of these categories to experience and to the world. 15 The next two sections, which might just as well have been grouped as a single section, expand on the point that the categories are rules for organizing sensory input. The overall claim is that the categories cannot represent the world except via their application to sensations. This is a preview of the more extended discussion of this matter in the “Phenomena and Noumena” section (A 235/B 294). The target is rationalist metaphysicians, who might suppose that the categories could be used to establish truths about the world via reasoning, without regard to experience. Kant does not argue against this approach so much as explain why

The Revised Deduction


it is not feasible; these passages are thus an explanatory clarification of the limits of the use of the categories. It is, though, a little difficult to determine exactly what he is saying here. The problem becomes evident when we look at the summary sentence that concludes the first paragraph of §23, “[o]ur sensible and empirical intuition alone can provide them with sense and significance (Sense und Bedeutung).” Since Kant uses the same phrase as Frege, it is tempting to think that he means that without our (actual) intuitions, the categories have no meaning or reference. But that it is too strong a claim, since Kant does want to allow that applications of the categories in non-experientially based moral reasoning can have “true and useful consequences,” as he notes at B 166. It is difficult to see how this could work if the categories were literally meaningless apart from intuitions. And the sentence we are looking at concludes a discussion that began with the point (in midparagraph) that the categories “extend” to other possible kinds of sensory intuition that we do not possess. I thus suggest that the view here is roughly that (using Frege’s distinction) while the categories have meaning (i.e., Frege’s Sense) apart from sensations, they achieve reference only when applied to sensations. 16 Thus, the categories are “merely empty concepts of objects” that require intuitions in order to “determine an object,” viz., refer to something, most importantly, to refer to the external world. So, while we can, perhaps, legitimately reason about ethical matters by postulating things that we are not actually able to refer to, e.g., selves, it takes intuitions in order to create reference to the world, and, which is to say, as we have considered in chapter 4, it takes intuitions in order to concretely represent the world. With this clarification, we can more readily understand the discussion in §22. Kant begins by distinguishing thinking of an object from cognizing an object. By “thinking,” he means purely conceptual activity, while cognitions include both the uniting of judgments and the application of judgments to intuitions. “Cognizing,” here at least, presumably amounts to making a judgment that refers to an object. Thus, with concepts alone we can know the forms of things, but, without an intuition, “no cognition [i.e., no reference to the world] would be possible.” The rest of the paragraph adds a qualification that addresses a possible concern, viz., one might think that mathematical knowledge is purely a priori, and thus non-empirical knowledge of the world. That is, mathematical knowledge might seem to constitute an exception to the thesis that the categories can yield cognitions, i.e., reference to the world, only via intuitions. Kant of course thinks that mathematics and geometry are grounded on the a priori sensory forms of time and of space, respectively. He tells us that the application (“determination”) of the categories to the forms of time and space does yield cognitions of mathematical objects, “but only as far as their form is concerned.” Whether or not there are things fitting this form is left to actual experience. So Kant is claiming


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that mathematical knowledge is knowledge of the forms of possible experience, and thus involves knowledge of the world itself only insofar as actual experiences satisfy these forms. For example, we can learn, or infer, that an isosceles triangle has two equal angles. But this is not knowledge about the world per se, unless we add experiences that determine what things are in fact isosceles-shaped; we then can cognize that those things have two equal angles. And it is one thing to know truths about numbers, e.g., that 7+5=12, another to experience groups of objects that these numbers apply to. Having clarified the limits of applicability of the categories, Kant then, in the second paragraph of §23, returns to the idea that began the discussion, viz., an understanding that directly intuits objects. He points out that we can say that the forms of our sensible intuition do not apply to such objects, viz., that they are non-spatial and non-temporal. However, this is “not yet a genuine cognition.” That is, we cannot fix a reference to such an object (world) by listing predicates that do not apply to it. As he has just explained, in order to be able to apply the categories and thus fix or create reference, there must be sensory materials that can be so organized. Thus, the mere concept of an understanding with a direct intuition does not provide any basis for determining whether or not the categories apply to the objects (world) intuited by such an understanding, and thus does not allow us to say whether or not the categories apply to things as they are in themselves, which is what such an understanding comprehends. This passage thus previews, and, really, explains, the doctrine of the unknowability of the noumena. In particular, it makes it clear that while Kant thinks that we can and do know that things as they are in themselves are not spatial or temporal, the same is not true of the categories— we simply do not know whether they apply to the noumena or not. And, again, this is consistent with his theses about moral philosophy that involve postulations that apply the categories to the noumenal world. And, finally, it makes it clear why Kant thinks that completely a priori metaphysics is a futile undertaking—all knowledge of the world requires some sort of connection with that which is external, which in turn results in a representation of the external, i.e., an “intuition,” whether it be a sensory intuition like ours, or the hypothesized direct intuition of another kind of being. SELF-AWARENESS The second half of §24 together with §25 clarify the distinction between inner sense and apperception, and in the process, explain why, according to Kant, we have neither direct experience of the self nor metaphysical knowledge of the self.

The Revised Deduction


Kant maintains that inner sense does not portray the self as it actually is, since our self-experience is unified, and as we have seen, this unity is not given, but is the result of synthesis (psychological processing). Now, Kant takes from his philosophical predecessors, including both Locke and Leibniz, the idea that empirical self-awareness is “inner sense,” roughly, a perception of our mental states, or, better, simply a representation of our mental states. But the idea of perception suggests something that is passively received. So Kant must explain why the supposedly passive product of inner sense also has an actively added element, viz., the necessary unifying synthesis, which, he has repeatedly told us, is a spontaneous act of the mind, and not something given (passively) as input. His explanation is that in creating a self-representation we affect ourselves, thus adding to the representation. But this seems to imply that self-awareness is simultaneously both active and passive, which is obviously contradictory. The solution offered in this passage is really quite simple, viz., self-awareness has two components, one passive, inner sense, and one active, (transcendental) apperception. Self-awareness is thus not a wholly passive perceptual process, but is rather the result of the understanding actively affecting the passively received materials of inner sense. Unfortunately, Kant’s explanation of these matters in the first two paragraphs is not very easy to comprehend. The initial paragraph presents the main points, viz., inner sense presents an appearance rather than the way we “are in ourselves.” This is because we affect ourselves in generating these appearances, which suggests the passive/active conflict. The explanation then proceeds in the next paragraph where we are told that the understanding unifies inner sense by “bringing it under an apperception,” i.e., organizing it into a unified form that we become aware of. The next long sentence (mercifully translated as three separate sentences by Kemp Smith) explains that the understanding’s synthesis of apperception cannot by itself create self-representation, but must instead be applied to the empirical representations of inner sense. The point being made here is that transcendental apperception is simply an ordering (synthesis), so there must be some materials for ordering, and that does not come from understanding itself. Thus, the understanding does not have its own intuitions (is not a “faculty of intuitions”) and thus cannot combine sensible intuitions together with its own self-representations (“its own intuition”). Apperception is a unifying ordering together with the conceptualization of that unification (“the unity of the action of which it is conscious as such”). The understanding is able to create a self-representation by unifying the manifold of inner sense together with its a priori form (time). Kant then reminds us that he has termed this the “transcendental synthesis of the imagination” (earlier in the section, at the end of the paragraph, he also reminds us that this is what he has just labeled the “figurative synthesis”). The main point, though, comes next,


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viz., that this is an active process that affects the “passive subject” by modifying the otherwise passive inner sense. The last long sentence, which should now be relatively easy to understand, reiterates the justmuted difference between apperception and inner sense. In the rest of the section, Kant presents a series of arguments to support two claims, viz., that self-awareness is not simply a passive process, but that we actively affect inner sense, and that we experience an appearance of ourselves rather than the mind-independent nature of ourselves. The first three examples may seem initially baffling, since taken literally Kant’s assertions simply seem like false overstatements, e.g., it seems possible to conceive of, say, a property line without literally forming a mental image of it. But what I think he is attempting to illustrate with these examples is simply that we are able, at will, to create geometrical forms in mental imagery, i.e., the “figurative synthesis” of the form of outer sense (space). These examples also serve to set up the two that follow that concern the figurative synthesis of inner sense. In drawing (or progressively viewing) a line in order to reason about time, the successive segments of the line generate a sequence of experiences. For example, if I first mark a point “A” and then continue the line to a point I mark “B,” this creates the intended experience of A before B. In Kant’s terms, I am “attending to the succession of this determination in inner sense.” And, finally, Kant asserts that we acquire the concept of succession by experiencing motion and abstracting away from the spatial features. 17 The next sentence indicates the point that these examples, or at least the last two, are supposed to support, viz., that the combination of inner sense is not given in the input (manifold) but is rather actively determined by the understanding. The footnote attached to the end of the section is best read at this point since it provides further support for the view that inner sense involves the active influence of the mind. Kant says that every instance of attention illustrates this, in that “the understanding always determines the inner sense, in accordance with the combination that it thinks, to the inner intuition that corresponds to the manifold in the synthesis of the understanding.” Supposedly, “everyone will be able to perceive” this effect. But in order to figure out what we can all supposedly perceive, we must decode Kant’s obscure description. I think that what he has in mind here is this: an act of attention, at least as that term is often used, involves what appears to be an inner act of focus or concentration that seemingly spotlights part of our perceptual experience. Thus, when looking across the room, I can focus my attention on one object, say, a book laying on a table, and bring its features into cognitive focus, e.g., I can take notice of how it looks, or read its title. I believe that what Kant thinks is obvious is that this is an active rather than a passive mental process, i.e., not determined by stimuli, that seemingly alters the combination not of outer sense, but only of inner sense. Thus, I do not invent or create the book’s

The Revised Deduction


features through attention, but rather find them in the visual field and subject them to more extensive processing. 18 So I actively alter and guide the synthesis of inner sense. So, ordinary psychological experience shows that inner sense is not a wholly passive process. Kant then proceeds to explain and defend the idea that the appearance of the self is distinct, and potentially different from the way that we are in ourselves. The first sentence begins with an unfortunately confusing group of phrasings, viz., the “I that I think” means the way that I represent myself via inner sense, while the “I that intuits itself” is (as the parenthetical remark hints) the hypothetical understanding that is directly self-aware, and thus knows the noumenal nature of itself. What Kant is trying to do here is to contrast how I represent myself (the phenomenal self) with how I am independent of representation (which would be a “noumenal self”). But, as we have considered above, he draws this contrast in terms of what would be known to a direct understanding as opposed to what is known to our indirect understandings that are mediated by perception; hence the confusing contrast that opens the discussion. Kant then says that I am “identical with the latter.” The idea is that, even if I represent myself in a structure that does not correspond to my actual nature (i.e., since temporality is added to the representation), I still am the thing, whatever it is, that is representing itself. Kant’s second pass at explaining this contrast (in the same long sentence) should be somewhat easier to follow, with a few tweaks on the grammar: for “as an object that is thought” read “as a represented object”; for “I am also given to myself in intuition,” read “a representation of myself is given in intuition”; and for “indeed one of intuition” read “indeed an object of intuition.” To put it much, much more simply, there is no incoherence or problem in maintaining that our self-awareness consists of representations of ourselves rather than direct knowledge of ourselves unmediated by representation. An argument follows that appeals to the previous example of drawing a line to represent time, and that also introduces the supposed fact that our concept of “positions in time for all inner perceptions” is dependent on the experience of the alteration of external things, viz., as represented in space via outer sense. 19 Kant argues that these examples demonstrate that the ordering of time in inner sense is analogous to the ordering of outer sense, which is a reasonable claim, particularly in the unproblematic case of the time line. He then concludes that therefore, just as we acknowledge that we experience external objects in space only in so far as we are affected by them, so we should also acknowledge that inner sense is the result of how we are “internally affected by our selves.” This is a puzzling leap. The inference seems to be that since we understand outer sense as the result of the effect of external objects that produces a manifold given in an a priori form, viz., space, that is unified via synthesis, and since inner sense involves a similar synthesis, so we must also under-


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stand inner sense as the result of the synthesis of a manifold, i.e., the result of a manifold of representations of our thoughts that we actively affect, 20 and that thus differs from how we are in ourselves. 21 I find this whole passage highly problematic, and also misguided. Kant should not say that we affect ourselves in the process of self-awareness, since that would seem to be saying something about what happens to us as we are in ourselves, rather than as we represent ourselves. He should instead stick to his usual functionalist vocabulary and simply maintain that the understanding performs an active synthesis on the manifold of inner sense. But what seems misguided about the whole passage is that Kant seems to be addressing someone who has accepted that self-awareness is the product of inner sense and that, moreover, agrees that time is the a priori form of inner sense, but who nevertheless insists that inner sense must be wholly passive, and must correspond precisely to what it represents. But that idea can be dealt with very easily, for instance by pointing out that inner sense is merely a loose metaphor, that suggests passive inner perception, but it is open to philosophy (and psychology) to explain the exact nature of this process, which may not fully fit the initial metaphor. Or, given that there is an obvious synthesis of the temporal, it would seem to be sufficient to point out that synthesis is a non-stimulus driven process, as Kant says in §15. Moreover, the very idea of inner sense is that of the creation of a representation of mental states. It again seems sufficient to point out that any representation may potentially differ in its depiction from that which it represents, as in the doctrine of secondary qualities. What I suspect is that Kant misunderstood the nature of the disagreement with readers who objected to the idea that what we are aware of in self-awareness differs from what we are like in ourselves. Someone who finds that problematic probably thinks that self-awareness involves direct awareness of the self or of thoughts, and thus rejects both the inner sense view as well as the idea that time is the a priori form of inner sense. And it is not apparent that any of Kant’s arguments or examples here addresses such a position. However, I think that a fairly simply defense of the inner sense view can be mounted, based on broad empirical psychological considerations. Specifically, I think that inner sense can be defended as the only available explanation. That is, there is no psychological model to explain how we could have direct awareness of our thoughts. In particular, if we take it as given, as Kant surely did, that all conscious knowledge is a matter of representational mental states, then, our self-awareness must consist of representations of our thoughts. (That is the only philosophical step in the argument, and it is perhaps sufficient by itself.) Further, it seems that with a cognitive psychology that explains the mind in terms of causal processes involving representations, the only conceivable explanation of self-awareness is that there is a process or set of processes—call them “inner sense”—that generates these self-representa-

The Revised Deduction


tions. Once one acknowledges that self-awareness involves representations that are the result of cognitive processes, then this obviously allows both that the processes might have an active component, and that the representations might depict the cognitive system in ways that differ from how it actually is. So it seems to me that the somewhat tangled discussion in this passage can be dispensed with in favor of the simple point that that only conceivable explanation of self-awareness is that it is some sort of representation of thoughts. Section 25 continues the exposition of the thesis that self-awareness does not provide knowledge of the self as it actually is. Having clarified the nature of inner sense, Kant now turns to apperception. He seems mindful of the possibility that the discussion of the “I think” in §16 might suggests that apperception involves Cartesian knowledge of the existence of the self. However, given what he has just said about inner sense, his overall transcendental idealism, and his explicit rejection of Descartes’s view of the self in the Paralogisms, one would expect this passage to repudiate the idea that apperception involves any sort of knowledge or representation of the self as it exists in itself. What we find, though, in the first sentence is something quite puzzling. Kant tells us that in transcendental apperception “I am conscious of myself not as I appear to myself, nor as I am in myself but only that I am.” The obvious problem is to try to understand what this third alternative consists in, for seemingly, the only options are either appearance or representation-independent metaphysical nature, but Kant here explicitly rules out both of those. Using the reading I have developed, though, an explanation of the third alternative is readily available, as we will see shortly. Kant next notes that this “representation is a thinking, not an intuiting.” He then explains that in order to have a cognition of myself, I need a manifold from inner sense in order to determine my existence “in correspondence with the form of inner sense.” As we have seen in consideration of §23, without a manifold of intuition, the synthesis of the categories cannot fix a reference, that is, using Kant’s phrasing in subsequent sentences, I need to be able to apply my concept(s) of an object in general— the categories—to something, viz., an intuition, in order conceive of something as an object. Without an intuition, apperception is pure conceptualization, i.e., “thinking.” Thus, apperception alone cannot represent the self as an object or thing, or to put it another way, apperception does not represent a “self” at all. But now it appears as though we have swung too far the other way, since this seems to deny that in apperception I am conscious “that I am.” A few sentences later, Kant tells us that “I exist as an intelligence that is merely conscious of its faculty for combination.” It is tempting to think that this is to say that I am aware of my understanding, viz., aware of one of my mental faculties. But being aware of part of the self is surely inconsistent with not being aware of the self simpliciter. For the final clue, then,


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we turn to the footnote, which tells us that I do not have an intuition of “the determining [i.e., synthesis of apperception] in me . . .even before the act of determination . . . thus I cannot determine my existence as that of a self-active being.” So I am not consciousness of the faculty for combination (and conceptualization) itself. What, then, am I conscious of? Kant tells us, “I merely represent the spontaneity of my thought, i.e., of the determining.” If we recall that the transcendental apperception consists in the conceptualization of the unity of consciousness, then we can see what he has in mind here. Apperception involves the (bare) representation of unity, which is the product of a (psychological) process of synthesis. Thus, as Kant says in opening the note, “[t]he I think expresses the act of determining my existence.” That is, it represents the result of this determination, i.e., the product of the process. Thus, “[t]he existence is thereby already given.” That is, there must be something that has carried out this process, this “determination.” So, in keeping with functionalist explanation, he states (at the end of the note) “this spontaneity is the reason I call myself an intelligence.” 22 There is one more important point to make here, and that is that Kant never claims that we can have or undergo pure apperception without intuitions, i.e., that we can experience the unity of consciousness without some materials to unify. Rather, the way we should understand this passage is as an explanation of the contribution of apperception to self-consciousness. It is also thereby an exposition of the meaning of “I think,” namely, that “I think” represents (conceptualizes) conscious unity, and thus presupposes the existence of something capable of producing this unity, but does not (contrary to Descartes), in and of itself, represent or depict or refer to that something. So apperception supplies the bare concept of a spontaneous intelligence—an a priori unifier—to self-awareness. But it does not contribute an awareness of that unifier, intuition is required for that. We thus have a full explanation of the passive and active aspects of self-awareness, viz., inner sense constitutes the passive appearance of the self, which is subject to active a priori unifying synthesis (by the understanding/imagination). And we are aware of this active aspect only through representation of the structural unity of consciousness, which presupposes but does not directly represent that consciousness is the product of an “active,” i.e., conceptual intelligence. So, we know that we are thinkers, but we are not aware of the thing that thinks. ASSESSMENT OF THE B TRANSCENDENTAL DEDUCTION To a large extent I have already discussed how the changes in the B TD relate to corresponding content in the A version, so I will now just briefly scrutinize the most important differences. The explanation of the func-

The Revised Deduction


tional role of the categories as determiners of judgments greatly clarifies the relationship between the Metaphysical and Transcendental Deductions. The new argument, and really, explanation, in §26 succeeds in clarifying how space and time are necessarily subject to the a priori unifying synthesis. And the expanded discussion of apperception substantially clarifies that notion and in particular makes it clear why Kant thinks that a priori “self”-awareness is constituted by the necessary unity of consciousness. However, there are failings as well. The discussion of representation is cryptically brief, and really presupposes an understanding of the passages in the A preliminary exposition. Unfortunately, the deletion of the material that discusses the transcendental object, as obscure as that notion may seem, leaves the B edition TD readers with little hope of understanding Kant’s representational realism. And this is frankly a bit puzzling, since it is clear that Kant wanted to convince his second edition readers that he really is a realist. 23 Likewise, the explanatory asides that are presented during the second half of the TD, while they are for the most part helpful in clarifying the topics they concern, also manage to confuse and hide the fundamental and fairly concise main line of reasoning. And the opening discussion of combination is difficult to follow for someone who has not already understood the critique of associationism in the A version. Along with the lack of explanation of representation, there is another substantial omission in the B version, viz., the removal of not only the discussions of recognition and association, but also of the argument about affinity, which is Kant’s most direct and ingenious criticism of Hume’s psychology. And, perhaps worse, the argument for the unity of consciousness based on conceptual unity, which, viewed from the perspective of reconstruction, functions as a main pillar of support for the new framework, is relegated to brief mention in a note. And, again, the omissions of the crucial argument against a causal view of representation, the explicit avocation of a functional role view, and the subsequent discussion of the transcendental object leave little hope for an understanding of the special version of representative realism that underlies Kant’s transcendental idealism. The most important result of my reading of the TD, though, is that there are no substantial changes, and really, no changes at all in the overall conceptual framework that is presented here. Thus, there is no reason to think that Kant abandoned his views of the syntheses of reproduction and recognition or of affinity—nothing in the B edition is inconsistent with those notions. And the B version does support, or, mostly, presuppose the functional role account of representation. So it is reasonable to assume that Kant simply chose not to mention or focus on those views in the rewrite. We can thus treat both versions of the TD as expositions of one (unified) position, thus combining the rich array of material in both passages to form a more complete understanding of Kant’s outlook.


