I CONCLUDE with a brief summary, and with an acknowledgment of certain limitations to what I have proposed in this book. I have tried in these chapters to provide a reading of the Transcendental Deduction that takes some aspects of Kant’s view more seriously than has been customary. I have done this because it may help us in an understanding of Kant, but also for what I take to be the intrinsic significance of the ideas. The first of these concerns the distinction between matter and form in intuition. I have tried to show that it is foundational, in ways not generally recognized, to the theory of understanding that Kant develops in the Deduction. With respect to that distinction, I have resisted some common temptations. For example, I have resisted the temptation to suppose that the matter of intuition is merely whatever (possible) objects are objects of the possible experiences of subjects who are (relevantly) such as ourselves. I have also resisted the temptation to suppose that the form of intuition is either a simple place-holder, in the Aesthetic, for what the Deduction eventually proves to be a function of understanding or at best a function of limits on the latter, rightly or wrongly posited as necessary in the Aesthetic. The matter of intuition is, as Kant insists it is, some aspect of our own subjective condition: in the Aesthetic, what Kant calls Empfindung. The form is then an irreducible mode of (possible) intentional directedness toward (possible) objects through such material. I have tried to show that these distinctions allow for a more adequate view of the relationship between perceptual and imaginative consciousness than would otherwise be possible. With respect to some of the standard issues of Kant interpretation, I have also tried to show that, as I have drawn it, the distinction entails neither the absurd view that “appearances,” as objects of intuition, are made out of sensations nor the view, absurd to the minds of some, that a full-blown consciousness of objects is impossible apart from concepts. However, while it does not entail the latter view, I have argued that there is no harm in supposing, with Kant himself, that the mere form of intuition does indeed constitute at least some level of consciousness.
Recognition of an ambiguity in the notion of a “concept,” and in some related notions (such as “judgment”), might help with the latter point. It seems clear that Kant thinks, and reasonably so, that non-human animals, and human infants, are in some way conscious beings. Yet they do not exercise true conceptual abilities. At most, they have “intuitions” of various sorts. One is likely to conclude that Kant was simply closed-minded to the recognition of conceptual abilities in animals. In turn, this might be supposed to evidence an implausibly discontinuous picture of animal-to-human development. But I have argued that it is possible to regard animal conception as fundamentally different in “form” from the human, without supposing a radical discontinuity between the levels. The solution is to see that merely animal conception needs to serve as, but as no more than, “matter” in distinctively human conception.
This leads to the second leg of my reading of the Deduction. I have based my reading on the suggestion that Kant’s distinction between matter and form in conception, understanding, or judgment builds precisely upon the corresponding distinction in the Aesthetic. Again, this is not simply to demand a distinction between some domain of possible objects, as “matter” for possible conception, and some “form,” or set of forms, for the eventual conceptualization of such objects, that is, for judgments in their regard. Our lesson from the Aesthetic must remain: that directedness toward objects of any kind needs to be constituted as directedness through one’s own subjective condition. Except on the most unpalatable readings of Kant, objects themselves are of course not part of one’s own subjective condition. On the other hand, once we have eliminated unworkable pictures of mental fabrication (of objects out of material in intuition), the most natural supposition may appear to be this: that judgments refer to objects “through” intuitions simply in the sense that they refer one’s intuitions to objects in the first place. This, at least, would permit supposing that intuitions are the “matter” of conception. And these are indeed a part of one’s own subjective condition.
It is truistic that it is the essence of judgment, or at least of “judgments of experience,” to “refer” intuitions to objects in Kant’s view. But if we take this ability as basic, then we have presupposed what needs explaining: that judgments themselves are able to have objects. If judgments do not have objects, then they cannot refer intuitions to objects. But it would seem incredible if, having insisted that a distinction between matter and form, intrinsic to any intuitional state as such, is essential to an account of the latter’s potential object-directedness, Kant could suppose that judgments, by contrast, are simply object-directed, without any need for a corresponding articulation in terms of matter and form. Nor should we suppose the difficulty met by appeal to a final, and equally truistic observation, namely, that the Kantian forms of judgment are forms for the forming of concepts into judgments. Apart from the fact that concepts themselves need to be formed, we have yet to be sufficiently serious in regard to the relation between the problematic of the Transcendental Deduction and the Aesthetic’s original insistence upon form for the directionality of intuition—that is, for its directedness, or even potential directedness, toward any objects of the very judgments whose possibility is now in question in the Deduction. As I argued in Chapter One, if the task of judgment is to conceptualize those very objects, then the relevant judgments must simply be intuitions as well. In other words, the relevant forms of judgment can be nothing other than whatever is needed for the transformation of intuitions into intuitional judgments. In turn, the foundational “matter” of the latter must be matter in intuition. Clearly, this cannot be Empfindung as Kant conceives it. If it were, then there could be no such thing as conceptualization in mere imagination. But there is no difficulty in supposing that it is something “imaginative.” (I have tried to show that recognition of this is compatible with Kant’s own view that Empfindung is the “matter” of intuition as such.)
