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the related notion of a whole of reality amount to, once they are disen-
tangled from the rationalist illusion.
Second, I intend to compare the concepts of totum realitatis and ens
realissimum expounded in section two of the Transcendental Dialectic,
with the criticism of those same concepts expounded in the Amphiboly
of Concepts of Reflection.
Third, and most importantly, I shall suggest that the analysis
and critical reduction of the transcendental ideal opens the way to an
articulation of reflection and determination in cognition which puts
the first Critique in closer connection to the third than is generally
recognized, and therefore puts both first and third Critiques beyond
the commonly assumed strict dichotomy between what Kant calls, in
the third Critique, ˜˜determinative™™ and ˜˜reflective™™ uses of judgment.
This has important consequences, which I shall briefly address at the
end of this chapter.
There is on my part an underlying conviction guiding the path I
propose to take, from Kant™s criticism of the transcendental ideal, back
to his criticism of the intellectualist conception of the unbounded whole
of reality, in the Amphiboly of Concepts of Reflection, and forward again
to the Introduction to the Third Critique. My conviction is that the
transcendental ideal proper (the pure concept of an ens realissimum
whose origin Kant traces back to an unavoidable and, once properly
recognized, ultimately beneficial illusion of reason) plays a less indispens-
able role than Kant claims it does, by the terms of his own analyses, if we
follow these analyses through each of the steps I just outlined. I leave it to
the reader to judge if my conviction is adequately supported.


Kant™s criticism of the Transcendental Ideal
At the beginning of section two of the Transcendental Ideal, Kant con-
trasts the ˜˜determinability™™ of a concept and the ˜˜complete determin-
ation™™ of an individual thing. The notion of determination here at work
is explained in the Jasche Logic, x15, where determination is opposed to
¨
abstraction:
Through continued logical abstraction, higher and higher concepts
arise, just as through logical determination, on the other hand, lower
THE TRANSCENDENTAL IDEAL 215

and lower concepts arise. The greatest possible abstraction yields the
highest or most abstract concept “ that from which no determination can
be further thought away. The most fully achieved determination would
yield a thoroughly determinate concept [conceptum omnimodo determinatum]
i.e., one to which no further determination might be added in thought.
Note. Since only individual things, or individuals, are thoroughly
determinate, there can be thoroughly determinate cognition only as
intuitions, but not as concepts; with respect to the latter, logical determin-
ation can never be regarded as completed.8

Determination here clearly means: specification. To determine a con-
cept is to produce a specification of it by adding to the initial concept a
mark that is not analytically contained in it. With respect to such a mark
our initial concept is indeterminate, it can be determined (specified) by
predicating of it either the affirmation, or the negation of an additional
mark: animals are either rational or non-rational, human beings are
either Athenians or Barbarians (non-Athenians), and so on. In this
sense, it is quite clear that only representations of individual things are
fully determinate, namely not further determinable or specifiable. For a
Leibnizian, such a thoroughly determined representation is an ultima
species, an ultimately specified concept. For Kant, it can only be an
intuition. The only fully determinate (not further determinable, i.e.
specifiable) representation is an intuition. Correspondingly, objects are
fully determinate, i.e. singular objects, only insofar as they are objects of
intuition.
It may seem strange to say that only intuitions are fully determinate,
since, as is well known, for Kant an object which would be ˜˜merely™™ an
object of intuition would remain ˜˜indeterminate™™ (appearances are
˜˜indeterminate™™ objects of empirical intuition, they are determined as
objects, or phenomena, only by being thought under concepts: cf. A20/
B34; A249). This ambiguity is due to Kant™s ambivalent relation to the
rationalist tradition: on the one hand he maintains, against the rational-
ists, that only sensible intuitions, not concepts, are singular. Therefore, if
determination is specification, only sensible intuitions are fully determin-
ate. But on the other hand, it remains true that specification is a
conceptual operation. We determinately know an object only by

