In this paper, I explain why for Kant self-consciousness is intimately related to objectivity, how this intimacy translates to real objects, what it means to make judgements about objects, and what idealism has got to do with all of this.
The problem of Kant's first Critique is the problem of pure reason: how are synthetic judgments possible a priori? Many of his readers have believed that the problem depends upon a delimitation within the class of a priori truths of a class of irreducibly synthetic truths—a delimitation whose possibility is doubtful—because absent this it is not excluded that all a priori truths are analytic. I argue, on the contrary, that the problem depends on nothing more than the human knower's everyday (...) consciousness of her own finitude: her dependence in thinking and knowing on what is given to her. The problem is a difficulty about how the concepts which figure in metaphysical judgments could represent reality given that they cannot do so in the way in which concepts figuring in empirical judgments do. Empirical judgment here functions as exemplary of thought and knowledge because it is exemplary of finite thought and knowledge. Mere analysis could not, therefore, dissolve the problem even in principle, because to say that a concept can be analyzed is not yet to explain the possibility of its real representative power. The significance of the analytic-synthetic distinction in the context of the problem of pure reason is that its formulation allows Kant to say this. (shrink)
Kant's readers have disagreed about whether, according to his account of cognition, concepts, representations of the understanding, are involved in intuitions, representations of sensibility. But proponents of the affirmative 'conceptualist' answer and those of the negative 'non-conceptualist' answer have alike presupposed that such involvement should be construed in a particular way: i.e., as the involvement of particular concepts in particular exercises of sensibility. I argue, on the contrary, that it should not be: that though, for Kant, no concepts are applied (...) in exercises of sensibility, nonetheless the understanding, the faculty of concepts, is teleologically internal to sensibility and, therefore, to its exercises. That is, those exercises are per se directed towards the provision to the understanding of objects to which its fundamental concepts, the categories, are applicable, though no act of categorical application is internal to them. This conception of sensibility, available only in light of a careful distinction between capacities and acts, is demanded, I argue, by Kant's conception of a priori knowledge as elaborated in his Transcendental Deduction. (shrink)
In this paper, I investigate Kant’s view of the cognitive role of perceptions, judgements, and the three categories of Quality in representing negative states of affairs. The paper addresses the following problem. In his account of empirical cognition, Kant seems to limit the legitimate application of the categories to things perceptually available to us, or, more generally, to positive cases. However, Kant also seems to hold that negative states of affairs, such as the absence of a thing, cannot be perceived. (...) This raises the question of how we can represent and make warranted empirical judgements about cases that lack positive instances given in perception. At worst, Kant’s view would imply that thoughts about negative cases are ‘empty’. In order to avoid such a consequence, I wish to draw attention to Kant’s holistic way of thinking. In particular, I shall argue that perception is a process-like temporal phenomenon, and that experience itself is not strictly about the here and now. The paper shows that the cognitive contribution of the categories, according to Kant, is most explicit in representing negative states of affairs, which requires overcoming the main limitation of sense perception, namely the incapacity of negative representation. Even so, positive representation can be seen cognitively primary for Kant. (shrink)
Kant holds that the applicability of the moral ‘ought’ depends on a kind of agent-causal freedom that is incompatible with the deterministic structure of phenomenal nature. I argue that Kant understands this determinism to threaten not just morality but the very possibility of our status as rational beings. Rational beings exemplify “cognitive control” in all of their actions, including not just rational willing and the formation of doxastic attitudes, but also more basic cognitive acts such as judging, conceptualizing, and synthesizing.
