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perceive our bodies in causal interaction with the other bodies we use for
time-determination.™™ It is rather odd to base the argument of the
Refutation on a premise that Kant not only never states but also explicitly
denies in the Schematism which is supposed to lay the groundwork for his
theory of time-determination: ˜˜no one will say that this [category], for
instance causality, can be intuited through the senses and is contained in
appearance™™ ( ±··/ ±). Another, I think more plausible, reading of
Kant™s claim, is that our inner experiences must be causally connected to
our bodies. And our bodies are in turn, of course, causally connected to
other bodies. Causal interaction immediately links our representations
and objects outside of us, but the causal link in question is not something
that we perceive. We have an immediate perception of objects outside of
us because we interact causally with them. But our knowledge of the
causal relation is inferential and part of a global systematization of nature,
whereas our knowledge of the perceptual object is immediate.
° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness

     ¦ µ   © ® ® ¤   © ® §  µ  © ¤  ¦ µ  © ®  
 ®  ® ¤® ¬  ® 
Eckart Forster maintains that, by arguing that the determination of my
¨
existence in time is possible only through a thing outside me and not
through the mere representation of a thing outside me, Kant refutes not
only Cartesian idealism, but also his own transcendental idealism, since
the latter requires ˜˜that what we call outer objects are nothing but mere
representations of our sensibility™™ ( °/ µ, my italics). Forster concludes
¨
that either the Refutation of Idealism refutes Kant™s own transcendental
idealism, or it fails to refute idealism at all.µ The objection fails to take
account of the two di¬erent senses of the expression ˜˜external™™ that
Kant works with. In the Fourth Paralogism, Kant notes that ˜˜the
expression outside of us carries with it an unavoidable ambiguity, in that it
sometimes means something that exists distinguished [by us] from us as
a thing in itself and sometimes means that which belongs to external
appearance™™ ( ·). The ambiguity in the notion of externality carries
over to the notion of internality. The distinction between appearances
and things in themselves itself turns out to be ambiguous in a manner
that is analogous to the ambiguity in the inner“outer distinction. For we
can draw a distinction between appearances and things in themselves
within experience. In this case the distinction between appearances and
things in themselves corresponds to the distinction between what is
inner to experience, in the sense of what is part of an individual point of
view, and what is outer, in the sense of what is external to an individual
point of view. But we can also draw a distinction between appearances
and things in themselves in which anything belonging to our experience
(including what is external to individual points of view) is an appear-
ance, and anything which is completely external to experience is a thing
as it exists in itself.
Thus, both the inner“outer distinction and the distinction between
appearances and things in themselves are ambiguous. There is a distinc-
tion to be drawn within experience between the private and the public,
and a distinction between what is public, but nevertheless dependent on
the way we must together experience the world, and the way the world is
independently of being experienced by us. The distinction between
appearances and things in themselves within experience is an empirical
distinction, while the transcendental distinction concerns the relation of
experience to what is outside of experience itself.
Kant™s response to Cartesian idealism in the Refutation is based on
°
The argument against idealism
an empirical understanding of ˜˜external.™™ Transcendental idealism is
committed to denying that external objects as represented in the empiri-
cal sense are external to us in the transcendental sense. The context of 
°/ µ in which he stresses his thesis that what is external to us in the
spatial sense is not as such a thing in itself indicates that he is concerned
with what is ˜˜outer™™ in the empirical sense.
In fairness to Forster, an argument against idealism in the empirical
¨
sense does not address the question of whether the external world might
not turn out to be the representation of an individual mind after all,
once we move to the level of transcendental re¬‚ection. But, on the
other hand, the thesis that consciousness of oneself in time presupposes
the existence of things in themselves existing outside of that self-con-
sciousness in a transcendental sense, is not only compatible with Kant™s
transcendental idealism, it can even make a distinctive contribution to
the ultimate success of his argument against skeptical idealism. For,
without a defense of the existence of radically mind-independent things
in themselves, the problem posed by skepticism seems to be merely
pushed back a stage.
Some commentators have inferred that objects outside of us must be
