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temporally. The other person must think of me as an embodied self, i.e.
an object of external intuition (spatial representation). The only clear
notion we have of being outside of something else involves something
being in a spatial relation to something else. But as long as we have no
distinction between inner and outer states we also have no way of
representing the di¬erence between a subjective and an objective time-
series.
±··
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
The point of view of the outside observer is not necessarily that of an
objective time-series. The point of view of the outside observer may be
just another subjective time-series, that is, another sequence of points of
view:
For in that case the time in which the observer places me is not the one to be
encountered in my sensibility but the one to be encountered in his sensibility,
therefore the identity that is necessarily connected with my consciousness is not
therefore [necessarily] connected with his, that is, with the external intuition of
my subject. ( )

There is no way for me to think of my persistence as an individual as
something distinguishable from the way I view my own history, as long
as the only take on my experience that I have is ¬rst personal. In fact, I
do not even have the full notion of what it is for something to belong to
my own point of view, since I have no notion yet of another possible
history with a point of view which is distinct from my own. By looking at
myself from an outside spatial perspective, I come to see that my
consciousness of my numerical identity does not entail that I am a
numerically identical individual. As I think of myself from this third-
person point of view, I come to see that the temporal series making up
my inner experience may be unique, but it is unique precisely because it
can be distinguished from that of other possible persons.
In a discussion, for instance, my knowledge of what I am now
thinking precedes my knowledge of what someone else is now thinking,
but the other person™s knowledge of what s/he is now thinking precedes
his or her knowledge of what I am now thinking. Di¬erent subjects may
and often do represent the states of the same particular as temporally
ordered in a way which is inconsistent one with the other. Re¬‚ection on
this standpoint dependence of one™s beliefs can lead one even to ques-
tion one™s own belief in one™s persistence over time. Taking the perspec-
tive of another allows me to grasp the distinction between the self-
identity built into my ¬rst-person perspective and my persistent exist-
ence as a particular individual.
The potential or actual existence of di¬erent sets of experiential
episodes in di¬erent observers outside of me leads me to the idea of
di¬erent competing temporal series. This suggests to me that my con-
sciousness of my numerical identity through the temporal series of my
experiences need not entail ˜˜the objective permanence of my self™™ (
). It is now apparent why Kant does not attempt to introduce an
objective concept of time. The time to which we are referring, even
±· Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
when we look at things from the vantage-point of an outside observer, is
just a further subjective time. The possibility of an alternative subjective
time-series is already enough to make room for the distinction between
the unity of time-consciousness that is necessary to the having of a point
of view at all and the particular standpoint-dependent unity that charac-
terizes di¬erent empirical knowers. This is because it already provides
one with the possibility of contrasting the way things look from one™s
own perspective with the way they look from some other possible
perspective. This other possible perspective leads to questions about
how I could determine my personal identity over time.
The second- and third-person perspectives open up the possibility
that my ¬rst-person perspective might be delusive and thus reveal to me
that ˜˜the identity of the consciousness of myself in di¬erent times is only
a formal condition of my thoughts and their connection™™ ( ). I
cannot therefore infer ˜˜the numerical identity of my subject™™ from the
fact that I can use the same expression ˜˜I™™ to refer to my di¬erent states.
Kant presses the point home about the defeasibility of ¬rst-person
ascriptions by noting that my ¬rst-person take on my personal identity is
based on my consciousness, and my consciousness of the past is based on
my memories. While these memories cannot seem to me to be delusive,
they might, in fact, turn out to be delusive. There might be a deviant
chain of representations linking some of my memories to past occurren-
ces. My memories of the past might have been taken over from other
individuals, so that I was really only the last of a series of individual
persons or person-stages: ˜˜The last substance would be conscious of all
of the states of the substances changed before it as its own, since they
would have been transferred to it with the consciousness of them, and
yet it would not have been the same person in all these states™™ ( n).
In such circumstances, one would have only a delusive quasi-memory
rather than a bona ¬de memory of something that one believes to have
happened to one. The androids in the movie Blade Runner have such
delusive quasi-memories. They have quasi-memories of a past that was
not theirs, of a childhood which they never lived through. But we need
not go so far a¬eld. There is strong evidence that one can induce false
memories in others which lead them to believe that they have had a
di¬erent past than their actual one.
