Human beings who have mastered a natural language are self-conscious creatures: they can think, and indeed speak, about themselves in the first person. This dissertation is about the significance of this capacity: what it is and what difference it makes to our minds. My thesis is that the capacity for self-consciousness is essential to rationality, the thing that sets the minds of rational creatures apart from those of mere brutes. This, I argue, is what Kant was getting at in a (...) famous passage of his Critique of Pure Reason, when he claimed that a representation which could not be “accompanied with the ‘I think’” would be “nothing to me” as a thinking being. I call this claim the Kantian thesis. My dissertation seeks to explain and defend the Kantian thesis, to show how it entails that the advent of self-consciousness brings with it a new kind of mind, and to sketch the implications of this point for a philosophy of mind that seeks to understand the minds of rational creatures. This involves, on the one hand, an investigation of the kinds of capacities that characterize a rational creature, and, on the other hand, an argument connecting reason with self-consciousness. I show that a rational creature, in the interesting sense, is one capable of conceptual representation, and I argue that (1) to represent conceptually is to represent in a way that decouples information from any particular context or purpose, (2) this special form of representation is possible only in a creature that can reflect explicitly on grounds for judging a proposition true, and (3) to have this capacity to reflect explicitly on grounds is necessarily to have the crux of self- consciousness. If this is right, then the representations of a rational creature must differ from those of a nonrational creature not merely in complexity but in kind. The dissertation sketches the implications of this point for various forms of naturalism and reductionism in the philosophy of mind, for debates about how to explain “first person authority,” and for our understanding of the sort of failure of self-consciousness involved in self-deception. (shrink)
I consider an epistemological, methodological dispute between Nietzsche and Kant about the possibility of rational self-critique: an activity where the intellect reflects on its cognitive powers, demarcates the proper use and limitations of these powers, and thereby achieves a systematically complete insight into what we can and cannot know. Kant affirms whereas Nietzsche denies that we can successfully conduct such a self-directed rational enquiry. By reconstructing the central argumentative moves that Nietzsche and Kant do or could make to defend their (...) respective position, I trace their disagreement to starkly diverging models of philosophical enquiry, of what philosophy is and ought to be all about. (shrink)
The aim of Kant's Order of Reason is to give an account of Kant's conception of rational agency that clarifies and explains both the scope and nature of such activity, and elucidates the centrality of Kant's account of rational determination for his mature critical philosophy. As I see it, the core Kantian insight concerning rational determination is that the capacity for rationality is based in and derived from the capacity for exercising a very specific kind of causality in the world–namely, (...) free, or controlled, causality -/- The book consists of three parts. In the first I provide a historically contextualized but nevertheless rigorous metaphysical framework for understanding Kant's conception of mental activity, his theory of freedom, and its importance for understanding his conception of the difference between rational and non-rational forms of activity. I then argue that Kant has a control-centered or "enkratic" account of rational activity and agency. According to this view, control is the central and essential aspect of all rational activity, and a rational being is one that can exercise her diverse powers, or use her diverse intellectual faculties, in a manner that is under her own control. Building on this structure, in part two I show how Kant applies his conception of controlled activity to the various forms of activity of which the rational mind is capable, in increasing order of complexity (i.e. attention, conception, judgment, inference, and comprehension). I then put this account to work with respect to longstanding disputes regarding self-consciousness, reason, evil, and alienation. (shrink)
Famously, in the second Critique, Kant claims that our consciousness of the moral law provides us with sufficient grounds for the attribution of freedom to ourselves as noumena or things-in-themselves. In this way, while Kant insists that we have no rational basis to make substantive assertions about things-in-themselves from a theoretical point of view, it is rational for us to assert that we are noumenally free from a practical one. This much is uncontroversial. What is controversial is the cognitive relation (...) to things-in-themselves that is possible from a practical point of view. Interpreters have tended to regard such “practical cognition” of things-in-themselves as a poor step-cousin of its theoretical counterpart — as a sort of mere “rational faith” unworthy of comparison with genuine theoretical knowledge or cognition. Recent work on these issues has begun to shift this picture. But this reassessment is in its early stages and remains highly controversial. My aim here is to take this tendency and push it farther than most have generally been willing to go - at least with respect to our practical self-understanding as noumenally free agents. Indeed, I believe that, far from representing an impoverished cousin of theoretical cognition and knowledge, our practical awareness of ourselves as free possesses the central marks of cognition and knowledge in Kant’s sense of these terms, albeit on practical grounds. Thus, it is no surprise that Kant is willing to speak of our consciousness of the moral law as enabling genuine cognition of noumenal freedom. (shrink)
