Idealistic Studies 10:131 (1980)

George Di Giovanni
McGill University
Whether transcendental arguments are possible or not is a question that has received wide attention in the analytical literature of recent years. It is important to distinguish carefully, however, between Kant’s own Transcendental Deduction and the kind of reasoning which has lately been dubbed “transcendental.” Eva Schaper has accurately defined the difference some years ago. The “transcendental arguments” to which we have recently been accustomed are arguments that seek to establish the logical preconditions of empirical enquiry. They all start from the fact that we conceptualize experience in a certain way, and then proceed to uncover the conditions necessary to our process of conceptualization. Kant’s own Transcendental Deduction, on the other hand, is concerned with “the wider task of showing the conditions of what is to count as experience at all.” While it is always possible to render a “transcendental argument” of the contemporary type pointless simply by refusing to accept the peculiar manner of conceptualizing experience from which it starts, the conclusion of Kant’s Deduction would be irrefutable. To deny it would be tantamount to denying the possibility of experience itself. The notorious difficulties that accompany the Deduction are to be seen precisely in the light of the strong claim to proof that it makes.
Keywords Continental Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0046-8541
DOI 10.5840/idstudies19801023
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