This paper formalizes part of the cognitive architecture that Kant develops in the Critique of Pure Reason. The central Kantian notion that we formalize is the rule. As we interpret Kant, a rule is not a declarative conditional stating what would be true if such and such conditions hold. Rather, a Kantian rule is a general procedure, represented by a conditional imperative or permissive, indicating which acts must or may be performed, given certain acts that are already being performed. These (...) acts are not propositions; they do not have truth-values. Our formalization is related to the input/ output logics, a family of logics designed to capture relations between elements that need not have truth-values. In this paper, we introduce KL3 as a formalization of Kant’s conception of rules as conditional imperatives and permissives. We explain how it differs from standard input/output logics, geometric logic, and first-order logic, as well as how it translates natural language sentences not well captured by first-order logic. Finally, we show how the various distinctions in Kant’s much-maligned Table of Judgements emerge as the most natural way of dividing up the various types and sub-types of rule in KL3. Our analysis sheds new light on the way in which normative notions play a fundamental role in the conception of logic at the heart of Kant’s theoretical philosophy. (shrink)
In this article, I respond to critiques of my book Kant’s Radical Subjectivism: Perspectives on the Transcendental Deduction (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). I address issues that are raised concerning objectivity, the nature of the object, the role of transcendental apperception and the imagination, and idealism. More in particular I respond to an objection against my reading of the necessary existence of things in themselves and their relation to appearances. I also briefly respond to a question that relates to the debate (...) on Kantian nonconceptualism, more in particular, the question whether Kant allows animals objective intentionality. Lastly, I respond to one objection against my reading of Hegel’s critique of Kant. (The copy uploaded here is an English translation of the original Dutch version that is published in the journal.). (shrink)
This is a précis of my book Kant's Radical Subjectivism, to be published as part of a symposium dedicated to the book, with critics Hein van den Berg, Karin de Boer, Henny Blomme en Joris Spigt, including a reply by me. The symposium is in Dutch, but the pre-print uploaded here is in English!
This article discusses an interpretation of Kant's conception of transcendental subjectivity, which manages to avoid many of the concerns that have been raised by analytic interpreters over this doctrine. It is an interpretation put forward by selected C19 and early C20 neo-Kantian writers. The article starts out by offering a neo-Kantian interpretation of the object as something that is constituted by the categories and that serves as a standard of truth within a theory of judgment. The second part explicates transcendental (...) subjectivity as the system of categories, which is self-referential and constitutes objects, in order to then evaluate this conception by means of a comparison with Hegel's absolute subject. Rather than delineating the differences between neo-Kantian writers, the article systematically expounds a shared project, which consists in providing the ultimate foundation for judgments by means of an anti-psychologist and non-metaphysical interpretation of transcendental subjectivity. (shrink)
Kant describes the understanding as a faculty of spontaneity. What this means is that our capacity to judge what is true is responsible for its own exercises, which is to say that we issue our judgments for ourselves. To issue our judgments for ourselves is to be self-conscious – i.e., conscious of the grounds upon which we judge. To grasp the spontaneity of the understanding, then, we must grasp the self-consciousness of the understanding. I argue that what Kant requires for (...) explaining spontaneity is a conception of judgment as an intrinsic self-consciousness of the total unity of possible knowledge. This excludes what have been called ‘relative’ accounts of the spontaneity of the understanding, according to which our judgments are issued through a capacity fixed by external conditions. If so, then Kant conceives of understanding as entirely active. Or, to put it another way, he conceives of this capacity as absolutely spontaneous. (shrink)
What method should we use to determine the nature of perceptual experience? My focus here is the Kantian thought that transcendental arguments can be used to determine the nature of perceptual experience. I set out a dilemma for the use of transcendental arguments in the philosophy of perception, one which turns on a comparison ofthe transcendental method with the first-personal method of early analytic philosophy, and with the empirical methods of much contemporary philosophy of mind. The transcendental method can avoid (...) this dilemma only if it commits to our possessing a capacity for imaginative reflection, one which is capable of identifying certain formal properties of experience.This result indicates some of the commitments which must be made if transcendental arguments are to be used in the philosophy of perception, and it has implications for those views that take the philosophy of perception to be autonomous of the empirical science of perception. (shrink)
