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unity of an individual even though body and soul are di¬erent substan-
ces.
Now, Kant argues that the statement ˜˜I exist as thinking™™ involves an
element of experience. But, in order to show that I am a substance in
any but a purely formal sense, I would have to show that it is in my
nature to be an object that persists over time. Unfortunately, a persistent
object cannot be found in inner experience alone, and hence I have no
reason to assume that the formal identity of the self as subject of the
experiences that I ascribe to myself or to others provides adequate
grounds for making substantive claims about my relation as thinker to
my body or other bodies. Kant concludes that no valid inference can be
drawn concerning either the dependence or independence of the soul
from the body. That Kant thinks that no inference can be drawn
concerning the relation of consciousness to the body is only con¬rmed
by a look at a parallel passage from ˜˜On the Progress of Metaphysics,™™
Ak. , p. °:
That he [the human being] is not wholly and purely corporeal may be strictly
proven, if this appearance is considered as a thing in itself, from the fact that the
unity of consciousness, which must be met with in all cognition (including that
of oneself ) makes it impossible that representations divided amongst various
subjects could constitute a uni¬ed thought: therefore materialism can never be
used as a principle for explaining the nature of the soul.
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
Kant ¬rst argues that the claim that human beings are not wholly and
purely corporeal can be proved from the fact that the unity of conscious-
ness cannot be distributed among di¬erent subjects, if the human being as
appearance is considered as a thing in itself. But the whole point of the
Paralogisms is that the antecedent of the conditional is something that
we cannot take for granted. It is precisely the mistake of the rationalist
and materialist philosophers that Kant wishes to criticize that they take
what appears to us to be what that thing is in itself. But Kant argues that
we cannot infer from the subjective conditions under which we can
alone recognize other minds that all rational beings in general must be
such as those constraints dictate to us ( µ).
In the ˜˜Progress™™ draft he then suggests that we can distinguish the
body from the soul as phenomenon and still maintain that the external
thing (the basis for the phenomenon of body) could itself be a simple
being when taken as a thing in itself. In short, if we are not entitled to
take the unity of consciousness in appearances as a unity of conscious-
ness in things as they exist in themselves, the argument does nothing to
contradict materialism. Given the conditional nature of Kant™s argu-
ment and his own skepticism about the truth of the antecedent, I think
one must reject Henry Allison™s view that Kant takes this to be a
compelling argument against materialism.µ The argument provides the
basis for rejecting the possibility of materialism only if we take the
standpoint of the transcendental realist who maintains that inferences
from the mental unity of appearances to the mental unity of things in
themselves are legitimate. Thus, the argument has at best ad hominem
force against a materialist who accepts transcendental realism.
How does Kant reconcile his rejection of both spiritualism and
materialism as accounts of the ultimate nature of human beings? In our
experience, the mental and the physical are distinct, since the mental is
that which is essentially inner, and the physical is that which is essential-
ly outer relative to the point of view of the representations which make
up the mental.This leads Kant to favor property dualism, the view that
mental and physical properties are distinct kinds of properties, at the
phenomenal level of our experience. In the Paralogisms, Kant does not
actually defend phenomenal substance dualism, the view that there are
distinct mental things and physical things. However, he does distinguish
objects of inner sense from objects of outer sense. And, in the Metaphys-
ical Foundations, he maintains that life involves action that can only be
understood in terms of desires that do not belong to outer sense. He
concludes that ˜˜when we look for the cause of any change of matter in
±
How independent is the self from its body?
life, then we must immediately look for it in another substance that is
however connected to matter™™ (Ak. ©, p. µ). Kant™s claim that we
must look to another substance as cause of change in life as opposed to
the substances that cause change in matter strongly suggests that he was
committed, at least at that time, to phenomenal substance dualism.
While Kant seems to be attracted to some form of substance dualism
at the level of phenomena, he does not ¬nd such a dualism defensible at
the level of things as they are in themselves. Such substance dualism
would be forced on us if we were to treat the distinction between matter
and mind as ultimate, as a feature of things as they are in themselves.
But we cannot do this due to the limitations of what we can infer from
the conditions under which we ascribe thoughts to individuals. Kant
thus allows for the possibility of a form of naturalism at the level of things
as they are in themselves which gives up substance dualism, and perhaps
even property dualism, at the most fundamental level of reality:

If matter were a thing in itself, then it would be totally di¬erent as a composite
being from the soul as a simple one. Now it is only external appearance whose
substratum cannot be known through any predicates that can be given; hence I
can well assume that it [the substratum] is in itself simple, although in the way
that it a¬ects our senses, it generates the intuition of the extended and hence of
the composite. And I can assume that thoughts which can be represented with
consciousness through its own inner sense belong to the substance in itself
which in respect to our external senses has extension. In this way, precisely the
same thing which in one respect is called corporeal would be in another a
thinking being whose thoughts we cannot intuit, but whose signs in appearance
we can intuit. Thus the expression would lapse that only souls (as particular
kinds of substances) think; it would be said, as is customary, that human beings
think, i.e. that precisely the same thing which is extended as external appear-
ance is internally (in itself ), a subject that is not a composite but rather simple
and thinks. ( µ)

Kant argues that instead of talking about thinking substances, or souls
that think, it might turn out to be more appropriate to treat of human
beings as the bearers of thoughts as ordinary language does. In e¬ect, he
seeks a common ground of the mental and the physical or rather a
concept of substance which is su¬ciently rich to be able to explain both
mental and physical properties in experience. This is a rather attractive
position. Characteristically, Kant does not think that a substance that
would have mental as well as physical properties is knowable by us (
°). We have knowledge of matter and of our inner states. But matter,
such as we know it, is a mere appearance, as are our inner states. There
±° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
is something transcending appearance which is responsible for our
representations of inner states as well as of material states. We do not know
that there is an intrinsic di¬erence between what would explain the
properties of matter and what would explain mental events. At the
deepest level, Kant is therefore suspicious of spiritualism and its claim
that the mind is ultimately either more basic or independent of the
physical, without being any more sympathetic to physicalism. Given his
strictures on our capacity to know how things are in themselves inde-
pendently of the conditions under which we can know them, Kant is
also unwilling to endorse the hypothesis that there is a kind of common
substance that underlies both mental and physical appearances.

   ¦  µ   °    ¬ § ©  
So far we have looked at three di¬erent determinations of self-con-
sciousness that suggest rich metaphysical commitments. Self-conscious-
ness presents itself to us, and hence also a thinker to us, as a logically
basic subject that has identity over the di¬erent thoughts that it ascribes
to itself. The subject of thought, and hence thinkers as they present
themselves to us, has an intrinsic unity or simplicity to it that seems to
distinguish them from material objects. In self-consciousness, I also
distinguish my existence as a thinker from other things outside of my
consciousness, including my own body. This suggests that I might have
an existence as a thinker that is somehow independent of my body. But
Kant rightly insists that the truth of the claim that I distinguish myself
from other things in self-consciousness is analytic ( °). It does not
establish anything about the ultimate nature of my relationship to other
things.
In the Fourth Paralogism in the ¬rst edition, Kant argues against the
idea that the existence of things that are external to the self is doubtful.
Descartes, for instance, famously argues in the Second Meditation that
the existence of things outside of the self is doubtful in a way that the
existence of thinking things is not. Descartes bases his real distinction
between minds and bodies on the certainty of our knowledge of our
mind and the uncertainty of our knowledge of (even our own) body. In
the First Paralogism, Kant already rejects Descartess inference from the
privileged epistemic status that thinkers have to the claim that they are
thinking substances. In the Second Paralogism, he then rejects the claim
that thinking things are, or even must somehow be, really distinct
substances from material or extended things. In the present context,
±±
How independent is the self from its body?
Kant™s concern is with rejecting attempts to infer that things outside of
us have a di¬erent epistemic status than things as they are presented to
us in thought.
Kant™s general argument is directed against what he calls idealism. It
is rather surprising to ¬nd a philosopher refuting idealism as something
scandalous and vaguely pernicious, when he characterizes his own
philosophy as a ˜˜transcendental idealism.™™ Although Kant does refer to
his own philosophical position as a form of idealism, he identi¬es
idealism tout court (without predicative modi¬ers) with the denial of the
existence of mind-independent objects. This is apparent in the
Prolegomena:
Idealism consists in the assertion, that there are none but thinking beings, all
other things, which we think are perceived in intuition, being nothing but
representations in the thinking beings, to which no object external to them
really corresponds. Whereas I say, that things as objects of our senses existing
outside of us are given, but we know nothing of what they may be in themselves,
knowing only their phenomena, that is, the representations which they cause in
us by a¬ecting our senses. Consequently, I grant by all means that there are
bodies without us, that is things which though quite unknown to us as to what
they are in themselves, we yet know by the representations which their in¬‚u-
ence on our sensibility provides us with, and which we call bodies, a term
signifying merely the appearance of the thing which is unknown to us, but not
therefore less real. Can one really call this idealism? It is the very opposite of
it. (section ±, Ak. ©, pp. “)

