<< . .

. 21
( : 32)



. . >>

inference are universally valid because they abstract from all con-
tent. Equally, Kant will argue at A333“8/B390“6, these logical forms
of inference yield transcendent principles or ideas of reason when
appropriately “schematized.” The difference, of course, is that the
principles of reason are regulative rather than constitutive. Rather
than applying directly to objects, they operate to unify the judgments
of the understanding:

5 See chapter 1 of Grier, Kant™s Doctrine of Transcendental Illusion, for both the criticisms and
the solution to them.
Transcendental illusion I 209
If the understanding may be a faculty of unity of appearances by means of
rules, then reason is the faculty of the unity of the rules of understanding
under principles. Thus it never applies directly to experience or to any object,
but instead applies to the understanding, in order to give unity a priori
through concepts to the understanding™s manifold cognitions. (A302/B359)
In other words, the role of reason is to unify and systematize judg-
ments of the understanding. This occurs formally when one logically
derives a conclusion from premises. The legitimate real use of rea-
son consists in explaining phenomena or subsuming an empirical law
under a higher law.
The next step characterizes the unifying function of reason in log-
ical inferences. Every syllogism consists of a major premise, a minor
premise, and the conclusion. At A304/B360“1 Kant explains that the
major is a general rule thought through the understanding. The minor
premise subsumes a cognition under the condition (subject) of the
rule given in the major premise. Finally, reason determines the sub-
sumed cognition through the predicate of the rule. Kant discusses
examples at A322/B378 and at A330/B387.
Transcendental illusion occurs when a legitimate regulative princi-
ple of reason is confused with an objective claim about reality. Kant
derives the legitimate principle as follows: in logical inferences where
one attempts to justify a conclusion, the premises are the conditions
(evidence) for the truth of the conclusion. In proving a conclusion,
then, one identi¬es the conditions for the given conditioned. But the
process of justi¬cation can continue inde¬nitely: one can demand a
justi¬cation for each premise. This process could end only if one could
arrive at premises that were self-justifying, their truth unconditioned
by other judgments. The logical task of reason, then, is “to ¬nd the
unconditioned for conditioned cognitions of the understanding, with
which its unity will be completed” (A307/B364). If one could arrive
at a complete proof of a given judgment, one would have succeeded
in this logical task of reason.
On Kant™s view, this logical “maxim” in fact presupposes an objec-
tive claim: “But this logical maxim cannot become a principle of pure
reason unless we assume that when the conditioned is given, then so is
the whole series of conditions subordinated one to the other, which is
itself unconditioned, also given” (A307“8/B364). Grier calls the reg-
ulative principle expressing the legitimate task of reason P1 : “To ¬nd
Transcendental illusion I
210
the unconditioned for conditioned cognitions of the understanding,
with which its unity will be completed” (A307/B364). Principle P1 ,
which Kant calls a “logical maxim,” is subjectively necessary because
it does not supply concepts of objects, and yet is indispensable for
empirical cognition. The error occurs when one con¬‚ates P1 with the
“objective” or “transcendental” principle P2 : “when the conditioned
is given, then so is the whole series of conditions” (A307“8/B364).
Unlike P1 , which expresses an imperative or maxim for seeking knowl-
edge, P2 makes a synthetic (factual) claim about objects.
Although P2 is illegitimate, Kant says it is “unavoidable” since it
is presupposed by P1 . At A650“1/B678“9, he discusses the regulative
function of pure reason: “In fact it cannot even be seen how there
could be a logical principle of rational unity among rules unless a
transcendental principle is presupposed, through which such a sys-
tematic unity, as pertaining to the object itself, is assumed a priori as
necessary.” And at A645/B673 he says, “This unity of reason always
presupposes an idea, namely that of the form of a whole of cognition,
which precedes the determinate cognition of the parts and contains
the conditions for determining a priori the place of each part and its
relation to the others.” According to Grier, the “transcendental” prin-
ciple P2 is necessary as an “application principle” for P1 , analogous to
the schemata of pure concepts.6 Transcendental illusion, then, occurs
when the “need of reason” to ascend to higher conditions in order to
bring unity to cognition is mistaken for a transcendental principle
that postulates “an unlimited completeness in the series of conditions
in the objects themselves” (A309/B366).
The idea of reason underlying both principles is the idea of the
unconditioned or the totality of conditions: “since the unconditioned
alone makes possible the totality of conditions, and conversely the
totality of conditions is always itself unconditioned, a pure concept of
reason in general can be explained through the concept of the uncon-
ditioned” (A322/B379). This idea has three forms. As Kant explains
at A323/B379, the unconditioned can be thought with respect to
the subject as well as the object of the judgment. The latter can
further be distinguished as the object in appearance as opposed to
the object of thought in general. Thus he concludes that there are

