The transcendental unity of apperception is that unity through which all the manifold given in an intuition is united in a concept of the object. It is therefore entitled objective, and must be distinguished from the subjective unity of consciousness… Whether I can become empirically conscious of the manifold as simultaneous or as successive depends on circumstances and empirical conditions. Therefore, the empirical unity of consciousness, through association of representations, itself concerns an appearance, and is wholly contingent… Only the original unity is objectively valid: the empirical unity of apperception,… which… is merely derived from the former under given conditions in concreto, has only subjective validity. One person connects the representation of a certain word with one thing, the other [person] with another thing; the unity of consciousness in that which is empirical is not, as regards what is given, necessarily and universally valid. (B139–40)

It seems to me that the premise of Transcendental Deduction lies on the fact that for a representation to be objectively valid it must be a representation of an objective feature of reality.

In this section Kant says that our experience must be universally valid [Premise]. He then proves (I agree with him here), that Hume's theory of associations cannot preserve the universal validity of our experience since impressions can only be contingent. Thus, another theory is needed to 'link' the manifold of representations together to achieve this empirical unity. For this reason, an a priori faculty of understanding is posited as 'necessary' and 'sufficient'.

What if the Premise is wrong? What if we do not have universally valid experience at all? Is Kant in anyway able to disprove that nothing is universally valid or does he take this premise for granted? Moreover, I do agree that he does posit that for empirical unity of consciousness, a transcendental unity of apperception is required (for self-identity throughout my representations). However, it still doesn't establish the usage of understanding, but merely the existence of non-intuitive transcendental Self.

As a Foucauldian perhaps, I can just accuse him of being an 'enlightenment' warrior. He takes objectiveness of truth for granted.

  • 1
    It only says that the only objectivity here is a transcendental unity, ie. if you imagine it as a function, the classification of (aspects of) the manifolds of intuition as belonging to a certain concept (the act of subsumption necessary to constitute an object at all). This has to be spontaneous, hence a function of understanding (later more precisely: power of judgement!). On the other hand, it is not exactly clear whether this unity, while it constitutes representations, is itself representational. I doubt it.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Jun 16, 2020 at 17:53
  • Kant opined that if Hume only paid attention to mathematics he would accept that we have certain knowledge, objective truth and universal validity. Commentators pointed out that Hume did pay attention to mathematics (in Enquiry which Kant likely did not read), and was unimpressed. Most of modern philosophy sided with Hume and not Kant. But this was the pivot of Kant's entire critical enterprise: not whether it is possible to have them, but how it is possible, if it is. "How is synthetic a priori knowledge possible?" is the Kant's question.
    – Conifold
    Jun 17, 2020 at 6:00
  • How is asking "how" before "whether" a justifiable route to take for Kant? Jun 17, 2020 at 12:27
  • He believed it and did not care for those who disagreed, this sentiment was shared by many classical philosophers since Plato and only lost appeal after the crises of 20th century. Why waste time on arguing with skeptics, who will always be skeptics, when the prospect of getting into the mechanics of it is much more exciting. The same way mathematicians ignore debates over the axiom of choice, etc., and get on with their theorems. Skepticism about some things is often used as a foil, including by Kant, but at the root something has to be taken for granted and skepticism about it dismissed.
    – Conifold
    Jun 18, 2020 at 6:16
  • @Conifold "Most of modern philosophy sided with Hume and not Kant." - That doesn't ring true to me. Why do you think so? Even the logical empiricists embraced some Kantian notions, like Carnap's P-Rules in the Logical Syntax. Mar 21 at 9:14


You must log in to answer this question.