Kants Theorie Des Denkens. (Elementa) (German Edition)

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By effectively giving up the Kantian dualism of intuition and concept, McDowell has reverted or progressed, as one's viewpoint may have it to a Hegelian monism of logical concepts or a logical idealism that defends the conceptuality of the real. At this point, McDowell's epistemology risks turning into an ontology of objective conceptual data. The kind of Given envisioned by McDowell involves a new "Myth about the Given," one about the alleged givennesss of concepts. But while it is quite obvious that McDowell's position about the conceptual nature of intuition is not Kant's position, it remains to investigate whether and how Kant's dualism of intuition and concept manages to avoid the dual pitfall of an empiricist pseudo-epistemological foundationalism that conflates causation with justification and an idealist pseudo-ontological idealism that confuses consistency with truth.

The key elements of an answer to this vexing question lie in the status and function of intuition in Kant. Neither on his long way toward the Critique of Pure Reason nor in that work itself did Kant set out to provide a theory of empirical cognition. What McDowell, and not a few readers before him, see as the center of Kant's concerns is rather a byproduct of Kant's actual key project of reforming metaphysics, or, to put the matter in the cognitivist language favored by McDowell, of the epistemology of metaphysical cognition, 29 as summarized the leading question of the Prolegomena and of the second edition of the first Critique , "How are synthetic judgments priori possible?

But the latter type of cognition is not elucidated on its own and with the degree of attention typical for modern work in epistemology. In fact modern epistemology is largely a post-Kantian project, building on Kant's work by extending it into areas and directions cognitive psychology, logic of belief that were not at the forefront of Kant's central concern in theoretical philosophy, namely with the possibility of metaphysics.

Moreover, even when addressing empirical cognition in the first Critique , Kant focuses on what is non-empirical or "pure" in and about empirical cognition. What emerges about empirical cognition in the first Critique is a deep structure that underlies all empirical cognition and that presents itself only in the philosophical meta-cognition concerning the non-empirical conditions of empirical cognition. Still the complex interplay between the empirical and the non-empirical, or in Kantian terms: between experience and the conditions of its possibility, is not a side issue in Kant but constitutes his very answer to the problem of metaphysics or the question concerning metaphysical cognition.

Metaphysical cognition, insofar as the latter is "able to present itself as science" to use the phrase from the title of the Prolegomena , is not the cognition of some transempirical or supersensory world and its putative objects God, soul, freedom but the cognition of the complete set of conditions that are necessary for the very possibility of empirical cognition or of experience. The negative, restrictive side of this revolutionary reorientation of metaphysics from the transcendence of the empirical to its non-empirical, "transcendental" grounding is the limitation of non-empirical cognition, more precisely of non-empirical theoretical, object-determining cognition as opposed to practical, will-determining cognition involved in moral philosophy to possible experience and to the objects of possible experience.

Metaphysics as theoretical cognition "science" is the metaphysics of experience. But there is also a positive, enriching side to Kant's new metaphysics, viz. A philosophically satisfactory account of experience has to be metaphysics of experience. The metaphysical secret of empirical cognition, viz. At the surface level the remark addresses the requirement of a match or a correspondence between the two elements involved in theoretical cognition, viz. An intuition and a concept belong to each other, complement each other and constitute a cognition in the full-fledged sense if what is sensorily given in intuition provides the material realization for what is thought in the concept, and if, vice versa, that which is being thought by the concept transforms the sensory content of an intuition into the cognition of an object.

In such a situation of match the intuition and the thought involved seem to be the intuition and the concept, respectively, of the same object, an object that is given in one case and thought in the other case. But any such talk of presupposed objects and their alternative modes of presence to the mind as intuition and as concept, respectively suggests a realist ontology which Kant does not only not take for granted but considers very much in need of examination and revision.

Kant's philosophical concern is not with the de facto match between the intuition of an object and the concept of that object but with the question how there can be such a situation of match at all, especially considering the radically different nature of intuition and concept, due to their origin in two entirely different cognitive capabilities, viz. In advance of any particular match of some intuition and some concept with regard to some object, there is the fundamental philosophical issue of how intuitions and concepts can agree in the first place.

To take it for granted that they are able to do so, as McDowell does, underestimates Kant's philosophical amazement about concepts and intuitions and the theoretical urgency of the problem that their possible relation of match or agreement possesses. In particular, he goes on to investigate how the "pure concepts of the understanding or categories" reine Verstandesbegriffe oder Kategorien 33 can have any bearing on what is given in intuition or how the latter can undergo the former's shaping influence.

This is exactly the problem of the transcendental deduction of the categories and the associated investigations of the relation between the unity in intuitions and the unity in judgments Metaphysical Deduction 34 , of the mediation between category and pure intuition Schematism of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding and of the supreme synthetic cognitions a priori yielded by the match of categories and pure intuitions Principles of the Pure Understanding.

