3 Dec 2012

Pt1.Ch1.Sb2 Somers-Hall’s Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. ‘Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason.’ summary

Corry Shores
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[Note: All boldface and underlining is my own. It is intended for skimming purposes. Bracketed comments are also my own explanations or interpretations.]

Henry Somers-Hall


Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation.

Dialectics of Negation and Difference


Part 1: The problem of Representation

Chapter 1: Deleuze and Transcendental Empiricism

Subdivision 2: Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason


Brief Summary: Our concern is the transcendental field in Kant. This would be the conditions for the possibility for our concepts to correspond to our intuitions. For Kant, this correspondence revolves around a self whose own synthetic unity makes it possible for us to synthetically unify intuitive representations into a coherent object.


Previously we gave a preview of chapter one, [part of which discussed what according to Kant allows our cognitions to correspond to the empirical world given to our senses. Kant tries to find a new way to ensure this connection between our concepts and our (sense) intuitions. One older way says that God ensures that our cognized concepts will match up with the world we sense. But this theory requires that we posit such a God without very strong support. Another older theory argues that we obtain our concepts secondarily by means of processing our sense data. But Kant identifies a problem with this approach. He discovers a way to understand certain kinds of propositions, for example, 5 + 7 = 12. We do not learn from our senses that 12 results from the synthetic combination of 5 and 7, so the proposition is a priori rather than a posteriori. However, contained in the definition of 12 is not ‘5 + 7’. So it is not an ‘analytic’ statement like ‘all bodies are extended’ or ‘all bachelors are unmarried’, in which cases the subject cannot be defined without explicitly including the predicate, either with that exact terminology or with synonymous terms. So we might define a body as something that occupies space, but ‘occupies space’ is synonymous with ‘extended’. However, if we define 12 as “the combination of ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ ”, this is not synonymous with ‘5 + 7’.  For, ‘5 + 7’ requires an additional act of synthetic consciousness, that combines “ ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ ” to get 5, then combines “ ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ and ‘1’ ” to get 7, and then additionally combines 5 and 7 to get 12. So 5 + 7 = 12 is a synthetic a priori statement. But if all our knowledge comes from experience as empiricists claim, then such a priori claims as this would not be possible. So Kant instead accounts for the correspondence of our cognitions with our empirical knowledge with a unified subject. It is called the transcendental apperception or the ‘I think’ that accompanies all acts of consciousness. But now we should first review Kant’s three syntheses of time: apprehension, recollection, and recognition. Each instant we apprehend representations given in intuition (by means of our senses), grouping them into tiny blocks of our awareness of the object we sense. Our reproductive imagination keeps all the parts together, maintaining the ones that have passed out of our immediate awareness, so that our productive imagination may synthesize the parts together in such a way that our understanding may recognize the synthetic manifold using its concepts. But note that what is being synthesized, the moments of our sense apprehension, are temporally exclusive, one disappears from our present awareness while the next one takes its place, however, the imagination’s act of synthesis and the understanding’s act of recognition (matching the proper concept to the synthesized sense-manifold) regard the temporally exclusive moments as being simultaneous, as if something in us stays the same while our moments of awareness change. Kant thinks that we have an a priori unified self-consciousness that remains the same despite the fact that it accompanies acts of consciousness that are always changing. So there is a synthetic glue that is already there in our ‘I think’ which assumes it is the same ‘I think’ as all ‘I think’s from before and all to come; and since it is already glued to its future instantiations even before they have manifested in empirical consciousness means that it is an a priori unity of consciousness. This constant self-consciousness is what allows us to glue together successive parts of our awareness and successive parts of our cognition, and so it accounts for the coherence within each realm. But, what glues together our concepts with our intuitions (our sense apprehensions of the world around us)? We may think of there being two self-apperceptions (two forms of our self-consciousness). There is our empirical apperception, which is our grasping of ourselves as being slightly different or slightly modified each instant. Our transcendental apperception, however, has no intuitive content. In order for the ‘I think’ to be cognitionally aware of itself, it needs the intuitive content of empirical apperception, its awareness of its temporal self-inconsistency. Regarding the transcendental apperception, we have a self-awareness not of our empirical apperceptive awarenesses, but rather just of the unified identity that any and all acts of self-awareness belong together to the same self-aware subject. So it is a consciousness that our transcendental subjectivity, on the side of concepts and understanding but not yet cognition, is always glued to any and all acts of empirical self-awareness, despite each one giving a differently modified intuition of the self. So the unity of the transcendental apperception is what guarantees that our concepts are always linked to our intuitions. This is because this a priori unity of the self ensures that every act of empirical awareness has an accompanying empirical self-awareness that is an awareness of a self who is the same self as the a priori unified self that unifies all these varying temporally exclusive empirical self-intuitions. Thus Somers-Hall opens chapter 1 with:]