8
Jasche Logic, AAix, p. 99. What Guyer and Wood, for the Critique of Pure Reason, and
¨
J. Michael Young, for the Jasche Logic, translate as ˜˜thoroughgoing determination™™ (omni-
¨
modo determinatio, durchgangige Bestimmung), is what I also call, in the main text, ˜˜complete
¨
determination.™™ Both translations are correct, but the latter is philosophically more
familiar.
THE CRITICAL SYSTEM
216

concepts: to determine an object for the intuition is to know it under
concepts, and we know it as determinately as our concepts are specified.
Now, this twofold meaning of ˜˜determinate™™ (singular, therefore intui-
tive; but determined by concepts) accounts for Kant™s adoption of the
˜˜principle of complete determination™™ which he inherits from the
Leibnizian rationalists, and at the same time accounts for the peculiar
meaning he assigns to this principle in the context of the Transcendental
Analytic.
Kant formulates this principle in the terms I quoted above: it says, of
every singular thing, that ˜˜among all possible predicates of things, insofar as
they are compared with their opposites, one must apply to it™™ (A572/B600).
Now, such a principle seems to make no sense at all unless one supposes
that one can indeed think, i.e. presuppose as given, ˜˜all possible pre-
dicates [and] their opposites.™™ Without such a presupposition, one is
simply left with the logical principle of contradiction on the one hand
(it is not possible to attribute to one and the same thing, considered
under the same respect, a predicate and the negation of that predicate);
and with the principle of excluded middle on the other hand (given a
pair of contradictory predicates, one or the other must be predicated of a
thing, there is no third alternative). What the principle of complete
determination adds to these two logical principles is precisely the refer-
ence to the totality of possible predicates. Kant indicates quite clearly this
difference between the merely logical principles of contradiction and
excluded middle, and the principle of complete determination:
˜˜through this proposition predicates are not merely compared logically
with one another, but the thing itself is compared transcendentally with
the sum total of all possible predicates™™ (A573/B601, emphasis mine).
But why should one admit such a principle, if logic does not demand
it? Why should we not be content with admitting the principles of
contradiction and excluded middle as rules for relating concepts and
thus for further and further determining our concepts of objects? For a
rationalist of the Leibnizian-Wolffian school, the answer is that the
principle of complete determination adds to these logical principles
the metaphysical principle that states how objects are individuated.
Each is a unique combination of affirmations and negations of essential
determinations or perfections in the divine understanding. Moreover,
this is how they are determined to exist, or on the contrary, to remain
mere possible components in unactualized possible worlds, according to
the principle of fitness, i.e. the wisdom of God™s choice. But Kant does
not consider that objects are individuated by complete determination
THE TRANSCENDENTAL IDEAL 217

accessible to pure intellect. He expressly denies this. Objects are given in
space and time and individuated as objects of sensible intuition. So what
is his reason for affirming a ˜˜principle of complete determination™™ such
as this? Kant™s answer to this question in the Transcendental Analytic has
two components. The first is the role assigned to infinite judgment in the
table of logical functions of judgment. The second is the role of the unity
of apperception, and ultimately, of the unity of experience, in the
Transcendental Deduction of the Categories
So, very briefly on each of these two points.
(1) An infinite judgment, for Kant, is a judgment in which I affirm of a
subject-concept a predicate that is itself the negation of a predicate: ˜˜A is
not-B.™™ In doing so, I locate the subject-concept in the unlimited sphere
of all possible beings, to the exclusion of the sphere of the negated
predicate. Such a judgment, says Kant, does not have to be considered
in general logic, which ˜˜abstracts from all content of the predicate (even
if it is negative)™™ (A72/B97). In transcendental logic, on the contrary, it is
important to consider those judgments which take into consideration an
infinite logical extension (they locate the subject-concept in the ˜˜infinite
sphere of all possible beings™™), while being ˜˜limiting with regard to the
content of cognition™™ (A73/B98): the only determinate information pro-
vided by the predicate is the exclusion of the subject-concept from the
determinate sphere of a specific concept. The exclusion of infinite judg-
ment from general logic and the claim of its usefulness ˜˜in the field of
pure a priori cognition™™ exactly parallels the restriction of the principle of
complete determination to the field of transcendental philosophy.
Indeed, some Reflexionen call infinite judgment ˜˜judgment of complete
determination.™™9
In the Transcendental Ideal, however, Kant associates complete
determination not with the form of infinite judgment, but with the
form of disjunctive judgment as the potential major premise of a dis-
junctive syllogism. And this certainly makes sense: left to itself, the
infinite judgment would leave almost entirely indeterminate, unspeci-
fied, the infinite sphere to which the sphere of the subject-concept is said
to belong. But on the other hand, disjunctive syllogism can function as
the ground for complete determination only if its disjunctive major
premise states the complete division of the infinite sphere of a concept
whose division would yield all concepts of possible beings: the logical