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NOTES 1. In an influential article, Heinrich (1969) insists on the requirement that a successful interpretation of the B TD will show that the two halves contain arguments with “significantly different results” and that the two halves together yield a “single proof of the transcendental deduction” (p. 642). But the understanding of the two TD projects that I have developed and defended here shows that this is not the right way to think of the later sections of the B TD. 2. I take it that the odd phrase “whether this intuition is our own or some other but still sensible one” means “whether this intuition has the a priori forms of space and time, as ours does, or some other (sensible) a priori forms.” 3. As far as I can see, this new terminology cross classifies the previously presented types of syntheses. So, contrary to Kitcher (2011), p. 114, I do not see any reason to think that these are additional types of syntheses than those from the A TD, viz., apprehension, reproduction, and recognition. Those are kinds of psychological operations, that can be applied to sensations, “formally,” e.g., to create an experience of the physical environment and can also be applied purely intellectually, say, in attempting to do rationalist metaphysics. 4. It seems likely that Kant’s definition of “imagination” as “the faculty for representing an object even without its presence in intuition” reflects his view that geometry and mathematics rest on intuitions, and thus rest on the ability to construct mental images. The italicized clause in the definition thus makes it clear that mental imagery as well as perceptions are subject to a priori synthesis in question. 5. However, the A TD concludes with a discussion of the ideality of nature, which presumably consists of the laws of nature, even though Kant does not establish or explain the connection with space and time in that version. 6. In the A TD he argues for a priori apprehension but did not argue that it is necessity in every experience. 7. Kant frequently emphasized a more specific unification of space and time, e.g., a line is a unification of an infinity of points, and there is a moment between every two moments. However, it is apparent that these are both aspects of the same unity. They are both products of, and thus demonstrate, the same a priori, necessary figurative synthesis. 8. This may also simply be another inference to the best, and seemingly only explanation of this unity. 9. There is an unfortunate typo in the Guyer/Wood translation: “just a little” should be “just as little.” 10. Although the opening of the fourth sentence, viz., “appearances are only representations of things that exist,” helps to underscore the representational realist aspect of Kant’s outlook as well. And the rest of that sentence underscores the seemingly skeptical component (as we have considered in chapter 5). 11. There is a rather cryptic gesture towards the treatment of motion in the Foundations in the footnote to §24 where Kant tells us that “for that something is moveable cannot be cognized a priori but only through experience,” i.e., “motion” is an empirical concept, as one might expect. But in the second sentence he says that insofar as motion is considered a description of the a priori form of space, it can be investigated both through a priori geometric and a priori philosophy, as he has seemingly demonstrated in the Foundations. 12. This might be a version of the Leibnizian pre-established harmony view that, as Shaddock (2012) explains, Kant himself endorsed in the Dissertation. However, Winkler, (2010), p. 64 n., suggests might actually have been referring to a passage from Hume. 13. This may be one more reason why Kant was unwilling to advocate nativism in the Critique, i.e., in addition to the concerns I discuss in appendix E. 14. While we can only guess as to why all of this additional material is included here, I suggest the following. Kant appears to have thought that the matters discussed

The Revised Deduction


here address important misunderstandings of first edition readers (e.g., his remark about the “paradox that must have struck everyone” at B 152–53). It may also have been apparent to him that not all readers were looking at every passage in his very lengthy book. He no doubt assumed that readers would carefully study the completely rewritten TD. So that is where he placed these clarifications. 15. If we accept Kant’s account of our psychological system, we would now want to give an evolutionary—thus contingent—explanation for the psychological origin of the categories and (our representations of) space and time. But as I understand it, such an explanation would not undermine the results of the TD (or more broadly of the Critique) since as this sentence indicates, Kant’s reasoning and views do not depend on these psychological elements having a necessary rather than contingent status. 16. Alternatively, we might say that intuitions extend or fill out the meaning of the categories, i.e., complete their psychological (functional) roles. 17. I have explained the accompanying note above in regard to Kant’s view of scientific laws. 18. Many acts of attention of this sort do shift the eyes and thus alter the input to outer as well as inner sense. (Since the detailed scientific study of eye movements in perception is recent, it is unlikely that Kant would have known this.) However it is possible to achieve the same effect without moving the eyes. Here is a more or less clinical version. Gaze at a piece of paper with figuration on it, fixate on a point, say, in the center, and then, without altering the eyes, shift attention from the center to the periphery. I believe this example illustrates precisely what Kant is trying to indicate in this note. Another good example might be acts of introspection, which are very obviously not a matter of pure passive perception but rather involve an active process that affects our self-awareness. 19. This claim is later used as the basis for the Refutation of Idealism argument. 20. It is tempting to read Kant as saying that the effect of the understanding is what causes our empirical self-awareness, just as the effects of objects on our senses cause empirical experiences. But that would be to say that the effect of the understanding creates or originates the manifold of inner sense, which would be to say that the understanding creates our thoughts, including our thoughts of external objects, which is incoherent. What he is rather saying is that the understanding “determines” or “affects” inner sense, i.e., modifies inner sense. 21. This reasoning ignores the fact that Locke would recognize the indirectness of outer experience, as the result of effects of objects, without acknowledging the synthesis of the manifold of outer sense. Perhaps the point is that had Locke really thought it through, he would have seen that inner sense must also be indirect. 22. If my reading is correct, then in this passage Kant is on the verge of the insight that although we are conscious of the products of psychological processes we are not aware of the processes themselves, which is arguably the most revolutionary insight about the relationship between cognition and consciousness in contemporary cognitive psychology. 23. It may be that the diminished discussion of representation in the B TD is the result of Kant’s emphasis on the faculty coordination problem, since the analysis of representation plays a minimal role in those explanations. In retrospect, it would have been useful to present an introductory discussion of the representation of objects, and perhaps also the discussion of synthesis and unity (that is somewhat inappropriately included in the Metaphysical Deduction) in a separate preparatory section or chapter.

TEN Other Commentaries

The reading of the TD and thus of the Critique that I have offered rests primarily on close textual analysis. The result is a collection of very strong and plausible philosophical arguments that establish an explanatory framework for the cognitive system and consciousness, and this framework makes the categories valid for experience and for all thinking. My interpretation allows us to make sense of virtually every passage in both versions of the TD, and yields a philosophical outlook that is not only coherent, but is also well-defended. So, overall, I rest my interpretation on this success. I know of no other readings that come anywhere close to these results; most commentators either find strands of argument in the TD that are found to be unsuccessful or else they see philosophical claims that are supposedly unsubstantiated. My understanding of the TD involves four primary aspects. First, there are the arguments for the necessary unity of consciousness. I believe that I am the first to uncover these. Second, there is the identification of the concept of (an object of) representation with this unity. I am aware of only one other commentator who seemed aware of this move, namely Paton (1936), who after noting that Kant apparently wanted to maintain this identity, dismisses it on the grounds that he finds “it difficult to justify, or even clearly to understand” (p. 386). 1 The third aspect is that transcendental apperception consists in awareness of necessary unity (or unification). As I will note shortly, Kitcher comes close to understanding this inter-relation, although she fails to correctly understand the necessary unity of consciousness itself. And finally, the fourth aspect is the delineation of two separate but interrelated projects in the TD text, viz., the derivation of the framework of unity, representation and apperception—the Transcendental Trinity—and the psychological application of the framework that addresses the faculty coordination problem. While 175


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there have been many attempts at making sense of Kant’s characterization of his Objective and Subjective Deductions, I am again not aware of anyone who has explained it in this way. I have commented on other interpretations of various TD material throughout. I now offer some additional critical evaluations of a number of recent commentaries. KITCHER Kitcher’s (2011) reading of the TD is perhaps the closest to what I have presented. She focuses on (transcendental) apperception, which she characterizes as follows: the unity of apperception is produced through the creation of relations of necessary connection across representational states—and the states thereby come to be recognized as such. . . . which . . . enables the cognizer to represent her relations as such and as states of an “I.” (p. 136)

This is very similar to what I have called represented identity of consciousness. However, Kitcher (like all other commentators) misses the arguments for the necessary unity of consciousness; as I will explain below, while she notices that the concept of representation plays an important role in relation to apperception, she misunderstands what this role is. Thus, I find myself in broad agreement with her treatment of apperception—she has, in effect, partially understood one of the three pillars of the TD. But as I will now explain, the lack of a proper grasp of Kant’s treatment of unity and of representation prevent her from appreciating the content of transcendental apperception, let alone the full TD framework. On the positive side, her sympathetic treatment of synthesis is quite appropriate. She, correctly in my opinion, characterizes it as “an operation carried out on some repetitions that yields other representations” (p. 140). As I have noted in previous chapters, I do have a few disagreements about some of the details of her understanding of Kantian types of synthesis, and I think, for reasons that I will explain momentarily, that she drastically underestimates the amount of a priori synthesis that Kant’s view requires. While she does not discuss Kant’s philosophical methodology, her reading presents Kant as attempting to derive strong a priori results from a fairly innocuous psychological framework, which is, I believe, the correct understanding of what he is doing. And Kitcher recognizes the idea of unity under a concept (p. 119), but unfortunately, she does not see the connection with the TD reasoning.

Other Commentaries


On the negative side, as I have indicated, she fails to appreciate the full scope of the TD project. As I have argued throughout, Kant intends, and, I believe, succeeds in showing that all consciousness, including both all perceptual imagery and all cognitions—and thus all judgments—are necessarily unified by the categories. Kitcher takes the project to be of a much lesser scope; she characterizes the target—that is to be shown to be necessarily unified by the categories—as “RE cognition,” by which she means a judgment “where the cognizer can give the reason—or ground— of the cognition” (p. 121). I will consider below how her focus on this notion leads her to a mistaken understanding of the necessary unity of consciousness. But for the moment I will simply point out that there is no textual discussion of the grounds of judgments anywhere in either version of the TD. While I think it is correct that on Kant’s outlook someone making a judgment should be able to state, and thus, have access to, the reasons for their judgment, I, to repeat, see no reason for thinking that this plays any role in the TD. Consider Kitcher’s treatment of the beginning of the note at A 117 (at the opening of the connected A TD). She paraphrases Kant’s first sentence as: “Any representation (that can be part of cognition) must be able to be conscious” (p. 123), suggesting that the reasoning behind this claim is: “Were such consciousness impossible, a cognizer could never know the grounds of his cognition, and so could not be a rational cognizer.” But there is no basis for this attribution. If we look further at Kant’s text, in the same passage, we find different reasoning: “All representations have a necessary relation to a possible empirical consciousness: for if they did not have this, and if it were entirely impossible to become conscious of them, that would be as much as to say that they did not exist at all.” No mention is made here of judgments about representations. Rather, the argument is simply that if something is to count as a representation, it must be part of the cognitive system, which for Kant, as a dualist, is to say that it must somehow be related to conscious experience. One could similarly argue that if something is to be a mental state then it must be part of the mental realm, which is to say, within consciousness. Kitcher proceeds to examine the counting example in the “Synthesis of Recognition” section of the A TD. She takes Kant to be arguing that “the counter needs to be conscious of his representations of ‘1,’ ‘2,’ and so on, as ‘marks’ or ‘partial representations’ that are the basis of his conceptual representation of ‘4.’” 2 Using her reading of this passage as a jumping off point, Kitcher proceeds to apply this notion of a partial representation to the subsequent discussion of the concept of an object of representations. She takes this to concern empirical concepts of objects, such as “dog.” So she thinks that Kant is trying to explain how cognizers can move from “particular representations of sensible properties” to a common object (p. 130). As she puts it, application of the rule for the concept dog requires a cognizer “to be aware of her partial representations (e.g.,


Chapter 10

the representations of a certain shape and of self-propelled motion) and of her mental act as the basis on which she judges the object to be a ‘dog’” (ibid.) However, I see no textual evidence in the TD to support the idea of “partial representations.” Moreover, note that Kitcher’s explanation amounts to a speculative psychological theory about how we recognize dogs. I am not aware of any textual support anywhere in Kant’s writings that indicate that he was committed to any particular psychological theory about the recognition of instances of empirical concepts. It is of course true on Kant’s outlook that whatever the “marks” are for the concept “dog” (and let us suppose that the marks Kitcher mentions are among them), judging that something is a dog entails that the object so judged must, necessarily, possess those features. But the psychological theory that concepts are applied only by separate prior awareness of features that is then followed by awareness that those features constitute the concept in question is entirely distinct from this entailment. 3 Not only is there lack of textual support for partial representations; it is not hard to see that this interpretation is mistaken. Kticher takes the necessary relations between partial representations to be part of the necessary unity of consciousness. But as I have argued above, one of the main claims in the first two paragraphs of the section in question is that the general idea of the application of concepts presupposes necessary unity of consciousness. And this is easily illustrated with Kitcher’s example. Suppose that she experiences a dog shape and I experience a bark. Obviously, our separate experiences of these two features do not add up (applying her suggested view) to a “dog” judgment. Rather, for a cognizer “to be aware of her partial representations” requires that she have a general conception of her representations, i.e., that is aware that both partial representations are being experienced in the same consciousness. Thus, the relations of (what Kitcher describes as) partial representations to whole concepts do not constitute the necessary unity of consciousness, but rather presuppose it. 4 The same problem confronts Kitcher’s discussion of concept abstraction (n. 27, p. 283), where she states that the cognizer “takes the present judgment [that something is an orange] to be based on the similarity of the present instance to the instances from which she abstracted the concept.” Kant would be quick to point out that the memory of the experience of past instances presupposes a necessary unity of consciousness with those past experiences. So again, such connections between representations presuppose and thus require the overarching necessary unity. Unfortunately, Kitcher has it backwards. She thinks that the necessary (e.g., analytic) relations between representations add up to the necessary unity of apperception: “The unity of apperception is produced through the creation of relations of necessary connection across representational states—and the states thereby come to be recognized as such” (p. 136).

Other Commentaries


However, along with the (most important, and fatal) problem that the recognition of such connections presupposes the unity in question, it is also worth noting that there is no guarantee that all conscious experiences will be somehow related by such connections. For example, suppose that someone who, say, is wearing a thin blindfold, is experiencing a dim orange color and hearing a tone, and not much else is being perceived. They, of course, are having a unified conscious experience of orange and the tone. But good luck in finding some “object rules” that somehow unite these two experiences and thus show that they are part of a unified consciousness! One could, of course, note that both the orangeness and the tone are represented qualities, and thus fall under the general concept “representations.” That is, of course, what Kant is actually looking at in the second part of the passage that Kitcher is considering. But the fact that all conscious states fall under this concept creates a top down necessary unity rather than the bottom up unity that Kitcher describes. 5 By the way, it is also worth noting that the awareness of phenomenal features, such as a dog shape, self-propelled motion, a bark, etc. does not add up to the representation of an external dog. As we have seen, Kant’s explanation of how dogs, or anything, can be represented as external involves the application of the concept of an object, viz., the categories, which are also the rules for the necessarily unity of consciousness. 6 On Kitcher’s reading, the necessary unity of consciousness consists in a multitude of analytic inter-relations among concepts and their marks. This, however, leaves her unable to see how the categories should figure in the unity of apperception. She calls the introduction of the categories in §20 of the B TD a “hypothesis.” Her suggestion is that the categories must somehow be involved in the construction of object rules, as she puts is, as “templates.” 7 And she acknowledges that this is very far from a “demonstration.” But, after all, the TD is supposed to show, with necessity, that the categories justifiably apply to experience. Again, on my “top-down” reading, this is rather easy to see. Kant argues for the necessary unity of consciousness, which we have a priori knowledge of. Necessary unity requires rule-governed synthesis. So there must be rules that necessarily unite experiences, and we must have a priori rules that apply to all experiences. So this proves that there must be “pure” concepts/rules that justifiably apply to experiences. If we accept that Kant has inventoried our most abstract a priori concepts/rules in the Metaphysical Deduction, and that inventory has yielded the categories, then QED. Finally, a lessor quibble. 8 Kitcher reads the passage at A 126 about the understanding of always scrutinizing appearances to find rules to be a description of the attempt to find rules for the category of “causation” (p. 94). And, by her own admission, she is reading quite a lot into this quote. I, on the other hand, think that Kant is here describing the understanding’s efforts to create empirical concepts. The previous sentences discuss the understanding as the faculty of rules, but this will obviously consist


Chapter 10

mostly of empirical rules (and associated concepts). Several sentences later, Kant says that the understanding “is not merely a faculty for making rules through the comparison of appearances; it is itself the legislation for nature.” I take this to be a contrast of the creation of empirical concepts with the application of the categories. Moreover, Kant then tells us that “synthetic unity of the manifold in accordance with rules, for appearances, as such, cannot occur outside us, but exist only in our sensibility. The latter [I take the ‘latter’ to be existing outside us], however, as the object of cognition in experience . . . is possible only in the unity of apperception.” (A 127) This seems inconsistent with Kitcher’s overall reading—Kant is telling us that the rules of empirical concepts, and presumably their analytic interrelations as well, do not constitute objectivity, and thus do not constitute the objectivity of the unity of apperception. This is, rather, the result of necessary unity via the categories. GUYER Guyer (1987) contains the most thorough previous attempt at extracting lines of reasoning from (both editions) of the TD. He searches for an isolated argument that will “deduce the objective validity of the categories,” but his failure to find one convinces him that the TD “never amounted to more than a disjointed summary of significantly different strategies” (p. 73). However, as I have argued throughout, the TD does not consist of a single argument to justify the categories, but rather involves various philosophical argumentation that establishes a new psychological/conceptual framework—necessary unity, the concept of an object of representation, transcendental apperception are the key components, together with the requisite syntheses. This framework explains the role of the categories in the cognitive system and, as we have seen, also serves to rather easily justify their objective validity. And, in what might appear to be a secondary strategy, but is really just an application, this framework is applied in psychological explanations to demonstrate the coordination of sensibility with the understanding. An example of Guyer’s failure to appreciate the framework-building occurs in his examination of Kant’s arguments concerning the synthesis of reproduction in the A TD. Guyer asks why “our a priori knowledge of the geometry or topology of empirical objects . . . should require any a priori rules other than those of geometry and the corresponding mathematics of time themselves?” (p. 93). So, he maintains, Kant fails to show that the transcendental synthesis of the imagination must be “guided by the categories.” But the point of the section in question is merely to establish that there is such a synthesis, one that underlies a priori representations. When, a few pages later, Kant argues for the necessary unity of consciousness, this unity can be understood as the product of the pure

Other Commentaries


syntheses of apprehension and reproduction (and recognition), thus providing a coherent, and justified psychological explanation that replaces the radical empiricist view of isolated impressions. And, when Kant establishes the identity of the concept of an object of representation and this necessary unity, since the categories are what constitute the concept, it only then follows that the categories are the rules that are applied, using these syntheses, to achieve this unity. (It of course would have been helpful if Kant had explicitly provided the explanations that I have just given.) Guyer may be the previous commentator who comes closest to discovering the TD framework that I have unearthed, but his insistence on finding a single argument to justify the categories prevents him from properly understanding what is before him. Thus, in considering a lengthy note by Kant, Guyer states: The interpretation of “unity of consciousness” as well as “experience” itself as equivalent in meaning to “object of the senses” obviously suggests a deduction of the categories which presupposes that we are conscious of objects and confines its actual argument to the demonstration that the categories are the necessary conditions of such consciousness. . . . Yet it is equally clear that A 107 also suggests the alternative strategy, that consciousness of unity of the self somehow requires consciousness of objects to begin with. (p. 83)

Here, Guyer actually comes close to appreciating the interrelations between unity, representation, and apperception (although the last phrase should be something more like “consciousness of unity of the self requires consciousness of the unity that constitutes the ability to represent objects”), but his insistence on finding a single argument, or argumentative strategy to justify the categories prevents him from seeing that Kant is attempting to explain the relations between these notions, as part of establishing a new explanatory framework. Although Guyer fails to appreciate the overall structure of the TD, his persistent efforts to unravel the argumentation serve to highlight the explanatory inadequacy of Kant’s presentation. For example, here is Guyer’s treatment of the crucial passage in the A TD where Kant points out the unity that is required under the concept of an object of representation (which I repeat, in the translation he sites): We find, however, that our thought of the relation of all cognition to its object carries with it something of necessity, since namely this relation is regarded as that which is opposed to our cognitions being haphazard or arbitrary, and rather determines them a priori in particular ways, since, insofar as they are to be related to an object, they must also necessarily agree among themselves in relation to this, i.e. they must have that kind of unity which constitutes the concept of an object. (A 104–5)


Chapter 10 [Guyer comments:] To be sure, any claim to objectivity implies some kind of contrast between an entirely arbitrary and subjective association of impressions, on the one hand, and something more orderly, less subject to whim or accident, on the other, but Kant simply leaps to the conclusion that the kind of necessity implied by such a claim to objectivity is one that must be known on the basis of some synthetic a priori principle. (Guyer, pp. 106–7)

But, on my reading, Kant is neither making a claim about objectivity nor, for the moment, linking the concept of an object with the synthetic a priori. He is, rather, appealing to the idea that the instances of a concept must necessarily share all of the features that the concept requires. One could equally say, as Kant more or less does a few paragraphs later, that we know a priori that all instances of the concept triangle must necessarily share the feature “having three sides.” This is, in effect, just a preliminary step towards the two major conclusions that Kant subsequently draws, first that the lack of uniformity in causal relations to representations shows that the concept of representation cannot consist in causal relations, and, second that since, apparently—again he does not actually say this—the only features that all our intentional, conscious states share is that of being part of the unifying relations of the previously delineated necessary unity of consciousness, the concept of representation must consist of these unifying relations. Guyer’s misreading thus shows that it would have been extremely helpful, to put it mildly, if, Kant had explicitly stated the principle of unity under a concept, rather than assuming that this suppressed premise was obvious to his readers. 9 ALLISON I will provide some critical exposition of the general approach of Allison (2004) before turning to his treatment of the TD. His novel reading, which has been both influential and controversial, focuses on the idea of an epistemic condition, which he defines as “a necessary condition for the representation of objects, that is, a condition without which our representations would not relate to objects” (p. 11). So far, this is in complete agreement with the result that I have provided, viz., the categories are rules that make experiences representational, as such they also constitute the underlying framework for our a priori knowledge of the represented world. However, Allison’s approach relies on an assumption that I think sends him off the rails from the start. This is that “cognition requires that the object somehow be given to the mind. In Kant’s terminology, this means that it must be present (or presentable) in intuition, by which he understands a singular representation that is immediately related to its object” (p. 13). I maintain, though, that not only is there absolutely no