The entire extended argument of the Transcendental Analytic is required because in and of themselves concepts and intuitions have nothing in common, except their formal status as "representations" Vorstellungen in the mind in a generic, undifferentiated sense unsuitable for assessing their respective and collaborative epistemological functions. It should be stressed that Kant's problem regarding intuition and concept is not limited to the relation between pure concepts and pure intuitions. It also presents itself for empirical intuitions and empirical concepts.

After all, on Kant's account, the transcendental account of the categories and the pure manifold of the senses does not relate to some strange and unusual kind of cognition unrelated to ordinary knowledge but represents, in the artificial isolation of philosophical theorizing, the universal requirements of empirical cognition and its objects. However, the philosophical problem about empirical cognition is not that of the match of empirical intuition and empirical concept. Rather the philosophical problem about empirical cognition is how to bring together the formal, non-empirical structures underlying all experience based on pure concepts and pure intuitions and objectified in universal laws of nature with materially concrete sensory data.

This problem of integrating sheer data into both the forms of intuiting and the forms of thinking still figures large in Sellars' appropriation of Kant but not in McDowell's, for whom the given does not consist of raw data to be taken up by intuitive as well as intellectual forms of cognition but of already conceptually informed intuitions. Nor is there in McDowell's Strawsonian rather than Sellarsian Kant room for the dynamics of the universal but subjective cognitive forms enabling the formation of objectively valid cognitions.

Yet without the latter, the match of intuition and concept, whether in its generic form or as the agreement between empirical intuitions and empirical concepts or as the match of pure intuitions and pure concepts, remains a brute fact, unexplained and in principle subject to falsification. Faced with the skeptical implications of such an epistemology of conceptual facts, Kant would have stressed the merits of his own decidedly non-empirical "metaphysical" account of cognition.

Kant's differentiation between intuition and concept is the result of his long-standing investigations into the possibility of metaphysical cognition, and specifically into the possibility of metaphysical cognition about the nature and constitution of the world cosmology. The precise point of origin for Kant's opposing intuitions to concepts is the novel theory of space and time developed by Kant in the late s and first presented in published form in the Inaugural-Dissertation of , On the form and grounds of the sensible and intelligible world.

In so doing, he replaces the rationalist assessment of cognition by the senses, as lacking the clarity and distinctness available to cognition by the intellect, with an alternative account that recognizes the autonomous nature of both kinds of cognition and of the two orders of things or worlds correlated with them. For Kant the world of sense and the world of the intellect each have their own formal structures and laws, and the attempt to blur the distinction between the two epistemologies and ontologies results in the self-contradictory claims that are the antecedents of the Antinomy of Pure Reason in the Critique of pure reason.

The term "intuition" intuitus first occurs in the Inaugural-Dissertation of in the negative statement that the human being does not have at its disposition an intuition of things intellectual. On Kant's analysis, the human intellect or understanding does not grasp things intuitively, or immediately and in their singularity, but only discursively discursive , or by means of "general concepts " conceptus generales that do not address the object in its singularity but in terms of what it possibly shares with other objects.

But while the human being does not possess an intellect that intuits, it yet has another kind of intuition at its disposal, one that represents a mode of cognition different both from the discursive cognition of our intellect and the intuitive cognition of a possible non-human or rather superhuman, divine intellect.

According to Kant, this "human intuition" intuitus humanus 39 is like intellectual intuition to the extent that it grasps its object in an immediate manner , without the involvement of any other mode of cognition, and that it takes cognizance of this object in its singularity , as a unique entity that does not come into view as being like or unlike any other possible object. Human intuition is "passive" passivus.

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It is important to stress the difference Kant sees between sensation as the material involved in sensible intuition and sensible intuition as the medium or dimension, or better yet: the cognitive form , into which sensation is taken up or incorporated. On Kant's analysis, the nature of human, sensible intuition qua intuition, as described above immediateness, singularity , does not belong to the deliverances of the senses as such but only to the form under which they enter into the mind's cognitive apparatus.

For Kant, this form of sensible intuition is the double form of space and time, in which all sensory date are contained. But space and time are not only the forms of sensibility. First and foremost they are themselves intuitions. To be sure, as forms for all "later" filling by sensory material, space and time themselves are not intuitions filled with sensory matter. Rather they are a case of "pure intuition" intuitus purus. Hence the difference between pure intuitions and concepts in Kant turns on the different mereology of the two kinds of cognition and their respective objects.

In the pure intuition of time and space the intuited is given as an infinite, all-encompassing whole, such that any temporal or spatial part is but a limitation of the original pure intuition of time and space. By contrast, in the case of concepts regarding the formal structure of the world cosmological concepts the whole succeeds the parts out of which it is made up.