Now, if the ¬rst-person point of view needs correction from a possible
second- or third-person perspective, we cannot infer that we as individ-
uals are identical over time from the data provided to us by conscious-
ness and memory. So we certainly cannot infer that we are persons that
±·
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
exist forever from our inability to experience our own beginning in birth
or ending in death. Thus, Kant™s argument raises questions about any
e¬ort to take the consciousness of my identity over time as an indication
that I am a person in the sense of a sempiternal substance that is
conscious of its existence throughout time.
While the phenomenon of temporal succession leads Descartes and
Leibniz to ascribe maximal certainty to self-ascriptions of actual occur-
rent cognitive states, philosophers such as Descartes and Leibniz were
also attracted to the idea that the self is a sempiternal substance to which
we have access through self-consciousness. The temporal implications
of self-consciousness are most obvious with respect to Leibniz. Leibniz
believed that in self-consciousness I have a somewhat unclear and
indistinct grasp of the concept of my personal identity (of my individual
essence). It is unclear because I may not be able to distinguish myself
from others and it is indistinct because I am not able to give a complete
analysis of my experience. But this concept of my personal identity
includes everything that has ever, does, or will ever happen to me. From
Kant™s point of view, Leibniz assimilates the necessity that all represen-
teds be thinkable by the ˜˜I™™ to the thesis that there must be a soul which
persists through all changes in experiences. Kant thinks that this is just
what is going on in Leibniz™s notion of the ˜˜I™™ as a simple substance
which contains within itself the ontological basis for a complete time-
series.
Kant wants to argue that, from Leibniz™s standpoint, self-conscious-
ness itself provides all that we need in order to know that we are each
principles of change from which all the events in a particular time-series
may be understood. While knowledge of the concept of a person would
have to be provided for us by the reason that we have in virtue of being
self-conscious individuals, once we were able to make our concept of
ourselves clear and distinct, it would be enough to analyze the concept
in order to know everything there was to know about me or you. It is far
from obvious that ˜˜rationalist™™ thinkers, such as Leibniz, thought of the
kind of reasoning required to see such consequences as the derivation of
analytic entailments in Kant™s sense of the word.±° However, it is also
unclear how Leibniz actually proposes to make sense of the concept of
an individual, as he understands it. For all true propositions regarding
the whole history of that individual are supposed to be entailed by the
concept of that individual. One problem is that we do not actually have
knowledge of such a complete concept for any individual. The problem
also goes deeper. For it is not clear that we even understand what such a
±° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
concept could be. This problem is re¬‚ected in the very idea of the
identity of an individual as Leibniz understands that identity. For
Leibniz, the content that distinguishes individual simple substances
from each other consists ultimately in the di¬erential way in which they
represent other creatures representing them. With some justice, Kant
can argue that Leibniz has no real way of giving any clear non-
metaphorical sense to the di¬erent (non spatio-temporal) points of view
of those representers that Leibniz must invoke to make sense of the
di¬erences in representational content that are supposed to individuate
di¬erent simple substances. If we cannot make sense of those di¬erences
between simple substances and the di¬erent states of simple substances
in their own right, we will also not be able to make sense of the idea of a
spatio-temporal history corresponding to the di¬erent representations.
Kant thinks that Leibniz falls into this di¬culty because he attempts to
draw metaphysical conclusions from the way objects must be represen-
ted from the ¬rst-person point of view belonging to self-consciousness.
Kant is not only interested in blocking any assumptions about the
immortality of the soul that may seem to follow from my consciousness
of my identity through time, he also argues for a restriction on our
ability to have even phenomenal knowledge of the persistence of the self.
Where the numerical identity of matter is concerned, direct observation
from a third-person perspective seems to be possible. So we seem to
have knowledge of the persistence of bits of matter. Even here there are
di¬culties. The medium size material objects that are our immediate
objects of observation are persistent, but they are not themselves perma-
nent even by the lights of Kant™s theory. In the case of the self, there is a
further complication. One must already put oneself in the position of
another in order to ascribe consciousness to some other person. The
actual ascription of conscious states to the other presupposes a shift to a
third-person perspective that is itself inherently infected with the ¬rst-
person point of view. This precludes one from having any immediate
access to the other person™s existence as a persistent entity.