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evidence of Kant making this assumption, there is strong positive evidence that this was, in fact, what he was trying to explain, especially at the heart of the Objective Deduction material of A TD (which Allison mostly ignores). Perhaps the most obvious passage that counters Allison’s assumption is at A 105, where we are told that the object which corresponds to our representations “is nothing for us.” It is difficult to see how this is consistent with the claim that objects are “given” to the mind in intuitions. The hard problem of the TD is actually to show that the categories are justifiably applicable to the external world. As we have seen, Kant does this by deducing (arguing) that the categories are both necessary unifiers of consciousness and they are the rules, i.e., the conditions that constitute representation. Allison, though, simply assumes that our perceptual systems are somehow able to represent external objects, apparently mind-independent external objects. Allison thus interprets Kant’s description of the TD at A 85/B 117 as the “explanation of the way in which concepts can relate to objects a priori” to mean how concepts can relate to perceived objects, i.e., “given” objects. The TD project then would seem to become primarily psychological, more or less what I have characterized as the faculty coordination problem. As we have seen, this investigation is primarily concerned with synthesis, i.e., mental processing, and with the faculties, viz., about how the synthesis of the understanding’s a priori concepts is connected with sensibility. There is, though, a tension built in Allison’s consideration of this aspect of the TD, in that he has declared that “it is a fundamental premise of this book that that Kant’s concern with mental acts is not to be construed in a psychological sense” (p. 147). By this he apparently means he is going to avoid any speculative, empirical psychology. And I certainly agree that this will not support Kant’s a priori goals. However, as we have also seen, the application of Kant’s primary, a priori results leads to a substantial amount of psychological explanation, some of it involving some very abstract empirical psychological views, such as the inner sense model, and varieties of synthesis. Allison’s apparent aversion to psychology is thus fundamentally at odds with the portion of Kant’s project that he has focused on. Turning to his reading of the TD, Allison (chapter 7) for the most part only explicates the B version. Like many commentators, he mistakenly takes the unity of apperception to concern the unity of the thinking subject, rather than the unity of the (represented) consciousness (p. 164). We can see the mistake by noting that we could conceive of a unified subject that was aware of nothing but a Humean, non-unified manifold of conscious states. From this erroneous starting point, it is extremely difficult to see where the necessity of the unity of consciousness comes from, and the rest of Allison’s TD commentary is in some respects a struggle with this issue. He does, applying a passage from the Paralogisms, see that this is “not a metaphysical theory about the nature of the thing that thinks”


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(p. 167). And he also manages to see that this unity of conscious must require synthesis (pp. 168–72), although he fails to see that analytic unity is possible only via synthetic unity, which is, as we have seen is Kant’s first principle of the TD. Allison characterizes the “I think” as “the form or prototype of the analytic unity that pertains to all general concepts” (p. 172). 10 And as a result, he more or less sets this idea aside, stating that “the doctrine of apperception is . . . [not] an idealistic ontological thesis about concerning the manner in which the mind ‘creates’ the phenomenal world by imposing its forms upon the given sensible data. It is rather a formal model or schema for the analysis of the understanding and its ‘logical’ activities” (ibid.) This is unfortunate, given his overall reading, since as we have seen throughout, the necessary unity of consciousness consists of unity via the categories, although, in fairness to Allison, Kant is none too helpful in making this clear up front. The necessary unity of consciousness is thus constituted by a necessary categorical form that embodies just the sort of epistemic conditions that Allison attributes to Kant’s project. Allison’s treatment of the several subsequent sections of the B TD stumbles over the concept of an object. This is hardly surprising given Kant’s minimalistic presentation in the B TD of this central notion. But this may also have to do with Allison’s assumption that objects are given in intuitions. He thus insists that “the unity of consciousness is a necessary condition for the representation of an object, not that it is also a sufficient one.” However, as I have argued at length above in regard to the A TD, this unity is also what enables us to represent any object—it is not only a sufficient condition for such representation, it constitutes the representation of objects. And, as such, the concept of an object is the concept of something “considered as distinct from our representations,” which Allison also denies (p. 174, n. 33). He is thus led to conclude that it “does not follow . . . that the mere de facto union of representations in a single consciousness is sufficient to confer objectivity on this union” (p. 175). However, as I have argued at length in previous chapters, this is a reasonable philosophical position, and it is also arguably the central thesis of the TD. Still searching for objectivity, Allison subjects the notion of subjective unity of consciousness, that is briefly noted in §18, to an extensive evaluation. In my understanding, this section is just a quick aside that might well have been more appropriately titled, “What objective unity of selfconsciousness is not.” Kant is here clarifying that he is not concerned with all unity of consciousness. He thus contrasts transcendental unity with empirical unity, which he illustrates with: “One person combines the representation of a certain word with one thing, another with something else.” Allison states that Kant here introduces subjective unity “in order to dispel the impression . . . that a de facto connection of representations confers objectivity on these representations” (p. 178). I think this is

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partially correct, but this overlooks the more general contrast—Kant is simply attempting to insure that his readers are focused on the appropriate subset of unifying psychological processes and the resulting unity. Allison, though, puzzles over what subjective unity might be, perhaps worried that Kant is working empirical psychological assumptions into the picture. Allison thinks that a problem arises in that subjective unity “can mean unity in consciousness, that is, a unity or order possessed by a set of representations, or a unity for consciousness, that is, a unity of which a subject is in some sense aware” (p. 182). One might think that these come to the same thing for Kant, given the doctrine of inner sense: we do not have immediate awareness of our conscious states, of our representations, but know them only via (meta-) representation. Thus, a unity in my consciousness can only mean a unity that I represent, and am thus aware of. While Allison comes close to acknowledging that there is no real problem here (p. 183), he then insists that the text raises difficulties because of Kant’s use of the phrase “empirical apperception” (in §18). Allison takes this to mean “an immediate awareness of the contents of consciousness” which he takes to be a “separate mode of awareness . . . distinct from a judgment about the contents of inner sense” (pp. 183–84). But I see no textual basis for attribution to Kant of the idea that there are separate “modes” of consciousness. If we look at the initial introduction of transcendental apperception in the A TD, we find Kant contrasting it with “the consciousness of oneself in accordance with the determinations of our state in internal perception which is merely empirical, forever variable; it can provide no standing self in this stream of inner appearances, and is customarily called inner sense or empirical apperception” (A 107). The seemingly obvious way to read this is that “empirical apperception” simply refers to all of our empirical experiences of our thoughts, e.g., “I’m thinking about Allison’s reading of empirical apperception” or “I’m feeling hungry.” There is no basis for claiming that such awareness of our thoughts involves any sort of “immediate awareness”; that would contrast sharply with the doctrine of inner sense; and, as we might expect, Kant equates the two here. Nor is there any reason to think that subjective unity of consciousness involves a separate form of awareness. Thus, a simple example would be my judging that “I’m thinking about Allison’s reading of empirical apperception and I’m feeling hungry.” It is an empirical, contingent matter that I happen to become aware of being in both of these mental states. I suspect that what is driving Allison’s claim about a separate form of awareness is Kant’s statement that the empirical unity of apperception is “derived” from a priori unity. I take this to mean not causally or temporally derived, but rather conceptually dependent upon—our ability to contingently unify our experiences conceptually requires the general, transcendental ability to co-represent, and all such empirical unification


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will necessarily be a part of awareness that is also a priori unified, i.e., structured, by the categories. Thus, my empirical ability to judge that I’m simultaneously in two mental states conceptually requires my ability to apply (via the necessary synthesis that yields transcendental apperception) the categories of unity (and perhaps also plurality) and reality. But, all the same, the judgment is a bit of (slightly) unified, empirical selfawareness (apperception). So there is only one “mode” self-awareness, although it has both empirical and a priori ingredients. Finally, consider Allison’s treatment of the second half of the B TD, where he in unable to see why “the imaginative synthesis that determines time must conform to the categorical requirements of the understanding” (p. 191). As I have argued in chapter 9, the answer is that time (and also space) are not merely empirically unified, but are necessarily unified— we know a priori that there is only one time and only one space. Allison fails to grasp the appeal to this unity: “space and time are not only forms of intuition but are also themselves intuitions with a manifold content of their own. As such, they can only be represented insofar as their manifold is united” (p. 194). But this leaves out the crucial point, which is presented very clearly in the A TD, “[t]here is only one experience . . . just as there is only one space and time, in which all forms of appearance and all relations of being or non-being take place” (A 110). It is this non-empirical unity to which Kant is appealing in §26. And non-empirical (necessary, a priori) unity requires a non-empirical (necessary, a priori) unifying synthesis that applies a priori unifying rules, viz., the categories. So the content of sensibility is (necessarily) connected with the understanding. And, since this unity via the categories is what constitutes representation, and thus objectivity, it follows that our judgments about spatial and temporal matters are not subjective but rather concern the single, external space and the single time that we all depict ourselves as existing in. Properly understood, this passage thus shows (and explains) that the categories are the necessarily unifying epistemic conditions of spatial and temporal experiences and, given the representation thesis, they are epistemic conditions of space and time. LONGUENESSE Longuenesse (1998) maintains, correctly, in my opinion, that both representation and synthesis play a crucial role in the TD. However, her reading is deeply marred by the two notions that she inappropriately imports to the TD, viz., a dispositional, or effort-based understanding of judgment and an emphasis on reflection and thus on concept formation. Her approach to the TD begins with focus on the Metaphysical Deduction, and in, particular, on one phrase that occurs there, the “capacity to judge.” She takes this to mean “a tendency or effort to actualize itself”

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(p. 7). However, an alternative way to understand this phrase is that it just describes ways that we are able to judge, i.e., types of judgment. Under that reading, which I advocate, the MD classifies and thus inventories the categories by identifying a one-to-one correspondence between types of judgments (acts of unification) and categories (abstract, a priori unifying rules). However, based on her dispositional reading of this phrase, Longuenesse forces the idea of dispositions to judge onto central aspects of the TD. Thus, although she, correctly in my opinion, acknowledges Kant’s abandonment of the causal model of representation (p. 23), she suggests that in Kant’s subsequent view, “[r]epresentation is no longer a result . . . but an act of representation, or at least a disposition to represent. If representation is considered in this way, one may say that the object . . . is possible only if there is a representation or ‘disposition to representation,’ which constitutes it as an object of representation.” But this appears to be a tightly circular explanation. The issue is, what does representation consist in? That is, what does it take to make it the case that some thought, A represents some object, a? Longuenesse’s answer seems to be, A represents a if there is some disposition that “constitutes” a as an “object of representation.” But what then is it to constitute an object of representation? The question remains unanswered. Another instance of Longuenesse’s attempt to force an effort-based reading into the TD occurs in her discussion of the A TD’s threefold syntheses, where she states that “the recognition of representations under a concept is possible only if the activities described in the first two steps [apprehension and reproduction] were already oriented towards this goal” (p. 51). But there is simply no textual basis for this interpretation. If I, say, recognize that something is a triangle by successively apprehending and then recalling each of its three sides, I need not, and probably did not have as my goal “recognize a triangle,” since I could not have been aware that this is what I was seeing until I experienced all three sides. Longuenesse’s effort-based view of judgment also leads her to an odd understanding of the unity of consciousness. Thus, in wrapping up, she states that “[t]here is no unity of self-consciousness or ‘transcendental unity of apperception’ apart from this effort, or conatus towards judgment, ceaselessly affirmed and ceaselessly threatened with dissolution by ‘the welter of appearances’” (p. 394). But Kant never speaks of the unity of apperception as “threatened with dissolution.” Nor, for that matter, does he ever describe our cognitive system as ceaselessly judging, which is a rather dubious psychological view. 11 Longuenesse’s other imported notion is that of “reflection.” She states that one of two main ways that discursive thought is related to sensibility (which is the topic of the TD), is that “we form general concepts from sensible concepts, or ‘reflect upon’ what is given in sensibility.” (p. 10) Drawing on the Logic, she defines a concept as a “universal or reflected representation” (p. 35). When she turns to the counting example in the A


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TD which identifies the concept “number” as “nothing but the consciousness of the unity of synthesis” (A 103), she finds this to be a “very unusual use of the term ‘concept.’” She states that “[h]ere, the concept is not a universal representation formed by the discursive acts of comparison, reflection and abstraction, the (clear or obscure) consciousness of the unity of an act of synthesis” (p. 46). 12 She thus attributes a “twofold meaning” of “concept” to Kant (p. 24). However, I suggest that there is only one notion: a concept is a means of unifying representations, via application in judgments, and thus involves a unifying rule (A 126). 13 The “acts of comparison, reflection and abstraction” involve the origin of concepts, i.e., how they are acquired. The discussion in A 103 does not concern how the concept “number” gets acquired, but is rather describing the content of that particular concept. Longuenesse, though, focuses on the notion of reflection, which is connected with concept formation (acquisition). But the primary texts of the TD do not mention acquisition. She must thus force this idea into the central notions, e.g., “to refer to oneself as ‘I’ is just to be . . . conscious of the unique act of synthesis and analysis that makes syntheses ‘mine’, and cumulates in the formation of concepts.” (p. 68, my emphasis) There is, though, not one hint in the text of such a “cumulating in concept formation.” And again, in conjunction with the “effort-based” view, Longuenesse writes: “Only insofar as we strive to form judgments (combinations of concepts) do we generate in the sensible given of the intuition the forms of unity providing their content to the categories….Reflection according to logical forms, as a goal to be reached, guides the acts of unification of the sensible and thereby introduces a transcendental content to the categories” (p. 201). Thus, as a result of her commitment to both the dispositional view of the logical forms of judgment and the focus on reflection, Longuenesse must struggle to describe even a convoluted connection between the categories and experience. She is thus baffled by two key passages, one in each edition of the TD, that present a much more direct connection. When Kant introduces the categories in the A TD (A 111), Longuenesse says that “[s]uch an abrupt statement is surprising,” since there is no mention of judging. If, however, the categories have been “deduced” (in the MD), not as somehow inherently connected to efforts to judge, but as the a priori unifying rules for the cognitive system, then, since it has just been establish that consciousness is a priori unified, then the introduction of the categories is hardly surprising. Longuenesse likewise stumbles over B 128, the passage where Kant (finally!) provides an “explanation of the categories.” As I have argued (in appendix D), the paragraph, which presents the example of “substance,” appears to present the categories as meta-rules for judgments. Thus, if X is the concept of a substance, it can only be (correctly) applied in the subject position, never as a predicate. This, again, runs counter to

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Longuenesse’s effort-based understanding of judgment, since it is a restriction on forms of judgments. She describes the passage as “not easy to interpret.” And, though she quotes some or all of it several times, she never offers much in the way of explanation. I suggest that the passage reveals a much more direct connection between the categories and thinking, viz., they are rules that structure, and restrict, the types of judgments that we can make. And, if consciousness, and, in particular, experience, is unified by syntheses that follow these same rules, then we can understand how in general discursive thought and sensibility are related. Thus, the TD concerns a priori unifying rules rather than reflection or efforts to judge. BROOK Brook (1994) maintains that Kant should be seen as providing an “account that explores both the necessary conditions of the mind’s operation and the actual psychology of these operations and that does the latter precisely by doing the former” (p. 5). I think that this is the correct way to understand the psychological material in the Critique. I also agree completely with Brook’s claim that Kant had “a representational model of the mind . . . and his view of the mind as a system for applying concepts to percepts is entirely in line with functionalism” (p. 12). However, Brook’s investigation of Kant’s view of the unity of consciousness involves several major flaws. He begins, sans textual evidence, with the idea of a “global representation” (p. 13), by which he means (to slightly simplify) a representation that represents multiple representations or objects. He processes to define the “unity of consciousness” as a “single act of consciousness which makes one aware of a number of representations and/or objects of representation . . .” (p. 38). And he then claims that “to explain the unity of experience, Kant proposed the special kind of representation that we are calling a global representation.” (p. 45) But there are several problems here. First, the term “global” is highly misleading, since by the definition, if I am jointly aware of both a blue and red spot, then I have a “global representation.” But there is obviously nothing “global” in that example. Much worse, Brook’s definition of the unity of consciousness runs together necessary and empirical unity. Thus, an experience of two objects at once, or an experience of coordinated visual experience and sound involve a substantial amount of empirical unity. And as far as I am aware, Kant made no psychological proposals to explain the empirical unity of consciousness. (And, note that this violates Brook’s conception of Kant’s project quoted above, since empirical unity is not part of the necessary conditions of the cognitive system’s operation.)


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Kant does argue that we must have the ability to create empirical instances of (what Brook calls) global representations—these are his arguments for the empirical syntheses of apprehension and reproduction. But, as we have seen, the purpose of that line of argument is to then show that we must have “pure” as well as empirical versions of these syntheses. Other than that, Kant only mentions empirical unity for the purposes of contrast (§18 in the B TD), to clarify that he is discussing a different, overarching type of unity. Further, as I have argued in previous chapters, the unity embodied in transcendental apperception is not just the unification of moments of consciousness, but equally involves represented unification over time. Thus, at the end of the note at A 117, Kant says that what is essential to this unity is that the “possibility of the logical form of all cognition necessarily rests on the relationship to this apperception as a faculty.” This unity of the necessary form of consciousness does not lead Kant to any empirical psychological postulations other than the claim that the cognitive system must be able to carry out this structuring according to logical form, which is of course a matter of application of the aforementioned pure syntheses. Equally problematic is Brook’s treatment of awareness. Setting Kant aside, Brook turns to Dennett and defines awareness as “having access to information about X such that either behavioral reactions to x that bear information about X” (or similar dispositions) “are set up.” I see absolutely no reason for reading a quasi-logical-behaviorist view into Kant, who was clearly both a mentalist and a representationalist. This definition also seems to embody an attempted direct realism about awareness, which also counters Kant’s Lockean outlook. (A preferable definition for Kant’s view of awareness is “to be aware of X is to have a (conscious) representation of X.”) Brook seems to recognize that Kant did indeed have a representationalist outlook, and in an attempt to reconcile matters he proceeds to develop an elaborate series of definitions of types of awareness. This results in much confusion when Brook turns to the text, since he first attributes one of his notions of awareness to Kant, and then complains that Kant seems to be switching to another of his (Brook’s) notions. However, if we avoid attempting to turn Kant into a behaviorist or a direct realist, and instead read him consistently as a representationalist, no such difficulties arise. Similar problems occur in Brook’s reading of the notion of apperception. He distinguishes sharply between awareness of thoughts and selfawareness (p. 55). But this prevents him from understanding Kant’s notion of transcendental apperception, since, as I have argued, that consists of the representation of the unity of one’s thoughts. These problems in Brook’s approach are most clearly revealed in his treatment of the following sentences from A 108 (which he numbers):

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[1] The transcendental unity of apperception forms out of all possible experiences, which can stand beside one another in one experience, a connection of all these representations according to laws. [2] For this unity of consciousness would be impossible if the mind in knowledge of the manifold could not become conscious of the identity of function whereby it synthetically combines it in one knowledge. [3] The original and necessary consciousness of identity on the side of the self is thus at the same time a consciousness of an equally necessary unity of the synthesis of appearances according to rules. [Brook comments:] Put together, these sentences are simply baffling. Sentence (1) seems to be just a summary of the basic idea behind apperceiving synthesis . . . Kant suddenly introduces a reference to the mind’s awareness of its acts in (2) and to its awareness of its identity throughout its acts in (3)! These references to self-awareness appear completely out of the blue. The clue to what has happened may be in sentence (2). The only way to make sense of it, especially in combination with (3), is to take Kant to be talking about awareness of the unity of consciousness in it, not unity of consciousness itself. . . . In short, on A 108, Kant may suddenly switch to taking [transcendental apperception] to be a kind of selfawareness! (p. 146)

I agree that the first sentence is a restatement of transcendental apperception. The second sentence, is, however, only baffling if we attempt to impose Brook’s direct realist treatment of awareness on the text. If instead we assume that to be aware, or conscious, of X is to have a representation of X, then the sentence tells us that we cannot have (necessary) unity of consciousness without being conscious, i.e., aware, of this unity. (To be precise, Kant says that the mind must be aware of the function, i.e., syntheses, that constitute the unification.) Sentence (2) thus explicitly counters Brook’s approach to awareness, that allows the mind to be aware of X without having an explicit representation of X. Nor is the reference to self-awareness “out of the blue.” If we take “apperception” to be a sort of a blanket term for awareness of the mental, then this will include awareness of thoughts and their contents, and may or may not involve awareness of a “self” that is somehow distinct from thoughts. We can thus understand this passage—cumulating in (3)—as an explanation of what our a priori self-awareness (“transcendental apperception”) consists in. Kant is telling us that rather than being aware of some sort of Cartesian substance, what we are aware of—that is, what we represent when we represent ourselves non-empirically—is the unifying function (syntheses) that, necessarily, structures all conscious states. That is, my concept of my conscious states is constituted by being those conscious states that are lawfully structured, and thus inter-related states both at the moment, and over time, by the application of the categories. And, under the reading I have been defending throughout, the passage that Brook cites is one of three main keys to understanding the TD (along


