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pre-conditions of experience is closely associated with the thesis that we
can know theoretically only what appears to us in accordance with the
±·
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
sensible pre-conditions of experience ( ©). He refers to this thesis as
transcendental idealism, which he also glosses as the claim that objects
of experience are inherently subjective. Here subjective does not mean
private, but rather dependent on absolutely general conditions govern-
ing at least all human experience. Transcendental idealism is the thesis
that ˜˜such properties which belong to things in themselves can never be
given to us through the senses™™ ( / µ), where we are to understand
things in themselves as things in themselves in the transcendental, and
not the empirical sense. Here the senses refers not only to the ¬ve senses,
but also to the a priori forms of our sensibility. This is thus not the
traditional claim of representational realism that we do not perceive the
primary qualities of things, such as mass, force, wavelength, and exten-
sion, while we do perceive secondary qualities such as heaviness,
warmth, color, smell, taste, and sound. The traditional distinction
between secondary and primary qualities corresponds roughly to the
distinction between appearances and things in themselves within experi-
ence, that is to the empirical distinction between appearances and things
in themselves. The transcendental claim is rather that our notion of
mass, wavelength, and force are themselves restricted to the way things
must appear to us. They presuppose the notions of extension, space, and
time, and these notions in turn depend on our a priori forms of
sensibility.
Human beings can have sensory disabilities that make them unable to
experience certain kinds of sensations and hence certain secondary
qualities. The properties that objects have in virtue of being represented
by us in terms of the speci¬c make up of our sensory apparatus are
contingent. They are not representable by all human beings ( “).
The way things appear to us from a certain position in space and time is
also contingent. Thus an appearance in the empirical sense is the way
something looks, tastes, sounds, feels, or is experienced, from a particu-
lar spatio-temporal standpoint. By contrast, the properties that empiri-
cal objects have in themselves are those which ˜˜in universal experience
among all di¬erent positions relative to the senses, are determined thus
and in no other way in intuition™™ ( µ/ ). These standpoint-
independent properties that objects of experience must have for all
observers regardless of their standpoint in space and time are not ones
that can be directly perceived through the senses, since sense perception
is inherently perspectival. Empirical objects regarded in themselves
have a spatial and temporal position that is the same for all observers.
They also have standpoint-independent properties that allow us to
±
Empirical realism and transcendental idealism
locate them in a space and time that is the same for all observers, even
though they appear di¬erently to di¬erent observers depending on the
spatio-temporal standpoint and psycho-physiological make up of those
observers.
The transcendental distinction between appearances and things in
themselves is a distinction we draw between the ways in which we know
objects a priori ( ±/ µ). The only properties of objects that are
available to us are ones that are essentially spatial or temporal. We
would not know what the objects or their properties would be like in
abstraction from space and time. The key thesis of transcendental
idealism is that even the standpoint-independent spatial and temporal
properties and relations that characterize objects of experience are
themselves dependent on the way absolutely all human beings must
experience objects, and have no existence that is independent of the
forms according to which we and creatures relevantly like us must
experience the world. Thus, from a transcendental point of view, even
the seemingly standpoint-independent properties of objects turn out to
be dependent on the standpoint that we must occupy as human experi-
encers. Things taken in themselves in the transcendental sense would by
contrast be things that are radically independent of the way we as
human beings must experience the world.
The claim that space and time are ideal when things are regarded
from the transcendental point of view is a function of the fact that we
represent space and time by means of the forms of our sensibility. Space
and time cannot be represented as features that belong to things when
they are re¬‚ected on by reason alone in abstraction from the sensible
conditions that govern our experience, for our concepts of space and
time are supposed to be parasitic on our capacity to represent objects in
terms of the forms of our sensibility:
Our expositions teach therefore the reality (i.e. the objective validity) of space in
respect to everything that can occur to us as an external object, but also the
ideality of space in respect to things, insofar as they are regarded by reason in
themselves, i.e. without regard to the character of our sensibility. ( )±

The a¬rmation of the reality of space and time with respect to all
objects of our experience, the assertion of what Kant calls their objective
reality, is connected with the denial of their absolute reality. For it is
precisely because space and time are necessary structures of the mind that
spatial and temporal objects must have observer-independent properties
that, in principle, are cognitively accessible to us. To the extent that
° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
objects in space and time are themselves parts of space and time, they
must also be conceived of as objects that cannot be represented by reason
alone. Kant wants to argue that they cannot have absolute reality to the
extent that they cannot be represented by reason alone. If we identify
absolute reality with being an object of reason alone, then we can
understand the thesis that spatio-temporal objects are mere appearances
for us, but are not represented by us as things as they exist in themselves.
But still we are inclined to wonder why we should think that things with
absolute reality can only be objects accessible to reason alone.

