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3. the uni¬ed account: is it kantian?
As a straightforward reading of the text of the ¬rst Critique, McDowell™s
interpretation is hard to accept. McDowell himself places his greatest
reliance on the “clue” in the Metaphysical Deduction, where Kant says
that “the same function that gives unity to the different representations in
a judgment also gives unity to the mere synthesis of different representa-
tions in an intuition” (A79/B104“5). Judgment just is the uni¬cation of
representations under concepts, so if the same function is at play in intu-
ition, it too should involve the unity of representations under concepts.
This is a potent passage for supporting the claim that there is a sense
of intuition in Kant corresponding to the sense that McDowell invokes.
But this would support McDowell™s reading as a whole only if it were
clear that Kant uses the term ˜intuition™ univocally, and there is, as Sellars
points out, reason to think he does not. Consider again the passage I
Richard N. Manning
68

cited earlier from the B Deduction, where Kant says, “the manifold of
representations can be given in an intuition that is merely sensible, i.e.,
nothing but receptivity, and the form of this intuition can lie a priori
in the faculty of representation without being anything other than the
way in which the subject is affected” (B129“30). Here we have a form of
intuition in which there has as yet been no operation whatever of our
synthetic faculties. Kant continues: “the combination (conjunctio) of a
manifold in general can never come to us through the senses, and there-
fore cannot already be contained in the pure form of sensible intuition”
(B129“30). This too suggests that some intuition is of the pure form.
On the other hand, combination, “whether we are conscious of it or not,
whether it is the combination of the manifold of intuition or of several
concepts . . . is an action of the understanding” (B130). Here we see that
the intuition of a manifold “ as opposed to the manifold of intuition “ is
a result of the function of the synthetic operation of the understanding,
just as is the unity of a judgment. This is intuition in McDowell™s sense.
But Kant is directly contrasting such synthesized intuition, which “is not
given through objects but can be executed only by the subject itself”
(B129“30), with the manifold of representations given through objects
in a merely sensible intuition. The latter appears to be the sheer sort of
intuition that McDowell would read out of Kant. In light of this apparent
equivocation, the “clue” can™t be thought decisive, since it may concern
only intuition in the postsynthetic sense.
McDowell™s reading does more than excise an apparently Kantian
sense of intuition. It also appears to make otiose those of Kant™s dis-
cussions that seem to concern the transition from the sheer manifold
of sensible intuition to the intuition of a manifold, and from this to the
full empirical judgment. If McDowell is right, then, for example, it would
seem that when Kant says that “the ¬rst thing that must be given to us
a priori for the cognition of objects is the manifold of pure intuition;
the synthesis of this manifold by means of the imagination is the second
thing” (A78“9/B104), he both mistakes his own view of what is given in
intuition and unnecessarily posits a synthetic process operating on what
is given to deal with it. Moreover, if the yield of synthesis is conceptual
particulars, as it seems to be on McDowell™s reading, then there should
be no need for schemata to bridge a gap between concepts and sensi-
ble contents; they would already be homogeneous in the way Kant, as
standardly read, claims they are not.
If McDowell is right, then either these discussions are altogether otiose
or they play a quite different role than they are usually taken to play.
The Necessity of Receptivity 69

On the other hand, we have seen that those discussions are of dubious
success when so understood. Perhaps, then, we are better off reading
passages of the ¬rst Critique involving sheer intuition and the processes
that seem designed to deal with it as missteps on Kant™s part, re¬‚ecting a
bit of confusion, perhaps, but not his considered view. Part of interpret-
ing a thinker as deep and rich as Kant is trying to make the philosophy
that results from the interpretation as coherent and plausible as possi-
ble. And in fairness both to McDowell and to Kant, one must concede
that it is utterly unlikely that a successful philosophy can emerge from
a reading of the ¬rst Critique that is straightforward in the sense of pre-
serving the evident content of each aspect of the text. Any reading, like
McDowell™s, that avoids the embarrassments of apparently unguided syn-
thesis and the third man of the schematism has something going for it.
But is the resulting attempt to read Kant charitably itself philosophically
promising?


4. assessing the uni¬ed account: the aesthetic
character of experience
Sensible experience has a sensuous, qualitative character that the mere
conception of objects, on the face of it, seems to lack. There is something
it is visually like to have or undergo a sensible visual intuition, and some-
thing it is audibly like to have or undergo a sensible auditory intuition; but
there is nothing it is visually like to think of a visible object, even as visible,
and nothing it is auditorily like to think of an audible object, even as audi-
ble. Can the uni¬ed reading preserve this crucial distinction? Another
way of putting this is to ask whether, in imputing speci¬cally conceptual
actualizations in intuition, the uni¬ed reading actually transforms intu-
ition into intellection. This is clearly not McDowell™s intent. His reading
is precisely one of sensible intuition. McDowell insists that “the actualiza-
tions of conceptual capacities that we are focusing on . . . are shapings of
sensory consciousness” (HWV 473, emphasis in the original). But given
that the very same conceptual capacities can be actualized in a merely
intellectual representation, we are entitled to ask what, on his view,
accounts for the great phenomenological difference between these kinds
of cognition. Of course, if there were some sheer sensory matter to be
given form by an actualization of conceptual capacities, it might account
for the speci¬cally sensuous character of sensible representations. But
this is what the uni¬ed view denies. And without that sheer sensible mat-
ter, it seems question begging, if not entirely empty words, merely to insist
Richard N. Manning
70

that it is sensory consciousness that is shaped by conceptual actualizations
in perception.
This brings us to our second phenomenological reason for insisting
on a sharp distinction between a sensible and an intellectual faculty. The
contents of perception, unlike the contents of mere thought, seem to be
inexhaustibly rich and concrete, whereas concepts seem always to blur
differences among the concreta of perception. If we concede that the per-
ception of an object always contains more than what can be discursively
thought of it, it seems we will have to recognize that there is content to
sensibility that goes beyond what could be accounted for by the shaping
of sensory consciousness by conceptual capacities. And we will be forced
to acknowledge that intuitions are not simply actualizations of conceptual
capacities, as the uni¬ed account insists.
But I think the uni¬ed view can avoid this apparent problem by refus-
ing to make the concession.8 Perception does not contain more than can
be accounted for by actualizations of concepts, since we can denote any
sensible aspect of a perception demonstratively, as when we focus on that
shade of red or on that timbre of sound. A conceptual capacity is a rule for
classifying representations. So if we have the ability to classify numerically
diverse representations as being of that (same) shade of red or that (same)
timbre of sound, then we can say that we possess these as concepts. And
then we can say that the perception of some object that is that shade of
red, or of some sound of that timbre, involves an actualization of those
concepts. So long, then, as perception does not contain elements that
are beyond our capacity to demonstrate, in a way that permits us to classify
other sensible particulars as alike in the respect demonstrated, percep-
tion does not, despite its inexhaustible richness, outstrip our concepts or
contain anything that cannot be explicated as an actualization of them.
This hardly amounts to an argument for the claim that every aspect of
sensible intuition can be classi¬ed conceptually, but it does suggest that
every discriminable aspect of it can be so classi¬ed in principle. So the
claim that the contents of perception outstrip our conceptual capacities
will have to rest on the claim that contents of perception outstrip our
discriminative capacities “ that it contains variety that cannot be discrimi-
nated. And it is hard to see how there could be evidence for such a claim,
since any variety we might ¬nd or mention would be discriminated in the
process.

8 While the issue does not arise as such in HWV, it does come up in Mind and World
(McDowell 1994), where he takes much the same line as the one I discuss here.
The Necessity of Receptivity 71

This strategy helps with our ¬rst problem “ that of the sensuousness of
intuition “ as well. For demonstrative concepts of this sensible sort seem
precisely to be concepts the possession of which is essentially dependent
upon the actualization of speci¬cally sensory modalities. The speci¬cally
sensory character of perception would then be accounted for by the fact
that it involves primary actualizations of these sorts of concepts; the sen-
suous character of experience, far from being extra to mere concept
actualization, would ¬‚ow from the fact that we possess speci¬cally sense-
involving concepts of this sort.


5. assessing the uni¬ed account: objectivity
The objectivity of judgments seems at a minimum to entail their answer-
ability to a world that is not a mere projection of our thinking. The world
must stand over against thought as an independent tribunal. In order to
secure this objectivity, any account of cognition must provide grounds for
supposing both that there is a world that is independent of our thoughts
about it, and that it is the way this world is that constitutes the tribunal to
which our thinking is answerable. Call the ¬rst aspect of this demand the
˜independence™ of the world and the second the ˜answerability™ of our
thinking. On a standard reading of Kant, the sheer receptivity of intuition
of the sensible manifold provides the moment of immediate encounter
with the world about which we think, grounding the claim that our think-
ing is responsive to a world that is independent of our thinking in the
sense that (with obvious exceptions for psychological facts, etc.) it is as
it is, regardless of how we think it to be, or indeed whether or not we
think about it at all. Since, on that view, all subsequent synthesis of that
manifold and ensuing judgment of the resulting unities is in some way
guided by what is thus passively received, such judgment is answerable
to the world as well. But we have seen how problematic that standard
picture is. Our attention to this point has been largely focused on the
question of answerability. In treating the contents of sensibility itself as
always already conceptually structured, McDowell™s uni¬ed view makes
plain how the application of concepts to these contents in judgment can
be correct or incorrect, and thus addresses this question. But McDowell
also takes his account to have done justice to the need for independence.
He takes himself to be engaged precisely in the transcendental project of
“entitling ourselves to see conceptual activity as directed toward a reality
that is not a mere re¬‚ection of it” (HWV 473). In order to earn this enti-
tlement, we must see the contents of perceptual states as “making claims”
Richard N. Manning
72

