10 Jun 2010

What Shadows We Are: Summary of §25 of the Transcendental Analytic in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason

by Corry Shores
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[The following is summary. My own notes are in brackets. The full text for the summarized section is provided at the end.]

What Shadows We Are:
Summary of §25 of the Transcendental Analytic in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason

Immanuel Kant
The Critique of Pure Reason
I. Transcendental Doctrine of Elements
Part 2: Transcendental Logic
Division 1: Transcendental Analytic
Book I: Analytic of Concepts
Chapter II: On the deduction of the pure concepts of the understanding
(Second) Section II: Transcendental deduction of the pure concepts of the understanding. (as in the second edition) (<§§15-27)


Important Points in This Section:

- Our pre-experiential self-consciousness is not aware of how we appear, or even how we are in ourselves. It is only aware that we are. So our pre-experiential self-consciousness is aware only that we exist, but not who or what this existence is.

- When we cognize something, we relate a concept (something in the understanding) with (sensible) intuition. This relating action of cognition is determining: we add determinate (sensible) content to our concept. So we cognize ourselves, and thereby determine ourselves, only when we also have sensible appearances of ourselves. But this means that we never cognize our existence itself. We only cognize the appearings of our existence. Hence our existence itself remains undetermined, all while the appearings of our existence are themselves determined (by this determining but undetermined self-conscious existence).

- Our inner intuitions always take-on the form of time, since we always welcome our intuitions as being temporal (this is the a priori representation of time). And because we can only cognize ourselves by means of our sensible self-intuitions (our self-appearings), this means that we can only cognize ourselves as being under the form of time.

Points Relative to Deleuze
[under ongoing revision]:

- The 'I think' itself is the transcendental apperception: it is our pure a priori self-consciousness. As the unity that possibilizes all syntheses, the 'I think' is essential for us to cognize anything, including ourselves. But cognition requires sensible intuition (appearances), so the cognition of ourselves requires sensible self-intuitions (self-appearances), which are temporal on account of their being inner intuitions. So when we think about (cognize) ourselves, we are cognizing not our existence, but the appearances of our existence. We in this way are determining our existence's appearance, but we are not determining our existence itself. So our existence is undetermined, all while our self-appearance is determined. Hence we can only determine ourselves by means of sensibility, time, and phenomena (appearances).

Hence in order for us to determine ourselves, we must already be split into two parts: 1) our undetermined existence (our a priori unity of self-consciousness), and 2) our determined appearings. Our self-appearings receive our determination, and so are passive, and because they take the form of inner intuitions, they also then take-on the form of time. But then we see that we can only determine our existence insofar as it appears by means of the empty form of a priori time. And in so doing, our existence shows itself to bear an internal difference: it is both undetermined existence and determined appearance. This fracture is possible by means of the time which makes existence appear to itself. So in the first place, Kant makes one further distinction. There is the undetermined of the 'I am,' and the determined of the self-thinking 'I think', but in order for the 'I am' to be determined by the 'I think', there needs first to be the grounds for this relation, that is to say, there needs to be the determinability that serves as the a priori grounds for the relation between the two. What makes our existence determinable is its appearance in time. So the a priori empty form of time is the determinability of our existence. But we only can appear in time when there is something else in addition to our existence. This other within us is the self-appearance of our existence. So the empty form of time then is based in our internal a priori self-difference, the other who makes-up part of the structure of our selfhood (and I note that this other is explicit and not like a concealed other within us; no, rather, this other is the full appearance of ourselves to ourselves). But this difference within us is not itself cognizable; only our self-appearances are. Hence our internal difference is also undetermined. It is a pure difference. Hence this is one way that time is obtained from pure difference itself.

Summary of the Prior Section:

Our understanding's concepts are unities grounded in the unity of our self-consciousness. This unity of self-consciousness also grounds the unifications of the sense-intuitions we have. Because both are grounded on the same thing, our understanding can already be aware that its concepts can apply to our intuitions. However, the synthetic unities of the understanding and the imagination are different sorts. Our imaginations unify by means of a figurative synthesis, but our understanding unifies by means of combination. [What we sensibly intuit, we figure together. However, we combine the predicates of our concepts; they form nothing with a shape or sensible appearance.] Our imagination can synthesize spontaneously, in which case it is productive. But when the forces of association cause our imagination to synthesize, then it is reproductive. All syntheses, as we noted, are grounded in an a priori synthesis of our self-consciousness. To recognize ourselves as ourselves requires that we also sense ourselves. So we are both sensed and self-recognizing. The part of us that is sensed is our appearance to ourselves. The part of us that recognizes ourselves is our a priori unity of consciousness. Our self-consciousness regards our self-appearings as being its own. Our self-appearings are like determinate content that corresponds to the indeterminate concept of ourselves.


