. 6
( 9)


until the sixth Meditation can he argue for the existence of physical
reality, based on his proofs of the existence of God. Although he con-
cludes that physical objects exist, Descartes maintains this knowledge

37 This discussion is drawn largely from my article, “On Kant™s Proof of the Existence of
Material Objects.”
Analytic of Principles II
is based on inference from perception, guaranteed by God™s benevo-
lence. Thus knowledge of the external world is in principle less certain
than self-knowledge.
In the Refutation, Kant will prove that knowledge of the exter-
nal world is just as certain as knowledge of one™s mental states. His
strategy is ad hominem: that is, Descartes could not have certain and
immediate knowledge of his mind unless he also had certain and
immediate knowledge of spatial objects. Now we must be clear on
what Kant is claiming about “outer” objects. According to transcen-
dental idealism, both the objects of outer sense and the self known
through inner sense are merely appearances and not things in them-
selves. Although Descartes was a transcendental realist, the issue here
is not transcendental realism vs. idealism, but the certainty of physical
knowledge compared to knowledge of the self. In the cogito, Descartes
claims certain knowledge of his thoughts while doubting that exter-
nal objects exist. In the order of experience, knowledge of the self is
prior to knowledge of physical objects. Regarding evidence, the exter-
nal world is not known directly, but only by inference from what is
directly perceived.
In a long footnote to the B edition Preface, Kant says it is a “scandal
of philosophy and universal human reason that the existence of things
outside us . . . should have to be assumed merely on faith” (Bxxxix).
The only way to prove that external objects are (empirically) real is
as a condition of inner experience. Hence the thesis to be proved is:
“The mere, but empirically determined, consciousness of my own
existence proves the existence of objects in space outside me.” In
Kant™s terms, the possibility of determinate inner sense presupposes
immediate awareness of objects through outer sense.
His proof at B275“6 (with an emendation at Bxxxix) consists of
¬ve steps:38
1. Descartes™s premise: “I am conscious of my existence as determined
in time” (B275). Descartes™s claim involves at least two capacities:
¬rst, to judge concerning any two mental states that they are both
mine; and second, to recognize the order in which such states occur
in consciousness.
38 Here I follow the accounts in Strawson, The Bounds of Sense, 125“8; Gochnauer, “Kant™s
Refutation of Idealism”; and Allison, Kant™s Transcendental Idealism, 297“304.
Analytic of Principles II 191
2. The First Analogy principle: “All time-determination presupposes
something persistent in perception” (B275). As we saw, the First
Analogy argues that determining objective temporal intervals pre-
supposes the existence of substance enduring through changes of
state. But since the proof establishes nothing about the nature of
these substances, Kant must show here that they are spatial.
3. The third step is stated in the B edition Preface this way:
But this persisting element cannot be an intuition in me. For all the
determining grounds of my existence that can be encountered in me are
representations, and as such they themselves need something persisting
distinct from them, in relation to which their change, and thus my exis-
tence in the time in which they change, can be determined. (Bxxxix)
Here Kant rules out for the substantial basis in perception both
aspects of the self, the representations and the thinking thing that
has them. Representations cannot qualify, since the issue is precisely
how I locate my representations in time. On the other hand, the
thing serving as the permanent substratum cannot be the thinking
self, since the only awareness of the self given in perception just is
of its temporary states. This is why Kant says there is no perma-
nent representation in intuition, that even representation of the
permanent is itself transitory (Bxli and B291“2).
4. Therefore the permanent must be “a thing outside me” and not “the
mere representation of a thing outside me” (B276). By a “thing
outside me” Kant means ¬rst, something numerically distinct from
the thinking self and its representations. But the thesis leaves no
doubt that this thing must be in space; its otherness guarantees its
physical nature.
5. Therefore determinate experience of myself as a particular thinker
proves that I immediately perceive physical objects; only by means
of this awareness can I know myself as the owner of my represen-
This argument has never been taken seriously. In particular,
commentators raise three issues: ¬rst, why the enduring objects
required to know oneself must be spatial;39 second, how the argument

39 Included among these objectors are Allison, Kant™s Transcendental Idealism, 303, and Ameriks,
Kant™s Theory of Mind, 121“2.
Analytic of Principles II
guarantees that these objects exist as opposed to being merely
imagined;40 and third, in what sense experience of spatial things
is immediate, especially given the role of concepts in experiencing
objects.41 Here I shall respond to these three objections.

A. Why enduring objects must be spatial
Kant™s strategy depends on what Descartes claims to know about
himself. This includes awareness of ¬rst, a succession of temporary
representations; second, the enduring self that has them; and third,
the coexistence of this permanent self with its changing representa-
tions. Thus Descartes claims certain and direct knowledge of things
having all three temporal characteristics: duration, succession, and
Now Kant does not dispute Descartes™s belief that he intuits some-
thing enduring. What he questions are Descartes™s identi¬cation of
the object as the thinking self, and his claim to intuit this self by the
intellect. The Aesthetic has shown that human intuition of existing
particulars, including themselves, is sensible. Moreover, as the Tran-
scendental Deduction shows, the ˜I think™ of transcendental apper-
ception is a purely formal consciousness and cannot represent the
particular self: “in the synthetic original unity of apperception, I am
conscious of myself, not as I appear to myself, nor as I am in myself,
but only that I am. This representation is a thinking, not an intuit-
ing” (B157“8). Descartes can recognize himself as a particular thinker
with his particular thoughts only through inner sense. The cogito con-
fuses the ˜I think™ of transcendental apperception with cognition of
the empirical self.
Moreover, intuition of the self in time presents only the succession
of mental states and not the permanent thinker who has them. As
Kant remarks at A107, consciousness of oneself “in internal percep-
tion is merely empirical, forever variable; it can provide no standing
or abiding self.” At Bxli Kant distinguishes between the represen-
tation of something permanent and a permanent representation. In

40 This point is raised by Broad, Kant, 198, and Allison, Kant™s Transcendental Idealism, 301“3.
41 For discussions of this point see Guyer, “Kant™s Intentions in the Refutation of Idealism,”
279“83, and Paton, Kant™s Metaphysic of Experience, 2:282“3.
Analytic of Principles II 193
fact, “there is no persistent intuition to be found in inner sense”
(B292). Everything given in inner intuition is merely transitory and
successive. Since distinct parts of time exist only successively, their
occupants must exist one after the other. Consequently, when I intuit
my representations as “in me,” the only temporal feature I am given is
succession. The formal features of inner intuition cannot provide the
awareness of duration and coexistence required to recognize oneself
as their owner.
Now as Descartes recognizes, in addition to their formal reality, rep-
resentations also have an objective reality: they represent some thing
to the thinker. So if the formal features of representations cannot
provide consciousness of myself as a persisting thing, then this aware-
ness must be achieved through the objects represented. Therefore I
must intuit through my representations something permanent, dis-
tinct from my mental states. In the Preface, Kant says this permanent
must be “a thing distinct from all my representations and external,
the existence of which is necessarily included in the determination
of my own existence . . . which could not take place even as inner if it
were not simultaneously (in part) outer” (Bxli). The “outer” part can
only be the reality presented in intuition, since representations are,
considered formally, “in me.” The objective reality of my immediate
consciousness must include things outside me where “outside” means
numerically distinct from my mental states.
Kant maintains that the only way to perceive an object as other than
myself is to locate it in space. The key is the contrast between space, as
a framework of permanent, coexisting locations, and time. Because
distinct parts of time exist successively, no temporal location, and
hence no occupant of a merely temporal location, is re-identi¬able
through time. But spatial locations exist non-successively. Although
both space and time as wholes are permanent, space alone is deter-
mined as permanent (B291). Unlike time, space can be divided into
numerically distinct, coexisting parts. It is the nature of distinct spa-
tial locations that they exist permanently. Consequently, each spatial
location, and hence its occupant, can in principle be re-identi¬ed
from one time to another. The permanence of coexisting parts of
space makes possible our consciousness of permanent and distinct
objects coexisting throughout our transitory perceptions. The cru-
cial features of objectivity “ independence of mere representation
Analytic of Principles II
and re-identi¬ability through time “ are possible only through the
permanence of space.

B. Why space of our experience cannot be merely imaginary
The above argument also explains why we can be certain that space is
real and not merely imaginary. Like many of his predecessors, Kant
believes that the ability to imagine external objects presupposes per-
ception of them. He says this at B276“7n: “in order for us even to
imagine something as external, i.e., to exhibit it to sense in intuition,
we must already have an outer sense, and by this means immediately
distinguish the mere receptivity of an outer intuition from the spon-
taneity that characterizes every imagining.” Unfortunately this cannot
be the reason that outer sense could not be merely imaginary, since it
begs the question. The real reply concerns what experience would be
like if space and spatial objects were merely imaginary. A merely imagi-
nary object is one that exists only through the subject™s representing, as
in dream states, hallucinations, and after-images. The objects of these
states do not in fact exist independently of their representation by the
subject. Since representations are only temporary, a merely imaginary
space and its occupants would last only as long as each representa-
tion of them. That is, each new representation would present a new,
numerically distinct spatial framework. If there were no continuity
of the spatial framework from one representation to another, there
could be no consciousness of enduring, continuous existence in time.
We could not recognize our passing states as thoughts, nor ourselves
as thinking things. The empirical reality of space is guaranteed by its
permanence. In being re-identi¬able through time, space and spatial
objects exhibit their independence of momentary representations,
including mere imaginings. To claim that one can imagine a per-
manent space is to erase the distinction between real and imaginary
This is why Kant says, “For even merely to imagine an outer sense
would itself annihilate the faculty of intuition, which is to be deter-
mined through the imagination” (B277). Notice that not just outer
intuition, but the very faculty of intuition, would be annihilated
were we to lack outer sense. Intuition is the means by which we are
immediately related to objects (A19/B33). And objects are things that
Analytic of Principles II 195
correspond to and yet are distinct from our representations of them
(A104). But only outer sense presents awareness of enduring objects
distinct from the subject. The Cartesian hypothesis that I can know
my thinking self and merely imagine spatial things is not a possible
state of affairs after all.