Kant maintains that skepticism about the existence of external objects
is generated by a commitment to transcendental realism. This transcen-
dental realism is the thesis that objects as they (veridically) appear to us
are things as they exist in themselves. Transcendental idealism, by
contrast, maintains that we cannot know what things are in themselves.
We can know facts only about appearances. Somewhat puzzlingly,
Kant identi¬es transcendental realism with what is usually referred to as
representational realism. For he maintains that the transcendental real-
ist must assume that we have direct perceptions only of what is represen-
ted by us as represented by us. The direct or naive realist is inclined to
reject any need to assume the existence of such epistemic intermedia-
ries. The need to assume epistemic intermediaries is usually motivated
by the need to provide an account of sensory illusion and other delusive
experiences such as dreams. The representational realist insists that
delusive and veridical perceptions should be treated symmetrically. If
we do not assume any epistemic intermediaries, it is hard to understand
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
how delusive experiences could occur. And, once we assume the exist-
ence of such intermediaries in the case of delusive perceptions, it is hard
to see why such intermediaries simply drop out in the case of veridical
perception.
Although the argument of the representational realist has some
plausibility, it is hard to ¬nd it compelling. For it is open to the direct
realist to argue that things as they are in themselves are just the way
things appear to standard observers under standard circumstances,
while delusive appearances are just the way things appear to standard or
non-standard observers under non-standard circumstances. Once one
makes this move, one must then spell out what standard observers and
standard circumstances are supposed to be. The most plausible way to
do this is in terms of the operation of certain causal mechanisms. The
skeptic can then argue that, in principle, we are unable to know whether
the causal mechanisms which cause standard observers under standard
circumstances to perceive things as thus and such are in fact ever set up
in the manner which we believe them to be. In this case, we will be
systematically deluded about the world. We ¬nd ourselves forced to
admit the possibility that empirical idealism could be true, in other
words, that all of our beliefs about the external world might turn out to
be false.
The key to an argument against empirical idealism within the frame-
work of Kant™s transcendental idealism is the combination of immediate
consciousness of outer objects with a denial that the immediate relation
to objects outside of one™s subjectivity communicates (intuitive) knowl-
edge of the things with which one is in an immediate relation. Kant
identi¬es idealism with skepticism about our ability to justify claims
concerning the external world. This is somewhat puzzling at ¬rst, since
we are used to thinking of such a position as a consequence of metaphys-
ical realism. But it turns out that idealism is to be understood as
empirical idealism, and Kant thinks of such empirical idealism as a
consequence of what is now generally called metaphysical realism, but
which he refers to as transcendental realism. Empirical idealism is to be
distinguished from empirical realism. The distinction between the ideal
or mind-dependent and the real or mind-independent is a distinction
which falls here within the domain of experience and the objects
belonging to experience.
According to empirical realism, we have immediate perceptual
knowledge of objects which are external to us. Kant also refers to
empirical realism as dualism. We have direct perceptual knowledge of
±
How independent is the self from its body?
things, objects in space, which are not minds, and knowledge of inner
states which are inherently mental, as well. Hence the term ˜˜dualism.™™
Kant™s use of the term ˜˜dualism™™ does not at ¬rst seem to suggest a
commitment to substance dualism, but rather to a form of property
dualism according to which mental and physical states are essentially
distinct, at least in what appears to us in experience. However, he does
conclude from the di¬erent character of the objects which we directly
perceive to be temporal and spatial that inner and outer states are to be
ascribed to di¬erent substances. He thus explicitly commits himself to
substance dualism with respect to phenomena, that is, objects as we
must experience them ( ·).
Kant is convinced that empirical idealism is a consequence of a
commitment to transcendental realism ˜˜which regards time and space
as something given in themselves, independently of our sensibility™™ (
). If space and time and the objects given in space and time are
radically independent of our minds, then there seems to be no way of
establishing that those objects must be as we think them to be. The
transcendental or metaphysical realist must always allow for the possi-
bility that all of our beliefs could be false. The transcendental idealist,
by contrast, and Kant subscribe to transcendental idealism, and main-
tain that space and time are nothing apart from the sensible conditions
under which we represent objects. Thus there would be at least no
spatial objects to which our beliefs fail to conform so long as they
satisfy the best standards we can have for the determination of
whether our beliefs about objects external to us in experience are true.
This raises more questions than it answers. For, in order to get a
signi¬cant contrast between transcendental realism and transcendental
idealism, Kant takes transcendental idealism to deny not that things
existing independently of our sensibility could exist at all, but only that
they are knowable for us. This seems to push the problem posed by
idealism with respect to external objects back to the problem of how
objects that are external to us in space relate to objects that are
external to us in a sense that is independent of the way in which we
experience them.
Even if the transcendental realist™s attempt to provide an objective
account of subjectivity is doomed to failure, this does not by itself rescue
Kant™s position from the pressures which threaten it. In the more
extensive ¬rst edition discussion of the Fourth Paralogism, Kant seems
to refute the skeptic only by granting to him or her everything that s/he
requires:
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
I do not need to draw an inference with respect to the reality of external objects
any more than I do with respect to the reality of the object of my inner sense (of
my thoughts), for they are both nothing but representations the immediate
perception (consciousness) of which is also a su¬cient proof of their reality. (
·±)

