"Kant on the Orders of Self-Representation"


Location: 131 Decio Hall (View on map.nd.edu)

Clinton Tolley (UC San Diego)


131 Decio Faculty Hall 


One predominant trend in recent work on Kant's views on the human self has been to focus on Kant's discussion of self-consciousness (and the representation 'I think') in the Transcendental Deduction.  This work has often gone hand-in-hand with a more 'anti-metaphysical' interpretation of Kant's views on the self, according to which Kant rejects traditional metaphysical commitments concerning the nature of the self (that it is substantial, that it is causally efficacious, etc; cf. Kitcher, Brook, Melnick).  Against this, a second interpretive trend has sought instead to highlight various ways in which Kant's discussions of the soul (via the 'idea' of reason) in the Transcendental Dialectic, and perhaps especially Kant's discussions of persons in his practical philosophy, seem to imply instead that Kant continues to embrace many of the traditional metaphysical commitments concerning the self (cf. Ameriks, Marshall, Wuerth).  My talk will be in the spirit of a third trend (cf. Longuenesse, Kraus), as I will try to revisit and systematically articulate some of the key terms that make up the background analytical framework for Kant's account of the self.  I will begin by introducing and clarifying the distinction between two separate topics: (a) the wide variety of representations that seem to have the self as their object (sensations, intuitions, consciousnesses (apperceptions), concepts, propositions (judgments), experiences, postulates, sciences, etc); (b) Kant's understanding of differences among the semantical contents of these various representations, focusing especially on the difference between the content of self-consciousness, that of inner experience, and that of the 'idea' (pure rational concept) of the soul.  I will then attempt to determine Kant's views on three sorts of implication relations: (1) whether the contents of certain representations stand in specific logical/analytical implication-relations with others (i.e., whether <soul> contains <I>; whether <I> contains <person>; whether <I> contains <substance>; etc); and then (2) whether the very existence of a given representation has specific metaphysical implications as to the real conditions for the possibility of its existence (i.e., concerning faculties, powers, substances, etc; so, e.g., whether the existence of the concept <I> (or the representation <I think>) implies the existence of an I, or a soul, or a person, or a substance, etc.), and then, finally, (3) whether the absence or non-existence of two very specific kinds of representations -- a non-sensible intuition of the self, and a proper science of psychology -- has any specific metaphysical (vs epistemic) implications concerning either the existence or essence (nature) of the self itself.


This talk is part of the "Kant and the Self" workshop.