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principle that would conform to the restrictions of the use of the under-
standing in cognition established in the Transcendental Analytic. I have
suggested that according to this critical interpretation, the whole of
reality that grounds the representation of the complete determination
of things is the indeterminate whole of reality given in space and time,
presupposed in any empirical use of the understanding giving rise to
discursively represented realities or positive determinations of things (as
appearances). However, recognizing that the only existence of such a
whole is that of the whole of reality presupposed for the use of the
understanding in experience does not do away with the purely intel-
lectual representation of the relation between a discursively thought
(conceptual, intellectual) totum realitatis and the particular realities or
determinations of things. I now propose to compare what Kant says, in
the Transcendental Ideal, about this intellectual representation, to
Kant™s criticism of the rationalist totum realitatis and ens realissimum, in
the Amphiboly of Concepts of Reflection.

The Amphiboly of Concepts of Reflection
In the Transcendental Analytic, Kant™s criticism of the intellectualist
philosopher™s notion of a whole of reality occurs in the context of
Kant™s examination of the fourth pair of concepts of reflection: matter,
form. To understand the point Kant wants to make, it will be useful to
recall what he generally means by ˜˜concepts of reflection,™™ and the
specific role assigned to the last pair of these concepts.
Kant distinguishes two types of reflection: ˜˜logical reflection,™™ which
he also calls logical comparison; and ˜˜transcendental reflection.™™ Logical
reflection is ˜˜a mere comparison,™™ where ˜˜one completely abstracts
from the cognitive power to which the given representations belong™™

(A262/B318). Or again: ˜˜The concepts can be compared logically with-
out worrying about where their objects belong, whether as noumena
to the understanding, or as phenomena to the sensibility™™ (A269/B325).
This logical reflection, I suggest, is the same as the ˜˜logical use of the
understanding™™ which according to the 1770 Inaugural Dissertation was
common to all cognition and by which
when a cognition has been given, no matter how, it is regarded either as
contained under or as opposed to a characteristic mark common to
several cognitions, and that either immediately and directly, as is the
case in judgments, which lead to a distinct cognition, or mediately, as is the
case in inferences, which lead to a complete cognition.13

It is also the same as the ˜˜logical use of the understanding™™ described in
x10 of the Transcendental Analytic, where Kant characterized the
understanding as a ˜˜capacity to judge™™ (Vermogen zu urteilen) after saying
that we form concepts only in order to judge by their means (A68/B93).
In the Amphiboly, Kant indicates that this logical reflection or compar-
ison, namely (if I am right in the identifications I just suggested), the
logical use of the understanding, is guided by ˜˜concepts of reflection™™ or
˜˜concepts of comparison™™ which correspond respectively to the four
headings of the table of judgments: identity and diversity (Einerleiheit
und Verschiedenheit) for universal and particular judgments; agreement
and conflict (Einstimmung und Widerstreit) for affirmative and negative
judgments; internal and external (Innere und Außere) for categorical and
hypothetical judgments; matter and form (Materie und Form) for mod-
ality of judgments (A262/B318“A268/B324).
I understand these correspondences in the following way. First, iden-
tity and difference: we compare objects, or perhaps lower (more specific)
concepts, thought under a concept A, to find out whether they are
identical or different (einerlei oder verschieden) with regard to their being
also thought under a concept B; we thus form universal judgments (all
As are B) or particular judgments (some As are B, some As are not B).
Second, agreement and conflict (Einstimmung, Widerstreit): we compare
concepts, as regards their comprehension (the marks which belong to
them), to find out whether they are in agreement (As are B) or conflict
(As are not B). Third, inner and outer (Innere, Außere): we compare
concepts in order to find out whether one of them (say, A) contains in
itself (˜˜internally™™) the sufficient condition or ground to assert the other

Inaugural Dissertation, AAii, p. 393.

