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state, while one™s beliefs about outer objects are dubitable. This is the
basis for the real distinction that he attempts to draw in the Second
Meditation between mental and physical states and their respective
bearers. Kant argues, by contrast, that one cannot even have knowledge
of inner episodes except on the basis of a belief in the existence of outer
objects that cannot be false. Kant does not address or even mention
Descartes™s appeal in the Fifth Meditation to the bene¬cence of God to
warrant the reliability of our assumption that there is an external world.
Kant would, however, reject such an appeal as based on knowledge of
God that we do not have, and that is at any rate less reliable than our
knowledge of the existence of an external world.
Kant™s aim in the Refutation is to prove that experience would be
impossible if there were no bodies and nothing that exists outside of
consciousness. He has no argument against a person who is skeptical
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
about having any experience or self-knowledge at all. This leaves a kind
of gap in Kant™s argument. He cannot refute a Cartesian skeptic who
limits him- or herself to the cogito. Kant does ¬rst note that Descartes™s
˜˜problematic idealism™™ declares ˜˜only one empirical assertion (assertio),
namely: I am for indubitable™™ ( ·), and Kant does set out to refute
˜˜problematic idealism.™™ However, he soon goes on to describe his aim
in the Refutation as that of showing that ˜˜even our inner experience, not
doubted by Descartes, is only possible under the condition of external
experience™™ ( ·µ). And Kant later notes that the representation ˜˜I am™™
is not experience, since one needs more than mere existence for experi-
ence, one needs some more determinate representation of the individual
in time ( ··).
However, even if the argument has no force against a skeptic who is
willing to retrench and restrict him- or herself to the certainty of the
cogito, the argument is still quite ambitious. Kant attempts to show that
one can only have a consciousness of oneself as existing in time, and
hence the capacity to justify one™s beliefs about one™s own inner states, if
one has some true beliefs about the existence of objects existing outside
of one. He starts from the assumption that I am conscious of my own
existence as determined in time. He then appeals to a conclusion of the
First Analogy as an independent premise: all time-determination pre-
supposes something permanent in perception (relative persistence is
actually enough for the present purpose). What he wants to establish is
that what persists cannot be an intuition in me. Representations make
up the only bases in me for determining my existence. And as represen-
tations they themselves also require something persistent that is distinct
from them. For something is needed in relation to which representations
may be said to change and in relation to which my existence in time may
be determined.
Two conclusions are supposed to follow: (±) the perception of what is
persistent or permanent is only possible through a thing existing outside
of me and not through the mere representation of a thing outside of me;
() the determination of my existence in time is only possible through the
existence of actual things that I perceive outside of me. Since the
Analytic as a whole has argued that consciousness in time is necessarily
tied to the possibility of time-determination, Kant can then also avail
himself of this claim as a premise from which he draws the ¬nal
conclusion of his argument: () since the existence of things outside of
me is a condition for time-determination, consciousness in time is
necessarily tied to the existence of things outside of me. This is just
±
The argument against idealism
another way of claiming that consciousness of my own existence is also
an immediate consciousness of things that exist outside of me.

µ ® ¤      ® ¤ © ® §     § µ  ® 
The Refutation of Idealism links empirically determined self-conscious-
ness to the existence of permanent objects existing outside of the self.
Kant states the thesis of the Refutation clearly enough: ˜˜The mere, but
empirically determined, consciousness of my own existence, proves the
existence of the objects in space outside of me™™ ( ·µ). There is,
however, a certain ambiguity to the notion of ˜˜the mere, but empirically
determined, consciousness of my own existence.™™ It is initially unclear
whether consciousness of one™s existence is empirically determined by
the mere fact that it entails the existence of some indeterminate empiri-
cal representation, or whether empirical determination requires deter-
mination of the position (and hence the content) of that empirical
representation in time.
In the literature, empirically determined consciousness of my own
existence has been rightly understood in this latter, stronger sense.
Kant explicitly denies that the mere consciousness of our own existence
requires an experience of outer objects ( ··). Thus, the kind of
representation of self to be had by transcendental apperception alone is
not su¬cient to provide a premise for the argument. In fact, recent
interpreters have rightly taken this consciousness to be the inner experi-
ence that Kant identi¬es with self-knowledge.µ Kant uses the term
˜˜experience™™ in many places as a synonym for knowledge, in which we
are even said to know the objective temporal relations of what we
perceive (see  ±). And in his own subsidiary remarks to the Refuta-
tion, he identi¬es inner experience with knowledge ( ··).