things in themselves because they are not objects existing purely in my
private space. This is clearly the wrong reason for inferring that they
must be things in themselves.· Kant™s thesis that objects in space are
transcendentally ideal, and not transcendentally real as things in them-
selves would have to be, means that, at the very least, the same object
cannot be transcendentally ideal and transcendentally real under the
same description. But it need not mean that the object cannot exist both
independently of us in the spatial sense and in a much more radical
sense. Under a spatial description, it may turn out to be dependent on
our subjectivity, while it may turn out to be completely independent of
our subjectivity under some other description.
The Refutation of Idealism makes no explicit reference to things as
they exist in themselves, and the passage at  ¬© that I have already
quoted makes it quite clear that Kant thinks of the objects outside of us
that are required for inner experience as themselves belonging to
experience. They cannot be things in themselves in the transcendental
sense of the term. However, in later re¬‚ections concerning the problem-
atic of the Refutation, Kant does try to argue that inner experience is
tied to the existence of things in themselves in the transcendental sense.
These are thoughts he put to paper in response to queries by Kiesewet-
ter. In meditations dating from the ±·°s, he argues that the transcen-
±° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
dental ideality of objects provides the basis for a refutation of skepticism
concerning the existence of things in themselves. To the extent that he
can make this claim stick, he has a compelling response to those who
claim that he has simply given the game of responding to skepticism
away by restricting his knowledge claims to appearances.
The idea that our knowledge of the independent existence of ap-
pearances should somehow be linked to some consciousness of things as
they exist in themselves independently of the conditions governing our
knowledge should not be a surprising one when viewed from the
perspective of a dual-aspect interpretation of transcendental idealism.
According to the dual-aspect interpretation, appearances and things in
themselves are two di¬erent descriptions of the same things. To describe
something as it is in itself is, of course, to describe it in more fundamental
terms than the way it must appear to us spatio-temporally, but these are
nevertheless two distinct ways of describing something. In order to
provide an adequate response to skepticism, a refutation of idealism
must at least prove that I have knowledge that things exist in themselves
outside of my mind. Now the Refutation is successful at making good on
this demand at the empirical level. Objects outside of me in space are
genuinely outside of my mind, as my mind must appear to me. How-
ever, it might still be argued that there could be no objects that are
independent of my individual mind, as it is in itself.
In the ±·°s, Kant tries to address this worry, by showing that we do
have a kind of knowledge that there are radically mind-independent
objects, although we cannot know how we should describe such objects.
This does not violate critical strictures on knowledge of things as they
are in themselves. Indeed, Kant regards knowledge that things in
themselves exist as transcendental knowledge. It is not knowledge of the
nature of those things as they exist in themselves. Such knowledge would
be transcendent knowledge for him. The notion of a thing in itself must
be intelligible, and hence representable by us in some very minimal and
negative sense if we are to make sense of the distinction between
appearances and things in themselves. Otherwise this is a distinction
without a di¬erence, and transcendental idealism collapses into tran-
scendental realism.
In general, Kant does not commit himself to the non-representable
character of things in themselves, but rather to their being unknowable
according to the canons of theoretical knowledge. This leaves room for
an immediate relation to things in themselves so long as this awareness is
not interpreted as full-blown theoretical knowledge. Such knowledge
±±
The argument against idealism
that there are things in themselves cannot entail substantive knowledge
of the nature of those things in themselves. It does, however, commit
one to a form of negative theology; one knows, for instance, that things
in themselves cannot be spatio-temporal objects when conceived in
themselves. To a¬rm the impossibility of treating objects in space as
available under some non-spatio-temporal description is just to deny the
legitimacy of the double-aspect approach to transcendental idealism in
favor of some form of double-object theory. Even some interpreters who
have advocated a double-object approach have also argued that the
Refutation requires reference to things in themselves.
Kant maintains that representations of objects in space are only
possible to the extent that there is some thing in itself to which we are in
a ˜˜real™™ relation:

But if it is shown that the determination of our own existence in time presup-
poses the representation of space in order even to represent to oneself the
relation of the determinations of inner intuition to a constant object :zum
bleibenden Objekt9 . . . then external objects can be secured a reality (as things in
themselves) precisely through one™s not taking their intuition as that of a thing
in itself; for if it [the intuition of space] were of such [a thing in itself ] and the
form of intuition were the form of a thing, (which) were to belong to it [that
thing] in itself even without the particular character of our subject, then it
would be possible that we would have the representation of such a thing
without that thing existing. However there is a particular kind of intuition in us
which cannot represent what is in us, hence what exists in the change of time
:Zeitwechsel9, since it would then be thinkable in the mere representation of
temporal relations, therefore such a representation must subsist in the real
relation :wirklicher Beziehung9 to an object outside of us and space really
means something which in being represented in this form of intuition is only
possible through the relation to a real thing outside of us. “ Therefore Refuta-
tion of skepticism. Idealism. Spinozism. also of materialism, predetermin-
ism. (Re¬‚ection ±·, Ak. ©©©, pp. ·“)

We cannot have a representation of a spatial object without that object
somehow existing outside of our spatial intuition. The thing in itself is
represented by us as a real object in space, although, in fact, it is also in a
real relation to the subject that cannot be spatio-temporal in character.
The suggestion is that metaphysical or transcendental realism is false.
Metaphysical realism insists that our beliefs about the world may be
completely false, since the objects of our beliefs are completely indepen-
dent of our beliefs. The complete independence of the world from our
beliefs opens up the prospect of skepticism. There is no way for us
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
decisively to determine from the nature of our beliefs whether they are
radically misguided or not.
The re¬‚ection o¬ers some indications as to how skepticism about the
external world may be refuted. We must reject the assumption that we
could have spatial representations of objects divorced from real relations
to objects existing outside of our subjectivity. Kant does not leave it at
this petitio principii. He also attempts to o¬er a vestige of an argument for
the rejection of this assumption. The argument turns on the distinction
between the representation of a spatial and the representation of a
temporal relation. The key premise of the argument is that a spatial
representation cannot be a representation of what is in us or of the
passage of time, ˜˜Zeitwechsel.™™ This appears to be another petitio. We
want precisely to establish that we have a representation of something
that is truly outside of us. We need to demonstrate that space is not
merely a representation of inner experience. If space turns out to be a
representation of inner experience and inner experience is essentially
temporal, then our representation of objects in space would also involve
a representation of a passage of time.
Fortunately, Kant o¬ers a sketch of how the distinction between the
faculty of representing things temporally and the faculty of representing
things spatially might be justi¬ed. The argument would have to rest on a
proof of the conditional with which he begins the re¬‚ection. One would
have to show that temporal relations can only be established by appeal
to some persistent object in space that is not essentially temporal.
Objects given to us a priori through our temporal representation are by
de¬nition essentially temporal. One must show that consciousness of
temporal relations is parasitic on consciousness of objects in space that
are not essentially temporal. Then one may argue with some conviction
that it is only in virtue of a mode of givenness of objects that is
independent of the essential temporality of inner experience that we can
experience temporal relations at all. Our consciousness of objects of
inner sense, and indeed of inner sense itself, will turn out to be parasitic
on the existence of the spatial objects of outer sense. Kant insists that
both an intellectual consciousness of things outside of me and a determi-
nation of those things in space must co-occur with the determination of
my existence in time. In making this claim, he links empirical self-
consciousness to an immediate consciousness of things outside of one in
both the transcendental and empirical senses.
Emphasis on the immediate givenness of one™s existence through a
purely intellectual self-consciousness leads Kant to fall back on his old
±
The argument against idealism
term for intellectual self-consciousness. In Re¬‚ection µµ, the con-
sciousness of things outside of me is referred to as an ˜˜intellectual
intuition,™™ where this intellectual intuition provides one with ˜˜no knowl-
edge of things.™™ The immediacy of existence provided by the act of
self-consciousness had suggested the notion of an ˜˜intellectual intuition™™
to him in the seventies. Kant now endeavors to link this immediacy of
existence not only to an event in time, but also to the immediate
consciousness of something in space outside of me. He insists however
that from this immediate consciousness ˜˜I [know] my own empirically
determined existence no more than that of things outside of me (which,
what they are in themselves I do not know)™™ (Re¬‚ection µµ, Ak. ©©©,
p. °).
Kant maintains that the immediacy in our consciousness of external
things is the basis upon which such an interpretation must build. But,
according to Guyer, the mere occurrence of intuitions with either temporal
properties or even the phenomenological form of spatiality is not itself
su¬cient to provide even a representation of the temporal relations of
these representations, so that questions of immediacy or mediation arise
only once we have interpreted spatial and temporal experience.° It is, of
course, true that the discussion of the status of consciousness as immediate
or inferential is a topic of more abstract re¬‚ection, but this is not because
representations only represent when they are interpreted or judged. For
Kant clearly does not think that representations need to involve inference
in order to be represented at all.± In fact, he pushes a point that is quite
di¬erent from the point that Guyer derives from the passage.
Kant argues that we have an immediate and, hence, non-inferential
consciousness of ourselves as passive beings, as beings to whom data is
merely given. This is his justi¬cation for the claim that space cannot be
within me. The assumption is that anything in me is a function of my
spontaneity. Without an immediate consciousness of oneself as a passive
being, one could not even represent things as being outside of oneself.
Although the concepts of passivity/receptivity and activity/spontaneity
are highly charged technical terms of philosophy, he suggests that they
serve to articulate an immediate experience of the world and, indeed, the
content of one™s own experience as not completely of one™s own making. If
one is a passive being, then there must be things which exist outside of one,
because otherwise one could not even have an inner experience.