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with his argument(s) for the necessary unity of consciousness and his treatment of the concept of an object of representation). In this passage Kant is identifying the contents of transcendental apperception with the necessary unity he has previous argued for, thus both explaining how we are aware of this unity and explaining what a priori self-awareness consists of. DICKERSON Dickerson (2004) pursues an interpretation that is similar to mine in that he thinks that the notion of representation is the key to understanding the TD. However, he focuses exclusively on the B TD, and, as I have shown above, Kant’s thorough treatment of representation is found in the A TD, while almost no explanation of this notion is found in the rewritten version. And, unfortunately, Dickerson’s treatment of representation (his chapter 1) is almost completely non-textual. He focuses on the idea of “seeing as”—for instance, seeing a two dimension diagram of a Necker cube as a three dimensional cube. He states, without any textual support, that this idea is ”key to Kant’s account of representation” (p. 18). He maintains that seeing as is a matter of “seeing something in the medium,” and that this corresponds to Kant’s view of “the reflexive grasp of mental representations” (ibid). I would, on the contrary, suggest that this has nothing at all to do with Kant’s account. The notion of “seeing as” characterizes a phenomenon that occurs in visual imagery. Diagrams, sketches, and generally minimalistic figures can be “seen as” types of objects, e.g., the silhouette that Dickerson presents (p. 18) can be seen as a cat. I would suggest that this phenomenon explains nothing, and is itself in need of explanation. Think, for example, of the experience of an actual cat. If we ask why that experience represents the cat, or represents an instance of the concept “cat,” being told that that experience is being “seen as” a cat is not helpful. The fact that a given silhouette invokes the idea of a cat does not explain the basis of normal representation. 14 Since his treatment of representation, in fact, explains nothing, Dickerson builds the seeming explanation of representation into the notion of “synthesis.” Thus, in looking at Kant’s initial definition, viz.: By synthesis in the most general sense, however, I understand the action of putting different representations together with each other and comprehending [begeifen] their manifoldness in one cognition. (A 77/B 103)

Dickerson says that the term “begeifen” “suggests as primary an act of comprehending or understanding something. This in turn indicates that the ‘putting together’ or ‘combining’ that is mentioned should be understood in a metaphorical sense. My hypothesis is thus that the act of syn-

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thesis involved in cognition is the act of grasping the object presented in the representational medium” (p. 22). Notice that this still does not help to explain “representation,” since we have simply replaced it with the equally unexplained notion of “grasping.” But, in any event, the claim that “begeifen” should be understood metaphorically is a wild, completely unjustified leap. It is easy to find passages where Kant reaffirms that synthesis is combination, e.g.: [Empirical consciousness] therefore does not come about by my accompanying each representation with consciousness, but rather by my adding one representation to the other and being conscious of their synthesis. (B 133)

Moreover, once we note, based on the A TD, that Kant includes empirical association in the list of syntheses, it becomes obvious that “synthesis” is not metaphorical. The obviously preferable reading, that I have maintained throughout, is that Kant’s above-quoted definition describes a literal combinatorial process together with a representation that is the product of that process. NOTES 1. Actually, he does not quite comprehend the intended identity. What he considers is the identity between the unity of consciousness and the unity of the object, failing to see that the proposed identity is with the concept of the representation of an object. 2. There is a use-mention mistake here—she means of his conceptual representation of the number 4, not of the numeral “4.” Moreover, the number 2 is hardly a partial representation of the number 4. What she should have said is that the representation of the second member of a series is a partial representation of a four-membered series. 3. And there are various reasons for thinking that this sort of view is false. First, if this were the case, then it should be an easy, trivial matter to state the definitions of concepts, but it is notoriously not. Second, it seems plausible that we often move from the detection of a single mark of a concept, say, just the shape of a dog, or a bark, to an application of the concept. So it may well be false that, even if the concept “dog” consists of a set of dog marks, that we unify those marks in order to apply the concept. Third, drawing on the contemporary scientific psychological outlook, it is plausible that the detection of dog marks that leads to the judgment “that’s a dog” is often, if not always, unconscious (or pre-conscious), which, incidentally, would explain why it is often difficult to describe the marks that concepts consist of. And, finally, there are Quinean worries about whether most concepts analytically possess marks, e.g., is “dogs bark” analytic? This seems to challenge Kant’s view that empirical concepts generally consist of sets of marks. So it would be preferable if we could avoid importing the problematic mark view into the TD. 4. I have suggested in chapter 3 that we may take Kant to be, in effect, proposing a functional role theory of representation, where the categories are the concepts/rules that create external representation and that also necessarily unify consciousness. A complete functional role account will, Quinean worries aside, involve many other analytic interrelations among concepts, and thus many other necessary, unifying connections among representations. So I am not denying that they are part of Kant’s outlook. But the present point is that connections between multiple representations, both analytic and empirical, require the general, necessary unity of consciousness.


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5. The example I present here likewise reveal the same problem of individual unities not adding up to an overall necessary unity of consciousness in the readings by Rosenburg (2005) and Landy (2009); I have noted this problem for their views in chapter 3. 6. Since on Kant’s (correctly understood) view, all experiences are subject to the concept of an object, awareness of dog features would also be represented externally, e.g., “there’s a dog shape over there (in external space).” 7. If concepts are abstracted from instances, then the experiences of the instances will of course involve the categories, as all experiences do. But I do not think that this is what Kitcher has in mind here. 8. I do, by the way, agree (broadly) with Kitcher’s reading of the Paralogisms as a critical application of the doctrine of transcendental apperception. 9. And, similarly, in §16 of the B TD, it would have been extremely helpful if Kant had explicitly stated the unity under a concept principle in the process of connecting the concept “my representations” with the necessary unity of consciousness. 10. This seems broadly similar to Kitcher’s view that we have examined above. The common origin is perhaps in Longuenesse’s treatment of concept acquisition (see below). 11. I discuss this issue in appendix D, “One unifying synthesis or two?” 12. Longuenesse appears to confuse the idea of the unity of consciousness with a unifying act of synthesis; she takes this act to be a matter of striving towards a goal. It is fairly clear though that various different “acts,” i.e., various syntheses, thus various mental processes, produce the unity in question. The unity is in the product, not the process. 13. In considering this passage, rather than acknowledging that she has misunderstood Kant’s notion of a concept, Longuenesse insists that Kant is providing a “twofold meaning” of the term “rule”! (p. 50). 14. On the other hand, a functional role view of representation, such as the one developed here, can offer a reasonable explanation of the “seeing as” phenomenon. First, note that when one views these examples, one does not literally represent the presence of an external object. For example, viewing a cat silhouette does not result in the representation of the presence of a cat, nor does viewing a Necker cube diagram result in the representation of the presence of a three dimensional figure. Rather, I suggest, such figures share enough of the features of the relevant concepts to activate them—or in some related way connect the representation of the figure with that conceptual (functional) role—so the silhouette has an appropriate shape to activate the “cat” concept, though it of course lacks all of the other aspects of an experience of a cat. This then allows the creation of a close association with the relevant concept, so, e.g., the silhouette can be associated with the content “cat.” But, of course, it is quite another matter to explain what the content “cat” consists in, let alone to explain what content in general consists in.

ELEVEN Theses and Arguments

Here are the main philosophical views from the Transcendental Deductions of the Categories (both editions) together with the arguments that Kant offers in support of them—all of the main philosophical content that has been exposited in the previous chapters. Unlike the approach above, I here present this material as an ahistorical reconstruction. Despite the fact that the Kant’s outlook is in many ways contrary to the dominant views in contemporary philosophy, the main claims are well-supported, and the position is thus surprisingly compelling. Note that I am not suggesting that these are the only aspects of the TD that matter. As we have seen, Kant’s presentation of these views is incredibly rich in insights, both philosophical and psychological. However, I think it is useful to have a barebones version of his philosophical framework (a true “objective deduction”) along with the fully detailed account that I have presented above. I also provide concise summaries of the formal idealist/empirical realist aspect and of Kant’s critiques of empiricism. THE UNITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS Thesis U: Each (human) subject’s consciousness is necessarily unified by a priori concepts (rules). Argument U: 1. We possess concepts and apply them to conscious states, as experienced instances. 2. All represented instances of a concept are necessarily unified via that concept.



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3. Contingent connections between representations, e.g., empirical associations, are not sufficient for this necessary unity under a given concept. 4. Concepts are generally applicable to consciousness; e.g., any particular experience might potentially be blue or round or happy, etc. Therefore, any arbitrary subset of conscious states must be able to be necessarily unified, such as those that involve representation of blueness or roundness or happiness. Therefore, all conscious states of a concept user must be necessarily, generally unified in order to enable necessary unity under any given concept. Remarks: Kant makes this argument at A 103–4 and in the note at B 133. Premise (1) is obvious—we conceptualize what we experience, and, (perhaps) more generally, we conceptualize what we are conscious of. Premise (2) is a basic truth about concepts and their extensions: for any concept “A,” necessarily, all instances of “A” are A’s. For example, necessarily, all instances of the concept “dog” are dogs, which seems impossible to deny. As for (3), it is difficult to see how a (radical) empiricist could allow that two mental states with only contingent, empirical connections could nonetheless also be necessarily unified. This would seem evident from the fact that the Humean argument against a necessary connection between experienced causes and effects requires that empirical connection is not able to support necessary unification. Finally, (4) is obvious as well, in the same way that the first premise is, and might simply be a clarification of (1). The sub-conclusion clearly follows from 1–4. And it would seem that the only way to guarantee necessary unity of any arbitrary subset of conscious states is to have overall necessary unity, hence the main conclusion. (If there is any doubt about this last step, the solution is to find a concept that applies to all conscious states, which is what the next two arguments below do.) So the argument seems not only valid but sound. The fact that it supports an extremely strong (and unexpected) conclusion from apparently innocuous premises makes it an exceedingly philosophically interesting. Argument U1: 1. All conscious states are representational. 2. Thus, the concept “representation” applies to all conscious states. 3. All instances of a concept are necessarily unified under the concept. Therefore, all conscious states of a given cognizer are necessarily unified under the concept “representation.” Remarks: The first premise follows from the inner sense doctrine. 1 As discussed in chapter 9, a denial of the inner sense view would leave us with no way to explain how we have knowledge of our conscious states.

Theses and Arguments


The sub-conclusion that I have numbered (2) follows directly from (1). Premise (3) is the same as the second premise from the previous argument (I suppress the third premise of that argument for brevity). This again appears obviously valid and sound. Kant notes this result at A 104–5, but only for the sake of setting up the thesis about representation (that we consider next). The argument can be understood as slightly strengthening Argument U. In response to that argument, it could be maintained, albeit very dubiously, that consciousness is not completely united by concepts, but that there are sub-unities each with discrete sets of (analytically) unifying concepts. That fact that there is a single concept that analytically unifies all conscious states undermines such a response. Argument U2: For each cognizer: 1. I conceive of all conscious states as mine; i.e., for any conscious state p that I experience, I can truthfully judge “I think that p.” 2. Thus, the concept “my thoughts” applies to all conscious states. 3. All instances of a concept are necessarily unified under the concept. Therefore, all my conscious states are necessarily unified under the concept “my thoughts”—I must be able to conceive of them as my conscious states. Remarks: I assume that premise (1) is obvious and sub-conclusion (2) is obviously implied by it. And this argument also appears obviously valid and sound. Kant makes this argument at B 132. Like argument U1, this also serves to supplement argument U. It is also a set-up for the doctrine of transcendental apperception. And it can be understood as a critique of the Humean view of the cognitive system: if consciousness consisted in nothing but isolated mental states with only contingent connections, then (for each of us) I would not be able to conceptualize them as my thoughts. But I/we obviously can so conceptualize them. Additional reasoning: Since the necessary of unity of consciousness is conceptual unity (by U1 as well as U2), and since concepts are, or involve, unifying rules, and since this is necessary unity and is thus not the result of experience, there must be a priori rules that create this necessary, a priori unity. 2 REPRESENTATION Thesis R: The general concept “object of representation” is constituted by the rules that underlie the necessary unity of consciousness. (The following arguments are drawn from A 104–5.)


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Main reasoning: first stage, argument R1: 1. Representation consists of a correspondence between the representational state and that which it represents (“the object”). 2. We aware of objects only through our conscious experiences of them. 3. Thus, we cannot experience correspondence between our mental states and that which they represent. 4. But we do conceive of our conscious mental states as representational (as having objects). Therefore, our conception of representation, i.e., correspondence, is not the result of experiencing two distinct things that stand in correspondence, viz., thoughts and their objects. Remarks: Premise (1) seems unproblematic in terms of how we ordinarily conceive of representation, although one could attempt to analyze this notion differently. Premise (2) seems obvious. Premise (3) follows from (1) and (2) with the reasonable supposition that if one cannot be aware of b, one cannot experience aRb. NB, the conclusion does not assert that we do not represent an external world, but merely blocks a certain understanding of such representation. Second stage: argument R2: 1. By Argument U1, all conscious mental states must necessarily share some sort of uniform features that make them representational. 2. If representation were a matter of connections to mind-external objects, e.g., causal connections, then since individual connections to objects are contingent, representation in general would consist of a set of non-uniform, contingent (“arbitrary”) relations, where there would be no guarantee that any given mental state stood in any particular relation. 3 That is, external connections to objects do not form a set of necessarily possessed uniform features. Therefore, representation cannot be a matter of external, e.g., causal, connections to mind-external objects. Remarks: This argument raises an interesting challenge to causal views of representation. It does not seem that the causal theorist could maintain that all out mental states stand in a uniform type of causal relation to what they represent. The causal theorist might instead maintain that representation is not, in fact, a uniform notion, but that seems very problematic as well. (Given the current prevalence of causal views of representation, one would now like a lengthier critical treatment here. But all the same, this strikes me as an interesting and strong argument against that approach.) Third stage, Argument R3:

Theses and Arguments


1. By Argument U1, all conscious mental states must necessarily share some sort of uniform features that make them representational (i.e., allow them to “have objects”). 2. The only thing that is necessarily true of all conscious mental states is that they are subject to the necessary unity of consciousness (established in Thesis U). Therefore, the concept of an object of representation must be identical to the set of rules (concepts) that underlie the necessary unity of consciousness. That is, the a priori rules that necessarily unify consciousness are also the rules that create representation, i.e., that constitute the framework for making mental states representational. Remarks: This appears to be an (a priori) inference to the best explanation. And it is a reasonable inference: all conscious states must have something (necessary) in common that makes them representational. The only seeming candidate is that which also necessarily unifies them. As discussed in chapter 3, this identification of representation and unity amounts to a functional role theory of representation (meaning). Corollary R: The concept “object of representation (in general)” is necessarily always the same since it applies to all representations; so, in the abstract, representations can be understood as corresponding to an indefinite object. “SELF”-AWARENESS Thesis TA: In every moment of consciousness I have a priori “self”awareness (“transcendental apperception”) that consists solely in a representation of the necessary unity of consciousness. Argument TA: 1. By Argument U2 I must be able to conceive of all my conscious states as mine. 2. I do not have experience or any other sort of awareness of myself as a substance. 3. So there must be some other features of all my conscious mental states that makes them mine. 4. Empirical awareness of conscious states offers no guarantee of common features. 5. The only thing that is necessarily true of all conscious mental states is that they are subject to the necessary unity of consciousness. Therefore, I must be aware of my mental states as mine through an a priori representation of this unity that is necessarily a part of every conscious state that I undergo. Thus, the representation of the unification that results from the application of the a priori rules that unify conscious-


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ness and that create representation is what also constitutes each human cognizer’s a priori “self”-awareness. Remarks: this reasoning is reconstructed from Kant’s discussion at B 132–4. Premise (2), that Kant never mentions in these passages, affirms Hume’s denial of awareness of mental substance. The conclusion is a second inference to the best explanation that fulfills the explanatory demand stated in the first premise. And it seems quite reasonable to me. It nicely resolves the dilemma created by the lack of experience of a mental substance but the need—established by U2—to explain “self”-awareness as something more than the experience of completely isolated mental states. The result also completes what I have called the Transcendental Trinity, which weaves together (necessary) unity, representation, and (transcendental) apperception. Argument TA1: 1. There is a necessary unity of consciousness (established in Thesis U). 2. By the inner sense view, our awareness of our conscious states is the result of forming representations of them. 3. Thus, in every moment of consciousness, we must be aware of the necessary unity of consciousness. Therefore, since awareness of this unity is a necessary feature of all of our representations of our thoughts, it is a priori “self”-awareness. I do not think that Kant ever explicitly made this argument. It is, though, a seemingly obvious consequence of the establishment of the necessary unity of consciousness together with the inner sense view, and thus serves as a potential backup to Argument TA. UNITY OF THE EMPIRICAL WORLD Thesis W: The empirical (spatial/temporal) world embodies the same necessary, a priori unity as does every human’s consciousness. Argument W: 1. Every experience is (necessarily) structured by space and time— they are the a priori forms of experience. 2. Space and time are experienced as necessarily unities; there is only one space and one time. Therefore, every empirical experience contains a necessary, a priori unity. Additional reasoning E1: Since there can only be one a priori unity of consciousness, the a priori unity of empirical experience must be the same unity as the general conscious unity that was established in Thesis U.

Theses and Arguments


Additional reasoning E2: Since space and time constitute the a priori, necessary form of the empirically knowable world, this a priori unity is constitutive of the empirical world. Remarks: This reasoning comes from B 160–61. Premise (1) obviously requires additional argumentation, a la Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic. Note that on my reconstruction this argument does not require that it has been established that space and time are nothing but these a priori forms, that is, it does not require the ideality of space and time. Premise (2) might be self-evident; it is also treated in the fourth argument for space and for time in the A Aesthetic, which is re-numbered as the third in the B version, although the discussion there seems to appeal to the intuitive conception of a single space and single time. In any case, this seems correct. JUSTIFICATION OF THE CATEGORIES Given: We have a set of a priori concepts, viz., the categories, that unify judgments. Since concepts involve unifying rules, these are the a priori rules that underlie all abstract, a priori unity. Remarks: This is what Kant “deduces” in the Metaphysical Deduction. Note that Thesis U independently requires that there must be some such unifying rules. Justification 1 By Thesis U and the Given, the categories are the a priori rules that unify all consciousness and thus validly apply to all consciousness, thus including all empirical experience. Remark: this is, roughly, the reasoning from the end of the A TD at A 129. Justification 2A: Since by Thesis R representation in general consists of ordering according to a priori rules, by the Given, representation consists of ordering according to the categories. So the categories are our concepts of an object in general and thus validly apply to anything (any “object”) that we represent. Justification 2B: By Thesis R the categories are required in order to cognize or otherwise represent anything that is separate from our representations; but this is to say that the categories are objectively valid. Remarks: This is, roughly, the reasoning at A 111. Justification 3: Since by Thesis E, the empirical (spatial/temporal) world embodies a priori unity, and by the Given this unity must be the result of unification according to the categories. Therefore, we are justified in making judgments that apply the categories to the empirical world. Remarks: this is the reasoning at B 161–62. Justification 4: Since an empirical judgment is applied to a conscious state, i.e., is applied to either an experience of the external world or of a


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mental states, then by Thesis A, any such judgment must include and a priori representation of the necessary unity of consciousness. By the Given, the categories are the rules that unify judgments. So the categories must have a realization as rules that necessarily unify judgments. Since most first order judgmental connections between concepts are non-necessary, the categories cannot be first-order rules but must either have realizations (as meta-rules) or meta-applications that (necessarily) unify judgments. It follows that every empirical judgment applies to (i.e., is unified by) some of the categories. Remarks: This is a reconstruction of the reasoning at B 141–43, also drawing on B 128-9. It is, again, a seeming inference to the best and only explanation. It should be obvious by now that all of the hard work of justifying the claim that there are necessarily unifying rules is carried out by the reasoning that establishes the Transcendental Trinity. As the above arguments reflect, the passages that officially “justify” the categories thus seem oddly simple and empty, since they rely on these elaborate previous results. FORMAL IDEALISM AND EMPIRICAL REALISM Explanations: By Thesis W (and Thesis R), the general structure of the world that we know through experience is not mind-independent. Rather, the formal structure of the world (the concepts of an object in general, i.e., the categories) come from our cognitive systems (formal idealism). However, the world is not identical to our experiences. Rather, the concept of an object is the concept of a world separate from experiences that is represented by those experiences (i.e., that makes them appearances of the world). The cognitive processes that organize empirical input into the unity of consciousness thereby “project” a world that is what is represented by experiences (empirical realism) and has the same formal structure as experiences have. The humanly knowable nature of the world is thus a joint product of external input together with the formal structure imposed by the cognitive system. Since the (scientific) laws of nature are necessarily true, and since necessity is one of the categories and is thus imposed by the cognitive system, the general law-likeness of nature is not given by a mind-independent world but is rather the product of our cognitive constitution and is thus a priori. Knowledge of the truth of specific laws does, however, rest on empirical knowledge. Remark: this partially idealist outlook is in sharp contrast to our contemporary realist weltanschauung. But the above reasoning that supports

Theses and Arguments


this position does not rest on any dubious, highly objectionable assumptions. It is surprisingly compelling. CRITIQUES OF (HUMEAN) EMPIRICISM Critique 1: Empiricism attempts to explain (experienced) causation as due solely to the association of experienced causes with experienced effects. However, in order to experience even a contingent regularity of association, the cognitive system must operate in a law-like manner, i.e., there must be lawful recall and representation of associated representations. But in order for the cognitive system to be generally law-like, there must be an underlying unity to the cognitive system and thus to consciousness that assures the necessary, i.e., law-like, nature of these processes. But this unity can be shown to include the very concept of necessary connection between cause and effect that empiricism attempts to explain away. Thus, empiricism’s psychological commitments presuppose what it attempts to explain away. Critique 2: In order to be able to represent an external (i.e., non-subjective) connection between cause and effect, the cognitive system must be able to represent external events. But representation of external events necessarily involves the concept of an object in general, which presupposes the concepts of necessity and causation that empiricism attempts to explain away. Critique 3: In order to consciously associate representations, the cognitive system must be able to simultaneously represent the associated representations. But the fact that there have been independent experiences of two different representations does not entail that they can be experienced simultaneously, nor does it explain how they can be experienced simultaneously. In order to be able to associate (or otherwise consciously combine) representations, they must be experienced as part of the same consciousness, so the completely general ability to unify representations requires an absolutely (i.e., necessarily) unified consciousness. Thus, the general principle of empiricist association requires the necessary unity of consciousness, and thus requires the justified applicability of the categories to experience, and therefore requires the justifiability of substantial metaphysical a priori knowledge of the sort that empiricism seeks to deny. Remarks: Critique 1 is suggested at a 100–2. Critique 3 is taken from the discussion of “affinity” at A 113–14 and A 121–22. As far as I am aware, Kant did not state Critique 2, although it is an obvious, and important consequence of his account of representation. The third entry seems to me to be the strongest, although they are all noteworthy. It is also worth mentioning that, by itself, the establishment of Thesis U seem-


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ingly does away with the radical empiricist outlook, since it entails that there are necessary connections between all conscious states. NOTES 1. The conscious states that might seem non-representational involve awareness of mental states, e.g., feeling happy. But according to the inner sense doctrine, we are aware of our mental states only via representing them; thus, I know that I am feeling happy because I represent the presence of this feeling via inner sense. Thus, the experience of feeling happy is a representation of one’s emotional state. 2. Guyer (1987), p. 75, maintains that Kant never explicitly argues why “the self requires any rules merely to represent its own unity.” I agree that Kant does not explicitly argue for this result, but the above slightly reconstructed reasoning does achieve it. 3. And, by Argument R1, on a Humean view of causation, we would have no knowledge of such a relation.