C. The immediacy of spatial perception
The Refutation attempts to refute two Cartesian views: ¬rst, that self-
knowledge is prior to knowledge of the external world; and second,
that knowledge of physical reality is based on inference. Descartes
claims that only self-knowledge is immediate as both given directly in
consciousness, and as ¬rst-order consciousness of existence. To appre-
ciate Kant™s argument, we need to specify two distinctions between
immediate and mediate knowledge, the ¬rst concerning the evidence
justifying a belief, the second concerning the order of knowledge. Let us
designate “the immediate1 ” as a judgment non-inferentially justi¬ed
by intuition, as contrasted with one requiring an inference from that
data. Let us de¬ne “the immediate2 ” as original consciousness of exis-
tence, as opposed to consciousness derived from it. Now although
these two senses are closely linked, they are not equivalent if one
allows for a second-order or derivative consciousness that is given in
intuition. In that case a belief can be known “immediately1 ” (suf¬-
cient evidence is available in intuition) but nevertheless be “mediate2 ”
(not original consciousness of existence). This is in fact Kant™s view
of self-knowledge.
Kant argues in the Refutation that the permanent substratum of
objective time-determination must be spatial, that one must per-
ceive material objects in order to know oneself as a thinking sub-
ject. But the Aesthetic has shown that space is a pure form of intu-
ition, where intuition is the means by which objects are immediately
given to the subject. When Kant concludes that spatial experience is
immediate, he means that the abiding spatial framework presented in
intuition provides suf¬cient evidence for our belief in material exis-
tence. Unlike Hume, Kant does not identify the content of a belief
with its evidential basis, since for Kant all perception of particulars
(including space and time) also requires concepts of the understand-
ing. But concepts do not establish the existence of their objects: “In
Analytic of Principles II
the mere concept of a thing no characteristic of its existence can be
encountered at all” (A225/B272). If existential beliefs are not based on
concepts, then there are only two ways such beliefs can be justi¬ed:
either directly by intuition or indirectly by inference from it. But
if knowledge of external reality is guaranteed by the intuition of
space, then the Cartesians are wrong to claim that such knowledge is
only inferential. Thus Kant can conclude that knowledge of space is
immediate1 .
Now Kant agrees with Descartes that self-knowledge through inner
sense is also directly given, and hence immediate1 . Because intuition
provides direct awareness of both external and internal existence, Kant
says in the second edition Preface: “I am just as certainly conscious
that there are things outside me, which are in relation to my sense,
as I am conscious that I myself exist as determined in time” (Bxli).
Kant diverges most sharply from Descartes with respect to the order of
consciousness: the Refutation shows that perception of spatial objects
is epistemically prior to knowledge of the self. Thus ¬rst-order objec-
tive consciousness “ the immediate2 “ must be of physical reality.
It is from things outside us, Kant notes, that “we derive the whole
material of knowledge, even for our inner sense” (Bxxxix). And in the
Aesthetic: “the representations of outer sense make up the proper
material with which we occupy our mind” (B67). That outer sense
supplies the proper material of experience implies that inner sense
presupposes outer sense.
For Kant, awareness of our mental states is a second-order or
derivative consciousness, produced not by inference, but by re¬‚ection.
When he says “inner experience itself is consequently only mediate
and possible only through outer experience” (B277), he means that
self-awareness is mediate2 , that it requires prior awareness of external
objects. But this is consistent with the idea that both kinds of reality,
given in sensible intuition, are known immediately1 . In the Refuta-
tion, Kant argues that had Descartes no experience as a person in a
world of physical objects, he could never have discovered his thinking
self at all.
Taken together, the Analogies and the Refutation also refute
Descartes™s dualism, for they entail that there could be no purely
mental substance. Not only are the fundamental objects of experi-
ence spatial, but all substance must be spatial, and hence corporeal.
Since the criterion of substance is action, and only physical actions
Analytic of Principles II 197
are perceivable, the only entities that can count as substantial for Kant
are physical objects. This also implies that the empirical self, known
as an individual distinct from others, must be embodied. Even one™s
“mental” states must be located in space in two senses: ¬rst, they must
belong to a self who is a physical object, and second, the objects we
intuit through them must be physical. As we shall see in chapter 8,
Kant explicitly criticizes Descartes™s notion of the substantial soul in
the Paralogisms of the Transcendental Dialectic.

7. ka nt™s respon s e to ske pt ici s m
Kant™s transcendental idealism embraces one form of skepticism, that
concerning knowledge of things in themselves. But Kant is not an
empirical idealist: for him, spatiotemporal appearances are more than
ideas in individual perceivers™ minds. He also believes synthetic a
priori knowledge makes it possible to know necessary features of
these objects. This puts him at odds with traditional skeptics, who
deny that we can know anything other than our own mental states.
On their view all beliefs about things that exist independently of
representation, including the enduring subject, are doubtful. Kant™s
answers to metaphysical skepticism also address skepticism about
mathematics, logic, and reason in general. For all forms of skepticism
the only solution is to appeal to the necessary conditions of thought
and experience. And thus was born Kant™s innovative strategy, the
transcendental deduction.
The method of transcendental deduction is ad hominem in begin-
ning with premises acceptable to the skeptic. These include the fol-
lowing claims:
1. I can recognize my own mental states, ascribing them to myself,
in “I think.”
2. I can identify the content of these states, and recognize the order
in which I apprehend them.
3. I can think the difference between a subjective order of apprehen-
sion and an objective order of states of affairs.
4. My sensory impressions occur in a uni¬ed time and a uni¬ed space.
5. I can make judgments that purport to be true.
Notice that none of these claims expressly commits one to knowledge
of anything except one™s mental states and a self that has them. Clearly
Analytic of Principles II
Hume accepts all of them, either explicitly or implicitly. First, his the-
ory of ideas presupposes the ¬rst three claims. Both impressions and
ideas are “perceptions of the mind.” And even though Hume attacks
belief in an enduring self in the Treatise, in the Appendix he appar-
ently recognizes that his own account of mental faculties commits
him to the existence of something having perceptions. Not only can
Hume identify the content of perceptions, his theory of the process
of association assumes that he can recognize the order of apprehen-
sion, as well as distinguishing subjective from objective orders. Like
empiricists generally, Hume has dif¬culty explaining space and time,
but there is no reason to think he would reject claim 4. And of course
his entire theory commits him to proposition 5.
Kant™s strategy is to bootstrap his arguments for objective knowl-
edge on the above assumptions about one™s representations. Tran-
scendental deductions show that recognizing certain features of
“subjective” states presupposes cognitive processes importing objec-
tivity into experience. In the Aesthetic, Kant bases his theory of the
forms of intuition in part on the fact that experience occurs in a
uni¬ed spatiotemporal framework. The Transcendental Deduction
of the categories incorporates all of the above claims. The arguments
of the Analogies and the Refutation also assume that we are capa-
ble of locating apprehended states of affairs in objective time. Given
Hume™s theory of association, it is hard to see how he could deny
these assumptions. In short, Kant tries to show that the skepticism
implied by empirical idealism is self-defeating.
Kant™s strategy depends essentially on the relation between judg-
ment and the notion of objectivity. As chapter 4 explains, Kant was
the ¬rst philosopher to analyze concepts in terms of their judgmental
function. The logical forms of judgment as well as the very notion of
an object of judgment are presupposed in taking sensory experience
to be of objects. The key move is to connect the notion of an object,
and the distinction between the objective and the subjective, with
the objective validity of judgment. This consists in two features: ¬rst,
judgments are complex representations of objects or states of affairs,
and second, they are capable of truth values. Anyone who judges,
including the skeptic, implicitly recognizes the notions of truth and
falsity. These notions are essentially objective, since even assertions
about one™s subjective states are true or false for everyone.
Analytic of Principles II 199
Further, objective states of affairs must be rule-governed. Represen-
tations of states that obtain for everyone must conform to something
outside my representation of it. Thus the objectivity of judgment
entails that the states about which one judges must be subject to rules
importing necessity into our thought. Now in order for judgments
to provide knowledge, they must also have objective reality. And to
do this they must be connected to experience that is intersubjectively
available. Kant argues that the intersubjective nature of experience
depends on the fact that it is, at the ¬rst order, of spatial objects. The
permanence of space guarantees that things given in it are more than
any individual perceiver™s apprehension of them. By virtue of their
spatial properties and locations, appearances are not reducible to any
(¬nite) collection of representations.
The issues raised by skepticism and Kant™s response to them are
complex. However one evaluates his arguments, Kant™s brilliance lies
in seeing that what is usually considered “subjective” experience has
its own objectivity. The genius of the Transcendental Deduction
consists in “bootstrapping,” that is, justifying ¬rst-order beliefs on
second-order, re¬‚ective claims about mental states. Whether Kant
puts skepticism to rest, he certainly presents a viable alternative to
the failed methods of foundationalism and the in¬nite regress.