Deleuze's break with Kant concerns the nature of the transcendental field and the isomorphism between the functions of judgment, which allow us to make judgments about the empirical world [ft.5] and the categories, which as transcendental allow the synthesis of the empirical manifold. For Kant, this parallelism of the operations of the understanding is essential, as it is this that allows us to attribute to the subject the power to condition the empirical manifold and therefore to know with certainty that the understanding is able to apply its concepts to this manifold. Since our consciousness of the empirical manifold is generated through categories of the understanding (the same understanding that employs the functions in order to form judgments), then the structure of judgment will mirror that of the world, thus allowing certain synthetic propositions about that world to be guaranteed valid. By showing that the categories apply to the world, Kant is able to follow Hume in granting that all knowledge begins with experience, while at the same time allowing contentful propositions about the structure of that experience to remain necessarily true, since these fundamental structures are imposed on experience by the subject as the conditions under which experience is possible at all. The transcendental for Kant therefore contains those structures that concern the nonempirical determinations of the object, those that make experience of the object possible . (14)

{footnote 5 explains that there are also judgments outside the empirical domain, but we will turn to this topic in chapter 6.} Deleuze is not a transcendental idealist like Kant, but is rather a transcendental empiricist [this terminology will become clearer as we continue the discussion in this chapter.] For Kant, the transcendental “contains those structures that concern the nonempirical determinations of the object, those that make experience of the object possible.” (14) What interests Deleuze regarding the transcendental

is not its ability to guarantee knowledge, but rather the generative principles that it provides for the empirical world. In this change of emphasis, what is at stake is both the structure of the transcendental field and the rules that govern this structure and through this the structure of empirical experience, these rules being what Kant would call "transcendental logic" (CPR, ASO/B74 ). [14]

For Kant there are two conditions for such a transcendental logic.

Kant’s 2 conditions for a transcendental logic:

[1] It contains only the pure thought of an object, and it excludes the modes of knowledge that have empirical content [thus it deals with a priori propositions]

[2] It deals with the non-empirical origin of our knowledge of objects [so it deals with the origins of our a priori knowledge] (14d)

Deleuze also holds these requirements for a transcendental logic. The only difference is that Deleuze removes references to the subject. For Deleuze

Kant has not shown the necessity of the transcendental field being generated in relation to a subject. Thus transcendental logic for Deleuze would first concern purely the Idea of an object, while still excluding those structures of the object as an empirical (actual) manifestation of that Idea, and second, | must concern itself with the origins of the object as experienced, insofar as this origin is not attributed to the object (or even of an objectival nature) (14-15)

{In ft.6, Somers-Hall explains that by objectival he means “an entity that has a subject-property structure, or a proposition or logic, that is isomorphic with this structure. Objectival therefore loosely means structured according to the classical conception of an object. A parallel meaning has been given to the term subjectival These neologisms have been coined to prevent confusion or conflation with the similar terms subjective and objective.” (249)} [Somers-Hall will later explain this.] Somers-Hall will first examine Kant’s account of the necessity for the subject “in the structuration of experience” (15b)

In the Transcendental Aesthetic of the first critique, Kant shows how sensibility deals with a priori forms of intuition, “that is, that space and time are ideal forms through which objects are presented to the subject” (15) [Because space and time are ideal forms, they are a priori, and so he is laying the groundwork for his transcendental idealism which will correlate a priori concepts to a posteriori intuitions.] So Kant first shows how objects may be presented to consciousness, and then he turns to his Transcendental Analytic to explain how objects can be thought by consciousness. He will then need to show how the faculty of sensibility and the faculty of understanding interact with one another. In the Metaphysical Deduction Kant relates the categories to the ordinary functions of the understanding. This for Deleuze is one of the most important sections of the first critique, because “it is here that the conditions for the possibility of objects are first equated with the condi- | tions for the possibility of knowledge of objects through their joint origin in the understanding.” (15-16)