on us, and we must avoid the implication that those claims are actually
made by us. But it is easy to see how the uni¬ed view™s solution to the
problem of answerability threatens this entitlement, and with it the idea
of independence. For if we reject the idea of the sheer sensible manifold
as the guiding origin of those claims, conceding that all intuition is the
actualization of functions of spontaneity, how are we to resist the con-
clusion that the contents of intuition “ the claims it makes on us “ are
entirely owing to the spontaneous acts of our thinking?
McDowell is well aware of this threat of idealism, and his answer to it
is to insist on the adequacy of a minimal empiricism: So long as there is
receptivity in addition to spontaneity, we have all the assurance of objectiv-
ity we could demand. Says McDowell, “if we conceive subjects as receptive
with respect to objects, then, whatever else we suppose to be true of such
subjects, it cannot undermine our entitlement to the thought that the
objects stand over against them, independently there for them” (HWV
470; the same thought is expressed on 473). Now whether or not the
satisfaction of this minimal demand for receptivity would suf¬ce to dis-
pel idealist worries is an important and dif¬cult question. But rather than
address it directly, I want to ask whether the proponent of the uni¬ed view
would be entitled to claim that his conception of intuition meets even
this minimal demand for receptivity. What remains of receptivity when
we insist that all intuition involves the actualization of conceptual capaci-
ties? McDowell emphasizes the speci¬cally sensible character of receptive
intuition: “Objects come into view for us . . . in sensory consciousness, and
Kant perfectly naturally connects sensibility with receptivity” (HWV 470).
Elsewhere, McDowell insists on the “obvious appropriateness” of associat-
ing the sensory and receptivity (HWV 473). The connection does indeed
seem natural. Given that he recognizes sheer intuition, Kant can perhaps
exploit this natural connection. Nothing in his positive account of the
sensible manifold itself calls it into doubt. But the question is whether,
on McDowell™s view of intuition as uni¬ed with understanding, we remain
entitled to exploit this natural connection. Intuitions are conceptual actu-
alizations of sensory consciousness, but that is not to be thought of as a
meeting place where matter we receive from without is operated on by
spontaneity. What then cements the natural connection between sensi-
bility and receptivity on the uni¬ed account?
McDowell™s own answer seems to be that sensibility, despite being the
actualization of the spontaneous faculty of concepts, is not fully active
the way that deliberate judgment is. Perception, as opposed to sponta-
neous acts of judgment, is passive. In perception, we are saddled with
The Necessity of Receptivity 73

conceptual contents: “It does not take cognitive work for objects to come
into view for us. Mere synthesis just happens; it is not our doing, unlike
making judgments, deciding what to think about something” (HWV 462).
Perceptions, says McDowell, contain their claims “as ostensibly necessi-
tated by an object” (HWV 440). But this appeal to the phenomenology
of how experience seems to come to us is too thin a thread to support
the weighty demand for genuine receptivity. There is indeed a real differ-
ence between states resulting from considered re¬‚ection, inference, and
judgment and those with which we are saddled “ those over whose occur-
rence we have had no control. And there is also a real difference between
states produced by the operations of our cognitive faculties and those, if
any, that represent the deliverances from outside of us. But we are not
entitled simply to equate the two differences. On the one hand, some-
times we must work very hard indeed to perceive something, as when we
squint, crane our necks, or what have you. What and when we perceive is
in some sense in our control, and does not merely come over us without
our cooperation and effort. On the other hand, as we saw earlier, Kant
attributes to spontaneity a host of cognitive processes whose operations
are neither deliberate nor in anything like our conscious control. Syn-
thesis, the very thing McDowell says “just happens” without our doing, is
for Kant attributed to operations of the understanding, despite its being
a “blind art,” rarely if ever conscious; we no more decide on the outcome
of imaginative synthesis than we do on the outcome of peering out the
window. And recall that schematization, also allied with understanding,
“is a hidden art within the depths of the human soul” (A141/B180“1). It
is also surely the case that some judgments are as much compulsory, and
as little a matter of self-conscious deliberation or decision, as are percep-
tions. Perception saddles us not just with experience, but also with beliefs.
And some inferences are inescapable; the force of an argument can com-
pel acceptance of its conclusion without our seeming to make any kind
of re¬‚ective decision about it. For these reasons, the contrast between
receptivity and spontaneity simply does not parallel that between opera-
tions over which we have or experience deliberate control and those over
which we do not.
One way to resist this running together of the way we are saddled with
perceptions with the way some judgments can be inescapable would be
to invoke a very Kantian distinction between kinds of compulsion: the
force of reason and the compulsion of natural causation. Reasons may
compel, and such compulsion is consistent with freedom; but we are
passive with respect to the force of natural causes. So perhaps the way to
Richard N. Manning
74

insist on the robust receptivity of actualizations of sensory consciousness is
to hold that they come on us with something like the latter brutely natural
kind of force, whereas deliberative judgment, however inescapable its
conclusions, compels us with the former force of reason. This suggestion
has obvious appeal; after all, it is empirical objects that come to us in
perception, and natural causation governs the empirical world. And it
certainly ¬ts with the very Kantian thought that it is because of our nature
as empirical beings that we have sensibility at all.
But it is not at all clear that the proponent of the uni¬ed account,
at least in McDowell™s version, is entitled to put this distinction between
free and natural causes to work here. For remember that on McDowell™s
view of Kant, perception is a mode of encountering objects as making
claims on us. But this means precisely that the world in view in sensible
perception itself grips us with the force of reasons.9 Whereas empirical
causes necessitate by blind force, it is reasons that make claims on us. If
this is right, then the picture of sensory intuition as the actualization of
conceptual capacities draws the distinction between the world we perceive
in sensible intuition and the thoughts we think in a way that undercuts
the natural association between sensibility and the idea of a forced impact
from outside.
Thus the question remains why, if the operations of the faculty of
concepts are spontaneous, and if intuition is shot through with such
operations and originally inseparable from them, we should suppose
that intuition is receptive to something other than our own productive,
spontaneous activity. To ask this question is to ask, in essence, why we
should understand our cognitive faculties to be subject to external in¬‚u-
ence. Descartes famously entertains just this question in the sixth of his
Meditations. To make a start, Descartes surveys his faculties. He is a think-
ing thing, but one with faculties for imagination and sensory perception.
These faculties must inhere in intellectual substance, since “there is an
intellectual act included in their de¬nition” (Descartes 1984, 54). In
addition to these active faculties, Descartes claims that there is as well “a
passive faculty” of sensory perception in him, “that is, one for receiving
and recognizing ideas of sensible objects” (ibid., 55). But the mere fact
that he has a passive faculty of sensory perception that receives sensory


9 McDowell (1994) makes clear his view that the conception of the world itself as providing
a speci¬cally rational constraint on our thinking, by gripping us with reasons, is transcen-
dentally required if we are to make sense of the bearing of thought on the world. And it
is clear that the reading of Kant in HWV is intended to square with that view.
The Necessity of Receptivity 75

ideas does not itself suf¬ce to show that they come from outside of him.
Thus Descartes asks whether the active faculty that produces such sensory
perceptions is in him or in something else.
He quickly concludes that “this faculty cannot be in me, since clearly it
presupposes no intellectual activity on my part, and the ideas in question
are produced without my cooperation and often even against my will”
(ibid.). But neither of these reasons is available to Kant. Regarding the
second, we have already seen that the fact that we do not consciously
cooperate in or will the production of sensible intuition is not suf¬cient,
in the Kantian context, to ensure that such intuitions are not the product
of our own faculties. But what of the ¬rst, that the passive faculty “does
not presuppose any intellectual activity” on his part? The French version
of the Meditations says more explicitly that the faculty producing sensory
perception “cannot be in me in so far as I am a thinking thing, since it does
not presuppose any thought on my part” (ibid., n. 1, emphasis added).
But for Kant, we are not essentially thinking things, in Descartes™s pre-
cise sense. For Descartes, to think is to have ideas; this is the intellec-
tual act presupposed in imagining and perceiving. And to be affected
with ideas is to have them; hence the passive faculty of perception is in
him. In contrast, to produce ideas, unlike to sense or imagine, is not
necessarily to think, in Descartes™s sense. For Kant, we are beings who
essentially cognize, and not all of our cognitive activity is a matter of hav-
ing ideas, let alone ideas of which we are aware. Indeed, much explicitly
productive cognitive activity is required to order the raw content of sen-
sibility spatiotemporally, so our cognitive faculties must be actively in
play before we can in fact have anything Descartes would have recog-
nized as an idea of sensory perception. Descartes could infer from the
fact that producing ideas does not require having them the faculty that
produces adventitious ideas of sense is outside the mind. Kant, however,
cannot.


