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empirical knowledge, of concepts such as that of necessary connection?
[cf.A84/B116].) Third, supposing we do presuppose the truth of the
causal principle, and supposing the principle is indeed true, how does
this general presupposition warrant in any particular case the transition
from observing a mere regularity (what Kant calls a ˜˜judgment of per-
ception™™) to asserting a causal connection, which we claim holds ˜˜for all,
and at all times™™ because it holds of the (empirical) objects themselves,
and is thus what Kant calls a ˜˜judgment of experience™™?19
In order to see what answers, if any, Kant offers to these questions,
I now turn to his argument in the Second Analogy of Experience.


Causality and perception of objective temporal succession
In the first edition of the Critique, Kant gives the following formulation
for the Second Analogy of Experience: ˜˜Everything that happens
(begins to be) presupposes something which it follows in accordance


18
See the footnote to x22 of the Prolegomena (AAiv, p. 299) where Kant refers his reader to
A137ff, i.e. the beginning of the chapter: On the Schematism of Pure Concepts of the
Understanding.
19
Cf. Prolegomena, x18, AAiv, pp. 297“8.
TRANSCENDENTAL ANALYTIC
158

with a rule™™ (A189).20 Stressing as it does the notion of a rule, this
formulation is closely related to the logical unpacking of the concept of
cause I have just laid out. Indeed, I intend to show that this logical
unpacking helps clarify the terms and method of Kant™s proof.
As anybody who has battled with the first Critique knows, Kant pro-
vides in the Second Analogy not one, but five different expositions of his
proof of the causal principle, each of them quite tortuous. All of them
arguably share the following steps:
1 Our apprehension is always successive (premise).
2 This by itself does not tell us whether the succession of perceptions in
our apprehension is the perception of an objective succession (a
change of objective states) (premise).
3 We experience the succession in our apprehension as the perception
of an objective succession just in case we consider the subjective
succession as order determinate (i.e. we know that we could not
reverse the order of our perceptions and perceive A after, instead of
before perceiving B; or perhaps better, we are aware, while perceiving
B, that should we at that instant return our gaze to the point where we
perceived A, we would not perceive A there)21 (premise).
4 We consider the subjective succession < A, B > as order determinate
just in case, relating it to an object, we recognize a change of state in
the object, which means that we presuppose that < A, B > follows
from a preceding objective state according to a rule (premise).


20
In the second edition, the formulation of the Second Analogy is: ˜˜All alterations occur in
accordance with the law of connection of cause and effect™™ (B232). This formulation is
closer to the one I quoted earlier from the introduction (also in B). The B formulation is
interesting in that it stresses Kant™s equation of an event with the alteration of a (relatively)
permanent thing, and thus the connection of the Second Analogy with the First. It also
emphasizes the notion of a law rather than that of a rule, and thus the necessity of the
causal connection. But as I say in the main text, in my view the superiority of the A edition™s
formulation lies in its staying closer to the discursive model from which Kant derives the
meaning of the concept of cause.
21
For an explanation of the correction I propose after ˜˜perhaps better,™™ see my comment on
premise 3 below, and n. 26.
One may wonder what work premises (1) and (2) do in the argument, since according to
my analysis, (5) follows from (3) and (4), without any reference to (1) and (2). Their only
role, in the pattern I am laying out here, is to prepare the way for (3), although (3) does not
strictly speaking follow logically from them. All one can say is that once one has recognized
that perceptions in our apprehension are always successive, and that one can draw from
this mere succession in apprehension no instruction at all as to the objective order of
things, then one is prepared for the statements of (3) and (4), from which (5) follows.
Thanks to Colin Marshall for pressing me on this point.
KANT ON CAUSALITY 159

5 Therefore, we perceive a succession as an objective succession (a
change of states in an object) just in case we presuppose a preceding
state upon which it follows according to a rule (from [3], [4]).
6 Therefore, every objective succession (every event) presupposes
something upon which it follows according to a rule (from [5]).22
I shall be relatively brief on premises (1), (2), and (3) of my outline,
which do not strike me as extremely problematic. I shall spend more
time on premise (4), for which the formulation I have proposed is both
complex and controversial. And of course there is an obvious difficulty in
the move from (5) to (6) (which respectively answer the first and second
questions we needed the Critique to answer “ see the concluding remarks
of section 1 above: do we presuppose ˜˜something which what happens
follows, according to a rule™™? Yes, if the argument is sound. Does it mean
that what happens ˜˜presupposes something which it follows according to
a rule™™? We need to see if Kant gives an argument for this additional
move.)