Once we assume that we have self-knowledge the argument lends
itself to a straightforward reconstruction. Self-knowledge requires
knowledge of a certain temporal order among one™s inner states. Knowl-
edge that inner states have a certain temporal order requires that there
actually be a certain temporal order governing those inner states. And,
assuming that such a temporal order is only determinable with respect
to something that is outside of us, then there must be something that
exists outside of us.
In the argument, Kant ¬rst appeals to a premise from the First
Analogy. All time-determination requires something permanent in per-
ception. We may recall that consciousness of one™s inner states is
°° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
inherently successive. The replacement of one state of consciousness by
another state of consciousness after it, is not enough to support a
representation of succession. There must be something that is represen-
ted as constant through that transition. It is then through one™s repre-
sentation of this item that persists over one™s representations, while other
contents of representation undergo change, that one becomes conscious
of the transition from one temporal state to another. Even to have a
belief that something has occurred at some point in time, I need
something that I represent as persistent or even permanent relative to
which something can appear to me to be an event.
Initially, it seems that what I take as permanent might merely be
something that is represented by me as permanent, without it, in fact,
being permanent. How can it be successfully argued that my own
existence in time presupposes something permanent that cannot itself be
a mere represented? While Kant assumes in the First Analogy that all
permanent objects are objects that are to be met with by us in space, he
does not attempt to o¬er any proof that this is so in that context. The
proof of this claim that he o¬ers in the Metaphysical Foundations has severe
di¬culties, as we have already seen. But, in order to provide a proof of
the dependence of beliefs about inner states on the existence of external
objects, the Refutation must also argue for the claim that only objects to
be met with outside of me can be permanent.
The permanent object that I need to order my subjective states in time
cannot be purely private, for I would then have no way to distinguish
between a veridical and a non-veridical temporal ordering of my mental
events. If all I had to go on were my own private experiences, then I would
not even have the notion of a temporal perspective that is di¬erent from
the one I am taking and then I would have no basis for thinking that any of
my beliefs about the temporal order of my experiences could ever be false.
However, even if I need some representation of the possibility of a
di¬erent take on my inner experiences than the one I have now in order to
be able to take myself to be making a judgment about my inner states, it is
still not obvious that this cannot be just another inner take of mine with
which I might compare my present experiences. This initially suggests
that regularities in the occurrence of purely inner psychological states
could be su¬cient to allow for the determination of the relations of
co-occurrence and successiveness of states.
Henry Allison argues that consciousness of a succession of representa-
tions is, at the same time, a succession in my consciousness.· But this
view would be rejected by someone like Paul Guyer, who thinks that one
°±
The argument against idealism
can have a momentary consciousness of a succession of states. Now,
regardless of whether one could represent a succession of states at a
moment or not, and regardless of whether one could then represent
something persistent at a moment or not, a representation of something
persistent from the vantage-point of a purely subjective take on things
would give me, at best, an apparently persistent object. The claim that
the persistent or permanent might be a mere representation would
reduce the permanent to an apparent permanent. Such a merely appar-
ent permanent would then yield only an apparent temporal order
requiring in its turn a spatio-temporal permanent which could not be in
turn purely temporal on pain of in¬nite regress. Thus, without some
permanent that is outside of my inherently successive inner experiences,
I would not even be able to make veridical claims about the order of
those inner experiences, and so I would not have inner experience at all.
This seems to be part of the claim that Kant is making in a note added to
the preface to the second edition, in which he argues that representa-
tions themselves ˜˜require as such a permanent distinct from them in
respect to which their replacement-change and hence my existence in
time, in which they replace themselves, can be determined™™ ( ©).
We need not have an uninterrupted perception or representation of a
particular in order for that particular to serve as a basis for providing a
temporal order for our representations. The permanent is supposed to
be something that we can assume to continue to exist during any
interruptions of our conscious experience, such as when we sleep.