Moreover, concepts may contain other cognitions, such as other concepts, under themselves, but they do not contain those lower concepts in themselves; rather higher concepts are contained by lower concepts. By contrast, time and space as pure intuitions contain all possible times and spaces in them, and as infinite singular wholes they do not have features in common with anything outside them.

Thus for Kant entirely different part-whole relations obtain in intuitions, specifically in pure intuitions, on the one hand, and in concepts, on the other hand. To be sure, the givenness of time and space as infinite intuitions cannot be understood on the model of the givenness of sensations, as coming to us from outside and as affecting us contingently.

Rather to call time and space "given" is to address the fundamental fact that prior to and independent of all sensory data we may receive, there is present in our mind a comprehensive structure ready to be filled with material to be provided by the senses such that all possible sensible cognition will be contained in this structure and marked by its formal features.

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One might call the mode of givenness peculiar to pure intuitions their pre-givenness Vorgegebenheit. Instead he considers time and space as "acquired" acquisitus ; to be sure, not as acquired from the senses and particular sensations, but as acquired internally from the immanent law of the universal human cognitive constitution that shapes the taking-in of sensory data. In historical terms, Kant's theory of time and space as forms of intuition and as pure intuitions brings together key elements of the earlier accounts of space and time provided by Newton and Leibniz. While the infinite magnitude of time and space in Kant retains elements of the Newtonian conception of space as an absolute entity or a cosmic container modeled on God's presence throughout the universe, their character as subjective forms of all sensory cognition is indebted to the Leibnizian conception of the phenomenal nature of time and space as the two orders that things take on under conditions of sensory cognition.

Unlike Newton, Kant defends the subjective origin of time and space. Unlike Leibniz he maintains their a priori character, their preceding rather than succeeding the things of which they are the ordering forms. And unlike either Newton or Leibniz Kant maintains that time and space are pure sensible intuitions.

The very notion of a pure sensible intuition as the cognitive form of given infinite wholes is entirely original to Kant and underlies not only his account of space and time in the first Critique but also its mature theory about the cooperative relation between intuition and concept.

All the main features of the account of time and space to be found in the Inaugural-Dissertation, centered around the double notion of time and space as forms of intuition and as pure intuitions, are taken over in the Transcendental Aesthetic of the first Critique. Hence the further development of Kant's thinking about intuitions and concepts that manifests itself in the first Critique deals not with the conveyances of sensibility as such but with their further non-sensory treatment by other powers of the mind.

In particular, Kant contrasts the non-structured manner in which representations present themselves to the mind at the strictly sensory level with the form and structure introduced into spatial and temporal data by non-sensory means. The term from the Inaugural-Dissertation designating the plenary but inarticulated sum-total of presentments in intuition as such, " varia ," is rendered in the first Critique as "manifold" Mannigfaltiges and strictly distinguished from any order or structure brought to the manifold. While the Inaugural-Dissertation had left the formal determination of space and time to particular spaces and particular times largely unexplained, the first Critique contains the main elements of a theory of the generation of specifically determined plural intuitions out of the unitary and singular proto-intuition of space and time.

The most detailed treatment of this problem is to be found in the changes revisions and additions introduced into the second edition of the first Critique , especially in the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories, although it should be stressed that Kant regarded the changes of the second edition not as substantial corrections but as improvements in the "manner of presentation" Darstellungsart of his doctrine, which remained, in the main, unchanged.

The main reason for Kant's increased interest in the non-sensory features that accrue to intuition, to be found in the first Critique , is the realization, subsequent to the Inaugural-Dissertation and to be dated to the earlys, 50 that the pure concepts of the understanding do not actually refer to a world of their own, the world of the understanding, but pertain to the world of sense, of which they constitute the "intelligible form" in addition to its "sensible form" provided by the pure intuitions.

In the former regard, Kant stresses the complete lack of order among the manifold of intuition and the monopoly of the understanding for the formation of unity among representations of all kinds, regardless of whether they are intuitions or concepts.


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In the latter regard, he emphasizes the amenability of the unordered manifold of intuition to conceptual ordering. At the most basic level, the joint venture of the manifold of intuition and the unity of conception manifests itself in the double nature of space and time as forms of intuition and as pure intuitions. In their capacity as universal forms of all sensible intuition, space and time do not yet provide unity to the infinitely varied "manifold" possible spatio-temporal arrays they contain.

As forms of intuition, space and time function merely as the basic ways or modes for sensational intake. Any shaping of space and time into determined regions and stretches of space and time requires, on Kant's analysis, the " comprehension of the manifold" Zusammenfassung des Manngifaltigen , by means of which the form of intuition becomes the intuition of the form of intuition or "formal intuition. In the first Critique Kant's technical term for the "combination" Verbindung ; conjunctio of a given manifold, is "synthesis" Synthesis.