8. su mm a ry
In completing Kant™s deductions of the pure principles of the under-
standing, the Analogies of Experience and the Postulates of Empiri-
cal Thought offer his strongest arguments against skepticism. In the
Analogies, the principles correlated with the relational categories,
Kant justi¬es the metaphysical concepts of substance, cause, and
causal interaction by showing that they are required to locate states
of affairs in global, objective time. The Postulates describe the con-
ditions required to apply the modal concepts in judging the real
possibility, actuality, and necessity of states of affairs. This section
also contains the Refutation of Idealism, added in the B edition,
where Kant argues against the Cartesian view that self-knowledge
is more certain than knowledge of the external world. These argu-
ments taken together constitute a direct response to skeptical attacks
on metaphysical knowledge of objects independent of perceivers. By
Analytic of Principles II
showing that principles of substance and causation are required to
produce a coherent system of empirical knowledge, Kant completes
his positive account of the functions of the understanding. At the
same time he demonstrates why legitimate metaphysical principles
cannot provide knowledge of things in themselves, thus reinforcing
the case for transcendental idealism.
ch ap t e r 8

Transcendental illusion I: rational psychology

In the remaining sections of the Critique, Kant has two main pur-
poses. Most of the text concerns errors arising from the misuse of
the understanding and reason, the basis of the traditional disputes
of metaphysics. This discussion begins with two bridging sections
at the end of the Transcendental Analytic, one clarifying the dis-
tinction between phenomena and noumena, the other titled On the
Amphiboly of the Concepts of Re¬‚ection. It then proceeds with the
Transcendental Dialectic, containing Kant™s theory of transcenden-
tal illusion. The main discussion concerns the arguments of rational
psychology (the Paralogisms), rational cosmology (the Antinomies),
and rational theology (the existence of God). In an Appendix at the
end of the Transcendental Dialectic Kant then turns to his second
purpose, his theory of the legitimate functions of theoretical reason
as the highest intellectual faculty. Here he explains the role of tran-
scendental ideas and maxims of reason in scienti¬c knowledge. The
last part of the Critique, the Transcendental Doctrine of Method,
discusses the methods of mathematical construction, and serves as a
transition to Kant™s account of practical reason. Chapters 8, 9, and
10 will treat Kant™s theory of error. Chapter 11 discusses Kant™s pos-
itive accounts of the role of reason in empirical and mathematical

1 . errors of the und e rsta ndi ng
In the section On the Ground of the Distinction of all Objects in
General into Phenomena and Noumena, and the Appendix On the
Amphiboly of the Concepts of Re¬‚ection, Kant explains how extend-
ing pure concepts of the understanding beyond appearances leads to
Transcendental illusion I
spurious metaphysical conclusions. Although adding nothing new,
he offers an interesting critique of Leibniz™s rationalist metaphysics.
In particular, Kant shows how Leibniz™s application of the principle
of the Identity of Indiscernibles to things in general misapplies the
pure concepts, an error arising from a mistaken view of the relation
between the sensibility and the understanding.
Leibniz used the terms “phenomena” and “noumena” to distinguish
between objects of the senses and objects of the intellect. Accord-
ing to Leibniz™s theory of ideas, sense perceptions are merely con-
fused or indistinct concepts. But there is a correspondence between
our sensory representations and the noumenal objects as they are
in themselves. Leibniz calls space and time “well-founded phenom-
ena” to mark this correspondence.1 For Leibniz it is possible to know
noumena, the intelligible substances or monads giving rise to appear-
ances, through intellectual intuition. Thus like all rationalist meta-
physics, Leibniz™s monadology is a form of transcendental realism.
Kant begins the section on phenomena and noumena by distin-
guishing between transcendental and empirical uses of pure concepts.
In its transcendental use, a concept is applied to things in general and
in themselves; in its empirical use it applies only to objects of experi-
ence (A238“9/B298). In his previous arguments Kant established three
essential conclusions. First, human intuition is sensible; only through
the sensibility are objects given to us. Second, human understanding is
discursive and not intuitive; our intellect has no independent access
to existing things. And third, pure concepts of the understanding
acquire cognitive signi¬cance only when schematized in spatiotem-
poral terms. Hence any use of them beyond spatiotemporal objects
is illegitimate. Kant sums up these points at A248/B305: “The pure
categories, without formal conditions of sensibility, have merely tran-
scendental signi¬cance, but are not of any transcendental use.” The
point turns on distinguishing two senses of “transcendental.” The
transcendental signi¬cance of pure concepts refers to their role as nec-
essary conditions of experience. Their transcendental use, however,
refers to their application beyond appearances. This latter gives rise
to transcendental realism, that is, meaningless claims about things in
themselves or objects “in general.”

1 See my Space and Incongruence, 31“8, for a discussion of these views.
Transcendental illusion I 203
Contrasting legitimate with illegitimate uses of pure concepts pro-
duces two notions of the noumenon: one negative or “limiting,” the
other positive. In essence, Kant™s negative notion of the noumenon
is his notion of the thing in itself. This is the legitimate correlate to
the notion of appearance. Recall that in the B edition Preface, Kant
claims that although we cannot know things in themselves, “we at
least must be able to think them . . . For otherwise there would follow
the absurd proposition that there is an appearance without anything
that appears” (Bxxvi). Here he repeats the point: “it also follows nat-
urally from the concept of an appearance in general that something
must correspond to it which is not in itself appearance” (A251“2).2
Since things in themselves are unknowable, however, this notion has
no cognitive content. It is the completely indeterminate thought of
whatever exists considered independently of all relations to knowers.
Kant labels it “negative” and “problematic” to indicate that we cannot
make any meaningful predications of such things.
Now this negative notion has to be distinguished from two others:
the idea of the transcendental object and the positive notion of the
noumenon. The former is the legitimate thought, through pure con-
cepts, of the object of sensible intuition. As we have seen, it is not
an object of cognition but only “the concept of an object in general,
which is determinable through the manifold of those appearances”
(A250“1). As the correlate of the t.u.a., the idea of the transcendental
object is the merely formal thought of the object of the manifold
about which one judges.
A more serious error confuses the negative notion of the noumenon
with the positive notion of an object of a non-sensible intuition.
This is the basis of all rationalist metaphysics, which presupposes
that the intellect can intuit things in themselves. In the B edition,
Kant says this error occurs when the understanding takes the “unde-
termined concept of a being of understanding,” for a determinate
concept of something the understanding could know (B307). In
short, illegitimate metaphysics commits a scope error, shifting the
negation from the (legitimate) notion of the noumenon as “not an
object of our sensible intuition” to the positive notion of “an object of

2 I discuss this point in Space and Incongruence, 105“12. On my reading, Kant errs in relating
the thing in itself to the cause of appearance or the transcendental object, as at A288/B344.
Transcendental illusion I
a non-sensible intuition” (emphases mine, B307). As a corollary, Kant
argues that it is a mistake to divide objects into two worlds, objects of
the senses and objects of the understanding: “The division of objects
into phaenomena and noumena, and of the world into a world of sense
and a world of understanding, can therefore not be permitted at all”
The Appendix On the Amphiboly of the Concepts of Re¬‚ection
develops this analysis in terms of four distinctions Kant attributes to
transcendental re¬‚ection. In the ¬rst Critique, Kant treats transcen-
dental re¬‚ection primarily as the process enabling one to perform the
critique of pure reason. Not until the Critique of the Power of Judgment
of 1790 does he explain the role of re¬‚ective judgment in aesthetics
and science. Here Kant™s main point is to show how Leibniz misuses
the concepts of transcendental re¬‚ection.
Kant criticizes Leibniz by analyzing concepts of re¬‚ection fun-
damental to all philosophical analysis. In logical re¬‚ection the
understanding considers concepts by four distinctions: identity and
difference; agreement and opposition; inner and outer; and matter
and form. Identity and difference concern the content of concepts.
By agreement and opposition Kant means whether they are logically
compatible. Inner and outer have to do with whether a concept is
relational or not. Connected to this is the distinction between mat-
ter and form, or the determinable and the determinate. As we have
seen, the form is the way in which the matter is related, which is
also equivalent to giving the matter speci¬cation, or determining a
determinable. In the logic of concepts, the determinable is that which
can be made more speci¬c. A genus, for example, is determined by
enumerating the species falling under it. In logical re¬‚ection these
comparisons bear only on concepts rather than on objects.
Transcendental re¬‚ection consists in comparing “representations
in general with the cognitive power in which they are situated,” and
distinguishing “whether they [belong] to the pure understanding or to
pure intuition” (A261/B317). Kant™s analyses of the forms of intuition
and the categories are exercises of transcendental re¬‚ection. In this

3 This passage apparently rules out the “two-worlds” reading of Kant™s distinction between
appearances and things in themselves, espoused by Kemp Smith and others.
Transcendental illusion I 205
act the faculty doing the comparing is reason rather than the under-
standing. And because the representation is referred to the source of
the cognition, Kant says the comparison “goes to the objects them-
selves” since it “contains the ground of the possibility of the objective
comparison of the representations to each other.” He also emphasizes
that “transcendental re¬‚ection is a duty from which no one can escape
if he would judge anything about things a priori” (A263/B319). Kant
has shown, for example, that sensible intuition yields both a matter
(sensation) and the pure forms in which the matter is given, whereas
the understanding provides the determining concepts through which
this manifold is related to objects.
Leibnizian metaphysics illustrates the errors that arise when con-
cepts of re¬‚ection are mistakenly applied to things in themselves.
Leibniz™s system depends on the principle of the Identity of Indis-
cernibles, that things that are indiscernible in all their properties
are numerically identical. Thus there cannot be two numerically
distinct things that are similar in all respects. On Kant™s view this
principle is true of concepts: concepts that are entirely similar in
their contained concepts are identical. He makes the point with ref-
erence to objects of the understanding: “If an object is presented
to us several times, but always with the same inner determinations
(qualitas et quantitas), then it is always exactly the same if it counts
as an object of pure understanding” (A263/B319). But the princi-
ple does not apply to appearances because of the sensible forms in
which they are given. Space and time are homogeneous wholes whose
parts are numerically distinct although qualitatively similar. Kant

multiplicity and numerical difference are already given by space itself as the
condition of outer appearances. For a part of space, even though it might be
completely similar and equal to another, is nevertheless outside of it, and is
on that account a different part . . . and this must therefore hold of everything
that exists simultaneously in the various positions in space. (A264/B320)