Our transcendental self-consciousness is not correlated with sense-content. It is merely the a priori unity grounding our synthetic acts of consciousness and imagination. So it is not yet involved in our self-appearances. But also, this synthetic a priori unity of consciousness is just the belonging-together relations that will come to be expressed through our particular conscious acts. It is not a consciousness then of anything about us, not even a consciousness of who we are in ourselves; for, that would require some sort of content. Rather, it is just the coherence itself of our self-consciousness. It cannot tell us what makes-us-up. It can only be an awareness that there is an internal force of coherence that constitutes some self-identical existence. Kant writes, "In the transcendental synthesis of the manifold of representations in general, [...] hence in the synthetic original unity of apperception, I am conscious of myself not as I appear to myself, nor as I am in myself, but only that I am." (B157; p.259d) Recall that cognitions require both concepts and intuitions (§22). This means that if we want to cognize ourselves, we need two things:
1) The mental action uniting our self-consciousness with our intuitions ("the action of thinking that brings the manifold of every possible intuition to the unity of apperception" p.259d; B157), and
2) Our self-appearings, that is, our inner intuitions of ourselves, the determinate content that we are cognizing ("a determinate sort of intuition, through which this manifold is given" p.259d; B157).

Now, our transcendental self-consciousness is not yet involved in cognitions of our self-appearings (because it does not yet correspond to any intuitions of ourselves). But, it is at least a consciousness that we are, in other words, it is a consciousness of our existence, even though it is not yet a consciousness of what we are like, what makes us who we are. That is to say, our transcendental self-consciousness is consciousness of our indeterminate existence.

And since our consciousness of our indeterminate existence is not yet involved in determinate intuitions (our self-appearings), our existence itself is not an appearance. We begin to determine our existence only when our self-consciousness of our self's existence comes to correspond with the way we appear to ourselves ("the determination of my existence can only occur in correspondence with the form of inner sense, according to the particular way in which the manifold that I combine is given in inner intuition" B157-158; p.260a). Since inner intuitions of ourselves (self-appearings) are required for cognition, we never have cognitions of ourselves as we are, but only as we appear to ourselves ("I therefore have no cognition of myself as I am, but only as I appear to myself" B158; p.260a). Hence our transcendental self-consciousness is not a cognition of ourselves.
Just as for the cognition of an object distinct from me I also need an intuition in addition to the thinking of an object in general (in the category), through which I determine that general concept, so for the cognition of myself I also need in addition to the consciousness, or in addition to that which I think myself, an intuition of the manifold in me, through which I determine this thought; and I exist as an intelligence that is merely consciousness of its faculty for combination but which, in regard to the manifold that it is to combine, is subject to a limiting condition that it calls inner sense, which can make that combination intuitable only in accordance with temporal relations that lie entirely outside of the concepts of the understanding proper, and that can therefore still cognize itself merely as it appears to itself with regard to an intuition (which is not intellectual and capable of being given through the understanding itself), not as it would cognize itself if its intuition were intellectual. (B158-159; p.260b.c)
So we see that in order for us to cognize ourselves, we need to also have inner intuitions which are temporalized, even though such temporal relations lie outside the nature of the concepts in our faculty of understanding.