(categorical judgment: A is B) or whether an additional, ˜˜external™™
condition or ground should be added, in order to ground the attribution
of B to A (hypothetical judgment: if C is D, then A is B). Of course in this
third case, the situation, from a Kantian point of view, is complicated by
the fact that this ˜˜internal™™ or ˜˜external™™ condition for predication may
or may not have to take into account the intuition thought under the
subject-concept: the categorical, just as the hypothetical judgment, may
be analytic or synthetic. But as Kant says repeatedly, logic does not
take into account this difference, which concerns the origin and content
of the concepts, not the mere form of thought. Similarly, the description
of logical reflection in the Amphiboly chapter merely considers the form
of judgment and the concepts of reflection, or concepts of comparison,
guiding the act of judgment according to each aspect of its form.
Now the point of the Amphiboly chapter is to show that Leibniz
confused logical reflection or comparison, as I just characterized it
(comparison of concepts to form judgments, whatever the origin of
those concepts), with a comparison of objects. Leibniz thought that at
least for an infinite understanding, things could be known by concepts
alone, and therefore, the concepts or rules for comparison of concepts
could be understood as concepts or rules for comparison of things.
Things that are identical with respect to all possible predicates were
therefore numerically identical. Because no logical conflict, or contra-
diction, can be thought between two positive determinations or realities
thought by concepts alone, no conflict could be thought between two
positive determinations or realities in things. By pure concepts, a thing
could be known exhaustively through its intrinsic properties: predica-
tion under an external condition could be reduced to predication under
internal conditions; indeed these internal conditions were marks analy-
tically contained in the subject-concept. In opposition to all of this, Kant
maintains that things cannot be cognized by concepts alone. They
are given in space and time, the forms of our sensibility. Their indivi-
dual representation or intuition is radically distinct from any concept,
although concepts are of course formed by ˜˜comparison, reflection, and
abstraction™™ from what is given to sensible intuition. Therefore, logical
reflection must be complemented by transcendental reflection or
transcendental topic, which distinguishes between the comparison of
concepts and the comparison of objects given in space and time.
Notice, though, that transcendental reflection inherits its concepts of
comparison, or rules for the comparison of things in space and time,
from logical reflection. In transcendental reflection, one wonders what it

means for things, as opposed to mere concepts, to be identical or differ-
ent, in agreement or conflict, internally or externally determined. In
other words, objects are still compared through the grid of our discur-
sive understanding and its concepts of comparison or rules for compar-
ison. But the purpose of transcendental reflection is precisely to show
that these rules have to acquire a different use when they are applied to
objects given in space and time.
This is where matter and form come into the picture. These two
concepts, says Kant, ˜˜ground all other reflection, so inseparably are
they bound up with every use of the understanding™™ (A266/B322).
This gives them a status different from that of other concepts of reflec-
tion. They are second-order concepts, concepts by means of which
we are asked to reflect upon the act of comparison itself: every act
of comparison has a matter (the determinable, what is ˜˜given™™ in
thought) and a form (the determination, the processing of what is
given in thought). Kant thus makes a very un-Aristotelian use of
these Aristotelian concepts. Matter and form are matter and form not
of things, but of thought. Indeed, this is how Kant uses these concepts
consistently in the Jasche Logic:

The matter of concepts is the object, their form universality.14

The matter of the judgment consists in the given representations that are
combined in the unity of consciousness in the judgment, the form in the
determination of the way that the various representations belong, as
such, to one consciousness.15

The matter of inferences of reason consists in the antecedent propositions
or premises, the form in the conclusion insofar as it contains the

Jasche Logic, x2, AAix, p. 91.
Ibid., x18, AAx, p. 101.
Ibid., x59, AAix, p. 121. We already saw that by consequentia (or Konsequenz in German)
Kant means the relation between subject and predicate, antecedent and consequent,
concept and its divisions, in a categorical, hypothetical, or disjunctive judgment. We also
saw that it is the obtaining of the consequentia, not the independent truth-value of the
components of a proposition or an inference, that make the proposition true or the
inference valid (see above, ch. 4, pp. 97“9; ch. 6, pp. 150“5.; ch. 7, pp. 188“90). I believe
what Kant means, in the present case, is that the form of the inference is the consequentia
(the relation between subject and predicate) expressed in the conclusion, which itself
analytically results from the relations or consequentiis expressed in the premises of the

And finally:
The universal doctrine of method . . . has to deal with the form of science
in general, or with the ways of acting so as to connect the manifold of
cognition in a science.17

Now, the intellectualist philosopher™s mistake is to think that this
relation between matter and form of thought is sufficient to define the
relation between matter and form of things, which can thus be cognized
as noumena, objects of pure thought. In fact, retorts Kant, things as we
know them are not noumena, but phenomena. The matter and form of
phenomena are not matter and form of pure thought, but matter and
form of sensibility: matter as that which ˜˜corresponds to™™ sensation, form
as space and time, forms of intuition. Kant™s main point is that this being
so, the relation between matter and form of possibility is the reverse of
what the rationalists (as he understands them) made it to be: from the
rationalist standpoint, the matter of possibility is prior to its form, and
this is why the rationalist supposes an unbounded reality (the intelligible
˜˜matter™™ of all determinations of things) by limitation of which ( ¼ the
˜˜form™™ of all possible things) every particular thing is thought. But from
the critical standpoint, the form of possibility is prior to its matter. There
is of course more here than a mere reversal of priority: the very notion of
possibility is then completely redefined. The possible has no ontological,
but merely a transcendental status: what is possible is what agrees with
the formal conditions of our knowledge (intuition and concepts). In
other words, the ˜˜possible™™ has no existence of its own, be it as a pure
essence in God™s understanding, alternative possible worlds, or what-
ever else. Unbounded reality as the ground of all possibility is replaced
by something which has, left to itself, no reality (namely no positive
determination) at all: space and time, as mere forms of intuition:
[I]n respect to things in general, unbounded reality was viewed as the
matter of all possibility, but its limitation (negation) as that form through
which one thing is distinguished from another in accordance with trans-
cendental concepts. The intellectualist philosopher could not bear it that
form should precede the things and determine their possibility; a quite
appropriate criticism, if he assumed that we intuit things as they are
(though with confused representation). But since sensible intuition is
an entirely peculiar subjective condition, which grounds all perception

