If we consider the statement to be true, assumedly the predicate "happy" is contained within the subject "I", and would therefore be analytic.

Would this also make all subjective statements analytic?

To overcome the confusion, consider a similar question "I feel happy sometimes". I understand that this would not be typically considered analytic but let's use our own intellect and deny the presumption that philosophy must remain stagnant.

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    – J D
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 17:58
  • No. You have the wrong idea of analytic and synthetic. The common notion of those terms is not the Kantian method. Analytic propositions are of two kinds: logically necessary or self contradictory. That is the proposition must be CONSTANT in truth value. Either always true or always false. Logically necessary means it is impossible to be false. Self contradictory means it is impossible to be true. So subjective claims are either not propositions or they must therefore be synthetic. Again, why? Because there can be only two kinds of analytic propositions --not three or four or more.
    – Logikal
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 22:02
  • 1
    How is the concept of "happy" contained in the concept of "I"? Most I's are pretty unhappy at times. “I feel happy” is an empirical report upon checking one's current emotional state, i.e. paradigmatically synthetic.
    – Conifold
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 0:55
  • @Conifold Thanks for your reply. "Happy" would be contained in "I" when I is happy and not when it is not.
    – user17065
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 22:01
  • Analytic is about containment of meaning, not literal containment. "The pencil is in the box" is not analytic even when the pencil happens to be in the box.
    – Conifold
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 13:11

3 Answers 3


When Kant tells us that in an analytic statement the predicate is contained in the subject, he intends a quite different sense of 'subject' from what you have in mind. 'A triangle has three sides and three internal angles' is analytic because having three sides and three internal angles - possessing these predicates - is inherent in the subject of the statement, i.e. concept or idea of a triangle.

'Subject' here has no connexion with 'self'. A statement is not analytic because it predicates something of your self as the subject of your states or experiences. 'I am happy' is thus not analytic in Kant's sense; being happy is not contained in the concept or idea of your 'self'. You might be unhappy tomorrow. 'I am happy' is therefore 'synthetic' since it combines two concepts - (a) the self and (b) happiness - neither of which is contained in the other and the relation between which has to be ascertained empirically, not conceptually.

  • "I" is the subject of the statement "I am happy" just as "ball" is the subject of the statement "the ball is red". The concept "I" is a subject because it is the concept that we are saying something about, not because it is connected to the idea of subjectivity. Anyway, the reasoning was that since there is no contradiction between my claiming that I am simultaneously happy and unhappy, "I" must contain "happy" in potentia at all times.
    – user17065
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 22:04
  • Thank you. I did not need to mention subjectivity and have now removed the reference. Thank you for helping improve my answer. Best - GLT
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 8:41
  • 2
    @Bonj Analytical statements are not about potentia, but necessity. Thus, as long as being happy is not a necessary aspect of any conceptualisation of your person, it is not an analytical, but synthetical statement to say that you are happy, since it adds something to the necessary properties of what it means to be "you".
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 9:37
  • 1
    I understand that. I am contending that being happy is a necessary aspect of my person, or any person, where a person is a human being that experiences happiness.
    – user17065
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 17:11

In Kantian terms, you can't ask if it's just analytic or synthetic, but also a priori or empirical. "I feel happy," is usually empirical, but in the unusual interpretation you're offering it would be perhaps a priori, where apriority as itself subjective allows the case to go through like so.


A proposition is analytic iff the concept of the predicate is contained in the concept of the subject ( so that negating the predicate of the subject amounts to a contradiction).

The concept of John expresses the essence of John. By essence, one can arguably understand here : the set of all necessary and sufficient conditions in order an x to be identical to John).

Now, John is currently happy.

But this state of happiness is not a necessary condition for John to be identical to himself.

In other words, " John is not happy" is not a contradictory statement.

So, being happy is not contained in John's concept/essence . This happiness state is a contingent property.

Hence : the proposition is not analytic.

NOTE : When I say ( or think) " I am happy" the concept of happiness is " contained" in me, but in the sense of an " inherence subject" ( a substance) not in the sense of an " subject of predication". Note that this concept is also " in" me ( in the " inhering" sense ) when I think " I am not happy".

NOTE : If the person P to which happiness is attributed is a God, then ( arguably, according to traditional theology) the proposition " P is happy" is analytic.

  • Thank you for your reply. Since my original proposition wasn't clear enough, please consider the similar question: "I can feel happy" or "Within me is the potential for happiness". Is this analytic or synthetic?
    – user17065
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 15:51

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