. 5
( 9)


cannot directly experience change and temporal succession, in forming
judgments about change and succession we take on epistemic commit-
ments that, in principle, must be redeemable by us if they are to be valid
commitments. The claims we make in judgments concerning the tem-
poral relations between our inner as well as our outer states are to be
justi¬ed by appeal to the idea of a projected order of nature in which a
causal explanation of this succession, in principle, is possible. But it is
important to distinguish what is involved in an immediate representa-
tion of a sequence of subjective states and what is involved in the
justi¬cation of a claim that this is the sequence in which one perceived
what one perceived.
Gerd Buchdahl and Henry Allison have gone to the other extreme of
the position staked out by Melnick and Guyer. The former philosophers
note that Kant thinks that the temporal positions of phases of an event
are determined by means of the general causal principle. But they argue
that there need not be a speci¬c causal covering law that allows us to
have knowledge of an objective change. They even maintain that we do
not have to believe that there are causal laws together with other causal
conditions that are su¬cient to explain the occurrence of a given event
in order to take ourselves to have knowledge of an objective succession.
Buchdahl maintains that the Second Analogy ˜˜does not show that
nature is lawlike, but only that the concept of law is built into our notion of
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
each objective element of nature.™™µ Part of the reason that Buchdahl
denies that the Second Analogy demonstrates the lawlikeness of nature
is that he seems to identify lawlikeness with repetition, at least this would
be a sympathetic reading of his idea that the causal principle does not
give ˜˜Hume“Mill-like support to the special laws of science.™™ Buchdahl
maintains that ˜˜the transcendental proof depends [his emphasis] on
regarding [a statement expressing a change from] A“B as an absolutely
contingent empirical, indeed, singular statement.™™· The singular causal
view advocated by Buchdahl does not seem to do justice to Kant™s view
that causal connection is always succession of states according to some
law (i.e. a speci¬c rule endowed with necessity). For Kant, causal
connection is always connection that is covered by some law. It is
succession according to a necessary rule:

It is crucial to show by example that we never attribute succession (of an event
in which something is happening that did not occur before) to an object and
distinguish it from the subjective one of our apprehension, unless a rule is
presupposed that compels us to observe this order of perceptions rather than
another, yes, this compulsion is what it is that properly makes a representation
of succession in the object possible. ( ±“±·/ ·)

The only way in which a particular order for perceived events is going to
be necessitated is if we are able to distinguish some particular kind of
causal law. Kant™s notion of compulsion here might be understood, in a
psychologistic way, as a kind of Humean subjective necessity. But, in
talking of the temporal order of states in an event, Kant notes that
objective succession occurs according to a rule, and ˜˜according to such
a rule the condition for a rule must lie in what precedes an event,
according to which this event always and necessarily succeeds™™ ( ±/
). Here Kant distinguishes the general or second-order causal rule
with its necessity from the particular or ¬rst-order causal rule that allows
us to understand which event must succeed the other.
According to the Critique of Judgment, there is potentially an in¬nite
number of di¬erent kinds of speci¬c causal laws: ˜˜[A]nd each of these
kinds must (according to the concept of a cause in general) have its rule
that is law, and hence brings with it necessity: although we do not
understand this necessity according to the character and limits of our
faculty of knowledge™™ (Ak. , p. ±). I take the remark that speci¬c laws
have a necessity in accordance with the general causal principle to be a
statement deriving their necessity from that principle.
Buchdahl could respond that, even if the truth of singular causal
Causal laws
statements entails the existence of some necessary causal law, it could be
the case that they do not entail the existence of any particular causal law.
However, this would be a di¬erent claim from the one advocated by
Buchdahl and Allison that there can be events that are not subject to
causal laws per se at all. Allison rightly emphasizes the fact that Kant
allows for states that follow each other in an objective temporal order
that are not related as cause and e¬ect. But it does not follow from this
that they are not covered by a causal law at all, as Allison suggests,
motivated in part by his restriction of the causal principle to a relation
between states of things. He cites an example of someone who is drunk
and then falls. Although the person™s drunkenness preceded his fall,
another drug rather than the alcohol was the cause. Allison takes the
example as evidence that the change from state A to state B is not always
lawlike. By this he means that the ¬rst state, A, is not the cause of the
second, B. This is obviously true, and thus Kant does not infer post hoc
ergo propter hoc, as Schopenhauer charges. The sequence A B is contin-
gent in the sense that any causal series could have had a di¬erent initial
state, but it is not contingent in the sense that it might be causally
undetermined as Allison takes it to be. Kant nowhere indicates that the
causes of a person™s fall could not be distinct from and yet also simulta-
neous with a person™s drunkenness, while also subject to strict causal
determination. Indeed, he is at pains to point out that the causal order of
events may not be immediately displayed by the relative position of
those objects in time. Sometimes causes appear to be simultaneous with
their e¬ects. A ball™s being on a pillow is the cause of the indentation of
the pillow. There are states of the ball that are in the causal past of the
indented state of the pillow. However, the continued presence of the ball
on the pillow makes some of the states of the ball simultaneous with
those of the pillow.
Allison has recently given a somewhat more plausible account of his
thesis that the element involved in a succession may not be related
according to empirical causal laws. Whereas he initially seemed to take
the view that the general causal law involved no commitments concern-
ing event-types, more recently, Allison has expressed his acceptance of
Friedman™s claim that the Kantian concept of causation involves the
idea of event-types that are connected by a causal law. While he now
accepts the idea that there must be a causal covering law for any event if
the general causal principle holds, he argues that this might have only a
single application. He then denies that such a law would be a genuine
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
Allison appeals to Paton for support for the view that genuine laws
must be characterized by regularity and repeatability.±° It is possible for
something to be repeatable, and hence form a very weak kind of
regularity, without actually repeating itself. But, clearly, Paton and
Allison have actual repetition in mind. When Kant maintains that the
e¬ect must follow its cause according to a rule, Paton takes this to
require ˜˜regularity and repetition.™™±± But then the causal principle
would appear to require recurrent instances. Paton notes that in a
universe governed by causal laws there might be no repetitions on the
basis of which we could ¬nd out what those causal laws are. Thus, what
seems initially to be an epistemic point about our ability to recognize
laws, becomes a metaphysical point about the nature of laws.
Friedman makes repeated references to repeatability and regularity.±
But it is not clear to me whether he would require the notion of
regularity to involve actual repetition, as Paton and Allison seem to do,
or whether Friedman would take the repeatability to be su¬cient. For
Friedman, the notion of a regularity is closely associated with that of law
and uniformity. The notion of a uniformity suggests repetition, but does
not actually entail it, while the notion of law does not seem to require
any actual repetition. To be sure, Friedman overstates his case when he
maintains that when individual events occur in objective succession as a
result of the schema of the concept of causality they are also subsumed
under a uniformity or general causal law.± While we presuppose that
there is some causal law that covers the succession in question, we may
not actually know what that law is. In that case we are not in a position
to subsume the succession under that causal law.
Without the existence of some causal laws involving repeated instan-
ces, we would have no way of knowing individual causal laws. It seems
doubtful that one could identify laws between event-types without any
recurrence of event-types. This does not mean that, in every instance,
knowledge of laws governing event-types would demand recurrence.
Even Hume was prepared to argue in the Enquiry that we sometimes
know causal laws governing events on the basis of a single token of a
certain event-type. In general, a Humean will claim that one must know
that an event-type A regularly follows on an event-type B in order to
know in a particular case that A follows B. But even though generaliz-
ations about causal connections are in general based on repeated
experiences, they are not necessarily based on repetition. It is perfectly
possible to form inductive generalizations based on indirect evidence
that apply only to one event-token.
Causal laws
Kant takes causal relations to hold between event-tokens as tokens of
types rather than primarily between event-tokens. He does not so
obviously take regularity in the sense of repetition to be a necessary
condition for causal relations. The general causal principle entails
lawlike connections between event-types of the kind that support
counterfactuals, but it does not entail laws that cover recurrent event-
types of the kind involved in a strict regularity theory of causation. Thus,
although the general causal principle requires the existence of causal
laws in nature that make changes recognizable, it does not obviously
entail that we are actually capable of determining what those laws are.
There is nothing in the argument of the Second Analogy, according
to Allison, which shows that particular causal laws, even if they must
exist, must be knowable.± This claim deserves to be contested. For if
particular causal laws were unknowable, then we would not be able to
know whether a change in a particular substance had occurred. Since
the principle that changes must be empirically signi¬cant provides the
basis for the objective necessity that Kant assigns to causal relations, he
cannot allow for the possibility of causal laws that have no empirical
The Second Analogy does not itself provide any criteria for ident-
ifying the speci¬c causal laws in terms of which events are actually to be
ordered in time. However, the argument of the A-Deduction directly
links a defense of the general causal principle to the existence of
recognizable uniformities in nature. Kant states quite explicitly that an
empirical rule of association must always be presupposed when one says
that there is always some earlier event that a later event succeeds (
±±“±±). Not only does association generally presuppose the recurrence
of events, but it is di¬cult indeed to make sense of an empirical rule of
association that is not based on the recurrence of events in experience.
Kant makes this point in a context in which he stresses the indepen-
dence of causal necessity from mere inductive generalizations.
The possibility that we might be able to provide a justi¬cation of the
general causal principle without being able to justify the legitimacy of
particular causal laws has suggested to a number of interpreters that the
necessity of particular causal laws might be purely a function of their
position in a systematic uni¬cation of nature.±µ Particular causal judg-
ments have their tentative standing as statements of causal laws because
they occur within the best systematic uni¬cation of experience available
to us. But they have their status as statements of causal laws because they
are instances of the general causal principle. All speci¬c causal laws are
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
metaphysical, because they cannot be derived from the transcendental
conditions governing experience, but presuppose some metaphysical
assumption about the world in which we exist (Ak. , p. ±±). They
derive their status as causal laws from the presumption that they provide
our best understanding of the necessary relations between events in
virtue of which we are able to identify and reidentify events in time.