Rather he locates the origin of synthesis in an active, shaping power of the human mind. The function for synthesizing cognitive items of all kinds "representations;" Vorstellungen is assigned to the "power of the imagination" Einbildungskraft. To be sure, the stages in the formation of cognition distinguished by Kant should not be taken as diachronically arranged phases in the actual coming about of cognition. Kant's interest in the first Critique is not a psychological interest in the factual genesis of cognition but a logical-normative interest in the universal subjective grounds that render cognition, in principle, possible.

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The synthesis attributed by Kant to the power of the imagination consists most basically in the joining of sequentially apprehended stretches of time and regions of space into one "single" intuition so that the continuous flow of data receives articulation through primary structural features to be designated, in the context of their conceptual reconstruction, by concepts such as "before," after," "to the right of. Kant terms such a figure an "image" Bild , drawing on the etymological proximity of "image" and "imagination. The function of the imagination that concerns Kant in the first Critique is not the reproduction of preexisting images but the productive function of first bringing the manifold to the formative condition of wholes that are set off from other regions of the manifold of space and time and endowed with a certain coherence provided by the delineation of a region of space or a stretch of time.

With regard to space, Kant characterizes the transition from the "pure," undetermined manifold to the determined intuition of parts of space as " description of a space" Beschreibung eines Raumes 60 , where the term "description" does not designate the recording of a previously existing spatial order but the original inscription of space through which a figure in space first comes about. In order to convey the active nature of the "productive imagination" produktive Einbildungskraft 61 , Kant characterizes the "pure act of successive synthesis of the manifold in outer intuition" as "movement qua action of the subject" Bewegung, als Handlung des Subjekts , to be distinguished from objective movement as the dislocation of an object in space.

In calling the synthesis of the manifold through the power of imagination "blind," Kant draws attention to the incompleteness of the imaginational synthesis as such in the absence of a further level of the mind's active formation of cognition, viz. But the latter's contribution does not take the form of some external addition to the already accomplished synthesis of the imagination.

On Kant's view, the understanding is always already operative in imaginational synthesis by providing the basic function of unity that guides or orients the synthesis of the manifold. In a handwritten marginal emendation in his personal copy of the first edition of the first Critique , Kant replaced the passage, cited earlier and contained in the first and the second edition of the work, about the power of the imagination being a "function of the soul" with the more specific phrase, "a function of the understanding.

Yet the presence of the understanding in imaginational synthesis need not involve already formed concepts. On the contrary, synthetically unified space and time, along with the sensations located at determined spaces and times, first makes possible the formation of concepts.

Kant explains that he had introduced space as a pure intuition , and hence as a synthetic whole, on purpose already in the transcendental theory of sensibility Transcendental Aesthetic , in order to indicate that the pure intuition of space as such precedes all concepts of specific places and shapes in space.

He then points out that the presence of unity in space qua pure intuition, or in "space considered as an object " der Raum, als Gegenstand vorgestellt , "presupposes a synthesis that does not belong to the senses, but by means of which all concepts of space and time first become possible. This composite nature of intuition as such exceeds the deliverances of sensibility and its mere forms pure manifold , but does not yet reflect the presence of concepts, rather enabling their formation.

The synthesis of the imagination exercised, under the guidance of the understanding, on the manifold of the senses yields what Kant terms "appearances" Erscheinungen. Continuing an ancient philosophical tradition going back to Plato, Kant uses the term to convey the difference between the way things might appear to someone, under certain conditions, etc. Most commentators on Kant's adaptation of the distinction between appearance and reality focus on the Kantian distinction between the things as they are in themselves in short: the things in themselves; Dinge an sich and their appearances, or the things as they come to be cognized under conditions of human sensibility, i.

While this onto-logical distinction, established in the Transcendental Aesthetic of the first Critique , 69 is indeed the primary contrast underlying Kant's use of technical term "appearance," it is crucial not to overlook a second employment of the term "appearance" which opposes the appearance not to some unknown and unknowable thing that transcends our experience or to an unknown and unknowable side or aspect of a thing transcending our experience but to an as-yet unknown but knowable thing or side of a thing , one that is entirely within the range of our experience.

The latter distinction comes into play in the Transcendental Analytic of the first Critique, when Kant contrasts the way something appears to someone as a function of the particular way in which it is first given in intuition, with the way things might be independent of the varying conditions of sensible intuition, with the specification that the latter way of being is to be ascertained not by recourse to the senses but to the understanding.

To be sure, the epistemo-logical distinction of appearance and object itself must not involve an uncritical relapse into the assumption of a non-sensory, intellectual intuition on the part of "our" understanding. The object which exceeds its varied actual and possible presentations to the senses or "appearances" is not intuited, or grasped directly, but is being thought.