Without the notion of something that continues even while our own
train of representations is interrupted, we would have no basis for
accounting for non-conscious periods of our existence within our ex-
perience:
[T]he representation of something permanent in existence is not identical with a
permanent representation; for this [representation] can be very changeable and
subject to replacement-change, as all of our representations and even those of
matter [are], and relates itself to something permanent, which must therefore
be a thing that is distinct from all my representations and external [to them],
the existence of which is necessarily contained in the determination of my own
existence and makes up only a single experience with it [the determination of
my own existence] that would not even occur internally, if it were not (in part)
also external. ( ¬©)
Kant admits that even our representations of physical objects are not
themselves enduring representations. But his concession does not mat-
ter, since the persistent or permanent cannot be something that is
° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
merely represented as persistent. Everything in me exists only insofar as
it can be represented by me. If it is true that the permanent cannot be
something merely represented by me, then it follows that the permanent
cannot be something in me, something internal to consciousness itself.
Kant concludes that the permanent must be something outside of me.
The assumption that the permanent objects outside of us are to be
understood as spatial objects is introduced in the second note to the
Refutation. According to the note, the permanent objects in question
must be material objects. Kant™s observation has some force that we do,
in fact, derive our consciousness of temporal relations from changes in
such external objects as the sun. But solar motion relative to terrestrial
objects is relative motion. Each of these objects undergoes changes, and
none of them can be regarded as permanent from a cosmic perspective.
None of the objects that we perceive are permanent objects in the strict
sense. The fact that the objects that we perceive are not permanent,
forces Kant to admit that we do not derive the permanence of external
objects from external experience ( ·), but presuppose it a priori as a
condition for determining temporal relations. This certainly seems to
put objects in space on a par with objects existing only in time, in other
words, with representational states.±°
The problem of change and hence of permanence also arises for
purely spatial objects. For, even though Kant thinks that physical
properties are only to be regarded as temporal states in virtue of their
relation to mental events, such physical properties do present them-
selves to us as temporal states of physical objects. However, in the case of
physical objects and their states, it is possible for us to give a tenseless
characterization of those objects, while we cannot provide any such
account of mental states from the standpoint of inner experience. We
can assign a determinate tenseless temporal order to our inner states,
but we are able to do this only by appeal to the existence of physical
objects that are not essentially tensed in the same way that mental states
are.
Now it is important to note at this stage that external objects are
privileged in the determination of the temporal order of events (includ-
ing mental events) because they are public objects. Failure to appreciate
the fact that external objects must be understood as public objects has
seriously undermined some discussions of the Refutation. Thus, C. D.
Broad argues that the external objects together with the spaces to which
they belong which we perceive are something private and dependent on
the mind of the individual percipient.±± But it is only once one realizes
°
The argument against idealism
that external objects cannot be private objects precisely because they are
external objects that the signi¬cance of external objects in providing an
independent standard for determining the temporal order of our beliefs
becomes apparent.Whatever external objects may turn out to be, it is
their very externality from the contingent order of succession of states in
my or your consciousness that makes them an appropriate basis for
assigning a temporal order to my or your states. For it is their very
externality to my or your consciousness that makes them capable of
providing independent con¬rmation or discon¬rmation of the temporal
order that each of us subjectively assigns to our individual states and
thus gives sense to such a subjective order in the ¬rst place.

    ¬   ¦ ©   ¤ ©    © ®      § µ  ®
The Refutation of Idealism is, in many respects, a revision of the
argument articulated against skepticism about the external world in the
Fourth Paralogism in the ¬rst edition of the Critique. There, Kant also
attempts to show that we have an immediate experience of the external
world, as he does in the Refutation: ˜˜that is, the consciousness of my
own existence is also an immediate consciousness of the existence of
other things outside of me™™ ( ·). But, after this, the argument diverges
substantially. For in the ¬rst edition Fourth Paralogism, Kant is content
to argue for this immediacy on the basis of the fact that external objects
are objects represented by me immediately in my outer sense, just as my
inner states are immediately represented to me through my inner sense
( ·±). In the new argument in the Refutation, by contrast, my con-
sciousness of my inner states turns out to be mediated by a consciousness
of objects outside of me. And these objects outside of me are precisely
not mere representeds, as the argument in the ¬rst edition had main-
tained.± The argument attempts to establish that one™s consciousness of
one™s own existence is coupled to an immediate consciousness of things
which are distinct from it.±
Although it is clear that Kant wants to claim that outer objects are
supposed to be experienced directly, it is less clear if one has any direct
consciousness of the objects of one™s ˜˜inner time-consciousness.™™ The
evidence on this issue is somewhat ambiguous. In private notes devoted
to rethinking his argument, Kant claims that ˜˜empirical consciousness
of myself, which constitutes inner sense by no means occurs immediate-
ly™™ (Re¬‚ection µµ, Ak. ©©©, p. °). But this does not really settle the
question of whether one has immediate knowledge of the objects of
° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
inner experience. The process of introspection may in some sense be
mediated by its relation to external objects while still providing one with
non-inferential knowledge of one™s inner states. This possibility seems to
have been overlooked by Guyer, who cites the Re¬‚ection as evidence
against the immediacy of inner experience.± In the Refutation, Kant
states that ˜˜inner experience is itself only mediate and possible through
external™™ experience ( ··). But there is no evidence that he wants to
suggest that our knowledge of inner experience is therefore purely
inferential, as Guyer suggests that he does.