 °  ©   © « ®  · ¬ ¤ §   ¦ °   ©  µ ¬     µ  ¬ ¬ ·  ?
Kant™s attitude towards how we know speci¬c causal laws is somewhat
ambiguous. On the one hand, he certainly wants to give an important
place to empirical investigation. On the other hand, laws are only
genuine laws for Kant to the extent to which they can be known to apply
to all individuals in their domain with necessity and strict generality,
otherwise they amount to mere empirical generalizations. Such empiri-
cal generalizations as ˜˜all swans are white™™ may have the provisional
status of laws. But as soon as an appropriate counterexample is dis-
covered, such as a black swan, their claims to be laws must be given up.
Given Kant™s evident interest in the importance of empirical knowl-
edge in science, some commentators have argued that Kant thought
that speci¬c natural laws cannot be known a priori. Thus Guyer claims
that ˜˜Kant speci¬cally denies that individual causal laws are known a
priori (see  ±“±·/ ±“, or more generally  ±).™™± The pas-
sages cited by Guyer do not support his assertion.  ± does not make
reference to causation or causal laws at all. Kant does note at  ± that
the judgment ˜˜bodies are heavy™™ is empirical and contingent even
though the verb to be in this judgment expresses a necessity that is based
on the transcendental unity of apperception. This suggests that even
empirical generalizations can purport to be laws only insofar as they are
supported by a priori principles.  ±“ ¬rst notes that Kant™s idea
that we must presuppose a necessary and strictly general causal prin-
ciple seems to contradict our practice of making generalizations con-
cerning temporal sequence from di¬erent experiences of sequence, but
he then goes on to claim that such a strategy in isolation would give us
only a kind of imagined universality and necessity (i.e. Humean general-
ity and necessity). As opposed to this view, Kant claims that causation is,
like other concepts, a priori in that we can only derive it from experience
because we have already constituted experience in accordance with it.
Thus, if anything, the passage in question would seem to support the
view Guyer rejects. For it suggests that we can only derive a necessity
Causal laws
and universality claim from nature by antecedently investing nature
with that very necessity and universality.
There is nothing in the Critique that suggests that causal laws could be
knowable purely a priori, although the Critique does seem to require
some a priori element to support an empirical generalization™s claim to
be a bona ¬de law, which Kant takes to be characterized by necessity
and universality. At  ±µn in the Deduction, Kant does say that
particular laws cannot be completely derived from the categories be-
cause they concern empirically determined appearances. But then he
asserts that experience is necessary in order to be acquainted (kennen)
with these appearances. The fact that we need experience to become
acquainted with certain regularities does not preclude the laws that we
postulate from being a priori. However, this fact does suggest that we
would ¬rst have to become acquainted empirically with regularities of
the kind involved in causal laws. Kant can consistently argue that, even
though the necessity and strict generality of laws is something that one
would know independently of experience, it is still not possible for us to
demonstrate the necessity of such necessary and strictly universal laws.
In other words, such rules governing objects of experience would be
necessary, but not necessarily necessary.
Now there are passages in Kant™s later work that encourage the view
that he came to regard all causal laws as knowable a priori:

Even the rules of consistent appearances are only called natural laws (for
instance the mechanical ones), if one knows them either really a priori or at
least assumes (as in the case of the chemical ones), that they would be known a
priori based on objective grounds, if our insight went deep enough. (Critique of
Practical Reason, Ak. , p. )

Despite some of Kant™s claims about the knowability of causal laws, no
one has argued to my knowledge that he was committed to the deriva-
bility of all causal laws from the category of causation. It has been
suggested by Friedman that the basic principles of Newtonian mechan-
ics are thought by Kant to be a priori. According to Friedman, Kant
also thought that all more speci¬c physical laws would, in principle, be
derivable a priori.±· Even if Kant was attracted to such a view, he
realized that the project of articulating a set of fundamental physical
laws would have to count as a regulative principle of inquiry, rather than
a goal that was already completed. It thus seems that the necessity and
universality of laws would ultimately depend on the necessity for us of
±µ° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
projecting a certain systematic unity of nature under laws if we are to
regard our judgments about occurrences in nature to be justi¬able and,
hence, empirical truth to be attainable at all:
One can also not say that it [reason] has previously taken this unity according
to principles of reason from the contingent character of nature. For the law of
reason to look for it [the unity] is necessary, since without it we would have no
reason, without that no connected use of the understanding, and without that
no su¬cient mark of empirical truth, and therefore in respect to the latter we
must presuppose the systematic unity of nature as objectively valid and necess-
ary. ( µ±/ ·)

Kant™s attempt to ground particular laws of nature in regulative syn-
thetic principles a priori is based on the interest understanding has in
postulating an intelligible order of natural laws. In the Critique of Judg-
ment, Kant acknowledges that there are an in¬nite multiplicity of causal
laws that we cannot know a priori, although he also maintains that the
necessity involved in speci¬c causal laws is a necessity that we must think
of as a priori. These two statements are consistent to the extent that one
takes causal necessity to be a priori while allowing that we may be
incapable of determining a priori what the particular form of that
necessity may be in the case of many individual laws. Indeed in the case
of the laws of biology, Kant thinks that, in principle, it is impossible for
our insight to go deep enough to understand the connection between
biological laws and the mechanical laws of physics:
It is quite certain that we can never get a su¬cient knowledge of organized
beings and their inner possibility, much less explain them, according to mere
mechanical principles of nature. So certain is it, that we may con¬dently assert
that it is absurd for human beings to make any such attempt, or to hope that
maybe another Newton will some day arise to make intelligible to us even the
production of a blade of grass according to natural laws that no design has
ordered. Such insight we absolutely deny to humanity. (Ak. , p. °°)

Elsewhere in the Critique of Judgment, Kant also makes the point that
organisms resist a purely physicalistic explanation. In this passage, he
connects the point directly to the status of di¬erent kinds of causal
It is utterly impossible for human reason (even for any ¬nite reason that might
resemble ours in quality, however much it may surpass it in degree), to hope to
understand the production even of a blade of grass from merely mechanical
causes. For the possibility of such an object, the teleological connection of
Causal laws
causes and e¬ects is quite indispensable for judgment, and even if only to study
it under the guidance of experience. (Ak. , pp. °“±°)

Causal laws involve more than generalizations based on accidental
regularities. They involve nomic necessities. But we can only know such
nomic necessities, according to Kant, when we understand the kind of
thing that we are investigating. We must know the dispositions of things
belonging to a certain natural kind. That is, we know lawlike necessities
when we know what things of a certain kind do under various physically
possible circumstances. And we have no way of understanding such
dispositions independently of what a thing of a certain kind would do
under di¬erent circumstances. To understand the behavior of a certain
kind of thing under di¬erent circumstances we need to be able to
formulate a counterfactual conditional of the kind supported by causal
Kant argues that without the supposition that nature divides into
natural kinds in a manner susceptible to explanation in terms of the
concepts we have, such knowledge of dispositional properties will not be
forthcoming. That nature has a systematic unity susceptible to the
formulation of hypotheses leading to true theories is an ideal guiding the
formulation of empirical concepts of dispositional properties and lawlike
causal connection. This transcendental postulate of the systematic unity
of nature allows the truth of theories to be tested by a combination of
internal coherence and empirical adequacy.
The inductive inference from singular causal judgments to corre-
sponding causal laws must be supported by regulative principles of
reason. If the lawlikeness of causal judgments must be supported by
regulative principles which are antinomial, if treated as objective laws of
unrestricted scope, then this will allow a role in inquiry for probabilistic
laws. Kant certainly believes that laws make an implicit claim to unre-
stricted generality. But he also believes that this claim cannot be made
good by us. Although we must strive to unify di¬erent causal laws under
common principles, Kant believes that there are certain inherent limita-
tions to our capacity to carry out this enterprise. Such an interpretation
is suggested by the introductions to the Critique of Judgment.