Ibid., x96, AAix, p. 139.

a priori, and the form of which is original, thus the form is given for itself
alone, and so far is it from being the case that the matter (or the things
themselves, which appear) should be the ground (as we would have to
judge according to mere concepts), that rather its very possibility pre-
supposes a formal intuition (time and space) as given. (A267“8/B323“4)

But given the argument of the whole chapter on concepts of reflec-
tion, which is itself a mere appendix to the argument of the Analytic as a
whole, Kant™s point can be extended: the primacy of form over matter
does not concern merely sensibility, but also discursive thought. The
whole array of forms of discursivity (the form of universality of concepts,
forms of judgment as forms of the capacity to generate concepts to be
combined in judgments, forms of syllogisms as imbedded in forms of
judgment, and finally the form of a system as the form of the unity of
empirical cognitions related to the unity of space and time) has to be
presupposed for any empirical object to be cognized under concepts. In
this developed assertion of the primacy of form over matter, the ens
realissimum of rational metaphysics and of Kant™s own pre-critical sys-
tem18 finds its overthrow. As a ground of all possibility, it is reduced to a
mere form, with no ontological status.
This point is vividly expressed in a remarkable Reflexion dated by
Adickes in 1783“4, where the ens realissimum is presented as a discursive
form corresponding to the intuitive forms of space and time:

That something be actual [wirklich] because it is possible according to a
universal concept, does not follow. But that something be actual because
it is completely determined through its concept among everything pos-
sible, and distinguished as singular [als eines] from everything possible,
means the same as: it is not a universal concept any more, but the
representation of a singular thing completely determined by concepts
in relation to everything possible. This relation to everything possible by
the principle of complete determination is the same, by concepts of
reason, as is the somewhere and some time [irgendwo und irgendwenn]
by conditions of sensible intuition. For space and time determine not
only the intuition of a thing, but at the same time its individuality by the
relation of place and instant . . .
From this it follows that the ens realissimum must be given prior to the
real concept of all possibility [zu dem realen Begriffe aller Moglichkeit vorher
gegeben sein musse]. And just as space cannot be first thought as possible,

Cf. above, n. 12.

but must be given, not as an object actual in itself, but as a mere sensible
form in which alone objects can be intuited, in the same way the ens
realissimum must be given not as an object, but as the mere form of
reason, in order to think the difference of every possible entity in its
complete determination; it must be given as an idea which is subjectively
actual, before anything is thought as possible; but from this it does not
follow that the object of this idea is actual. One sees nevertheless that in
relation to the human understanding (and its concepts) the idea of a
highest being is just as necessary as is space and time in relation to the
nature of our sensibility and its intuition.19

If we compare this to what is said of the ens realissimum in the
Transcendental Ideal, we can say the following. In the Transcendental
Ideal, Kant argued that reason, by an unavoidable illusion, forms the idea
of a totum realitatis, individuated as an ens realissimum, as the condition of
the complete determination of individual things in general. But as given
to us, things are completely determined, i.e. individuated, only insofar as
they are empirically given in space and time. The totum realitatis we do
have to presuppose as the given condition of their complete determina-
tion is thus the (indeterminate, collective) whole of reality given in space
and time. However, making this critical point was not putting an end to
the purely rational idea of a whole of reality. Rather, it was constraining us
to take it for what it is: a mere thought, without an object.
What we now see is that the Amphiboly of Concepts of Reflection had
already given a status to this thought: it is a mere form, or mode of
ordering our representation, as the highest condition of the systematic
division by virtue of which individual things are conceptually deter-
mined, i.e. located in a universal scale of genera and species. As a
discursive form, it does have a strictly intellectual status. What it does
not have is any relation to objectivity independently of the matter that it
determines (inferences, judgments, empirical concepts, and thus ulti-
mately and mediately, the matter of those empirical concepts them-
selves, i.e. the matter of appearances, ˜˜that which corresponds to
Now, this notion of form, culminating in the form of complete deter-
mination supposed to guide all reflection, brings us very close indeed to
the exposition of reflective judgment in the Introduction to the third
Critique. I now turn to this last text.

Reflexion 6289, AAxviii, pp. 558“9.