Thus two particles of matter could be entirely similar in all their
properties, but numerically distinct by virtue of their distinct spatio-
temporal locations.
Transcendental illusion I
Leibniz misuses other concepts of re¬‚ection, in assuming that inner
determinations always precede outer determinations, and that mat-
ter always precedes form. The former claim means that relations of
things presuppose their non-relational properties. The latter means
that the determinable matter is independent of its organization. Leib-
niz expressed both views in his theory that relations among things are
ideal, meaning they depend on non-relational properties, and have no
independent metaphysical status. This is the reason Leibniz describes
space and time as “well-founded phenomena.” As with the Identity
of Indiscernibles, Kant claims these principles would be true were
we able to know things by intellectual intuition: “As object of the
pure understanding . . . every substance must have inner determi-
nations and forces that pertain to its inner reality” (A265/B321). The
same holds for matter and form: “The understanding . . . demands
¬rst that something be given (at least in the concept) in order to
be able to determine it in a certain way. Hence in the concept of
pure understanding matter precedes form” (A267/B322“3). Because
relations between concepts depend on their non-relational content,
for concepts the inner precedes the outer, and matter precedes form.
But pure concepts apply only to objects of intuition, which appear
in space and time. Now as the Aesthetic shows, space and time are
logically independent of the manifold given in them. For appear-
ances, then, form precedes matter. Moreover, because space and time
are systems of relations underlying all properties of appearances, “We
know substance in space only through forces that are ef¬cacious in it”
(A265/B321). In other words, all knowledge of objects is of relations:
“a persistent appearance in space (impenetrable extension) contains
mere relations and nothing absolutely internal, and nevertheless can
be the primary substratum of all outer perception” (A284/B340). The
Remark to the Amphiboly of the Concepts of Re¬‚ection develops
these ideas in more detail.
Like all rationalist metaphysics, Leibniz™s monadology rests on two
fundamental errors. First, he makes cognitive claims about things in
themselves or noumena in the positive sense. And second, he attempts
to derive a priori truths about noumenal reality by misapplying con-
cepts originating in the understanding and in logical re¬‚ection. In the
Dialectic, Kant explains the transcendental illusion motivating these
Transcendental illusion I 207
errors, and applies his analysis to metaphysical disputes concerning
the soul, the world, and God.

2. tra nsc ende n ta l i llusi on
Transcendental illusion arises from the misuse of theoretical reason. As
the highest intellectual function, theoretical reason uni¬es the judg-
ments of the understanding in empirical cognition. Like the under-
standing, theoretical reason has both a logical and a real use. In its
logical or justi¬catory use, reason infers conclusions from premises.
In its real use, reason provides principles directing the search for
empirical knowledge. Scienti¬c reasoning involves explaining natural
phenomena and subsuming empirical generalizations or laws under
higher laws. Although Kant postpones the details of its legitimate
function until the Appendix of the Dialectic, here he brie¬‚y sketches
how the misuse of reason leads to illegitimate metaphysics.4
The Transcendental Dialectic begins with a general account of
error. Because the understanding, if left to its natural operations,
could not make erroneous judgments, all error or illusion involves
some interfering factor, namely “the unnoticed in¬‚uence of sensi-
bility on understanding, through which . . . the subjective grounds
of the judgment join with the objective ones, and make the latter
deviate from their destination” (A294“5/B350“1). Kant uses the anal-
ogy of opposing forces to illustrate how the sensibility can cause the
understanding to go astray. At A295/B352 he remarks that in empiri-
cal illusions, such as optical illusions, the imagination interferes with
“the empirical use of otherwise correct rules of the understanding.”
Although transcendental illusion does not always directly involve the
sensibility, it arises from con¬‚ating subjective with objective grounds
of judgment.
Kant next makes some confusing distinctions between the imma-
nent and transcendental uses of principles, and between the tran-
scendental use of a principle and a transcendent principle. The cat-
egories and principles of the understanding are “objective” rather
than transcendent, because they apply to objects. In their immanent
4 My discussion of the Dialectic relies heavily on Grier™s Kant™s Doctrine of Transcendental
Transcendental illusion I
(legitimate) use, they are restricted to objects of possible experience.
To apply them beyond experience, to things in themselves, would
be a (positive) transcendental use, which of course is illegitimate. A
transcendent principle, by contrast, is one “that takes away these limits,
which indeed bids us to overstep them” (A296/B353). As we shall see,
the ideas of reason and the principle(s) directing their use are “tran-
scendent principles” because they do not directly apply to objects.
Taking them to represent objects of any kind, whether appearances
or things in themselves, is an error. But because these transcendent
principles of reason are indispensable for empirical cognition, Kant
says they have a “subjective necessity.” Transcendental illusion occurs
when this subjective necessity is mistaken for the objective necessity
of principles of the understanding.
The section ends with the claim that transcendental illusion is as
“natural and unavoidable” as the optical illusions that the sea is higher
away from the shore than at the shore, and that the moon is larger
at the horizon. To some commentators this appears at odds with
his claim that the dialectical fallacies infecting metaphysical disputes
can be corrected by a critique of reason. As Michelle Grier argues,
however, it is possible to reconcile Kant™s claims by distinguishing the
inevitable transcendental illusion from the avoidable fallacies of the
understanding to which it gives rise.5 We shall return to this point
Finally Kant turns to the analysis of theoretical reason. Recall that
in the metaphysical deduction Kant derives the categories from the
logical forms of judgment. Here he intends to show a similar rela-
tion between the pure transcendent ideas of reason and the logical
forms of syllogistic inference. Like the forms of judgment, rules of
inference are universally valid because they abstract from all con-
tent. Equally, Kant will argue at A333“8/B390“6, these logical forms
of inference yield transcendent principles or ideas of reason when
appropriately “schematized.” The difference, of course, is that the
principles of reason are regulative rather than constitutive. Rather
than applying directly to objects, they operate to unify the judgments
of the understanding:

5 See chapter 1 of Grier, Kant™s Doctrine of Transcendental Illusion, for both the criticisms and
the solution to them.
Transcendental illusion I 209
If the understanding may be a faculty of unity of appearances by means of
rules, then reason is the faculty of the unity of the rules of understanding
under principles. Thus it never applies directly to experience or to any object,
but instead applies to the understanding, in order to give unity a priori
through concepts to the understanding™s manifold cognitions. (A302/B359)
In other words, the role of reason is to unify and systematize judg-
ments of the understanding. This occurs formally when one logically
derives a conclusion from premises. The legitimate real use of rea-
son consists in explaining phenomena or subsuming an empirical law
under a higher law.
The next step characterizes the unifying function of reason in log-
ical inferences. Every syllogism consists of a major premise, a minor
premise, and the conclusion. At A304/B360“1 Kant explains that the
major is a general rule thought through the understanding. The minor
premise subsumes a cognition under the condition (subject) of the
rule given in the major premise. Finally, reason determines the sub-
sumed cognition through the predicate of the rule. Kant discusses
examples at A322/B378 and at A330/B387.
Transcendental illusion occurs when a legitimate regulative princi-
ple of reason is confused with an objective claim about reality. Kant
derives the legitimate principle as follows: in logical inferences where
one attempts to justify a conclusion, the premises are the conditions
(evidence) for the truth of the conclusion. In proving a conclusion,
then, one identi¬es the conditions for the given conditioned. But the
process of justi¬cation can continue inde¬nitely: one can demand a
justi¬cation for each premise. This process could end only if one could
arrive at premises that were self-justifying, their truth unconditioned
by other judgments. The logical task of reason, then, is “to ¬nd the
unconditioned for conditioned cognitions of the understanding, with
which its unity will be completed” (A307/B364). If one could arrive
at a complete proof of a given judgment, one would have succeeded
in this logical task of reason.
On Kant™s view, this logical “maxim” in fact presupposes an objec-
tive claim: “But this logical maxim cannot become a principle of pure
reason unless we assume that when the conditioned is given, then so is
the whole series of conditions subordinated one to the other, which is
itself unconditioned, also given” (A307“8/B364). Grier calls the reg-
ulative principle expressing the legitimate task of reason P1 : “To ¬nd
Transcendental illusion I
the unconditioned for conditioned cognitions of the understanding,
with which its unity will be completed” (A307/B364). Principle P1 ,
which Kant calls a “logical maxim,” is subjectively necessary because
it does not supply concepts of objects, and yet is indispensable for
empirical cognition. The error occurs when one con¬‚ates P1 with the
“objective” or “transcendental” principle P2 : “when the conditioned
is given, then so is the whole series of conditions” (A307“8/B364).
Unlike P1 , which expresses an imperative or maxim for seeking knowl-
edge, P2 makes a synthetic (factual) claim about objects.
Although P2 is illegitimate, Kant says it is “unavoidable” since it
is presupposed by P1 . At A650“1/B678“9, he discusses the regulative
function of pure reason: “In fact it cannot even be seen how there
could be a logical principle of rational unity among rules unless a
transcendental principle is presupposed, through which such a sys-
tematic unity, as pertaining to the object itself, is assumed a priori as
necessary.” And at A645/B673 he says, “This unity of reason always
presupposes an idea, namely that of the form of a whole of cognition,
which precedes the determinate cognition of the parts and contains
the conditions for determining a priori the place of each part and its
relation to the others.” According to Grier, the “transcendental” prin-
ciple P2 is necessary as an “application principle” for P1 , analogous to
the schemata of pure concepts.6 Transcendental illusion, then, occurs
when the “need of reason” to ascend to higher conditions in order to
bring unity to cognition is mistaken for a transcendental principle
that postulates “an unlimited completeness in the series of conditions
in the objects themselves” (A309/B366).
The idea of reason underlying both principles is the idea of the
unconditioned or the totality of conditions: “since the unconditioned
alone makes possible the totality of conditions, and conversely the
totality of conditions is always itself unconditioned, a pure concept of
reason in general can be explained through the concept of the uncon-
ditioned” (A322/B379). This idea has three forms. As Kant explains
at A323/B379, the unconditioned can be thought with respect to
the subject as well as the object of the judgment. The latter can
further be distinguished as the object in appearance as opposed to
the object of thought in general. Thus he concludes that there are