9
Cf. Reflexion 3063, AAxvi, p. 636.
THE CRITICAL SYSTEM
218

form of complete determination has to be jointly grounded in the forms
of infinite and disjunctive judgments.
(2) Now, from the standpoint of the Transcendental Analytic, what
makes possible the use of infinite-cum-disjunctive judgment, i.e. the
indefinitely repeated endeavor to determine any subject-concept by its
inclusion in, or exclusion from, the sphere of all other known concepts of
things, is the unity of apperception, as described in the Transcendental
Deduction of the Categories: only if one and the same act of comparison
and reflection and before this, one and the same act of synthesis achieved
in order to compare and reflect, organizes our perceptions, can all
predicates be compared to all other predicates, and therefore can con-
cepts of objects be ever further specified. This is how the unity of
apperception gives rise to the unity of experience: the unified act of
synthesis and analysis (comparison and reflection) is what connects
objects in one space and one time, and reflects them under concepts.
The infinite sphere whose division would yield all concepts of possible
entities, in which infinite judgment thinks the object thought under its
subject-concept is then the infinite sphere of the concept: ˜˜object given
in space and time,™™ that is to say ˜˜object of experience.™™ The form of
disjunctive judgment is the logical form according to which this infinite
sphere is determined.
So this is how Kant can affirm on his own, critical grounds a ˜˜principle
of complete determination™™: any singular object of experience is fully
determinate by virtue of its being comparable to every other possible
object, i.e. by virtue of its belonging in the infinite sphere of the concept:
˜˜object of experience,™™ in which its concept can be related to all other
concepts either positively or negatively. Contrary to what was the case
for rationalist metaphysics, it is not necessary to suppose that the totality
of possible predicates be actually given (in God™s infinite understanding)
to assert that every thing is either positively or negatively determined in
relation to every possible predicate. It is sufficient to have shown that the
form of our understanding is such that necessarily, any determination of
an individual thing (namely, any mark of the concept under which we
cognize it) determines it positively or negatively relative to all the con-
cepts defining the possible subspheres of the one infinite sphere of the
concept: ˜˜object of possible experience,™™ or ˜˜object given in space and
time.™™
If this is so, the principle of complete determination Kant formulates
at the beginning of section two of the Transcendental Ideal (A571“2/
B600“1) is not a new principle, in the context of the first Critique. It is a
THE TRANSCENDENTAL IDEAL 219

principle that Kant could have given as a corollary of the principle of all
synthetic judgments: ˜˜the conditions of the possibility of experience are
the conditions of the possibility of the objects of experience™™ (cf. A111,
A158/B197).10 By defining complete determination in terms of concepts
alone, rationalist metaphysicians have run away with an illusory version
of a perfectly sound principle of cognition.
The same can be said of the idea of the sum total of all possibility,
which is presupposed in the statement of the principle; and also of the
idea of the sum total of all reality, omnitudo realitatis, which depends on
the first. This is how.
We already saw how the idea of a sum total of all possibilities (the
totality of all possible predicates) is contained in the very statement of the
principle of complete determination, and is precisely what makes it
different from the logical principles of contradiction and excluded mid-
dle. But what can we understand by ˜˜possible predicate™™? According to
the Transcendental Analytic, a possible predicate is a predicate that
˜˜agrees with the formal conditions of experience (in accordance with
intuition and concepts)™™ (from the Postulates of Empirical Thought in
General, A218/B265). If this is so, comparing the predicates of an indi-
vidual thing with the sum total of possible predicates is comparing them
with all the predicates which agree (1) with the forms of intuition,
(2) with the universal relations made possible in these forms by the cate-
gories and their schemata, and (3) with the present state of our empirical