Reflective judgment and the affinity of appearances
In the First Introduction to the third Critique, Kant raises the following
question: how can we assume that what is empirically given to our effort
of cognition has such homogeneity as to allow for cognition under
empirical concepts and empirical laws? He answers this question by
stating that our power of judgment assumes, as a principle for its reflec-
tive use, that there is in fact in nature no ˜˜disturbingly unbounded
diversity of empirical laws and heterogeneity of natural forms.™™
Rather, ˜˜through the affinity of particular laws under more general
ones, nature qualifies for an experience as an empirical system.™™20
Now, such an affinity of appearances is precisely what the principle of
complete determination and its presupposition of a sum total of all
possibilities, and ultimately an ens realissimum, was meant to ground, in
the Transcendental Ideal:
Through this principle, every thing is related to a common correlate,
namely the collective possibility [die gesammte Moglichkeit], which, if it (i.e.,
the matter for all possible predicates) were present in the idea of an
individual thing, would prove an affinity of everything possible through
the identity of the ground of its complete determination. (A572/B600n)

But the critical analysis of the Ideal concluded that the ˜˜one thing™™ could
be asserted to exist only as the whole of reality presupposed for the unity
of experience, from which positive determinations or realities were
generated distributively through the empirical use of the understand-
ing. And the criticism of the Amphiboly of Concepts of Reflection had
previously given the warning that the form of affinity, or homogeneity of
the empirical given, was precisely this: a mere form, imbedded in the
concepts of reflection describing ˜˜in all its manifoldness the comparison
of representations which is prior to the concepts of things™™ (A269/B325).
The Introduction to the third Critique, it seems to me, makes the same
point. But it makes it more clearly than before, because it makes it
without going once more through the criticism of the illusory version
of complete determination in rational metaphysics. For the same reason,
the articulation of the unity conferred to nature by the universal princi-
ples of the understanding, and its unity all the way down to the sub-
sumption of individual objects under particular empirical laws thanks to
the principle of reflective judgment stated above, is fully elaborated. It is

Critique of the Power of Judgment, First Introduction, AAxx, p. 209.

often thought that this articulation consists in an opposition, or at least a
strict separation, between the determinative use and the reflective use of
the power of judgment.21 And true enough, Kant writes:
The power of judgment can be considered either as a mere power to
reflect according to a certain principle, upon a given representation, in
order to form a possible concept [zum behuf eines dadurch moglichen
Begriffe]; or as a power to determine a concept available as a ground,
by means of a given empirical representation.22

In the second aspect, one may recognize the use of the power of judgment
by means of which categories are applied to phenomena. The first aspect,
on the other hand, is the use of the power of judgment by means of which
empirical concepts and empirical laws are formed. But in fact these two
uses are, in Kant™s presentation, not opposed, but complementary, and
indeed, inseparable. There is no determination without reflection, deter-
mination by the pure concepts of understanding is indeed nothing but an
˜˜instruction for reflection.™™ What is also the case, though, is that reflection
(by which empirical concepts and laws are found) needs more than the
˜˜instruction™™ by the pure concepts of the understanding: it needs the
specific principle which presupposes, for the benefit of the power of
judgment, the affinity or homogeneity of phenomena. These two aspects:
(1) determination for reflection, (2) reflection under a principle of affinity,
are clearly stated, and stated together, in the following passage, which is
very famous but nevertheless insufficiently heeded:
With regard to the universal concepts of nature, under which a concept
of experience [ein Erfahrungsbegriff] (without any particular empirical
determination) is first possible at all, reflection already has its direction in
the concept of a nature in general, i.e. in the understanding, and the
power of judgment requires no special principle of reflection, but rather
schematizes the latter a priori [sondern schematisiert dieselbe a priori] and

Michael Friedman, for instance, suggests that an important aspect of the ˜˜transition project™™
of the Opus Postumum was to overcome the discontinuity between the formerly ˜˜entirely
independent domains™™ of reflective and determinative judgments. See his Kant and the
Exact Sciences, p. 262, and in general pp. 242“64. Friedman does acknowledge, however,
that reflection should be seen as playing a role in the Metaphysical Foundations. But he seems to
think that Kant became aware of this fact only at the time of the ˜˜transition project™™ and under
the spur of the problems raised in connection with the Aether Deduction (ibid., p. 320). If
I am right in the analyses I propose, the reflective aspect of judgment played an essential role
in the argument of the first Critique itself, and therefore also in Kant™s conception of the role of
the categories in the Metaphysical Foundations. On this point, see my concluding remarks.
AAxx, p. 211; see also AAv, p. 179.

applies these schemata to every empirical synthesis, without which no
judgment of experience would be possible at all. The power of judgment
is here in its reflection at the same time determining [emphasis mine] and its
transcendental schematism serves it at the same time as a rule under
which given empirical intuitions are subsumed.
But for those concepts which must first of all be found for given
empirical intuitions, and which presuppose a particular law of nature,
in accordance with which alone particular experience is possible, the

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