In "Kant on Freedom and Rational Agency", I aim to give a comprehensive interpretation and a qualified defense of Kant’s doctrine of freedom as a systematic conception of rational agency. -/- Although my book follows Kant in focusing on the idea of free will as a condition of moral agency, it denies that moral freedom of will is the only relevant (transcendental) type of freedom. Human beings also exercise absolute freedom of thought (intellectual autonomy) in their theoretical cognition. Moreover, our (...) creation and appreciation of beauty requires our freedom of imagination. I consider these three varieties of free agency both in their own rights and in their systematic connections, by examining how they differ from and yet relate to each other. On this basis, my interpretation shows that and why for Kant transcendental freedom is the proper anchor ("cardinal point") of all meaningful, rational human activity: our moral efforts to become more virtuous and to make the world a better place; our theoretical efforts to understand, explain and predict the world; and our aesthetic engagement with the world of beauty, both artistic and natural. -/- Additionally, "Kant on Freedom and Rational Agency" illuminates Kant's intricate, multifaceted account by considering the various metaphysical, semantic, epistemological and normative dimensions of Kantian freedom and by revealing their systematic interconnections. One significant benefit of tracing these links is that by doing so we can arrive at a charitable view of how Kant seeks to justify the belief in moral freedom of will. -/- For many commentators, Kant's appeal to a moral ‘fact of reason’ as our basis for believing in supersensible free will is an abject philosophical failure or a lapse into dogmatic rationalism. By contrast, I show that Kant justifies our belief in free will through a rather powerful, two-pronged argumentative strategy. First, he constructs a practical-moral proof of free will via the fact of reason doctrine. Second, he provides a theoretical defense of this moral proof against challenges arising from a naturalistic worldview. The linchpin of this defense is his argument that naturalistic cognizers must presuppose their epistemic freedom of thought as a necessary condition of all objective theoretical (including naturalistic) cognition. Since epistemic freedom of thought and moral freedom of will are both species of transcendental freedom, naturalists cannot (coherently) debunk our practical self-conception as transcendentally free moral agents. The appeal to epistemic freedom of thought provides no positive grounds for believing in a free moral will; but it shields our moral self-awareness (which does provide such grounds) against its most prominent detractors. -/- This defense strategy (among other aspects of Kant’s view that I examine in my book) shows that a significant part of Kant’s legacy is his abiding potential to challenge and provide alternatives to a naturalistic philosophical worldview (held by the “defender of an omnipotent nature”) according to which the mechanistic order of nature engulfs all metaphysical reality and (thereby) our entire humanity. (shrink)
I seek to show in this paper how, in addressing the concept of “I” and the question of self-knowledge in the Critique of Pure Reason, one encounters a paradox, which is essentially a consequence of the doctrine of transcendental idealism. I point to Kant's concept of “I” and its three co-constitutive perspectives. The importance of the concept of subject and its intertwining with the concept of reason is pointed out, as also how these two concepts appear in the text of (...) the Critique of Pure Reason as presuppositions. Subsequently, I deal with some basic questions of transcendental idealism. Finally, I briefly present the three perspectives of the "I": as a phenomenon, as a transcendental structure, and as a noumenon. I conclude by bringing back what Kant himself conceives as a paradox, which is the subject’s self-affection, and the relation between the subject as noumenon and as inner sense. (shrink)
A variety of interpreters have argued that Kant construes the animality of human beings as ‘transformed’, in some sense, through the possession of rationality. I argue that this interpretation admits of multiple readings and that it is either wrong, or doesn't result in the conclusion for which its proponents argue. I also explain the sense in which rationality nevertheless significantly differentiates human beings from other animals.