10
What I mean by this is that if the principle (˜˜the conditions of the possibility of experience
are the conditions of the possibility of the objects of experience™™) is true, and if making use
of the forms of infinite and disjunctive judgment is among the conditions of possibility of
experience (as I recalled earlier in this chapter, see pp. 217“18), then it follows that, by
virtue of these forms, every object falls under, or is excluded from, the sphere of every
possible predicate, and thus the principle of complete determination as defined by Kant in
section two of the Transcendental Ideal is true of all objects of experience (i.e. all things as
appearances). In her discussion of the original version of this chapter, Michelle Grier
criticizes me for saying (according to her) that ˜˜the principle of complete determination is
not a ˜new™ principle at all, but essentially reiterates the already established doctrine that
the ˜conditions of the possibility of experience are the conditions of the possibility of the
objects of experience™™™ (see Grier, Transcendental Illusion, p. 239). But I do not take the two
principles to be identical, I only take the one (the principle of complete determination) to
follow from the other (the principle of the possibility of experience) once it is understood
that the latter includes the role of infinite and disjunctive judgment in reflecting objects
under concepts and thus coming up with representations of individuated objects for our
intuitions. Moreover, it remains of course true that this version of the principle is different
from the illusory, purely intellectual interpretation of it. Michelle Grier™s concern, in ch. 7
of her book, is mainly with the latter; my concern is mainly with clarifying what a critical
version of the principle of complete determination might be.
THE CRITICAL SYSTEM
220

concepts. Now, we also know from the Transcendental Analytic that
among these empirical concepts, some are ˜˜positive determinations™™ or
realities, some are negative determinations, or negations. Realities are
˜˜what corresponds to sensation,™™ negations are what corresponds to the
absence of a sensation, or ˜˜a concept of the absence of an object™™ (see the
schemata of the categories of quality, A143/B182; also the table of nothing
at the end of the Analytic, A291/B347). Because of his relating reality to
sensation, and negation to the absence of sensation, Kant considers that
positive determinations, or realities, are prior to negative determina-
tions, or negations, which in fact are meaningless if one does not have a
prior concept of the corresponding positive determination. This being
so, saying that an individual thing is fully determined if it is compared to
the sum total of possible predicates can be reduced to saying that it is
fully determined if it is compared to the sum total of possible positive
predicates, or realities. From this, the comparison with negative predi-
cates analytically follows. Therefore, there is again a perfectly legitimate,
critical reading for the move from the principle of complete determin-
ation to the supposition of a sum total of all possibilities, and from there
to the supposition of a sum total of all realities, or totum realitatis.
Except, of course, in the critical context this totum realitatis remains a mere
idea: there is no given totality of positive predicates, the mere limitation of
which would give us the complete determination of each singular thing.
Predicates are not given once and for all in God™s infinite understanding,
but generated by the ˜˜logical use of the (human) understanding™™ reflecting
upon the sensible given. In other words, they are generated by what Kant
calls, at the end of section two of the Transcendental Ideal, ˜˜the distributive
use of the understanding in empirical knowledge™™ (A582/B610). So, from
the standpoint of the Transcendental Analytic, the representation of a totum
realitatis as the complete whole of positive determinations of things can only
be a goal which reason sets to the understanding for the improvement
of its knowledge, not an actually given whole. The illusion of rational
metaphysics is precisely to think that such a whole is actually given in
pure intellect alone, rather than having to be generated by the sensibly
conditioned understanding.
On the other hand, even from the critical standpoint, reality, as ˜˜that
which corresponds to sensation,™™ does indeed have to be presupposed as
given as a whole in space and time. In other words, the distributive use of
the understanding in experience does presuppose some collective whole
of experience and, corresponding to it, the unanalyzed whole of what is
given in space and time. Just as concepts of spatial and temporal
THE TRANSCENDENTAL IDEAL 221

properties of objects presuppose space and time as formal intuitions,
˜˜infinite given magnitudes,™™ it seems that realities as positive determin-
ations of things which are objects of empirical concepts presuppose the
whole of reality as that which fills space and time. Kant says precisely this,
it seems to me, when he explains why reason not only forms the idea of a
totum realitatis, but moreover forms the erroneous belief that this totum
actually exists.11 The legitimate ground for this belief, he says, is that in
every one of our efforts to cognize empirical realities or empirical posi-
tive predicates of things, some totum realitatis must indeed be presup-
posed as existing (although Kant does not mention this particular point,
I suggest he may have in mind the fact that the principle of the perma-
nence of substance, for instance, would make no sense without such a
presupposition). But one should not confuse this experientially presup-
posed whole of reality with a discursively thought whole of realities or
positive determinations.
This distinction is clearly made in the following passage from the end
of section two of the Transcendental Ideal:
an object of sense can be completely determined only if it is compared
with all the predicates of appearance and is represented through them
either affirmatively or negatively. (A581/B609)

