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person point of view of self-consciousness is capable of communicating
substantive truths about the nature of thinking beings in general. In
chapter nine, I look at how this essentially ¬rst-person access to rational
beings encourages us to think of ourselves as substances that are inde-
pendent of material objects and knowable in a more certain way than
things that exist outside of us.
In chapter ten, I discuss Kant™s refutation of idealism which is a
revised version of his critique of the kind of epistemic dualism that takes
our knowledge of our inner states to be more certain than our knowl-
edge of outer states. Kant maintains that at least some of the objects that
we directly experience must be outside of us in space. He attempts to
establish this claim by means of an argument showing that determinate
consciousness of one™s own inner experience is only possible if there are
actual outer objects. The argument thus establishes a necessary link
between what can be regarded as internal to the point of view of a
particular self-conscious being and what can be regarded as external to
the point of view of a particular self-conscious being.
The argument against the kind of skepticism about the existence of
the external world that Descartes articulates in his First Meditation is
based on the general thesis that one cannot ascribe determinate beliefs
to oneself without being able to order those beliefs in a determinate
temporal order. It is then argued that one cannot ascribe a determinate
temporal order to one™s beliefs without some direct consciousness of
something that is not inherently successive. One™s occurrent beliefs and
desires are inherently successive. They pick out di¬erent nows of aware-
ness due to their character as di¬erent occurrent states of awareness. I
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
maintain that Kant needs to be taken at his word that any determinate
consciousness of oneself requires an immediate relation to something
outside of that self-consciousness. I contend that the argument against
˜˜psychological™™ idealism has force against the Cartesian skeptic who
already accepts the possibility of self-knowledge.
The refutation is not complete until it addresses the manner in which
our beliefs depend on not only objects that are outside of us in the
empirical, but also things in themselves that are outside of us in the sense
of being completely independent of our minds. This ultimately leads
Kant to raise the issue of transcendental idealism in coming to terms
with the problem of how to refute idealism.
I take up transcendental idealism in chapter eleven. Transcendental
idealism is the thesis that the only objects of which we can have
substantive representations are objects as they must appear to us accord-
ing to our a priori forms of sensibility. Sensible pre-conditions on
experience restrict our experience to objects as they must appear to us,
rather than allowing us access to things as they are independently of the
way we must represent them as internal to, or external to, our point of
view. I argue that Kant vacillates between a modest version of transcen-
dental idealism according to which we cannot resolve the question of
what the ultimate nature is of objects that are independent of the pre-
conditions that we bring to experience, and a more ambitious claim that
objects as they are independently of our experience cannot be spatial or
temporal at all. Only the former idealism seems to me to be defensible.
In relating Kant™s argument for transcendental idealism to his argument
against empirical or psychological idealism, I discuss some of Kant™s
personal notes (his so-called ˜˜re¬‚ections™™) which I try to handle with
care, since they cannot claim the same authority as the material that he
chose to publish. I conclude with a discussion of the general account of
experience implied by my reconstruction.
° 

Introducing apperception

Kant introduces the notion of apperception as well as the notion of
self-consciousness in the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories.
This is the text of the Critique of Pure Reason that is widely regarded as the
most central one of the whole Critique. It is the section of the Critique that
Kant said had cost him ˜˜the most trouble,™™ presumably because it is
˜˜laid out at a rather deep level™™ ( ©).
In this chapter, I propose to develop Kant™s account of apperception
and the general way in which Kant connects apperception to represen-
tational content in the ¬rst (A) edition of the Deduction. First, I argue
that the A-Deduction interprets the notion of apperception as self-
consciousness. I then argue that the numerical identity that Kant
ascribes to transcendental self-consciousness in the A-Deduction is not
to be understood as committing him to any speci¬c claims about my
individual personal identity. It is rather to be understood as an enabling
condition of conceptual recognition of objects. I discuss Kant™s argu-
ment that all representational content must have at least an indirect
relation to a possible self-consciousness in order to be a determinate
representation at all. I argue that this is best understood as the idea that
each representation has a distinctive functional role in judgment and
inference that is based on its relation to a possible self-consciousness.