Dieses Buch dient einem umfassenden Verständnis von Kants Lehre der Struktur des Bewusstseins und des Selbstbewusstseins. Eine facettenreiche Theorie zu diesem Thema lässt sich mit Hilfe des zeitgenössischen begrifflichen Instrumentariums aus den über das Kantische Opus verstreuten Textressourcen herausarbeiten. Mit dieser Rekonstruktion lassen sich viele, scheinbar unüberwindbare, exegetische Unklarheiten aufhellen.
Do plants represent according to Kant? This is closely connected to the question of whether he held plants are alive, because he explains life in terms of the faculty to act on one’s own representations. He also explains life as having an immaterial principle of self-motion, and as a body’s interaction with a supersensible soul. I argue that because of the way plants move themselves, Kant is committed to their being alive, to their having a supersensible ground of their self-activity, (...) and to their having desires (although these are not conscious). This has important ramifications for Kant’s teleology and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
In this essay, I focus on two questions. First, what is Kant's understanding of the sense in which our faculties form a unified system? And, second, what are the implications of this for the metaphysical relationships between the faculties within this system? To consider these questions, I begin with a brief discussion of Longuenesse's groundbreaking work on the teleological unity of the understanding as the faculty for judgment. In doing so, I argue for a generalization of Longuenesse's account along two (...) dimensions. The result is a picture of our faculties as forming a teleological system—unified under the overarching aims of reason as the highest rational faculty. Then I discuss the recent debate between “additive” and “transformative” interpretations of the relationship between sensibility and the understand- ing, before proposing that we should interpret Kant as endorsing a moderate form of the “transformative” reading, which captures important elements of both the “additive” and the “transformative” account. (shrink)
I examine a range of issues concerning Kant's conception of cognitive spontaneity. I consider whether we can cognize or know ourselves as spontaneous cognizers, and why Kant seems to regard the notion of cognitive spontaneity as less problematic than the idea of moral spontaneity. As an organizing theme of my discussion, I use an apparent tension between the A-edition and the B-edition of the first Critique. Against common interpretations, I argue that in the B-edition Kant does not revoke his claim (...) that we can cognize, and even know, that our noumenal selves are absolutely spontaneous cognitive agents. (shrink)
Does inner sense, like outer sense, provide inner sensations or, in other words, a sensory manifold of its own? Advocates of the disparity thesis on inner and outer sense claim that it does not. This interpretation, which is dominant in the preexisting literature, leads to several inconsistencies when applied to Kant’s doctrine of inner experience. Yet, while so, the parity thesis, which is the contrasting view, is also unable to provide a convincing interpretation of inner sensations. In this paper, I (...) argue that this deadlock can be traced back to an inadequate understanding of inner sense shared by both sides. Drawing upon an analysis of the notion of obscure representations, I offer an alternative interpretation of inner sense with a special regard to self-affection, apprehension, and attention. From this basis, I will infer that outer sense delivers sensory content that is initially and intrinsically unaccompanied by phenomenal consciousness; inner sense contributes by endowing such content with phenomenal consciousness. Therefore, phenomenal qualities can be regarded as the sensory manifold of inner sense. This alternative interpretation solves the long-standing dispute concerning inner sensations and would further illuminate Kant’s notion of inner experience. (shrink)
Kant holds that the applicability of the moral ‘ought’ depends on a kind of agent-causal freedom that is incompatible with the deterministic structure of phenomenal nature. I argue that Kant understands this determinism to threaten not just morality but the very possibility of our status as rational beings. Rational beings exemplify “cognitive control” in all of their actions, including not just rational willing and the formation of doxastic attitudes, but also more basic cognitive acts such as judging, conceptualizing, and synthesizing.