Premises (1) and (2)
They are, in a peculiar sense, phenomenological descriptions of our
perceptual experience: whatever we perceive, we perceive successively.
Even a permanent, unchanging object or realm of objects, we perceive
by means of a continuous succession of perceptual states. A fortiori,
apprehending or directing our attention to different parts of an unchan-
ging object, or to different objects, or to successively appearing and
disappearing states of one object, is itself always successive. In his
Analogies of Experience, Kant gives examples for each of these three
cases: the first (directing our attention to different parts of one object) is
exemplified by the perception of a house, in which we successively
apprehend the bottom part and then the top part, or the top part and

22
The obvious difficulty in the transition from (5) to (6) is that Kant seems to move blithely
from an epistemic point (˜˜in experiencing objective succession, we presuppose™™) to an
ontological/transcendental point (˜˜objective succession itself presupposes™™). A possible
ground for the move might be an implicit reliance on the Transcendental Deduction:
˜˜The conditions of possibility of experience are the conditions of possibility of the object of
experience™™ (A111, A158/B197). But I shall also suggest that there is, within the argument
of the Second Analogy itself, a move that is meant to ground the transition from (5) to (6),
and which essentially repeats the argument which, in the Transcendental Deduction,
supported the view that the categories are not just concepts according to which necessarily,
we think about objects, but concepts that universally represent features of the objects
themselves. More on this below, especially in the third section of this chapter.
TRANSCENDENTAL ANALYTIC
160

then the bottom part, the right side and then the left side, or the left side
and then the right side, and so on; the second (directing our attention to
different coexisting objects) is exemplified by perceiving the earth
around us and then the moon, the moon and then the earth; the third
(perceiving different states of one and the same object) is exemplified by
the famous example of perceiving successive positions of a ship sailing
down a river, which I shall analyze in some detail in a moment.23
These examples are meant to show not only that our apprehension is
successive, but also that, notwithstanding this successive character of
our apprehension, we do distinguish, without even having to reason
about it or to reflect upon it, an objective succession (in the case of
the ship) from a succession which is merely subjective and for which the
objective temporal relation is one of simultaneity (in the case of the
parts of the house or in the case of the moon and the earth). In fact,
what requires some reflection in order for us to become aware of it is
the successive character of the subjective apprehension: as I said, we
quite naturally and without any reflection at all perceive the parts of the
house, or the moon and the earth, as simultaneous, without being
aware that our apprehension of them is successive. This makes pre-
mises (1) and (2) rather surprising, but nonetheless, upon reflection,
acceptable.24


23
For Kant™s analysis of these examples, see A190“1/B235“6, A192“3/B237“8, B257.
24
A standard objection to Kant™s reasoning here is that in fact, contrary to Kant™s claim, the
manifold of representations is not at all always successive. See for instance Lewis White
Beck, Essays on Kant and Hume (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978), p. 144:
˜˜Kant assumes that the manifold of representations is always successive. This is certainly
wrong. When I open my eyes I do not scan the visual field as if my eyes or my attention
worked like the electron ejector in a television tube, aiming first at one point and then at an
adjacent point. But as a consequence of his sensational atomism, Kant assumes that my
apprehension does work in this way.™™
Beck adds, however, that this error does not destroy Kant™s argument altogether. For
this argument to be relevant, says Beck, it is sufficient that the temporal order of our
perceptions and that of objective states be sometimes different. ˜˜It is the difference in
temporal orders, and not the putatively necessary successivity of representations, which generates
the problem of the Analogies.™™ However, I do not think that Kant makes the error Beck
attributes to him. Kant certainly does admit that an object or a scene can be perceived uno
intuitu. What matters is that we acquire detailed awareness of each of its elements only by
successively apprehending it. And when the latter occurs, our awareness of objective
succession, as opposed to objective simultaneity, is an (implicit) awareness of rule-
governed change, as opposed to rule-governed coexistence (as the Third Analogy will
establish). On Kant™s analysis of our awareness of objective temporal order as an awareness
of the rule-governed character of our perceptions, see below my analysis of the third and
fourth premises.
KANT ON CAUSALITY 161