Appendix A The Transcendental Object: Additional Support

In my exposition of the primary framework of the TD in chapter 3, I maintain that what Kant means by “the transcendental object” is, first, the concept of an object of representation—a represented something or other—that is the “object” part. And second, in the trio of core notions from the TD that I call the Transcendental Trinity, the concept of an object of representation is coextensive with the necessary unity of consciousness, the unity that is represented in transcendental apperception and that underlies all (non-analytic) a priori knowledge. Because the concept of an object thus figures centrally in the foundation of a priori knowledge, it deserves the label “transcendental.” Since many commentators have taken the phrase “transcendental object” to have some other meaning, such as something connected with mind-independent objects, I present the following additional textual support in favor of the above reading of this phrase. First, the following Reflexion encapsulates my interpretation: [T]he transcendental object “is no real object or given thing, but a concept, in relation to which appearances have unity. R 5554 1

And a similar explanation is given in this Reflexion: All intuitions are only representations; the object to which they are related lies in the understanding. R 5643 2

Since the understanding is the storehouse of concepts, this is to say that the “object” in question is a concept. The following passage from the Critique explains the idea of conceptualizing intuitions as corresponding to an unknown something: the understanding thus relates [appearances/representations] to a something, as the object of sensible intuition: but this something is to that extent only the transcendental object. This signifies, however a something = X, of which we know nothing at all nor can know anything in general (in accordance with the current constitution of our understanding), but is rather something that can serve only as a correlate of the unity of the manifold of sensible intuition, by means of which the understanding unifies that in our concept of an object. This transcendental object cannot even be separated from the sensible data, for then 205


Appendix A nothing would remain through which it would be thought. It is therefore no object of cognition in itself, but only the representation of appearances under the concept of an object in general, which is determinable through the manifold of those appearances. (A 250–51)

While, as this passage makes clear, we cannot experience a transcendental object, we can nonetheless get to the concept of the bare, “pure” transcendental object if we idealize away all of the empirically represented features of the world, e.g., take away the shape and location and color and hardness and bulk of the table and I am left with the bare conception of that there is something that I am representing as existing, an objective something independent of me. But any further detail will involve an empirical feature—in particular, a (specific) spatial or temporal feature or a spatially and temporally located quality, such as position or shape or existence at this place in this moment. So any attempt to characterize features of the transcendental object is pointless: to the question, “what kind of constitution does a transcendental object have?” one cannot indeed give an answer saying what it is, but one can answer that the question itself is nothing, because no object for the question is given. (note at A 478/B 506)

The table, then, is an empirical object. I both experience and conceive of it as having the qualities that I experience it as having—i.e., it is an “object that is given.” The concept of the transcendental object is not an object in the way that the table is, it is rather what allows me to treat my table experiences as representing an external thing that exists and has properties apart from my experiences. This concept thus underlies ordinary objects. We can also use the idea of abstracting to the pure conception of the corresponding object to understand Kant’s seemingly odd claim that the transcendental object is always “one and the same = X” (A 109), or “one object” (A 129). If we think of differing physical objects as the correspondents of our experiences, e.g., the table corresponds to my table experiences, and the cup to my cup experiences, then we have empirical ingredients left in our conception, and have not reached a pure conception that can apply to every representation. By contrast, the transcendental object has no properties beyond being a bare correspondent (“thing”), and is thus always the same. Moreover, and more importantly, representation is not the result of a causal connection with external objects, rather, our conception of the external world is the result of the conceptualization of our experiences through application of the idea of the transcendental object. Another way to put this is that for Kant, representation is logically prior to correspondence—experiences need to be conceived as representational in order to conceive of their objects, as opposed to determining that they are representational by discovering causal connections to (external) objects. So the primacy of the conception of the transcendental object,

Appendix A


its generic nature, and its distinction from empirical objects, are all invoked by the idea of its singularity. And, finally, there are passages in the Critique where Kant rejects the idea of identifying the transcendental object with the noumena: The transcendental object “cannot be called the noumenon” (A 253, my emphasis). And in explaining that the concept of the noumena is merely negative, he notes that the “concept of the noumenon is therefore not the concept of an object” (A 287/B 344). Thus is it not the concept of the transcendental object. As I explain chapter 5, the concept of the noumena is the conception of the nature of the world that is known directly, as opposed to our perceptual methods. By contrast, the concept of the transcendental object is the concept of an external object that under application to experiences yields the representation of the external world. NOTES 1. Translation from Notes and Fragments, Guyer, ed., 2005, p. 245. 2. Ibid., p. 269.

Appendix B The Problem of Affectation

Throughout the Critique, Kant speaks of objects affecting the mind. The most notable passage is at the opening of the Aesthetic: [An intuition], however, takes place only insofar as the object is given to us; but this in turn, is possible only if it affects the mind in a certain way. The capacity (receptivity) to acquire representations through the way in which we are affected by objects is called sensibility. (A 19/B 33)

However, many commentators, beginning with Kant’s contemporary Jacobi, have detected the following problem with the claim that objects affect sensibility: which “object” is Kant referring to here? 1 It cannot be the unknown noumena, since it would be saying too much to judge that the noumena cause sensations—this would involve positive knowledge about the noumena, and, moreover, the application of a category to that realm would be a direct violation of Kant’s doctrine that we cannot have any knowledge of the noumena, and thus cannot know if the categories apply to them or not. On the other hand, on a phenomenalistic reading of Kant’s empirical realism, phenomenal objects cannot cause sensations either, since phenomenal objects are just collections of representations, and they presumably cannot be the cause of themselves. For example, if the table that I am perceiving is just a collection of table experiences, then there is no separate object to cause these experiences. 2 On the present reading, the objects of intuitions consist of a projected external world that is represented by these experiences. This allows that I can conceive of, say, the table, qua object of my experience, as a thing that exists independent of the experiences and, as such, causally interacts with the other parts of the represented world, including my body. So I can coherently conceive and represent that it is light reflected from the surface of the table that is the “object” that is the immediate cause of my visual sensations. 3 So, on the present view, the dilemma is resolved by a proper understanding of the second horn: it is not phenomenal objects that cause sensations, but rather things in the external world that are represented by experiences. But how can it be that a merely projected world causes anything? Here, it seems to me, is where the representational realism (see chapter 5) becomes apparent. If we think of the projected world as a fiction, then of 209


Appendix B

course it can cause nothing. But this turns Kant into a skeptic. Rather, to conceive of the table as something external includes not only representing it as existing independent of experiences, but also of it standing in various causal interactions with other (represented) things. Part of this causal nexus will be the causal relations that produce sensations. While all of this seems consistent with the views of the Critique, this is not exactly what Kant says when he seemingly considers the issue, as in the following passage: The non-sensible cause of these representations is entirely unknown to us, and therefore we cannot intuit is as an object; . . . [m]eanwhile we can call the merely intelligible cause of appearances in general the transcendental object, merely so that we may have something corresponding to sensibility as a receptivity. (A 494/B 522–23)

As we have seen in chapter 3, the transcendental object is our completely general conception of something external; it is the pure conception of an object via the categories, but with no synthesized materials—no temporal or spatial representations—to represent anything determinate. He thus tells us that the transcendental object, as cause of our appearances, “cannot be thought of either as magnitude or as a reality or as substance, etc. (since these concepts always require sensible forms in which they determine an object)” (A 288/B 344). 4 So, since the noumena are conceived entirely negatively, as how the world would be known to a psychology different from ours, they cannot be conceived positively as the cause of our sensations. By contrast, the transcendental object is a positive conception, and is thus suitable to play the role of the unknown cause of sensations. So we might, then, read the “objects” in the passage from the Aesthetic as referring to the transcendental object. I think that would be fine, leaving us with a consistent reading. However, it seems to me that this does not do justice to how we think of the causes of experiences in everyday life. I will first say, though, that for visual experience, which dominates perception, we are for the most part not actually aware that the cause of our experiences is light striking the retinas. Thus, it seems that I am somehow just seeing the cup that is a few feet away, with no physical intermediary—I am not aware that I am seeing it only because of the light that reflects off of it. It is as though my mind reaches out to the cup. (This is perhaps the main source of the appeal of naïve direct realism.) And, by the way, this non-causal phenomenology of visual experience might be used to defend the functional role view of representation, the world to object view, against the causal, object to world view, since while we know that our visual experiences are representational we typically are not aware of their causes. But, having said all of this, there are cases where we are very explicitly aware of the causes of sensations. The flash of a very bright light is one in the case of vision, but, better, suppose that I

Appendix B


am enjoying a glass of fine wine. To return to the main point, I do not ascribe the cause of the taste that I am relishing to an unknown something. Rather, it is a physical object, viz., the wine, that is causing my taste experiences. So, as I have suggested above, it would seem that, with our understanding of Kant’s representational functional role view and thus representational realism in place (see chapter 5), we should simply say that ordinary external stimuli cause our sensations. Some attempted solutions to the problem of affectation result in a dubious double affectation, when both the noumena as well as phenomenal objects are conceived as the causes of sensations. But I do not think that what I am suggesting has a similar result. The concept of the transcendental object underlies all of our representations, including those that represent impinging stimuli. When we reflect philosophically on the cause of sensations in general, and thus abstract away not only from any particular details about specific causes, but also abstract away from the entire psychological system that synthesizes our experiences, we are left with the bare conception of an unknown something external as the cause. But this is consistent with the idea that this unknown something is, as it were, conceptually divided up and represented in specific ways by our psychological system, yielding representations of specific substantive spatial, temporal causes of specific sensations. And this is the natural way to interpret the “objects” in the passage at the opening of the Aesthetic. So the bottom line is that Jacobi’s dilemma is the result of completely overlooking Kant’s treatment of representation. We can either, as Kant himself suggests, use the bare, but positive, concept of an external object (the concept of the transcendental object) as the “something unknown” that causes our sensations in general or we can, in the context of everyday experience, take represented external stimuli—that are known via application of the concept of the transcendental object to perceptual representations—as the cause. Either way, there is no dilemma or contradiction. NOTES 1. See Allison (2004), pp. 64ff. for a useful presentation of the problem of affectation including both historical and contemporary treatments of the issue. His solution is that the noumena and the transcendental object are one and the same, but contemplated from two different reflective (philosophical) perspectives, so, roughly, it is the same thing with two different aspects. As I indicate below, I think there is a coherent way to understand the matter that does not require a double aspect reading. However, I do think that Allison’s idea of differing reflective perspectives vis-à-via our cognitive system can be useful in articulating Kant’s views, as I show below as well. However, I see no evidence that Kant himself ever explicitly used this maneuver. 2. One mental state can cause another, but that doesn’t help since it is false that my past table experiences are the cause of my current table experience.


Appendix B

3. It is useful to thus reinforce the breadth of Kant’s notion of object—the primary kinds of “objects” that cause our sensations are light striking the retinas and vibrations impacting the eardrums, along with the neural firings that transmit information about the body. 4. Kant himself seem to violate this in the passage from Prolegomena quoted in chapter 5, where he appears to say that the “bodies” that cause our appearances are actual.

Appendix C Specifying the Functional Role of the Categories

In what follows, I piece together some details about the functional role of the categories, primarily by examining the instructive example at B 128–29. This passage illustrates the view that the categories are “concepts of an object in general, by means of which its [i.e., the object in general’s] intuition is regarded as determined with regard to one of the logical functions for judgment.” Kant offers the explanation of “substance” to clarify. I should first say that it appears that in the initial example, “body” and “divisibility” are apparently meant to be arbitrary choices. 1 The initial point is that for a categorical judgment involving two concepts, a wellformed judgment (though, obviously, not always a true judgment) results from placing either concept as the subject and the other as the predicate, viz., for two concepts A, B “All A’s are B’s” and “All B’s are A’s” are both well-formed categorical judgments. Kant then proceeds to explain how the corresponding category applies to these kinds of judgments. (He is apparently presuming that readers will recall that it has been “deduced” or “discovered”—in the Metaphysical Deduction—that the concept “substance” corresponds to categorical judgments.) What does it mean, then, to judge that “A is a substance”? Kant says that “bringing [a] concept,” viz., “body,” under the category of substance consists in “determining” that any empirical judgment involving “body” must always have the concept “body” in the subject position. Or, in other words, we are able to conceive something as a substance by limiting (i.e., “determining”) the corresponding term’s use, qua-substance, to the subject position of categorical judgments. 2 This passage thus helps to clarify the relationship between the forms of judgments and the categories, which is none too apparent from the Metaphysical Deduction. The immediate take-away here seems to be that the categories are meta-rules for the application of judgments. And, along with “substance,” the meta-rule view is plausible for “causation.” For example, “If A then B” is made causal by applying the meta-rule: there is some rule that, given A, necessitates B. And perhaps the under-discussed “community” has a similar role. However, it is difficult to see what the meta-rules for the other nine categories might be like. Thus, it seems that an affirmative judgment simply is an assertion of what is real, and that an apodictic judgment simply is an assertion of necessity. In those cases, the 213


Appendix C

form of judgment seems to determine in the appropriate categorical way. Kant, though, simply says “and likewise with the other categories.” So, on what is perhaps a modest reconstruction, the categories do not have a uniform relation to judgments types. In particular, the Relational categories may consist of meta-rules while the other may be identical to the unifying functions of judgments. 3 Another important issue that this passage raises concerns the apparent role of the categories as unifiers not just of judgments, but also of experiences. In the A version the categories are “derived” in connection with the a priori synthesis of the imagination, and are generally treated as unifiers of consciousness in general. This may seem like a change in view; but I think it is not. Immediately after the TD, Kant presents the “schematized” versions of the categories, which would appear to be specifications of experiential (temporal) forms. I suggest that the way to resolve this apparent discrepancy is to understand the unifying function of the categories as broader than the functions of the rules connected with forms of judgments. So the broad unifying function of the categories applies to both judgments and experiences. In both cases they are the unifying functions that constitute representation. However, this function is performed by two different types of psychological elements, viz., determining rules for judgments and schemata for experience. Under the functional role view, it is easy to appreciate how these two different psychological elements could both achieve the same function, since according to that approach, what matters is that they both stand in the same types of relations, regardless of the apparent differences—the judgment rules are apparently linguistic and the schemata are apparently imagistic. Kant did not provide us with any explanations of how this all works out. But it may be useful to try to invent one, and given the (partial) explanation we have here, substance is the obvious choice. In chapter 3 we considered how a series of sensory experiences is conceived as a representation of an external object via conceptualizing the experiences as re-identifications of the same object, e.g., a table. This is the representation of constancy; I am conceiving of my sensations as representations of a continually existing thing, with potentially changeable properties. My visual images might be described as “now rectangular brown shape,” “now brown parallelogram shape” (as I view the table from a different angle) and “now a blue rectangle in the middle of a brown one” (as I place a book on the table). But, seemingly apart from judgment, I experiences these various images as different views of a continually existing table. This is the schema for substance at work. 4 I likewise judge “the table has a brown, rectangular top,” “the table (still) has a brown, rectangular top—it has not changed since my last glimpse of it” and “the otherwise unchanged table (now) has a blue book on it.” So, in this context, I follow the rule that the term “table” can only be used as a subject. I thus unify my changing sensations in two ways, via the schema for substance

Appendix C


and via the meta-determiner judgmental rule. And both kinds of unification of course coincide. 5 What we have just considered helps us to see the importance of the faculty coordination problem. Even though the Transcendental Trinity framework implies that there must be uniform, a priori, necessary unifying functions for all of consciousness, it is another matter to show that the unifying functions that have been “deduced” in connection with judgments types satisfy this larger role. That is, again, a partially explanatory task. And that explanation extends into the subsequent sections of the Critique, where Kant first presents the schemata for the categories and then explains in the Principles how judgments that apply to the categories are connected with these categorical schemata. We can also use this passage to clear up some puzzling remarks that Kant makes about defining the categories. At A 82–83/B 108–9 he tells us that “I deliberately spare myself the definitions of these categories in this treatise, although I should like to be in possession of them.” But then later in the A edition discussion of Phenomena and Noumena, he says that “we could not define them even if we wanted to” (A 241–42). He decided to eliminate this remark in the B rewrite of this passage, since the new, lengthy discussion that gets inserted makes a somewhat different claim, namely that they can be specified or illustrated, but only by making suppositions about various conditions of experience. If we assume that a definition of a concept is a semantic specification, then, using the insight that the categories are unifiers that constitute the basis for all representation, we can make sense of what Kant is struggling to tell us in these passages, and apparently struggling to clarify for himself. First, if they are roughly higher-order unifiers—viz., they unify other mental states, then all of their applications will also involve what the first-order rules apply to, viz., intuitions. And this is roughly what we are told in the A 240–41/B 300ff., passage. And second, if the categories are also the foundational rules that constitute or create semantics, then they themselves cannot have a reductive semantic specification. However, if they are indeed functional roles, then, if we assume that judgment is a syntactically specifiable psychological process, it should be possible to provide a specification of that role in non-semantic terms—roughly, syntactic terms— and that is more or less what we get for “substance” at B 128–9. If all this is correct, then, given that Kant did not have available a well-developed notion of hierarchical types, nor, for that matter, a completely clear conception of functional role semantics, his apparent struggles to either find definitions for the categories or else explain why they are not definable is hardly surprising.


Appendix C

NOTES 1. This is confirmed by the similar example that Kant give in the Metaphysical Foundations note at 475 where he uses “the stone is hard” to give the same explanation. 2. Again, the previously mentioned note confirms that this is the correct way to understand this example. 3. So I think things are slightly more complicated than the simple identity view, advocated by J. Rosenthal (1993). 4. Presumably, this unifying synthesis (to use Kant’s language) of my visual experiences happens pre-consciously, as discussed in chapter 3. 5. And both functions result in my representation of a continuously existing external table, as opposed to a continuously changing phenomenal table.

Appendix D One Unifying Synthesis or Two?

