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independently of one™s awareness of it, is produced in the process
of uniting the manifold in an identical consciousness. At A108 Kant
reiterates that pure apperception is simply consciousness of the act of
synthesis: for the mind could not think its own identity a priori in the
manifold of representations “if it did not have before its eyes the iden-
tity of its action, which subjects all synthesis of apprehension (which
is empirical) to a transcendental unity.” As we saw above, this entails
only the possibility of recognizing the identity of self-consciousness,
rather than its actual recognition.
Kant next distinguishes this transcendental self-consciousness from
empirical self-consciousness. He agrees with Hume that consciousness
of the self given in intuition is empirical and constantly changing: “it
can provide no standing or abiding self in this stream of inner appear-
ances . . . That which should necessarily be represented as numerically
identical cannot be thought of as such through empirical data” (A107).
Empirical apperception is awareness of oneself as a particular subject.
As Hume puts it, it is awareness of one™s own “bundle of percep-
tions,” which has a constantly changing content. In representing our
empirical selves, we take ourselves as objects of experience, distinct
The Transcendental Deduction
114
from other objects, including other subjects. Thus the concept of the
empirical self differs for each consciousness. By contrast, the t.u.a. is
a merely formal consciousness, and not the awareness of an object.
It is simply the thought of the numerically identical subject of any
mental state. Because it does not pick out a particular subject, it is
the same thought for each thinker. Kant agrees with Hume that a ¬‚ux
of perceptions cannot provide the notion of a numerically identical
consciousness. Hume failed to see, however, that such a consciousness
is required to represent the necessary unity of any object, including
oneself as an empirical consciousness. This is why Kant describes the
t.u.a. as original:
This pure, original unchanging consciousness I will now name transcendental
apperception . . . even the purest objective unity, namely that of the a priori
concepts (space and time) is possible only through relation of the intuitions
to it. The numerical unity of this apperception therefore grounds all concepts
a priori. (A107)

The t.u.a. is a primitive fact of our mental life, and cannot be derived
from any other features of consciousness. On the contrary, all uni-
¬ed representations, pure or empirical, of physical or mental objects,
presuppose it.
Kant™s theory that the objectivity of representation originates in
synthesis has a second important implication, namely that the ideas
of the transcendental object and of the necessary unity of appercep-
tion are correlates. At A123 Kant says, “For the standing and lasting
I (of pure apperception) constitutes the correlate of all our represen-
tations so far as it is merely possible to become conscious of them”
as representations. To say they are correlates means that the ideas
mutually imply one another: to be aware of an object of my represen-
tation is (at least implicitly) to distinguish objective from subjective
states, and vice versa. This point becomes prominent in the B edition
deduction.
The ¬nal step of the argument identi¬es the synthetic functions
required to produce the idea of objectivity with pure concepts. The
necessary unity essential to the idea of objectivity “is impossible if
the intuition could not have been produced through a function of
synthesis in accordance with a rule that makes the reproduction of
The Transcendental Deduction 115
the manifold necessary a priori” (A105). That is, the rules governing
the synthetic operations that produce the idea of an object in general
are contained in the categories. When we represent a triangle, for
example, the relations among the sides of the triangle must conform
to certain rules (e.g., that they enclose angles totaling 180—¦ ). These
rules governing the ways the manifold is connected “ the functions
of synthesis “ are contained in the concept of the triangle. Not until
A110“11 does Kant argue explicitly that these concepts must be pure or
a priori. Merely empirical concepts could not represent the necessity
and universality required for objectivity. Thus Kant concludes that the
categories “are fundamental concepts for thinking objects in general
for the appearances, and they therefore have a priori objective validity”
(A111). In sum, the categories contain the rules required to think the
data given in intuition as representing objects or objective states of
affairs. Consequently they apply necessarily to anything represented
as an object.
In section 3, from A115 to A119, Kant presents the same ideas again,
in an order closer to that of the B edition deduction. At A120 he then
states that he will demonstrate the relation between the categories
and appearances by starting from the opposite point, namely from the
empirical data. In what follows he rehearses the argument concerning
the threefold synthesis, from empirical unity to transcendental unity.
It is understandable if the reader feels that Kant is rehashing the same
material, without a clear sense of progress.