While some of Kant’s explicit claims lend themselves to the supposition that imagination provides a kind of “matter” for conception, he does not very plainly suggest that it does so by virtue of providing matter for intuition as well. In this respect, my reading of the Deduction must be regarded as (re)constructive. But it remains an indisputable fact that Kant himself places weight on the fact that concepts need to be “formed.” It is also clear that he is preoccupied, in both editions of the Deduction, with the establishment of a “middle” position for the faculty of imagination, between those of intuition and full-blown understanding. I hope in any case to have shown how the proposed reading is fruitful in regard to some of Kant’s more puzzling doctrines—such as the doctrine of transcendental affinity, the distinction between judgments of “perception” and “experience,” and the account of self-consciousness as “one” with the consciousness of objects—as well as in regard to a number of other unclarities in the Deduction, such as its division into “stages” as well as numerous apparent contradictions regarding the respective roles of the various faculties. In addition, I have suggested that attention to these notions should also shed some light on the very notion of “consciousness” as such—that is, on the notion of consciousness of objects—and on the question of its relative modernity.
It remains to add some brief comments concerning admitted limitations in the view that I have ascribed to Kant. First, I have deliberately limited my attention to judgments in intuition, that is, to judgments that conceptualize an object in either a sensory or a purely imaginative manner. But it may seem obvious that we need to allow for judgments of a much more abstract sort. I argued in Chapter One that it is not in fact clear that Kant himself is unequivocally prepared to allow non-intuitional judgments, at least as judgments of any sort that might constitute a genuine Erkenntnis. (Any other sort of judgment would apparently be one that somehow involves mere “forms” of judgment, or perhaps “unschematized” categories. I have not been concerned with the intelligibility of that notion in this study.) But as also noted earlier, such disallowal would seem disastrous for any attempt, such as Kant appears to offer, to recognize at least some “analytic” judgments as instances of Erkenntnis.
Perhaps the following distinction can avoid the difficulty, without abandoning the supposition that Erkenntnisse are, or at least always contain, intuitional judgments. First, let us note that the view of judgment, hence of concepts, that I have defended in this study is, in a certain sense, restricted to what we might call “basic” or “simple” judgments and concepts. But we need to be careful about this notion of simplicity. According to the proposed view, all judgments and concepts contain some material, structured in some way. They must therefore be, in some sense, “analyzable” with respect to that material. But as I argued in Chapter One, in rejecting the possibility of phenomenalistic “analyses,” this is perfectly compatible with denying that the analyses in question involve analysis of judgments or concepts in terms of other concepts that a given concept contains (although, of course, such analysis must at least employ some concepts, in its exposition of given concepts). Judgments or concepts that are unanalyzable in terms of other judgments or concepts may be regarded as simple. I have offered no hypothesis as to which are in fact simple in this sense.
We might continue to suppose, then, that all “simple” judgments are intuitional judgments in Kant’s view. It should be clear that this leaves room not only for a kind of analytic judgment, but for a notion of concepts as “containing” other concepts. In fact, Kant himself suggests how the latter notion might be elaborated. As I observed in note 6 to Chapter One, for example, Kant proposes that the concept black man (or the concept the black man) is really a kind of judgment, namely, a “problematic” judgment. Presumably, Kant’s point is this: that the concept in question is nothing distinct from a multiply instantiable feature of a certain possible conception, namely, the conception of some (possible) man as (possibly) black. Any such conception, Kant must presumably suppose, is somehow “compounded” out of two distinct conceptions, of a man and of something black (in the way that a man might be). Correspondingly, the “concept” in question is really a complex one, not simply in the sense that it contains some body of material, but that it contains other concepts within itself. On account of this, we might therefore regard the judgment that a black man is black, or that he is a man, as an “analytic” judgment, even though it contains judgments that are, at least imaginatively, intuitional. And we might insist that such a judgment is a genuine Erkenntnis precisely because it contains such material.