6 See Grier, Kant™s Doctrine of Transcendental Illusion, especially 127“30 and chapter 8.
Transcendental illusion I 211
three transcendental ideas: “the absolute (unconditioned) unity of
the thinking subject, . . . the absolute unity of the series of conditions
of appearance, [and] . . . the absolute unity of the condition of all
objects of thought in general” (A334/B391). The following paragraph
identi¬es these ideas as the basis, respectively, of rational psychol-
ogy, rational cosmology, and rational theology. Rational psychology
concerns the soul, that which ultimately underlies the thinking sub-
ject. Rational cosmology is the “science” of the ultimate nature of
appearances. Finally, rational theology makes claims about the ulti-
mate foundation of all objects in general, namely God.
Kant™s “metaphysical” deduction of these ideas of reason occurs
in the third section, where he connects them with the three forms
of syllogism. This account is so cryptic that it is unintelligible apart
from his earlier discussion of the forms of judgment in the Ana-
lytic. At A336/B393 he explicitly correlates the ideas of the soul, the
world, and God with the respective logical relations of inherence,
dependence, and concurrence characterizing categorical, hypothet-
ical, and disjunctive judgments. Referring back to his discussion
of these forms of judgment at A73“4/B98“9 suggests the following
First, the major premise in the categorical syllogism is a categor-
ical judgment. This is the simplest (atomic) form of judgment, in
which a predicate is thought as inhering in a subject. When applied
to cognition, this yields the idea of a thinking subject in which the
thought inheres. The notion of the soul is the hypostatized or objec-
ti¬ed notion of the totality of conditions underlying the thinking
subject. Second, the major premise in the hypothetical syllogism is a
hypothetical or conditional judgment. This complex form connects
two or more judgments, so that the consequent is thought as logically
dependent on the antecedent. This logical dependence, as we know,
has its real counterpart in causal dependence. The totality of condi-
tions underlying appearances is the completed causal series of events
in time. Finally, disjunctive syllogisms have a disjunctive judgment as
the major premise. Kant thinks of disjunctive judgments as dividing
a concept into its complete set of possibilities, each of which mutu-
ally excludes the others, but which together exhaust the whole. The
concept of the ultimate ground of this whole of possibilities Kant
calls the “rational concept of a being of all beings” (A336/B393). In
Transcendental illusion I
other words, the thought of the totality of objects in general leads to
the idea of the ultimate condition of all existence, traditionally God.
On Kant™s view, then, rational metaphysics results from the illu-
sory attempt to arrive at ultimate explanations of the thinking subject,
the world as appearance, and the totality of objects in general. This
occurs when reason erroneously extends the “logical maxim” to seek
the unconditioned for the conditioned, which legitimately applies
within experience, to “totalities” that are not objects of possible expe-
rience. Since the only concepts reason has at its disposal are concepts of
the understanding, the search for metaphysical knowledge inevitably
results in misapplying concepts of appearances beyond experience. In
this way transcendental illusion is one motivation behind the dialec-
tical fallacies of the understanding.
As Kant points out, this illusory use of reason reveals itself only in
the regressive or “ascending” series: “pure reason has no other aim than
the absolute totality of synthesis on the side of conditions . . . and [it]
has nothing to do with absolute completeness from the side of the
conditioned. For it needs only the former series in order to presup-
pose the whole series of conditions” (A336/B393). That is, metaphysics
always works backwards from what is given to its necessary conditions.
By contrast, the thought of the “descending series” or the totality of
consequences following from the given is not a necessary idea, but
“a thing . . . which is thought up only arbitrarily, and not presup-
posed necessarily by reason” (A337/B394). Furthermore, the laws of
the understanding are suf¬cient for knowing the consequences of the
given appearances, although of course we cannot know the totality
of consequences.
Before turning to the arguments based in transcendental illusion,
we should note Kant™s remark in a footnote at B395:
Metaphysics has as the proper end of its investigation only three ideas: God,
freedom, and immortality . . . Everything else with which this science is
concerned serves merely as a means of attaining these ideas and their reality.
The insight into these ideas would make theology, morals, and, through
their combination, religion, thus the highest ends of our existence.

He believes that the metaphysical drive to give ultimate explanations
of existence leads to three concepts of the highest good. The idea of
immortality belongs to the doctrine of the soul, and is the basis of
religion. The idea of free will is the basis of morality; Kant will argue
Transcendental illusion I 213
that although recognition of the moral law presupposes freedom, it
does not yield metaphysical knowledge of freedom. The idea of God
as the “being of all beings” is of course the basis of theology. Although
Kant sees the idea of immortality as following in some sense from the
ideas of God and freedom, his own discussion of the arguments treats
them in “the analytic order,” beginning with the idea of the soul in the
Paralogisms, moving to the doctrine of the world in the Antinomies,
and ending with the proofs for the existence of God. The rest of
this chapter examines Kant™s analysis of the Paralogisms. Chapter 9
discusses the Antinomies and chapter 10 treats the proofs of rational

3. the pa ra logism s of pure re a son
Kant labels the metaphysical arguments about the soul the Paralo-
gisms of reason. These commit fallacies based on the transcendental
illusion taking the totality of conditions of the thinking subject as a
“given” object, a mind or soul. In attempting to determine the nature
of this object underlying all consciousness, rationalist metaphysicians
erroneously apply to the thinking subject pure concepts that have sig-
ni¬cance only for appearances. Thus the illusion inherent in reason
leads to errors of the understanding. Here the arguments are based on
the “I think” or the t.u.a. From this purely formal thought, rationalists
attempted to derive synthetic conclusions concerning the substantial-
ity, simplicity, numerical identity, immateriality, and incorruptibility
of the soul. Thus they hypostasized or objecti¬ed purely formal self-
consciousness as a thing, the subject in itself.7
Kant signi¬cantly altered both the content and presentation of
the Paralogisms in the B edition. Both editions treat four arguments
about the soul, correlated with the categorical headings in this order:
relation, quality, quantity, and modality.8 The ¬rst three arguments,
which are unchanged, conclude that the soul is a substance, is simple,
and is numerically identical through time. In the A edition the Fourth
Paralogism concerns Descartes™s view that knowledge of the mind is
prior to knowledge of spatial objects. Because this makes knowledge
of the external world less certain than self-knowledge, Kant calls this
7 For a detailed discussion of the Paralogisms see Ameriks™s Kant™s Theory of Mind.
8 This is a case where the traditional arguments appear to drive the Architectonic. Kant gives
no explanation for correlating the Paralogisms with these categories and in this order.
Transcendental illusion I
the “paralogism of the ideality (of outer relation)” (A366). As we saw
in chapter 7, in the B edition Kant responds with the Refutation
of Idealism. In the revised Paralogisms he substitutes a discussion
of the immateriality of the soul. In addition to this change, Kant
also condenses his treatment, focusing on the errors underlying all
four arguments. Since we have already examined the Refutation of
Idealism, this discussion will ignore the Fourth Paralogism of the A
edition. I shall also follow Kant™s lead by emphasizing the general
criticism of all the arguments.
At A341/B399 Kant explains that a logical paralogism “consists in
the falsity of a syllogism due to its form . . . A transcendental paralo-
gism, however, has a transcendental ground for inferring falsely due
to its form.” In both cases the arguments are formally invalid. At A402
and B411 he says the arguments commit a sophisma ¬gurae dictionis
(sophistry of a ¬gure of speech), speci¬cally an equivocation on a
term occurring in both the major and minor premises. Despite some
confusion in locating the equivocation, Kant does offer a consistent
account of the invalidity in the arguments.
Because the four arguments share the same “schema,” an analysis
of the ¬rst argument sets the pattern for the others. Kant states the
First Paralogism in the A edition as follows (I have inserted line
[1] That which is represented only as the absolute subject of our
judgments, and cannot be predicated of another thing, is sub-
[2] I, as a thinking being, can be represented only as the absolute
subject of all my judgments, and cannot be predicated of another
[3] Thus I, as thinking being (soul) am substance. (A348)
The B-edition version rewords the same argument (line numbers
[1] What can be thought only as subject exists only as subject, and is
therefore substance.
[2] Now a thinking being, considered as such, can be thought only
as subject.
[3] Therefore it also exists only as substance. (B410“11)
Transcendental illusion I 215
In both versions the ¬rst premise is the major premise; it makes the
synthetic claim that the “absolute subject” of judgment, which can
be represented only as subject, is substance. The second premise, the
minor premise, identi¬es the “I” of “I think,” or the thinking being
“as such” with the absolute subject of judgment. The conclusion then
predicates being a substance of the “I” of “I think.”
Unfortunately Kant™s explanation of the equivocation differs in
the two editions. In the A edition, he says the term equivocated on
is ˜substance™: “the major premise makes a merely transcendental use
of the category in regard to its condition, but . . . the minor premise
and the conclusion . . . make an empirical use of the same cate-
gory” (A402“3). But since the term ˜substance™ does not appear in the
minor premise, it is unlikely to be the source of the equivocation. In
a B edition footnote Kant locates the ambiguity in the term ˜think-
ing,™ which signi¬es differently in the two premises: “in the major
premise, as it applies to an object in general (hence as it may be given
in intuition); but in the minor premise only as it subsists in relation to
self-consciousness,” which is not an object but the mere form of think-
ing (B411n). Although this seems more plausible, the term ˜thinking™
does not appear per se in the major premise of either version. Allison
suggests Kant should locate the ambiguity in the subject-term of the
major premise, “That which cannot be thought otherwise than as
subject” (in the A edition, “the absolute subject of judgment”).9 This
is reasonable, since it occurs in both premises, and it is consistent with
Kant™s other remarks. Kant™s remark at B411 lends support to Allison™s
reading: “The major premise talks about a being that can be thought
of in every respect, and consequently even as it might be given in
intuition. But the minor premise talks about this being only insofar
as it is considered as subject, relative only to thinking and the unity
of consciousness” (B411). Here I follow Allison, taking the ambiguity
to concern the meaning of the thinking thing, or absolute subject
of judgment. Kant™s claim that the argument is invalid comes down
to this: the major premise predicates the concept ˜substance™ of the
thinking subject taken as an object in general. This claim is offered
as a synthetic a priori truth. The minor premise, however, makes an
analytic or tautological claim about the logical subject of thought in