Premise (3): objective succession and order-determinateness
of the subjective succession
Premise (3) says that we perceive a succession as objective (as a succession of
states in the object) just in case we consider the subjective succession as
order-determinate, i.e. just in case we are aware that we could not reverse
the subjective order of our apprehension and perceive A again after having
perceived B. Of course, as most commentators of Kant have noticed, this
does not mean that the objective succession itself cannot be reversed. When
I perceive that a ship successively occupies positions p1, p2, and p3 (as
opposed to my successively perceiving different, coexisting ships at p1, p2,
p3), I am aware that the ship could reverse its movement and go back from
p3 to p2, and from p2 to p1. But in the present circumstances, my percep-
tion of the scenery could not be reversed. I could not direct my perception
back to p2 or to p1 and expect to see the ship. Whereas if I interpret what I
apprehend successively as a perception of three coexisting ships, I do
expect the succession of my perceptions to be repeatable in the reverse
order. I would see the very same ships if I directed my glance back where I
directed it a moment ago (unless, again, the ships moved; but even then
I would at least expect to see them somewhere).25


Premise (4): order-determinateness of the subjective succession, relation
to an object, supposition of a rule
Premise 4, as I have formulated it, says: ˜˜We consider the subjective
succession as order-determinate just in case, relating it to an object, we
recognize a change of states, which means that we presuppose that it
follows from a preceding state according to a rule.™™

25
A more disturbing objection might be that raised by the perception of time-reversible
processes, like the movement of a pendulum. How could we possibly think, in this case,
that we could not perceive A (position 1 of the pendulum) after perceiving B (position 2 of
the pendulum)? It is precisely for such a case that I proposed a corrected version of
premise 3 above: we are aware, while perceiving B, that should we at that instant return
our gaze to the point where we perceived A, we would not perceive A there. This alter-
native formulation also has the advantage of stressing the role of imagination: we have to
use our imagination to bring to mind what we would perceive at a point we are not
presently perceiving. Of course, even to this, one might object that we just ˜˜see™™ the
pendulum in its successive positions. But there I would say that Kant™s arguments are
first directed at cases of interrupted perception. Uninterrupted perception itself is inter-
preted in the light of our ability to unify interrupted perceptions. This is how we constitute
for ourselves representations of unified and coherent realms of objects and their temporal
relations.
TRANSCENDENTAL ANALYTIC
162

Packed into this one premise are three conditions for interpreting the
subjective succession as order-determinate: (a) we have to relate it to an
object; (b) relating it to an object, we have to recognize a change of states
of the object; (c) recognizing a change of states means presupposing that
it follows from a preceding state according to a rule. I now want to
consider these three conditions one by one.
(a) What makes us consider, or interpret, the subjective succession as
order-determinate is that we relate it to an object. Or more precisely,
what makes us so perceive it is that we implement the mental activity of
relating our subjective apprehension to an object it is the apprehension
of. Now, against the argument so construed one might want to observe
that premises (3) and (4) seem suspiciously circular. Premise (3) says that
to interpret the subjective succession as also objective is to interpret it as
order-determinate. But premise (4) says that what triggers the interpret-
ation of the subjective succession as order-determinate is that we relate
our perceptions to an object. To perceive as objective is to perceive as
order-determinate; but one perceives as order-determinate only if one
relates to an object. Actually, this is not circular because ˜˜perceiving as
objective™™ (in premise [3]) and ˜˜relating to an object™™ (in premise [4]) are
not the same. Relating the subjective succession to an object (premise [4])
might result in considering it as the perception of an objective coexist-
ence, and thus as a merely subjective succession, a succession merely in
apprehension (in which case premise [3] would not be satisfied). This is
so when, relating subjective succession to an object, I recognize that what
I apprehend successively are really three generically identical ships
which exist at the same time, and not three objectively successive states
(different positions in space) of one ship. Similarly, to take Kant™s own
examples, relating the subjective succession of my perceptions to an
object may result in my recognizing that what I am perceiving are the
objectively coexisting parts of one house, or two heavenly bodies existing
at the same time (not one body which has moved from one position in
space to another). So, Kant™s point is that the mental activity of relating
perceptions to objects they are perceptions of, just is what generates
(without our even needing explicitly to reason about it) our representa-
tion of objective correlations in time. And this in turn gives its character
of irreversibility or reversibility to the subjective succession of percep-
tions in our apprehension. In fact, we have quite familiar examples of
what happens when this activity does not take place: in day-dreaming we
may let our eyes wander from one object to the next, let changes in the
objects we are taking in occur, without discerning the occurrence of any
KANT ON CAUSALITY 163