The only thing that one can observe to be persistent is the other
person™s body. The precise relation of that body to the other person is
quite a problematic matter. No empirical evidence seems to force us to
identify the identity of the person with the identity of that persisting
body, however plausible it is to do so. The persistence of a body is only
contingently related to the possession of a numerically identical point of
view which forms the basis for our ascription of personal identity to the
other person. Given the fallibility of memory, this means that the
±±
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
persistence of a body may be the best criterion of personal identity that
we have, but one the satisfaction of which provides no logically compell-
ing guarantee of personal identity.
Once it becomes apparent that Kant does not intend to recognize any
public knowledge of the persistence of the self, then his failure to
introduce public time into his discussion of the role of the outside
observer begins to make sense. Nor is this failure to recognize a public
notion of inner time-consciousness an accident. Kant™s general tact is to
deny that inner experience can on its own provide any objective knowl-
edge. In order to know objective facts, we must appeal to the behavior of
physical objects in space. Our knowledge of public facts depends on our
knowledge of external objects.
° 

How independent is the self from its body?




In the last chapter I developed Kant™s general argument against the kind
of inferences that lie at the basis of rational psychology. After looking at
his general objections to e¬orts to infer substantive facts about our
nature as thinkers from the way we must think of ourselves, on the basis
of the way in which we must think of ourselves in order to ascribe
thoughts to ourselves I then turned to his arguments against treating us
as thinking things, in the sense of bona ¬de thinking substances or
persons that have identity over time. In this chapter, I explore Kant™s
arguments in the Paralogisms against Cartesian metaphysical and epi-
stemological dualism. I concentrate on the Second and Fourth Para-
logisms.

  ®¤ °  ¬ §© 
The Second Paralogism attacks what Kant regards as the most illustri-
ous champion to be found among the arguments of rational psychology.
The ˜˜Achilles™™ of all rationalist proofs is the argument from the nature
of thought to the metaphysical simplicity of the thinker who thinks.
Kant™s sympathy with the argument from simplicity has to do with his
deep commitment to the logical simplicity of the ˜˜I.™™ By this he means
that our representation of self does not contain anything per se that would
serve to distinguish one self from another self. For instance in the
B-Deduction, Kant motivates the need for synthesis in order for one to
be able to represent the identity of the self in di¬erent representations by
noting that ˜˜through the I as simple representation no manifold is
given™™ ( ±µ).± In that context, Kant contrasts the kind of simplicity of I
representation that is supposed to characterize our discursive minds
with the kind of intuitive intellect that could be ascribed to God.
Neither Descartes nor Leibniz would disagree with Kant™s theory that
rational psychology would have to be based on ˜˜the simple and for itself
±
±
How independent is the self from its body?
completely empty of content representation: I™™ ( / °). The
simple representation ˜˜I™™ is the subject of consciousness represented as
subject of self-consciousness. It is simple because it lacks any content
beyond its self-referential form. Thought seems only to be possible if the
thinker is characterized as a thinker by simplicity or absolute unity of
consciousness. One cannot divide distinctive thoughts among di¬erent
subjects without depriving those thoughts of their very existence. A
verse or a sentence cannot be broken up into its constituent words and
its constituent words represented by di¬erent individuals and still be that
particular thought. From the inherent unity of particular thoughts it
seems to follow that thought requires a metaphysically simple, or abso-
lutely unitary subject. But Kant points out that the inference to the
existence of an absolutely unitary bearer of thought is based on a
presupposition that deprives it of most of its force.
We must presuppose a single logical subject, or subjective ˜˜I™™ ( µ)
in order to ascribe to ourselves any thought. The logical subject lacks
any content aside from that provided by that of which one is conscious.
In this sense, the statement ˜˜I am simple™™ is an immediate expression of
self-consciousness ( µµ). But the fact that we can only represent
ourselves as thinking by attributing unity to each of our points of view as
thinkers does not establish that we are beings that have an absolutely
unitary or simple nature.