   ¬ ¬   µ  ¬ ¬  ·  ¤    © ® ©   © ?
Kant™s argument from time-determination to the a priori validity of the
causal principle is compatible with the existence of indeterministic
±µ Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
causal laws, as well as indeterministic applications of causal laws. Both
Melnick and Guyer argue that the existence of statistical laws of nature
does not threaten the universality and necessity that Kant attributes to
causal laws.± This is clearly correct, since he countenances the existence
of indeterministic natural laws:
Whatever concept one may hold, from a metaphysical point of view, concern-
ing the freedom of the will, certainly its appearances, which are human actions,
like every other natural event are determined according to universal laws. Since
the free will of human beings has obvious in¬‚uence on marriage, births, and
deaths, they seem to be subject to no rule by which the numbers of them could
be calculated in advance. Yet the annual tables of them in the major countries
prove that they occur according to natural laws as stable as the unstable
weather, where we cannot predict individual events, but which, in the large,
maintains the growth of plants, the ¬‚ow of rivers, and other natural events in an
unbroken, uniform course. (˜˜Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopoli-
tan Point of View™™ [±·], Ak. ©©©, p. ±·)
Kant regards probability as something subjective, roughly the plausi-
bility of a certain hypothesis relative to a certain set of evidence, rather
than as an objective property of nature, i.e. chance: ˜˜Probability is to be
understood as a holding true on the basis of insu¬cient reasons, which
however, have a greater relation to the su¬cient ones than the grounds
of the opposite™™ (Logic, Ak. ©, p. ±). Given this view of probability there
is no reason to think that natural laws cannot be probabilistic. Our
judgments about temporal relations and their correlative causal rela-
tions are uncertain, because they are subject to error, and so we can
expect most of the laws that we formulate concerning causal relations to
be inherently probabilistic. It is true that Kant seems to have thought
that the fundamental laws of nature would be inherently unprobabilis-
tic, but this is only because he thought they could be known a priori, and
he seems to have thought they could be known a priori because he was
convinced that we could know a priori that objects have completely
determinate trajectories through space and time. This is a plausible
assumption. But it is in con¬‚ict with the best theory of physical objects
that we now have available to us. In quantum mechanics, the classical
notion of a trajectory with a completely determinate position and
momentum for a particle breaks down at the microphysical level. While
quantum mechanics may eventually be replaced by a more fundamen-
tal theory that does involve the sharp trajectories of the kind Kant
postulates, it is at least equally likely that this indeterminacy will remain
in place in future physical theory.
Causal laws

   °  ©  © ¬ ©    ¦ ®   µ   ¬   µ    ©  ®  ® ¤
 µ  © ® ¦     ®
At the level relevant to the explanation of human action, even Kant
seems to think that the causal laws that apply are, at best, probabilistic.
At least this is suggested by the passage from the essay on history cited
above. Allowing for probabilistic causal laws governing actions helps
one to see how he could argue that our actions might all have causal
covering laws, and yet be such that they allow for a kind of causation by
reason that is independent of natural causal laws. Kant™s formulations of
the causal principle in both the ¬rst and second editions suggest that
they are designed to provide leeway with respect to the problem of the
compatibility of non-physical causes and physical causal determination.
In the ¬rst edition of the Critique ( ±), he asserts as a ˜˜principle of
generation™™ that everything which happens or comes to be presupposes
something which it is the consequence of according to a rule. This does
not entail the existence of a temporal cause for every occurrence,
although that could be understood to be his meaning. It certainly does
not entail that we can have knowledge of what the speci¬c cause of an
event is. Di¬erent causes may be independently su¬cient for bringing
about a certain event-type, and hence no cause need be a necessary
condition for the occurrence of a given event. In the second edition at 
, the principle is restated in somewhat tighter terms as a principle of
temporal succession according to the law of causality. All changes are
now said to occur according to the connection of cause and e¬ect.
Again, every change must be describable in terms which allow one to
identify a cause and an e¬ect. Yet the formulae are compatible with an
action being uncaused under a more fundamental description of that
action as long as there is a temporal description of that action under
which it is caused.
In causation from freedom, or from reason, an intellectual state
causes a physical state but is not in turn caused by any antecedent
physical state: ˜˜if reason has causality in respect to appearances, then it
is a faculty through which the sensible condition of an empirical series of
e¬ects ¬rst begins. For the condition that lies in reason is not sensible
and does not itself begin™™ ( µµ/ µ°). The uncaused event (the event
which is the e¬ect of causation through reason) is uncaused under its
purely reason-based description, and caused under its description as an
event belonging to a determinate temporal order. This leads to the
thesis that incompatibilism and compatibilism are compatible so long as
±µ Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
we distinguish the two fundamentally di¬erent aspects of how things
are, namely, things as they must appear to us, and things as they are
grasped by reason independently of the way they must appear to us.±
Kant™s peculiar form of compatibilism is clearly consistent with the
idea that every instance of singular causation entails the existence of a
causal law which is true of it. Things would be more di¬cult if Kant
were committed to the stronger claim that each individual cause entails
a particular causal law. Given that individual causes do not entail the
existence of particular causal laws, singular causation can, in some cases
at least, consist in the temporal appearance of causation based on
reasons for choice that are independent of the agent™s causal history.
The thesis that every physical event has a su¬cient physical cause is
compatible with the existence of non-physical events that serve as
overdetermining causes of physical events. That is, it allows for the
possibility that the occurrence of a physical event could equally well be
explained in terms of a non-physical cause.
Interpreters who have been strongly in¬‚uenced by Donald David-
son™s account of free agency have argued that the key to Kant™s account
of the compatibility of free will and causal determination is that reasons
serving as causes, or what Kant calls intelligible causes, provide ˜˜ration-
alizations™™ for what we do, but are not subject to causal laws.° On the
view in question, mental events are anomalous, but token“token ident-
ical with physical events that are subject to causal laws. Initially, it would
seem that this view of mental causation threatens to make all mental
events and intelligible causes into mere epiphenomena of physical
events. However, this is not so, for the view in question treats causation
as an extensional relation. While mental events are only subject to
causal laws under a physical description, they are causally e¬cacious in
virtue of their nature as events. This, however, raises the following
obvious problem for such a view of mental causation. On the view in
question, reasons will be causally e¬cacious insofar as they are part of a
person™s psychological make-up. Now, insofar as these reasons are
causally e¬cacious they will also themselves be subject to causal deter-
mination by antecedent causes. It is true that we will not be able to come
up with causal laws governing such determination under the mental-
event description of the event that instantiates a reason. However, such
a mental event will belong to the causal order as an event, and,
moreover, be token“token identical with a physical event that is subject
to causal laws and thus, in principle, subject to deterministic causal laws.
So it is hard to see how any progress has been made in rescuing Kant™s
Causal laws
intuitions about the compatibility of deterministic physical explanation
with indeterministic reason-based behavior.
Kant argues that, as long as we are determined by causes that provide
the conditions under which we are able to determine the relations
between events at di¬erent times, we have only ˜˜psychological and
comparative freedom™™ which would be nothing better than the ˜˜free-
dom of a turnspit, which also, once it is cranked up, goes through its
motion on its own™™ (Critique of Practical Reason, Ak. ©, p. ·). The
anomalous monism interpretation of mental-event causation does no-
thing to help Kant out of the dilemma that psychological freedom seems
to be nothing but the freedom of a turnspit or a spiritual automaton.
Unlike the anomalous monist, Kant insists that reason has to be genu-
inely causal in its own right, and not merely in virtue of being realized in
the form of the psychological states of some agent, if freedom is to be
saved. Now, from the second- or third-person perspective, Kant argues
that we must attribute to human beings an empirical character that
provides the basis for their choices, where such choices are themselves to
be understood as a causal power of reason. But, since the empirical
character is itself something that allows of a causal explanation, there
can be no freedom:

[I]f we could research all appearances of choice to their ultimate ground, then
there would not be a single human action that we could not predict with
certainty and could not know with necessity from its preceding conditions. In
respect to this empirical character there is therefore no freedom, and we can
alone consider human beings according to this character when we merely
observe, and physiologically investigate the moving causes of this action, as
we do in anthropology. ( µµ°/ µ·)

The important point to note is the conditional character of Kant™s
claim that all human actions would turn out to be completely predict-
able. We would have to be able to seek out the ultimate grounds of
choice in a complete understanding of the person™s empirical character
and the other relevant causal circumstances, if we were to be able to
explain a person™s behavior in causal terms. Such a causal explanation is
a regulative ideal governed by a principle of reason in our observations
of ourselves and others ( µµ/ µ). But this does not mean that, even
in principle, we could ever have su¬cient knowledge to fully carry out
the required causal explanation.
A comprehensive explanation of the world is something that we are
forced to strive for as rational beings, but it is also something to distrust
±µ Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
because we are inherently incapable of realizing it given our ¬nitude.
Our reason brings with it the transcendental illusion that, in principle,
we could attain such a comprehensive explanation. This illusion that
one can provide such a comprehensive explanation is at the basis of his
critique of transcendental realism.
Although it looks merely like a chain of causes here that does not allow an
absolute totality in the regress to its conditions, this concern does not stop us at all;
for it is already dealt with in the general consideration of the antinomy of
reason. If we give way to the deception of transcendental realism: then neither
nature nor freedom remains. ( µ/ µ·±)

The transcendental realist thinks that, in principle, he or she can
presume to have all objects as they must appear to us in experience
available to him or her, and then goes on to make inferences about what
the world is independently of the way it must appear to us in our
experience on the basis of that presumed closure in our knowledge of
objects of experience. Kant maintains that the transcendental realist
view cannot account for our knowledge of the necessity that laws of
nature are supposed to have, and thus cannot account for nature. This
might seem to leave the transcendental realist in a better position to deal
with the problem of freedom. However, randomness is no more com-
patible with free agency than is complete causal necessity.
In contrast to the transcendental realist story in question, Kant argues
that because our e¬orts to identify the physical causes not only of what
we do, but of anything at all, are always going to be relatively incom-
plete, there is still always space for an alternative account or description
of our action under which the occurrence of an action is explained by
the rational principles that we adhere to, rather than by appeal to past
facts about our causal history or about the causal history of the world.
Causal overdetermination is su¬cient to provide an alternative expla-
nation for what the cause of a given event is.
Given the inherent incompleteness of our knowledge of causes, there
will always be room both for an account of what we did that is
determined by antecedent causal conditions, and an account that treats
our adoption of the reasons for action that we adopt as genuinely
independent of our past causal history and thus as inherently indeter-
ministic. Kant insists that it is only in the latter case that we can
legitimately regard the reasons for our action as ones that initiate a
completely new causal series, rather than as mere parts of an ongoing
series of causes. This way of resolving the competing claims made by the
Causal laws
idea that all events are to be explained on the basis of natural causality
and the claim that some are to be explained on the basis of causality
from freedom does justice to the antinomial relation that Kant posits
between these two ideals of explanation in the Third Antinomy ( /
· ¬.).