° °   ° ©  ® © ®    -¤  ¤ µ  ©  ®
Kant introduces empirical apperception in the following way:
The consciousness of oneself according to the determination of our state in
inner perception is merely empirical, always mutable, there can be no standing
or persistent self in the ¬‚ux of these inner appearances, and it is customarily
called inner sense, or empirical apperception. ( ±°·)
Here, Kant identi¬es empirical self-consciousness with inner sense and
empirical apperception. In interpreting empirical self-consciousness in
° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
terms of the notions of inner sense and apperception, he appeals to
accepted terminology in the Leibnizian tradition. Philosophers in that
tradition identi¬ed inner sense with empirical apperception.± They took
inner sense to be an experience of inner states, while they took empirical
apperception to be a consciousness of inner states. Since they took inner
states to be states of consciousness, they regarded empirical appercep-
tion as a form of self-consciousness, that is, they took empirical apper-
ception to be a consciousness of perceptual consciousness. For Kant
˜˜inner sense [is that] by means of which the mind intuits itself and its
state™™( / ·), where ˜˜time is nothing but the form of inner sense,
that is, of the intuiting of ourselves and our inner state™™ ( / ).
The implication of these passages is that empirical self-consciousness
involves some kind of intuition. Since Kant de¬nes an intuition as a
representation ˜˜that relates immediately to an object and is singular™™ (
°/ ··), the implication is that empirical self-consciousness is an
immediate consciousness of oneself as an individual. This immediate
representation is a representation of oneself at a certain time, but it is not
a representation of oneself over time.
Empirical apperception represents the self in terms of the individual
states that replace themselves in the succession of di¬erent states of
consciousness in time. When we are conscious of our inner empirical
states, we are not conscious of anything that is identical over time. But it
is important to note that Kant does not deny that we have an intuition of
self through inner sense and that we therefore have some consciousness
of self even in empirical self-consciousness. The important point is that
we do not directly experience anything as something connecting our
various experiences together in time.
The ephemerity of mental episodes encourages Kant to argue that in
order to have a representation of self as the identical subject of di¬erent
experiences we must be able to represent something that is not given in
any experience. Thus, it might seem that we could avoid the conclusion
that we need something non-empirical to serve as an identical self by
appealing to an object of outer experience as the experientially access-
ible bearer of experiences. One might argue that in proprioception of
our bodies, that is, in our immediate experience of our bodies, we have a
direct representation of an embodied self. But even proprioception
provides at best synchronous consciousness of self; it fails to provide us
with a representation of our own identity over di¬erent times and
spaces. And most signi¬cantly, proprioception does not provide us with
the kind of necessary representation of numerical identity in which Kant
Introducing apperception
is interested. For his real concern is not with how an identical self can be
represented, but rather with how something could be represented as
necessarily identical in di¬erent experiences:

That which should necessarily be represented as numerically identical cannot be
thought as such through empirical data. It must be a condition that precedes all
experience and even makes it possible that validates such a transcendental
condition. ( ±°·)

Several questions arise at this point: (±) What is a transcendental condi-
tion? () What is the transcendental condition in question? And () for
what is the transcendental condition a condition? Perhaps Kant™s best
answer to the question of what a transcendental condition is, comes in a
discussion of apperception in the section criticizing the false inferences
or paralogisms of rational psychology:

For this inner perception is nothing more than the mere apperception: I think;
which even makes all transcendental concepts possible, in which it is said: I
think substance, cause, etc. For inner perception in general and its possibility,
or perception in general, and its relationship to other perception without a
particular di¬erence between perceptions and determination being given em-
pirically, cannot be regarded as empirical, but must be regarded as cognition of
the empirical, and belongs to the investigation of the possibility of any cogni-
tion, which is indeed transcendental. ( / °±)