Although it foreshadows many of the ideas of the B edition deduc-
tion, the A edition version has several crucial defects. First, Kant
fails to establish the necessity of transcendental self-consciousness
for all thinking. Although awareness of objects requires a numeri-
cally identical consciousness, Kant does not explain the connection
to self-consciousness. Second, Kant does not support his claim that
this self-consciousness can occur only through synthetic acts. Finally,
the notion of judgment is completely lacking in the A edition discus-
sion. This is especially egregious, since Kant derived the pure con-
cepts in the Metaphysical Deduction from the forms of judgment,
and also claimed that the only function of the understanding is to
judge. We shall see how his strategy in the B edition addresses these
problems.
The Transcendental Deduction
116

3. t h e b ed it ion de d uc ti on

a. Preliminary remarks
Commentators generally agree that the B edition proof divides into
two parts, the ¬rst located in sections 15“20, and the second in sections
21“6. As stated in the title of section 20, the ¬rst part concludes that
“All sensible intuitions stand under the categories, as conditions under
which alone their manifold can come together in one consciousness”
(B143). Kant™s ¬nal conclusion, located at the end of section 26, is this:
“all synthesis, through which even perception itself becomes possible,
stands under the categories, and since experience is cognition through
connected perceptions, the categories are conditions of the possibility
of experience, and are thus valid a priori of all objects of experience”
(B161). The dif¬culty is explaining the relation of the two parts.
Dieter Henrich made the ¬rst plausible argument that the two
proofs are separate, yet both required to show that the categories are
necessary conditions for experience of objects given in intuition. In
the ¬rst step Kant assumes that the intuitions already “contain” unity,
and he argues that wherever there is unity, it must be thought by
means of the categories. But this does not yet guarantee that what-
ever we intuit will be subject to the categories. Kant needs the second
argument to bring spatiotemporal intuitions under the range of intu-
itions containing unity, to prove that whatever we intuit spatially and
temporally must thereby be thought by the categories.7
Henry Allison agrees that the two arguments are two steps in a
single proof, but disagrees about the relation between them.8 He
maintains that the two steps use different notions of an object, draw-
ing different conclusions about the categories. In the ¬rst step, Kant
argues that the categories necessarily apply to any object of judgment
for a discursive intelligence, one that thinks about objects given inde-
pendently in an “intuition in general.”9 The notion of the object here
7 Henrich, “The Proof-Structure of Kant™s Transcendental Deduction,” 642.
8 See chapter 7 of Kant™s Transcendental Idealism, 133“72. Allison criticizes Henrich™s interpre-
tation at 351n6.
9 Kant classi¬es intelligences into intuitive and discursive. An intuitive intellect can, through the
mere act of thinking, provide its own data for judgment (B135). Human intellect is discursive,
since the sensibility provides our data for thought. The term “intuition in general” refers to
any data given to a discursive intellect, regardless of its form.
The Transcendental Deduction 117
is the object of thought, denoted by the German Object. This step
attempts to demonstrate the objective validity of the categories, to
show that they are required for thinking about objects. The second
step argues that the categories apply necessarily to objects of expe-
rience, and thus have objective reality. The German word for object
here is Gegenstand, which denotes the object given in intuition. Only
in the second stage does Kant connect the categories to our form
of spatiotemporal intuition. In this discussion I shall follow Allison™s
interpretation, since it provides a more coherent reading of the text.

b. Stage one: sections 15“20
Section 15: general characterization of synthesis
Section 15 establishes a claim crucial to Kant™s theory of cognition,
that for a discursive intellect, the manifold of intuition is not given
as uni¬ed. Instead, (complex) representations are uni¬ed by means
of thinking. This act of combining is a spontaneous act of the under-
standing (B130). Kant calls it synthesis,
to draw attention to the fact that we can represent nothing as combined in
the object without having previously combined it ourselves, and that among
all representations combination is the only one that is not given through
objects but can be executed only by the subject itself, since it is an act of its
self-activity. (B130)
This is an important corrective to theories that overlook the role of
the understanding in unifying sense impressions. Because sensibility
is passive, it cannot combine the data given in intuition. Furthermore,
even sense impressions given as spatially or temporally contiguous are
not thereby uni¬ed into impressions of an object. Kant™s point is that
any combination recognized in a uni¬ed representation must be a
thought combination. This is true even of the pure forms of space and
time, which provide only a priori manifolds. This data can represent
one space and time only insofar as we think of it as belonging to
one space and time. At the end of this ¬rst paragraph Kant points
out that such combinatory synthetic acts are always presupposed by
analysis, acts which divide representations into parts. In order for us
to separate out the parts of a complex representation, they must ¬rst
have been combined. He will say more about this in section 16.