To say of the object that it is thought , as opposed to given, is to say that is a logical construct produced by the understanding on the material basis of given intuitions and serving to unify the latter. Drawing on Kant's discourse about the manifold of the senses being synthesized into an image, one can regard the object in the logical sense just outlined as that of which the relevant intuitions are images, yet which cannot be captured by any such image, or their sum-total, but only by the additional intellectual function of referring the intuitions to that of which they are the intuitions.

Kant also calls the object in the strong, logical sense the "transcendental object," 71 thereby indicating that is not a particular object but the universal objectivity function by means of which the variable cognitions of appearances are elevated to the cognition of an object that is invariant in relation to the changing conditions of its appearances. In an alternative formulation of the same thought, Kant refers to the contribution that the understanding makes to the synthesis of the imagination as providing "transcendental content.

Given the logical, thought-borne nature of objects and of the cognition of objects in Kant, the specific formal contribution that the understanding makes to the cognition of perception-invariant objects cannot consist in the grasp of some preexisting, absolute order of things. Rather the pure concepts of the understanding categories formulate the universal subjective conditions under which appearances can be considered appearances of relatively stable, lawfully behaving objects in space and time.

In the absence of such intellectual regularity conditions, appearances would not coalesce into objects. There would be perceptions of unpredictable appearances but no experience of objects that each have a nature and that jointly constitute nature as the sum-total of appearances under laws.

If, e. In order to achieve the latter, the pure concepts of the understanding or the categories have to come, which are the logical forms of judgments employed not as forms for analyzing intuitions or other already given representations but as formal determination of the objective features to be synthetically correlated with given intuitions.

In Kant's words, the categories are "concepts of an object in general through which its intuition is considered as determined with respect to one of the logical functions for judgments. Still Kant insists on the proximity, more yet: on the ultimate identity, of the forms of judging and the forms of thinking an object.

To be sure, the forms of judging serve to articulate, by means of analysis, the logical structure of a given manifold, while the forms of thinking an object serve to provide an object to given intuitions. Both are employments of the understanding and involve the engagement of the same set of basic unification functions , exercised in specifically different ways on specifically different material.

In Kant's words: "The same function which gives unity to the different representations in a judgment also gives unity to the mere synthesis of different representations in an intuition , which sc. That would render superfluous the entire enterprise of the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories with its focus on whether and how functions of the understanding have a bearing on intuitions. Kant's point is that categorial unity is not to be found in an intuition but has to be provided to the intuition by the understanding.

Considering that the addition of categorial determination to objectively undetermined intuitions is not a matter of temporal sequence but of structural constitution, Kant can also say that categorical unity would have to be given "with" mit the intuitions but not "in" in them. Hence the blindness that Kant attributes to the workings of the imagination, even to its operation under the clandestine guidance of the understanding, 77 is a blindness with respect to the object to be correlated with given intuitions by means of the categories.

In light of this notion of object-blindness , Kant's pronouncement that intuitions without concepts are blind takes on the further, quite specific meaning that without the categorial concepts intuitions are object-blind in that they have no "transcendental object" or "transcendental content" provided to them. One might even say that intuitions lacking "transcendental content" are not only blind but also empty.

In a surprising reversal of status, it is not intuition that provides content to the otherwise empty categorial concepts but the categories that provide content in the strong, logical sense to intuitions, which would otherwise be lacking the reference to an object in the strong sense. This is not to deny that, at a surface level, Kant's statement about thoughts without content being empty refers to the ordinary case of concepts first receiving confirmation and validation by means of corresponding sensible intuitions.

More yet, even the categories, without which intuitions would have no "transcendental content," are in turn in need of another kind of content which only intuitions can provide for them and without which they would be empty "forms of thinking" Gedankenformen. In addition, there is the empirical content provided to empirical concepts by empirical intuition. But the latter is not a primary concern of Kant's in the first Critique , with its focus on the conditions of the possibility of a priori cognition of objects, even if the objects to be cognized a priori turn out to be objects of experience.

A closer look at the prehistory and the systematic context of Kant's remark about thoughts being possibly empty and intuitions being possibly blind has shown the exegetical and philosophical problems inherent in McDowell's reading, which ignores the latter half of the statement and turns its former half into a thesis about the concept-ladenness of intuitions in Kant. By focusing exclusively on the validation of empirical concepts through empirical intuitions, McDowell has deprived Kant's ingenious remark of much of its philosophical significance, which concerns primarily the mutual completion of pre-conceptual intuitions and post-intuitional concepts.

Considering the implicit focus of Kant's remark on the relation between pure intuitions of space and time and pure concepts of the understanding , the content that prevents a thought from being empty cannot be, as McDowell would have it, some factual experiential intake. Claims to universality and necessity, as they are implicit in the categories' status as the basic intellectual forms of experience and its objects, cannot be confirmed contingently and by single instances. On Kant's view, the justification of categorial claims cannot have recourse to any given feature of experience.