It should be clear that I have not tried to show precisely how such compounding of concepts might take place. At most, I have tried to show that something like this sort of view must be Kant’s. Kant himself, of course, supposes that judgmental “form” is needed for the purpose. What I have tried to show is that he thereby blurred the distinction between two different roles for judgmental form, namely, as responsible for the compounding of concepts and judgments into more complex ones, and as responsible for the original formation of any concepts in the first place, out of a material that is not yet conceptual at all. It is the latter notion that I have argued to be central to Kant’s theory in the Transcendental Deduction. Whether he was then simply misguided, in the Metaphysical Deduction, in supposing there in fact to be a single set of forms, able to perform this double function, is a question from which I have abstracted. But I have tried to show that considerations internal to the problem of concept-formation can plausibly be seen as grounding an appeal to at least some of the concepts in question in the Analytic of Principles, namely, those of substance, causality, and community of interaction.
In any case, it is important to remind ourselves that there is a second sense in which the proposed view is after all compatible with the recognition of non-intuitional judgments. According to the proposed view, a judgment, at least in the sense that concerns us, involves the ingredience of a body of anticipations and retentions in an intuitional state. Namely, it involves the ingredience of the sort of body of anticipations and retentions that is sufficient to constitute, in constituting the awareness of an object or possible object, a mode of self-consciousness sufficient for grounding the eventual formation of a genuine self-concept. Correlatively, it involves the ingredience of material sufficient to constitute an awareness of a world of re-identifiable objects. But bodies of such material may also be present in a subject, yet without providing any material for apprehension in intuition—that is, without providing material for the apprehension of appearances through that material. Considered in itself, it is difficult to know how to regard such material. One might regard it in purely dispositional terms, for example (or in terms of the physiological underpinning of dispositions), or perhaps purely “functionally,” in terms of the typical causes and effects of certain subjective state-types. In any case, considered in itself, the material in question is presumably what accounts for a great deal of any subject’s behavior in regard to objects that surround it.
It is not, in fact, implausible to identify the occurrence of such bodies of material in a subject—either just by themselves or as causally “connected” with occurrences of sensation—with instances of “belief,” “judgment,” and even of “knowledge.” The proposed view allows for this concession. All that it excludes is the extension of such an approach to the elucidation of belief or judgment or knowledge, when these latter are supposed to involve genuine modes of consciousness. Indeed, though I have not argued it, it seems to me reasonable to insist that any purely dispositional or functional approach can be supposed to illuminate any notion of “belief,” “judgment,” or “knowledge” only to the extent that the corresponding behavioral or functional material is regarded as at least potential material for genuinely intuitional judgment as well.
It is also necessary to recognize a certain role for language. I have, of course, concentrated on the notion of anticipation and retention of possible “appearances,” as a kind of possible “stretching” (backward or forward) of a given appearance. But even when what one ordinarily regards as the “conceptualization” of appearances in fact involves anticipation and retention in intuition, it no doubt often involves the ingredience of a certain sort of purely linguistic anticipation and retention. When I “see” an appearance “as” some kind of object, the primarily operative body of anticipations and retentions is surely one that often simply involves anticipation and retention of the possibility, not of the “stretching” of the conceptualized appearance itself, but merely of the saying of (or the permissibility of the saying of) certain possible things in regard to that appearance.
This indeed might be thought to be Kant’s own main point: that concepts as “rules” are primarily rules for the occurrence of “judgment,” in the sense of rules for the permissible saying of certain things. I do not believe that Kant had any such view in mind. But the view that I have proposed can at least tolerate the point as first stated, namely, that much of what passes for the conceptualization of appearances in intuition involves no more than a certain sort of linguistic anticipation and retention. It is difficult to know how to account for the latter notion. But such an account must at the very least be undertaken, in order to provide a phenomenologically adequate account of that special mode of “talking to oneself” that passes, in many cases, for conceptualization.