6. reconceiving generality: allison™s transcendental
schemata
In this and the next section, I want to consider a pair of discussions
from the recent literature that bear closely on our problematic. One
is the treatment of the schematism in Henry Allison™s Kant™s Transcen-
dental Idealism (1983). Allison, unlike most commentators, defends the
schematism chapter™s success in showing how pure concepts of the under-
standing, in any event, can ¬nd application to objects of intuition via the
Richard N. Manning
76

intermediation of schemata, and one aspect of his solution instructively
parallels the central move in McDowell™s uni¬ed account. The other is
Hannah Ginsborg™s novel interpretation10 of Kant™s solution to the prob-
lem of how concepts can be brought to bear on the matter of sensibility.
Her discussion, like Allison™s, reorients the problematic of the application
of concepts to intuition by denying that the fundamental issue for Kant
is the opposition between generality or universality, on the one hand,
and particularity, on the other. As I hope to show, both Allison™s and
Ginsborg™s accounts, insofar as they have any hope of resolving the pre-
cise concerns that they respectively address, depend upon a revision of
the standard reading of Kant™s account of sensibility and understanding
at least as dramatic as McDowell™s. And both accounts, I shall argue, are
equally subject to the charge of idealism.
On Allison™s view, it is not concepts™ generality per se that accounts for
their problematic heterogeneity with sensible intuitions, which leads in
turn to the need for schemata. Rather, it is “the fact that the pure concepts
of the understanding, in contrast even to ˜pure sensible™ or mathemati-
cal concepts, are derived from the very nature of the understanding. As
such they have no direct relation to intuition” (Allison 1983, 178). His
main textual ground for this reading is Kant™s puzzling discussion of the
homogeneity of the pure concept of a circle with the empirical concept
of a plate, Allison says: “the crucial difference between mathematical con-
cepts and pure concepts of the understanding [is that] the former can
be constructed, that is presented in pure, formal intuition, and the lat-
ter cannot. Indeed, it [is] this very heterogeneity between pure concept
and intuition that generate[s] the problem of the schematism in the ¬rst
place” (ibid., 184).
Allison also suggests that much of the trouble commentators have had
with the schematism is that they treat the sort of subsumption under
concepts that schemata are supposed to facilitate as that of particulars
under class concepts, as in judgment. This is how I conceived it in the
¬rst section of this essay, and so conceived, it is a mystery how schemata
can be any help, because their generality presents the very same prob-
lem for subsumption as the generality of concepts. As Allison points out,
so conceived, the notion of subsumption is simply inapt to characterize
the relation between the pure categories and intuitions, which is one of
structure to content or form to matter, not universal to particular. Draw-
ing on passages from Kant™s lectures on logic, Allison argues that Kant

10 See Ginsborg™s contribution to this volume.
The Necessity of Receptivity 77

has in mind the sense of subsumption operative in syllogistic reason-
ing, where the applicability of the given judgment that forms the major
premise of a syllogism to the possible judgment that forms the conclusion
is established via the mediation of the minor premise, which subsumes
the condition of the possible judgment under the condition of the major
premise. Thus it follows from the major premise “everything composite
is alterable,” and the minor premise “bodies are composite,” that “bodies
are alterable,” since the condition of the conclusion (being a body) is
subsumed under the condition of the major premise (being composite)
by the minor premise™s declaration that bodies are composite. Note here
that the condition is general, not particular. Given all this, Allison infers
that what is required to show the subsumability of intuitions under the
pure categories is something analogous to the conditions of the rule rep-
resented by the pure concept, which can play the role of the middle term
of the syllogism in bringing the rule to bear on possible intuition. These,
of course, will be the transcendental schemata of the categories.
Recall that transcendental schemata cannot be pure creatures of
understanding, but nonetheless must be general. Since, for Allison, it is
not the generality per se of the category that keeps it from being homo-
geneous with intuition, but rather the impossibility of its being directly
exhibited in intuition, the fact that schemata are general will not prevent
them from being homogeneous with intuition. Yet they cannot for all
that be purely the product of the understanding “ derived from it alone “
lest they inherit the pure categories™ heterogeneity with intuition. Allison
holds that a transcendental schema is a determinate pure intuition, where
being determinate entails being a conceptualization, where being pure
entails being a priori, and where the intuitive element “must be located in
the irreducibly sensible component of the representation” (ibid., 184).
Allison thus emphasizes Kant™s characterization of schemata as “sensible
concepts” (A146/B186). Only so conceived, with an irreducible sensi-
ble element and yet a fully conceptualized one, can they be third things
bringing intuition within the condition of the categories.
On Allison™s reading of the schematism, then, it seems that Kant has
posited a genuinely new and different kind of representation, one that
is sensible in being a speci¬cation in intuition of the conditions pertain-
ing to a concept. As Allison remarks, “Although Kant, of course, begins
with the radical separation of sensibility and understanding, intuition
and concept, the very heart of his account of knowledge consists in the
claim that any cognition of an object involves both elements” (1983,
184). This is akin to McDowell™s uni¬ed view, on which the episodes of
Richard N. Manning
78

sensory awareness are always actualizations of conceptual capacities, with
the difference that for McDowell, these episodes are intuitions them-
selves, whereas for Allison, the products of these originally uni¬ed ele-
ments are schemata essential to all cognition. One might think that this
difference enables Allison to avoid the worry I have rehearsed about ide-
alism in a way that is not available to McDowell. For these schemata,
though they themselves cannot be thought of as mere deliverances from
outside (since they are products of conceptual activity), mediate between
intuition and the categories. So it might seem open to Allison to regard
the intuitions themselves as genuinely received. But this approach is not
open on Allison™s reading of the schematism. For he is quite clear that
he regards schematism not as a part of the synthesis issuing in unity in
the manifold, but as an independent requirement on how the categories
under which all unity must fall can be brought to bear on them. Part of
his justi¬cation for his reading of the schematism is precisely that there is
work to be done over and above that achieved in the account of synthesis.
As for presynthetic intuition, Allison claims that in the second edition
of the ¬rst Critique, Kant “explicitly abstracts from any consideration of
the manner in which the manifold is given.” “The only assumption,” he
continues, “is that we are dealing with a mind for which the manifold
must be given.”11 The idea that Kant “abstracts from consideration” the
manner in which the manifold must be given can make it seem as though
there is something about that manner that helps to guide or constrain
synthesis, but that Kant is being silent about how this works, leaving it
an open and possibly unanswerable question. This would be a dangerous
conclusion to draw. For any presynthetic character intuition might have
would be in no way a function of the conditions of our sensibility. What
would be so given would have to be an object as it is in itself, rather than
as it is insofar as it relates to the conditions of our cognition of it. And to
suppose that would be to violate perhaps the most central tenet of critical
philosophy. So in claiming that Kant abstracts away from considerations
of the manner in which the manifold is given, Allison must be denying
that this plays any essential role in Kant™s argument, even a mysterious,
hidden one. But this leaves us with the question of why Kant™s assumption,
insofar as it implies that we are genuinely receptive with respect to this
given, should be granted at all.
Allison™s claim that the assumption merely amounts to the assumption
that we are not endowed with intellectual intuition cannot help here. For,

11 Allison (1983), 181“2.
The Necessity of Receptivity 79

as I have argued, a being for whom the operations of its own faculties are
not transparent might be the source of its own sensible representations,
and take them as received. While a genuinely receptive cognition could
not involve an intellectual intuition, to suppose that we must be genuinely
receptive because we have no intellectual intuition would be to af¬rm the
consequent.
In sum, then, Allison™s reading of the schematism and his characteriza-
tion of Kant™s view of sensibility in the second edition of the ¬rst Critique
trade on a notion of originally conceptual sensibility like McDowell™s uni-
¬ed view of sensibility and understanding in intuition. And, like McDow-
ell™s view, it threatens to be idealistic by calling into doubt the gen-
uine receptivity of sensibility, and with it the independence of the world
required to underwrite objective judgment.


7. reconceiving generality: ginsborg™s
valid associations
Hannah Ginsborg attempts in this volume to account for the normative
force of empirical concepts, and thus to satisfy the answerability demand
implicit in the notion of objectivity. She argues that the fundamental
sense of ˜universal™ in Kant is not the universality of concepts in virtue of
which the subsumption of the particular under the universal is an objec-
tively valid judgment. It is, rather, the universal “validity for everyone”
that characterizes judgments, even aesthetic judgments whose ground is
a subjective feeling (Ginsborg, this volume). Ginsborg argues that this
normativity “ the fact that applications of concepts to intuitions can be
correct or incorrect “ derives from our natural disposition to associate
one kind of representation with certain others, combined with a judg-
ment that such associative correlations are universally valid, in the sense
of being such that everyone ought to make the same association. She
claims that Kant adopted the Humean suggestion “that we can account
for my entertaining the general idea tree by supposing that I have an idea
of some particular tree, coupled with a readiness to call to mind ideas
of other trees” (ibid.), and supplemented it in two crucial ways. First, he
held that, when an idea arises in us as a consequence of an association, we
take it “to be the upshot not merely of a certain tendency in myself, but
of a tendency which is universally valid” (ibid.). Second, he extended the
theory to account “not just for general thought and belief, but for percep-
tion itself ” (ibid.). This last addition is crucial, for otherwise, the capacity
to perceive objects as being of a certain kind in a manifold of intuition
Richard N. Manning
80

would remain unexplained. Ginsborg is also careful to make clear that
these associative dispositions do not operate via an antecedent recognition
of resemblances among representations, for such recognitional capaci-
ties would themselves involve our grouping things according to a general
rule or concept.
But Ginsborg™s suggestion does not quite go deep enough to let us
escape the precise problem under examination here. For there remains
the question of how we are to conceive the content of the representations
over which the natural associative dispositions operate. Surely they must
have some particular distinguishing content, if it is to make sense to say
that a natural disposition might associate some of these particular rep-
resentations with some particular others. Associative dispositions must
operate over features of the associated items even if they need not do so
by means of some general rule. More basically, the representations over
which dispositions operate must have some determinate features if it can
be meaningfully said that the association groups distinct representations
at all. In short, the kinds of representations it so much as makes sense
to say could be the subject of the operation of associative dispositions
must already be structured in a way that Kant reserves for products of
synthesis. So the question remains, in what sense is the formation and
character of these representation guided by the sensible matter of intu-
ition? If Ginsborg™s proposed solution is to work, it must do so in
the context of a rejection, like McDowell™s, of sheer sensibility, in favor
of, if not an account of intuition in which sensibility always and originally
involves the actualization of speci¬cally conceptual capacities, then one
in which it always and originally involves the operations of imaginative
synthesis. But as we have seen, a repudiation of sheer, pre-synthesized
sensibility, given Kant™s account of synthesis as an operation of the under-
standing, invites the same general idealist worry about our entitlement
to the claim that our thinking is genuinely receptive at all.
Insofar as Ginsborg™s account depends upon a rejection of sheer sen-
sibility, it is no less dif¬cult to square with Kant™s text in the ¬rst Critique “
in which the faculties of sensibility and understanding make originally
distinct contributions to cognition “ than is McDowell™s. One should in
fairness point out, however, that Ginsborg, unlike McDowell, is offering
an account of empirical concept application and formation not as they
are manifest simply in the ¬rst Critique, but as they may be seen through
the lens of the third. And while Kant is preoccupied with the relation-
ship between sensibility and understanding in the third Critique, he no
longer frames the issues in terms of intuition. There, Kant does not make
The Necessity of Receptivity 81