 ° ®   ®  ©  
In discussing human freedom, and the idea that reason has causality,
Kant ascribes to reason the capacity ˜˜to make its own order [of events]
according to ideas with complete spontaneity, in which it ¬ts in empiri-
cal conditions™™ ( µ/ µ·). This complete spontaneity of reason
derives from the link of reason with the spontaneity of self-conscious-
Only a human being who otherwise knows the whole of nature only through
the senses, knows [erkennt] itself also through mere apperception, and, that is, in
actions and inner determinations that it cannot attribute to impressions of the
senses, and is admittedly on the one hand a phenomenon, but on the other
hand, it is, namely in respect to certain faculties, an intelligible object, since its
action cannot be attributed to the receptivity of sensibility. We call these
faculties understanding and reason, especially if the latter is properly and
emphatically distinguished from all empirically conditioned forces, since it
considers its objects merely according to ideas and determines understanding
accordingly, which then makes empirical use of its (also pure) concepts. (
µ·/ µ·µ)
In claiming that we know ourselves to be intelligible objects through
mere apperception, Kant is using knowledge or cognition (Erkenntnis) in
the general sense that any representation of an object whatsoever may
be called a cognition. He is not saying that we judge this to be the case.
Instead, we have an immediate consciousness of ourselves in appercep-
tion that is independent of any empirical knowledge we may have about
who we are. This capacity is the basis upon which our reason can then
consider alternative possible causal orders of events with its ideas, which
are concepts of totalities of objects. It is also the spontaneity of self-
consciousness that allows us to regard our reason as a capacity that is
distinct from empirically determined forces, and hence capable of
causing events without itself being caused. Thus, the spontaneity of
self-consciousness seems to involve a power of acting that is independent
of any prior causes.
Kant undeniably distinguishes thought from self-consciousness by its
spontaneity, that is, by its activity in contrast to the passivity of sensible
±µ Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
experience. The spontaneity of thought that we have as ¬nite rational
beings is more restricted than the spontaneity of God with His ability to
create things out of nothing. We can only have thoughts and perform
actions in relation to information that is somehow given to us. However,
it is controversial to what extent the spontaneity of thought is relative to
or dependent on experience. Those who see freedom in judgment as
relative, note its dependency on information that is simply given to us
through our ˜˜receptivity.™™ They emphasize the di¬erence between
freedom in thought and the full-blown freedom of the will in the
Kantian sense that is supposed to be able to allow us to act regardless of
the desires and beliefs we may otherwise have.± On the other hand, a
number of commentators wish to ascribe an absolute spontaneity to us
in thought. They point to the close connection between the causality
that Kant ascribes to reason, and the spontaneity of self-consciousness.
Signi¬cantly, Kant seems to draw the distinction between relative
and absolute spontaneity within thought. If one assumes that there is an
actual rather than a possible individual that is thinking, then this
assumption will depend on experience and places a restriction on the
spontaneity of the thought ˜˜I think.™™ On the other hand, if one merely
explores the analytic entailments of the proposition ˜˜I think,™™ then there
is no need to appeal to facts of experience at all. Thus, Kant ascribes to
thought in its general form a kind of pure spontaneity that is completely
independent of the passivity of sense. This purity of spontaneity is based
on the fact that thought is exhausted in such cases by its functional role
in logical inferences:

Thought, taken on its own, is merely the logical function, hence pure sponta-
neity of connection of the manifold of a merely possible intuition, and repre-
sents the subject of consciousness not at all as appearance, merely for this
reason, since it pays no attention to the mode of intuition, whether it is sensible
or intellectual. In this way, I do not represent myself either as I am, nor as I
appear to myself, but rather I think myself as an object in general from whose
intuition I abstract. ( “).

From this passage, it seems safe to conclude that Kant allows for a
kind of pure or absolute spontaneity when I think of myself as a thinker
in general, a merely possible thinker, and analyze the analytic entail-
ments of this notion of myself as a thinker without appealing to any facts
that depend on experience. But Kant also goes on to note that already
the proposition ˜˜I think,™™ when it makes an existential claim in its
assertoric use, ˜˜cannot take place without inner sense™™ and is ˜˜no longer
Causal laws
mere spontaneity, but also receptivity of intuition™™ ( “°). When-
ever the content of what I am judging depends in some way on the way
the world actually is, I ¬nd myself forced to go outside of the analytic
entailments of my concepts. Under those circumstances, I must appeal
to my experience of the world. This experience of the world is passive in
the sense that it is not completely up to me. I must receive information
from the world.
Kant then contrasts the spontaneity of I thoughts that depend on the
receptivity of intuition with the spontaneity to be found in morality,
noting that in the kind of self-legislation involved in morality ˜˜one
would discover a spontaneity through which our reality was determin-
able without needing the conditions of empirical intuition™™ ( °).
Thus, overall, the passage suggests that the spontaneity of thought is
only a relative spontaneity when it depends on empirical facts about the
world. It is only absolute spontaneity when it is not concerned with
empirical considerations at all. Kant thinks that such complete indepen-
dence from empirical considerations is characteristic of the moral will
and our knowledge of logic.
The best argument for attributing some form of absolute spontaneity
to thought even when it is concerned with empirical facts is based on
Kant™s conviction that the ˜˜I think™™ can accompany any of my repre-
sentations, apparently regardless of my causal situation. This is a central
idea of the Transcendental Deduction. But it is important to note that
the ˜˜I think™™ also presupposes that there be something given to me in
experience to interpret. This would include all facts about myself as a
particular individual. However, if one ascribes absolute spontaneity to
the subject, a problem seems to arise concerning the existence of other
minds. If each person is absolutely spontaneous in their thoughts, then,
in principle, those thoughts are completely independent of any anteced-
ent empirical causal conditions that might govern the thoughts of other
persons as well. The implication is that, even if another person™s behav-
ior seemed to warrant the ascription of thoughts to that person, I could
never be certain that the other person was, in fact, thinking or for that
matter a thinking being at all, since there would be no necessary causal
connection between behavior of the kind which is usually taken to
provide evidence for rationality and the actual existence of rationality.
The argument is not decisive against the ascription of absolute sponta-
neity to thought, but it does seem to require that the manner in which
persons appear to us be characterized only by a relative spontaneity that
is compatible with causal explanation.
±° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
While self-consciousness may be thought of as absolutely spontaneous
under a description that is purely ¬rst personal, when we turn to the
second- and third-person point of view, we can only ascribe relative
spontaneity to persons. Now, if one takes the claim of the Third
Paralogism in  seriously, a claim I will discuss in the next chapter, the
second- or third-person perspective is presupposed in any consciousness
of oneself as a distinct individual in time with states of consciousness that
have a distinct temporal position. From this, it would seem to follow that
I cannot attribute absolute spontaneity to myself as a particular identi¬-
able individual thinker in time. This claim derives further support from
Kant™s remark in the Antinomy that the observed behavior of an
individual must, in principle, be regarded by us as completely predict-
Kant thinks that there are principles governing the ascription of
thoughts to others as well as to myself. But he does not think that we can
show that either one™s own thoughts or those of others must be as we
must all represent them in order to make sense of them. Thus, it is
perhaps most plausible to distinguish the relative spontaneity that
thinkers have for the purposes of attributing experiences to them from
the possible absolute spontaneity they have in themselves. Rational
deliberation would be uncaused under the description of persons as
things in themselves, but caused under a description of those same
persons as objects of our experience.
In this chapter, I have attempted to place speci¬c laws governing
substances, causation, and interaction in Kant™s scheme for determining
the temporal (and spatial) relations between events and our experiences
of them. I then attempted to ¬t Kant™s notion of the possibility of
causation from freedom into his overall account of action based on
causal covering laws. This allows us to make sense of even a relatively
strong interpretation of the idea that we are able as thinking beings to
respond spontaneously to what we experience.
In the next chapter, I look at the kind of substantive metaphysical
claims about the self that the ¬rst-person point of view provided by
self-consciousness seems to support. I develop Kant™s reasons for reject-
ing the idea that self-consciousness is a substance to which we can
ascribe a metaphysical unity and personal identity that is independent of
a body.
° 

Self-consciousness and the pseudo-discipline of
transcendental psychology

In the last chapter, I noted that Kant takes reason to be concerned with
the articulation of a totality of objects that can never be given to us in
experience. The problem with the totality of objects in question is that it
is nevertheless required by us in order to make sense of experience. This
gives rise to what Kant calls a transcendental illusion:

The cause of this [illusion] is that in our reason (regarded subjectively as a
human faculty of knowledge) lie basic rules and maxims of their use that have
completely the aspect of objective principles and through which it happens that
the subjective necessity of a certain connection of our concepts for the sake of
our understanding is taken to be an objective necessity concerning the determi-
nation of things as they exist in themselves. This illusion is one that is unavoid-
able. ( ·/ µ)