This Metaphysical Deduction establishes “an isomorphism between the functions of the understanding and the categories, as shown in the tables of functions and categories.” (16) The understanding deals only with representations, and it relates representations in such a way that they are subsumed under other representations and in that way are unified. This is happens by means of judgments, which take the subject-predicate form. Consider this judgment: ‘all bodies are divisible’. There is a general representation that ranges over a wide range of entities, namely, [entities that are divisible] or ‘divisibility’ and a specific representation, a body, that relates directly to some object, like a body. Here the understanding unifies different representations of bodies together by subsuming them under the more general representation ‘divisibility.’ Because all thought takes on this structure more or less, all thinking is judging. For this reason, all thinking requires synthesis, [namely, the synthesis (a) of all the representations that will be grouped together and subsumed under a general concept and (b) of this unified manifold representation and the general concept it is subsumed under]. All judgments must enact a particular function from each of four [more general] functions: quantity, quality, relation, and modality. This means that some given judgment will relate to either all, some, or one entity in a class of subjects, and in this way express quantity. [And at the same time, the judgment expresses quality, relation, and modality too.] Now, “if we are to understand the nature of the pure concepts or categories of the understanding, as opposed to the functions, which Kant claims to have thus far discovered, we have to consider these functions in terms of transcendental logic.” (16d)

So, all acts of understanding require that the judgment take on the subject-object form. This means, our understanding of an intuition must also take on an objective (subject-predicate) form. (17) But this requires first that the intuitions be synthesized so that they may become the subject of judgments. But the functions of judgments, quantity, quality, relation and modality, deal only with judgments, so they do not help unify the intuitions, which are not judgments.

This unity must therefore be provided by concepts other than, but compatible with, the functions of judgment, if judgment is to be validly applicable to intuition at all. Therefore, the unification of the manifold will be carried out by categories, which correspond to the functions, while also containing a conceptual reference to intuition. Thus, for instance, the hypothetical function, if A then B, will be mirrored in the category of causality and dependence, which takes the form, if . . . then, and relates it to a manifold (17)




Thus we see that

for Kant the transcendental field is structured according to the model of classical logic, as this will allow Kant to explain the synthetic nature of the transcendental and to provide it with a differentiated structure. Deleuze's own metaphysical deduction will rest not on classical logic, but on the differential calculus, and will thus attempt to overthrow the double nature of the understanding as both synthesizing the manifold and formulating judgments upon which the Kantian model relies. (18)

What we have been dealing with so far is the metaphysical deduction. It shows relation of the categories to the understanding. We now turn to the transcendental deduction, where “this isomorphism rests on the presupposition of an 'I' that provides a point in the transcendental field around which the empirical field is unified.” (18)

For Hume, we do not derive the concept of causality from experience but instead a tendency of association arising from constant conjunction. [After every first glimmer of light on the day’s horizon we experience the sun rising. Thus the next time we see morning light our minds automatically tend to associate with all our prior impressions of sunrise. This is Hume’s version of causality. ] But “While Hume's notion may explain how the concept comes to be recognized by the understanding, such a derivation obviously cannot show us whether its application is justified (hence | Hume's skepticism).” (18-19) What Hume describes is an empirical deduction and only provide contingent truths. The alternative is a transcendental deduction, which “moves to the necessary preconditions of experience” (19); “we must ask whether there are any conditions that need to be met in order to ‘know anything as an object’ (CPR, A92/B125 ).” [In order for us to unify the manifold of sensible parts of an object into that object, we need already to have a concept of an object as unity of a manifold of representations, the object = x.] But this concept cannot come from experience. “the task that Kant faces is to show whether the concept of an object in general itself requires certain other a priori concepts in order to be comprehensible.” (19)

For Kant, in order to apply the categories, there must be an ‘I think’ that accompanies all our representations. (19 citing CPR, B131). [First requirement for the conceptual categories to apply to the intuitive manifolds is that all the parts of the manifold be available to the same self so that this self may unify them. Thus we need an “I”. The second requirement is that all the parts belong together amongst themselves so they may be synthesized into objects.  Thus we need a unified I. It cannot arise from our fluctuating experiences because then it is not unified, so it is an a priori I, and because it is the condition for thinking, it is transcendental.]

