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Kant’s Transcendental Idealism according to Henry E. Allison Itzel Gonzalez Phil 4191 March 2, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Kant’s Transcendental Idealism according to Henry E. Allison Itzel Gonzalez Phil 4191 March 2, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Kant’s Transcendental Idealism according to Henry E. Allison Itzel Gonzalez Phil 4191 March 2, 2009

2 Overview Henry E. Allison (biographical facts) Ch.7: The Transcendental Deduction from Kant’s Transcendental Idealism: An Interpretation and Defense Introduction Sec. 1: Apperception, Synthesis, and Objectivity Sec. 2: The Problem of Subjective Unity Sec. 3: Imagination, Perception, and Experience Conclusions

3 Henry E. Allison Currently, he is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Boston He published the 1 st edition of Kant’s Transcendental Idealism in 1983 (the 2 nd (ours) in 2004)

4 Introduction He focuses on the B-edition of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction (B-Deduction) And claims Kant’s central problem in it to be “the demonstration of a connection between the intellectual and sensible conditions of human cognition.” (159) That is, he maintains Kant’s worry to be the existence of a correspondence between the deliverances of sensibility and the a priori rules of thought. Further, Henry, in agreement with Dieter Henrich, claims that Kant, as a solution, attempts to establish the necessity of the categories.

5 Introduction (cont.) Also, like Henrich, he claims that Kant divides the argument in the B-Deduction for the necessity of the categories into 2 parts: The 1 st being meant to assert the necessity of the categories with respect to objects of sensible intuition in general (that is, “any sensible content must be subject to the categories if it is to be brought to the unity of consciousness”) The 2 nd being meant to argue “for the necessity of the categories with respect to human sensibility and its objects” (160)

6 Introduction (cont.) According to Allison, Henrich, asserts that “the 1 st part of the B-Deduction affirms the validity of the categories under a restricting condition that is then removed in the second part.” (161) However, Allison finds questionable Henrich’s claim that the 1 st part of the Deduction effectively demonstrates that “the categories…apply to a certain range of intuitions,” particularly, because Kant intends the 1 st part of the Deduction to contain the broader claim and Henrich’s assertion appears to place the broader claim, instead, in the 2 nd part. (Note 7, p.476) Hence, Allison assumes a different interpretation from that of Henrich.

7 Introduction (cont.) Allison, contrary to Henrich, interprets the 1 st part of the B-Deduction to show that “the thought of objects” stands under the categories, while the 2 nd the further claim that “the perception of objects” is also linked to the categories. (162) A Foreshadowing…

8 I.Apperception, Synthesis, and Objectivity ‘(t)he I think must be able to accompany all my representations; for otherwise something would be represented in me that could not be thought at all, which is as much as to say that the representation would either be impossible or else at least would be nothing to me. That representation that can be given prior to all thought is called intuition. Thus all manifold of intuition has a necessary relation to the I think in the same subject in which this manifold is to be encountered.’ (Critique of Pure Reason, B131 – 132)

9 I. (cont.) Allison’s 3 claims: 1.For any representation to be anything “to me, that is, to represent anything for me, it must be possible to think it as mine. Since a representation for which this is not possible could not represent anything for me, it would…be ‘nothing to me.’” (163) 2.One just means that “the I think must be able to (but need not actually) accompany all my representations.” (164) 3.The Principle of the Necessary Synthetic Unity of Apperception (“the fundamental premise of the 1 st part of the argument in the B-Deduction”) (164)

10 I. (cont.) The Principle of the Necessary Synthetic Unity of Apperception (PNSUA): “the components of a complex thought must be connected in such a way as to allow for the possibility of their ascription to a single thinking subject, which entails that they constitute a synthetic unity.” (164) (Argument for PNSUA derives from the idea that “a single complex thought logically requires a single thinker”) (164)

11 I. (cont.) The Principle of the Necessary Unity of Apperception (PNUA): “all representations in any given intuition must stand under the condition under which alone I can ascribe them to the identical self as my representations, and thus can grasp them together, as synthetically combined in an apperception, through the general expression I think.” (Critique of Pure Reason, B 138) This principle, which Kant claims to be an analytic proposition, is “a claim about how the thinking subject must be thought (or conceive of itself) qua engaged in such activity.” (167)