The validation of the categories can only take the form of showing that experience, along with its objects, would not be possible were it not for the contribution made by the categories in determining an object to given intuitions. Kant is quite explicit about the disanalogy in the validation procedure of empirical concepts and of categorial concepts.

The validation of empirical concepts occurs by citing, in an exemplary manner, the corresponding empirical intuition; by contrast, categorial concepts cannot be instantiated in an intuition to be given, not even in an a priori intuition. There is only the universal form of causal thinking through which the temporal sequence of appearances, provided it is found to be irreversible, is taken as involving an objective determination of the order of events. Thus the categories are nothing but "rules according to which a certain synthetic unity of that which cannot be represented in an a priori intuition of the perceptions is supposed to be looked for empirically.

Due its inherent generality as possibly contained in infinitely many objects , a concept cannot be adequately matched by an intuition as a singular representation. Empirical concepts, too, have to be understood as rules for the determination of appearances that are yet to be given. Kant uses the term "schema" Schema to address the open nature of a concept, due to which it exceeds the correlation with any particular corresponding "image" Bild of an empirically intuited object.

All this suggest a picture of the relation between concept and intuition in Kant that is quite different from the way McDowell reads Kant's remark about possibly empty thoughts, viz. Kant is a formalist about intuitional and conceptual content and an idealist about the universal forms of intuiting and thinking. But rather than reducing the aesthetics of intuition to the logic of concepts, as McDowell does, Kant maintains that there are two different but interacting sets of forms by means of which data are taken up into the justificatory structures and processes of cognition: intuitions for the reference to the singular and concepts for the reference to the universal.

Moreover, while McDowell takes both intuition and concept as given or already contained in experience, Kant insists on the active, produced nature of the synthesis and the unity involved in experience. McDowell believes that the only way to move intuition away from the status of psycho-physical data intake and into the epistemological sphere is its assimilation to the conceptual. In Kant, the space of reasons is not limited to concepts but includes intuition as a mode of cognition sui generis.

Internal coherence only gives an answer to the question of the quid juris. What still needs to be shown is not simply how it is possible for such a system to map onto our empirical world, but that the given system does, in fact, map onto the world. Instead, science must give the correct story about how the world is and one that can completely justify its claims. The problem is — and here we return to the gap between the quid juris and the quid facti — science is still only giving us a good or seemingly accurate story.

In short, what is at issue is not an actual demonstration that the intellect and sensation actually do combine to form a cognition — this is an issue of fact or the quid factis , as Kant labels it — but a demonstration of how it is possible for them to come together in a cognition. Maimon, unlike other Kant critics of the day and even many Kant supporters, astutely recognizes how central this issue is to Kant's whole critical project.

He understands that Kant is not trying to show that intellect and sensation actually do come together but rather that Kant wants to provide a justification for how it is possible that sensation and intellect can come together. As a result, Maimon makes this issue of the quid juris — and the related issue of the quid facti — a centerpiece of many of his own writings throughout his career. He actually sees the issue in terms of the broader problem of mind and body interaction. Thus, for Maimon the issue actually becomes how we are to be justified in thinking that mind — something supposedly non-physical and non-spatial — can interact with body, something physical and spatial.

Simply put, on this reading of the first Critique , it is in the very nature of time, as a schema of concepts, that the link between the a priori concepts of the understanding and the a posteriori given content from intuition is supposedly found. Maimon disagrees. He maintains that if mind and body, or intellect and intuition, are two radically different sources of knowledge as Kant wants to maintain, then ultimately they can never to come together because they are so radically different by definition. In other words, if intellect and intuition are so different, as Kant wants to hold, then Kant already make it impossible for these two stems of knowledge to be unified.

Thus, he holds that the only solution to the quid juris is to assume that intellect and intuition must be alike. He does not follow along empiricist lines where concepts are but abstractions from sensations. Rather, he turns to the Leibniz-Wolff school for his solution to the problem. Maimon claims that, ultimately, sensation — or intuition, as Kant terms it — has its root in the understanding.

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For Leibniz and Wolff, sensation or intuition simply amounts to a confused form of conceptual knowledge; Maimon concurs. The content of our knowledge, at least of our empirical knowledge, comes from outside of us. Or, to be more precise, this material of our knowledge is the result of our intuitive faculty being affected by something outside of it. The problem is that Kant must rely on this idea of a thing-in-itself in order to account for what gives rise to our empirical knowledge. Furthermore, Kant must posit things-in-themselves because their existence ultimately plays the role of a criterion of truth in his system.

The world of our sense experience, as opposed to, say, a world of our dreams, is real for Kant because the content of our sense experience ultimately refers back to something real: The thing-in-itself. There are, however, two problems. That is, in order to cognize things-in-themselves we must use concepts and discursive or conceptually-based knowledge. But things-in-themselves, by their very nature, are supposed to stand outside of conceptual knowledge. Second, and more seriously, the doctrine of things-in-themselves does not help to resolve the matter of the quid juris.