In other words, a transcendental condition is a condition under which
cognition in general, and empirical cognition in particular, is possible.
Kant regards transcendental apperception as such a non-empirical
condition on what can be known empirically. Indeed, Kant identi¬es
the transcendental condition in which he is interested in the A-Deduc-
tion as transcendental apperception. In the A-Deduction, he maintains
that transcendental apperception makes it possible to explain the exist-
ence of a necessary connection between representations which he ar-
gues is involved in any empirical cognition. For this necessary connec-
tion is supposed to be nothing but the concept of an object that
corresponds to our representations. This provides a general answer to
the third question: of what is transcendental apperception a transcen-
dental condition? Transcendental apperception is a condition under
which it is possible to have a concept or cognition of an object. What the
relationship between concepts and cognitions is supposed to be, and
why we should understand the concept of an object in the way that Kant
proposes, will have to be determined later. For now it is su¬cient to note
 Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
that transcendental apperception is supposed to account for our capac-
ity to form concepts of objects:

This necessity has a transcendental condition as its ground. Therefore a
transcendental ground must be found for the unity of consciousness in the
synthesis of the manifold of all our intuitions, hence also of all concepts of
objects in general, consequently of all objects of experience, without which it
would be impossible to think any object; for this [object] is nothing more than
the something the concept of which expresses such a necessity of synthesis. This
original and transcendental condition is no other than transcendental appercep-
tion. ( ±°·)

When Kant introduces transcendental apperception as a necessary
representation of numerical identity, he does not explicitly say that the
numerical identity that he is concerned with is that of the self. This has
led Andrew Brook to argue that the empirical and transcendental
apperception to which Kant refers at  ±°· is not a consciousness of self
at all, but merely awareness of something. Now Kant explicitly claims
that empirical apperception is a kind of self-consciousness. The context
also suggests that Kant thinks that the standing self that he misses in
empirical apperception must be supplied by a transcendental represen-
tation. And he later clearly states that numerical identity is certain a
priori with respect to all possible self-consciousness, since nothing can
enter cognition except via this original apperception ( ±±). Moreover,
Kant also talks of an ˜˜original and necessary consciousness of the
identity of oneself™™ ( ±°), as what makes it possible for us to determine
an object for our experiences. If this is not enough evidence, Kant also
speaks of ˜˜the proposition that expresses self-consciousness: I think™™ (
“), after already talking of ˜˜the mere apperception: I think™™ (
/ °). So it is quite implausible to argue, as Brook does, that
apperception is not self-consciousness and that, therefore, self-con-
sciousness is not crucial to Kant™s argument.
Kant™s talk of a representation of numerical identity with respect to
transcendental apperception encourages one to think of transcendental
self-consciousness as consciousness of personal identity in contrast with
consciousness of individual states involved in empirical apperception.
But, in fact, the notion of transcendental self-consciousness is imperso-
nal in a way that, in principle, is in transpersonal. The necessity of
representing oneself as numerically identical does not commit Kant to
the existence of a persistent bearer of my states of consciousness, but
rather to a way of representing ourselves, a point of view from which
Introducing apperception
what is represented by me and you at di¬erent times and places can be
uni¬ed. Kant maintains that the self is necessarily represented as numeri-
cally identical; he does not argue that it is necessarily numerically
identical over di¬erent states.
But how are we to understand the necessity of representing ourselves
as numerically identical? And in what sense can we talk of a certainty
that our self-consciousness is numerically identical? All of us use the
expression ˜˜I™™ to refer to ourselves. The role of the demonstrative
expression ˜˜I™™ in connecting together representations that individuals
have of themselves at di¬erent times and spaces in one unitary experi-
ence is what makes for the numerical identity of our representation of I.
The expression ˜˜I™™ articulates a self-consciousness that remains the
numerically same point of view regardless of one™s spatio-temporal
situation. Now I might be mistaken about who I am, and thus about my
personal identity, but not about the fact that I am now self-conscious
and that I can represent myself as the same subject in alternative
situations. Thus, even though Kant thinks of transcendental self-con-
sciousness as necessary to any consciousness of an object, he does not
regard transcendental self-consciousness itself as a personal self-con-
sciousness at all. The necessary representation of numerical identity in
transcendental self-consciousness is, rather, the necessary representa-
tion of a shared point of view from which we can make sense of an
objective space and time and, indeed, of the communicability of the
contents of concepts to di¬erent spatio-temporal points of view:

This pure, original, unchanging consciousness I will now call transcendental
apperception. That it deserves this name is already clear from the following: that
even the purest objective unity, namely of concepts a priori (space and time) is
only possible through the relation of intuitions to it. The numerical unity of this
apperception lies a priori as much at the basis a priori of all concepts as the
manifold of space and time does of all intuitions of sensibility. ( ±°·)

The purity of self-consciousness refers to its independence from the
content of any particular experience. The original character of self-
consciousness is based on the idea that any personal or empirical
self-consciousness will depend for its existence on the possibility of that
impersonal consciousness of self. The unchanging character of such
consciousness is based on the fact that it represents a point of view that
must be regarded as identical in any experience. This point of view is the
basis for our ability to interpret experience in terms of concepts of
 Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
Kant insists that the ˜˜numerical unity of this apperception is the
ground a priori of all concepts™™ ( ±°·). The capacity for consciousness
of self-identity makes concepts possible by providing the idea of a
representer and hence a representation of that representer that is
distinguishable from what is represented and yet represents the repre-
senter as an I that, in principle, can be regarded as the possessor of an
arbitrary spatio-temporal point of view. Our concepts of space and time
have ˜˜objective unity™™ insofar as they capture the way a self-conscious
being would represent the world in the same way from any arbitrary
standpoint in space and time and in any arbitrary psychological state
that the representer might happen to be in.
Concepts are just the way in which things are represented in universal
terms, that is, represented in a way that connects di¬erent experiences
together in the same way for di¬erent persons in di¬erent psychological
states and situations: ˜˜All cognition demands a concept but this [con-
cept] is always something universal according to its form, and something
that serves as a rule™™ ( ±°). Now ˜˜concepts are based on functions™™ (
/ ), where the functions in question are the functional relations
involved in judgments that subsume one representation under another
representation: ˜˜But I understand under function the unity of the act of
subsuming di¬erent representations under a common one™™ ( / ).
The representation under which another representation is to be sub-
sumed is one that represents a feature that the ¬rst representation has in
common with other representations.
The representation of the common or shared feature is what Kant
calls a concept. Concepts, then, have their distinctive cognitive content
in virtue of the distinctive functional role that they play in the forming of
judgments and the drawing of inferences from those judgments. But
what all concepts have in common is that they are representations that
play identical functional roles despite di¬erences in the inner states of
the di¬erent individuals who use those concepts in di¬erent situations.
Kant notes that the kind of unity of consciousness that is displayed
by our capacity for conceptual recognition would be impossible ˜˜if the
mind in cognition of the manifold could not become conscious of the
identity of function through which it synthetically connects that [mani-
fold] together™™ ( ±°). From the need to be able to represent an
identity of functional role in di¬erent contents of experiences in order
to be able to recognize items in experience, Kant signi¬cantly con-
cludes that the ˜˜original and necessary consciousness of the identity of
oneself is at the same time a consciousness of the necessary unity of
Introducing apperception
synthesis of all appearances according to concepts™™ ( ±°). In other
words, for Kant, the necessary representation of the numerical identity
of the self is built into our ability to represent things in di¬erent
situations in ways that have the same cognitive role in judgment and
inference for all of us.
Necessary consciousness of our self-identity is something more than
the ability to represent ourselves as having a point of view from which
things appear in the same way to each and all of us. It is the capacity at
the same time to represent our point of view as the same point of view as
we compare di¬erent items of experience with respect to their identity
and di¬erences. It is only in this way that we are able to form concepts
with di¬erent cognitive roles because they have di¬erent functional roles
in judgment and inference. In sum, Kant links the necessity that we
represent ourselves as numerically identical in di¬erent experiences to
the possibility of forming an impersonal point of view. By taking this
impersonal point of view on our experiences, we are then able to form
concepts that have the same distinctive functional role in di¬erent
experiences. The distinctive functional roles that di¬erent concepts
have, in turn re¬‚ect the di¬erent systematic contributions that di¬erent
concepts make to the understanding of what we experience.

