Between Wolff and Kant: Merian's theory of apperception

Journal of the History of Philosophy 34 (2):213-232 (1996)
Between Wolff and Kant: Merian's Theory of Apperception UDO THIEL IT IS WELL KNOWN that the nodon of apperception or self-consciousness is central to Kant's theoretical philosophy. Kant introduces the notion in one of the crucial parts of the Critique of Pure Reason, the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories, and assigns it an important role in his critique of traditional metaphysics of the soul in the Transcendental Dialectic.' It is also well known that Kant did not invent the term "apperception." Leibniz had introduced the French 'Tapperception" into philosophical terminology early in the eigh- teenth century. Kant scholars generally stress, rightly, that Kant's notion of apperception differs significandy from that of his predecessors. However, the precise relation between Kant's concept of apperception and earlier accounts has not been considered in any detail. Wolfgang Carl, for example, simply states that the main difference is that, prior to Kant, apperception was under- stood as relating only to mental acts and their contents, and not to the subject that thinks and has ideas, whereas in Kant apperception relates essentially to the thinking subject. 2 This very general thesis is questionable even in regard to some of the philosophers that Carl cites in this context . It is clearly not true of some other pre-Kantian philoso- phers who deal with self-consciousness. ' References to the Critique of Pure..
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DOI 10.1353/hph.1996.0038
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