12 I. (cont.) Note: PNUA is an analytic proposition because it is derived by abstracting “from the nature of sensibility,” which leads thought to be related to “the concept of ‘sensible intuition in general.’” (167)

13 I. (cont.) The analytic unity of apperception presupposes a synthetic unity, as 1.The consciousness of the identity of the I think “contains a synthesis, and 2.The consciousness of the identity of the I think is possible only through a consciousness of this synthesis This follows because “a subject cannot think its own identity with respect to distinct representations without in the same act bringing them into a synthetic unity.” ( )

14 I. (cont.) Argument for the connection between the doctrine of apperception and the necessity of a consciousness of synthesis:  A single complex thought (formed by a A and B) requires both a single thinker, as well as a unified act of thinking (in which A and B are thought together).  The I think lacks content apart from the consciousness of the identity of this unifying action through which the thinking subject becomes aware of his or her own identity. (171)

15 I. (cont.) This connection results in Kant viewing: “all general concepts as analytic unities,” “the I think…(as) itself the thought of what is common to all conceptualization,” and “the act of becoming aware of this identical I think…(as) the…means (by)…which the mind grasps the identity in difference in the formation of general concepts.” (172)

16 I. (cont.) According to Allison, from the connection of apperception to the understanding, Kant derives the claim that “in so far as the manifold of a given intuition is grasped as a manifold or brought to the synthetic unity of apperception, it is by this very act, also unified in a judgment (which is “the way to bring given cognitions to the objective unity of apperception” B ).” And, further, that as “the logical functions of judgment are the forms of such unification…that the manifold is also determined with regard to them.” That is, “for a discursive understanding to think the manifold of a given intuition just is to unify it in a judgment by means of the logical functions.” (177)

17 I. (cont.) This claim ties apperception to the categories, establishing their necessity, as “the categories just are…(the mentioned) logical functions.” Allison maintains that Kant shows how “the manifold, insofar as it is thought together in a single consciousness, is necessarily subject to the categories.” (177)

18 II. The Problem of Subjective Unity Here Allison presents a problem of Kant’s: According to Allison, by Kant claiming that “the empirical unity of apperception is derived from the transcendental or objective unity ‘under given conditions in concreto,’” he must mean that “though the content of such consciousness is determined by contingent empirical factors…its form as a mode of consciousness is subject to the transcendental conditions of unity.” (184) But how is a non-objective form of consciousness possible?

19 III.Imagination, Perception, and Experience According to Allison, Kant introduces the idea of the imagination in Sec. 24 under the name figurative synthesis (synthesis speciosa) and makes two claims about it. Kant claims: 1.That this synthesis, under the name of the transcendental synthesis of the imagination, has both an a priori dimension and a transcendental function in the determining of time as the form of inner sense 2.That since this function must accord with conditions of the synthetic unity of apperception, it is subject to the categories (189)

20 III.(cont.) Allison notes that Kant furthers his project of establishing the necessity of the categories by demonstrating that the transcendental synthesis of the imagination connects the categories with the forms of sensibility. However, Allison also notes that such move is not sufficient for Kant to meet his goal, as to meet his goal he must also “demonstrat(e)…that the categories stand in a necessary connection with empirical intuition.” (193)

21 III. (cont.) According to Allison, Kant attempts to solve this problem by linking the categories to the synthesis of apprehension, which he defines as “the composition of the manifold in an empirical intuition, through which perception…becomes possible.” (193)

22 III. (cont.) In other words, according to Allison, Kant attempts to resolve his problem by claiming that even perception must stand under the categories. But a further problem arises: Namely, that “linking the categories to perception cannot account for the epistemic function of all the categories.” (200) And an argument must incorporate this point, because “the different category types have significantly different experiential functions.” (201)

23 Conclusions Allison maintains that Kant’s project in the B- Deduction to link the deliverances of sensibility to the a priori rules of thought (that is, “to…connect…the intellectual and sensible conditions of human cognition”) though begun is not completed. (201) It is begun as Kant in the B-Deduction does effectively link the categories to thought and then, subsequently, to perception. However, it is not completed as Kant “cannot account for the epistemic function of all the categories.” (200) So while there is no complete vindication of Kant’s account, it must also be noted, as Allison does, that Kant’s account lacks intrinsic incoherencies in it. (201)


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