6 See Grier, Kant™s Doctrine of Transcendental Illusion, especially 127“30 and chapter 8.
Transcendental illusion I 211
three transcendental ideas: “the absolute (unconditioned) unity of
the thinking subject, . . . the absolute unity of the series of conditions
of appearance, [and] . . . the absolute unity of the condition of all
objects of thought in general” (A334/B391). The following paragraph
identi¬es these ideas as the basis, respectively, of rational psychol-
ogy, rational cosmology, and rational theology. Rational psychology
concerns the soul, that which ultimately underlies the thinking sub-
ject. Rational cosmology is the “science” of the ultimate nature of
appearances. Finally, rational theology makes claims about the ulti-
mate foundation of all objects in general, namely God.
Kant™s “metaphysical” deduction of these ideas of reason occurs
in the third section, where he connects them with the three forms
of syllogism. This account is so cryptic that it is unintelligible apart
from his earlier discussion of the forms of judgment in the Ana-
lytic. At A336/B393 he explicitly correlates the ideas of the soul, the
world, and God with the respective logical relations of inherence,
dependence, and concurrence characterizing categorical, hypothet-
ical, and disjunctive judgments. Referring back to his discussion
of these forms of judgment at A73“4/B98“9 suggests the following
“derivation.”
First, the major premise in the categorical syllogism is a categor-
ical judgment. This is the simplest (atomic) form of judgment, in
which a predicate is thought as inhering in a subject. When applied
to cognition, this yields the idea of a thinking subject in which the
thought inheres. The notion of the soul is the hypostatized or objec-
ti¬ed notion of the totality of conditions underlying the thinking
subject. Second, the major premise in the hypothetical syllogism is a
hypothetical or conditional judgment. This complex form connects
two or more judgments, so that the consequent is thought as logically
dependent on the antecedent. This logical dependence, as we know,
has its real counterpart in causal dependence. The totality of condi-
tions underlying appearances is the completed causal series of events
in time. Finally, disjunctive syllogisms have a disjunctive judgment as
the major premise. Kant thinks of disjunctive judgments as dividing
a concept into its complete set of possibilities, each of which mutu-
ally excludes the others, but which together exhaust the whole. The
concept of the ultimate ground of this whole of possibilities Kant
calls the “rational concept of a being of all beings” (A336/B393). In
Transcendental illusion I
212
other words, the thought of the totality of objects in general leads to
the idea of the ultimate condition of all existence, traditionally God.
On Kant™s view, then, rational metaphysics results from the illu-
sory attempt to arrive at ultimate explanations of the thinking subject,
the world as appearance, and the totality of objects in general. This
occurs when reason erroneously extends the “logical maxim” to seek
the unconditioned for the conditioned, which legitimately applies
within experience, to “totalities” that are not objects of possible expe-
rience. Since the only concepts reason has at its disposal are concepts of
the understanding, the search for metaphysical knowledge inevitably
results in misapplying concepts of appearances beyond experience. In
this way transcendental illusion is one motivation behind the dialec-
tical fallacies of the understanding.
As Kant points out, this illusory use of reason reveals itself only in
the regressive or “ascending” series: “pure reason has no other aim than
the absolute totality of synthesis on the side of conditions . . . and [it]
has nothing to do with absolute completeness from the side of the
conditioned. For it needs only the former series in order to presup-
pose the whole series of conditions” (A336/B393). That is, metaphysics
always works backwards from what is given to its necessary conditions.
By contrast, the thought of the “descending series” or the totality of
consequences following from the given is not a necessary idea, but
“a thing . . . which is thought up only arbitrarily, and not presup-
posed necessarily by reason” (A337/B394). Furthermore, the laws of
the understanding are suf¬cient for knowing the consequences of the
given appearances, although of course we cannot know the totality
of consequences.
Before turning to the arguments based in transcendental illusion,
we should note Kant™s remark in a footnote at B395:
Metaphysics has as the proper end of its investigation only three ideas: God,
freedom, and immortality . . . Everything else with which this science is
concerned serves merely as a means of attaining these ideas and their reality.
The insight into these ideas would make theology, morals, and, through
their combination, religion, thus the highest ends of our existence.