In this chapter, I propose to look at the manner in which the ˜˜I
think,™™ ˜˜the proposition that expresses self-consciousness™™ ( °-°),
gives rise to a transcendental illusion that we can develop a ˜˜transcen-
dental doctrine of the soul, which is falsely thought to be a science of
pure reason concerning the nature of our thinking being™™ ( µ/ ).
As Descartes, and before him Augustine, noted, in using the expression
˜˜cogito,™™ ˜˜I think,™™ one cannot fail to refer to oneself as an individual
who is thinking. The indubitability of I thoughts in contrast to the
dubitability of thoughts about bodies suggested to Descartes the idea of
a purely rational discipline based on the cogito. In this discipline, devel-
oped by Leibniz and Wol¬, we seem to be able to articulate and even
successfully defend metaphysical claims about the nature of the self
based on evidence provided by the cogito. Thus, I initially seem to be able
correctly to infer from the proposition that I am thinking that I am a
thinking substance that has an intrinsic unity to it that must persist
across time and be distinguishable from the identity of any body. Kant
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
refers to the discipline in question as ˜˜rational psychology™™ or the
pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology ( ·).
In the Paralogisms of Rational Psychology, Kant is concerned with
the kind of false inferences (paralogisms) to substantive facts about our
nature as selves from the conditions governing our ability to ascribe
thoughts to ourselves and to other rational beings that he takes to be
constitutive of rational psychology. He wants to expose the transcenden-
tal illusion to which we are necessarily prone in thinking about ourselves
as subjects of experience. With respect to the proposition ˜˜I think,™™
Kant wants to show that de dicto notions of necessity, actuality, and
possibility, that is, modal notions that are properties of propositions, or
of statements, or sentences that express those propositions, cannot be
appealed to in order to support de re modalities, that is, necessities,
actualities, and possibilities that hold of a thing independently of the way
in which we describe the thing. Kant takes the illusions that are gener-
ated by our ability to have I thoughts so seriously, because his own work
prior to the Critique was infected by them.± Indeed, many commentators
have ascribed views in the rest of the Critique to Kant that would seem to
be based on paralogistic inferences from the proposition ˜˜I think.™™ In
particular, a number of commentators have argued that Kant himself
illicitly moves from de dicto necessity claims about what we can become
conscious of through I thoughts to claims of de re necessity concerning
the objects of our I thoughts, while other commentators have argued
that Kant™s views are not as di¬erent from those of rationalists such as
Descartes, Leibniz and Wol¬ as they initially seem to be.
At ¬rst, a critique of rational psychology really seems to be inconsist-
ent with Kant™s own project of articulating a priori constraints on
experience based on the possibility of becoming conscious of the di¬er-
ent individual experiences that make up our experience as a whole.
There is, however, an important di¬erence between providing an a
priori theory of the self and providing an a priori theory of the con-
straints imposed on our experience by the possibility of self-conscious-
ness. If our self-consciousness imposes a priori constraints on the way we
experience objects, then we will experience objects in accordance with
those constraints. This does not imply that we have any knowledge of
the way the self must be independently of such constraints on how we
must represent the self. Kant™s target in the Paralogisms is the view that
we know the way the self is in itself. This would be to know the self in a
manner that is independent of the way in which we must represent the
self in order to ascribe thoughts to individuals.
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
  ©®« ©®§ ¦ ® ¬ ¦  ®¤     © ®«
Kant takes the Cartesian cogito as the starting-point for his re¬‚ections on
the nature of self-consciousness and the self as it presents itself to
self-consciousness. With Descartes, Kant notes that the self-conscious-
ness expressed in the thought ˜˜I am thinking™™ has existential import and
is self-verifying at the time the proposition expressed by the thought ˜˜I
am thinking™™ is asserted by me. The referential force of the proposition
˜˜I think™™ is based on the empirical fact that I am thinking provided by
inner perception. And ˜˜this inner perception is nothing more than the
mere apperception: I think™™ ( / °±). Taken in this sense, which
Kant refers to as the assertoric use of the expression ˜˜I think,™™ ˜˜the I
think, is, as was already said, an empirical proposition, and contains the
proposition, I exist, in itself™™ ( ). There is, however, another sense in
which the thought that I am thinking may be understood. Kant refers to
the usage in question as taking the proposition ˜˜I think™™ ˜˜problemati-
Now I cannot have any representation whatsoever of a thinking being, through
any outer experience, but only through self-consciousness. Objects of this kind
are therefore nothing more than the transference of this consciousness of mine to
other things, which in this way alone can be represented as thinking beings. The
proposition: I think, is taken merely problematically here; not insofar as it
contains a perception of existence (the Cartesian cogito ergo sum) but rather
according to its mere possibility in order to see which properties might ¬‚ow from
this so simple proposition to its subject (whether it exists or not). ( ·/ °µ)
When I use the proposition ˜˜I think™™ ˜˜problematically,™™ the proposi-
tion ˜˜I think™™ is merely entertained as a possible thought, it is not
actually asserted. Initially, it is unclear how such a problematic use of
the statement ˜˜I think™™ is possible. The self-validating character of I
thoughts to which Descartes appeals gives rise to di¬culties here. There
seems to be a (pragmatically) necessary connection between the condi-
tions under which one can entertain the proposition ˜˜I think™™ and the
conditions under which the assertion is true that I am thinking. It thus
seems to be impossible for the proposition ˜˜I think™™ to be entertained
without the proposition actually being true in virtue of being enter-
tained. It then seems possible to infer that the constraints governing the
ascription of thoughts to oneself and to others have the same self-
validating character that is characteristic of the assertion ˜˜I think™™:
It must seem odd right away that the condition under which I can think at all,
and that is therefore merely a property of my subject should be valid for
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
everything that thinks, and that we can abrogate the right to base an apodictic
and universal judgment on a seemingly empirical proposition, namely that
everything that thinks is such as the expression of self-consciousness says it to be
in me. The cause of this seems to lie in the following: that we must ascribe to
things a priori all those properties that make up the conditions under which we
can alone think them. ( / °)

Kant assumes with rationalist philosophers that our only grip on the
notion of a thinker is based on our ability to ascribe to such a thinker a
point of view that is like our own in the sense that we could conceive of
ourselves as being able to take up the point of view of such a creature.
However, this very process of transference that is the key to representing
other minds allows us to understand what it might mean for me to
represent myself as a thinker from whose actual existence I abstract.
From the fact that I can think of someone else thinking, it does not
follow that such a person actually exists. In thinking of another being as
one of us, we think of that being as having a point of view that, in
principle, is intelligible to us, and that could even have been our own
had our history been su¬ciently di¬erent.
In the feat of transference involved in thinking of what it would be like
for me to understand or perceive the world from a di¬erent vantage-
point I am no longer using the ˜˜I™™ that is represented by me in such
transference to refer to an actual particular individual. I am using the
expression ˜˜I think™™ counterfactually, or as Kant puts it ˜˜problematically,™™
since I am thinking of what it would be like to represent the world from
the point of view of that rational being.
In order for me to represent a point of view that might have been my
own, but is not in fact my own, I must be thinking of myself in a quite
attenuated way. In counterfactual self-reference, I am not referring to
myself as the particular individual who I am. I cannot as a particular
individual be identical with another individual, since each thing is that
thing and not some other thing. Although I am still thinking of a
permutation of myself, it is important to note that I am not thinking that
Pierre Keller might be identical with Charles de Gaulle or the Red
King, which would violate the principle of identity. The temptation is to
think that I am then a thinking being that is no particular thinking
being. This leads me to conclude that I have grasped what is essential to
the very existence and nature of a thinking being, whereas in fact I have
merely come to see what is required in order for me to think of another
being as a thinker.
When I think of di¬erent alternative counterparts to myself in di¬er-
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
ent possible experiences, I think of myself as a subject of experience that
functions in a way analogous to a variable = x for which I can then
substitute di¬erent individual constants. This is what Kant calls the
representation of ˜˜a transcendental subject of thought = x™™ by means of
the ˜˜simple and for itself completely empty of content representation: I™™
( / °). I can think that I might have been Charles de Gaulle or
the Red King rather than Pierre Keller. I am neither asserting that I as
this particular individual exist nor that the other individual actually
exists. Since I can interpret myself as a potential point of view among
other possible points of view, I can even think of what it would be like to
be conscious of myself as I am. Counterfactual self-reference applies not
only to the thought of my being somebody else, but also to the thought
of my having a particular possible point of view. While we can say that
such counterfactual reference to ourselves underlies our understanding
of others as rational beings, and even of ourselves, we cannot therefore
conclude that we have the kind of natures as rational beings that such
counterfactual reference to ourselves seems to suggest that we have.
In ascribing thoughts to others on the basis of the ¬rst-person per-
spective expressed by the statement ˜˜I think,™™ I have e¬ectively severed
the thought ˜˜I think™™ from the pragmatic conditions of use that guaran-
tee that the proposition it expresses is true. This means that I cannot
take a logical analysis of the conceptual entailments of the proposition ˜˜I
think™™ to tell me substantive metaphysical truths about the nature of
thinking beings. It is not that my concept of a thinker is clearly an
illegitimate one. It is just that it is my or our concept of a thinker. A
certain concept may well be the only one we have available to us. But we
are not therefore entitled to say that the only way the thing could be is
the way that we must capture with our concept of the thing in question.
So I cannot assume that the conditions governing my ascription of
thoughts to rational beings must mirror the intrinsic nature of rational
There is a strong temptation to think that one can establish substan-
tive claims about the way all rational beings must be from the conditions
under which we are compelled to ascribe rationality to ourselves and
others. Succumbing to the temptation leads to what Kant calls a
˜˜transcendental use of the understanding™™ ( / °). By abstracting
from the empirical conditions under which we use concepts, the puta-
tive use of concepts in question runs together our concept of a certain
object with the inherent nature of that object ( ·/ °). The
temptation arises because of the link that holds for us between self-
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
consciousness and our understanding of what it is to be rational. The
temptation becomes compelling if one fails to distinguish the actual
from the counterfactual form of self-reference. For then we seem to be
able to infer how rational beings in general must be from the manner in
which we are conscious of ourselves.
The connection between self-consciousness and rationality suggests
that in articulating the structure of self-consciousness we are also articu-
lating the nature of a rational being. But Kant insists that the ˜˜I think™™ is
something that we must regard as a ˜˜merely subjective condition™™ of knowl-
edge which we are prone to regard as a way of understanding the nature
of rational beings:
[T]he formal proposition of apperception: I think which proposition is admit-
tedly no experience, but rather the form of apperception belonging to and
preceding every experience, is to be regarded always only in respect to possible
cognition in general as a merely subjective condition of it, that we wrongly make into
a condition of the possibility of objects, namely into the concept of a thinking
being in general, since we can only represent such beings by placing the
formula of our consciousness in the place of every other rational being. ( µµ)

There is a natural and, indeed, to some extent unavoidable tendency to
confuse the conditions under which we make sense of rational beings
with the conditions under which such beings can exist at all. The bearer
of representations when represented as a self (as a representer conscious
of being a representer) must be represented from the ¬rst-person point
of view. This strongly suggests that the way the self is represented from
the ¬rst-person point of view displays necessary facts about the bearer of
that point of view. But these putatively necessary facts turn out to be
nothing but artefacts of the way we must think of those to whom we
ascribe rationality.