9 Allison, Kant™s Transcendental Idealism, 284.
Transcendental illusion I
the “I think,” the transcendental unity of apperception. Since the two
premises use the term differently, no valid conclusion can be drawn
from them. This diagnosis applies to all four arguments.
Before looking at the details of his analysis, we should note that
Kant classi¬es his objection as critical rather than dogmatic or skepti-
cal. At A388“9 he distinguishes them this way. A dogmatic objection
“is directed against a proposition,” “requires an insight into the consti-
tution of the nature of the object,” and “claims to have better acquain-
tance with the constitution of the object being talked about than its
opposite has.” A dogmatic objection to the proof, then, would claim
that the ¬rst premise is false, that the mind or thinking subject could
not be a substance. Skeptical objections put “the proposition and its
opposite over against one another, as objections of equal weight.”
This approach claims that there are equally good arguments for and
against the conclusion that the mind is a substance. But in “endors-
ing” both claims, it ends up treating the opposing views dogmatically,
presupposing that one can know the object in itself. By contrast, the
critical position claims that “the assertion is groundless, not that it is
incorrect.” Kant rejects dogmatic knowledge of the premise, which
“assumes on behalf of its assertion something that is nugatory and
merely imagined” (A389). For Kant, all attempts to know the mind
or soul unjusti¬ably take the ultimate thinking thing as an object in
general. This will differ signi¬cantly from Kant™s skeptical objections
to the inferences in the Antinomies.
Since the doctrine of the soul belongs to metaphysics, it cannot be
based on a posteriori knowledge: “for if the least bit of anything empir-
ical in my thinking, any particular perception of my inner state,”
were used in this science, then it would be an empirical science
(A342/B400). Thus the representation grounding claims about the
thinking thing must be a priori. In fact, the arguments are based on
the t.u.a.: “I think is thus the sole text of rational psychology, from
which it is to develop its entire wisdom” (A343/B401). In addition
to rejecting the major premise, Kant argues that the minor premise
misconstrues the merely formal self-consciousness of the “I think.”
Let us examine this objection ¬rst.
In both editions Kant emphasizes the point from the Transcenden-
tal Deduction, that the “I think” is merely the form of all thinking,
and contains no intuition of a distinct individual: “For the I is, to
Transcendental illusion I 217
be sure, in all thoughts; but not the least intuition is bound up with
this representation, which would distinguish it from other objects
of intuition” (A350; see also A345“6/B404). The B edition similarly
stresses that the “I think” represents a purely logical subject, that is,
the activity rather than a substantial thing:
Now in every judgment I am always the determining subject of the relation
that constitutes the judgment. However, that the I that I think can always be
considered as subject, and as something that does not depend on thinking
merely as a predicate, must be valid “ this is an apodictic and even an
identical proposition; but it does not signify that I as object am for myself
a self-subsisting being or substance. (B407)