It would appear that, for Kant, the non-immediacy characteristic of
my empirical self-consciousness is a function of its mediation by con-
sciousness of objects outside of me. The claim that all inner experience
is parasitic on outer experience might be taken to mean that all inner
experience is also at the same time an experience of something outer,
or it might mean something weaker. It might, for instance, mean only
that inner experience somehow presupposes outer experience.±µ Kant
needs the stronger claim that any determinate consciousness or belief
about something temporal must involve a consciousness of something
spatial. This is the full import of his thesis that ˜˜the representations of
external senses make up the actual content of inner sense with which we
occupy the mind™™ ( ·). On the other hand, it is also true that any
consciousness of something outside of me is also a consciousness of
something that is present to my consciousness and hence a part of my
inner experience.
Kant would hardly deny that our experience of objects in space is
itself mediated by consciousness of inner states. For according to him,
objects in space are only in time in virtue of their relation to our inner
states. Without the mediation of our time-consciousness one could not
even experience objects as persistent through changes in their states.
There would not be any changes in state there to be experienced in the
¬rst place. At best, Kant can sustain the claim that while our conscious-
ness of inner and outer objects are mutually dependent, such mutual
dependence does not preclude immediacy of awareness.
The asymmetry with respect to the immediacy claim must be be-
tween the way judgments about inner states and about outer states is to
be justi¬ed. As knowledge that is expressible in a judgment, our knowl-
edge of the external world is propositional, but it is also the non-
inferential articulation of what we immediately perceive and hence
involves direct apprehension. Immediate knowledge of the external
°µ
The argument against idealism
world thus has features of both immediate propositional knowledge and
of direct apprehension. Now judgments about inner states can only be
justi¬ed by appeal to knowledge of outer states. By contrast, judgments
about outer states could be justi¬ed even if we did not have any
self-knowledge at all, although it would be impossible to have any
knowledge of outer states without some consciousness of our inner
states. For outer states are only (successive) temporal states in virtue of
their relation to inner states.
The claim that all knowledge of inner states is parasitic on knowledge
of outer states has some strong support in Kant™s position. Remember
that the application of categories is supposed to make objective claims
about spatio-temporal events possible. Now there is strong evidence that
Kant restricts the direct application of the categories to the spatial
objects of outer sense ( ±¬.).± This restriction requires that all mental
events have corresponding physical states. While Kant does not seem to
believe that mental events must have corresponding physical states, he
does believe that we can have no experience of mental states that do not
have corresponding physical states. The very conditions governing
ascription of mental states collapse in the case of disembodied souls. We
cannot really make sense of the representational states involved in the
praxis of disembodied souls, since the conditions governing our ascrip-
tions of content do not hold with respect to them. We do not have any
self-knowledge at all which does not also include knowledge of objects in
space.±·
Despite the emphasis Kant puts on immediacy of representation in
the Refutation, Guyer has argued that the proof for ˜˜the immediate
consciousness of the existence of external things™™ and the proof ˜˜that
external experience is immediate™™ ( ·“··n) cannot be taken serious-
ly. This is supposedly because Kant does not appeal to any premise
involving immediacy in his argument.± Kant does claim that the im-
mediate consciousness of things outside us is not assumed, but proven (
··n). Guyer suggests that there is no premise entailing immediacy
available to Kant.± In part, Guyer™s claim is based on Kant™s alleged
commitment to a premise that is undeniably to be found in the ¬rst
edition, that one only has immediate consciousness of one™s representa-
tions.° This thesis may be found in the Fourth Paralogism in the ¬rst
edition ( ·±). However, Guyer o¬ers no argument to show that Kant
retained commitment to this particular immediacy thesis in the second
edition. The Refutation of Idealism seems, rather, to be based on
° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
rejecting the restriction of immediate awareness to representings that
formed the cornerstone of the argument against idealism in the ¬rst
edition of the Fourth Paralogism.