He believes that the metaphysical drive to give ultimate explanations
of existence leads to three concepts of the highest good. The idea of
immortality belongs to the doctrine of the soul, and is the basis of
religion. The idea of free will is the basis of morality; Kant will argue
Transcendental illusion I 213
that although recognition of the moral law presupposes freedom, it
does not yield metaphysical knowledge of freedom. The idea of God
as the “being of all beings” is of course the basis of theology. Although
Kant sees the idea of immortality as following in some sense from the
ideas of God and freedom, his own discussion of the arguments treats
them in “the analytic order,” beginning with the idea of the soul in the
Paralogisms, moving to the doctrine of the world in the Antinomies,
and ending with the proofs for the existence of God. The rest of
this chapter examines Kant™s analysis of the Paralogisms. Chapter 9
discusses the Antinomies and chapter 10 treats the proofs of rational
theology.

3. the pa ra logism s of pure re a son
Kant labels the metaphysical arguments about the soul the Paralo-
gisms of reason. These commit fallacies based on the transcendental
illusion taking the totality of conditions of the thinking subject as a
“given” object, a mind or soul. In attempting to determine the nature
of this object underlying all consciousness, rationalist metaphysicians
erroneously apply to the thinking subject pure concepts that have sig-
ni¬cance only for appearances. Thus the illusion inherent in reason
leads to errors of the understanding. Here the arguments are based on
the “I think” or the t.u.a. From this purely formal thought, rationalists
attempted to derive synthetic conclusions concerning the substantial-
ity, simplicity, numerical identity, immateriality, and incorruptibility
of the soul. Thus they hypostasized or objecti¬ed purely formal self-
consciousness as a thing, the subject in itself.7
Kant signi¬cantly altered both the content and presentation of
the Paralogisms in the B edition. Both editions treat four arguments
about the soul, correlated with the categorical headings in this order:
relation, quality, quantity, and modality.8 The ¬rst three arguments,
which are unchanged, conclude that the soul is a substance, is simple,
and is numerically identical through time. In the A edition the Fourth
Paralogism concerns Descartes™s view that knowledge of the mind is
prior to knowledge of spatial objects. Because this makes knowledge
of the external world less certain than self-knowledge, Kant calls this
7 For a detailed discussion of the Paralogisms see Ameriks™s Kant™s Theory of Mind.
8 This is a case where the traditional arguments appear to drive the Architectonic. Kant gives
no explanation for correlating the Paralogisms with these categories and in this order.
Transcendental illusion I
214
the “paralogism of the ideality (of outer relation)” (A366). As we saw
in chapter 7, in the B edition Kant responds with the Refutation
of Idealism. In the revised Paralogisms he substitutes a discussion
of the immateriality of the soul. In addition to this change, Kant
also condenses his treatment, focusing on the errors underlying all
four arguments. Since we have already examined the Refutation of
Idealism, this discussion will ignore the Fourth Paralogism of the A
edition. I shall also follow Kant™s lead by emphasizing the general
criticism of all the arguments.
At A341/B399 Kant explains that a logical paralogism “consists in
the falsity of a syllogism due to its form . . . A transcendental paralo-
gism, however, has a transcendental ground for inferring falsely due
to its form.” In both cases the arguments are formally invalid. At A402
and B411 he says the arguments commit a sophisma ¬gurae dictionis
(sophistry of a ¬gure of speech), speci¬cally an equivocation on a
term occurring in both the major and minor premises. Despite some
confusion in locating the equivocation, Kant does offer a consistent
account of the invalidity in the arguments.
Because the four arguments share the same “schema,” an analysis
of the ¬rst argument sets the pattern for the others. Kant states the
First Paralogism in the A edition as follows (I have inserted line
numbers):
[1] That which is represented only as the absolute subject of our
judgments, and cannot be predicated of another thing, is sub-
stance.
[2] I, as a thinking being, can be represented only as the absolute
subject of all my judgments, and cannot be predicated of another
thing.
[3] Thus I, as thinking being (soul) am substance. (A348)
The B-edition version rewords the same argument (line numbers
inserted):
[1] What can be thought only as subject exists only as subject, and is
therefore substance.
[2] Now a thinking being, considered as such, can be thought only
as subject.
[3] Therefore it also exists only as substance. (B410“11)
Transcendental illusion I 215
In both versions the ¬rst premise is the major premise; it makes the
synthetic claim that the “absolute subject” of judgment, which can
be represented only as subject, is substance. The second premise, the
minor premise, identi¬es the “I” of “I think,” or the thinking being
“as such” with the absolute subject of judgment. The conclusion then
predicates being a substance of the “I” of “I think.”
Unfortunately Kant™s explanation of the equivocation differs in
the two editions. In the A edition, he says the term equivocated on
is ˜substance™: “the major premise makes a merely transcendental use
of the category in regard to its condition, but . . . the minor premise
and the conclusion . . . make an empirical use of the same cate-
gory” (A402“3). But since the term ˜substance™ does not appear in the
minor premise, it is unlikely to be the source of the equivocation. In
a B edition footnote Kant locates the ambiguity in the term ˜think-
ing,™ which signi¬es differently in the two premises: “in the major
premise, as it applies to an object in general (hence as it may be given
in intuition); but in the minor premise only as it subsists in relation to
self-consciousness,” which is not an object but the mere form of think-
ing (B411n). Although this seems more plausible, the term ˜thinking™
does not appear per se in the major premise of either version. Allison
suggests Kant should locate the ambiguity in the subject-term of the
major premise, “That which cannot be thought otherwise than as
subject” (in the A edition, “the absolute subject of judgment”).9 This
is reasonable, since it occurs in both premises, and it is consistent with
Kant™s other remarks. Kant™s remark at B411 lends support to Allison™s
reading: “The major premise talks about a being that can be thought
of in every respect, and consequently even as it might be given in
intuition. But the minor premise talks about this being only insofar
as it is considered as subject, relative only to thinking and the unity
of consciousness” (B411). Here I follow Allison, taking the ambiguity
to concern the meaning of the thinking thing, or absolute subject
of judgment. Kant™s claim that the argument is invalid comes down
to this: the major premise predicates the concept ˜substance™ of the
thinking subject taken as an object in general. This claim is offered
as a synthetic a priori truth. The minor premise, however, makes an
analytic or tautological claim about the logical subject of thought in