Among their many errors, metaphysicians mistake formal conscious-
ness of the activity of thinking for an intuition of a determinable
object: “The unity of consciousness, which grounds the categories, is
here taken for an intuition of the subject as an object, and the category
of substance is applied to it. But this unity is only the unity of think-
ing, through which no object is given” (B421“2). As we saw, the minor
premise (in each argument) states an analytic truth about the t.u.a.
But since it is a tautology, it cannot establish any synthetic claims
about whatever “object in general” underlies this self-consciousness.
This analysis leads to a second objection, that all inferences from
the “I think” to the ultimate nature of the determining subject com-
mit circular reasoning. Not only is the representation “I think” not
a concept, we do not have even a problematic concept of this deter-
mining self: “since the proposition I think (taken problematically)
contains the form of every judgment of understanding whatever and
accompanies all categories as their vehicle . . . we can at the start form
no advantageous concept [of it]” (A348/B406). Since the t.u.a. is a
necessary condition of applying any concept in judging, “we therefore
turn in a constant circle, since we must always already avail ourselves
of the representation of it at all times in order to judge anything about
it” (A346). Kant says rather than the I cognizing itself through the
it cognizes the categories, and through them all objects, in the absolute unity
of apperception, and hence cognizes them through itself. Now it is indeed
very illuminating that I cannot cognize as an object itself that which I must
presuppose in order to cognize an object at all. (A402)
Transcendental illusion I
As Allison points out, this position is independent of the unknowa-
bility of things in themselves.10 The transcendental nature of the “I
think” provides a strong argument, independent of transcendental
idealism, against attempts to know the self at the foundation of all
thinking. As the form of all thinking, the “I think” is itself uncondi-
tioned (A401), although not an object of thought.
Given the analytic nature of the “I think,” it is surprising to ¬nd
Kant labeling it in the B edition as an “empirical proposition.” In the
beginning of the footnote at B422“3, he says, “The ˜I think™ is . . . an
empirical proposition, and contains within itself the proposition ˜I
exist.™” But he clari¬es this statement at the end of the footnote:
if I have called the proposition “I think” an empirical proposition, I would
not say by this that the I in this proposition is an empirical representation;
for it is rather purely intellectual, because it belongs to thinking in general.
Only without any empirical representation, which provides the material for
thinking, the act I think would not take place, and the empirical is only the
condition of the application, or use, of the pure intellectual faculty. (B423n)
Kant™s point is subtle, but consistent with what he has established.
The “I think” is empirical insofar as empirical intuition is required
to recognize the unity of self-consciousness. As Kant has argued, the
formal awareness in the “I think” depends on the act of synthesizing
the manifold given in intuition. In other words, although the t.u.a. is
not itself empirical or a posteriori, our access to it is via the empirically
given manifold. But this is equally true of the pure forms of intuition,
the pure concepts of the understanding, and even the logical rules of
By contrast with the tautological nature of the second premise, the
major premise makes a synthetic claim, namely that the thinking self
is a substance. Here is where Kant™s critical objection applies, for this
claim presupposes that one can know the self as an object in itself or
in general. That is the unwarranted assumption behind all rational
psychology. Unlike the above objection, this one does depend on the
unknowability of things in themselves. In the A edition Kant begins
by noting that “pure categories . . . have in themselves no objective
signi¬cance at all unless an intuition is subsumed under them, to
the manifold of which they can be applied as functions of synthetic
10 See Allison, Kant™s Transcendental Idealism, 291“3.
Transcendental illusion I 219
unity. Without that they are merely functions of a judgment without
content” (A349“50). The B edition says, similarly, “the concept of a
thing that can exist for itself as subject but not as a mere predicate
carries with it no objective reality at all, i.e., . . . one has no insight
into the possibility of such a way of existing, and consequently . . . it
yields absolutely no cognition” (B412). The thought of the self as the
subject in which thoughts inhere implies nothing about the self as an
object, because we can know ourselves only as we appear to ourselves
in inner sense.
Moreover, applying the concept of substance to appearances pre-
supposes the schema of permanence in time. To know that I am
substance I would have to establish that “I, as a thinking being,
endure for myself, that naturally I neither arise nor perish “ this I
can by no means infer” (A349). And in the B edition: “if that con-
cept, by means of the term ˜substance,™ is to indicate an object that
can be given . . . then it must be grounded on a persisting intuition
as the indispensable condition of the objective reality of a concept”
(B412). At the end of the Paralogisms he says that determining the
subject of thinking as an object “cannot take place without inner
sense, whose intuition always makes available the object not as a
thing in itself but merely as appearance . . . It is in this latter that the
thinking self must now seek the conditions of the use of its logical
functions for categories of substance, cause, etc.” (B429“30). Thus
the major premise errs by misapplying the empirically signi¬cant
concept of substance to the thinking thing taken as an object in
Now Kant does say at A350, “one can quite well allow the propo-
sition The soul is substance to be valid, if only one admits that
this concept . . . cannot teach us any of the usual conclusions of the
rationalistic doctrine of the soul.” What he means is that the concept
“substance” here has no real signi¬cance, but only logical signi¬cance
as the idea of a thing that can only be subject, and not predicated
of another thing. As Grier points out, Kant would accept the major
premise construed as follows: if x were an object of possible experi-
ence, then if x cannot be thought otherwise than as subject, x can
exist only as substance. In this formulation the concept of substance
can be legitimately applied to whatever “cannot be thought otherwise
than as subject” only because that concept is restricted to objects of
Transcendental illusion I
possible experience.11 But since the point of rational psychology is to
get behind the self as experienced, to the subject in itself, it ignores
this restriction. Kant rejects this major premise, then, both because
it presupposes that things in themselves are knowable, and because it
overlooks the necessary schema for applying the concept of substance.
Kant™s treatment of the remaining arguments follows directly from
these criticisms. Not only do they suffer from the same invalidity, but
their conclusions also depend on the ¬rst conclusion that the soul is
a substance.12 In the B edition these arguments are offered to prove
that the substantial soul is simple, numerically identical or a person,
and immaterial. From these characteristics the rational psychologist
goes on to conclude that the soul is immortal, which Kant considers
the basis for religion. Let us look brie¬‚y at each of these arguments.
The Second Paralogism argues that the soul or thinking subject is
a simple substance. Although Kant does not offer a separate version
in the B edition, the argument appears as follows in the A edition:
[1] That thing whose action can never be regarded as the concurrence
of many acting things, is simple.
[2] Now the soul, or the thinking I, is such a thing.
[3] Thus etc. (A351)
Following the pattern of the First Paralogism, the major premise
predicates simplicity of those objects in general whose actions can-
not be decomposed into parts. This is clearly a synthetic claim. The
minor premise states the tautology that the action of thinking cannot
be divided into parts. The argument concludes, invalidly, that the
thinking “I” is a simple substance. Kant emphasizes that although
it is an analytic truth that the “I” of “I think” is a logically simple
subject, it does not follow that the subject in itself, whatever it is,
must be absolutely simple. At A355 he concedes the second premise:
The proposition I am simple must be regarded as an immediate expression
of apperception, just as the supposed Cartesian inference cogito, ergo sum is
in fact tautological, since the cogito (sum cogitans) immediately asserts the
reality. But I am simple signi¬es no more than that this representation I
11 See Grier, Kant™s Doctrine of Transcendental Illusion, 162“3.
12 Other commentators offer different accounts of the invalidity of the arguments, and the
nature of the premises. See Ameriks, Kant™s Theory of Mind, and chapter 7 of Kitcher, Kant™s
Transcendental Psychology.
Transcendental illusion I 221
encompasses not the least manifoldness within itself, and that it is an absolute
(though merely logical) unity. (A355)
The B edition points out, similarly, that although the “I” of apper-
ception is logically simple and “cannot be resolved into a plurality,”
“that does not signify that the thinking I is a simple substance, which
would be a synthetic proposition” (B407“8). As the Transcendental
Deduction shows, formal self-awareness in thinking must be an abso-
lute unity because otherwise it could not produce a single complex
thought. But this uni¬ed self-awareness does not represent the think-
ing subject in itself. Claims about the subject or soul in itself are both
synthetic and unwarranted by experience:
The proposition “A thought can be only the effect of the absolute unity of
a thinking being” cannot be treated as analytic. For the unity of a thought
consisting of many representations is collective, and, as far as mere concepts
are concerned, it can be related to the collective unity of the substances
cooperating in it (as the movement of a body is the composite movement of
all its parts) just as easily as to the absolute unity of the subject. (A353)
In other words, we have no insight into the ultimate nature of what-
ever underlies our thinking. It is entirely possible that the logical
unity of thought could be produced by things that are composites
in themselves. This argument hearkens back to Locke™s response to
Descartes™s view of personal identity in the Essay Concerning Human
Understanding. We shall return to this point below.
The Third Paralogism attempts to establish the numerical identity
of the thinking subject from the logical identity of the “I” of “I
think.” In the A edition the major premise of the argument is, “What
is conscious of the numerical identity of its Self in different times,
is to that extent a person” (A361). The rest of the argument follows
the same pattern as the ¬rst two paralogisms, and Kant™s criticism
is likewise of a piece with the above. The major premise makes an
unwarranted synthetic claim about the subject as an object in itself;
the minor premise states the analytic truth that the logical subject of
thinking is conscious of its numerical identity in different times; and
the conclusion invalidly infers that the thinking subject in itself is
numerically identical. As with the previous paralogism, Kant™s reply
to this argument also shows the af¬nity between his and Locke™s views
on personal identity.
Transcendental illusion I
By personality Kant means “the possibility of a continuing con-
sciousness in an abiding subject,” even if interrupted (A365). It is
not clear here exactly what Kant takes this to imply, although, like
Locke, he tends to equate personality with concern for one™s interests
and one™s future state.13 This leads to the Lockean strategy mentioned
above. In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke rejected
Descartes™s view that personal identity is based in the numerical iden-
tity of the mental substance. Although Locke™s own memory theory
has serious dif¬culties, he argued persuasively that retaining identity
of consciousness through a change of mental substance is suf¬cient for
personal identity. Since we have no empirical knowledge of the soul
or substratum underlying consciousness, we have no way of knowing
whether this substratum is identical through time.14 Now Kant makes
the same points in both the Second and Third Paralogisms. First, we
have no access to the thinking subject as such. Second, there is no
inconsistency in the idea that this substratum of the numerically iden-
tical “I think” could be composite or lack numerical identity: “despite
the logical identity of the I “ a change can go on that does not allow it
to keep its identity; and this even though . . . the identical-sounding
˜I™ is assigned to it, which . . . still keeps in view the thought of the
previous subject, and thus could also pass it along to the following
one” (A363). Like Locke, Kant envisages the possibility of a “mind-
swap” which maintains continuity of consciousness. In a footnote
he compares this idea to the way composite substances can commu-
nicate motion in a uni¬ed way in impact: “a whole series of these
substances may be thought, of which the ¬rst would communicate
its state, together with its consciousness, to the second [and so on].
The last substance would thus be conscious of all the states of all the
previously altered substances as its own states” (A363“4n). Thus Kant
agrees with Locke that continuity of consciousness constituting per-
sonal identity does not require numerical identity of the substratum
underlying the thinking subject.
In the B edition the Fourth Paralogism argues for the immateri-
ality of the soul given that as a merely thinking thing I distinguish
myself from things outside me, including my own body. Traditionally,
13 See Ameriks™s discussion of the notion of personality in Kant™s Theory of Mind, chapter 4,
especially 130“7.
14 See book II, chapter 27, “Of Identity and Diversity,” sections 11“19, in the Essay Concerning
Human Understanding, 336“42.
Transcendental illusion I 223
immaterialism is considered necessary for immortality, since if the
thinking subject were material, the soul would die with the body. In
criticizing the argument at B409 Kant remarks brie¬‚y that although
it is an analytic truth that I can distinguish myself as a thinking thing
from things outside me, I cannot know whether “this consciousness
of myself would even be possible without things outside me through
which representations are given to me, and thus whether I could exist
merely as a thinking being (without being a human being).” In other
words, based on experience I can separate myself as a thinking self
from other things, including my own body, only in the sense that I
can distinguish inner sense from outer sense. But the fact that these
two forms of sense are different entails nothing about the nature of
the thinking subject in itself. Because both inner and outer sense yield
only appearances, “through the analysis of the consciousness of myself
in thinking in general not the least is won in regard to the cognition
of myself as object” (B409).
At B419“20 he points out that neither materialism nor spiritualism
(i.e., immaterialism) can explain how I exist as a merely thinking
subject. Materialism fails because nothing real given in space is simple.
Thus matter as it appears to us cannot be the source of the logically
simple thinking self. But based on our representations of the self
in inner sense, neither can one conclude that the self is immaterial.
This is because nothing persisting is given in inner sense. As the
Refutation argues, inner intuition yields no access to the soul or
persisting substratum of the thinking thing.
In the A edition Kant makes extended remarks on the debates
over immaterialism and the problem of interaction. In the section
titled Observation on the Sum of the Pure Doctrine of the Soul, Fol-
lowing these Paralogisms, he argues that the problem of interaction,
apparently intractable for the realist who espouses substance dual-
ism, dissolves when one admits that matter is only appearance. From
A390“2, Kant discusses the three “solutions” traditionally offered
to explain interaction between minds and bodies, namely physi-
cal in¬‚uence, pre-established harmony, and “supernatural assistance”
(A390). Physical in¬‚uence is the theory that bodies and minds directly
interact with one another. The classic argument against this position is
Descartes™s Sixth Meditation argument, that minds and bodies can-
not interact causally because the essence of mind is thinking, that
of body extension. Substances with distinct essences can share no
Transcendental illusion I
properties in common, and therefore cannot exert causal in¬‚uence
on one another.15 Now Kant remarks that this argument is the basis for
the remaining two explanations, pre-established harmony and “super-
natural assistance.” Descartes himself embraces a form of “supernat-
ural assistance,” since he argues that the union of the mind with the
body in humans is established by “divine institution.” For Leibniz,
pre-established harmony operates between all monadic substances, as
well as between the system of corporeal nature and the system of ¬nal
From the point of view of transcendental idealism, there is no
problem of mind“body interaction precisely because the empirically
meaningful concept of substance does not apply to the thinking sub-
ject. Since we do not know ourselves as mental substances, there is in
experience no heterogeneity between matter and the thinking subject.
For Kant, the “opposition” between mind and body translates into
the distinction between inner and outer sense. In consequence the
problem of interaction becomes the question, “How is outer intu-
ition “ namely, that of space (the ¬lling of it by shape and motion) “
possible at all in a thinking subject?” (A393). In other words, how
can the self that represents itself through inner sense be affected by
external things through outer sense? And the only answer is that we
cannot know:
But it is not possible for any human being to ¬nd an answer to this question,
and no one will ever ¬ll this gap in our knowledge, but rather only indicate
it, by ascribing outer appearances to a transcendental object that is the cause
of this species of representations, with which cause, however, we have no
acquaintance at all, nor will we ever get a concept of it. (A393)
Just as we have no way of explaining why the human understanding
thinks according to our forms of judgment, and why spatial intuition
is three-dimensional and Euclidean, we cannot explain why humans
have both inner and outer sense, or the ways their objects “interact.”
Finally, given both the invalidity of the paralogisms and the
unknowability of things in themselves, it follows that all specula-
tion about the pre-existence or immortality of the soul is merely that,

15 See the Sixth Meditation, Philosophical Writings, 2:54“5.
16 For Leibniz, see Monadology and Theodicy, cited in Adams, Leibniz: Determinist, Theist,
Idealist, 83“4.
Transcendental illusion I 225
speculation. “Thus every dispute about the nature of our thinking
being and its conjunction with the corporeal world is merely a con-
sequence of the fact that one ¬lls the gaps regarding what one does
not know with paralogisms of reason, making thoughts into things
and hypostatizing them” (A395).