 ¤©   §µ ®  ¦   ®  ®¤ ® ¬ © ¤¬ ©
Kant presents the argument for the transcendental ideality of space and
time as a conclusion from the arguments developed in the Metaphysical
Expositions of Space and Time ( “µ/ “°;  °“/ “), as
well as the Transcendental Expositions of Space and Time ( °“±;
“). He thus assumes that once one has accepted these arguments
one will also accept transcendental idealism ( / ;  µ/ µ). It is
in the Conclusions from these Concepts (referring to the concepts of
space and time developed in the Metaphysical Exposition) and the
Transcendental Exposition that Kant explicitly commits himself to the
mere subjectivity of space and time ( / ;  / ).
The Metaphysical Exposition defends Kant™s thesis that space and
time are a priori intuitions, because space and time are immediate and
non-conceptual representations of a form according to which we must
order objects. The Transcendental Exposition is an addition of the
second edition which shifts the discussion of geometry out of the Meta-
physical Exposition, develops it in more detail, and articulates the
dependence of change and hence the laws of motion on the structure of
time.
Kant articulates his worries about the legitimacy of the idea that
space and time might exist completely independently of the mind by
attacking the absolute and relational theories of space and time as
incoherent. Following Clarke™s exposition of the absolute theory in his
famous exchange with Leibniz on the nature of space and time, Kant
takes the adherent of an absolute theory of space and time to regard
space and time as properties of things in themselves (in Clarke™s theory,
properties of God), whereas, for the relationalist, space and time are
relations between things in themselves. From the premise derived from
the Metaphysical Exposition that space is an a priori intuition, together
±
Empirical realism and transcendental idealism
with the premise that one cannot intuit determinations a priori and
hence prior to the existence of things in themselves, Kant then infers
that space is not an absolute or relative determination applying to things
as they are in themselves and thus, by implication, that neither the
absolute nor the relational theory of space could be true.

Space does not represent any property of things in themselves, nor does it
represent them in their relation to one another. That is, space does not
represent any determination that attaches to the objects themselves, and which
remains even when abstraction has been made from all the subjective condi-
tions of intuition. For no determinations, whether absolute or relative, can be
intuited prior to the existence of things to which they belong, and none can be
intuited a priori. ( / µ)