The natural way to understand Kant’s view of synthesis in the A TD is that perceptual input, viz., “the manifold,” gets synthesized to produce unified intuitions, which are then conceptualized via judgments. This suggests that there are really two separate types of acts of (a priori, necessary, transcendental) unifying synthesis, viz., the unification of the sense manifold and the corresponding unification by judgments. Kant’s explanation of transcendental apperception also suggests this, since apperception involves the unification of sensations together with consciousness of, i.e., representation of, and thus, presumably, judgments about this unity—see A 108. However, §19 identifies judgments as “the way to bring given cognitions to the objective unity of apperception.” This may suggest a change in view from the previous version, specifically that there is only one synthesis, namely the unifying function (“determination”) of judgments. This thus raises the issue of whether Kant thought there were two unifying syntheses, one of the imagination operating on appearances and the other of judgments, or just one, the latter. One moderately strong piece of textual evidence that supports the two syntheses model is Kant’s position that the category concepts are acquired through reflection on the unity of apperception, which apparently means the unity of experience that embodies the schematized categories—see appendix E. This would of course require that the processes that unify experience—the “figurative” syntheses—are independent from any synthesis involving judgments. In support of the “double synthesis” view, I will now argue that the idea that judgments create all unity of consciousness is introspectively implausible. First, I will make explicit something that I assume throughout. Following more or less standard practice in contemporary philosophy, we can distinguish between phenomenal or qualitative conscious states, which are seemingly imagistic representations, and linguistic or conceptual representations, including linguistic conscious states, namely occurent thoughts and judgments. While there is no explicit evidence that Kant drew this distinction in this way, it is natural, as discussed in chapter 2, to identify intuitions and appearances with phenomenal/qualitative states. And Kant’s conception of concepts and judgments is essentially 217


Appendix D

the same as our present day views, so they are seemingly linguistic mental states. A cognition that is based on a particular experience will, in Kant’s vocabulary, consist of a judgment that is applied to an intuition, which is to say a judgment that is applied to an imagistic (perceptual) state. The question then becomes, is perceptual consciousness unified only by judgments, or is it unified independent of judgments too? I think that the answer is clear: introspection shows that we experience unity without judgment. For instance, I can witness cause and effect without making any explicit judgment about what I am experiencing—I might see the wind blow a piece of paper off of my table while (discursively) thinking about something else. It seems wrong to claim that the cause-effect relationship between the perceived gust and fall is only created if I make an explicit judgment about what I’ve experienced. Or take the principle that all appearances have intensive magnitude, which Kant presents in the Axioms of Intuition (A 162 /B 202ff.) as underlying the categories of Quality. In the case of vision, this amounts to the idea that everything that I am consciously aware of visually involves some sort of color. It would again seem that I am aware of this both nonjudgmentally and indeed pre-judgmentally. Certainly it does not take a judgment that applies “quantity” in order to “color-in” my experiences. Rather, it seems that my visual system produces a visual field that has color in each portion of it, and does so independent of any awareness or judgment about the visual field. Now, it might be possible to defend the idea that only judgments create unity by expanding the number of attributed judgments, viz., by postulating that there are numerous non-conscious judgments that underlie seeming phenomenological unity. But this is a dubious move— it would require a vast amount of judgments, e.g., judgments about every color and shape that I experience at every moment that I am having visual experience, typically hundreds of judgments every second. And there is no independent reason to think that such judgments occur. (And, moreover, there is no independent reason to attribute the view that there are non-conscious judgments to Kant.) So it is more reasonable to think that phenomenological states, viz., intuitions, are synthesized and unified independent from the unification of judgment. As I have mentioned, the A TD seems to suggest the double synthesis view. And, while it is less obvious in the B version, there is support for it there as well. Thus, in §24 Kant reaffirms that the imagination performs an a priori synthesis on intuitions, and in §26 he tells us that the a priori synthesis of space and time is “given along with” these intuitions (my emphasis), which suggests that judgments are presented with separately unified intuitions. And, if we return to the language of §19, Kant does not say that judgments unify, but rather that they “bring” representations to apper-

Appendix D


ception. Likewise, in the subsequent §20, he says that, via judgments, the manifold is “brought to consciousness in general.” If we take consciousness in general to be the realm of discursive thinking, as opposed to intuitions, then this is consistent with the idea that intuitions are separately united but that judgments represent, or perhaps, “present” this unity to discursive thought. If the double synthesis reading is correct, then this has an important implication for how we are to understand the results of the faculty coordination investigation. We can find passages in the conclusions of both versions that characterize one unifying function applied to two different cognitive faculties. Thus, at A 124 Kant tells us that the imagination brings “into combination the manifold of intuition on the one side and the conditions of the necessary unity of apperception on the other.” And at B 161 he concludes that the just-deduced a priori spatial/temporal unity of intuitions “can be none other than that of the combination of the manifold of a given intuition in general in an original consciousness, in agreement with the categories only applied to our sensible intuition.” Both of these passages can be read as an identification of function, viz., that there are psychological processes that apply the categories in the same abstract type of way, both to intuitions and in judgments. So if, as I have argued, I think the double synthesis view is more plausible phenomenologically, then in the absence of further evidence to decide which way Kant understood the matter, it seems preferable to adopt the “double synthesis” reading.

Appendix E Nativism

Since the categories are a priori concepts whose content is not derived from experience, it would seem that they are innate, i.e., they are built in to the cognitive system. However, surprisingly, that is not what Kant thought. Throughout his career he maintained that the categories are acquired concepts. Thus, in the 1770 Inaugural Dissertation he writes: the concepts to be met with in [metaphysics] are not then to be sought for in the senses, but in the very nature of pure intellect; not as connate notions, but as abstracted from laws whose seat is in the mind, by attending to the actions of the mind on the occasion of experience, and hence are acquired. Of this species are possibility, existence, necessity, substance, cause, etc. 1

And the Metaphysics lecture notes from 1782/83 we have what appears to be the same view: But it is entirely correct that the concepts of the understanding are not derived from the senses, for they arise out of reflection. 2

The lengthiest explanation of Kant’s opposition to nativism is found in 1794/95 lecture notes: With the question of whether innate ideas exist one must distinguish between the manner of acquiring and the manner of possessing. All cognition begins from experience, likewise all cognition of reason cannot be obtained otherwise than from experience. But all cognitions that we have do not therefore descend immediately from experience. The manner and way in which cognitions are present in us, or the manner of possessing, can produce cognitions which are grounded only in reason abstracted from all experience . . . 2. All concepts are acquired, and there cannot be any innate idea. For concepts presuppose a thinking, are made or thought through a comprehension of features and abstraction of the general. Thoughts thus arise through a previously undertaken operation of the mind. 3. In spite of that there are a priori concepts, there are a priori intuitions, there are a priori propositions and judgments. Thus the concept of cause and of causality, i.e., of the constitution of an object to be cause, is an a priori concept . . .



Appendix E The manner of acquiring concepts a priori can be thought analogically, as in natural law, as twofold: a. originally, i.e., insofar as the a priori concepts are taken solely from the nature of the faculty of cognition or from the faculty for thinking. 3

The obvious problem with the view that is sketched out here is that it seems to be a disguised form of nativism. The apparent suggestion is that we acquire the categories by reflecting on the nature of the cognitive system. But surely the “nature” of the mind is what is innate in it; so the denial of nativism appears to be disingenuous. And we do find Kant more or less admitting as much. His only published explanation concerning the supposed acquisition of the categories is found in his reply to Eberhard (1790). After again claiming that in the Critique he does not “admit” any innate representations, he does acknowledge that, for the a priori aspects of the cognitive system, viz., space, time, and the synthetic unity of the manifold: There must, however, be a ground in the subject which makes it possible for these representations to originate in this and no other manner, and which enable them to be related to objects which are not yet given. This ground at least is innate.

Later in this long paragraph, he explains that: [T]he formal intuition, which is called space, emerges as an originally acquired representation . . . the ground of which . . . is nevertheless innate and the acquisition of which long precedes determinate concepts of things that are in accordance with this form. . . . the universal transcendental concepts of the understanding . . . likewise are acquired and not innate, but the qcquisitio, like that of space, is originaria and presupposes nothing innate except the subjective conditions of the spontaneity of thought (in accordance with the unity of apperception). 4

The final remark (that I have highlighted) is puzzling, since it appears that Kant is telling us that the categories (surely these are “the universal transcendental concepts of the understanding”) are acquired from (we may suppose) refection on the unity of apperception (which, as spontaneous, must be the a priori, necessary unity). But, as the TD establishes, this unity is the result of the application of the categories, which thus must already be present in order to be acquired. I think the only way out of this apparent incoherence is to read Kant as maintaining that the version of the categories that involves rules for organizing experience—the schematized categories—are innate and we acquire the categories qua rules that determine judgments from reflecting on their application. That is, the early developmental stages of the cognitive system involve intuitions, i.e., perceptual imagery, that consist of sensations organized according to the schematized categories (within the structures of space and time). Reflection on the abstract structure of intuitions eventually yields the categories qua discursive concepts, which in

Appendix E


turn allows for objective judgments (about the objective world). So, it would appear, Kant thinks that the schematized versions of the categories are innate. But I do not think that this is a reasonable position for three main reasons. First, the view that we acquire the categories qua discursive concepts by reflection is a substantial claim about empirical developmental psychology, one with no apparent empirical support. 5 Even more importantly, from our perspective as philosophers, consider that if each of us had indeed acquired the category concepts from reflecting on the abstract structures of our experiences, then the claim that our experiences are organized according to the categories would be on the order of a trivial, obvious truth that we are already familiar with, and the explanation of how, say, causation is realized in our experience would likewise be an obvious matter. But this is clearly not so. And, finally, it is difficult to see how it would be possible to engage in any sort of rational reflection without the use of the first six logical categories. For instance, how could I reflect on how my experiences are unified or differentiated if I did not have the concepts “unity,” “plurality” and “totality”? And, as we have noted, even the position that the schemata of the categories is innate is still a very strong form of nativism, certainly when compared to radical empiricism. And further, consider what Kant says (seemingly attempting to echo Locke): 1. with human beings all representations and concepts commence with objects of experience. But this means nothing more than: in order to obtain cognitions, even concepts of the understanding, our faculty of cognition must be awakened by objects of experience, the receptive faculty of the senses must be set into activity. 6 “Awakening” might be taken not to concern some sort of acquisition, but rather a nativist activation model. 7 So it may be the case that all of the a priori equipment of the cognitive system (space, time, and the categories) is latent until experiences activate it. Thus, the nativist can agree with Locke that the “vulgar” view that concepts are conscious in our minds from birth is false, but yet maintain with Leibniz that we have “dormant” innate concepts, that, to uphold the spirit of Kant’s official view, get activated by experiences. 8 So I suggest that this dormant nativist view is the most plausible reconstruction of the cognitive origin of the categories, that is, it is the view that Kant should have held. Why, then, was he so insistent on distancing himself from an explicitly nativist position? From early in his career, Kant seems to have thought that the postulation of innate concepts is a non-explanation, and that any possible alternative is thus desirable. As he remarks in the Inaugural Dissertation:


Appendix E Lastly, the question will arise in any one as if spontaneously, whether either concept [“time” and “space”] be connate or acquired. The latter by what has been shown seems refuted already, but the former, smoothing the way for lazy philosophy, declaring vain by the citing of a first cause any further quest, is not to be admitted thus rashly. 9

Later, in lectures from 1782–83, in comparing rationalism and empiricism, he attributes the view to Plato that “God has placed certain fundamental concepts in everyone, to direct the understanding later.” 10 He does acknowledge that Leibniz’s nativism “left the mystical aside,” but he says that the “school of Plato has still retained something of the mystical intellect.” 11 So the worry about nativism being a non-explanation seems to have been bolstered by the concern that a nativist explanation must be theistic rather than scientific. However, thanks to Darwin and subsequent evolutionary theory, we can now see that these are not reasonable concerns. In regard to the “lazy philosophy” issue, it is first worth remarking, as I have previously indicated, the postulation of innate concepts still requires an explanation of activation. More importantly, we are now potentially able to give either a genetic or an evolutionary explanation of the basis of innate features of the brain. So the innateness of the categories is not a non-explanatory hypothesis, but, rather, forms the basis for further explanations. So a reasonable reconstruction of Kant’s view—i.e., what he should have maintained, is that the categories, both as schemata and as concepts, are innate. This does in turn require an activation story, but I see no reason to think of that as a task for philosophers as opposed to psychologists. NOTES 1. Inaugural Dissertation, Paragraph 8. 2. Metaphysik Mrongovius, Ak. 29:762 (Ameriks, Naragon, trans., p. 124). 3. Metaphysik Vigilantius (K3), 29:951–2 (Ameriks, Naragon, trans., pp. 423–4). 4. On a Discovery, Allison trans., pp. 135–36. 5. And, more generally, I am not aware of any support in developmental psychology for anything similar to Kant’s model of concept acquisition by reflection. (See Longuenesse chapter 5 for an exposition of Kant’s view of empirical concept acquisition.) 6. Metaphysik Vigilantius (K3), 29:951–2 (Ameriks, Naragon, trans., p. 423). 7. See Fodor (1981). 8. And perhaps the activation is a gradual, rather than instantaneous process, occurring over, say, the first few months or years of life. 9. Inaugural Dissertation, Corollary to Paragraph 15. 10. Metaphysik Mrongovius, Ak. 29:761(Ameriks, Naragon, trans., p. 123). 11. Ibid.

Appendix F Kant’s Dualism

As the present work makes clear, the idea of mental states that are, or can become, representations as well as the idea of combinatorial processes that operate on these states (“synthesis”) are central to Kant’s outlook. Kant ascribes these representations to the mind, and characterizes synthesis as an activity of the mind. Given the influence of physicalism in contemporary philosophy and psychology, we naturally wonder whether we can interpret or otherwise reconstruct this view in terms of neural representations and processes. Kant thought that physicalism is unworkable, 1 for reasons that we will examine momentarily, leaving either (what we would now call) dualism or else idealism as the only possible options. However, since according to Kant we do not have a cognition of mental substance and, moreover, since philosophical investigation reveals that the physical substances that we cognize belong to the phenomenal (projected) world, we can know nothing of the metaphysical status of things apart from the human cognitive system. That is, we have no basis for either believing or disbelieving either dualism or physicalism (or idealism) about things in themselves. So Kant is left with what amounts to a practical but unexplained dualism in the represented world, where 1) we can ascribe cause and effect relations between the mental and the physical, i.e., that objects cause sensations and that the will causes actions, but 2) we know that mental states cannot be (as we would now put it) reduced to the physical (in the represented world) nor 3) can we metaphysically explain mental-physical interactions even within the represented world because we lack the cognition of mental substance (and, on Kant’s outlook, a full explanation of the grounds of causation ultimately rests on the interaction of substances). Kant’s rejection of physicalism is presented—or really just mentioned—in the Critique at B 419–20. An elaboration of the argument behind the rejection is found in the (student) notes from his Metaphysics course in the early 1790s: Matter is not the substrate of representations. All representations are either simple or composite. Two representations must be united in one subject in order to constitute one representation. All representations refer to one subject, that is a unity in whose representation something 225


Appendix F multiple is unified. Representations thus cannot be divided among several subjects and then constitute one representation, but rather the unified representation can occur in one subject only as a unity. A being can therefore have no representations without the absolute unity of the subject. If single representations are divided among several subjects, then these, taken together in isolation, cannot constitute a unity; for this consists of the manifold of representations. But each matter is an aggregate of substances outside each other, thus matter can have no representations. Matter is no unity of the subject, but rather a plurality of substances. If an aggregate of substances is supposed to think, then a partial part of the representations would have to in the single parts, but these together constitute no unity of the representations. . . . something simple is required for thinking, but all matter is composite, consequently it cannot think. NB, the matter which occupies a space has just as many parts as the space has. 2

The argument is roughly that non-unified matter, and thus, non-unified states of a given brain, that, by the physicalist hypothesis, constitute individual (and thus non-unified) representations, cannot constitute a unified representation, since, apparently, if, say, XY is unification of representations X and Y, and X is identical to neural state p and Y is identical to neural state q, then it cannot be that the unified XY is identical to two things that are not unified, viz., the non-unified neural states p and q, which must be non-unified since all physical states are non-unified. I suggest, though, that a contemporary understanding of mental processing allows for a successful physicalist reply. Let’s say that X and Y are non-unified representations each identical to neural states, p and q, of a single brain. If this brain is able to form a representation of XY, then it has not literally united p and q. Rather, it has created a representation of the contents XY—this is what the unification consists in. That is, the unification of two disjoint representations X and Y need not be a unification of X and Y themselves but can instead be a reproduction of their contents in a new, unified representational state. 3 This is how contemporary information-processing cognitive psychological explanations work, e.g., no one thinks that the process of taking information from the retina and processing it in various complex ways to produce a representation of the external environment means somehow literally processing retinal states. Rather, the information is successively transferred, i.e., reproduced, from one stage of processing to the next. Kant would surely respond that this doesn’t address the issue of how the representation of the supposedly unified XY can itself be identical to a neural state, r, which apparently must itself be complex. Now, the physicalist can respond that the representation of complex contents need not itself be complex, as we have just noted, since XY need not, and typically will not be a literal combination of X and Y. However, Kant’s ultimate argument here, based on the final remark in the quote above, would

Appendix F


probably be that all physical states will be infinitely complex, and thus not suitable for identification with any non-complex representations. However, the physicalist can reply that to say that the representation of X is identical to some neural states does not mean that all properties of those neural states constitute the representation. In particular, the thesis of the functional role view is that it is only certain relational properties of neural states constitute representational content. Thus, it is only the pattern of states, regardless of their other properties that matter to representation. Thus, even infinitely divisible physical states can constitute a representation of unified contents. If these replies succeed, then those otherwise convinced of physicalism will want to reconstruct Kant’s view in terms of physicalism within the represented (i.e., projected), “phenomenal” world. So, it would follow that the representations Kant refers to are neural states and that synthesis is neural processing. Readers taking this approach can thus understand my use of “cognitive system” throughout to refer to the brain. I do however want to make it clear that if we accept Kant’s transcendental idealism, the other component of his view remains true; even for this sort of reconstructive physicalism, we are unable to say anything about the metaphysics of the noumenal realm (see chapter 5). That is, we cannot determine what the world is like, apart from the way we represent it, so we thus cannot say, e.g., that, “mind-independently,” it is physical, and we thus cannot say that we as beings are “mind-independently” physical. It is also well worth noting that such a physicalist reconstruction of Kant’s view presupposes that there are no other obstacles to reductive physicalism. But there are: we do not have successful reductive explanations of qualia, which as we have seen are the basic elements of Kant’s view of consciousness. (Conscious states consist of qualia [“representations”] that are organized and conceptualized so as to represent the external world as well as the mental states of the cognizer.) So perhaps we remain in somewhat the same position as Kant, viz., with an unexplained dualism, although I think the major difference is that for us this amounts to an apparent property dualism for neural states, where processing is understood physically—there is no need to postulate a mental subject that possesses representations and manipulates them. But, far as I can see, the qualitative aspects of these states are not explained (away) by these functional roles or by brute physical identities. It may be that qualia thus constitute a transcendental limit on metaphysical explanation, in that we can neither explain them physically nor explain them away, i.e., we cannot explain them within the world that we project via our orderings of these qualitative states.


Appendix F

NOTES 1. See A 379–80. 2. Metaphysik K2, 28:754–5 (Ameriks, Naragon, trans., p. 396). 3. It is well worth noting that this also seems consistent with Kant’s inner sense model: if I am consciously aware of XY, say, two adjacent color patches in the surface of a table, then I am representing how I have been affected in outer sense. This model, then, allows that the states of outer sense (be they mental or physical) that constitute X and Y are not the same as states that constitute XY in inner sense, and, indeed, the natural assumption would seem to be that the former and the latter are distinct representational states. Certainly, if we use a HOT view to model inner sense, as discussed at the end of chapter 2, then the higher-order thought that contains the representation XY will be distinct from the representations X and Y.

Appendix G Strawson on Self-Ascription

Strawson (1987), pp. 93–112, takes a dismissive attitude towards the idea of a necessary, non-empirical synthesis of consciousness, since he thinks that this would belong to “an imaginary subject of transcendental psychology.” (p. 97) In an attempt to nonetheless find a reasonable reconstruction of Kant’s view of transcendental apperception, he offers a selfattribution model, apparently based on a remark that Kant makes at B 138, viz., that the unity of consciousness consists of a “condition under which alone I can ascribe them to my identical self as my representations.” However, I have shown throughout that Kant’s view of necessary synthesis is not only completely legitimate, it is also supported by strong a priori arguments. So the turn to self-attribution is not needed. And, moreover, the focus on self-attribution actually prevents Strawson from appreciating the central role that conceptual unity plays in transcendental apperception and more generally in the TD framework. I will expound on this a little by considering two main points concerning Strawson’s examination of the unity of consciousness. In opposition to Kant’s claim (argument, actually) that consciousness is necessarily unified under the concept of an object (which Strawson mistakenly takes to concern physical objects), Strawson argues that the concepts that we apply to experience “might be simply such sensory quality concepts as figure in the early and limited sense-datum vocabulary” which he illustrates with the examples “red, round patches, brown oblongs, flashes, whistles, tickling sensations, smells” (p. 99). He presumes that such impressions would not be united under the concept of an object. But, even mometarily setting this concept aside, as we have seen in chapter 3, instances of all concepts call for necessary unity, and this includes purely phenomenal concepts. Thus, to conceive of a sensory impression as being red or round or a tickling sensation is to represent it as being of the same kind as other actual and potential instances in the same consciousness. And, Kant argues, since we can arbitrarily apply concepts to consciousness, it follows that we must be able to conceive of our consciousness as identical, i.e., as necessarily unified as a whole. This is so even if the “objects” we are conceptualizing are nothing but phenomenalistic properties of the sort Strawson lists. So he is mistaken in thinking that there is no need for 229


Appendix G

the necessary unity of consciousness as far as concepts of empiricist sense data are concerned. Strawson does settle on an interpretation of the unity of apperception viz., that the ability to recognize (physical) objects “can be present in experience only because of the possibility of referring different experiences to one identical subject of them all” (p. 101). But this gets it backwards. Kant is not attempting to analyze recognition, and thus conceptual unification in terms of self-identity but is rather offering an analysis of represented self-identity—the meaning of “I”—in terms of the independently required necessary unity of consciousness. Strawson’s reading results in a primitive notion of an identical subject, but there is no sign of such a commitment on Kant’s part in the TD text. And it seems that what matters is not the metaphysical identity of a subject of consciousness, but rather represented identity of consciousness itself. Thus, as Kant clarifies in the note at A 363–64, it may be that the consciousness that I represent as identical over time is in fact the result of a series of metaphysically distinct selves. Without the Kantian unity of consciousness via synthesis model, it is difficult to see how such distinct selves could maintain the ability to attribute to an identical subject and thus support the ability to recognize objects let alone entail the full-blown unity of consciousness. So I suggest that not only is self-attribution not needed as a synthesis substitute, it is also inadequate; the conceptual unity that is at the core of the TD reasoning cannot be captured apart from considerations about the unification of conscious states, i.e., unifying mental processes, i.e., synthesis.