·         °    ¬  §©   ?
Kant works through four di¬erent ways in which each of us as subjects
of self-consciousness must represent ourselves. These four di¬erent ways
of representing ourselves seem to verify themselves in any self-con-
sciousness: (±) We are conscious of ourselves as basic subjects or substan-
ces. In self-consciousness we are conscious of whatever or whoever it is
that has such self-consciousness. We cannot fail to refer to the bearer of
self-consciousness in self-consciousness. () We are conscious of our-
selves as absolutely unitary (as simple), that is, as individual egos. For we
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
are conscious of ourselves as subjects of self-consciousness, as egos, that
cannot be a mere collection of di¬erent subjects. () We are conscious of
ourselves as being numerically identical selves in all our experiences of
which we are conscious. For this is what it means to say of all these
experiences that we are conscious of them as our own. Finally, () we are
conscious of ourselves as being in a cognitive relation to possible objects
that are external to us. For it is only in relation to these external objects
that we think of ourselves as distinct individuals.
Kant argues that there are four aspects of self-consciousness that give
rise to four natural fallacies concerning the nature of the self. It is these
fallacies that underlie traditional metaphysics of the soul (self ). It seems
possible to infer the substantiality, simplicity, identity over all time, and
independence of the self, from an analysis of the proposition ˜˜I think,™™
since this proposition is a condition under which we ascribe thoughts to
ourselves and others, and thus think of each other as thinking beings
endowed with a self.
Kant diagnoses the four basic paralogisms of rational psychology as
fallacies of ambiguity (sophismata ¬gurae dictionis:  °;  ±±) that are
based on a confusion of the problematic use of the proposition ˜˜I think™™
with the assertoric use of that proposition. The major premise of the
syllogism lays out a de¬nition of what it is to be a substance, a simple
thing, a person, and a thing the existence of which is doubtful. Now, in a
certain sense ˜˜the proposition that expresses self-consciousness: I think™™
( ) refers to something that satis¬es the de¬nition of what a sub-
stance, etc. is. For Kant insists that ˜˜the mere apperception (I) [is]
substance in concept, simple in concept, etc.™™ ( °°). In other words,
apperception is the expression of the proposition ˜˜I think.™™ And this
proposition ˜˜I think™™ analytically entails that I am the absolute subject
of my thoughts, that I am a single subject that has an intrinsic unity to it
that I can call simplicity, that I am numerically identical over my
di¬erent thoughts, and that I can distinguish myself as thinker from
other things outside of my thought (see especially  °·¬.). Thus, the
minor premise of the syllogistic inferences that Kant ascribes to rational
psychology seems to be able to draw on the self-verifying and empirical
claim that I am thinking in its claim that I have an existence that
corresponds to the de¬nition of substance, etc. The conclusion is then
the claim that I am a substance, etc. However, the minor premise draws
its support for the claim that I am a substance, etc. from the way I must
think of myself and think of others in order to be able to think of us as
thinkers at all. In other words, the minor premise depends on the
± Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
problematic use of the expression ˜˜I think,™™ which does not support
bona ¬de existential claims, while presenting itself as based on the
self-verifying status of the assertoric use of the expression ˜˜I think.™™ The
subtle mistake that underlies transcendental psychology is to conclude
from the fact that the formal de¬nition of substance, etc. is satis¬ed by
the way in which each of us is compelled to think of him- or herself and
others that each of us therefore knows that he or she and other thinkers
are substances, etc.
The second edition of the Paralogisms clari¬es the nature of the
fallacy of ambiguity involved in the paralogistic inferences of transcen-
dental psychology:
Thought is taken in both premises in a totally di¬erent meaning: in the major
proposition as it applies to objects in general (hence as it may be given in
intuition); but in the minor proposition as it subsists in relation to self-conscious-
ness, whereby no object is thought, but only the relation to oneself :Sich
[sic]9, as subject (as the form of thought) is represented. ( ±±)

The major premise applies to all thinking beings regardless of how
they are thought to be. It is explicitly said to include thinking beings that
are given to us as objects of knowledge through intuition. It is a premise
that is analytically true, since it merely analyzes the meaning of ˜˜sub-
stance,™™ ˜˜simple things,™™ ˜˜personal identity,™™ or ˜˜external things.™™ In
the minor premise, thinking beings are taken only as they are available
to us subjectively through our thoughts of ourselves. Due to the in-
eliminability of the ¬rst-person point of view, it is then tempting to infer
that this description applies to oneself and others not just as we must think
of ourselves, but without restriction.
In e¬ect, the Paralogisms are based on running together two di¬erent
senses in which thoughts about thinkers may be abstract. In the ¬rst
case, thoughts are abstract in the sense that they apply to objects in
general, absolutely all objects. This is the sense required in order to
make substantive claims about thinking beings. This is a ˜˜transcenden-
tal use™™ of the notion of thought, that is, a use of something that serves as
a condition for our experience as if the object that conformed to that
condition could be given independently of our experience. It is an
illegitimate extension from a de¬nitional or purely logical use of
thought. But, in ascribing thoughts, we are abstracting from facts about
particular thinkers in a di¬erent way. We are thinking of them in terms
of the conditions under which we ascribe thoughts to them. This does
not license us to make claims about the way thinkers are in general, and
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
in abstraction from the way we must think of them. Thus, it does not
underwrite claims about how thinkers are in themselves.
The subject as represented in self-consciousness is not an object in the
proper sense at all. It makes no sense to say that one might fail to be
conscious of oneself, since this self is an internal accusative of self-
consciousness. It does, however, make sense to say that one might fail to
know who one is, as one can see from cases of amnesia. When I am
conscious of myself merely as subject of self-consciousness, there is no
room for reference failure. It is as some particular individual (as an
object) that ˜˜I™™ can fail to refer to myself. Since such an object must be
identi¬able, the identi¬cation of who the subject is, as a certain particu-
lar (object), may fail. The ˜˜I™™ serves as its own formal object, but when I
think of myself as this formal object I am actually abstracting from all
objects in the normal sense of the word. Although ˜˜I™™ or rather ˜˜me™™ (its
accusative form) serves as the grammatical object of consciousness, it
need not correspond to any publicly identi¬able or reidenti¬able ob-
ject. Non-identi¬catory self-consciousness does not provide access to
the self under any particular description. If one is self-conscious, one
must refer to oneself. One also has a belief about a particular object. But
the object of one™s belief may not be the actual bearer of self-conscious-
ness and thus it may not be the self to which one is referring in

  ¦©   °  ¬  §©  
The second edition of the Critique provides only one explicit example of a
paralogism, which apparently serves as a paradigm for how the others
are to be reconstructed. It involves the notion of substance: (±) ˜˜That
which cannot be thought other than as subject, exists in no other way
than as subject and is therefore substance.™™ () ˜˜Now a thinking being
merely regarded as such cannot be thought of other than as subject.™™ ()
˜˜Therefore it exists also only as such, i.e. as substance™™ ( ±°“±±). The
example displays the shift in scope that Kant takes to be characteristic of
a paralogism in the second edition. We begin with an analytic principle
that is little more than a nominal de¬nition of substance. In the minor
premise, we move to a principle expressing what is involved in our
conception of a thinking being as such. However, in the conclusion, the
restriction in the minor premise to the thought of a thinker as a thinker is
ignored. Ignoring the restriction leads to the assertion of a synthetic
proposition a priori on the basis of a de¬nitional claim about the nature
±·° Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
of substance and a claim about what the conditions are under which we
think of ourselves and others as thinkers.
The basic problem with the argument is that it involves a fallacy of
ambiguity. We begin with the idea that something that can be made
sense of only as a subject, that is as a bearer of properties, is a substance.
Then the Cartesian premise is introduced that a thinking being thought
of as a thinking being can only be thought of as a bearer of thoughts. The
restriction in the minor premise to thinking beings thought of as thinking
beings is then dropped. Dropping the restriction leads to the fallacious
conclusion that a thinking being can only be regarded as a subject of
thought or bearer of thoughts. The problem is that a being might be a
thinker without being essentially a thinker. Thinking might be only a
derivative and non-essential property of the actual individual who
thinks. The basicness of I representations to thought encourages one to
assume that I am also ontologically basic as a thinker. The inference to
my being ontologically basic is based on confounding the way I must
represent myself as subject of judgment and of thought with the actual
bearer of I thoughts.
Kant notes that ˜˜I™™ is a singular term that cannot be used as a
predicative term. The fact that ˜˜I™™ can only be used as a singular term
suggests that ˜˜I™™ refers to a substance, since a substance is precisely what
one refers to by means of a singular term that is not predicated of other
things, as general predicative terms may be. The ˜˜I™™ as subject of
thought is a basic singular representation which cannot serve as a
general representation that could be predicated of some more basic
particular. Since the logical subject of the judgment is, in this case, a
thinker, ˜˜I as thinking being,™™ it seems to be licit to move from the
logical basicness of the I representation to an assertion of the ontological
basicness of me as a thinker. For here it is not just a linguistic expression
which is the subject of the judgment, but a thinker, the subject of
The inference in question is based on a use-mention fallacy. For it is
still not acceptable to move from what is true of a representation of self
in self-consciousness and thought to a claim about the bearer of that
self-consciousness. I thoughts are logically basic as representations of
whatever it is that is doing the thinking, but one cannot legitimately infer
from this logical basicness of I thoughts that thinkers qua thinkers are
basic particulars. Thus, while it is true that I must represent myself as a
substance or basic particular when I think of myself as someone that
thinks, it does not follow from the fact that I must represent myself as a
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
subject that I know any substantive facts about the nature of the
individual to which I refer in thought.
There is a trivial sense in which the self or thinker qua thinker may be
said to be a substance. The self is an absolute subject of thought in the
sense that it is whatever is represented as the bearer of thought. But this
sense in which the self or thinker ¬ts the de¬nition of a substance, is an
artefact of the ¬rst-person point of view:
Now in all our thought the I is the subject, in which thoughts only inhere as
determinations, and this I cannot be used as the determination of another
thing. Therefore everyone must necessarily regard himself :Sich [sic] selbst9
as substance, and thought only as accidents of his existence, and determinations
of his state. ( )