What, if any, is the relation between modal judgment and our capacity to make judgments at all? On a plausible interpretation, Kant connects what he calls the modality of a judgment to its location in a course of reasoning: actual inferential relations between that act of judgment and others. There is a puzzling consequence of this interpretation. It is natural to understand Kant as claiming that every judgment has some modality. However, if the modality of a judgment is its location (...) in a course of reasoning, then the implication is that every judgment must occur as part of a course of reasoning. But why think this? In this paper I propose an answer that draws on the relationship between judgment, judging for reasons, and the unity of consciousness. (shrink)
In his table of judgements, Kant added infinity as a third quality. An infinite judgement ‘All S are non-P’ is said to differ from the affirmative ‘All S are P’ because it ascribes a negative predicate; and it differs from the negative ‘No S is P’ because it has a richer content. The present paper puts three interpretations of this surplus content to six tests. Among other things, it is examined whether these interpretations marry up with Kant’s solution to the (...) first antinomy, his conception of analyticity and the principle of complete determination. The unpleasant conclusion is that none of the interpretations can make its mark as the most adequate one. It thus remains unclear what Kant had in mind when positioning infinite judgements besides affirmative and negative ones. (shrink)
Kant's Notion of "Transcendental Truth". [English] The aim of this work is to elucidate the notion of “transcendental truth” and to show its role in the Kantian system. I will argue that this notion is in line with the traditional definition of truth, i.e., that it consists in the correspondence between knowledge and object. I will also argue that criteria of transcendental truth are provided by transcendental logic, and that it is this notion of truth what makes it possible to (...) establish the truth of a priori knowledge and delimitate the field of empirical truth. [Español] El objetivo de este trabajo es dilucidar la noción de “verdad trascendental” y mostrar su lugar en el sistema kantiano. Se defenderá que la verdad trascendental consiste, en línea con la definición tradicional de verdad, en un sentido de correspondencia entre conocimiento y objeto, que la lógica trascendental establece criterios de verdad trascendental, y que es esta noción de verdad la que permite establecer la verdad del conocimiento a priori y delimitar el territorio de la verdad empírica. (shrink)
Kant famously claims his table of judgments is complete. However, Kant does not provide a demonstration of his claim of completeness. In fact, he does not seem to think that a proof of completeness is necessary. I argue that we can reconstruct a demonstration that Kant would accept once we reflect upon his notion of a disjunctive judgment.
The consensus view in the literature is that, according to Kant, definitions in philosophy are impossible. While this is true prior to the advent of transcendental philosophy, I argue that with Kant's Copernican Turn definitions of some philosophical concepts, the categories, become possible. Along the way I discuss issues like why Kant introduces the ‘Analytic of Concepts’ as an analysis of the understanding, how this faculty, as the faculty for judging, provides the principle for the complete exhibition of the categories, (...) how the pure categories relate to the schematized categories, and how the latter can be used on empirical objects. (shrink)
Geometry is an a priori science. However, its apriority is saddled with problems. The aim of this paper will be to show 1) how Kant understands that the contents of geometry are synthetic a priori judgments in the Critique of Pure Reason, and 2) if it’s still relevant to study Kant’s theory of geometry after the challenges posed by non-Euclidian theories of space. With respect to point 1: Kant understands geometry as the discipline that objectifies the pure intuition of space. (...) Every geometric concept is built upon the pure intuition of space through a synthetic ostensive process. Furthermore, the pure intuition of space is the form of external experiences. Thus, geometry and external phenomena share a common ground – pure space. This common ground is what provides an answer to the question of the possibility of mathematics as a universal and a priori science. With respect to point 2: the relevance of studying Kant’s theory of geometry lies not only in the fact that geometry can serve as an example to philosophy based on the fact that it establishes its propositions a priori, but also because the object-study of geometry – the pure intuition of space– forces the reader to review Kant’s thoughts about sensibility and its relation to space. The analysis of Kant’s theory of geometry then amounts to studying Kant’s theory of sensibility. (shrink)