mention of anything like sheer sensibility, in its presynthetic sense, at all.
He is preoccupied not with what to make of sensible contents without
structure or form, but with what to make of sensible contents with form,
but to which no concept is applied or perhaps even adequate. Thus
Ginsborg™s apparent elision of the notion of sheer intuition does not
seem jarring as a reading of Kant™s views in the third Critique.
This suggests that Kant™s thinking may have evolved over the years inter-
vening between the publication of the ¬rst and third Critiques in such a
way that he no longer saw much of a role for sheer, presynthesized sen-
sibility. Allison™s remark that the second edition of the ¬rst Critique, pub-
lished just two years before the appearance of the third Critique, “abstracts
away from consideration of the manner in which the manifold may be
given” adds weight to this suggestion.12 If the speculation is right that
Kant himself, by the time of the publication of the third Critique, had
become doubtful of the need for and intelligibility of sheer presynthe-
sized intuition, then the uni¬ed view McDowell offers, and Ginsborg™s
view as well, stand on better ground as interpretations of Kant™s consid-
ered stance than I have so far suggested. But if it is also right that this
rejection leads to the threat of idealism, by removing the one element of
cognition innocent of the operations of spontaneity, then Kant should
have recognized this threat and tried to disarm it. He did.


8. refuting idealism?
Kant himself clearly thought, as of the time of the publication of the
second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, that the threat of the sort
of idealism that denies that we are affected from without by empirical
objects was pressing and required an answer. This is what he tried to
provide in the second edition™s Refutation of Idealism (B270“4), and,
evidently dissatis¬ed with the of¬cial exposition of this argument, he
added substantial new material designed to elucidate the refutation in
a footnote to the preface to the second edition (Bxxxix). The brief but
penetrating argument of the Refutation may be sketched as follows: We
have empirical consciousness of our own existence. All consciousness of
objects requires something permanent in perception. But this perma-
nent thing cannot be the empirical self, since this self, so far as it is in

12 Allison (1983), in Ch. 14, suggests something along these lines in light of the extensively
reworked, de-psychologized transcendental deduction that Kant offers in the second
edition.
Richard N. Manning
82

perception, is mere representation. Hence we must have experience of
genuinely outer objects.
This is, of course, the conclusion we need: that there is an outer source
of our experience. I cannot go into this argument in any detail here, but it
is to be emphasized that if the argument is to be of any use in overcoming
the threat of idealism (and to objectivity) that I have been discussing here,
it must not depend on any claims argued for in the Aesthetic or Analytic
that in turn depend upon the notion of sheer receptivity. On the face of
it,13 it does not. Indeed, it does not obviously trade at all in Kant™s fac-
ulty psychology, let alone on a radical distinction between sensibility and
understanding. The argument of the Refutation is novel and remarkably
forward-looking. In it, Kant tries to turn the tables on the Cartesian skep-
tic by urging that the certainty he takes for granted about the existence
of the thinking ego, relative to which the existence of the external world
is in doubt, itself depends upon an equal certainty about the existence of
enduring external objects. The Refutation implies that the idea of a self
as a subject of inner representation is in some way derivative on, or in any
event no less primordial than, the idea of a public world with which that
self has immediate commerce. Adherence to this claim is more or less
orthodoxy among a number of our distinctly post-Modern philosophical
contemporaries, including Sellars, McDowell, Davidson, Putnam, Evans,
Burge, and a host of others. These philosophers plainly take the claim to
provide a bulwark against both idealism and skepticism, and they typically
oppose it directly to the Cartesian immediacy about our knowledge of our
minds and inferentialism about our knowledge of the world that typi¬es
Modern philosophy up to and including (most of) Kant. But this is not to
say that the argument of the refutation is successful as Kant presents it or
that Kant would be entitled to any such externalist orientation. Indeed,
there are ample reasons for supposing that Kant himself thought other-
wise. As Guyer (1987, Part IV) documents, Kant continued to revise and
rework the material of the Refutation throughout the 1780s and early
1790s.
The claim that sensibility and understanding are an ultimate original
unity, itself ungrounded, is in the end inescapable for Kant and leads to

13 But perhaps only on the face of it. Some commentators, like Gardner (1999), take the
Refutation to be a mere extension of the reasoning of the Transcendental Aesthetic and
preceding sections of the Analytic, and in need of supplement by that reasoning for its
conclusion to go through. Others, like Guyer (1987) and Strawson (1966), albeit in very
different ways, take the Refutation to offer a separate argument altogether, independent
of that prior reasoning.
The Necessity of Receptivity 83

an idealist threat that must be addressed. The idea of a content that is
independent of the operations of synthesis, hence independent of the
conditions of the possibility of our cognition, and is yet suf¬ciently deter-
minate to play a role in guiding synthesis, is the transcendental realist idea
of something™s appearing to us as it is in itself. The rejection of this idea is
a cornerstone of Kant™s Copernican turn. But a sheer sensibility conceived
as utterly indeterminate and unstructured cannot play any explanatory
role in accounting for objective cognition. In the Kantian context, the
attempt to avoid the epistemic impotence of intuition by conceiving it
as conceptually rich renders the idea of receptivity nothing more than a
dubious assumption. From this perspective, it seems that Sellars is right
that sheer receptivity was a bad strategy for “avoiding the dialectic which
leads from Hegel™s Phenomenology to nineteenth century idealism”
(Sellars 1992, 16, quoted at HWV 466). Kant himself, I suspect, realized
this and backed away from according a signi¬cant role to sheer sensibility.
But that backing away left a role exclusively for the kind of intuition that is
shot through and uni¬ed with the spontaneous operations of the under-
standing. That the faculties form an original unity is not an idea that arises
only with the denial of a substantial role for sheer presynthetic sensibil-
ity. Even in the Introduction to the ¬rst edition of the ¬rst Critique, Kant
concedes that sensibility and understanding “may arise from a common
but unknown root” (A15/B29). As Charles Larmore has recently argued,
because of the central role of sensibility and understanding within the
critical philosophy, both in Kant™s account of human knowledge and in
the generation of other Kantian dualisms, “something also needed to be
said about their underlying unity” (Larmore 2003, 264). I speculate that
Kant was more aware of the need to say more about the common root and
original unity of sensibility and understanding than he ever was willing to
do,14 and that part of the reason he was unwilling to do so is the threat of
idealism that that union presents. The Refutation of Idealism and Kant™s
subsequent repeated efforts to recast it more satisfactorily represent his


14 In this I side with Larmore (2003) in his recent debate with Ameriks (2003), who claims
that the ¬rst Critique, like the Prolegomena, is modest in intention in taking an unques-
tioned starting point in experience, and that only a failure by Kant™s critics and successors
to recognize this led them to seek some single, uni¬ed principle from which the dual-
ism of sensibility and understanding might arise. (See also Ameriks 2000). Heidegger
(1990) famously argues that in the Transcendental Deduction of the ¬rst edition, Kant
approached the unifying root of which the Introduction speaks, the full recognition of
which would have required a radical revision of his views; Kant, intimates Heidegger, lost
his nerve and balked.
Richard N. Manning
84

attempt to ¬nesse that threat without having to delve further into the
nature of that root and unity.
But let this rest as speculation. More concretely, we have evidence that
whether or not Kant held the uni¬ed view or something very like it as
of the publication of the second edition of the ¬rst Critique, he felt the
threat of this kind of idealism as real, and very much desired to meet
it head-on with an actual refutation. Thus it seems unlikely that Kant
would have been happy with McDowell™s brushing off of the problem
with the mere claim that the apparent passivity of sensibility suf¬ces to
show genuine receptivity. If we are entitled to deny that this is a genuine
threat, as McDowell clearly believes, it is for reasons Kant himself may
have sought but did not fathom.15

15 In thinking through and writing this essay, I greatly bene¬ted from discussions with
Andrew Brook, Paul Guyer, Jamie Kelly, Kris Liljefors, Amy Lund, John McDowell, Ser-
gio Tenenbaum, and Alex Wong. My greatest debt is to Rebecca Kukla, with whom I
organized the symposium at the joint conference of the North-East American Society
for Eighteenth Century Studies and the Atlantic Society for 18th Century Studies, in
Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2001 that provided the ¬rst occasion for me to attempt to make
these issues clear to myself, with whom I have had many extremely rewarding conversa-
tions on this and other related topics, and from whom I have received several rounds of
insightful and helpful comments on my text. My thanks to all, and especially to her.
4

Acquaintance and Cognition

Mark Okrent




What does my dog see when he sees a bus? This might seem to be an odd
question with which to begin an essay on Kant. In fact, it is a question that
goes to the heart of a puzzle that I have always found to be quite deep.
The puzzle can be made intuitively clear to almost anyone, regardless of
philosophical training. But it is also a puzzle that touches the core of the
Kantian enterprise, and that can be put quite clearly as a question con-
cerning the details of Kant™s views regarding the relationship between the
possibility of self-consciousness and the possibility of representing objects
as objects. The puzzle is this: Is there any sense in which animals who lack
re¬‚ection in the human sense, and thus also lack a discursive understand-
ing and the capacity to form judgments, nevertheless represent entities
as objects distinct from their own representations? If the answer to this
question is “yes,” as I will argue that it must be, then we must confront a
new and different question: What, exactly, are re¬‚ection and the capacity
to judge necessary for?


