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Reading Kant in the German language original is probably challenging enough. Being at the mercy of a translator certainly exacerbates the difficulty. So, this may have appeared in one, but not all translations. I am using the Guyer, Wood Cambridge Edition for section naming.

I seem to recall that somewhere in the initial part of the book, probably after the Introduction, possibly in the section I. Transcendental doctrine of elements, referred to as A19/B33 in the Cambridge Edition, Kant says that (I paraphrase) things-in-themselves represented in the mind are presumed to exist although we cannot have direct knowledge of them. This is true, at least in part, because it would be contradictory to have a representation without there being something represented.

Am I correct in my recollection? If so, where does that appear?

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  • 2
    The closest I found is in the preface to the second edition, Bxxvi (Guyer's translation):"Yet the reservation must also be well noted, that even if we cannot cognize these same objects as things in themselves, we at least must be able to think them as things in themselves. For otherwise there would follow the absurd proposition that there is an appearance without anything that appears."
    – Conifold
    Feb 28 at 4:14
  • Exactly what I was looking for. Feb 28 at 4:20

1 Answer 1

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This is the discussion I was looking for. (Thanks to Conifold) I hope I am with in the bounds of fair use. The English translation is from the Cambridge edition. The German language transcription is from the epub3 file found here https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/6342 . Apparently not all of the formats are of the second edition. I included the footnote because it seems relevant.

BXXVl

In the analytical part of the critique it is
proved that space and time are only forms of sensible intuition, and
therefore only conditions of the existence of the things as appearances,
further that we have no concepts of the understanding and hence no elements
for the cognition of things except insofar as an intuition can be
given corresponding to these concepts, consequently that we can have
cognition of no object as a thing in itself, but only insofar as it is an object
of sensible intuition, i.e. as an appearance; from which follows the
limitation of all even possible speculative cognition of reason to mere
objects of experience. Yet the reservation must also be well noted, that
even if we cannot cognize these same objects as things in themselves,
we at least must be able to think them as things in themselves.* For
otherwise there would follow the absurd proposition that there is an appearance
without anything that appears.


Daß Raum und Zeit nur Formen der
sinnlichen Anschauung, also nur Bedingungen der Existenz der Dinge als
Erscheinungen sind, daß wir ferner keine Verstandesbegriffe, mithin
auch gar keine Elemente zur Erkenntnis der Dinge haben, als sofern
diesen Begriffen korrespondierende Anschauung gegeben werden kann,
folglich wir von keinem Gegenstande als Dinge an sich selbst, nur
sofern es Objekt der sinnlichen Anschauung ist, d.i. als Erscheinung,
Erkenntnis haben können, wird im analytischen Teile der Kritik
bewiesen; woraus denn freilich die Einschränkung aller nur möglichen
spekulativen Erkenntnis der Vernunft auf bloße Gegenstände der
Erfahrung folgt. Gleichwohl wird, welches wohl gemerkt werden muß,
doch dabei immer vorbehalten, daß wir eben dieselben Gegenstände auch
als Dinge an sich selbst, wenn gleich nicht erkennen, doch wenigstens
müssen denken können*. Denn sonst würde der ungereimte Satz daraus
folgen, daß Erscheinung ohne etwas wäre, was da erscheint.

BXXVl

* To cognize an object, it is required that I be able to prove its possibility
(whether by the testimony of experience from its actuality or a priori through
reason). But I can think whatever I like, as long as I do not contradict myself,
i.e., as long as my concept is a possible thought, even if I cannot give any assurance
whether or not there is a corresponding object somewhere within the
sum total of all possibilities. But in order to ascribe objective validity to such a
concept (real possibility, for the first sort of possibility was merely logical)
something more is required. This "more," however, need not be sought in theoretical
sources of cognition; it may also lie in practical ones.

* Einen Gegenstand erkennen, dazu wird erfordert, daß ich seine
  Möglichkeit (es sei nach dem Zeugnis der Erfahrung aus seiner
  Wirklichkeit, oder a priori durch Vernunft) beweisen könne. Aber
  denken kann ich, was ich will, wenn ich mir nur nicht selbst
  widerspreche, d.i. wenn mein Begriff nur ein möglicher Gedanke
  ist, ob ich zwar dafür nicht stehen kann, ob im Inbegriffe aller
  Möglichkeiten diesem auch ein Objekt korrespondiere oder nicht. Um
  einem solchen Begriffe aber objektive Gültigkeit (reale Möglichkeit,
  denn die erstere war bloß die logische) beizulegen, dazu wird
  etwas mehr erfordert. Dieses Mehrere aber braucht eben nicht in
  theoretischen Erkenntnisquellen gesucht zu werden, es kann auch in
  praktischen liegen.

B xxvii

Now if we were to assume that
the distinction between things as objects of experience and the very
same things as things in themselves, which our critique has made necessary,
were not made at all, then the principle of causality, and hence
the mechanism of nature in determining causality, would be valid of all
things in general as efficient causes. I would not be able to say of one
and the same thing, e.g., the human soul, that its will is free and yet that
it is simultaneously subject to natural necessity, i.e., that it is not free,
without falling into an obvious contradiction; because in both propositions
I would have taken the soul in just the same meaning," namely
as a thing in general (as a thing in itself), and without prior critique, I
could not have taken it otherwise.

Nun wollen
wir annehmen, die durch unsere Kritik notwendiggemachte Unterscheidung
der Dinge als Gegenstände der Erfahrung, von eben denselben, als
Dingen an sich selbst, wäre gar nicht gemacht, so mußte der Grundsatz
der Kausalität und mithin der Naturmechanismus in Bestimmung derselben
durchaus von allen Dingen überhaupt als wirkenden Ursachen gelten.
Von eben demselben Wesen also, z.B. der menschlichen Seele, würde
ich nicht sagen können, ihr Wille sei frei, und er sei doch zugleich
der Naturnotwendigkeit unterworfen, d.i. nicht frei, ohne in einen
offenbaren Widerspruch zu geraten; weil ich die Seele in beiden Sätzen
in eben derselben Bedeutung, nämlich als Ding überhaupt (als Sache
an dich selbst) genommen habe, und, ohne vorhergehende Kritik, auch
nicht anders nehmen konnte. 
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  • "Man projects his instinct of truth, his "aim," to a certain extent beyond himself, in the form of a metaphysical world of Being, a "thing-in-itself," a world already to hand. His requirements as a creator make him invent the world in which he works in advance; he anticipates it: this anticipation (this faith in truth) is his mainstay." Nietzsche, WTP 552. Feb 28 at 11:21
  • "But metaphysics recognizes the clearing of being either solely as the view of what is present in "outward appearance" (ίδέα) or critically as what is seen in the perspect of categorial representation on the part of subjectivity. This means that the truth of being as the clearing itself remains concealed for metaphysics. [163] However, this concealment is not a defect of metaphysics but a treasure withheld from it yet held before it, the treasure of its own proper wealth." Heidegger, Pathmarks, Letter on “Humanism” (1946), pages 252-253. Feb 28 at 11:47

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