That issue, as it will be remembered, concerns our justification for assuming that elements of cognition that arise out of the intellect can possibly be combined together with elements of cognition that arise empirically from the senses, or intuition, to use Kantian terminology. But if things-in-themselves stand beyond our ability to cognize them, then we cannot know if concepts and intuitions have come together in a way that truly reflects how things are.

Maimon criticizes Kant because he holds that Kant still has not adequately shown that we are justified in believing in the applicability of a priori concepts that have their seat in the understanding to elements that arise a posteriori from the senses.

As concerns the first point, Maimon simply believes that he is being true to the spirit of critical philosophy insofar as he draws the criterion of truth from within consciousness. As concerns the second point, Maimon looks back to the rationalist school, and to Leibnizian philosophy in particular. If sensation ultimately has its root in the understanding, as it does for Leibniz, then there no longer is an issue of how two seemingly different elements of cognition can be combined together. As his model, Maimon looks to mathematics insofar as the content of mathematics is not given to it empirically, or so holds Maimon.

In differential calculus in particular, he finds a way in which content can be generated out of form. In short, Maimon thinks that all differences in quantity can be reduced to some sort of quantitative relation. Differentials are not some type of a basic ontological entity such as atoms or monads. Instead, differentials are the rules concerning the lawful relationship of objects. Differentials give us the rule for producing an object.

Take, for example, a triangle whose sides have the lengths 3 cm, 4 cm, and 5 cm, respectively. The relationship between the sides and the angles in that triangle will be the same as the relationship in a triangle whose sides have the lengths 3 rods, 4 rods, and 5 rods, respectively. The relationship between the sides and angles of these two triangles will be the same, too, as that in a triangle whose sides measure 9 inches, 12 inches, and 15 inches, respectively. The differential would be the rule for producing a triangle with the relations of sides and angles exhibited by any of the aforementioned triangles.

Maimon holds that all the content of our knowledge would have to be able to be derived from a differential as are the lengths of the sides of the triangle mentioned above. Accordingly, all qualia, all the content of what we know, would be able to be understood in terms of differentials. As was hinted as earlier, Maimon does not have a criterion of truth that stands outside of consciousness. According to Bergmann, in that work, Wolff defines being as the completion of all possibility, that is, an object is fully actual when it is determined in all of its parts.


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  • Maimon uses this idea as the basis for his view of what the thing-in-itself must be. The object itself is no longer something outside of or beyond our cognition. The object is simply the sum of all predicates that can be attributed to it. It is at this juncture that Maimon mentions the infinite mind. The object itself, as it actually is, that is, as presented, is the object insofar as it would be cognized by an infinite mind.

    The infinite mind does or would cognize objects in terms of differentials, that is, in terms of presentations. The infinite mind would not see objects as we humans see them, as given in space and time as well as insofar as they seem to be given from something outside of us. The infinite mind sees everything in terms of rational form, as quantified relations. In Book One, Chapter 68 of Maimonides Guide to the Perplexed , Maimonides — who, in turn looks back to Aristotle — calls God the intellectus , the ens intelligens , and the ens intelligible at one and the same time.

    God is the intellect, the thinking, and the thing that is being thought. In short, for Maimon, the thing-in-itself no longer is something that it outside of consciousness or in some other realm as that to which cognition must conform. Instead, the thing-in-itself would be the object as it would be cognized by an infinite mind, one that no longer needs to cognition as having two parts; matter, which is given to the understanding, and content, which is generated in and by the understanding.

    Some passages seem to point toward the infinite mind as something actual, whereas others point to it as a regulative idea, that is, a goal toward which we continually progress but that we can never fully attain. That is, it is an ideal toward which we continually progress but which we can never fully attain. For Kant, there are elements of cognition that are not reducible to one another: concepts and intuitions. Because Maimon ultimately tries to reduce matter or content to something rational — namely differentials — the question arises as to what status intuition has in his philosophy.

    For Maimon, space and time, ultimately are concepts that deal pertaining to diversity. The infinite mind would not see objects in terms of a matter or content that was given to it and which has been taken up, synthesized and, hence, given a form according to concepts generated by the understanding. Instead, the infinite understanding would cognize all objects in terms of concepts and differentials, that is, in a wholly rational or quantitative manner.

    Unfortunately, we humans do not cognize, say, the color red or the flavor of an apple or the sound of middle C played on the piano in terms of differentials. Aspects of these, their conceptual qualities, may be described according to categories or there may be rational aspects of the experience of them. Yet, according to Maimon, we still cognize the world in terms of form — which is rational and generated by us — and content — irrational and given to us from somewhere else or by something else. Because we do not see the world as an infinite understanding would see the world, that is, as wholly rationally and quantitatively, we must have recourse to something else to aid the understanding.