1. the structure of the problem

a. The Intuitive Formulation
In its intuitive, secular form, here is the problem. There is surely a sense
in which my dog (whose name is Mac) sees the large yellow school bus that,
every weekday afternoon at 3:20, turns the corner on which our house sits.
Not only is he equipped with the sensory apparatus typical of his species,
but he responds differentially to the presence or absence of the bus.
Further, Mac is an organism of a certain complexity and sophistication.
85
Mark Okrent
86

And this implies that Mac™s reaction to the presence of the bus seems
to vary as a function of his, invisible to us, internal state. (When Mac is
tired, he reacts in one way; when not tired, he reacts in another way.)
As it happens, one way in which Mac often reacts to seeing the bus is
(while staying safely on our property) to run over in the direction of the
place where the bus stops to let out children before turning the corner
and then, as the bus is starting up again, to run around the back of the
house (he is blocked by an invisible fence from going around the front
of the house and keeping the bus in view) to wait for the bus to turn the
corner, and to proceed to race it to the end of our property line, barking
like mad the entire time. (That he acts in this way is characteristic of his
breed, as Mac is a Shetland Sheepdog who herds by barking and running
in just this way, and who apparently extends his herding behavior from
sheep to large yellow buses.) So there is not much question that Mac sees
the bus.
But there also seems to be another sense in which it is right to say, in
another tone of voice, that my dog doesn™t see the bus. Or perhaps we
should say that he doesn™t see the bus as a bus, or see that it is a bus.
Mac, for all of his virtues, appears to lack the ability to recognize that
what he is seeing is a bus; that is, that it satis¬es that set of standards that
quali¬es something as a bus or that this entity possesses the marks of a
school bus. It appears that he lacks a grasp on what it is to be a bus and,
in the absence of such conceptual sophistication, that he cannot take
what he sees as a bus. Mac is lacking in the capacity to judge. So, while it
might be true to say (de re, as it were) that what he sees is a bus, it is not
right to say that he sees (de dicto) a bus, or that he takes what he sees to
be a bus.
For the same reasons, it also seems that it would be a mistake to say
that Mac sees the bus as a vehicle or as a large, noisy, smelly thing. The
reasons that it seems wrong to say that the dog sees the bus as a bus don™t
have to do with either the clarity of the concept of a bus or with the
scope of its extension, so choosing a vaguer or a broader description of
what Mac sees has no effect on whether he sees what he sees as this or
that. The problem is that Mac does not have the ability to re¬‚ect on the
character of his own acts or his own representations. Intuitively it appears
that in order to see something as a bus, one must be able to recognize
that one is seeing a bus, that is, one must be able to represent one™s own
representation as of the bus type. But this requires the ability to re¬‚ect
on the character of one™s own representational states. And, for Mac, this
act of re¬‚ection is out of the question.
Acquaintance and Cognition 87

Such considerations have tempted many to the following roughly
Kantian line of argument.1 Attributions of beliefs, desires, and, in general,
thoughts demand that the subject of those thoughts be able to distinguish
among coreferring ways in which the same entity can be described. Oedi-
pus wants to kill the old man on the road but does not want to kill his
father, even though the old man and his father are the same individual.
Oedipus believes that he is seeing the old man on the road, but not that
he is seeing his father, although the two are identical. And this is possible
only because Oedipus recognizes what he sees as an old man blocking
his path but does not recognize, or cognize, what he sees as his father.
Oedipus recognizes what he sees as an old man in his path, that is, he judges
that he is such a man, but he does not recognize what he sees as his father,
that is, he does not apply the concept ˜my father™ in this case. And it is
only in virtue of this difference in the application of concepts that it is
right to say of Oedipus that he thinks that the old man is in his way but
does not believe that his father is in his way. So any subject, such as my
dog Mac, who lacks this ability to cognize or recognize things as this or
that, also lacks the ability to have thoughts.
It thus seems right to conclude that no subject who lacks the ability to
think of some entity as of some type is capable of thought at all. And what-
ever other abilities are necessary for cognizing something as something
must, then, also be necessary for having thoughts. Philosophers in the
twentieth century frequently suggested that a capacity to use and under-
stand language is necessary for thought; in the eighteenth century, Kant
suggested that thought requires the use of concepts (“Cognition through
concepts is called thought [Denken]”2 ) and that the use and acquisition
of concepts require re¬‚ection, or self-consciousness (“The logical actus
of the understanding, through which concepts are generated as to their
form, are: 1. comparison of representations among one another in relation
to the unity of consciousness; 2. re¬‚ection as to how various representa-
tions can be conceived in one consciousness; and ¬nally 3.abstraction of
everything else in which the representations differ”).3 And this seems
right as well. To cognize something as something is to recognize that the
thing belongs to a type, and this recognition just is the application of a
concept. But it appears that the only way to acquire such a concept so as


1 It seems to me that Wilfred Sellars and Donald Davidson are two who have given in to
this temptation.
2 Kant (1992), J¨ sche Logic, Sec. 1, 589.
a
3 Ibid, Sec. 6, 592.
Mark Okrent
88

to be able to apply it is to re¬‚ect on the relations among one™s various
representations, and the ability to do this in turn appears to depend upon
the ability to represent various representations in a single mental act. So
any agent who lacks this re¬‚ective ability also lacks the ability to apply
concepts, and in lacking this ability lacks the ability to think of things as
this or that, and with this disability, also lacks the capacity to think at all.
It is also natural to extend this line of argument one step further. Any
agent who lacks the capacity to judge must also, it seems, lack the ability to
cognize objects as objects at all. Take what my dog sees at the ¬rst appear-
ance of the bus, before it turns the corner, as an example. Presumably he
has some representation, or perhaps we should say some complex of rep-
resentations, at that time. Using a Lockean paradigm, perhaps we might
describe this complex (although Mac could not so describe it) in the fol-
lowing terms: loud, abrasive mechanical noise, smell of diesel fuel, yellow
patch, spinning wheels, and so on. But nowhere in this sensed complex is
there any element that displays an object, that is, something that perdures,
or continues identical with itself through time and can have properties
that change only if they are caused to change. It appears that to cognize
an object a subject must represent a sense complex as an object, that
is, recognize that the complex of sensations that are presented to one at
present are an example of the types of representations that are character-
istic, under current conditions, of some type of continuing, self-identical
bearer of causally determined properties. And, to do this, it seems that
an agent must be able to think, that is, to re¬‚ectively apply concepts in
judgments. So the conclusion seems inevitable: Whatever my dog Mac
sees when he reacts to (de re) the school bus, it is not an object.
We can now see the problem. From our armchairs, we have come to
the conclusion that Mac has no perceptions of objects. But this can™t be
right. In our dealings with our dogs we count on their object recognition
abilities all of the time. Mac™s behavior around the bus suggests both
that he responds to it as an object, as a continuously identical substance
with causally determined properties, and that his ability to recognize that
object depends upon a capacity to use the partial presence of the bus™s
sensory properties as marks for the presence of the object that is the bus.
Given the con¬guration of our property, when the bus is stopped to let
off children, Mac can neither see nor smell nor hear the bus. The sensory
stimuli characteristic of the bus are simply absent. The house blocks his
vision; sometimes the bus turns off and makes no noise; the distance is too
great for him to smell and the wind often blows in the wrong direction.
Nevertheless, it seems that Mac anticipates the presence of the bus around
Acquaintance and Cognition 89

the corner. He runs around the house and waits until the bus appears.
On the rare occasions on which the bus, for one reason or another, does
not turn the corner, Mac seems to get agitated and “look for” it, checking
the last spot at which he saw it, and so on. In the dead of the Maine winter
when the house is closed up tight, and Mac can only see the bus out of
selected windows, he can hear the bus well before he can see it. Mac™s
solution: run to the window from which the bus is ¬rst visible, wait for it
to stop and start up again, run like hell to the last spot from which it is
visible, a hall door with a window at human eye level, and leap ¬ve feet
straight up to look out of the window as the bus goes past, barking like
mad the entire time. If you want to get Mac really agitated and act out of
what seems to be terror, walk him past an unmoving, non“doggy-smelling
statue of a dog. And on and on and . . .
Now, there are two things that must be said about all of this evi-
dence. The ¬rst, of course, is that all of the evidence presented here is
entirely anecdotal. Second, this sort of evidence of recognition of objects
as objects in animals has classically been explained away by appeal to
“mere” imaginative association. But neither of these remarks, it seems to
me, really undercuts the behavioral evidence of Mac™s object recognition
abilities. Let me explain why.
First, regarding the anecdotal character of the evidence of animal
object recognition. If Mac™s behavior were that of a ten-month-old non-
verbal human infant, we would immediately conclude that she was iden-
tifying the bus on the basis of partial representations, believing that the
bus continues to exist, with the same properties, when it is not present
perceptually, expecting the bus to have similar properties at different
times and on different occasions, and being surprised at unexplained
alterations or differences in the properties of objects. Indeed, we would
(and do) consider such behavior to be criterial of the presence of object
recognition. The reason for this is obvious. The best way to explain these
behaviors, as well as a host of abilities such as the capacity to distinguish
and respond differentially to different perduring individuals of the same
type, even when those individuals™ sensory character alters markedly “
think of dogs™ legendary ability to recognize and respond in distinctive
ways to their masters after a long absence “ is to attribute representations
of objects as objects to these animals. Evolutionary considerations point
toward the same inference. The form of social and hunting life charac-
teristic of dogs, for example, is possible only if the dog can reidentify a
single continuing individual as to be responded to in similar ways in very
different sensory situations, whether that individual is prey, or another
Mark Okrent
90