objective event or recognizing any coexistence of objects or, for that
matter, recognizing any persisting object at all.
An interesting aspect of Kant™s argument is that it reverses the depend-
ence relation between the features of our perceptions and our relating
these perceptions to objects we take them to be the perceptions of, found in
seventeenth- and eighteenth-century theory of ideas. For Descartes no less
than for Locke, Berkeley, or Hume, perceiving external objects is a matter
of interpreting features of our ideas and their combinations. The four
authors differ, of course, in the tools they admit we have at our disposal
for interpreting these features. Therefore they also differ in the kinds of
inferences they allow concerning the existence and objective properties of
external objects. But for Kant, the features of our ideas (representations),
and especially the modal characteristics of their temporal relations, depend
themselves upon our mental acts of relating them to objects they are the
perceptions of. We take the succession of our representations to be order-
indeterminate or order-determinate depending on whether we are led to
interpret them as representing an objective simultaneity or an objective
succession. So the order we introduce into the subjective succession of our
representations depends on how we interpret the objective order we take
them to be the representations of. Thus Kant writes:
In the previous example of a house my perceptions could have begun at
its rooftop and ended at the ground, but could also have begun below
and ended above; likewise I could have apprehended the manifold of
intuition from the right or from the left. In the series of perceptions
there was therefore no determinate order that made it necessary when I
had to begin in the apprehension in order to combine the manifold
empirically. But this rule is always to be found in the perception of that
which happens, and it makes the order of perceptions that follow one
another (in the apprehension of this appearance) necessary.
In our case I must therefore derive the subjective succession of apprehension
from the objective succession of appearances [my emphasis], for otherwise the
former would be entirely undetermined and no appearance would be
distinguished from any other. (A192“3/B237“8)26

Or again:
If we investigate what new characteristic is given to our representations
by the relation to an object, and what is the dignity that they thereby


26
Cf. premise (41) (premise [4] in the first exposition of the proof ) quoted in the appendix
below.
TRANSCENDENTAL ANALYTIC
164

receive, we find that it does nothing beyond making the combination of
representations necessary in a certain way, and subjecting them to a rule,
and conversely, that objective significance is conferred on our represen-
tations only insofar as a certain order in their temporal relation is
necessary. (A197/B242“3)27

Here the seemingly circular aspect of Kant™s argument, mentioned
above, is quite visible. Relating our representations to an object confers
upon our representations a character which they would not otherwise
have (their temporal order-determinateness, or on the contrary their
order-indifference). But this character is what makes them representa-
tions of objective succession or, on the contrary, of objective coexistence.
Strawson, following Lovejoy, famously characterized Kant™s argument in
the Second Analogy as a ˜˜non-sequitur of numbing grossness.™™28 This
damning statement rests, I think, on a misunderstanding of Kant™s mean-
ing when he says that ˜˜in [the perception of an event] we must derive the
subjective succession of apprehension from the objective succession of
appearances.™™ Strawson understands Kant to be saying that we interpret
the subjective succession in our apprehension as irreversible when we think
that it is causally determined by an objective succession. The subjective
succession (say a, b) is then thought to be necessary in that its order
is thought to be constrained by the order of the objective states of affairs
(say A, B). This is a reasonable thing to say, Strawson comments. But from
this Kant then proceeds to his astoundingly gross non-sequitur. He claims
not only that the subjective succession is necessary (being causally deter-
mined by the objective succession); but that the objective succession which
determines it is itself necessary as well. Thus every necessary order of the
subjective succession is the perception of a necessary, i.e. causally deter-
mined, objective succession.29 This certainly is a resounding non-sequitur.
But in fact, if I am right in the analysis I have proposed, this causal/
representational account of perception plays no role in Kant™s argument.
In fact, making use of such an account for the proof of the causal principle
would be an even grosser non-sequitur than the one Strawson denounces:
for the purpose of proving the universal applicability of the concept of
cause it would make use of the very concept whose applicability is in