Among Kant's innovations in the understanding of logic (‘general logic’) were his claims that logic had no content of its own, but was the form of the thought of any possible content, and that the unit of meaning, the truth-bearer, judgement, was essentially apperceptive. Judging was implicitly the consciousness of judging. This was for Kant a logical truth. This article traces the influence of the latter claim on Fichte, and, for most of the discussion, on Hegel. The aim is to (...) understand the relations among self-consciousness, reason and freedom in the idealist tradition. (shrink)
Against the standard interpretation of Kant's ‘Copernican revolution’ as the prioritization of epistemology over ontology, I argue in this paper that his critique of traditional metaphysics must be seen as a farewell to the perfectionism on which early modern rationalist ontology and epistemology are built. However, Kant does not simply replace ‘perfection’ with another fundamental concept of normativity. More radically, Kant realizes that it is not simply ideas but only the relation of ideas that can be subject to norms, and (...) thus he shifts the focus from the reality of ideas to the validity of judgments. Section 1 of this paper clarifies the pre-Kantian role of the concept of perfection and examines Kant's critical response to that concept. Section 2 identifies Kant's point of departure from the Cartesian ‘way of ideas.’ Section 3 explains the key problem of his novel account of epistemic normativity. I conclude that Kant's anti-perfectionism must be seen as the driving force behind his ‘Copernican revolution’ in order to fully appreciate his mature account of epistemic normativity. (shrink)
According to a widely held view, a Kantian intuition functions like a singular term. I argue that this view is false. Its apparent plausibility, both textual and philosophical, rests on attributing to Kant a Fregean conception of judgment. I show that Kant does not hold a Fregean conception of judgment and argue that, as a consequence, intuition cannot be understood on analogy with singular terms.
In order to secure the limits of the critical use of reason, and to succeed in the critique of speculative metaphysics, Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) had to present a full account of human cognitive experience. Perception in Kant’s Model of Experience is a detailed investigation of this aspect of Kant’s grand enterprise with a special focus: perception. The overarching goal is to understand this common phenomenon both in itself and as the key to understanding Kant’s views of experience. In the process, (...) the author argues against any such reading of Kant that puts too much emphasis on concepts and understanding in perception. This means that claims of the sort that intuitions cannot play their role without concepts, that sensibility cannot bring anything to cognition without being mediated through the functions of understanding, or that there is no such thing as concept-independent perception, are shown to be either plainly false or misleading at best. Together with the contemporary topics examined by the end of the book, the findings suggest how the role of conceptual thinking in human cognition has been exaggerated partly because of a misplaced interpretation of Kant, which not only makes perception far more intellectual in character than what was intended by Kant himself, but distorts Kant’s account of cognition by overlooking what there is at the heart of his critical philosophy: the revaluation of sensible cognition. (shrink)
In his lectures on general logic Kant maintains that the generality of a representation (the form of a concept) arises from the logical acts of comparison, reflection and abstraction. These acts are commonly understood to be identical with the acts that generate reflected schemata. I argue that this is mistaken, and that the generality of concepts, as products of the understanding, should be distinguished from the classificatory generality of schemata, which are products of the imagination. A Kantian concept does not (...) provide mere criteria for noting sameness and difference in things, but instead reflects the inner nature of things. Its form consists in the self-consciousness of a capacity to judge (i.e. the Concept is the ‘I think’). (shrink)
The transcendental aesthetic -- Arithmetic and the categories -- Remarks on pure natural science -- Two studies in the reception of Kant's philosophy of arithmetic: postscript to part I -- Some remarks on Frege's conception of extension -- Postscript to essay 5 -- Frege's correspondence: postscript to essay 6 -- Brentano on judgment and truth -- Husserl and the linguistic turn.