This, I take it, relates every positive predicate of empirical things to the
distributive use of the understanding in experience, and therefore, the
merely distributive, not collective, totality of discursively reflected posi-
tive determinations. Then Kant goes on:
But because that which constitutes the thing itself (in appearance),
namely the real, has to be given, without which it could not be conceived
at all, but that in which the real in all appearances is given is the one all-
encompassing experience, the material for the possibility of all objects of
sense has to be presupposed as given in one sum total [als in einem
Inbegriffe]; and all possibility of empirical objects, their difference from
one another and their thoroughgoing determination, can rest only on
the limitation [Einschrankung] of this sum total. Now in fact no other
¨
objects except those of sense can be given to us, and they can be given
nowhere except in the context of a possible experience; consequently,
nothing is an object for us unless it presupposes the sum total of all
empirical reality [den Inbegriff aller empirischen Realitat] as condition of
¨
its possibility. (A582/B610)

11
Cf. A581/B609.
THE CRITICAL SYSTEM
222


This time, Kant states that every empirical thing, as given in intuition,
is related in experience to a presupposed whole of reality. It is just a few
lines after this passage that Kant goes on to say that we form the illusory
representation of an existing whole of positive determinations or reali-
ties because ˜˜we dialectically transform the distributive unity of the
empirical employment of our understanding into the collective unity of
a whole of experience.™™ Such a transformation, it seems to me, is the
transformation of the never-ending progress of the discursive use of the
understanding into the (illusory representation of) a given totality of
conceptual determinations of objects of experience. This illusory repre-
sentation of a ˜˜collective whole of realities™™ is ultimately hypostatized
(posited as a distinct being) into the representation of an ens realissimum,
as the single ground of all reality.12
Kant seems to waver between different formulations when he endea-
vors to lay out the relation between this purely intelligible being and its
limitations. On the one hand, he suggests that the relation of the ˜˜man-
ifoldness of things™™ and the ˜˜concept of the highest reality™™ is analogous
to that of figures and infinite space (A578/B606). But immediately after
that, he corrects the formulation and says that the highest reality is
related to the possibility of all things rather as their ground than as
their whole (Inbegriff ) (A579/B607). However one takes it, the relation
of the highest being to limited realities is merely the relation of an idea to
concepts: the relation of the purely intellectual idea of an omnitudo
realitatis, i.e. totality of positive predicates, to concepts of things in gen-
eral and their determinations, as limitations (cf. A579/B607).

12
Kant™s claim, at the end of section two of the Transcendental Ideal, is thus that the only
totum realitatis whose existence we can meaningfully assert is the whole of reality given to
the senses, which we presuppose as a condition for the unity of experience and for the
distributive use of the understanding by which realities (particular positive determinations
of things) are thought under concepts. This is the only refutation Kant ever gives (without
saying that he is giving it) of his own pre-critical proof of the existence of God. That proof is
none of the three proofs Kant goes on to criticize in the next sections of the Transcendental
Ideal. It rests on the principle that the matter of all possibility has to depend on one single
totum realitatis, an individual being or ens realissimum (see The Only Possible Argument in
Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God, in Theoretical Philosophy, AAii, pp. 77“81).
Kant now says that the relation between a totum realitatis and limited realities, if thought by
pure concepts, is just this: a relation between an idea and concepts. As a relation between
existences, it is nothing over and above the relation between (1) the indeterminate whole of
reality presupposed for the distributive use of the understanding in experience, and (2)
the determinate limitations of that whole, reflected under concepts of realities or positive
determinations of things, negations (the absence of positive determinations) and limit-
ations (realities limited in relation to other realities).
THE TRANSCENDENTAL IDEAL 223

This reduction of the purely intellectual relation between ens realissimum
and limited realities to a relation between an idea and concepts makes it a
mere form. Here Kant™s analysis complements and develops a theme that
was announced as early as the appendix to the Transcendental Analytic:
the Amphiboly of Concepts of Reflection, to which I shall now turn.
Let me first recapitulate. I have suggested, following an indication by
Kant himself (cf. A581/B609), that we can find in the Transcendental
Analytic the resources for a critical interpretation of the ˜˜principle
of complete determination™™ formulated at the beginning of section
two of the Transcendental Ideal. We can also find the resources for a
representation of the totum realitatis conditioning the application of the

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