The natural reading of the immediacy claim in the Refutation is that
our knowledge of external objects (rather than knowledge of our repre-
sentings) must be immediate if it is to justify claims of self-knowledge.
Guyer maintains that this cannot be the case because claims to knowl-
edge of external objects will be justi¬ed in many cases by appeal to
putative instances of self-knowledge.± Now it is true that putative
instances of self-knowledge could provide inductive support for some
knowledge claim about external objects. But this self-knowledge will
itself always presuppose some knowledge of external objects. Apart from
such potential dependence of certain knowledge claims about external
objects on claims to self-knowledge, there does not seem to be any
reason to attribute to Kant the view that self-knowledge per se ever
provides a basis for con¬rming or discon¬rming knowledge claims
about external objects.
Guyer asserts that only if claims concerning self-knowledge and
knowledge of outer objects are on a par can the argument of the
Refutation be saved from circularity. Causal knowledge must be derived
from induction on subjective successions while knowledge of subjective
succession depends on knowledge of causal laws. The worry of circu-
larity that Guyer raises against Kant disappears once one recognizes the
possibility of direct awareness of subjective succession. And so it does
not seem necessary to go to the expedient of appealing to our knowledge
of external causes to account for our being able to justify our beliefs
about our inner states. But, given Guyer™s interpretation of time-con-
sciousness, it is not surprising that the argument which Guyer views as
an appropriate substitute for an argument from an immediate con-
sciousness of things outside of me is based on inferential causal knowl-
edge of objects outside of us. This is, however, a singularly unpromis-
ing line of attack. In giving up the immediacy premise, Guyer winds up
attributing to Kant and defending a version of precisely the kind of
idealism Kant o¬cially sets out to refute! In diagnosing the position of
˜˜problematic idealism,™™ that he wishes to reject, Kant notes that the
˜˜problematic idealist™™ assumed that:

the only immediate experience is an inner one, and that one merely infers the
existence of external things from it, and that, as in general, when one infers
determinate [speci¬c] causes from given e¬ects, [this is] undependable, because
°·
The argument against idealism
the cause of the representations, which we perhaps falsely attribute to external
things, may lie in us ourselves. ( ·)

Any judgment to the e¬ect that a certain causal relationship holds
between the objects of our beliefs and those beliefs themselves seems to be
open to skeptical attack. If all we know are the e¬ects of a certain causal
connection, our belief that those e¬ects are the result of a certain kind of
cause is itself always open to skeptical doubt. A di¬erent set of causes than
the ones which we hold to be the source of our beliefs might in fact turn out
to be their true source. Something we believe to have a cause outside of us
may turn out to have a cause inside of us. The criticism of causal
explanation as a basis for belief in the external world is also echoed in later
Re¬‚ections, as well as in the Fourth Paralogism of the ¬rst edition
(Re¬‚ection µµ, Ak. ©©©, p. ±;  ). So this is one of the few points
that remain unchanged in Kant™s arguments against idealism.
The Refutation does not rule out the possibility that one has a direct
experience of objects outside of one based on one™s causal relations to
those objects. Kant™s worry about skeptical doubt concerns the postula-
tion of particular causes as explananda for our representations. On the
other hand, he is committed to the Humean idea that causal connection is
imperceptible ( ±/ ±··). The imperceptible character of causal
connection makes it di¬cult to see how we could have immediate
(non-inferential) knowledge of causal relations in any sense. And Guyer
does interpret the fact that ˜we can only know our existence in time in
commercio™ (Re¬‚ection ±±, Ak. ©©©, p. ±) to mean ˜˜that we must

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