For my representations to belong to me, it is a minimal requirement that I be able to assert of them that it is I who thinks them. If this were not the case, there would be thoughts that both belonged to me (as they are my representations) and did not belong to me (I could not lay claim to them ). This 'I' has the further function of unifying my experience, for it allows perceptions at various moments to be integrated together, as the unity of the ' I' grants a unity to the various moments of experience, tying them together as they share a relation to the self-identical structure of the ego. This allows the subject to conceive of the manifold as a manifold. As everything empirical is itself within time, and thus is also affected by change, an empirical entity is unable to provide the identity that is required to effect this unification of the manifold. For Kant, this therefore excludes the empirical ego, which is the self of which the subject is conscious, from fulfilling this function. "No fixed and abiding self can present itself in this flux of inner appearances" (CPR, A107) . Kant believes, therefore, that the unity of apperception must be instead a transcendental structure, the source of Sartre and Deleuze 's opposition. Such a self cannot itself be intuited, but instead must | be posited as a presupposition of our having successive representations. (19 - 20)

This transcendental I is not a substance; it is precategorical. “It amounts simply to the correlate of the unity of experience to which it must be possible to attach the 'I think'.” (20) [However, it is still a subject]. This subject is aware of the synthetic unity of the objects it synthesizes and he is aware of that synthesis he enacts to generate it. (20) “The function it fulfills is related to the faculty of judgment, to the extent that it is simply a posited unity that allows judgments to be formed and perceptions to hold to a unified structure.” (20) It is free of all content. “The transcendental object must therefore be conceived, like the transcendental unity of apperception, as a self-identical, singular transcendental condition for the unity of the manifold for the understanding.” (21)

We still do not know why and how the transcendental subject and the transcendental object allow the categories to relate to intuition. (21) To answer this, we turn to the conditions for the possibility of the subject and object. The subject and object determine each other reciprocally. The subject makes the object possible, because as we noted we need a unified subject to unify the objects representations. The subject is grounded by the object, because it only comes to know itself  by being aware that it is the subject that unifies the objective manifold. And,

The concept of an object allows the subject to recognize representations as representations of the object and thus to distinguish itself from them. Thus the subject becomes aware of himself through the | unification of representations into an object, through his recognition of himself as a spontaneous consciousness. The subject therefore makes the object possible for Kant, and the object makes the subject possible. (21-22)

So we see that in the transcendental field for Kant, the presence of the subjectival invokes the presence of the objectival, and vice versa. Deleuze will try to provide an analysis of the transcendental field without appealing to the subjectival and the objectival.

This in turn will allow Deleuze to conceive of the transcendental field as generative, rather than merely conditioning, as the transcendental will no longer be structured analogously to the empirical but will instead give rise to the objectival from a nonobjectival field. Instead of the transcendental having the form of the empirical, therefore providing the merely formal conditions of the empirical, the structure of the object in general, we will be able to understand the transcendental as actually generating the empirical. (22)


We will now see the role of the categories in all this. The subject constitutes the object synthetically. He does so using rules. The rules cannot be derived from empirical concepts, because we are looking for the preempirical conditions for the possibility of experience. “The categories, as concepts which apply to an object in general and are transcendental, seem to be the only choice for the rules of this synthesis. The categories are therefore legitimated through the role they play in allowing the subject to actively synthesize the object.” (22) Yet also “The manifold is in fact synthesized by the schemata, which play the role of intermediaries between the conceptual and the intuitional, thus allowing the two heterogeneous matters to be brought into relation. They perform this role by sharing characteristics of both”. (22)

Somers-Hall concludes with a summary and lead into forthcoming topics.

We now see how Kant conceives of the understanding as both being responsible for synthesizing objects through the categories and uniting representations through judgments. We can also see how the transcendental subject is thus generated through the synthesis of objects and is also its precondition, through the reciprocal determination of the subject and the object. The subject's role in actively synthesizing the object is not given directly but rather is established through our knowledge of the subject's spontaneity, gathered through its ability to perform analogous acts of unification in the domain of judgment. These two threads reinforce each other, as the isomorphism of the categories and judgments guarantees the subject-object structure of the transcendental, because the categories extend the objectival logic of judgment into the transcendental domain, and the subject-object structure makes possible the isomorphism between transcendental logic and the logic of judgment, as it allows the analogous structures to operate in both domains. As we shall see, Deleuze will attempt to refute both theses simultaneously in order to move away from Kantianism while maintaining the concepts of the transcendental and the empirical, redesignated as the virtual and the actual. This would allow him to propose a transcendental philosophy that was generative, rather than just conditioning. We are now ready to analyze Sartre's critique of the transcendental ego, which is a transitional point on the journey to transcendental empiricism. (23)



Somers-Hall, Henry (2012) Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. Dialectics of Negation and Difference. Albany: SUNY.

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