9 Allison, Kant™s Transcendental Idealism, 284.
Transcendental illusion I
216
the “I think,” the transcendental unity of apperception. Since the two
premises use the term differently, no valid conclusion can be drawn
from them. This diagnosis applies to all four arguments.
Before looking at the details of his analysis, we should note that
Kant classi¬es his objection as critical rather than dogmatic or skepti-
cal. At A388“9 he distinguishes them this way. A dogmatic objection
“is directed against a proposition,” “requires an insight into the consti-
tution of the nature of the object,” and “claims to have better acquain-
tance with the constitution of the object being talked about than its
opposite has.” A dogmatic objection to the proof, then, would claim
that the ¬rst premise is false, that the mind or thinking subject could
not be a substance. Skeptical objections put “the proposition and its
opposite over against one another, as objections of equal weight.”
This approach claims that there are equally good arguments for and
against the conclusion that the mind is a substance. But in “endors-
ing” both claims, it ends up treating the opposing views dogmatically,
presupposing that one can know the object in itself. By contrast, the
critical position claims that “the assertion is groundless, not that it is
incorrect.” Kant rejects dogmatic knowledge of the premise, which
“assumes on behalf of its assertion something that is nugatory and
merely imagined” (A389). For Kant, all attempts to know the mind
or soul unjusti¬ably take the ultimate thinking thing as an object in
general. This will differ signi¬cantly from Kant™s skeptical objections
to the inferences in the Antinomies.
Since the doctrine of the soul belongs to metaphysics, it cannot be
based on a posteriori knowledge: “for if the least bit of anything empir-
ical in my thinking, any particular perception of my inner state,”
were used in this science, then it would be an empirical science
(A342/B400). Thus the representation grounding claims about the
thinking thing must be a priori. In fact, the arguments are based on
the t.u.a.: “I think is thus the sole text of rational psychology, from
which it is to develop its entire wisdom” (A343/B401). In addition
to rejecting the major premise, Kant argues that the minor premise
misconstrues the merely formal self-consciousness of the “I think.”
Let us examine this objection ¬rst.
In both editions Kant emphasizes the point from the Transcenden-
tal Deduction, that the “I think” is merely the form of all thinking,
and contains no intuition of a distinct individual: “For the I is, to
Transcendental illusion I 217
be sure, in all thoughts; but not the least intuition is bound up with
this representation, which would distinguish it from other objects
of intuition” (A350; see also A345“6/B404). The B edition similarly
stresses that the “I think” represents a purely logical subject, that is,
the activity rather than a substantial thing:
Now in every judgment I am always the determining subject of the relation
that constitutes the judgment. However, that the I that I think can always be
considered as subject, and as something that does not depend on thinking
merely as a predicate, must be valid “ this is an apodictic and even an
identical proposition; but it does not signify that I as object am for myself
a self-subsisting being or substance. (B407)