A second limitation concerns the proposed notion of a “concept.” Concepts are anticipations and retentions of an appropriately structured sort, potentially ingredient in intuitional states. Now it should at least be clear that this proposal does not open the way to a certain charge of psychologism. In particular, it is not guilty of psychologizing concepts in the sense of failing to recognize their status as logical “predicates,” potentially instantiable in any number of distinct psychological acts, and whose existence does not depend upon the actual occurrence of psychological phenomena. That apparent difficulty is avoided by noting that the claim that concepts “are” bodies of anticipations and retentions is merely short for saying that acts of conceptualization are constituted by nothing more than the ingredience of appropriately structured anticipations and retentions in intuition. That a particular concept is multiply or repeatedly instantiable, or that it exists at all (in whatever sense a concept might be thought to “exist” in the first place), is presumably nothing more than a matter of the (logical) possibility of the appropriate sort of ingredience of anticipations and retentions in intuition.
But a different sort of difficulty may appear to obtain, and to be a product of too “psychologistic” an approach to concepts. It concerns the conditions for saying that multiple instances of judgment do or do not involve instantiation of one and the same concept. It may appear that any minimal difference in the anticipations and retentions ingredient in intuitional states would suffice to exclude the possibility that we are dealing with a single instantiated concept. But it is extremely unlikely that precisely the same anticipations and retentions are ever ingredient in distinct intuitions. The implausible conclusion would therefore seem to follow that, whether or not it is logically possible, it is extremely unlikely that the same concept is ever in fact multiply instantiated or repeated in intuitional judgment.
In meeting this difficulty, we need to recall that what is not in question is merely the unlikelihood of the very same anticipations and retentions being connected with distinct intuitions. What is relevant is only the question of what sets of anticipations and retentions are “connected” to intuitions by virtue of constituting a body of material in those intuitions, as opposed to being merely externally, perhaps causally, attached to them (and are in their own turn embedded in appropriate sets of higher-order anticipations and retentions). In addition, we have already noted a respect in which the proposed account does not in fact require ingredience of precisely the same anticipations and retentions, as a condition for the sameness of a concept. As we saw in Chapter Seven, whether the ingredience of distinct bodies of anticipations and retentions constitutes the multiple instantiation of a single concept hinges rather on whether or not they satisfy appropriate rules for the tranformability of the one into the other.
Apart from these points, it may also help to bear the following in mind. The proposed account has assumed no obligation to provide an account of the identity conditions of concepts, in the sense of providing conditions for the identity of linguistic meanings. Kant’s interest, and my own, has been in certain special aspects of mental activity. What conditions are involved in the judgment that two different words, for example, express the same “concept” may therefore well involve conditions beyond what we have been exploring. In any case, our concern has been with certain necessary conditions. For various purposes—for example, for an analysis of language—one may well introduce additional requirements for the sameness and difference of concepts.
Finally, an observation concerning the notion of the “synthetic a priori.” Obviously, I have not been particularly concerned to show how my reading of the Deduction could explain how its “conclusion” could possibly involve synthetic a priori knowledge, and precisely what sort of argument could possibly have been used to arrive at it. The latter neglect is primarily because, as I have already noted, I have found it more profitable not to assume that the “Deduction” is in the first instance a deductive argument at all. It is better to read it, I think, as attempting to elaborate a theory, able to account, among other things, for our possession of certain instances of synthetic a priori knowledge. As for the possibility of any such judgments in the first place, whether or not Kant offers any valid argument for them, at least the following should be clear: insofar as the Deduction reflects on concepts, in order to yield its results, it cannot possibly reflect on purely analytic relations involving those concepts. For the theory it offers is a theory concerning the original formation of any concepts whatsoever. For the same reason, we must, of course, at least acknowledge a respect in which the alleged new “knowledge” is knowledge about what is a priori. In any event, to whatever extent Kant’s reflection on the problem of concept-formation succeeds in providing an adequate account of original self-consciousness, and to whatever extent the latter proves to be “necessary for experience” (as Kant assumed it was for distinctively human experience), the basic argument of the Deduction is simply this: that since original self-consciousness is equivalent to original conceptformation, the application of the original “forms of judgment,” in the conceptualization of objects, is likewise necessary for experience.