Appendix H Direct Realist Readings

In the past two decades there have been a number of attempts to read or else reconstruct Kant as a direct realist. I have argued in chapter 5 that the view of representation that emerges from the TD—especially the A TD— show that Kant instead holds a representative, viz., indirect, Lockean view. Here I will further defend this reading by evaluating the direct realist alternative. I examine the view that Allais has developed in a series of recent articles as a representative case. (I will focus on her treatments of direct realism and of representation—her reading of Kant also includes an unusual, metaphysically idealist component.) Allais (2007) advocates a direct realist understanding of perception in Kant, since she thinks that this is the only available alternative to a phenomenalistic reading. One might, as I have, offer a representational realist reading as a third alternative, but she takes it that this would essentially be the same as Berkelean phenomenalism. Her only stated basis for this assumption is Van Cleve’s (1999, 167–71) evaluation of the analogy that Kant makes in the Prolegomena (289) between spatial qualities and the secondary qualities. Kant says that the secondary qualities have been traditionally thought to “have no proper existence outside our representation” and he is maintaining the same for the primary qualities. Van Cleve sees no choice but to read this as advocating a Berkelean phenomenalism. However, there is a simple alternative. Rather than thinking that this passage offers a full account of Kant’s transcendental idealism, we can instead read it as making a more limited point: just as the traditional account of, say, color, denies that it is a mind–independent property, one that we acquire knowledge of via perception, but instead explains it as original to the mind, Kant is likewise denying that space (and time) are external to the mind but is instead explaining them as originating from the mind, viz., as a priori forms of sensibility. The point is then simply that if the first philosophical move is reasonable, the second should be as well. If this is the extent of the analogy, then if we read Kant as holding a representational (correspondence) realist view as I have argued in chapter 5, then we can allow that there is also a dis-analogy between space and color, in that the former (more or less) truly represents external properties whereas the latter does not and is thus purely subjective. (And this 231


Appendix H

appears to be what he is saying at both A 28 and at B 69–71, including the note.) Allais proceeds to assimilate representational realism to phenomenalism despite the fact that they are highly different views—the former involves the idea of correspondence to objects whereas the latter identifies objects with mental states. As a result she is led to direct realism as the only alternative. She thus sees passages in the Critique that echo correspondence realism, namely those that I mention in chapter 5, as instead supporting a direct realist reading and opposing a representationalist reading. But once we acknowledge that these passages do in fact support the latter, we are left with no textual evidence that decisively supports direct realism. On this slender basis, Allais reads a modern direct realist view into Kant. 1 The core claims, that I have numbered, are: (1) “perception subjectively presents as if the qualitative aspects of perceptual experience are aspects of the object perceived, and not aspects of the subject’s mind which are ontologically separate from the object. (2) “This subjective experience is correct.” (3) “Perception does not seem to involve symbols, images, or other relations: it seems to make items available for demonstrative identification and cognitive scrutiny in a non-mediated way.” (2007, pp. 468–69). As with most direct realist views, this mixes some plausible claims about how perception seems with claims about metaphysics and psychology that are extremely dubious. Allais’s clear formulation allows for ready evaluation along these lines. Claim (2)’s affirmation of “are aspects of the object perceived” is obviously false for most of the secondary qualities. Thus, although the taste of the coffee seems to be in the coffee itself, and the pleasant aroma seems to be in the air, no such properties exist. It is rather (coffee) molecules in both mediums that cause these experiences (whether they be understood as qualia or as representations). The direct realist could attempt to add the properties of coffee taste and odor to the world, thus putting her at odds with physics and then claim that these properties, and not the molecules, are what affect our olfactory glands and taste buds, thus putting her at odds with physiology. But surely the more plausible view is that the effect of molecules acting on the sense organs in turn causes either qualia or representations. Like most direct realists, Allais offers color as the paradigm case. She claims that “color is a property of objects, and not a property of mental intermediaries or mental states” (p. 474). She qualifies this, though, in an unusual way (that is meant to capture transcendental idealism); she says that color “is essentially related to perceivers, and it cannot be adequately conceived except in terms of how is appears to subjects. We cannot understand what color is apart from . . . sensory experience, even though it is not an idea or property of the mind” (p. 475).

Appendix H


While it is completely unclear what such appearance properties might consist in on the physical side, the model is nonetheless falsified by our current understanding of color perception. 2 The retinas do not register absolute light frequencies—which might be considered candidates for the physical basis for color—but instead detect relative frequencies and intensities of light. Perceptual psychologists must thus determine how, on this basis, the brain constructs representations of color. One of the central ideas in modern perceptual theory is the opponent process model that explains the generation of hues via two opposing processes, one red/ green and the other blue/yellow. The processes are conceived as opposing in that, for instance, an increase in the red process inhibits the green, and vice-versa. Thus, an orange experience is thought to be the result of mostly red and mostly yellow processes and a greenish blue experience is result of mostly blue and somewhat green processes. The theory also both predicts and explains that there are exactly four unique hues, viz., red, green, blue, and yellow, each the result of one opponent pair operating at the extreme with the other at neutral. The unique colors are experienced as the bands in the spectrum, and in rainbows. If we, then, consider Allais’s account of color, we find that there is nothing on the physical side that could constitute the appropriate appearance relation. There is nothing in light that reflects the uniqueness of these colors, nor in (the reflectance properties of) surfaces of objects. For example, while we experience orange as a mixture of yellow and red, and similarly for greenish blue, we experience pure blue as unique. But this contrast between mixtures and uniqueness is due solely to the opponent processes. There is no distinction between the frequencies of light that typically yield experiences of greenish blue and unique blue—the latter frequencies do not form a discreet grouping; there are no distinct, physical bands in light frequencies. And similarly for the reflectance properties of surfaces. So the only candidates for the existence of the unique hues are phenomenal experiences that are a product of (or perhaps constituted by) the operations of the opponent processes. And, seemingly, if this is true of the primary colors, then it is true for all of them. 3 Allais could gratuitously add the unique hues, and really, colors in general, to surfaces and to light; but whatever such properties might be, they are not what the retinas detect and thus not the cause of the opponent processes. The far more sensible alternative is the Lockean model: a surface that is experienced as unique blue can be understood having the power to reflect appropriate radiation so as to affect the retinas in a way that in turn causes the opponent processes to generate an experience of unique blue. 4 Color aside, Allais (2011, p. 94) does recognize that both current perceptual psychology as well as the Critique seem to support a representationalist view of perception. But she appeals to an analogy from Campbell to show that this is not actually so. She refers to Campbell’s sugges-


Appendix H

tion of the metaphor of viewing something through a pane of glass as an illustration of the relational direct realist view. In response to the concern about perceptual psychology Campbell suggests modifying the metaphor to that of looking through a “highly volatile” medium that needs “constant adjustment and recalibration if it is to remain transparent.” He then proposes that visual processing can be thought of in this way. “It is not that the brain is constructing an inner representation whose intrinsic character is independent of the environment. It is rather that there is a kind of complex adjustment that the brain has to undergo, in each context, in order that you can be visually related to the things that you see around you.” This analogy, though, is both very anti-Kantian and fundamentally incoherent. It violates Kant’s point at A 104 that we have do not have simultaneous experience of both our sensible representations and the objects we represent. While Campbell and Allais may want to go so far as to (dubiously) deny that we have sensible representations, the analogy makes no sense when applied to the brain. All the brain has are sensory inputs, i.e., effects on sense organs, i.e., Kantian impressions. How is the brain able to tell that it has processed that information in a way that keeps it “visually related” to the external environment? Campbell thus seems to falsely assume that the brain has some sort of independent access to the environment that enables veridical calibration. But that is not the case. Thus the analogy does not help with the issue of psychology supporting the representational view. Allais, attempting to explain the metaphor, says that “color and shape are processed in different parts of the brain” and she takes the metaphor to somehow show that there is no “inner image in which color and shape are combined; rather, the idea is that mental processing enables us to directly see the colored and shaped object in the world.” This is, however, directly inconsistent with Kant, who appeals to the ideal of forming an image in perceptual processing at A 121-2. It is also shows a complete failure to appreciate the complexity of the task of vision, and for that matter, to consider the complexity of what we actually perceive. We do not, typically, perceive just a single object of a single uniform color. Thus, suppose I view a Kandinsky painting, containing numerous shapes of numerous colors. If one part of my brain determines the reds, greens, blues, etc. and another part the overlapping circles, squares, etc., then, unless this information is integrated—and in fairly complex ways—then no coherent perception of the painting will result. An integrated representation, e.g., an image, is the plausible psychological model for how this occurs. And, of course, Kant’s conceptual proof of the unity of consciousness entails that any such representations must be somehow unified, not just in terms of their qualities, but with all other current experiential representations, a matter that we will return to shortly. By contrast, Campbell and Allais offer a seemingly magical theory of perception

Appendix H


where the brain somehow knows what the environment is like and carries out isolated processes to so reveal it. Despite the complete failure of the direct realist view that Allais offers, her proposal does raise an important issue that the representative view should acknowledge. Let us reconsider her claims, with the dubious second one removed: “Perception subjectively presents as if the qualitative aspects of perceptual experience are aspects of the object perceived, and not aspects of the subject’s mind which are ontologically separate from the object. Perception does not seem to involve symbols, images, or other relations: it seems to make items available for demonstrative identification and cognitive scrutiny in a non-mediated way.” These seem to me to correctly describe our typical perceptual experiences. It need not follow, though, that our experience does not actually involve imagery. Rather, what needs to be explained is the apparent transparency of our perceptual representations, i.e., our intuitions. The Kantian model allows a ready explanation in relation to the second point from Allais. Suppose that I am experiencing visual, imagistic representations of a cup on a table. When I judge “there’s a cup on the table,” I connect my judgment with the content of my intuition, but not the (imagistic) medium. I do this by applying non-phenomenalistic concepts. However, we are occasionally reminded of the imagistic nature of our intuitions, as when our vision goes out of focus, or an excessively bright light strikes our eyes or when we cross our eyes or when we are experiencing ringing in our ears. In such cases we may well switch to phenomenal concepts, e.g., “I’m experiencing a blurry color field” or “I have a doubled image.” As for the initial claim of perception presenting “aspects of the object perceived,” as we have considered at various points above, this is largely the result of conceptualization, or more precisely, schematization of the category of substance together with the form of space. Thus, even though I am in fact undergoing a series of phenomenal experiences of a blue cup shape, they seem to me to be on-going experiences of an external cup since they are conceptualized as experiences of a continuously existing, spatially located object. And I experience properties such as the color as in the cup as a result of the unification that is the result of the application of the schematized categories, and probably many (schematized) derivative and hybrid concepts as well, such as “surface” and “edge.” And I experience the cup as real and actual rather than as an imagined image. The representative view is thus able to accommodate a lot of what Allais’s proposed direct model involves, but without the dubious psychological or metaphysical implications. 5 So on these grounds it is the preferable reading. 6 And, as far as an accurate historical reading is concerned, it is significant that Locke is mentioned several times in the Critique, and usually in a laudatory manner as “the famous Locke.” One would think that if Kant were offering a direct realist view, Locke would instead have been portrayed negatively, and that there would have been some positive


Appendix H

mention of Thomas Reid. The apparent allegiance to Locke provides significant indication that Kant is rather offering a representationalist view of perception. On the issue of (mental) representation, Allais actually acknowledges the view that “the application of concepts, and in particular the categories, is necessary for the basic intentionality of perception” (2011, p. 102). However, seemingly in defense of the direct realist view that she is committed to, she proposes that intuitions be understood as experiences of “located particulars independent of the application of concepts” (ibid., p. 103). She maintains that this is how “an object can be perceptually presented to me in such a way that I am in a position to attend to it, to focus on it, and to do things to it.” (2009, p. 391) Such an experience is supposedly different from conceiving “a particular as an object in the full-blown sense of something that is grasped as a causally unitary, spatial substance whose present complex of interrelated properties are a function of its causal nature and its causal history” (ibid., p. 405). But I think this is, in part, a failure to appreciate the breadth of the categories. While substance and causation are the two key concepts that, as she correctly notes, underlie our conception of (physical) objects, other categories are relevant too. Thus, in her example of experiencing a round, red apple, the mere experience of a spatially determinate shape, whether it is conceived as a phenomenal patch or as an external object, embodies the quantity categories—it is the experience of a measurable, spatial extension. And the redness of the experience likewise embodies quality (reality) as opposed to other parts of the experience that are presented as non-red (negation). And the experience likewise involves existence. I think that an additional part of the problem here is the failure to grasp the idea of schematized categories. Thus, to take one of Kant’s favorite examples, any experience of a line is the experience of a determinate magnitude, and thus of Quantity. And any experience of a persisting spatially located something-or-other embodies substance. We cannot conceive of an experience without the categories. I also find this aspect of Allais’s view to be completely at odds with the phenomenology of ordinary experience. Thus, we cannot experience redness without shape, or shape without color. Nor can we experience a “located particular” without experiencing various qualities adhering in the particular. Worse, her treatment of intuitions seems at odds with the seemingly direct realist nature of experience that we have considered above. We are not presented with the experience of round, red spatial particulars, but with full-fledged apples. And even this is not accurate. None of us have ever experienced an apple and nothing else. We experience apples in relation to other objects, e.g., on a plate, in a room with many other objects (in the broad sense), often in causal interactions. And this is the lure of direct realism—it seems that we are directly experiencing, not isolated representations, but the full-blown world itself. It is true

Appendix H


that we can focus our attention on small parts of this experience, e.g., isolated objects. However, such focus abstracts from the whole, and for that matter typically involves concepts, e.g., when I pick up an apple and examine it to determine whether it looks ripe enough to eat. What I have just illustrated is established by Kant’s reasoning in the TD in a completely abstract manner. Thus, the initial arguments for the necessary unity of consciousness establish that all our conscious experiences must fall under the rules that underlie this unity, which turn out to be the categories (whether conceptual or schematized). And in §26 in the B TD, the necessary synthetic unities of space and time, which is characterized as being “given with” all our spatial and temporal intuitions, is identified with the overall unity of consciousness. Thus, it is impossible to experience a particular located in its own separate space. Any intuition of any particular will present the particular as located in the one overarching, necessarily unified space. And this locating of the particular in unified space is achieved via the a priori unifiers, viz., the categories. Allais fails to appreciate this, in part, because she adopts Ameriks’s (2003) regressive reading of the TD, that reads Kant as assuming that we have “experience of an objective world . . . and asks about the conditions of this” (Allais 2011, p. 102). As we have seen, in chapter 4 and throughout, this is an incorrect understanding of Kant’s argument strategy in the TD. However, if we play along, we will see one final problem with the direct realist interpretation. So let us assume that there is a mind-independent world that is partially reveled in direct intuitions as Allais describes. Why, then should we think that our conceptualizations of these intrusions corresponds to that world? Why think that unifying conceptualizations do indeed achieve reference to this world? Worse, this set of assumptions undermines Kant’s project of showing that the categories justifiably apply to the world, since there is no reason to think that the external causes of intuitions are appropriately conceptualized via the categories. A direct realist reading, that is based on a causal theory of perception is thus deeply incompatible with the TD project. Finally, I will say that it is not surprising that there has been a bit of a trend in recent Kant scholarship towards direct realism as a way of avoiding a phenomenalistic interpretation, since contemporary philosophy has all but abandoned the representational realist view, apparently from fear of resulting skepticism. However, cognitive psychology is developing in a direction that appears to be incompatible with a direct realist view of perception, but that seems coherent with the representational approach. The culprit that has prevented us from developing a reasonable philosophical account of perception that accords with scientific psychology appears to be the causal view of representation. The present reading of the TD reveals that Kant developed an extremely interesting alternative over two centuries ago. It is time that we explore this option.


Appendix H

NOTES 1. Allais thus takes the secondary quality analogy passage to be a reference to direct realism rather than to a representational view. I find that absurd. Surely Kant is not offering a direct realist reading of Locke, and the “[l]ong before Locke’s time” is obviously a gesture from Kant, qua scientist, at the tradition of anti-realism about the secondary qualities that dates back to at least Galileo. 2. See Hardin (1993). 3. Another seemingly fatal difficulty for the color objectivist concerns the nonspectral colors that are the product of contrast, which include white, black, brown, pink and tan. For example, the very same frequency of reflected light might be experienced as orange or as brown depending on the perceived illumination. See Hardin (1990). Again, there is no available external property—certainly not of surfaces—that can be identified as what the experience of brown reveals. 4. Although Hardin (1990) provides a substantial list of reasons that show that a relational Lockean view collapses into to a purely subjective model. And this is seemingly the kind of view Kant has in mind in the remark at A 28. 5. And as I discuss in chapter 5, Kant’s view also incorporates the unmediated nature of representation that direct realists often focus on, since correspondence is created via the structuring of representations—there is no opportunity for something to come between the representation and that which is depicted. 6. In addition, Schulting (2011), p. 11, offers an important criticism of Allais’s reading, namely that it is inconsistent with Kant’s conception of the noumenal existence of souls and God. I think this shows that her view is best understood as a reconstruction. By contrast, as I have indicated near the end of chapter 5, my representationalist reading allows us to see Kant as skeptical about knowledge of the nature of the mind-independent world, which is consistent with the postulation of souls and God.

Appendix I Conceptual versus Non-Conceptual Content

The issue of whether the content of perceptual experience is conceptual or not has been widely discussed in recent philosophy, both in relation to Kant’s views in the Critique, and in terms of contemporary philosophy and cognitive psychology. We have, in fact, been considering this issue, at least tacitly, throughout. And we have seen that Kant provides a clear and decisive result in favor of conceptualism. The following is a summary of those results, now with explicit focus on the CC/NCC issue. As I indicate in chapter 2 (and chapter 7), appearances, understood as the content of sensations, seem to be the non-conceptual (“undetermined”) content that serves as the input for perception for Kant. However, they are not representations of the external world, but rather just carry information about how the senses have been affected. The first two results in the Transcendental Trinity (chapter 3, summarized in chapter 11) establish that all other content is conceptual. Thus, the proof that consciousness is necessarily unified, together with the fact that Kant understands concepts as unifying functions entails that every content in every conscious state is subject to (non-empirical) unifying rules and thus is conceptualized. 1 And the account of representation further shows that these unifying rules, which are (primarily) the categories, are what make mental states representational—they are what give thoughts their objects. Thus all perceptions (intuitions) are unified, conceptualized and given content by the categories. These results do not say anything specific about intuitions, though they entail that intuitions, as conscious and as representational mental states, must somehow be conceptually unified by the categories. One might take this as supporting the view that all conscious states involve discursive concepts, roughly, that consciousness consists entirely of propositional attitudes. However, §24 of the B TD makes it clear that the imagination performs a formal, non-discursive synthesis on intuitions. 2 And §26 both explains and establishes that the a priori unities of space and time are the same as the over-arching unity. If we add the notion of schemata, from the subsequent section of the Critique, and then assemble all of this, the following picture of intuitions emerges: they are non-discursive (thus, seemingly imagistic, non-linguistic) perceptual representations that are necessarily unified via spatially and temporally schema239


Appendix I

tized versions of the categories. They thus represent an external world of a priori unified space together with a realm of (personal) mental states, and both mental states and the world are experienced in a priori unified time. 3 So—and this may be a very important clarification for the NCC/CC debate—if “conceptual content” is narrowly defined as content that involves discursive, linguistic representations, then intuitions are in a technical sense not conceptual. However since intuitions are unified by the same unifying functions (i.e., the schematized categories) as unify discursive thought, we should perhaps call this “quasi-conceptual content.” I will add some reconstructive speculation. As I have considered at various points above, it seems reasonable to think most perceptual processing (synthesis) is carried out pre-consciously. Since, as we have considered in the previous appendix, perception involves the presentation of a unified world, it would seem that the schematized categories, and their derivatives, are involved in the pre-conscious processes. This is to say that among the many rules that the perceptual systems follow in generating experiences, some are the schematized categories. And as I have also noted above, there is no reason to think that category-applying (“pure”) processes are psychologically distinct from empirical processes. So it may well be that the categories are woven into pre-conscious visual and perceptual processing, thus making our representational systems thoroughly conceptual. NOTES 1. This includes our awareness of sensations, if we can be aware of them. 2. See appendix D for examination of the issue of whether or not judgments are involved in the unification of intuitions. 3. So these results provide extremely strong support of McDowell’s (1994, chapter 1, and especially chapter 3) conceptualist view.