The expression ˜˜for™™ in the ¬nal sentence indicates that the claim
that one cannot intuit a priori determinations prior to the existence of
things is being appealed to as a premise in the argument. The non-
spatiality of things in themselves is supposed to follow from the nature of
space as an a priori intuition. Kant seems to place weight on the idea
that neither space nor time could be properties or relations that depend
for their existence on things in themselves. He talks of them as being
determinations that cannot be ˜˜fastened™™ (˜˜anhaften™™  / ) or
˜˜attached™™ (˜˜anhangen™™  / ) to things in themselves. The impli-
¨
cation is that space and time cannot be a priori conditions while also
being properties or relations that owe their existence to the things in
themselves that have them. For Kant™s notion of the a priori requires
that these properties or relations be necessary to all of the objects that
have them. Clarke would not have wanted to say that space or time are
necessary properties of God, and Leibniz would not have wanted to say
that space or time are necessary relations of the things which induce
them. This argument thus has some historical force. Kant also antici-
pates the possibility of thinking of time as something that exists for itself,
but rejects this possibility because he thinks that time cannot be an
object in its own right and so would have to be real without any real
object ( / ). This seems to be based on the then universally held,
but now widely rejected, assumption that time could not be a kind of
thing or object with dynamic properties of its own.
Even if one accepts the arguments of the Metaphysical Exposition,
one is entitled to be skeptical of the premise that one cannot represent
absolute or relative determinations of things in themselves prior to the
existence of those things. Kant™s claim that one cannot intuit determina-
 Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
tions prior to the existence of things seems to rule out an a priori
intuition of the structure that any objects have. It thus seems to preclude
us from having an a priori intuition of objects that we experience
(appearances) as well. Since logical priority is part of the meaning of
being a priori, a priori intuition must involve an immediate representa-
tion of objects that is logically prior to the existence of those objects.
Kant must mean that a thing that has properties or relations that we can
intuit a priori would not be a thing in the absolute sense. It would not be
fully independent of the mind.
Kant™s line of thought seems to go as follows: things as they exist in
themselves, in principle, could have spatio-temporal features that are
necessary to either their possible or their actual existence. But they
would not have such features in virtue of being represented by us
according to a certain intuitive form. An intuitive form is distinguishable
from a logical form precisely because its non-existence entails no contra-
diction. This is why we cannot prove that there cannot be other forms of
intuition than the ones which human beings must have ( ·). Since
there is no contradiction in the non-existence of a form of intuition, its
existence is metaphysically contingent. This metaphysical contingency
of our form of intuition is connected with its capacity to present us with
objects that actually exist, as opposed to mere conceptual connections.
Something whose very existence depends on the contingent fact that
there are representers like us who must represent the world in a certain
way cannot be a thing which exists in itself because it cannot be a fully
independent thing. It is, rather, an essentially relational thing which
cannot exist independently of being representable by us. Spatio-tem-
poral properties are essentially relational in the sense that we cannot
form a concept of them independently of the way objects must intuitively
appear to us. One might object that, while some objects may be necessar-
ily spatio-temporal in the sense of being objects of a priori intuition,
this need not preclude other objects from being spatio-temporal in the
sense that they fall under concepts of space and time. But to a¬rm this
possibility would be just to deny Kant™s claim that our concepts of
space and time necessarily depend on a priori intuition. The only
concepts of space and time which we have are ones that are (putatively)
based on a priori intuition. There are then no concepts of spaces and
times in terms of which we could make sense of spaces and times that
are completely independent of us. Thus we cannot make sense of
spaces and times which conform to the way things appear to us only
contingently.

Empirical realism and transcendental idealism
The argument for transcendental idealism in the Transcendental
Exposition provides support for this reading. From the assumption that
we have a priori knowledge of geometry, it is inferred the objects of
geometry are necessarily mind-dependent ( ). For it is said that an
external intuition that precedes its object can only belong to the mind
and determine the concept of an object a priori, if it exists only in the
subject. Kant demands that this intuition be the formal condition for
being a¬ected by objects and thus an immediate representation of them. The
same argument is developed more explicitly at the end of the Transcen-
dental Aesthetic in section  ( ¬./ ¬.). First Kant argues that
geometry is synthetic. He notes that no purely conceptual analysis can
show the impossibility of a closed geometric ¬gure which consists of two
straight lines. He insists, more tendentiously, that for this one has to go
to intuition. Such intuition must be a priori if it is to justify propositions
that are necessary and strictly general. He then argues that geometry
can only be regarded as objective, as applying to the objects of geometry
in themselves, if these objects cannot also exist independently of being
intuited by us. The only way we have (according to Kant) of represen-
ting the objects of geometry is by means of the particular form of
externality which forces itself upon us. This form of externality is
assumed by him to be Euclidean and three-dimensional in structure,
although this assumption depends on his views about the possibility of
constructing mathematical objects in space. The key assumption, how-
ever, is that the only representation one could have of objects with
spatial (or temporal) properties is the one which is provided by a priori
intuition. Kant was convinced that, if the objects which we know as thus
and such with necessity and strict generality could exist in abstraction
from the conditions imposed on them by our experience, then all our
claims to make objective assertions about these objects are in doubt.