27
This passage belongs to the transition between the second and third exposition of the
argument, where Kant explains that to understand his argument we need to reflect on
what we mean by an object: see appendix to this chapter, explanation of ¶11.
28
Strawson, Bounds of Sense, p. 137.
29
Ibid., pp. 137“8.
KANT ON CAUSALITY 165

question. But, as I pointed out earlier, Kant™s account of perception here is
not causal, but phenomenological, in an original sense. Kant asks: what is it
about our perception that makes a subjective succession the perception of
an objective succession? He responds in the two steps (3) and (4): what
makes our successive perception in apprehension the perception of an
objective succession is the awareness of its temporal order-determinateness;
what generates the awareness of its temporal order-determinateness is the
fact that we intentionally relate it to an object.
But how does this happen? Why should relating our representations to
an object generate an awareness of its order-determinateness, and why
should this awareness warrant perception of an objective succession? This
is what the second and third conditions stated in premise (4) are meant to
explain. I now consider those two conditions.
(b) and (c) What we want to explain is why relating successively
apprehended perceptions to an object should generate a representation
of order-determinateness (in the case where the subjective succession is
interpreted as the perception of an objective succession) or of order-
indifference (in the case where the subjective succession is interpreted as
the perception of simultaneously existing objects or states of objects).
I shall consider only the first case, which is the one the Second Analogy is
about. Why does relating perceptions to an object generate the order-
determinateness of the subjective succession in the case where it is the
representation of an objective succession?
To relate perceptions to an object of which they are the representa-
tion, is to recognize an object under a concept.30 I perceive patches of
grey out there, in a vaguely rectangular shape. I relate these perceived
patches to an object when I recognize a tower: for instance, the tower of
the science building in the University of Paris. Now, recognizing an
object under a concept is either recognizing it under ˜˜permanent™™
characters, characters it could not cease to have without ceasing to be
the kind of object I identified it as being, or recognizing it under chan-
ging characters: characters it can acquire or lose without ceasing to be
the kind of object it is. The tower could possibly be painted bright red by

30
Kant argued for this point in the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories; see A103/
B137. This does not mean that all object-related representations presuppose a concept.
Intuitions are also representations we relate to objects (cf. A320/B377). But intuitions
(˜˜representations that relate immediately to the object and are singular™™) (A320/B377, cf.
Jasche Logic, x1), left to themselves, are ˜˜blind™™ (A52/B76). Knowing what we intuit, and
¨
re-identifying objects, i.e. recognizing them as persisting through time, is possible only if
we recognize them under concepts.
TRANSCENDENTAL ANALYTIC
166

angry students, its windows could be broken, or it could be wrapped in
cloth by Christo. None of this would stop me from identifying it as the
tower of the science building. I would say: ˜˜Hey, look what happened!™™
But I still would identify the object. On the contrary, if I saw a similar
tower a hundred miles from Paris, I would either have to doubt my eyes
or have to suppose that this was in fact another tower. A ship moves, but
not a tower. So, in the previous cases I identified the object as the tower
of the science building because there are any number of plausible exter-
nal conditions I could formulate for the change of some of its familiar
characters. In the second case, although it is not entirely impossible that
some external conditions might account for the fact that the science
building has changed position in space, it is highly implausible. In my
identification of the object, then, the supposition of plausible conditions

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