Whenever we represent ourselves as the subject of di¬erent experien-
ces, regardless of whether we are the same individual bearer that had all
of those experiences, we represent ourselves as what Kant calls ˜˜the
logical subject of a thought.™™ The logical subject of a thought is just the
subject that is represented by us as the thinker of that thought. The unity
of the point of view does not guarantee the unity of the bearer of that
point of view. Thus, an individual who had undergone ¬ssion, fusion, or
had his or her experiences transplanted from those of another individual
could still regard him- or herself as the same logical subject of all those
experiences even though there was no individual bearer that had all of
those experiences.
Thus, even many simple substances might again ¬‚ow into one, without any-
thing more being lost than the greater amount of subsistence, the one contain-
ing the degree of reality of all the previous ones together in it, and perhaps the
simple substances that provide the appearance of matter could bring forth
children souls through dynamic division of parent souls as intensive magnitudes
(admittedly not through mutual mechanical or chemical in¬‚uence, but rather
through an in¬‚uence that is unknown to us of which they are the mere
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
appearance), while they might in turn replenish their loss through coalition
with new stu¬s of the same kind. ( ±·n)

While the self presents itself to itself in self-consciousness as a unity that
seems to be the unity of a real particular, this unity turns out to be, at
least in some cases, a mere logical unity belonging to all the thoughts
which that subject thinks of as belonging to him- or herself. Whether
that subject is a thing with real unity, as well, is a matter for further
investigation.
Self-consciousness involves a reference to self in abstraction from any
description which distinguishes one from other individuals. Self-con-
sciousness thus encourages us to think that the real subject of thought is
simply identical with the logical subject of self-conscious thought. The
logical subject of thought is just the point of view to which we ascribe a
certain unity. From the intrinsic unity of a point of view, which Kant
refers to as logical simplicity, one cannot establish the intrinsic unity or
simplicity of the real bearer of that point of view. For one would have to
establish the identity of the real with the logical subject of thought in
order to infer that the bearer of thought is simple because the represen-
tation of that bearer is simple. The logically simple subject to which we
ascribe individual thoughts might turn out itself to have an intrinsic
unity of point of view that supervenes on a complex of many diverse real
bearers. The proposition that a thought can only be the expression of
the absolute unity of a thinking being is thus not analytic ( µ). It
involves a substantive claim about the nature of thinking beings. Nor
can experience alone provide the kind of evidence required to support a
claim to necessity or absolute unity.
Kant thinks of the transcendental subject as the bearer of thought
when it is conceived in abstraction from any of the features which
distinguish one thinking being from another: ˜˜It means a something in
general (transcendental subject) the representation of which must in-
deed be simple, precisely because one certainly cannot think of anything
more simple than by means of the concept of a mere something™™ ( µµ).
But Kant insists that the simplicity of our representation of ourselves is
not the simplicity of a real bearer of thought. Transcendental self-
consciousness is the ˜˜I™™ attached to thought that ˜˜merely transcenden-
tally designates™™ the real bearer of thought ( µµ). It refers to the bearer
of thought only insofar as that bearer is thought of as the condition for
the possibility of thought, but not to any further features of that bearer.
In self-consciousness, one refers to oneself where ˜˜oneself™™ is merely
±µ
How independent is the self from its body?
serving as the purely formal second term of a re¬‚exive relation which
picks up the reference involved in the use of the other term of that
re¬‚exive relation.
The plausibility of thinking of the self as simple rests on one™s need to
take the ¬rst-person perspective in order to ascribe thoughts. The
¬rst-person perspective carries over to the ascription of thought to other
persons. In the case of other rational beings, one must put oneself in the
position of those thinking beings in order to be able to ascribe thoughts to
them as well. Kant again insists that we can only represent another
thinking being by transference from our own self-conscious re¬‚ection. He
then explicitly rejects the inference as invalid that the self must therefore
be simple. We are wrong in moving from the fact that self-consciousness is
a necessary subjective condition under which we can make the notion of a
rational being intelligible to ourselves, to the conclusion that the unity that
we ascribe to ourselves as subjects of thought is a constitutive feature of the
concept of a thinking being in general:
Thus here, as in the previous Paralogism, the formal proposition of appercep-
tion: I think, is the whole ground on which rational psychology dares its
extension of its knowledge, which proposition is indeed no experience, but the
form of apperception, which belongs to every experience, and precedes it, yet
must only always be regarded in respect to possible knowledge as merely subjective
condition of it [knowledge], which we unjustly make into the condition of the
possibility of knowledge of objects, namely into a concept of a thinking being in
general, since we cannot represent it [a thinking being] except by putting
ourselves with the formula of our consciousness in the place of every other
intelligent being. ( µ)
The form of apperception, the ability to represent experiences in
terms of an ˜˜I think™™ through which we are conscious of ourselves being
conscious of those experiences, is the basis for all experience (at least of
intelligent beings, as we can understand them). Apperception is the basis
for our representation not only of ourselves, but of other rational beings.