In this paper, I contend that there are at least two essential traits that commonly define being an I: self-identity and self-consciousness. I argue that they bear quite an odd relation to each other in the sense that self-consciousness seems to jeopardize self-identity. My main concern is to elucidate this issue within the range of the transcendental philosophies of Immanuel Kant and Edmund Husserl. In the first section, I shall briefly consider Kant’s own rendition of the problem of the Egosplitting. (...) My reading of the Kantian texts reveals that Kant himself was aware of this phenomenon but eventually deems it an unexplainable fact. The second part of the paper tackles the same problematic from the standpoint of Husserlian phenomenology. What Husserl’s extensive analyses on this topic bring to light is that the phenomenon of the Ego-splitting constitutes the bedrock not only of his thought but also of every philosophy that works within the framework of transcendental thinking. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to address the semantic issue of the nature of the representation I and of the transcendental designation, i.e., the self-referential apparatus involved in transcendental apperception. The I think, the bare or empty representation I, is the representational vehicle of the concept of transcendental subject; as such, it is a simple representation. The awareness of oneself as thinking is only expressed by the I: the intellectual representation which performs a referential function of the spontaneity of (...) a thinking subject. To begin with, what exactly does Kant mean when he states that I is a simple and empty representation? Secondly, can the features of the representation I and the correlative transcendental designation explain the indexical nature of the I? Thirdly, do the Kantian considerations on indexicality anticipate any of the semantic elements or, if nothing else, the spirit of the direct reference theory? (shrink)
According to Kant each person has an empirical character, which is ultimately grounded in one’s free choice. The popular Causal Laws interpretation of empirical character holds that it consists of the causal laws governing our psychology. I argue that this reading has difficulties explaining moral change, the ‘gradual reformation’ of our empirical character: Causal laws cannot change and hence cannot be gradually reformed. I propose an alternative Causal Powers interpretation of empirical character, where our empirical character consists of our mind’s (...) causal powers. The resulting picture of empirical character allows for moral change and Kantian weakness of will. (shrink)
What is it that makes a mental state conscious? Recent commentators have proposed that for Kant, consciousness results from differentiation: A mental state is conscious insofar as it is distinguished, by means of our conceptual capacities, from other states and/or things. I argue instead that Kant’s conception of state consciousness is sensory: A mental state is conscious insofar as it is accompanied by an inner sensation. Interpreting state consciousness as inner sensation reveals an underappreciated influence of Crusius on Kant’s view, (...) solves some long-standing puzzles concerning Kant’s difficult doctrine of self-affection, and sheds light on his theory of inner experience. (shrink)
: According to Kant, the arguments of rational psychology are formal fallacies that he calls transcendental paralogisms. It remains heavily debated whether there actually is any formal error in the inferences Kant presents: according to Grier and Allison, they are deductively invalid syllogisms, whereas Bennett, Ameriks, and Van Cleve deny that they are formal fallacies. I advance an interpretation that reconciles these extremes: transcendental paralogisms are sound in general logic but constitute formal fallacies in transcendental logic. By formalising the paralogistic (...) inference, I will pinpoint the error as an illegitimate existential presupposition. Since - unlike transcendental logic - general logic abstracts from all objects, this error can only be detected in transcendental logic. (shrink)
Kant seems to think of our own mental states or representations as the primary objects of inner sense. But does he think that these states also inhere in something? And, if so, is that something an empirical substance that is also cognized in inner sense? This chapter provides textual and philosophical grounds for thinking that, although Kant may agree with Hume that the self is not ‘given’ in inner sense exactly, he does think of the self as cognized through inner (...) sense. It is also argued that he both does and ought to regard this self as an empirical substance in which our changing representations inhere. In the second part of the chapter it is suggested that this poses a significant problem for most of the leading interpretations of Kant’s anti-sceptical argument in the Refutation of Idealism. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to focus on certain characterizations of “I think” and the “transcendental subject” in an attempt to verify a connection with certain metaphysical characterizations of the thinking subject that Kant introduced in the critical period. Most importantly, two distinct meanings of “I think” need be distinguished: (1) in the Transcendental Deduction “I think” is the act of apperception; (2) in the Transcendental Deduction and in the section of Paralogisms “I think” is taken in its representational (...) nature. It proves helpful to interpret the “transcendental subject” in formal terms as a concept that, mutatis mutandis, has the same function of the concept of the “transcendental object.”. (shrink)
In the first part of this chapter, I summarise some of the issues in the philosophy of mind which are addressed in Kant’s Critical writings. In the second part, I chart some of the ways in which that discussion influenced twentieth-century analytic philosophy of mind and identify some of the themes which characterise Kantian approaches in the philosophy of mind.