The intuition of a thing as outside of me presupposes a determinability of my
subject in which I am not myself the determinator, which therefore does not
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
belong to spontaneity, because the determinator is not in me. And in fact I
cannot think any space as in me. Therefore the possibility of representing things
in space in intuition is grounded on the consciousness of a determination
through other things, which [consciousness] means nothing other than my
Original passivity in which I am not active. That dreams bring about deception
concerning existences outside of me does not demonstrate anything against
this; for external perceptions would have had to precede them at any rate. It is
impossible to get a representation from something outside of me without being
in fact passive. (Re¬‚ection µµ, Ak. ©©©, p. °·)

The refutation of idealism ultimately depends on the idea that con-
sciousness of a mere subject of thought is not enough for representing
anything as genuinely in space and time and, hence, for representing
anything as distinct from space and time themselves. One must be able
to represent some particular as distinct from one™s own subjectivity, if
one is even to represent oneself as a numerically identical particular in
time. Without some other individual that is external to one, one does not
yet have a grip on the numerical distinctness of one™s own identity as a
particular individual.
The link between intelligibility for us and the content of beliefs also
provides some support for a rejection of global skepticism. It undercuts
the obvious objection that we may have concepts and quasi-perceptual
experiences (imaginings) of many things that do not actually exist. It
cannot be that everything that appears to me in perception is actually
there, since there are delusive perceptions. The best that can be hoped
for is an argument against global error together with a framework for
tracking down local error. Our capacity to identify and reidentify
particulars across di¬erent spaces and times, together with our ability to
classify them into sorts, goes a long way to dealing with the problem of
local error. Global error would undermine the conditions under which
we can give representations whatever content they have.
Without the premise that global error is impossible, Kant has no
serious prospects for blocking the claims of subjective idealism. He
argues for the impossibility of global error by appeal to a version of the
principle of charity. In order to take some claim as a judgment one must
be able to make sense of that claim. However, one can only make sense
of a claim against the background of certain other beliefs that one can
also take to be true.
The appeal to some form of the principle of charity gives rise to
another form of idealism however. But the idealism in question is a
conceptual idealism. The governing idea of this conceptual idealism is
±µ
The argument against idealism
that we cannot make sense of the notion of a world that does not
conform to the conditions under which we can apply concepts at all.
Even insistence on the existence of things in themselves does not violate
this principle. Kant thinks that we can conceive of things in themselves
only as objects of an understanding stripped of the conditions governing
sensibility. This is why he often identi¬es things in themselves with
noumena (intelligible objects). Since Kant acknowledges the possibility
of merely imagining the existence of particular external objects “ this
possibility is the topic of the third and ¬nal note to the Refutation “ he
must have some premise that blocks the move from local skepticism
about external objects to global skepticism about their existence. The
intelligibility premise also undercuts skepticism about other minds, since
it calls the skeptic™s assumption that we could be completely wrong in
our ascription of minds to other beings into question.
If self-a¬ection, that is the determination of the content of one™s
experience, were possible completely independently of one™s environ-
ment, then the empirical idealist™s position would be unassailable. Since
inner sense involves self-a¬ection, saying that self-a¬ection is possible
without a¬ection by external objects is another way of saying that an
inner sense is possible without an outer sense. Kant tries to rule out such
a possibility by arguing that it is incompatible with the existence of
consciousness of oneself as a spontaneous being:

If we were only a¬ected by ourselves but without noticing this spontaneity, then
only the form of time would be found in our intuition: and we would not be able
to represent any space to ourselves (an existence outside of us). Empirical
consciousness as a determination of my existence in time would therefore go
around in a circle and presuppose itself “ above all it would be impossible, since
the representation of something persistent would be missing, in which there is
no continuous synthesis as in time. (Re¬‚ection µµ, Ak. ©©©, p. °)

For those who ¬nd the idea that we are spontaneous beings implausible
to begin with, this does not have much bite. In somewhat more general
terms, Kant argues that we cannot make sense of ourselves as inter-
preters of experience without the idea that there is something in experi-
ence that is not up to us. We can only have the representation of our
activity of interpreting, if there is something of which we are also
immediately conscious that we must represent as distinct from this
activity. This is why Kant infers the existence of an immediate con-
sciousness of passivity or receptivity from the existence of an immediate
consciousness of our spontaneity: ˜˜the concept of the mere passivity in a
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
state of representation . . . is not inferred, since we do not perceive in us
the cause of the existence of a perception, yet it is an immediate
perception™™ (Ak. ©©©, pp. °·“°). The immediate consciousness of
our spontaneity is something we can only be aware of if we have an
equally basic consciousness of our receptivity. Once we have a con-
sciousness of our spontaneity we are then in a position to know that
experience of objects in time as a form of inner sense must be connected
to an immediate experience of objects in space. Now it is not altogether
implausible to argue that we have an immediate experience of things
not being up to us, but also of things needing interpretation by us. This
could indeed be argued to be constitutive of our self-consciousness as
¬nite rational beings.
While Kant could have argued for the existence of a fundamental
distinction between what is internal to an individual point of view and
what is external to all of our points of view had he not insisted on a sharp
distinction between the conditions under which objects are intelligible
to us and the conditions under which they are intelligible tout court, it is
signi¬cant that in the end he wants to argue that our very consciousness
of ourselves as experiencers depends on the existence of objects that are
not only publicly and spatially accessible to us, but which are also
radically independent of us.
   °   ± ±

Empirical realism and transcendental idealism




In the last chapter, I explored Kant™s argument that we can only make
sense of claims to self-knowledge if we commit ourselves to the existence
of objects that exist outside of us. Kant identi¬es this realism with
respect to objects that are experienced as outside of us in experience
with empirical realism. More controversially, he argues that the kind of
knowledge of external objects that empirical realism requires, can only
be established by appeal to his doctrine of transcendental idealism. It is
to this doctrine of transcendental idealism that I now turn in closing my
general argument.

 °©  ©   ¬    ¬©    ® ¤    ®    ® ¤ ®   ¬ © ¤ ¬ © 
In the Transcendental Aesthetic, Kant maintains that space and time
are unavoidable representations. He makes the point clearest with
respect to space: ˜˜we cannot represent to ourselves the non-existence of
space.™™ He maintains that the existence of space and time, while not
logically necessary, is necessary to any experience that is intelligible to
us, and necessary to any of our e¬orts to distinguish particular objects.
Kant was inclined to draw far-reaching conclusions from his thesis that
there is a distinctive non-logical and non-conceptual necessity involved
in our capacity to distinguish inner from outer within experience. He
saw the intuitive necessity in question as the basis for distinguishing what
belongs to our experience from the way things are independently of our
experience. This gives rise to what he calls a transcendental distinction
between the inner and the outer, where everything that we experience is
to be regarded as inner relative to what is completely independent of the
sensible pre-conditions governing our experience.
Kant™s conception of transcendental philosophy as an analysis of the

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