This paper offers a new interpretation of Kant's puzzling claim that the B-Deduction in the Critique of Pure Reason should be considered as having two main steps. Previous commentators have tended to agree in general on the first step as arguing for the necessity of the categories for possible experience, but disagree on what the second step is and whether Kant even needs a second step. I argue that the two parts of the B-Deduction correspond to the two aspects of (...) a priori cognition: necessity and universality. The bulk of the paper consists of support for the second step, the universality of the categories. I show that Kant's arguments in the second half of the B-Deduction aim to define the scope of that universality for possible experience by considering the possibilities of divine intellectual intuition, of non-human kinds of sensible intuition, and of apperception of the self. In these ways Kant delimits the boundaries of the applicability of the categories and excludes any other possible experience for human beings. (shrink)
In the Transcendental Ideal Kant discusses the principle of complete determination: for every object and every predicate A, the object is either determinately A or not-A. He claims this principle is synthetic, but it appears to follow from the principle of excluded middle, which is analytic. He also makes a puzzling claim in support of its syntheticity: that it represents individual objects as deriving their possibility from the whole of possibility. This raises a puzzle about why Kant regarded it as (...) synthetic, and what his explanatory claim means. I argue that the principle of complete determination does not follow from the principle of excluded middle because the externally negated or ?negative? judgement ?Not (S is P)? does not entail the internally negated or ?infinite? judgement ?S is not-P.? Kant's puzzling explanatory claim means that empirical objects are determined by the content of the totality of experience. This entails that empirical objects are completely determinate if and only if the totality of experience has a completely determinate content. I argue that it is not a priori whether experience has such a completely determinate content and thus not analytic that objects obey the principle of complete determination. (shrink)
In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant defends the mathematically deterministic world of physics by arguing that its essential features arise necessarily from innate forms of intuition and rules of understanding through combinatory acts of imagination. Knowing is active: it constructs the unity of nature by combining appearances in certain mandatory ways. What is mandated is that sensible awareness provide objects that conform to the structure of ostensive judgment: “This (S) is P.” -/- Sensibility alone provides no such objects, so (...) the imagination compensates by combining passing point-data into “pure” referents for the subject-position, predicate-position, and copula. The result is a cognitive encounter with a generic physical object whose characteristics—magnitude, substance, property, quality, and causality—are abstracted as the Kantian categories. Each characteristic is a product of “sensible synthesis” that has been “determined” by a “function of unity” in judgment. -/- Understanding the possibility of such determination by judgment is the chief difficulty for any rehabilitative reconstruction of Kant’s theory. I will show that Kant conceives of figurative synthesis as an act of line-drawing, and of the functions of unity as rules for attending to this act. The subject-position refers to substance, identified as the objective time-continuum; the predicate-position, to quality, identified as the continuum of property values (constituting the second-order type named by the predicate concept). The upshot is that both positions refer to continuous magnitudes, related so that one (time-value) is the condition of the other (property-value). -/- Kant’s theory of physically constructive grammar is thus equivalent to the analytic-geometric formalism at work in the practice of mathematical physics, which schematizes time and state as lines related by an algebraic formula. Kant theorizes the subject–predicate relation in ostensive judgment as an algebraic time–state function. When aimed towards sensibility, “S is P” functions as the algebraic relation “t → ƒ(t).”. (shrink)
Overview -- Locke's internal sense and Kant's changing views -- Personal identity amd its problems -- Rationalist metaphysics of mind -- Consciousness, self-consciousness, and cognition -- Strands of Argument in the Duisburg Nachlass -- A transcendental deduction for a priori concepts -- Synthesis : why and how? -- Arguing for apperception -- The power of apperception -- "I-think" as the destroyer of rational psychology -- Is Kant's theory consistent? -- The normativity objection -- Is Kant's thinker (as such) a free (...) and responsible agent? -- Kant our contemporary. (shrink)
Abstract: Kant follows a substantial tradition by defining judgment so that it must involve a relation of concepts, which raises the question of why he thinks that single-term existential judgments should still qualify as judgments. There is a ready explanation if Kant is somehow anticipating a Fregean second-order account of existence, an interpretation that is already widely held for separate reasons. This paper examines Kant's early (1763) critique of Wolffian accounts of existence, finding that it provides the key idea in (...) his mature model of existential judgment, which is in fact sharply opposed to the Fregean strategy. By relating this to Kant's theory of judgment in general—in particular, to his claim for an isomorphism between the assertoric function of judgment and the category of existence—a preliminary case is made that absolute positing, far from being a marginal special case, accomplishes the primary function of judgment. This argument shows the importance of distinguishing between contexts in which Kant is treating judgment as a vehicle for inference (e.g. pure general logic) and contexts in which he is treating it, more robustly, as the cognition of an object. (shrink)
This paper argues that Kant, in his Critical period, did not have a coherence theory of truth. The paper outlines three coherence theories of truth and two coherence theories of empirical truth that Kant might have adopted. The three theories of truth are incompatible with Kant's texts. The two theories of empirical truth are compatible with the texts. However, there are no convincing reasons to hold that Kant adopted those theories.