Kant described the state as a ‘moral person’, and did so when dealing with international relations. For all the interest in his contribution to the theory of global politics, the locution according to which Kant characterized the state has received very little attention. When notice has been taken of it, the moral personality of the state has moved arguments in opposing directions. On one recent reading, when Kant called the state a moral person he intended to indicate that it possessed (...) certain duties to itself and to others, for the sake of which it could be coerced to leave the international state of nature. On another, the juridical compulsion of states to join a state of nations or world republic is categorically ruled out because this would impair their moral personality. Both cannot be right. In this article, I analyse Kant’s notion of moral personhood, contextualizing it within his wider philosophical concerns. On the basis of this groundwork I put forward an argument about Kant’s theory of the moral person of the state which allows me to show how he in fact was able coherently to incorporate two seemingly contradictory arguments about the state as an international actor in a single argument, and present this as my solution to what I call the Perpetual Peace Puzzle. (shrink)
The essays collected in this volume by Paul Guyer, one of the world's foremost Kant scholars, explore Kant's attempt to develop a morality grounded on the intrinsic and unconditional value of the human freedom to set our own ends. When regulated by the principle that the freedom of all is equally valuable, the freedom to set our own ends -- what Kant calls "humanity" - becomes what he calls autonomy. These essays explore Kant's strategies for establishing the premise that freedom (...) is the inner worth of the world or the essential end of humankind, as he says, and for deriving the specific duties that fundamental principle of morality generates in the empirical circumstances of human existence. The Virtues of Freedom further investigates Kant's attempts to prove that we are always free to live up to this moral ideal, that is, that we have free will no matter what, as well as his more successful explorations of the ways in which our natural tendencies to be moral -- dispositions to the feeling of respect and more specific feelings such as love and self-esteem -- can and must be cultivated and educated. Guyer finally examines the various models of human community that Kant develops from his premise that our associations must be based on the value of freedom for all. The contrasts but also similarities of Kant's moral philosophy to that of David Hume but many of his other predecessors and contemporaries, such as Stoics and Epicureans, Pufendorf and Wolff, Hutcheson, Kames, and Smith, are also explored. (shrink)
Ever since Strawson’s The Bounds of Sense, the transcendental apperception device has become a theoretical reference point to shed light on the criterionless selfascription form of mental states, reformulating a contemporary theoretical place tackled for the first time in explicit terms by Wittgenstein’s Blue Book. By investigating thoroughly some elements of the critical system the issue of the identification of the transcendental subject with reference to the I think will be singled out. In this respect, the debate presents at least (...) two diametrically opposed attitudes: the first – exemplified in the works by Hacker, Becker, Sturma and McDowell – considers the features of the I think according to Wittgenstein’s approach to the I as subject while the second, exemplified by Kitcher and Carl, criticizes the various commentators who turn to Wittgenstein in order to interpret Kant’s I think. The hypothesis that I will attempt at articulating in this paper starts off not only from the transcendental apperception form, but also from the characterizations of empirical apperception. It may be assumed that Kant’s reflection on the problem of self-identification lies right here, truly prefiguring some features of Wittgenstein’s uses of I, albeit from different metaphysical assumptions and philosophical horizons. (shrink)