The Transcendental Deduction
118
The ¬nal point of section 15 concerns the unity of consciousness
required for synthetic acts of the understanding. Uni¬ed representa-
tions are those in which one is conscious both of the manifold parts
and also of the their interconnection. In such a combination, the
unity is thought by means of a concept. (This is important since there
are forms of connection, such as association, which do not arise by
means of concepts.) At B131 Kant points out that conceptual unity
cannot result from the act of combining, since the former makes the
combinatory act possible. Moreover, the fundamental unity of con-
sciousness precedes even the category of unity correlated with the
quantitative form of judgment, since all use of concepts in judgment
presupposes unity of thought. Kant says this unity must be sought
“someplace higher, namely in that which itself contains the ground
of the unity of different concepts in judgments, and hence of the
possibility of the understanding, even in its logical use” (B131). This
is Kant™s beginning point for his deduction in section 16.

Section 16: the original synthetic unity of apperception
The deduction of¬cially begins here, where the ¬rst sentence states
the ¬rst premise: “The I think must be able to accompany all my
representations; for otherwise something would be represented in me
that could not be thought at all, which is as much as to say that the
representation would either be impossible or else at least would be
nothing for me” (B131“2). This sentence includes several claims. First,
it is necessarily true of me, as a discursive intellect, that I can attach
the “I think” to any state that represents something to me. Kant is
not saying that in fact I always do this, only that it must be possible
for me. If I could not, he says, the representation would be “nothing
for me.” This means that states that represent something to me have
two features: ¬rst, I can recognize them as my own states; and second,
they have an intentional object of which I can be conscious. In other
words, states that are representations for me have both subjective and
objective aspects, which I can distinguish.10
Now the act of attaching the “I think” is the act of apperception
or self-consciousness. Insofar as I recognize a representation as mine, I
10 Allison says that the claim that such representations would be “nothing for me” does not
imply that they would not exist, but rather that I would not be conscious of them as my
representations. He believes Kant thinks we could have unconscious representations. See
Kant™s Transcendental Idealism, 137 and 353n18.
The Transcendental Deduction 119
ascribe it to myself, and thus must be conscious of myself as the sub-
ject of the state. As in the A edition, Kant calls this self-consciousness
the transcendental unity of apperception (t.u.a.), and he distinguishes
it from empirical self-consciousness. The t.u.a. is original because it
is not derived from any other representation, but is a primitive fact of
consciousness. It is pure rather than empirical because it has no dis-
tinguishing content of its own. Kant says it is in all consciousness “one
and the same, [and] cannot be accompanied by any further represen-
tation” (B132). Recall that empirical self-consciousness is awareness of
oneself as a particular subject. In addition to the “I think” it includes
the speci¬c content of inner sense. By contrast, “through the I, as a
simple representation, nothing manifold is given” (B135). In a later
section in the Dialectic, Kant calls the I of apperception “a single
thing that cannot be resolved into a plurality of subjects, and hence a
logically simple subject” (B407). Thus the t.u.a. is the bare thought
of the numerical identity of the self as the thinking subject.
In several passages Kant says this ¬rst premise is analytic: “this
principle of the necessary unity of apperception is, to be sure, itself
identical, thus an analytic proposition” (B135; also B138 and B407).
Now it is important to understand exactly what claim is analytic,
since from this premise Kant wants to derive the synthetic conclu-
sion that the categories apply necessarily to any object of thought.