Now let's return to the part of the text where Kant writes: "my own existence is not indeed appearance (let alone mere illusion), but the determination of my existence can only occur in correspondence with the form of inner sense, according to the particular way in which the manifold that I combine is given in inner intuition." (B157-158; p.259-260, boldface mine) Kant footnotes the term 'existence'. So, when we cognize ourselves, we are performing the action of the "I think", the cogito. By means of this cognition, we place the determinate content of our inner intuitions of ourselves (our self-appearings) into relation with our a priori self-consciousness, which is our awareness that we have being; it is our undetermined existence (undetermined because it is only secondarily placed in relation with the determinate self-appearances). Hence Kant writes: "The I think expresses the act of determining my existence." (B157; p.260cd) So first we have the a priori consciousness of our existence. Then secondarily we add to it determinate content, and in that way, we determine our existence: "The existence is thereby already given, but the way in which I am to determine it, i.e., the manifold that I am to posit in myself as belonging to it, is not yet thereby given" (B157; p.260cd). For us to have this determination, we need to have a self-intuition. As an inner intuition, it is conditioned by the a priori form of time: "For that self-intuition is required, which is grounded in an a priori given form, i.e., time, which is sensible and belongs to the receptivity of the determinable." (B157; p.260d, emphasis mine) So we have intuitions that give us our self-appearings. And our a priori self-consciousness (transcendental apperception) is part of the intellectual/cognitive side of us that relates our self-consciousness with our self-appearings. We said that to make such a relation is to determine our existence. So this side of us would be the determining part of us, while the appearing side of us is our determined part. Kant now writes that we do not have another intuition that gives us our transcendental a priori self-consciousness. That is to say, we do not intuit ourselves in our acts of self-determining ourselves. This determining is an act of our understanding, which operates spontaneously (see A68/B93). Now note again how a priori time gives us the inner intuitions that we come to determine by means of cognition. So time gives us intuitions in a pre-determined state. But we cannot, however, have intuitions of our transcendental self-consciousness also in a predetermined state. The determining part of us, the self-consciousness that cognizes itself, is our active side. [And the part of us that is given to our consciousness through intuitions is our passive side.] But if we wanted to determine our existence as being what is performing the act of self-determination, we would need to intuit our performance of determining (because in order to determine, we need to cognize, which requires that what is being determined be intuited before it is then related to its concept). So because our determining side is not self-given, we cannot determine our existence as being this active self-determining self. (We can only determine our existence as being our passive determined appearing self). [Now, we are self-conscious of our self-determining action, even though we do not cognize it. But to be self-conscious in this way merely means that we are aware that we are cognizing, even though we cannot determine who or what is doing that cognizing. To be aware that we are cognizing is to be aware of the spontaneity of our conscious actions. However,] our existence itself can only be determined by means of intuitions and hence our senses. Our existence then can only be determined as an appearing existence, and not as that existence itself. But we do also have our representation of ourselves as the spontaneity of our determining. Because we know ourselves in this way, we can consider ourselves in terms of our being an intelligence.
Now I do not have yet another self-intuition, which would give the determining in me, of the spontaneity of which alone I am conscious, even before the act of determination, in the same way as time gives that which is to be determined, thus I cannot determine my existence as that of a self-active being, rather I merely represent the spontaneity of my thought, i.e., of the determining, and my existence always remains only sensibly determinable, i.e., determinable as the existence of an appearance. Yet this spontaneity is the reason I call myself an intelligence. (B158; p.260d)

From the text of the Meiklejohn translation:

SS 21.

On the other hand, in the transcendental synthesis of the manifold content of representations, consequently in the synthetical unity of apperception, I am conscious of myself, not as I appear to myself, nor as I am in myself, but only that I am. This representation is a Thought, not an Intuition. Now, as in order to cognize ourselves, in addition to the act of thinking, which subjects the manifold of every possible intuition to the unity of apperception, there is necessary a determinate mode of intuition, whereby this manifold is given; although my own existence is certainly not mere phenomenon (much less mere illusion), the determination of my existence*


can only take place conformably to the form of the internal sense, according to the particular mode in which the manifold which I conjoin is given in internal intuition, and I have therefore no knowledge of myself as I am, but merely as I appear to myself. The consciousness of self is thus very far from a knowledge of self, in which I do not use the categories, whereby I cogitate an object, by means of the conjunction of the manifold in one apperception. In the same way as I require, for the sake of the cognition of an object distinct from myself, not only the thought of an object in general (in the category), but also an intuition by which to determine that general conception, in the same way do I require, in order to the cognition of myself, not only the consciousness of myself or the thought that I think myself, but in addition an intuition of the manifold in myself, by which to determine this thought. It is true that I exist as an intelligence which is conscious only of its faculty of conjunction or synthesis, but subjected in relation to the manifold which this intelligence has to conjoin to a limitative conjunction called the internal sense. My intelligence (that is, I) can render that conjunction or synthesis perceptible only according to the relations of time, which are quite beyond the proper sphere of the conceptions of the understanding and consequently cognize itself in respect to an intuition (which cannot possibly be intellectual, nor given by the understanding), only as it appears to itself, and not as it would cognize itself, if its intuition were intellectual.

* The I think expresses the act of determining my own existence. My existence is thus already given by the act of consciousness; but the mode in which I must determine my existence, that is, the mode in which I must place the manifold belonging to my existence, is not thereby given. For this purpose intuition of self is required, and this intuition possesses a form given a priori, namely, time, which is sensuous, and belongs to our receptivity of the determinable. Now, as I do not possess another intuition of self which gives the determining in me (of the spontaneity of which I am conscious), prior to the act of determination, in the same manner as time gives the determinable, it is clear that I am unable to determine my own existence as that of a spontaneous being, but I am only able to represent to myself the spontaneity of my thought, that is, of my determination, and my existence remains ever determinable in a purely sensuous manner, that is to say, like the existence of a phenomenon. But it is because of this spontaneity that I call myself an intelligence.

Summary based on:
Kant. Critique of Pure Reason. Eds. & Transls. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Full text taken from:
Kant. Critique of Pure Reason. Transl. J.M.D Meiklejohn.
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