Among their many errors, metaphysicians mistake formal conscious-
ness of the activity of thinking for an intuition of a determinable
object: “The unity of consciousness, which grounds the categories, is
here taken for an intuition of the subject as an object, and the category
of substance is applied to it. But this unity is only the unity of think-
ing, through which no object is given” (B421“2). As we saw, the minor
premise (in each argument) states an analytic truth about the t.u.a.
But since it is a tautology, it cannot establish any synthetic claims
about whatever “object in general” underlies this self-consciousness.
This analysis leads to a second objection, that all inferences from
the “I think” to the ultimate nature of the determining subject com-
mit circular reasoning. Not only is the representation “I think” not
a concept, we do not have even a problematic concept of this deter-
mining self: “since the proposition I think (taken problematically)
contains the form of every judgment of understanding whatever and
accompanies all categories as their vehicle . . . we can at the start form
no advantageous concept [of it]” (A348/B406). Since the t.u.a. is a
necessary condition of applying any concept in judging, “we therefore
turn in a constant circle, since we must always already avail ourselves
of the representation of it at all times in order to judge anything about
it” (A346). Kant says rather than the I cognizing itself through the
categories,
it cognizes the categories, and through them all objects, in the absolute unity
of apperception, and hence cognizes them through itself. Now it is indeed
very illuminating that I cannot cognize as an object itself that which I must
presuppose in order to cognize an object at all. (A402)
Transcendental illusion I
218
As Allison points out, this position is independent of the unknowa-
bility of things in themselves.10 The transcendental nature of the “I
think” provides a strong argument, independent of transcendental
idealism, against attempts to know the self at the foundation of all
thinking. As the form of all thinking, the “I think” is itself uncondi-
tioned (A401), although not an object of thought.
Given the analytic nature of the “I think,” it is surprising to ¬nd
Kant labeling it in the B edition as an “empirical proposition.” In the
beginning of the footnote at B422“3, he says, “The ˜I think™ is . . . an
empirical proposition, and contains within itself the proposition ˜I
exist.™” But he clari¬es this statement at the end of the footnote:
if I have called the proposition “I think” an empirical proposition, I would
not say by this that the I in this proposition is an empirical representation;
for it is rather purely intellectual, because it belongs to thinking in general.
Only without any empirical representation, which provides the material for
thinking, the act I think would not take place, and the empirical is only the
condition of the application, or use, of the pure intellectual faculty. (B423n)
Kant™s point is subtle, but consistent with what he has established.
The “I think” is empirical insofar as empirical intuition is required
to recognize the unity of self-consciousness. As Kant has argued, the
formal awareness in the “I think” depends on the act of synthesizing
the manifold given in intuition. In other words, although the t.u.a. is
not itself empirical or a posteriori, our access to it is via the empirically
given manifold. But this is equally true of the pure forms of intuition,
the pure concepts of the understanding, and even the logical rules of
inference.
By contrast with the tautological nature of the second premise, the
major premise makes a synthetic claim, namely that the thinking self
is a substance. Here is where Kant™s critical objection applies, for this
claim presupposes that one can know the self as an object in itself or
in general. That is the unwarranted assumption behind all rational
psychology. Unlike the above objection, this one does depend on the
unknowability of things in themselves. In the A edition Kant begins
by noting that “pure categories . . . have in themselves no objective
signi¬cance at all unless an intuition is subsumed under them, to
the manifold of which they can be applied as functions of synthetic
10 See Allison, Kant™s Transcendental Idealism, 291“3.
Transcendental illusion I 219
unity. Without that they are merely functions of a judgment without
content” (A349“50). The B edition says, similarly, “the concept of a
thing that can exist for itself as subject but not as a mere predicate
carries with it no objective reality at all, i.e., . . . one has no insight
into the possibility of such a way of existing, and consequently . . . it
yields absolutely no cognition” (B412). The thought of the self as the

<< . .

. 21
( : 32)



. . >>