Appendix J Inferential Role Readings

In chapter 3, while presenting the functional role theory of meaning that I attribute to Kant, I noted that several commentators—Rosenberg (2005) and Landy (2009)—have also found a role theory of meaning in the TD; however, they both characterize it as an inferential role view. I will proceed to clarify the difference between the two, and then critically evaluate the latter view, both in relation to Kant, and in general. A role view of representation explains representation (and thus content, meaning) in terms of the relations of one or another states of mental (cognitive) entities or states or behaviors. Kant aside, candidate states for role theories are patterns of word use in mental languages—whether innate or acquired 1 or else patterns of inference—presumably both mental inferences and linguistic behaviors. Kant offers us another option for a role theory: representation is explained in terms of the functions and relations of concepts, which are understood as unifying rules. 2 Specifically, the categories are identified as the unifying, structuring rules that give intuitions objects, i.e. referents, and that unify types of judgments in a parallel manner. These functions, then, take the input information, viz., appearances—the information about how our sensory systems have been affected—and transform it into full-fledged representations (intuitions and judgments applied to intuitions). Nothing about the just-described Kantian account of representation involves inferences. It will of course be true, if this view is correct, that there are various inferences licensed by this categorical structure, e.g., if x is an event then x is caused, or if x is a substance then x has (changeable) properties. But, to open an important theme, the semantic validity of such inferences rests on the role of the categories in unifying intuitions and judgments. That is, these inferences are semantically licensed because of the non-inferential roles of the categories (i.e., their other roles in the cognitive system); there is no reason to think that the inferences are somehow responsible for these unifying roles. So Kant’s account of representation gives us no basis for thinking that inferences rather than concepts qua unifying rules underlie semantics. And we can add the point, as I have noted in chapter 3, that Kant’s very systematic treatment of the cognitive faculties treats reason—the faculty 241


Appendix J

of inference; separately from the understanding—the faculty of concepts (which is also shown to involve the imagination—the faculty of combination). Since the account of representation is presented in the Analytic which examines the latter faculties, and not in the Dialectic, which examines reason, it is apparent that there is no textual basis in the Critique for thinking that this is an inferential role view, as opposed to a functional role view. 3 One possibility—the charitable one—is that authors such as Rosenburg and Landy are simply using “inferential role” to mean “functional role.” As I’ve noted, that is a poor choice of terminology, since there do seem to be role theorists, such as Block, maybe Brandom and maybe Sellars, who are inferential role theorists in the narrower sense. But perhaps we are all on the same page. However, it may also be that those who attribute an inferential role theory to Kant are offering what they understand to be a favorable reconstruction based on what they believe to be the independent plausibility of an inferential role theory. I will now counter that by providing a few good reasons why an inferential role theory (in the narrow sense) is extremely implausible. An inferential role theory claims that representation is constituted by inferential practices, e.g., if part of the meaning of “sister” is “female,” then this is thought to be because one infers from x is a sister to x is female. However, along with inference, the other primary psychological roles of representation (i.e., meaning or content) are in perception, (noninferential) thought, language comprehension and language production. If inferential role theory is correct, then these other activities are somehow dependent on inferential abilities. Note that this is a (broad) empirical psychological claim, viz., that we cannot perceive the world, nor think about it, nor comprehend others utterances nor formulate utterances except insofar as we have appropriate patterns of inference. This strikes me as an entirely dubious and probably just flatly false claim. It implies, for instance, that children must learn inference patterns prior to being able to perceive the world or to semantically comprehend language, which is empirically false. And it implies the same for adults’ continued acquisition and maintenance of these abilities. Thus, if I see and taste kiwis for the first time, the inferential role view implies that in order to acquire a concept of them—in order to be able to represent them as kiwis—I must first acquire some sort of suitable inference patterns. This is a (psychological) claim with no evidential support that seems entirely dubious. More plausibly, I will first form a conception of a natural kind of things sharing the same general appearance and taste, and will connect this kind with more abstract concepts such as “fruit” and “edible.” That concept will then allow me to make inferences such as “that’s a kiwi so it’s fruit.” A related problem concerns the warrant that ordinary speakers might provide for apparent semantic inferences. Why are English speakers dis-

Appendix J


posed to infer from x is a sister to x is female? The typical answer from speakers will be something like “because to be a sister is to be female.” But this sort of justification appeals to conceptual relations, which as we have seen, makes concepts (and judgments and beliefs) semantically fundamental rather than inferences, as the inferential role view would have it. So the inferential role theorist must instead claim that semantic inference rules are primary. That is, they must maintain both that people are following (formal) semantic inference-licensing rules, such as “infer from ‘is a sister’ to ‘is female’” and that they doing so without explicit knowledge that they know or are following such rules. This is, again, a very strong empirical psychological claim with no evidential support. So reading an inferential role view into the Critique, as opposed to a functional role view, is a not a favorable reconstruction but is rather a disservice to Kant. NOTES 1. See Kaye (1995) on acquired mental language. 2. So Kant’s view could be termed a “conceptual role” account. But this is a little misleading since what is primary is the idea of unifying functions, thus I suggest “functional role” as the most suitable label. 3. Landy (2009), p. 16 seems to acknowledge the lack of textual evidence.


Works by Immanuel Kant German: (1902) Kants gesammmelten Schriften, Akademie edition (29 volumes). Koniglichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, eds. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co. The Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft) first (1781) and second (1787) editions, are contained in volumes IV and III, respectively.

Cited English Translations: (1998) Critique of Pure Reason. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood, trans. New York: Cambridge University Press. (1929) Critique of Pure Reason. Normal Kemp Smith, trans. New York: St. Martin’s Press. (1894) Kant’s Inaugural Dissertation of 1770. William Eckoff, trans. New York: Columbia College Press. (1950) Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics. Carus trans. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. (2004) Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Michael Friedman, trans. New York: Cambridge University Press. (2005) Notes and Fragments. Guyer, ed., Bowman, Guyer, Rausher, trans. New York: Cambridge University Press. (1997) Lectures on Metaphysics. Ameriks, Naragon trans./ed. Cambridge University Press.

Other Works Allais, Lucy (2007) “Kant’s Idealism and the Secondary Quality Analogy,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 45, 3, 459–84. Allais, Lucy (2009) “Non-conceptual content and the Representation of Space,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 47, 3, 383–414. Allais, Lucy (2011) “Transcendental Idealism and the Transcendental Deduction” in Schulting, and Verburgt, eds. Allison, Henry (2004) Kant’s Transcendental Idealism, Rev. Ed. New Haven: Yale University Press. Ameriks, Carl (2003) Interpreting Kant’s Critiques. New York: Oxford University Press. Bayne, Steven (2011) “Marks, Images and Rules: Concepts and Transcendental Idealism,” in Schulting and Vergurgt, eds. Barker, Michael (2001) “The Proof Structure of Kant’s A-Deduction,” Kant-Studien, 92, 259–82. Bauer, Nathan (2010) “Kant’s Subjective Deduction,” British Journal for The History of Philosophy 18, 3, pp. 433–60. Block, Ned. (1986) “Advertisement for a Semantics for Psychology” in Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. X, P. French, T. Uehling and H. Wettstein, eds. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Block, Ned (1991) “Holism, Hyper-analycity and Hyper-compositionality,” Mind & Language 8, 1–26.




Block, Ned (1998) “Semantics, Conceptual Role” in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Craig Edward and Luciano Floridi, eds. New York: Routledge. Block, N., Flanagan, O., Güzeldere, G., eds. (1997) The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Brook, Andrew (1994) Kant and the Mind. New York: Cambridge University Press. Callanan, John (2006) “Kant’s Transcendental Strategy,” The Philosophical Quarterly, 56, 224, 360–81. Carruthers, Peter (1996) Language, Thought and Consciousness. New York: Cambridge University Press. Carruthers, Peter (2000) Phenomenal Consciousness. New York: Cambridge University Press. Collins, Arthur (1999) Possible Experience: Understanding Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Cummins, Robert (1989) Meaning and Mental Representation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Dickerson, A. B. (2004) Kant on Representation and Objectivity. New York: Cambridge University Press. Edgar, Scott (2010) “The Explanatory Structure of the Transcendental Deduction and a Cognitive Interpretation of the First Critique,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 40, 2, 285–314. Ewing, A. C. (1938) A Short Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Fodor, Jerry A. (1981) “The Present Status of the Innateness Controversy” in his RePresentations. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press Fodor, Jerry A. (1987) Psychosemantics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. George, Rolf (1981) “Kant’s Sensationalism,” Synthese 47, 229–55. Guyer, Paul (1987) Kant and the Claims of Knowledge. New York: Cambridge University Press. Guyer, Paul (1992) “The Transcendental Deduction of the Categories” in P. Guyer, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Kant. New York: Cambridge University Press. Guyer, Paul (2010) “The Deduction of the Categories,” in Guyer, ed. (2010). Guyer, Paul, ed. (2010) The Cambridge Companion to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. New York: Cambridge University Press. Hardin, C. L. (1990) “Color and Illusion,” in W. Lycan, ed. Mind and Cognition. New York: Blackwell (1990). Hardin, C. L. (1993) Color for Philosophers: Unweaving the Rainbow, expanded ed. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing. Hatfield, Gary (1990) The Natural and the Normative. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Heinrich, Dieter (1969) “The Proof Structure of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction,” Review of Metaphysics 22, 640–59. Heinrich, Dieter (1988) “Kant’s Notion of a Deduction and the Methodological Background of the First Critique” in Förster, E., ed. Kant’s Transcendental Deductions. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Hume, David (1739/2000) A Treatise of Human Nature. New York: Oxford University Press. Kaye, Lawrence (1995) "The Languages of Thought,” Philosophy of Science, 62, 1, 92–110. Kuehn, Manfred (1996) “Kant’s Conception of ‘Hume’s Problem,’” in Immanuel Kant’s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics in Focus. B. Logan, ed. New York: Routledge. Kitcher, Patricia (1990) Kant’s Transcendental Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press. Kitcher, Patricia (1999) “Kant on Self Consciousness,” Philosophical Review, 108, 345–86. Kitcher, Patricia (2011) Kant’s Thinker. New York: Oxford University Press. Landy, David (2009) “Inferentialism and the Transcendental Deduction,” Kantian Review, 14, 1, 1–30.



Longuenesse, Beatrice (1998) Kant and the Capacity to Judge. C. Wolfe, trans. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Lycan, William (1996) Consciousness and Experience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Lycan, William (1997) “Consciousness as Internal Monitoring” in Block, Flanagan, Güzeldere, eds. Marr, David (1982) Vision. New York: Freeman. McDowell, John (1996) Mind and World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Paton, H. J. (1936) Kant’s Metaphysic of Experience, Vol. 1. London: George Allen & Unwin. Rosenberg, Jay (2005) Accessing Kant. New York: Oxford University Press. Rosenthal, David (1986) “Two Concepts of Consciousness,” Philosophical Studies, vol. 49. Rosenthal, David (1997) “A Theory of Consciousness” in Block, Flanagan, Güzeldere. Rosenthal, John (1993) “A Transcendental Deduction of the Categories without the Categories,” International Philosophical Quarterly, 33, 4, 449–64. Schulting, Dennis (2011) “Kant’s Idealism: The Current Debate” in Schulting and Verburgt, eds. Schulting, Dennis and Jacco Verburgt (eds.) (2011) Kant’s Idealism: New Interpretations of a Controversial Doctrine. New York: Springer. Shaddock, Justin (2012) “Justification, Objectivity and Subjectivity in Kant’s Transcendental Deduction of the Categories,” Southwest Philosophy Review 28, 1, 177–85. Strawson, P. F. (1966) The Bounds of Sense. London: Methuen. Van Cleve, James (1999) Problems from Kant. New York: Oxford University Press. Walker, Ralph (1978) Kant. Boston: Routledge, Kegan & Paul. Westphal, Kenneth (2004) Kant’s Transcendental Proof of Realism. New York: Cambridge University Press. Winkler, Kenneth (2010) “The Enterprise of Deduction”, in Guyer, ed.


I began this project in 2001–02 when I was given responsibility for teaching the Critique at UMass-Boston. I had been studying the work on and off for nearly twenty years, but, like most others, I found the material from A 92 onward very puzzling. A small group of very capable majors were eager to study with me; this motivated me to try to develop a coherent reading of the TD. The “synthesis of recognition” section in particular had always interested me since it appeared that Kant was laying out the underlying nature of concepts, representation, consciousness, and self-awareness—topics that I was very interested in from the perspectives of contemporary (Analytic) philosophy and cognitive psychology. I had explored both mental representation and the nature of concepts in my graduate studies at MIT and in subsequent scholarship. This background helped me to sort out the arguments for the unity of consciousness and for a conceptual role theory of representation. So, thank you to all of the many fine philosophers that I managed to study with both at MIT and prior to that at UW-Milwaukee. After I had discovered the tight interrelation between these notions, and with transcendental apperception (although it took me several more years to figure out that the relation was identity), and had understood that it was this trio of notions that was being justified, explained and explored, much of the rest of the TD text in both editions became surprisingly intelligible. Thanks to the students in the first as well as in subsequent Kant courses for your interest in studying with me—teaching you was very rewarding. In particular, I’d like to thank the following students from over the years who were especially enthusiastic about studying the Critique: Ilhan Zeybekoglu, Maureen Worth, Michael Brady, the notorious George Foley, Jen Burger, Michaela McSweeney, Ian Witherby, Matthew Schreiber, Thomas Noah, Christopher Gutland, Clancy Chan, Gautham Atreya, and Mario Rosado. And thanks to the very studious members of most recent Critique course: Heidi Archibald, Lucie Berjoan, Serena Carroll, Marija Cokovska, Robert Dolan, Sang Yun Han, Brian Jones, Patrick Kelly, Henry Lara-Steidel, Jessica Malone, Julie Richardson, Matthew Stewart, and Arlo Tippit. During the middle of the project, I led a Philosophy Department faculty reading group of the first Critique at UMass-Boston. I’d like to thank everyone who participated, but especially Arthur Millman and Jennifer Radden. The experience of explaining and discussing the text with fellow 249



philosophers helped a lot when I turned to writing. And thanks to my former colleague Ajume Wingo for strong encouragement at a point when I was overwhelmed with other work and was thinking of abandoning the project. I would like to thank Gary Hatfield for his useful comments on a draft of a central portion of the manuscript a few years ago. And thanks to my colleagues Jeremy Wanderer and Yumiko Inukai, to whom I recently presented chapter 3. Their positive feedback helped to assure me that the project was finally near completion. Thanks to Doug Burum and Karen Kaye Burum for their very helpful proofreading. And finally, thanks to all of my former and current colleagues in Philosophy at UMB for many years of supportive friendship.


Aesthetic, Transcendental, 13, 14, 28, 45n23, 56, 75, 92, 122, 127, 140, 152, 155–156, 157, 201, 209, 210–211 affinity, 92, 101–105, 114–115, 122, 170–171, 203 Allais, Lucy, 79n3, 231–237 Allison, Henry, 4, 5, 17n16, 63n13, 79n1, 108, 182–186 Americks, Carl, 56, 63n5, 79n2, 237 analytic unity. See unity under a concept “appearance,” meaning of, 13–14 apperception: empirical (subjective unity), 35, 135, 144, 184–185; transcendental, Kant’s presentation of, 34–40, 135–139 apprehension. See synthesis of apprehension Bayne, Steven, 43n3, 124n12 Barker, Michael, 123n2 Bauer, Nathan, 64n15, 124n4, 124n6 Berkelean idealism. See idealism, Berkelean Block, Ned, 31, 242 Brook, Andrew, 44n17, 189–191 Callanan, John, 125n22 Carruthers, Peter, 17n19, 18n20 causation, category of, 10–11, 34, 51, 59, 76, 101, 105, 118–119, 125n22, 129, 158, 179, 203, 204n3, 213, 223, 225, 236 Collins, Arthur, 79n5 combination, second edition discussion of, 130–134, 135, 137, 140, 156, 157–155 concepts, Kant’s explanation of, 19–20 Copernican revolution, 75

correspondence, 28–29, 32–34, 41, 65–79, 198, 231–232 counting, example of, 24, 89, 94, 99n8, 177, 187 Cummins, Robert, 45n26 Descartes, Rene, 17n6, 72, 169, 170 Dickerson, A. B., 192–193 deductions, objective and subjective distinguished, 56–62, 127–128 direct awareness of self, 139, 168 Edgar, Scott, 149n1 Ewing, A. C., 17n2 figurative synthesis, 152–154, 165–166, 217 first principle(s) (transcendental principle), 107–108, 138, 183 Fodor, Jerry, 44n14, 120, 224n7 functionalist explanation, 14–15, 21, 61, 88, 93, 149n4, 154, 168, 169, 189, 226–227 George, Rolf, 44n17 Guyer, Paul, 4, 5, 17n11, 53, 62, 63n5, 100n17, 108, 124n13, 180–182, 204n2 Hardin, C. L., 238n2, 238n3, 238n4 Hatfield, Gary, 45n23, 63n11 Heinrich, Dieter, 58, 172n1 Hume, David, 3, 4, 10–11, 22, 25, 30, 35, 36, 37, 46n31, 47n39, 53, 55, 56, 59, 68, 72, 73, 85, 88, 99n13, 101–105, 105, 113, 118–121, 129, 136, 149n11, 171, 172n12, 183, 196, 197, 200, 203 idealism: Berkelean,. See also phenomenalism 66, 117, 150n12,




231; transcendental, explained, 74–79 inner sense, explanation of, 14–16, 164–168, 228n3 judgment, 12, 144–149, 154, 177–178, 186–188, 201, 213–215, 217–219, 222 Kaye, Lawrence, 44n14, 243n1 Kuehn, Manfred, 125n22 Kitcher, Patricia, 4, 5, 6n5, 17n2, 43n5, 47n39, 62, 64n17, 172n3, 175–179, 194n10 Leibniz, Gottfried, 15, 165, 172n12, 223, 224 Locke, John, 10, 11, 12, 15, 28, 43n7, 59, 66, 67, 68, 107, 129, 133, 165, 173n21, 190, 223, 231, 233, 235, 238n1, 238n4 Landy, David, 6n5, 43n2, 45n27, 46n37, 194n5, 241, 242 Longuenesse, Beatrice, 5, 43n10, 186–188, 194n10, 224n5 Lycan, William, 16, 18n20 Marr, David, 46n29, 99n7 Metaphysical Deduction, 34, 51, 63n2, 84, 90, 122, 127, 147–148, 150n13, 150n19, 150n23, 154, 162, 179, 186, 213 Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, 159, 172n11, 216n1 McDowell, John, 172n3 Nagel, Thomas, 144 natural laws (laws of nature, nature), 78, 101–103, 117–118, 158–159, 172n5, 179, 202 noumena, 40, 74–76, 139, 144, 164, 167, 207, 209–211, 227, 238n6 object, transcendental, explained (concept of an object of representation), 26–34, 40, 205–207, 210–211 objectivity, 10–11, 32–34, 39, 50–53, 56, 58, 60–62, 67, 70, 77, 85, 115, 116, 119, 142–144, 144–146, 148, 156, 180, 201–202, 206, 222, 237

Paton, H. J., 1, 175 phenomenalism,. See also idealism, Berkelean 65–68, 71, 73, 120, 231–232 Principles, the, 21, 53, 57, 63n7, 159, 215 Realism: scientific, 67, 72, 78; metaphysical, 77–78 Reid, Thomas, 236 representation: as conceptual role, explained, 31–34; Kant’s presentation of, 26–34, 140–144 Rosenberg, Jay, 6n5, 45n27, 241 Rosenthal, David, 17n19, 18n20 Rosenthal, John, 63n2, 216n3 schemata, 43n1, 95, 100n19, 149n5, 157, 214–215, 217, 222–223, 235, 236–237, 239–240 Schulting, Dennis, 79n1, 238n6 secondary qualities, 67, 69, 72, 231–233 Shaddock, Justin, 172n12 skepticism, external world, 17n6, 56, 63n8, 73, 75–76, 77–79, 80n7, 237 spontaneous synthesis (spontaneity), 84–85, 130, 132, 135, 165, 169–170, 222, 224 Strawson, P.F, 4, 5–6, 9, 17n2, 44n15, 46n38, 56, 62, 149n7, 229–230 synopsis, 83, 86, 130 subjective unity. See apperception, empirical substance, category of, 17n9, 33–34, 46n30, 46n33, 51, 53, 63n7, 68, 75–76, 77, 84, 125n22, 130, 147, 148, 153, 188, 213–215, 221, 235–236, 241 substance, mental, 23, 36, 52, 54, 139, 169, 191, 199–200, 225–226 synthesis: Kant’s definition of, 20–22, 192–193; of apprehension, 59, 85, 87–90, 91–92, 93, 103, 113–114, 122, 131, 155, 156–157, 180, 187, 190; of reproduction, 59, 85, 90–93, 94–95, 102, 114, 164, 172n3, 180, 187, 190; or recognition, 85, 94–95, 97, 105, 116, 121, 122, 164, 172n3, 180 synthetic a priori, 7–9, 39–40, 108, 119, 181–182 “transcendental,” meaning of, 7–9

Index Transcendental Trinity defined and explained, 40–43 truth, nature of, 12, 66, 69, 76–77

universals, problem of, 95

unity: and synthesis, 20–22; of space and time, 97, 127, 155–157; under a concept (analytic unity), 24–25, 29, 42, 138, 183, 194n9, 195–196

Walker, Ralph, 44n17 Westphal, Kenneth, 99n12, 123n3 Winkler, Kenneth, 172n12


Van Cleve, James, 44n17, 66, 99n8, 231