© ® °   ©®§   ®µ   ©  ¬ © ¤® © ¦   ¬ ¦
The ˜˜impersonal™™ character of our representation of self as numerically
identical has been generally obscured by contemporary obsession with
viewing Kant™s conception of the identity of apperception as a direct
response to Hume™s critique of personal identity. Hume™s reservations
about our knowledge of personal identity are summed up in the follow-
ing passage:
It must be some one impression, that gives rise to every real idea. But self or
person is not any one impression, but that to which our several impressions and
ideas are suppos™d to have a reference. If any impression gives rise to the idea of
self, that impression must continue invariable the same, thro™ the whole course
of our lives; since self is suppos™d to exist after that matter. But there is no
impression constant and invariable. Pain and pleasure, grief and joy, passions
and sensations succeed each other, and never all exist at the same time. It
cannot, therefore, be from any of these impressions, or from any other, that the
idea of self is deriv™d; and consequently there is no such idea.
Hume™s worry is that the representations (impressions) that make up
our mental life are continually replacing each other, so that there does
 Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
not seem to be any representation to which we could appeal in order to
provide a conception of our personal identity. Kant never attempts to
show that there is a ˜˜real idea™™ of the self, nor does he attempt to ¬nd an
impression from which such a representation could be derived. He thus
does not attempt to meet Hume™s demands with respect to personal
identity. Kant takes it as a given that we have consciousness of ourselves
with respect to our inner states even though the self of this inner
experience is in a perpetual state of ¬‚ux. But he also agrees with Hume™s
worries about the introspective basis for consciousness of one™s identity
over time. Given Kant™s view that we have an intuition of self in inner
sense, I see no reason to saddle him with Hume™s view that the self is
never itself an object of perception or introspection. However, such a
claim would only provide further support for Kant™s assumption that the
self is accessible only through the formal structure that is inherent in the
activity of self-consciousness.
Interpreting Kant™s notion that we necessarily represent ourselves as
self-identical a priori as a direct response to Hume™s worries about
self-identity forces one to identify a priori consciousness of self-identity
with a priori knowledge of one™s identity as a discrete individual. This is
very di¬cult to reconcile with Kant™s claim that self-consciousness
˜˜according to the determinations of our state™™ is empirical and does not
have a persistent subject ( ±°·). It also ignores the fact that Kant
commits himself only to an a priori representation of numerical identity,
not a priori knowledge that we are numerically identical.
Not all of the di¬culties with Kant™s notion of a necessary representa-
tion of self as numerically identical can be traced back to regarding Kant
as a direct respondent to Hume™s worries about our knowledge of
personal identity. Much of this controversy has however been generated
by the more general conviction that Kant™s talk of the numerical identity
of the self must commit him to the claim that I can know that I am the
numerically same person through di¬erent experiences. It should not be
denied that Kant™s talk of numerical identity of the self encourages an
interpretation that identi¬es consciousness of numerical identity with
knowledge of personal identity. This is part of the reason that it has
seemed unclear to commentators whether Kant is concerned in his talk
of numerical identity of the self with the identity of a person or with a
person™s being conscious of identical thoughts.µ
Elsewhere in the A-Deduction, Kant interprets the numerical identity
that we necessarily represent, as a numerical identity of possible self-
consciousness. This numerical identity is characterized as a priori cer-
Introducing apperception
tain. Kant makes remarks that have seemed to interpreters to suggest
that we might be certain a priori of our numerical identity as persons as
a pre-condition for having representations at all:
All possible appearances belong as representations to the whole of possible
self-consciousness. But numerical identity is indivisible from it and a priori
certain because nothing can come into cognition except by means of this
original apperception. ( ±±)

In response to passages such as these in the A-Deduction in which
Kant ascribes a priori certainty to the numerical identity of self-con-
sciousness, Dieter Henrich has emphasized the fact that we have cri-
terialess consciousness of self-identity. This consciousness of self-identity
is supposed to be characterized by a certainty of the kind Descartes
discovered in I thoughts. Descartes argues famously that I thoughts are
self-verifying, to have those thoughts is already to have su¬cient war-
rant for regarding them as true. But he never argues that this self-
verifying character of I thoughts extends to claims that the self is
identical over time. However, Henrich™s idea that we have a Cartesian
certainty of the identity of the self over a sequence of states has an
antecedent in Strawson™s view that at the heart of the Cartesian illusion
that we can infer substantial facts about the self from I thoughts is the

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