The key is the scope of the statement, “The I think must be able to
accompany all my representations.” Kant is claiming not that this
statement is analytically true of all conscious beings, but rather that
it is analytically true for any consciousness that can recognize its own
representations. There are two relevant contrasts here. At B138“9 Kant
distinguishes human consciousness from an intuitive intellect which
generates its own manifold through its thinking. For such an intel-
lect, there is no distinction between subjective and objective states,
and so such an intellect would not be capable of this original self-
consciousness. The second contrast is with animal perceivers, which
lack intellectual capacities altogether and thus cannot recognize their
representations as such. They might have a uni¬ed consciousness,
but they would lack a uni¬ed self-consciousness. In other words, it is
a brute fact (and therefore a synthetic truth) that human perceivers
are discursive intellects who can recognize their own representations.
But it is an analytic truth that any consciousness that can recognize
its own representations can attach the “I think” to any of them.
The Transcendental Deduction
120
The second premise occurs at B133: “this thoroughgoing identity of
the apperception of a manifold given in intuition contains a synthesis
of the representations, and is possible only through the conscious-
ness of this synthesis.” To say that the t.u.a. “contains” a synthesis
means that in order to think the identity of the “I” one must con-
nect a manifold of representations in thought. To recognize that it
is the same “I” in “I think a” and in “I think b” one must connect
the thoughts so that one thinks “I think a + b.” Kant™s strong claim
here is that performing such a synthesis is a necessary condition for
recognizing the identity of self-consciousness. In thinking one™s self-
identity by ascribing representations to oneself, one both connects
the representations and (at least implicitly) recognizes this connec-
tion. At B133“4 Kant repeats his A edition claim that consciousness
of one™s numerical identity cannot be derived from empirical self-
consciousness. Instead, to recognize the empirical self requires one to
unite the empirical manifold in a numerically identical consciousness.
Thus empirical self-consciousness presupposes the t.u.a.
The ¬nal point in section 16 concerns Kant™s claim at B133“4 that
the apperception, like concepts, has both an analytical and a syn-
thetic unity. This is easier to grasp if we begin with his discussion
of concepts in the footnote. Here Kant argues that although both
kinds of unity are essential to general representations, the synthetic
unity provided by concepts is more fundamental than their analytical
unity. The analytical unity of a concept is the unity it provides as a
common characteristic of things. In thinking the concept “solidity,”
we recognize it as a feature that belongs to potentially many things. In
representing a feature common to its instances, the concept provides
analytic unity. But these instances are complex things, which have
many different properties. For example, they must also be spatially
extended and have other physical properties. Kant says the objects
analytically united under the concept “also have something different
in themselves” (B134). And he concludes: “therefore only by means
of an antecedently conceived possible synthetic unity can I represent
to myself the analytical unity.” That is, to represent the objects that
possess common characteristics, one must ¬rst represent the unity
of the complex object. In its synthetic function, a concept uni¬es
diverse features of the object. For example, the concept “chair” uni-
¬es the diverse properties such as shape, size, weight, and location
that belong to a chair. Kant™s point is that although concepts contain
The Transcendental Deduction 121
both kinds of unity, synthetic unity is more fundamental because it
is presupposed by analytical unity.
At B133“4 he makes the same claim about the t.u.a.: “the analyt-
ical unity of apperception is only possible under the presupposition
of some synthetic one.” In other words, the “I think” as attached to
each representation functions on one hand as a common character-
istic. Abstracted from all content of representation, it has an analytic
unity. But since this identical self-consciousness requires a synthesis
of representations, the “I think” also produces a synthetic unity. In
this respect it functions as the form of any thought in which one uni-
¬es different representations. For this reason Kant calls it “the highest
point to which one must af¬x all use of the understanding . . . indeed
this faculty is the understanding itself” (B134n). In short, the t.u.a. is
the very basis, and thus the form, of all thinking.

Section 17: the relation between the t.u.a. and the notion of an object
In section 17 Kant establishes what Allison calls the “reciprocity the-
sis,” namely that the t.u.a. is both necessary and suf¬cient for repre-
senting objects.11 This is equivalent to showing both that whenever
one performs the “I think” one thereby represents an object (or objec-
tive state of affairs), and that whenever one represents an object one
thereby connects representations in the synthetic unity of appercep-
tion. It does not become clear until section 19 that this act is judgment.
Once we put these points together we can get a better idea of what
Kant means by the objective validity of representation.