Since I represent the ultimate bearer of thought by means of the
expression ˜˜I think,™™ it is tempting to think that I as thinker must be the
ultimate bearer of my thoughts. From this it would seem to follow that I
as substance must be a thinking being. According to this non-trivial or
substantive sense of substance, the real bearer, represented by ˜˜I,™™ is
essentially characterized as an ego or thinking substance. The important
thing to note is that ˜˜I ™™ who I think must be valid as subject and be
regarded as something that cannot belong to thought merely as predi-
cate is an apodeictic and even identical proposition; but it does not mean
that I as object am a being subsisting for myself alone, or substance™™ ( °).
In his Second Meditation, Descartes notoriously infers that the soul is
a substance in the metaphysically interesting sense from the fact that it is
a ˜˜substance™™ in the trivial one of being a self-conscious representer that
is certain of its existence. Descartes argues from the certainty of cogito
statements that thought is an essential property of me as a thinking
being. He also argues independently that thought is not an essential
property of body. From this he deduces that I as a thinking being have a
property that my body lacks. This is the property of being essentially a
thinker. And from this he concludes that there is a real distinction
between me and my soul on the one hand, and my body, on the other.
In the Search for Truth, Descartes develops the argument as follows:
Indeed, I do not even know whether I have a body; you have shown me that it is
possible to doubt it. I might add that I cannot deny absolutely that I have a
body. Yet even if we keep all these suppositions intact, this will not prevent me
from being certain that I exist. On the contrary, these suppositions simply
strengthen the certainty of my conviction that I exist and am not a body.
Otherwise, if I had doubts about my body, I would also have doubts about
±· Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
myself, and I cannot have doubts about that. I am absolutely convinced that I
exist, so convinced that it is totally impossible for me to doubt it.

Kant™s objection to the Cartesian claim about the nature of the soul is
that it moves from the way one ˜˜must necessarily regard™™ oneself to the
way one must be independently of being so regarded, that is, it shifts
between a subjective necessity concerning the way things must be
described by us to a de re necessity about the way things themselves must
be. The self must be regarded as a substance, but in the sense that the
ego to which one ultimately refers must be regarded as the real bearer of
one™s thoughts. Self-consciousness per se tells us nothing about the nature
of the metaphysical relation between the ultimate bearer of thought and
the representation ˜˜I™™ which we use to refer to that bearer of thought.
For, in self-consciousness, I abstract from any knowledge of who the real
bearer of my thoughts is, and regard myself purely as the point of view to
which I ascribe di¬erent representations. The temptation, however, is to
think that because one can think of a subject of thought in abstraction
from its particular representations that one therefore has a grip on some
real bearer that exists independently of all the representations that we
may ascribe to it:
I think of myself for the sake of a possible experience by abstracting from all real
experience and infer that I can be conscious of my existence also outside of
experience and its empirical conditions. Therefore I con¬‚ate the possible
abstraction of my empirically determined existence with the alleged conscious-
ness of a separate existence of my thinking self, and believe that I know the
substantial in me as the transcendental subject, while I merely have the unity of
consciousness in thought that underlies all determination as mere form of
cognition. ( ·)

     ©  ¤ °  ¬ § © 
In the Third Paralogism, Kant makes use of the relation of the mental to
the physical as it presents itself to our experience from the ¬rst- and the
third-person points of view to call into question traditional arguments
for the persistence of the soul.µ The ¬rst-person point of view of self-
consciousness presents one to oneself as a thinker endowed with numeri-
cal identity over the times of which one is conscious. This seems to
satisfy the de¬nition of a person endowed with numerical identity. It is
an analytic truth that, if one ascribes a sequence of beliefs or other
representational states to oneself, one also believes that one is ascribing
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
those representations to one and the same self. This is a feature of
¬rst-person self-reference, but it is dependent on taking a ¬rst-person
point of view. Certainly, one must take a ¬rst-person point of view, but
there may well be competing ¬rst-person points of view. The fact that
these points of view compete with one another is disclosed by di¬erences
in the content of what they represent. Each of us represents the world
from a di¬erent sequence of spatio-temporal positions. The di¬erent
ways in which things appear to those positions give rise to competing
conceptions of the unity of experience.
To think of oneself as a self, one must take oneself to be the same self
through whatever set of experiences one ascribes to oneself. There has
to be a single subject that represents a series of experiences to itself if
those experiences are to be represented as part of a single experience:
˜˜On this basis the personality of the soul would have to be [mußte] ¨
regarded not even as inferred, but as a completely identical proposition
of self-consciousness in time™™ ( ). The basis in question is the way I
relate all my inner states to my self.
With rationalist philosophers, Kant de¬nes the soul as that which is
conscious of the numerical identity of its self through di¬erent times.
This provides the major premise for a syllogism. The minor premise of
the syllogism then takes the soul to be a person as de¬ned in the ¬rst
premise, but the soul must be a person in this sense only from the
¬rst-person point of view. The fallacy of ambiguity involved in the Third
Paralogism is again to take what is true from the ¬rst-person point of
view and treat it as if it were true from any point of view, that is, as if it
were true absolutely. This leads to the conclusion that the soul is a
person in the sense of a particular that persists through di¬erent times
and is conscious of that persistence.
The analytic truth that I must be conscious of my identity through all
the states of which I am conscious is not clearly distinguished by Kant
from another idea. This is the idea that one must be able to conceive of a
standpoint that is not itself being successively replaced by some other
standpoint in order to have a conception of succession itself. It is one
thing to say that I am conscious of my identity through all the times in
which I am conscious of myself. It is quite another for me to assume that
there is a numerically identical self in all time: ˜˜I relate any and all of my
successive determinations to the numerically identical self in all time,
that is in the form of the inner intuition of myself™™ ( ). Kant o¬ers
no argument for this strong claim.
There is an argument available to Kant for the strong claim that
±· Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
suggests itself from the First Analogy and its connection with the
Transcendental Deduction. Succession requires one item to succeed or
replace another item relative to something else that is not itself undergo-
ing replacement. Thus, if one is to be conscious of succession, one needs
to be conscious of a point of view that is not replaced in that succession.
If I am to be conscious of successive states as successive, I must be able to
order these states in time. But, in order to be able to set up a temporal
ordering, I must be able to represent the temporal relations that consti-
tute the form of inner representation in a way that purports to be
independent of the way things merely appear to me now. I must be able
to represent temporal relations in tenseless terms. To do this, I must be
able to think of myself as being able to shift from one possible temporal
position to the other.
To perform the kind of transference of the ¬rst perspective required
to ascribe rationality, my consciousness of myself must, in a certain
sense, be immune to reference failure by virtue of misidenti¬cation, that
is, in being conscious of myself it cannot happen that I fail to refer to
myself, and instead refer to someone else. This immunity to reference
failure allows me to contemplate alternative possibilities of how my life
might have gone or even of who else I might have become. But this
immunity to reference failure extends only to the use of ˜˜I™™ to refer to
my representation of myself as a thinker, it does not guarantee my
personal identity in a sense that satis¬es third-person criteria.
I may be constrained to think of myself as identical through the
experiences that I ascribe to myself, but my individual personal identity
as it exists through a series of representational states is clearly something
that can only be known from experience, indeed, through knowledge of
my inner states underwritten by the identity of my human body over
time: ˜˜the persistence of the soul, as a mere object of inner sense is
unproved, and even unprovable, although its persistence in life is for
itself clear, since the thinking being (as human being) is also an object of
outer sense™™ ( ±µ). Personal identity is not something that can be
inferred from the kind of self-consciousness expressed in the statement
˜˜I think™™ alone, even though I can legitimately claim that I am con-
scious of my identity as a subject through all those experiences of which
I am conscious of myself ( °):

The proposition of the identity of myself in respect to all manifolds of which I
am conscious is also a proposition that lies in the concepts themselves, that is, an
analytic proposition; but this identity of the subject of which I can become
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
conscious in all its representations does not pertain to the intuition of that
subject as it is given as an object, it can therefore not also mean the identity of
the person for which to prove it the mere analysis of the proposition I think is
not enough, but di¬erent synthetic judgments that are based on given intuition
would be required. ( °“°)