Now if a faculty of intuiting a priori did not lie in you; if this subjective condition
were not also as regards its form the general condition a priori under which
alone an object of this (external) intuition is possible; if the object (the triangle)
were something in itself without relation to your subject: how could you say that
what lies necessarily in the subjective conditions for constructing a triangle,
must also apply to the triangle itself? ( /  µ)

Only by taking space and time to be inherently subjective can we be
certain that the claims that we make on the basis of how possible objects
must appear to us spatio-temporally are in fact objectively true of
spatio-temporal objects. It might be thought that Kant™s claims depend
 Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
on the general nature of necessity claims. This is the way Kant™s
argument is understood by Paul Guyer with whose reconstruction I am
otherwise in considerable sympathy. But then the implication would
seem to be that the notion of a mind-independent object would be either
completely vacuous or incoherent. For any conceivable object must
conform to the demands of logic. This possibility can be avoided if we
take the argument to depend on the kind of non-logical necessity
provided by intuition.

  ® ¤ ¬  ®  µ  § ¬   °  ¬
There appears to be a gap in Kant™s argument, generally known as the
Trendelenburg loophole after the nineteenth-century German philos-
opher who ¬rst brought it to the general consciousness of the philosophi-
cal public. It is not obvious why objects as they are intuited by us
spatially and temporally cannot correspond to things in themselves that
are themselves spatio-temporal. Henry Allison has done the most to
rehabilitate Kant™s transcendental idealism and is responsible for re-
vived interest in the Trendelenburg loophole. Allison appeals to his
principle of formal idealism as the key to Kant™s argument against the
possibility that the absolute or relational theories of space and time can
account for the function of space and time as forms or conditions of
human experience.µ The purported principle of formal idealism forms
the basis for what Allison takes to be Kant™s strategy for dealing with
Newton™s and Clarke™s theories of absolute space and time as well as
Leibniz™s relational theory of absolute space and time: ˜˜regarding space
as an ontological condition (is) incompatible with also regarding it as an
epistemic condition.™™
However, in fairness to Allison, his speci¬c argument for the tran-
scendental ideality of space and time is supposed to depend on a priori
conditions of the mind which are distinctively sensible. In transcenden-
tal re¬‚ection, we may think of something in terms of the forms according
to which objects are given to us (the forms of our sensibility), or in terms
of the forms according to which we must interpret objects (the forms of
our thought). Something which merely appears to us is something which
we represent according to the forms of our sensibility, whereas some-
thing which exists in itself is something which can be understood
without reference to the forms of our sensibility. Unfortunately, when
Allison tries to close Trendelenburg™s loophole, he uses the general
notion of a form of representation. The speci¬cally sensible or intuitive
µ
Empirical realism and transcendental idealism
character of our representation of space and time plays no obvious role
in his argument.
There may be things that are logically possible, which we cannot
make sense of in terms of the speci¬c ways in which objects are given to
us by our forms of sensibility. This raises the question whether some-
thing which we represent according to our forms of sensibility cannot
also be understood without reference to those forms of sensibility.
Allison considers two possibilities. There might be objects that are
independent of our forms of sensibility but numerically identical with
the objects which must conform to the a priori forms of our sensibility.
Alternatively, there might be objects that are qualitatively, but not
numerically, identical with the objects which must conform to our forms
of sensibility. Allison dismisses the possibility that space or time might be
numerically identical with what is independent of the mind, although
the double-aspect view of transcendental idealism, which he defends,
requires that one and the same thing be available under radically
di¬erent aspects or descriptions, indeed as a mere appearance and as
something that may be represented as it is in itself. He then argues that it
would be incoherent or at least utterly vacuous to maintain that mind-
dependent features could be qualitatively identical with mind-indepen-
dent features of things. Since the notion of space and time as forms of
intuition entails that what exists in these forms is something represented
or mind-dependent, the notion of things in themselves having intuition-
independent and hence mind-independent features is meaningless.·
Unfortunately, this line of thought would seem to lead one to a form of
solipsistic phenomenalism that is inconsistent with Kant™s empirical
realism. For we could raise the same objection with respect to any
purportedly mind-independent features. Allison could appeal for sup-
port to a remark from Kant in which he distances himself from Ber-
keley™s idealism:

I should be glad to know what my assertions must be in order to avoid all
idealism. Undoubtedly, I should say that the representation of space is not only
conformable to the relation which our sensibility has to objects “ that I have
said “ but that it is completely like the object “ an assertion in which I can ¬nd
no meaning anymore than if I had said that the sensation of red has a similarity
to the property of cinnabar which excites this sensation in me. (Prolegomena, Ak.
©, section ±, pp. “°)

Kant is assuming the thesis of representational realism that empirical
objects (objects as they are to be regarded in themselves from the
 Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
empirical standpoint) are not colored. Colors are mind-dependent sec-
ondary qualities, to which there are corresponding dispositional pri-
mary qualities in physical objects. The analogy to the relation between
primary and secondary qualities to which Kant himself appeals in
rejecting any relation of similarity between space and its objects suggests
a plausible alternative account of the relation between space and time as
features of things in themselves and space and time as forms of what is
represented. The sensation of red and cinnabar are not similar with
respect to the predicate red according to Kant. While the distinction
between primary and secondary qualities does not strictly preserve
qualitative identity, it does provide us with an analogical use of predi-
cates which is neither vacuous nor incoherent. For we can speak of a red
sensation, and a red sample of cinnabar, even though the sensation is
not red in the same sense that the cinnabar is. It is di¬cult to understand
how there could be a coherent use of analogical predicates across the
empirical distinction between appearances and things in themselves
while the use of analogy across the transcendental distinction would be
illicit. Thus this passage gives some support to Allison™s reading of Kant,
but not to the substantive claim he wants to make.
There is a deeper di¬culty with Allison™s general line of argument, as
well. For it rules out the possibility that things in themselves could be
grasped in purely conceptual terms as well as in terms of our intuitions of
spatio-temporal objects. If it never makes sense to say that an object can
have the same features when represented as when it is understood in
abstraction from being represented, then the whole notion of a thing as
it is in itself threatens to become incoherent. Thus we could say, if space
and time are forms of what is represented in intuition, things in them-
selves cannot coherently be represented spatio-temporally. But this
would only be because things in themselves cannot be coherently
represented at all. For this would be to represent something via a form of
representing that is de¬ned as independent of any form of representing.
What is missing in Allison™s account is a way of distinguishing the
necessary mind-dependentness of objects subject to our forms of intu-
ition from the mind-independence of objects that are subject only to
forms of understanding. He tries to provide such an account by distin-
guishing logic from epistemic conditions, but the consequence of that
view seems to be that we then have no representation of a thing in itself
at all.
More recently, Allison has come to accept much of the force of this
objection to his position. While he earlier rejected Jill Buroker™s
·
Empirical realism and transcendental idealism
argument for transcendental idealism from right- and left-handed ob-
jects (incongruent counterparts) as the basis of Kant™s idealism, he now
concedes that a generalized version of this idea is just what Kant needs.
For he now argues that something like Lorne Falkenstein™s distinction
between a presentational order for spatial and temporal properties of
the kind provided by intuition and a comparative order for properties
that can be grasped purely conceptually would be required in order to
establish Kant™s point that there is a sharp distinction between ap-
pearances and things in themselves.±°
Falkenstein argues that if space and time were properties or relations
of things as they exist in themselves, they would have to be based on a
comparative order of internal properties such as that characteristic of
the quality ˜˜space™™ of our sensations rather than the presentational
order which Kant believes to be characteristic of the form of objects
represented by us spatially (and temporally). The notion of a thing in
itself is taken to be de¬ned as allowing only relational properties that are
reducible to non-relational properties. Objects that appear to us spatio-
temporally would be the kind of objects that we must grasp in terms of
an essentially relational, comparative order (right, left, earlier, later),
while things in themselves would be the kind of things that can be
grasped in a non-relational, purely conceptual manner.
Such a view seems clearly to have played a role in Kant™s transcen-
dental idealism, as his appeal to incongruent counterparts in support of
his idealism indicates.±± However, the idea that distinctions between
right, left, earlier, later cannot be exhaustively expressed in terms of
purely conceptual relations seems to be on rather shaky ground, since
they can be given a rigorous mathematical formulation. And, even if we
accept the distinction between a comparative and conceptual order, we
must still demonstrate that only a comparative order of internal proper-
ties can exist independently of our sensibility. Otherwise, Kant, at best,

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