While Kant insists that we have a direct perception of objects in a space
which is outside of us, it turns out that this space and the bodies in it are
mere representeds, ˜˜the objects of which are something only through
these representations. Apart from them they are nothing™™ ( ·°). This
refutation of idealism has nothing to recommend itself over Leibniz™s
most phenomenalist claims:

I judge without proof, from a simple perception or experience, that those things
exist of which I am conscious within me. There are, ¬rst myself, who am
thinking a variety of things, and then, the varied phenomena or appearances
which exist in my mind. Since both of these are perceived immediately by the
mind without intervention of anything else, they can be accepted without
question, and it is exactly as certain that there exists in my mind the appearance
of a golden mountain or of a centaur when I dream of these, as it is that I who
am dreaming exist, since both are included in the one fact that it is certain that a
centaur appears to me.

Neither Leibniz nor Kant leave the matter at such immediate conscious-
ness of objects.· They both see the need to distinguish between real and
imaginary objects by means of coherence considerations. Thus, Kant
claims that we can distinguish illusory appearances from bona ¬de
perceptions of external objects by appeal to the principle that ˜˜what is
connected with perception according to empirical laws, is real™™ ( ·). This is also
a claim Berkeley could endorse. Thus Kant™s refutation of idealism
seems to have nothing to commend it over Leibniz™s or Berkeley™s
similar arguments against skepticism about the existence of bodies.
Indeed, refutations of idealism were standard in the handbooks of
Leibnizian“Wol¬an philosophy which Kant used for his own lectures.
Kant™s ¬rst critic, Garve, or rather Feder, can hardly be blamed for
assimilating Kant™s position to Berkeley™s phenomenalism. Like Kant,
Berkeley thought that the best response to the skeptic about external
bodies was to argue that the only intelligible notion of bodies we have is
one essentially tied to our sense representations. In responding to the
criticism that his view was indistinguishable from Berkeley™s phenom-
enalism, Kant came to reformulate his criticism of empirical or psycho-
logical idealism in the second edition of the Critique. He retains the idea
±µ
How independent is the self from its body?
that we have a direct perception of bodies, but he gives up the idea that
these bodies are mere internal accusatives of perception.
In the next chapter, I turn to Kant™s argument against Cartesian
skepticism about the existence of external objects in the second edition
Refutation of Idealism. Discussion of the Refutation allows me to ¬‚esh
out the implications of my overall argument concerning the conditions
under which our consciousness of ourselves as temporal and spatial
beings is possible. I focus on the manner in which our temporal con-
sciousness of ourselves as distinct individuals with distinct experiences is
parasitic on our experience of objects that exist outside of us.
The Refutation of Idealism draws on the full resources of the analysis
of the role of causation, and especially substance, in determining the
temporal relations between inner episodes. For, in the Refutation, Kant
argues that the mental lacks the autonomy required to fund the notion
of persistence required to make sense of the very ascription of determi-
nate temporal episodes to oneself needed in order for one to make sense
of inner experience. From there, Kant argues that we cannot have any
determinate beliefs about our inner states at all without also having
beliefs about objects that exist outside of us. These objects turn out in the
end to be objects that are outside of us in the transcendental, as well as
the empirical, sense. Here, Kant fully exploits the idea that the inner“
outer distinction is constitutive of any determinate consciousness of self
by showing how the inner“outer distinction constitutes the particular
consciousness of self that we have as individuals who have distinct
experiences that, in principle, must be subject to some temporal order if
they are to be comprehensible to us at all.
° ±°