By transcendental aesthetic, Kant means “the science of all principles of a priori sensibility” (A 21/B 35). These, he argues, are the laws that properly direct our judgments of taste (B 35 – 36 fn.), i.e. our aesthetic judgments as we ordinarily understand that notion in the context of contemporary art. Thus the first part of the Critique of Pure Reason, entitled the Transcendental Aesthetic, enumerates the necessary presuppositions of, among other things, our ability to make empirical judgments about particular (...) works of art. These presuppositions are sensible rather than intellectual because on Kant’s view, all intellection that considers objects of any kind, whether abstract or concrete, must at base connect to actual, material objects with which we come into direct contact; and this we can do only through sensibility (A 19/B 33). Thus the following discussion explores what Kant claims must be true of us in order to make the sorts of aesthetic judgments we make, rather than any particular class or quality of aesthetic judgments itself. On Kant’s view, what must be true of us in order to make aesthetic judgments is not different from what must be true of us in order to make any other kind of judgment about empirical objects. (shrink)
In this collection of essays Béatrice Longuenesse considers the three aspects of Kant's philosophy, his epistemology and metaphysics of nature, his moral philosophy and his aesthetic theory, under one unifying standpoint: Kant's conception of our capacity to form judgements. She argues that the elements which make up our cognitive access to the world - what Kant calls the 'human point of view' - have an equally important role to play in our moral evaluations and our aesthetic judgements. Her discussion ranges (...) over Kant's account of our representations of space and time, his conception of the logical forms of judgements, sufficient reason, causality, community, God, freedom, morality, and beauty in nature and art. Her book will appeal to all who are interested in Kant and his thought. (shrink)
O presente artigo tem como objetivo mostrar que a teoria kantiana da possibilidade de juízos a priori, o conteúdo essencial da sua crítica da razão pura, foi elaborada no intuito de garantir a solubilidade dos problemas necessários da razão pura e que essa teoria pode ser interpretada como uma semântica transcendental (a priori). The problems of pure reason and the transcendental semanticsThis article aims at showing that Kant´s theory of possibility of a priori judgments, which is the essential content of (...) his critique of pure reason, was elaborated in order to guarantee the solubility of necessary problems of pure reason and that this theory can be interpreted as atranscendental semantics. (shrink)
In the 'Critique of Pure Reason' Kant appears to characterize analytic judgments in four distinct ways: once in terms of “containment,” a second time in terms of “identity,” a third time in terms of the explicative–ampliative contrast, and a fourth time in terms of the notion of “cognizability in accordance with the principle of contradiction.” The paper asks: Which of these characterizations—or apparent characterizations—best captures Kant’s conception of analyticity in the first Critique? It suggests: “the second.” It argues, further, that (...) Kant’s distinction is intended to apply only to judgments of subject–predicate form, and that the fourth alleged characterization is not properly speaking a characterization at all. These theses are defended in the course of a more general investigation of the distinction’s meaning, its epistemology, and its tenability. (shrink)
Fregean predicates applied to Fregean objects are merely defined by a `timeless' deductive order of sentences. They cannot provide sufficient structure in order to explain how names can refer to objects of intuition and how predicates can express properties of substances that change in time. Therefore, the accounts of Wilson and Quine, Prior and Brandom for temporal judgments fail — and a new reconstruction of Kant's transcendental logic, especially of the analogies of experience, is needed.