This paper offers an overview of consciousness and personal identity in eighteenth-century philosophy. Locke introduces the concept of persons as subjects of consciousness who also simultaneously recognize themselves as such subjects. Hume, however, argues that minds are nothing but bundles of perceptions, lacking intrinsic unity at a time or across time. Yet Hume thinks our emotional responses to one another mean that persons in everyday life are defined by their virtues, vices, bodily qualities, property, riches, and the like. Rousseau also (...) takes persons to be fundamentally determined by our socially-mediated emotional responses to one another, though unlike Hume or Locke, he has little interest in placing this account of persons alongside a larger discussion of the human mind and its operations. Developing this idea further, Kant argues that our moral commitments require that we must take ourselves to be free. The fundamental equality that Rousseau sought in the political order is, for Kant, a requirement that reason puts on all of us. (shrink)
The article deals with Kant's theory of the self in Patricia Kitcher's Kant's Thinker in three respects: (1) I argue that it is doubtful whether accompanying representations with the as such yields a principle for the categories since it does not require any strong kind of connection between them. (2) I discuss textual evidence for and against Kitcher's attempt to make sense of Kant's claim that the requires the continued existence of cognizers per se. (3) I ask whether Kitcher's understanding (...) of Kant's positive theory of the self leans towards minimal substantialism or towards functionalism. (shrink)
Kant's claim that time is a subjective form of intuition was first proposed in his Inaugural Dissertation. This view was immediately criticised by Schultz, Lambert and Mendelssohn. Their criticisms are based on the claim that representations change which implies that change is real. From the reality of change they then argue to the reality of time, which undermines its supposed status as a subjective form of intuition that only applies to appearances. Kant took these criticisms very seriously and attempted to (...) reply to them in § 7 of the Transcendental Aesthetic. This paper provides a critical assessment of the objections raised by Schultz, Lambert and Mendelssohn as well as of Kant's diagnosis and response. In particular, it shows how Kant can consistently hold that knowledge of our mental states is restricted to knowledge of appearances. (shrink)
In the last few years, various Kantian commentators have drawn attention on a number of features in the self-reference device of transcendental apperception having emerged from the contemporary debate on the irreducibility of self-ascription of thoughts in the first person. Known as I-thoughts, these have suggested a connection between some aspects of Kant’s philosophy and Wittgenstein’s philosophico-linguistic analysis of the grammatical rule of the term I. This paper would like to review some of such correspondences (§§ 1-3), avoiding any mechanical (...) association between Kant and an elusive reading of the I think, e.g. as suggested mutatis mutandis by McDowell and Kitcher (§§ 4-7). (shrink)
Kant’s transcendental idealism hinges on a distinction between appearances and things in themselves. The debate about how to understand this distinction has largely ignored the way that Kant applies this distinction to the self. I argue that this is a mistake, and that Kant’s acceptance of a single, unified self in both his theoretical and practical philosophy causes serious problems for the ‘two-world’ interpretation of his idealism.
Abstract Both parties in the active philosophical debate concerning the conceptual character of perception trace their roots back to Kant's account of sensible intuition in the Critique of Pure Reason. This striking fact can be attributed to Kant's tendency both to assert and to deny the involvement of our conceptual capacities in sensible intuition. He appears to waver between these two positions in different passages, and can thus seem thoroughly confused on this issue. But this is not, in fact, the (...) case, for, as I will argue, the appearance of contradiction in his account stems from the failure of some commentators to pay sufficient attention to Kant's developmental approach to philosophy. Although he begins by asserting the independence of intuition, Kant proceeds from this nonconceptualist starting point to reveal a deeper connection between intuitions and concepts. On this reading, Kant's seemingly conflicting claims are actually the result of a careful and deliberate strategy for gradually convincing his readers of the conceptual nature of perception. (shrink)