The argument against idealism




O¬cially, the Refutation of Idealism is the only novel addition to the
Critique in its second edition ( ©n). Given the other changes that
Kant makes in the second edition, this admission may justify the amount
of attention that has been devoted to such a small amount of text. He
piques the interest of other philosophers by intimating that he has solved
a problem that has been a ˜˜scandal™™ to philosophy and all reasoning
persons:

Idealism may be held to be ever so innocent with respect to the essential
purposes of metaphysics (which it in fact is not) it still remains a scandal of
philosophy and of the universal reason of humanity that the existence of things
outside of us (from which we however derive the whole stu¬ of cognitions even
for our inner sense) must be accepted on faith, and not to be able to o¬er a
satisfactory proof to someone if it should occur to him to doubt it. ( ©)±

Since Kant advocates his own form of idealism, transcendental ideal-
ism, the Refutation is not directed at all forms of idealism. The Refuta-
tion is directed against a speci¬cally modern, and post-Cartesian skepti-
cal worry about whether beliefs about outer states have the same degree
of warrant as beliefs about inner states. The Refutation responds to the
provisional skeptical position outlined in the ¬rst and second of De-
scartes™s Meditations on First Philosophy, but Kant™s more immediate target
is the Humean position of his contemporary, Friedrich Jacobi. In the
passage above, Kant alludes to Jacobi™s claim that we need to appeal to
faith or belief (Glaube) in order to support claims about the existence of
the external world.
Where Descartes worries about the possibility that my beliefs about
external objects might all turn out to be false, Kant wants to show that
any knowledge of inner states entails the existence of objects existing
outside of me. In this way, he also hopes to show that Jacobi™s claim that
±
±·
The argument against idealism
we have only an unjusti¬able belief in the existence of external objects is
unfounded. Kant aims to show not only that we have no reason to doubt
the existence of the external world, but that we must assume its existence
in order to have any determinate inner experiences at all.
The Refutation has a particular interest for my own enterprise of
articulating the conditions under which a distinctive consciousness of
ourselves is possible. Kant argues here that we can only know what is
internal to our own individual experiences insofar as we are directly
conscious of something that is external to our own individual experi-
ence. The Refutation thus links knowledge of oneself as an empirical self
with the inner“outer distinction, while arguing that our consciousness of
what is internal to our own distinctive point of view in experience is
parasitic on what is outside of it in experience. In the Refutation itself,
Kant is concerned only with the relation in experience between what is
internal to a point of view and what is external to a point of view, but, in
later personal notes, he then seeks to ground the distinction between the
inner“outer within experience on the distinction between what is inter-
nal to experience and what is external to it. In this way, he seeks to show
that any consciousness of oneself as an experiencer involves the empiri-
cal, as well as the transcendental distinction between the inner and the
outer.
In responding to Descartes™s problematic ˜˜material™™ or ˜˜psychologi-
cal™™ idealism, Kant argues that Descartes is wrong when he takes inner
experience to be indubitable and the experience of outer objects to be
dubitable ( ·µ). According to Descartes, one has indubitable knowl-
edge of any mental state that one is in purely in virtue of being in that

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