member of the pack, or a human being. And the most ef¬cient, perhaps
the only, way to ensure such recognition abilities is by representing those
individuals as continuing, self-identical subjects with causally determined
properties.
But perhaps there is another way to explain these abilities. Here is how
the explanation is supposed to go. Mac doesn™t represent the bus as an
object; the fact that in the past he has repeatedly seen, heard, and smelled
together the sensory stimuli characteristic of the bus at the ¬rst point of
vision, repeatedly followed by the stimuli given at the second point of
vision, causes Mac to reproduce the second type of sensory image when
newly presented with the ¬rst, and this second image causes him to act as
if he expected the bus to be around the corner. In essence, the suggestion
is that the behavior of higher nonhuman animals can be explained by
appeal to simple stimulus-response mechanisms de¬ned over complexes
of mere sensory stimulation. But to describe the suggestion in this way is
also to see what is wrong with it. Perhaps it was plausible in the eighteenth
century to think that such mere associative mechanisms were suf¬cient
to account for the behavioral capacities of nonhuman mammals. But this
account is not plausible now. The evidence that led to the collapse of
behaviorism as a research program for explaining mammal behavior is
just the evidence that shows that this eighteenth-century suggestion that
the mere associative powers of imagination are suf¬cient to account for
the full range of animal cognitive abilities is a nonstarter.
And the failure of this behaviorist-associativist explanation of Mac™s
behavior leaves us with the problem I mean to discuss. What is it that
Mac sees when he sees (de re) the bus? Does he see what he sees as an
object, a perduring subject of causally determined properties, a subject
that remains identical with itself across changes in its properties, or not?
If he doesn™t see what he sees as an object, then how should we describe
what he sees, given that it seems wrong to say that he just experiences
mere sense contents and their imaginative reproductions? If he does
see objects as objects, then how is this possible given that Mac lacks the
capacity to form and apply concepts, and thus lacks the capacity to judge?


b. The Kantian Formulation
There is a very neat Kantian form of this problem. While it is possible to
formulate the problem in Kantian terms without making any reference
to Kant™s views regarding animal sapience, if we do allow ourselves the
Acquaintance and Cognition 91

luxury of appealing to his scattered remarks concerning animals, we can
specify the Kantian version of the problem by exhibiting what appears
to be an inconsistent triad of propositions, all of which Kant appears to
assert. Kant holds all of the following:

1. Intuitions involve a reference to an object. (“All cognitions
[Erkenntnisse], that is, all representations related with conscious-
ness to an object, are either intuitions or concepts.”)4
2. Animals, although they lack the ability to apply concepts, have
intuitions. (“Due to the lack of consciousness, even animals are
not capable of any concept “ intuitions they do have.”)5
3. Cognition of objects requires a unitary consciousness of the act
through which a manifold is combined and the ability to apply con-
cepts. (“For this unitary consciousness is what combines the man-
ifold, successively intuited, and thereupon also reproduced, into
one representation. This consciousness may often be only faint, so
that we do not connect it with the act itself, that is, not in any direct
manner with the generation of the representation, but only with the
outcome [that which is thereby represented]. But notwithstand-
ing these variations, such consciousness, however indistinct, must
always be present; without it, concepts, and therewith cognition
[Erkenntnis] of objects are altogether impossible.”)6

As this set of assertions should make clear, the Kantian form of the
problem of animal sapience turns on the status of intuitions. Kant holds
that in a very important sense, we see what we judge. The objects that we
perceptually encounter have the same structural character as the objects
about which we form judgments. “The same function which gives unity
to the various representations in a judgment also gives unity to the mere
synthesis of various representations in an intuition. . . .”7 It is this iso-
morphism between the conceptual structures inherent in judgment and
the intuitive structures inherent in perception that provides Kant with
the clue he needs to produce both the Metaphysical Deduction of the
pure concepts of the understanding and the Transcendental Deduction
of the validity of those categories in empirical knowledge. Most of the

4 Ibid, Sec. 1, 589.
5 Kant (1992), Dohna-Wundlacken Logic, Doctrine of Elements, 440.
6 Kant (1965), A103“4, modi¬ed translation.
7 Ibid., A79/B104.
Mark Okrent
92

time Kant gives a complex explanation for this structural isomorphism.
This account turns on rational beings having two abilities: The ability to
combine or relate (synthesize) various representations, a capacity that
he assigns to the faculty of imagination, and the ability to re¬‚ectively rec-
ognize the rule or principle that the imagination follows in synthesizing
representations. This second, re¬‚ective, capacity Kant assigns to the fac-
ulty of understanding, and he claims that it is through this operation of
the understanding that syntheses are “brought to concepts.” “Synthesis in
general, as we shall hereafter see, is the mere result of the power of imag-
ination, a blind but indispensable function of the soul, without which we
would have no cognition whatsoever, but of which we are scarcely ever
conscious. To bring this synthesis to concepts is a function of the under-
standing, and it is through this function of the understanding that we
¬rst obtain cognition properly so called.”8
So, for Kant, human intuitions of objects have the same implicit struc-
ture as the conceptual structure explicit in judgment because the same
rules that structure conceptual connections in a judgment also structure
the connections among the intuitive elements in a perceptual intuition.
For this reason, human intuitions, as well as concepts, can be said to be
genuine cognitions (Erkenntnisse), that is, representations with objective ref-
erence, and not mere sensations or mere modi¬cations of an agent™s sub-
jective state.9 This is the cash value of passage (1) cited earlier. But, as the
passage that I just quoted from the Metaphysical Deduction makes abun-
dantly clear, Kant also seems committed to a second part of this account.
To say, as Kant frequently does, that cognition, or objective representa-
tion, depends not only on the synthetic activity of imagination, but also
on the re¬‚ective capacity of the understanding to explicitly represent the
unitary, rule-governed character of that activity (the position articulated


8 Ibid., A78/B103, modi¬ed translation.
9 Cf., for example, A320/B376. Although taken together, Kant™s use of the term ˜Erkenntnis™
for ˜objective perception™, his distinction between such cognitions and mere subjective
modi¬cations or sensations, and his insistence that intuitions form a class of cognitions,
presents some interpreters, and indeed Kant himself, with a set of potentially embar-
rassing problems of the type presented in this essay, there can be little doubt that Kant
is committed to just these views. His of¬cial characterizations of cognition, sensation,
and intuition are remarkably consistent throughout the Critique and all of the various
versions of The Logic, and in virtually all of these characterizations objective reference
is associated with Erkenntnis. Beyond this, the suggestion that intuition prior to judg-
ment is in some sense merely proto-referential cannot be made coherent, a conclusion
I will argue toward later by showing why two different forms of this suggestion cannot
work.
Acquaintance and Cognition 93

in (3)) is to assert that no agent who is incapable of such re¬‚ection, such
as my dog, is capable of perceiving, or intuiting, objects at all.
Nevertheless, in (2) Kant explicitly asserts that, though lacking in the
re¬‚ective self-consciousness essential to understanding, animals do have
intuitions. And in (1) Kant asserts that intuitions are a species of repre-
sentation related with consciousness to an object. But if Kant is committed
to this view, the view that animals that lack the re¬‚ective capacities of the
understanding still intuit objects, then how can he nevertheless maintain,
as he does, that consciousness of the unitary act in which a manifold is
synthesized is necessary for the use of concepts, and the use of concepts
is necessary for the cognition of objects? This is the speci¬cally Kantian
form of problem that I mean to discuss.


2. the two-object solution
Before offering my own solution to the problem (a solution that turns
on rethinking, in a way suggested by Heidegger™s reading of Kant, Kant™s
commitment to the primary importance of the understanding for the
intentional character of cognition), I will brie¬‚y look at two other possible
resolutions to the aporia I have already outlined. Both of these attempted
solutions turn on treating preconceptual intuitions as in one sense or
another ˜proto-referential™. The ¬rst, suggested by Beatrice Longuenesse,
turns on distinguishing two senses of ˜object™. The second, which I will
extract from Kant™s discussion of animal sapience in scattered remarks
in the Logic, turns on distinguishing two senses of ˜intuition™. I will argue
that both of these suggested resolutions of the aporia fail to resolve Kant™s
dif¬culties successfully.
There would seem to be an obvious solution to the Kantian form of
the problem that I have laid out. Both we rational creatures and our
nonrational animal cousins represent objects, we through our intuitions
and our concepts and the animals through their intuitions. But what we
and the animals thereby represent, the respective objects, are different
in kind. We represent ˜phenomena™ (Phaenomena), both intuitively and
conceptually, as well as intuitively representing appearances; animals rep-
resent only ˜appearances™ (Erscheinungen).
There is no question that Kant makes the distinction between the
appearance, the object of mere intuition, and the phenomenon, or the
object which is thought corresponding to this intuition. Indeed, in The
Critique of Pure Reason he makes this distinction in, for him, a pretty consis-
tent fashion. An appearance is “the undetermined object of an empirical
Mark Okrent
94

intuition. . . .”10 To say that an object is “undetermined” is, for Kant, to say
that it has not been categorized, or thought, through the application of
concepts. So appearances are objects insofar as they are given in intuition
but not represented as this or that through conceptual judgments. Kant
characterizes phenomena in contrast with appearances. “Appearances,
so far as they are thought according to the unity of the categories, are
called phaenomena.”11 Thus, insofar as one cognizes objects conceptually,
what one intends is entitled a phenomenon. “Now there are two condi-
tions under which alone cognition of an object is possible, ¬rst intuition,
through which it is given, though only as appearance; secondly, concept,
through which an object is thought corresponding to this intuition.”12
Armed with this distinction, it seems to be a simple matter to resolve
the inconsistency in Kant™s thought that I pointed out earlier. The prob-
lem is that it seems that, on Kant™s view, animals must both intend and fail
to intend objects. Insofar as they have intuitions, they intend objects. Inso-
far as they lack concepts, they fail to intend objects. On this “two-object”
solution, the apparent contradiction arises out of a more or less innocu-
ous ambiguity in the word object. Both humans and other animals intend
˜objects™. But animals only intend appearances, the undetermined objects
of intuition, while we intend both appearances and phenomena, which
are the objects of judgments. As intentions directed toward phenomena
require the application of concepts, animals cannot cognize such objects.
But being aware of appearances, the undetermined objects of intuition,
requires only a sensibility capable of sensible intuition, and animals can
possess that faculty. So there is no contradiction.
In her superb book Kant and the Capacity to Judge, Beatrice Longuenesse
essentially opts for this two-object solution to the puzzle. Supported by
the very strong textual evidence in favor of the appearance“phenomenon
distinction, Longuenesse suggests that the passage I just quoted from Sec-
tion 14 distinguishing between the appearances given by mere intuition
and the object that is thought as corresponding to this intuition should
be read as distinguishing between two sorts of intentional objects, a ˜pre-
objective™ object and an ˜objective™ object. The distinction “is intended
to distinguish, within the realm of representation, between the object
˜only as™ appearance and the object ˜as™ object. In other words, it is
intended to distinguish the object that might be called ˜pre-objective™

10 Kant (1965), A20/B65.
11 Kant (1965), A248.
12 Kant (1965), A92“3/B125, modi¬ed translation.
Acquaintance and Cognition 95

(the indeterminate object of empirical intuition, prior to any distinc-
tion between the representation and the object of representation) from
the ˜objective™ object, or the object ˜corresponding to™ intuition.”13 And
Longuenesse tries to ¬‚esh out this distinction between two types of inten-
tional object with the following example. “[I]nformed by experience (the
systematic comparison of our sensible intuitions), we recognize the shape
seen from afar as an object (phaenomenon) that we think under the concept
˜tower™, and which we thereby distinguish from the apparentia immedi-
ately present to our intuition (a rectangular shape of various shades of
brown standing out on the horizon . . . ).”14
Whatever the virtues of this two-object view as a reading of the text,
as a solution to the puzzle I outlined earlier it just doesn™t work philo-
sophically. There are two problems with the proposed solution, both of
which have to do with the character of the appearance, the hypothesized
pre-objective indeterminate object of empirical intuition. First, as char-
acterized by Longuenesse, for example, it is an impossible object. Second,
for the appearance“phenomenon distinction to do the job Kant requires
of it, phenomena, the objects of thought, and appearances, the objects
of mere intuition, must be, and be intended by the rational subject to
be, identical, rather than distinct types of objects. And if this is the case,
then the proposed resolution of the inconsistency I detailed previously
collapses. I will brie¬‚y outline each of these problems in turn.
First, either the appearance, as the object of empirical intuition, is
represented by the intentional agent as distinct from the empirical rep-
resentation in which it is given, or it is not. Longuenesse explicitly opts
for the second disjunct; the pre-objective appearance is “prior to any dis-
tinction between the representation and the object of representation.”
She reinforces that this is her view when she characterizes “the apparentia
immediately present in our intuition” in entirely sense content terms, as,
for example, a rectangular shape of various shades of brown. But if this
is all that the appearance amounts to “ if there is no distinction within the
realm of representation between the sensory representation and the object
represented by that representation “ then in what sense, if any, are the
sensory representations representations of an object at all? It is of course
the case that we can recognize that what the dog sees when it intuits
the bus is, de re, a bus. But that is not what is at issue. Rather, what is at
issue is the intentional character, “within the realm of representation”

13 Longuenesse (1998), 24.
14 Ibid., 25.
Mark Okrent
96

of the intuitive, nonconceptual representations. And if having an intu-
ition is in no way distinct from having sensory representations that, by
themselves, contain no reference to an object (“A perception which
relates solely to the subject as the modi¬cation of its state is sensation,
an objective perception is cognition [Erkenntnis]. This is either intuition
or concept”15 ), then Kant himself must be in error on his own terms when
he says that having an intuition is having a representation “related with
consciousness to an object.” That is, as Longuenesse characterizes it, the
pre-objective object of mere intuition is no object at all. The concept of
object has no content apart from its opposition to mere sensory represen-
tation. So on this view, ˜appearance™ is simply another word for ˜complex
of sensations™. Thus interpreting appearances, the undetermined objects
of empirical intuition, in such terms offers no solution to the puzzle I have
presented.
So we are thrown onto the other horn of the dilemma. To make any
sense of the distinction between sensation and intuition, the appearance “
the undetermined object of empirical intuition “ must be posterior to the
distinction between representation and the object of representation. Or
perhaps it would be better to say that this distinction ¬rst occurs in and
through the empirical intuition, as this is the ¬rst level of representation
at which the distinction is manifest. If one accepts this position, how-
ever, then one must confront the problem of how to characterize the
appearance as the object of empirical intuition.
Now Kant does not hesitate to characterize appearances, that is, the
undetermined object of empirical intuition. For Kant, such objects just
are identical with phenomena. As we saw, Kant frames the distinction
between appearances and phenomena in such a way that it is the appear-
ances themselves that are called phenomena under certain conditions:
“Appearances, so far as they are thought as objects according to the cat-
egories, are called phenomena.” That this should be the case is hardly
surprising. The entire problematic of the critical philosophy arises out of
the problem speci¬ed in Section 13: “namely, how subjective conditions of
thought can have objective validity, that is, can furnish conditions of the pos-
sibility of all cognition [Erkenntnis] of objects.”16 And the context makes
abundantly clear that Kant sees this problem of the objective validity of
the categories in terms of the question of how those categories are related
to the conditions on empirical intuition. Let us assume for a second that

15 Kant (1965), A320/B376.
16 Kant (1965), A89/B122.
Acquaintance and Cognition 97

the class of objects of intuition (let™s call it O1) was disjoint from the class
of the objects of judgment (O2). In this case, it is hard to see how any
empirical intuitions we might have of appearances, the class of objects
belonging to O1 , could ever be relevant to our judgments concerning
the objects in O2 . It is only because the members of these classes are
identical, and are intended as identical by the one who judges, that the
empirical content of our intuitions could be, and be intended to be, evi-
dence for our judgments about the objects of thought. Further, Kant™s
solution to the problem of Section 13 depends in part upon this identity
of the objects of thought and of intuition. If the objects that we intuit were
not identical with the objects about which we make judgments, then the
fact, if it is a fact, that we could not cognize the objects of thought unless
certain conditions were met would be entirely irrelevant to the possibility
of our cognizing the objects of intuition.
It should now be obvious that the two-object solution to the problem
of Kant™s apparently inconsistent remarks concerning animal sapience is
no solution at all. Not only is it impossible to characterize the object of
intuition separately from the object of judgment, but even if one could do
this, the very act of doing so would render empirical evidence irrelevant
to judgment.


3. acquaintance and recognition: the two
types of intuition
For Kant the great division between kinds of representation is the distinc-
tion between representations that contain an intentional relation to an
object and those that don™t. Kant™s name for the ¬rst, intentional, class of
representations is, in German, Erkenntnis, in Latin, cognitio, and the men-
tal activity of utilizing such representations is titled erkennen or cognoscere,
˜recognition™. It is a perhaps necessary but still unfortunate fact that since
Erkenntnis is sometimes translated into English as ˜knowledge™ and some-
times as ˜cognition™, Kant™s consistent usage is somewhat obscured in
translation. Kant is also consistent in specifying that the two great classes
of cognitions are concepts and intuitions. Kant™s name for the intentional
object of intuition is ˜appearance™. Such an object is ˜undetermined™ in
the sense that the object that is merely given in intuition has not been
determined, or characterized, by means of a re¬‚ection that speci¬es in a
judgment the nature of the intuition that gives the object. Insofar as such
a re¬‚ection has been carried out, this very same object that is given in
intuition is determined regarding its type, and is called a phenomenon.
Mark Okrent
98

The two classes of cognitions are concepts and intuitions. As a kind
of representation, cognitions are distinguished from other types of rep-
resentation by the fact that all cognitions involve an intentional relation
to an object. Unfortunately, however, Kant does not seem to have been
entirely clear on the issue of how such an objective reference of cogni-
tions is possible. Consider again the inconsistent set of assertions listed
earlier:
1. “All cognitions [Erkenntnisse], that is, all representations related
with consciousness to an object, are either intuitions or concepts.”
2. “Due to the lack of consciousness, even animals are not capable of
any concept “ intuitions they do have.”
3. “For this unitary consciousness is what combines the manifold, suc-
cessively intuited, and thereupon also reproduced, into one rep-
resentation. This consciousness may often be only faint, so that
we do not connect it with the act itself, that is, not in any direct
manner with the generation of the representation, but only with the
outcome [that which is thereby represented]. But notwithstand-
ing these variations, such consciousness, however indistinct, must
always be present; without it, concepts, and therewith cognition
[Erkenntnis] of objects, are altogether impossible.”
The ¬rst quotation states that intuitions are cognitions and thus involve
objective reference. The third quotation asserts that there can be no
cognition without the ability to use concepts, and that the unitary con-
sciousness of the act of combining various representations is necessary
for the ability to apply concepts, and thus necessary for all cognition, that
is, for all objective reference of representation, and thus also necessary
for intuition. The second quotation asserts that animals lack the ability
to apply concepts because they lack the ability to become conscious of
their own mental activity. It also asserts unambiguously that animals have
intuitions. And it is this last conjunct of (2), that animals have intuitions
although they lack the right sort of consciousness, that is inconsistent
with (1) and (3).
Now (1) and (3) are central to Kant™s critical philosophy and entirely
typical of much of Kant™s thought. On the other hand, (2) is an obscure
marginal comment from a set of lecture notes on logic. The obvious way
to resolve the inconsistency would be to just throw (2) out as a perhaps
unfortunate, but utterly inconsequential misstatement on Kant™s part.
There are at least two good reasons why this obvious resolution of the
inconsistency won™t do, however. First, as I tried to point out earlier,
Acquaintance and Cognition 99

there are very good reasons to think that Kant was right in thinking that
animals do in fact intuit objects. And, left at that, this fact, combined with
animals™ incapacity to apply concepts and engage in re¬‚ection, would
seem to undercut what Kant has to say about the relation between the
possibility of re¬‚ective consciousness and the possibility of cognitions with
objective reference. Second, in the Logic, Kant himself goes out of his way
to attempt to provide a place for animal acquaintance with objects, even
though he emphasizes in that work that animals don™t possess the kind
of re¬‚ective self-awareness that he maintains is necessary for cognition.
In a passage from the Introduction to the Logic, Kant seems to distin-
guish between two kinds of intuition: a kind of intuition of which animals
as well as humans are capable, kennen, and a second type, that animals lack,
that involves erkennen. The passage in which this distinction occurs is one
in which Kant is attempting to distinguish the various types of acts of rep-
resenting.17 Here is the way in which Kant characterizes the third, fourth,
and ¬fth grades of representing:

The third: to be acquainted (kennen) with something (noscere), or to represent some-
thing in comparison with other things, both as to sameness and as to difference.
The fourth: to be acquainted with something with consciousness, i.e., to cognize
(erkennen) it (cognoscere). Animals are acquainted with objects too, but they do not
cognize them.
The ¬fth: to understand (verstehen) something (intelligere), i.e., to cognize some-
thing through the understanding by means of concepts. . . .18

In this passage Kant replaces his familiar two-part distinction between
intuition and concepts as two types of representations with a three-part
division among kinds of representing: being acquainted with things, cog-
nizing things, and cognizing things by way of concepts, or understanding
them. He does not inform us in this passage regarding the representations
associated with the third and fourth grades of representing, although
he does specify that the ¬fth grade is attained by means of concepts.
However, given the fact that Kant always identi¬es the two kinds of cogni-
tions as intuitions and concepts, that he always asserts that cognitions in
general are representations related with consciousness to an object, and
that he speci¬es that the fourth grade, erkennen, is being acquainted with

17 It is a bit disconcerting that in this catalog Kant uses Erkenntnis for the genus ˜act of
representation™, rather than restricting it to acts involving cognitions in the narrower
sense of those involving objective reference.
18 Kant (1992), J¨ sche Logic, Introduction, sec. VII, 569“70.
a
Mark Okrent
100

something with consciousness, there can be little doubt that he means
to suggest that to cognize or (perhaps better in this context) recognize
something without the use of concepts is to have an intuition of that
thing. And this, at one fell swoop, solves the riddle concerning animal
sapience (or so it seems), as Kant is quick to point out. Animals don™t
intuit objects, they don™t relate to objects with consciousness in such a way
as to recognize them; they merely are acquainted with objects, and this
lower level of representation neither requires the ability to use concepts
nor involves genuine cognition of objects. Animals have intuitionsa , so
to speak, not intuitions. On this view, animals can have a kind of relation
to objects without its being the case that they can have intuitions; the
ability to use concepts can be necessary for the ability to have intuitions,
even though animals can™t use concepts. And when Kant suggests in other
contexts that animals have intuitions, he is merely, and innocuously, using
the term loosely and ambiguously between intuitions and intuitionsa .
There is a short, and not very informative, way to see why this explicitly
Kantian solution to the riddle of animal sapience won™t work, and there is
a rather longer and more informative way to see why it won™t work. Here
is the short way. As laid out here, the notion of kennen, or acquaintance
with things, straddles the canonical distinction in the Critique between
subjective modi¬cations of a subject™s states, or sensation, and Erkennt-
nisse, or objective perceptions. But Kant can™t have it both ways. Either
kennen, as opposed to erkennen, involves representing an object as distinct
from the representation of the object, or it doesn™t. If it doesn™t, then
in what respect is kennen an acquaintance with a thing? If it does, then
how does the fact that animals are capable of kennen, and thus can repre-
sent objects, square with the claim that representation with consciousness
and the ability to form judgments is necessary for intending objects? The
problem is that intuition differs from mere sensation precisely insofar as
it is the apprehension of an object and to be an object is to be distinct from
the representation of the object. But cognition, as a type of representing,
is the representing of an object. So one can™t be acquainted with an object
without having a cognition of an object.
The key to understanding Kant™s attempted strategy for handling this
new form of his dilemma is contained in his characterization of the abil-
ities involved in kennen. And this leads to the long, and informative, way
of seeing what is wrong with Kant™s solution. To be acquainted with some-
thing is “to represent something in comparison with other things, both as
to sameness and difference.” We can see what Kant is driving at if we look
at the famous passage from the Logic that I quoted earlier, in which he
Acquaintance and Cognition 101

speci¬es the acts of the understanding “through which concepts are gen-
erated as to their form.” “The logical actus of the understanding, through
which concepts are generated as to their form, are: 1. comparison of repre-
sentations among one another in relation to the unity of consciousness;
2. re¬‚ection as to how various representations can be conceived in one
consciousness; and ¬nally 3. abstraction of everything else in which the
given representations differ.”19
When one compares this passage from the Logic with the earlier one,
what is immediately striking is that Kant uses the same term, ˜comparison™
(Vergleichung), in both passages. The most basic act of the understanding
that is necessary for generating concepts is the act of comparison. Simi-
larly, the act that is characteristic of animal acquaintance with objects is
also described as comparison. It is only later that one recognizes that in
these two passages Kant is in fact distinguishing two types of comparison,
and that this distinction is meant to dissolve the aporia I have cited. When
we see why this attempted solution fails, we will also be able to see the
only possible solution to Kant™s, and our, dilemma.
Now, according to Kant in the Logic, animals are acquainted with objects.
And this implies that they have the ability to represent something in com-
parison with other things, both as to similarity and difference. In the
division of kinds of acts of representation in the Logic, Kant distinguishes
kennen from erkennen, acquaintance from cognition or recognition, by
treating the latter as a species of the former, a species whose differentia
is consciousness: “to be acquainted with something with consciousness, i.e.,
to cognize it.” It is this representational ability that distinguishes human
cognition of objects from animal acquaintance with objects. But what is
this distinction? In the second passage concerning the acts of the under-
standing through which concepts are generated as to their form, the
¬rst act, comparison, necessarily involves a relation to the unity of con-
sciousness. What ˜comparison™ entails in this context is a comparison of
representations among one another in relation to the unity of consciousness.
So, implicitly, Kant is contrasting two kinds of comparison. One kind,
the type practiced by mere animals, speci¬cally does not occur with con-
sciousness. The other, the act of the understanding that is necessary for
generating the form of a concept (universality), is an act of represen-
tation ˜in relation to the unity of consciousness™. And it is just this dif-
ference, the difference between acts of comparison with and without
consciousness, or relation to the unity of consciousness, that is supposed

19 Ibid., Sec. 6, 592.
Mark Okrent
102

to mark the difference between cognition and acquaintance, human and
animal.
So it turns out that for Kant the two types of intuition broached ear-
lier, intuition proper and intuitiona , are supposed to be distinct in virtue
of their relation to the unity of consciousness. But what does this dif-
ference in the character of intuitions amount to? We can answer this
question if we focus on the context in The Logic in which Kant discusses
“comparison . . . in relation to the unity of consciousness”. “The second
passage I have been citing occurs in the course of a discussion of the acts
of the understanding “through which concepts are generated as to their
form”. Now, of course, the most salient difference between humans and
animals such as my dog is that we are capable of generating and applying
concepts, and animals are not. It is just this difference that is also marked
in the distinction of kennen, the animal intuition that is acquainted with
things in a way that compares them as to sameness and difference, and
erkennen, the human intuition that is acquainted with things with conscious-
ness. Intuition proper, human acquaintance with things with conscious-
ness, allows for the generation of concepts; intuitiona , animal intuition
without consciousness, which is the mere comparison of things as to same-
ness and difference, does not. In the note to the second passage, Kant
gives us what appears to be a perfect example of what is involved in mak-
ing a comparison with consciousness, the kind of comparison that allows
for the generation of concepts. “I see, e.g., a spruce, a willow, and a lin-
den. By ¬rst comparing these objects with one another I note that they
are different from one another in regard to the trunk, the branches, the
leaves, etc . . .”20 In the human, cognitive, case, to represent something in
comparison with other things is to compare those things so as to “note
that they are different from (same as) one another in regard to . . .”. Such
a representing thus involves, in addition to the representations of the
things represented, a ˜noting™, a ˜noticing™, of the sameness or difference
of the representations and such a noting is a noting of sameness or dif-
ference in some respect or other. While animals have intuitions in which they
compare things as to sameness and difference, humans have intuitions in
which they compare things as to sameness and difference in some respect
or other.
As we have seen, Kant characterizes the kind of acquaintance with
objects that notices respects in which things differ as “acquaintance with
consciousness” and as involving “comparison . . . in relation to the unity of

20 Ibid.
Acquaintance and Cognition 103

consciousness.” Noticing the respect in which willows and lindens resem-
ble and differ from one another involves a relation to the unity of con-
sciousness because such noticing acts require that the representations of
the willow and the linden be combined or synthesized. It is a necessary
feature of my comparison of the representations of the willow and the
linden with respect to their trunks that I represent them together in a
single intentional act. I represent them together in such a single act when
I take neither of them as my intentional object, but rather when I “note”,
or represent, their similarity in some respect. To do this is to represent
together in a new act the two acts in which I have represented the willow
and the linden; it is to perform an act of synthesis. But in the case in which

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