Yet it is a subjective condition that we cannot construe as the objective
basis for knowledge of de re necessities concerning the nature of rational
beings. The only grip we have on what it is to be a thinking being is
based on our ability to understand what it would be like for us to
perceive or understand the world in a di¬erent way than we do. But it
does not follow from this that the very nature of a rational being involves
a connection to self-consciousness. The point of view that we attribute to
thinking beings on the basis of our self-consciousness must be inherently
unitary and indivisible, but we cannot legitimately conclude from this
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
subjective necessity governing our ascription of thought that rational
beings must have an inherently unitary nature.
In the second edition of the Paralogisms ( °) Kant seems at ¬rst to
endorse a more metaphysically loaded notion of the self™s simplicity
which suggests a much greater sympathy with rationalist critics of
materialism. He notes that apperception is something real whose sim-
plicity lies in its very possibility. The ¬rst-person point of view of
self-consciousness demands that the subject of self-consciousness be a
single unitary subject. Kant assumes as an independent premise that
there is nothing in space that is both real and simple. He concludes from
these assumptions that my character as a mere thinking subject cannot
be explained by appeal to materialism. The assumption that what is
spatially real cannot be simple expresses his thesis that points are
abstractions from the real extended constituents of space together with
the additional assumption that points are the only simple things that
have spatial location. Both of these assumptions are problematic, since
they involve a rejection of the existence of point-events.
The argument has some force against the very crude reductive forms
of materialism with which Kant was familiar (Helvetius for instance),
although it depends on an assumption about the nature of space that is
now quite controversial. But even if we waive the worry that the
argument has no force against someone who maintains that matter
could be composed out of non-extended point-objects, it does not o¬er a
very powerful objection to non-reductive materialism, which is pre-
pared to argue that mental events are not reducible to physical events.
Nor does the argument pose a problem even for a sophisticated form of
eliminative materialism that treats the subjective point of view as some-
thing that has instrumental signi¬cance in understanding experience,
but no ultimate real existence. A non-reductive materialist or even an
eliminative materialist can allow for the existence of an emergent
property of absolute unity or simplicity that cannot be adequately
understood in terms of any of the individual bits of matter that collec-
tively have this emergent property.
Despite his rejection of materialism, Kant admits that the appeal to
the simplicity of self-consciousness cannot establish the thesis of spiritu-
alism or mentalism, that is, the independent existence of mental events,
since the manner in which I exist is not determined by self-consciousness
per se. Indeed, this is what is to be expected given the overall critical
attitude to Cartesianism that underlies the argument of the Paralogisms.
In the Cartesian tradition, the simplicity of the self as thinker has been
±·
How independent is the self from its body?
used to support arguments for the immateriality of the soul. At ¬rst
blush, Leibniz seems to be an obvious target for Kant™s critique. Thus
Leibniz argues in Monadology, section ±·, that mental states cannot be
explained in terms of mechanical composition, but have a unity that can
only be understood by recourse to simple substances. Kant agrees with
Leibniz that mechanism fails to explain representation, but he does not
accept Leibniz™s inference to the existence of simple substances. On the
other hand, Leibniz argues for spiritualism from the simplicity of self-
consciousness, not for immaterialism. In fact, he does not think that the
soul or self can ever exist in a completely disembodied state (Monadology,
section ·).
Although Kant directs his argument primarily against the Leibniz“
Wol¬an school of thought, Descartes is a better target. For Descartes
does think that the soul is not only simple, but, in principle, can exist in a
disembodied state. The status of embodiment in Descartes is, however,
more complicated than it at ¬rst appears to be. In the Sixth Meditation,
he rejects the idea that the soul is related to the body as a pilot to a ship.
He argues that the human being qua embodied soul has the complex

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