I'm having a hard time trying to interpret this part of the text:

Does not this capacity, since it is not, and cannot be, based on experience, presuppose some a priori basis for cognition, which lies deeply hidden, but which might reveal itself through these its effects, ...

What is these here? If I understand correctly, the previous which refers to "some a priori basis for cognition", but it is revealing itself through what? The most natural interpretation I would find is "revealing itself through the capacity", but that is singular.

Maybe this is a translation error, so this is the original for reference:

Setzt dieses Vermögen, da es sich nicht auf Erfahrungen fußt, noch fußen kann, nicht irgendeinen Erkenntnisgrund a priori voraus, der tief verborgen liegt, der sich aber durch diese seine Wirkungen offenbaren dürfte

I have a weak understanding of German, is that "diese" also plural? I suppose yes because a dictionary says "Vermögen" is neutral, and singular "diese" should only be used to refer to feminine nouns.

Side-observation: This is my first time here, I don't even know if this is the right place to ask this or maybe I should be going to English stack exchange.

  • Just seen this question coming from your public profile amd I cam assure you, this is the perfect place for such questions as we have to have a good grasp of Land and a good command over the English (and ideally German) language to answer these questions. 😉
    – Philip Klöcking
    Apr 24, 2022 at 18:51

1 Answer 1


1.) „these = diese“ is a demonstrative, plural, it may refer to all three sexes; here it refers to the two properties „apodiktische Gewissheit, d.i. absolute Notwendigkeit“ and „synthetisch“. Hence it characterizes one of Kant’s basic terms „synthetic a priori“.

2.) „which = der“ is a relative pronoun referring to „a priori basis for cognition“ which translates the words „Erkenntnisgrund a priori“.

  • How do we know that Kant refers to the two properties „apodiktische Gewissheit, d.i. absolute Notwendigkeit“ and „synthetisch“? Also, in this case „synthetisch“ is an adjective, is a German language thing to use „diese" to refer to adjectives? Would I be crazy to speculate that "these" refers to pure mathematics and pure natural science?
    – gsmafra
    Mar 19, 2022 at 3:03
  • Kant deals with pure mathematics in §6-§13, answering the question on mathematics. Later he considers the 3 other questions, continuing with pure natural science in §14. Secondly, I would not consider mathematics and natural science as „Wirkungen“. - You are right: „diese“ needs a noun to which it refers. And there is only one noun „apodiktische Gewissheit“. In the second part, introduced by „überdies aber“, there is no analogous noun. Only the companion property „being synthetic“. I think that Kant leaves the correct grammar, as he sometimes does during long sentences.
    – Jo Wehler
    Mar 19, 2022 at 7:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .