Kant on Self-Consciousness as Self-Limitation

Contemporary Studies in Kantian Philosophy 5 (2020)
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I argue that, for Kant, there is a point at which the notions of self-consciousness and self-limitation become one. I proceed by spelling out a logical progression of forms of self-consciousness in Kant’s philosophy, where at each stage we locate the limits of the capacity in question and ask what it takes to know those limits. After briefly sketching a notion of self-consciousness available even to the animal, we look at whether there could be a notion of self-consciousness available to the capacity of human sensibility. At this stage I argue that Kant and Heidegger (or Heidegger’s Kant) share a conception of what it is to be self-limiting through self-consciousness. I then critically examine this conception, and, specifically, the way in which it fails to account for the most essential form of self-limitation in Kant’s critical philosophy—namely, the form of self-limitation which rejects spatial and temporal articulation. The conclusion we reach is that Kant’s theory of transcendental self-consciousness is a theory of the activity of thinking as determining itself (including its limits) non-spatially and non-temporally.



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Addison Ellis
American University in Cairo

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Empiricism and the philosophy of mind.Wilfrid Sellars - 1956 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1:253-329.
Mind and World.John Mcdowell - 1996 - Philosophical Quarterly 46 (182):99-109.
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Mind and World.John McDowell - 1994 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 58 (2):389-394.
The Bounds of Sense.P. F. Strawson - 1966 - Philosophy 42 (162):379-382.

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