    This role, for Maimon, belongs to the imagination. The imagination literally fills in where the understanding stops. Thus, for example, when we do not perceive the difference between two objects wholly in conceptual terms, the imagination fills in by generating intuitions. So, when we do not see two objects as conceptually different, their difference is manifested by the imagination in terms of temporal and spatial differences.

    If two objects are identical, then the must be indiscernible. For Leibniz, if two objects are different, then there must be a conceptual basis for their difference. This conceptual difference plays out as a difference in intuition when the mind that cognizes this difference cannot understand it conceptually.

    For Kant, space and time are a priori forms of intuition. Furthermore, Kant views them as pure forms of intuition. A space and time devoid of objects is impossible on his view. Furthermore, space and time as concepts, upon which the intuitions rest, are simply notions of diversity.

    Although Maimon formulates a possible solution to the quid juris , there remains, on his view, an important issue that must be addressed. Here, again, we return to the issue of the quid juris and its related problem of the quid facti. According to this interpretation, one which is not unique to Maimon, because time is a priori and pure, as a form of intuition, and because time underlies all intuitions, be they spatial or temporal, time serves as the bridge between a priori concepts and intuitions, pure or a posteriori. It must be remembered that from the outset of the Critique of Pure Reason , Kant claims that he is attempting to prove how synthetic a priori statements are possible, not that synthetic a priori statements exist he simply assumes this latter point.

    In other words, he is trying to show how it can be possible that experience of the world, and in particular scientific accounts of that experience, can have an a priori , and, thus, objective ground.

    Solomon Maimon (1753—1800)

    Thus, simply put, by looking to mathematics he assumes that scientific experience, that is synthetic a priori statements, in fact, do exist. His task, in the first Critique , is to give an account of how it is possible for this experience to be objective or, which is the same, to show how there can be synthetic a priori statements.

    Unfortunately, Maimon holds that the quid facti — that there exist synthetic a priori statements remains unanswered and that this, in fact, is really a more serious problem. In other words, Maimon claims that it is not enough merely to show how it is possible that concepts of the understanding can come to be connected with so-called intuitions, that is, something seemingly given from without. Maimon holds that it still remains to be shown that concepts of the understanding actually are connected with intuitions.

    That is, we seem to see regularity in the world and the world seems to operate according to laws of physics, biology, chemistry, etc. However, this does not guarantee that the regularity that we think we see in the world or the conformity of events to laws actually has its basis in the laws themselves or in the understanding. In the end, the problem of the quid facti still remains. While it may be the case that there is regularity in our experience of the world, the does not guarantee as a fact that the understanding lies as the basis of this regularity, that is, that this regularity and law-like behavior is objectively valid.

    Mathematics is the only discipline in which both the form and matter of the knowledge involved in the discipline can be shown to be created according to objectively valid laws by the understanding. Science and philosophy can and do give us systems that are internally coherent, but this does not guarantee that such systems actually map onto the world. The systems that science and philosophy have given us, perhaps, give good stories as to how the seemingly regularity of the world has arisen.

    However, this does not guarantee that the universe is regular and it also does not guarantee that any law especially laws generated by the understanding necessitate the world coming to pass as it does. Again, Hume could be correct and the order that we think that we see in the world could be the consequence of a habit of the mind. One critic Atlas thinks that Maimon simply leaves us between the two horns of a dilemma, extreme rationalism and skepticism. We can never reach this goal, as only an infinite intellect could do so.

    However, it is a goal toward which we should and do progress. As does Kant, Maimon holds that transcendental logic is in fact more basic than formal logic. Maimon shows, however, that formal logic must, in fact, assume certain facts about reality, and, in particular, about objects. Hence, transcendental logic is prior to formal logic. The standard view of formal logic is that it only deals with the form of judgments and abstracts from any content whatsoever.

    Metaphysik: Kategorie

    Furthermore, the standard view would be that the truth of this argument is solely a function of the form of the argument. According to Maimon, however, the problem with formal logic is by abstracting wholly from objects, it can only deal with one sort of diversity: negation.

    That is, in strict terms, if X is different from Y, then formal logic can only understand Y in terms of not-X. Be we know that yellow is not the same as blue. Here is where, according to Maimon, transcendental logic underlies formal logic.


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    • Transcendental logic is a logic of content, whereas formal logic supposedly deals only with form. Maimon shows himself to be a Kantian in spirit, as opposed to in letter, in the manner in which addresses the issue of logic and its relation to a system of philosophy and science. The obvious problem is there are no unicorns. Hence, such a claim is only formally true and does not necessarily describe any feature of our world. If unicorns do indeed exist, then they must be one-horned.

      Yet, there are strong reasons for denying the existence of unicorns. For Maimon, the principle of determinability holds that there is a determinable Bestimmbare that becomes determined by a determination Bestimmung.