It has been a long time since I've read the Critique of Pure Reason. My question is, how is the mind able to perform the transcendental deduction, according to Kant.

What I'm getting at is... the way I understand Kant, the only tools the mind has are the forms of sensibility (FS) and the categories of understanding(CU). Are we using FS and CU themselves to derive FS and CU? Wouldn't there be some kind of paradox involved here?

Or is there some other power of mind that is used to derive FS and CU. Did/would Kant say we are using "reason" (independent of understanding) to perform the transcendental deduction?

1 Answer 1


The pure concepts Kant enumerates indeed seem insufficient for any rich philosophical self-reflection which consists in doing what Kant does. Kant however discusses questions related to the possibility of self-reflection or what he calls "transcendental reflection" elsewhere in the Critique in a section titled Amphiboly of the concepts of reflection. He mentions pure, i.e. non-empirical, concepts such as that of matter and form and explains how from invalid transcendent use of these notions Leibniz's metaphysical philosophy was inevitably born. This account, however, constitutes a mere sketch of a broader picture which Kant might have had in mind... or not.

In any case, the insufficiency of the categories which Kant provides for explaining the very act of reflecting which enables us to derive these categories at all is not a challenge to Kant's account - it just shows the incompleteness of his table of pure concepts which is anyway quite obvious.

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