Kant™s entire argument in section 17 is contained in the second
paragraph:
Understanding is, generally speaking, the faculty of cognitions. These con-
sist in the determinate relation of given representations to an object. An
object, however, is that in the concept of which the manifold of a given
intuition is united. Now, however, all uni¬cation of representations requires
unity of consciousness in the synthesis of them. Consequently the unity
of consciousness is that which alone constitutes the relation of represen-
tations to an object, thus their objective validity, and consequently is that
which makes them into cognitions and on which even the possibility of the
understanding rests. (B137)
Let us take this argument point by point.
11 See Kant™s Transcendental Idealism, 144“8.
The Transcendental Deduction
122
First Kant describes the understanding as the faculty of cogni-
tion, which implies that the mere data given in intuition are not in
themselves cognitions. Next he de¬nes a cognition as a “determinate
relation of given representation to an object,” which simply means a
representation of a determinate object. His point is that the function
of the understanding is to know objects. Implicit is the idea that at
the ¬rst order, the representations are those given in the manifold
of intuition. Next comes the key to this section, Kant™s de¬nition of
an object as “that in the concept of which the manifold of a given
intuition is united.” This tortured sentence in effect de¬nes an object
as whatever is thought as a uni¬ed manifold by means of a concept.
The object here is the object of thought; the de¬nition establishes
that it must be a complex whose parts (the manifold) are uni¬ed
by a concept. Drawing on section 15, the next sentence states that
all uni¬ed representations contain consciousness of unity. From sec-
tion 16 we know that consciousness of unity is based on the t.u.a.
Thus, Kant concludes, it is the t.u.a. that confers objective valid-
ity on representations. That is, the act of bringing representations
to the “I think” is necessary and suf¬cient for making them into
representations of an object. Put less technically, Kant has argued
that when one uni¬es some manifold by means of a concept, one
thereby renders the manifold thinkable as an object or gives it objective
validity.
At B137“8 Kant emphasizes that the mere manifold given in intu-
ition does not by itself represent an object, but provides only the data
for cognition: “the mere form of outer sensible intuition, space, is not
yet cognition at all; it only gives the manifold of intuition a priori for
a possible cognition.” To cognize some spatial region requires con-
necting the spatial manifold in some determinate way by means of a
concept. Thus to represent a line in space one must delineate the part
of space making up the line by means of the concept of a line. Kant
concludes that this consciousness of synthetic unity is required of all
cognitions, and thus applies to any manifold given in intuition “in
order to become an object for me.” It is important to notice the subtle
shift in this last sentence, which claims that the object is the (mani-
fold of ) intuition itself. In other words, this analysis has taken place
on the second-order level, where the objects (of thought) are one™s
representations (the manifold given to one in intuition). At the end
The Transcendental Deduction 123
of this chapter we shall see the signi¬cance of this aspect for Kant™s
response to skepticism.
For now, let us summarize the steps of the argument in sections 16
and 17:
1. It is necessarily true of humans as discursive intellects that they can
attach the “I think” to any of their representations, and, by doing
so, express the numerical identity of self-consciousness.
2. Attaching the “I think” is possible only insofar as one connects
one™s self-ascribed representations by means of synthetic acts.
3. Any synthetic unity of representations requires uni¬cation under
a concept.
4. Any manifold uni¬ed under a concept counts as a thought of an
object.
5. Therefore, thinking of an object is necessary for the t.u.a.
6. Therefore, the t.u.a. is a suf¬cient condition for representing an
object.

Section 18: objective vs. subjective unity
Here Kant distinguishes an objectively valid unity of representations
from a unity that has only subjective validity, as a way to introduce
the notion of judgment in section 19. The ¬rst kind is the unity con-
tained in the thought of an object; the second kind is characteristic
of a mere association of representations. Unfortunately Kant con-
fuses two different notions of subjective validity. He begins section
18 by contrasting the objective unity of the t.u.a. with “the subjec-
tive unity of consciousness, which is a determination of inner sense”
(B139). By the latter he means a mere association of representations in
consciousness: “One person combines the representation of a certain
word with one thing, another with something else; and the unity of
consciousness in that which is empirical is not, with regard to that
which is given, necessarily and universally valid” (B140).12 The point
is that although a mere association of representations has a kind of
unity in consciousness, it is not a thought unity. Association occurs
12 The process of association has historical signi¬cance because Hume took it to be the source

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