The necessity of the possibility of the kind of self-transferral involved
in my being able to think of myself from di¬erent temporal positions can
easily seem like an argument for the necessity of my actually existing at
all of these di¬erent times. As an experiencer, my numerical identity
would have to be taken as a basic given of experience. This leads to the
temptation to argue from the ¬rst-person phenomenology of personal
identity and survival to claims about the survival of my soul. From the
¬rst-person point of view of my time-consciousness, it makes no di¬er-
ence whether I think of the time of my experience as belonging to the
unity of my experience or whether I think of the unity of my experience
as belonging to the unitary time in question:
For it really says nothing more than that in the whole time in which I am
conscious of myself, I am conscious of this time as belonging to the unity of my
self and it is the same thing whether I say: this whole time is in Me as an
individual unity or I am to be found in all this time with numerical identity.
Personal identity is therefore unfailingly to be found in my own conscious-
ness. ( ±“)

As long as we restrict ourselves to the ¬rst-person point of view, there
is no distinction to be drawn between the way the di¬erent states of my
life present themselves to me and the way that they really are. There is
therefore no distinction to be drawn between the temporal order in
which my di¬erent experiences present themselves to me and the actual
temporal order of those di¬erent experiences. I am conscious of my
numerical identity through the time in question because that time is the
time of my time-consciousness. No distinction has yet been drawn
between subjective and objective time, or between my subjective time
and the subjective time constituted by another point of view.
Kant argues plausibly that the possibility of a second- or third-person
perspective must become apparent to me before I can have a grip on the
distinction between the temporal order in which things present them-
selves to my self-consciousness and the temporal order in which they
actually occur. It is only if one can conceive of a perspective di¬erent
from the one which one actually has that one can understand the
relativity of one™s own perspective. One™s very understanding of one™s
±· Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
own personal identity thus depends on one™s ability to perform the kind
of feat of transference in terms of which one understands other persons.
From the purely ¬rst-person perspective, there does not seem to be
any way of drawing a distinction between one™s representation of one™s
identity over time and one™s actual identity over time. In order to get a
feel for this distinction, one must be able to shift from the ¬rst- to the
second- or to the third-person perspective. Inner experience is, for
Kant, essentially temporal. Mental states are constantly being replaced
by other mental states. In immediate experience, no distinction is
needed or drawn between a successive consciousness of inner states and
a consciousness of inner states in succession. Although I relate all my
successive states to a numerically identical self, it is not clear what is
numerically identical here, nor can it be until I have been able to draw
the distinction between the perspective of a representer and what is
represented by the representer. I do not have full-blown consciousness
of myself as an object of temporal experience until I am able to draw
that distinction.
This is why I need to be able to take the perspective of an external
observer in order to place myself in time. The vantage-point of the
external observer is thus one which I myself must occupy in order to be
aware of myself as an object of inner sense: ˜˜If I regard myself from the
perspective of another (as the object of his external intuition), then this
external observer considers me for the ¬rst time in time, for in apperception
time is only actually represented in me™™ ( ).· Kant makes the point
somewhat less explicitly in the second edition: ˜˜Neither can the subject in
which the representation of time has its original ground, determine its
own existence through that [pure self-consciousness]™™ ( ).
By taking up the perspective of a second person I am forced to
represent myself in a di¬erent way. I have ¬rst-person access to my own
representations, but another person™s access to my inner states depends
on inference. Such inferences are based on my outer states. This is why
the states in question are considered to be inner and outer respectively.
We represent outer states spatially, just as we represent inner states
temporally. The other person must think of me as an embodied self, i.e.
an object of external intuition (spatial representation). The only clear
notion we have of being outside of something else involves something
being in a spatial relation to something else. But as long as we have no
distinction between inner and outer states we also have no way of
representing the di¬erence between a subjective and an objective time-
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
The point of view of the outside observer is not necessarily that of an
objective time-series. The point of view of the outside observer may be
just another subjective time-series, that is, another sequence of points of
For in that case the time in which the observer places me is not the one to be
encountered in my sensibility but the one to be encountered in his sensibility,
therefore the identity that is necessarily connected with my consciousness is not
therefore [necessarily] connected with his, that is, with the external intuition of
my subject. ( )

There is no way for me to think of my persistence as an individual as
something distinguishable from the way I view my own history, as long
as the only take on my experience that I have is ¬rst personal. In fact, I
do not even have the full notion of what it is for something to belong to
my own point of view, since I have no notion yet of another possible
history with a point of view which is distinct from my own. By looking at
myself from an outside spatial perspective, I come to see that my
consciousness of my numerical identity does not entail that I am a
numerically identical individual. As I think of myself from this third-
person point of view, I come to see that the temporal series making up
my inner experience may be unique, but it is unique precisely because it
can be distinguished from that of other possible persons.
In a discussion, for instance, my knowledge of what I am now
thinking precedes my knowledge of what someone else is now thinking,
but the other person™s knowledge of what s/he is now thinking precedes
his or her knowledge of what I am now thinking. Di¬erent subjects may
and often do represent the states of the same particular as temporally
ordered in a way which is inconsistent one with the other. Re¬‚ection on
this standpoint dependence of one™s beliefs can lead one even to ques-
tion one™s own belief in one™s persistence over time. Taking the perspec-
tive of another allows me to grasp the distinction between the self-
identity built into my ¬rst-person perspective and my persistent exist-
ence as a particular individual.
The potential or actual existence of di¬erent sets of experiential
episodes in di¬erent observers outside of me leads me to the idea of
di¬erent competing temporal series. This suggests to me that my con-
sciousness of my numerical identity through the temporal series of my
experiences need not entail ˜˜the objective permanence of my self™™ (
). It is now apparent why Kant does not attempt to introduce an
objective concept of time. The time to which we are referring, even
±· Kant and the demands of self-consciousness
when we look at things from the vantage-point of an outside observer, is
just a further subjective time. The possibility of an alternative subjective
time-series is already enough to make room for the distinction between
the unity of time-consciousness that is necessary to the having of a point
of view at all and the particular standpoint-dependent unity that charac-
terizes di¬erent empirical knowers. This is because it already provides
one with the possibility of contrasting the way things look from one™s
own perspective with the way they look from some other possible
perspective. This other possible perspective leads to questions about
how I could determine my personal identity over time.
The second- and third-person perspectives open up the possibility
that my ¬rst-person perspective might be delusive and thus reveal to me
that ˜˜the identity of the consciousness of myself in di¬erent times is only
a formal condition of my thoughts and their connection™™ ( ). I
cannot therefore infer ˜˜the numerical identity of my subject™™ from the
fact that I can use the same expression ˜˜I™™ to refer to my di¬erent states.
Kant presses the point home about the defeasibility of ¬rst-person
ascriptions by noting that my ¬rst-person take on my personal identity is
based on my consciousness, and my consciousness of the past is based on
my memories. While these memories cannot seem to me to be delusive,
they might, in fact, turn out to be delusive. There might be a deviant
chain of representations linking some of my memories to past occurren-
ces. My memories of the past might have been taken over from other
individuals, so that I was really only the last of a series of individual
persons or person-stages: ˜˜The last substance would be conscious of all
of the states of the substances changed before it as its own, since they
would have been transferred to it with the consciousness of them, and
yet it would not have been the same person in all these states™™ ( n).
In such circumstances, one would have only a delusive quasi-memory
rather than a bona ¬de memory of something that one believes to have
happened to one. The androids in the movie Blade Runner have such
delusive quasi-memories. They have quasi-memories of a past that was
not theirs, of a childhood which they never lived through. But we need
not go so far a¬eld. There is strong evidence that one can induce false
memories in others which lead them to believe that they have had a
di¬erent past than their actual one.
Now, if the ¬rst-person point of view needs correction from a possible
second- or third-person perspective, we cannot infer that we as individ-
uals are identical over time from the data provided to us by conscious-
ness and memory. So we certainly cannot infer that we are persons that
The pseudo-discipline of transcendental psychology
exist forever from our inability to experience our own beginning in birth
or ending in death. Thus, Kant™s argument raises questions about any
e¬ort to take the consciousness of my identity over time as an indication
that I am a person in the sense of a sempiternal substance that is
conscious of its existence throughout time.
While the phenomenon of temporal succession leads Descartes and
Leibniz to ascribe maximal certainty to self-ascriptions of actual occur-
rent cognitive states, philosophers such as Descartes and Leibniz were
also attracted to the idea that the self is a sempiternal substance to which
we have access through self-consciousness. The temporal implications
of self-consciousness are most obvious with respect to Leibniz. Leibniz
believed that in self-consciousness I have a somewhat unclear and
indistinct grasp of the concept of my personal identity (of my individual
essence). It is unclear because I may not be able to distinguish myself
from others and it is indistinct because I am not able to give a complete
analysis of my experience. But this concept of my personal identity
includes everything that has ever, does, or will ever happen to me. From
Kant™s point of view, Leibniz assimilates the necessity that all represen-
teds be thinkable by the ˜˜I™™ to the thesis that there must be a soul which
persists through all changes in experiences. Kant thinks that this is just
what is going on in Leibniz™s notion of the ˜˜I™™ as a simple substance
which contains within itself the ontological basis for a complete time-
Kant wants to argue that, from Leibniz™s standpoint, self-conscious-
ness itself provides all that we need in order to know that we are each
principles of change from which all the events in a particular time-series
may be understood. While knowledge of the concept of a person would
have to be provided for us by the reason that we have in virtue of being


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