4 . s um ma ry
This analysis supports Grier™s view that there is no inconsistency in
Kant™s diagnosis of the failures of traditional metaphysics. Reason™s
transcendent principle P2 , that where the conditioned is given, the
unconditioned is given, leads to the idea of the soul as the underlying
subject of thinking. The attempt to discover the “objective” nature of
this being in turn leads to the misuse of concepts of the understanding.
Thus transcendental illusion engenders fallacies of the understanding.
In misapplying the concept of substance, the Paralogisms confuse ana-
lytic truths about the logical subject of thought with synthetic claims
about the subject in itself. As in all cases of transcendental realism,
the doctrine of the soul ignores the distinction between appearances
and things in themselves. As we have seen, Kant™s resolution of these
arguments is based on his “critical” rejection of the major premise
as unwarranted. The next two chapters examine how transcendental
illusion leads to the arguments of rational cosmology and theology.
c h a p t er 9

Transcendental illusion II: rational

In contrast to rational psychology, rational cosmology and rational
theology apply the transcendent idea of the unconditioned to the
object of thought. Rational cosmology concerns objects taken as
appearances; rational theology argues for God as the explanation of
things in themselves. All three spurious sciences assume as objectively
valid the illusory principle P2 , that if the conditioned is given, the
entire series of conditions is given. Despite their similar origin, the
arguments and their resolutions differ in the three cases. In particular,
the cosmological arguments have the form of antinomies, or pairs of
opposing claims. Consequently, their solution involves the “skeptical
method” mentioned in chapter 8. Kant attributes these differences
to the fact that the ideas of the soul and God are “supersensible,”
ideas of things that are not objects of experience. By contrast, the
cosmological idea of the world-whole in space and time is based on
experience. For this reason, Kant also claims that the Antinomies
offer an indirect proof of transcendental idealism. The ¬rst part of
this chapter introduces the Antinomies and their importance to the
critical philosophy. The second examines the arguments in detail,
discussing their strengths and weaknesses. The last section discusses
the relation between the con¬‚icts and transcendental idealism.

1 . in trod uct ion to t he a nti nom i es
In both the Prolegomena and a letter to Garve of 1798, Kant explains
the signi¬cance of the Antinomies for his critical philosophy. In para-
graph 50 of the Prolegomena, echoing his earlier remark about Hume,
Kant says that the transcendent use of pure reason is most effective
“to awaken philosophy from its dogmatic slumber,” and prompting
Transcendental illusion II 227
it “toward the critique of reason itself.”1 More than the problems of
God and the soul, the disputes over rational cosmology shaped Kant™s
theory of the inherent con¬‚ict in reason.
The Antinomies arise when reason attempts to explain the ultimate
conditions underlying the world of appearances. The transcendent
idea of the world represents “the sum total of all appearances,” or
“the absolute totality of the sum total of existing things” (A419“20/
B447“8). Although this idea concerns the sensible world, it “tran-
scends all possible experience.” This has several important implica-
tions. First, the cosmological arguments concern the world in space
and time, and not space and time themselves.2 Second, the idea of the
world-whole has a basis in experience, unlike the ideas of the soul and
God. Nevertheless, this cosmological idea is one “whose object can
never be adequately given in any experience whatsoever.” As Michelle
Grier puts it, the idea of the world of appearance is “pseudoempirical,”
by contrast with the “pseudorational” ideas of the soul and God.3
This “pseudoempirical” character gives rise to the antithetic nature
of the Antinomies, which brings into con¬‚ict competing claims of
reason and the understanding. As we saw in chapter 8, reason sup-
plies the idea of the unconditioned, driving the attempt to know
appearances as a whole. But since reason produces no concepts, it
must apply the concepts of the understanding to the world-whole.
The opposition between the idea of reason and the concepts of the
understanding generates contradictions: the thesis of each argument
sides with reason and the antithesis with the understanding. In this
broad sense reason contains a con¬‚ict within itself.
This analysis helps clarify the origins of the ¬rst two Antinomies.
A standard interpretation, based on textual remarks, identi¬es the
theses with rationalism, and the antitheses with empiricism.4 In
response, Sadik Al-Azm argues persuasively that the debates arise
1 See Prolegomena, Theoretical Philosophy after 1781, 129. The letter to Christian Garve of
September 21, 1798 also says the Antinomies “¬rst aroused me from my dogmatic slumber
and drove me to the critique of reason itself, in order to resolve the scandal of ostensible
contradiction of reason with itself.” Kant, Correspondence, 552.
2 This point has been misunderstood by several commentators. See Kemp Smith, Commentary,
483“8; Prichard, Kant™s Theory of Knowledge, 101; and Guyer, Kant and the Claims of Knowledge,
3 Grier, Kant™s Doctrine of Transcendental Illusion, 176.
4 Walsh claims this view prevailed among English commentators. See Kant™s Criticism of Meta-
physics, 198.
Transcendental illusion II
in the Leibniz“Clarke Correspondence. He attributes the thesis argu-
ments to the Newtonian Samuel Clarke and the antithesis arguments
to Leibniz.5 Now it is true that Kant assigns the theses to “dogmatism
of pure reason” and the antitheses to “a principle of pure empiri-
cism” (A466/B494). But these labels refer to general positions rather
than to particular philosophical ¬gures. Kant™s point is that “empiri-
cism” demands “the dissolution of the transcendental ideas of the
world-whole itself” (A466/B494), in favor of the continuing regress
postulated by the understanding. By contrast, the “dogmatic” thesis
positions apply the transcendental idea, seeking an end to the regres-
sive series. In fact, Kant cites “the opposition of Epicureanism and Pla-
tonism” (A471/B499) as representative of the competing viewpoints.
Thus I agree with Grier that the description refers not to historical
¬gures, but to the con¬‚ict between reason™s demand for closure and
the regress conceived by the understanding.6
In the ¬rst section, A409“13/B436“40, Kant reviews the idea of the
conditions of the world of appearance. He reiterates that the search
for the unconditioned involves only the “ascending” or regressive
series of subordinate conditions. This is because neither coordinated
conditions nor the “descending” consequences are presupposed by
the conditioned. An example of a regressive series is the series of past
states up to the present; the series of future states is a “progressive”
series. Because the present depends only on the past and not on the
future, reason seeks to explain it by the series of past states.
The table at A415/B443 summarizes the four Antinomies. Each
of the four categorical headings “ quantity, quality, relation, and
modality “ gives rise to a con¬‚ict. The quantitative regress involves
“The absolute completeness of the composition of a given whole
of all appearances.” The issue is whether the world is ¬nite or in¬nite
in space and time. Now Kant admits that unlike time, the parts of
space are coordinated with rather than subordinated to one another
(A412/B439), apparently deviating from his description of the regress

5 See Al-Azm, The Origins of Kant™s Arguments in the Antinomies. I agree with Walsh that Kant
likely saw “what began as an argument between Newton and Leibniz . . . in a very different
light” (Kant™s Criticism of Metaphysics, 198). Al-Azm™s interpretation in some cases obscures
Kant™s approach to the issues.
6 See Grier, Kant™s Doctrine of Transcendental Illusion, 182“3.
Transcendental illusion II 229
of conditions. But although spatial parts are simultaneous, Kant will
argue that we can represent them only through a successive synthesis,
requiring a regress.
The second, qualitative Antinomy concerns “The absolute
completeness of the division of a given whole in appearance”
(A415/B443). At issue here is the nature of the part“whole relation for
the real or substance. The real is conditioned by its parts, represented
through division. But this process involves a regress to ever smaller
parts. Thus the con¬‚ict is whether substance is in¬nitely divisible or
has simple parts. Although the discussion focuses primarily on matter,
Kant brie¬‚y addresses arguments concerning mental substance.
The third, relational, Antinomy regards “The absolute complete-
ness of the arising of an appearance in general” (A415/B443). Only
cause“effect gives rise to a regressive series of conditions; substance“
accident and causal interaction are not relevant here. Accidents are
not subordinated to substance “but are rather the way substance itself
exists” (A414/B441). Similarly, causal interaction involves the idea of
substances in community, not subordinated to one another. Thus the
issue is whether the causal series is complete or not. If it is, then there
must be a ¬rst, uncaused cause, which can initiate the series sponta-


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