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Some brief and very crude remarks. I. What is the problem that the transcendental deduction is supposed to solve? The problem is how we can know that the categories apply to experience -- or, put differently, how we can know that experience must conform to the categories. There's no problem about how empirical concepts (red, heavy) apply to experience. They are derived from experience in the first place, so of course they apply to it. However, Kant thinks that the categories (substance, causation, etc.) are completely a priori; they are not derived from experience but rather from the way our minds work. If Kant is right, then we can't think about the world except by using these concepts. They provide the form of thought in something like the same way that space and time provide the forms of intuition. But just because we must use them in order to think at all does not guarantee that our experience will be such as to permi t us to use them. II. What is a transcendental deduction? It's basically just a justification of the use of these concepts. Empirical concepts could have an empirical justification, but a priori concepts (the categories) can't be justified th is way, so they need a "transcendental" deduction (i.e. a justification in terms of the necessary conditions for having experience at all). III. How does the argument go? Great question. Kant wrote very different versions of the deduction in the first and second (A and B) editions of the Critique of Pure Reason, and both are remarkably obscure. My outline below is not intended to be a serious i nterpretation of the text, but I hope it at least gives a broad sense of the direction of the argument. 1. Our experience is unified. (It's not just a lot of independent ideas or perception s, but a coherent whole.) What accounts for the unity of experience? What unifies experience is not anything empirical in the experience itself. (Think of Hume's problems trying to determine what could tie together the "bundle of perception s" that he thought constituted the self.) Nor is it that all our representations are attributes of a thinking substance, as Descartes for instance held. As Locke pointed out, even if this is true, it doesn't explain why our experience seems unified: in pr inciple there's no reason the same substance couldn't support multiple identities, or why multiple substances couldn't support a single one. Rather, Kant's view is that: 2. What unifies experience is that we can think of each of our representations as bei ng ours. (As Kant puts it, it is possible for "the 'I think'" to accompany all of my representations.) The most important step in the reasoning is the next one. Kant asks what is necessary for us to be able to think of all our
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Since we actually have a unified experience. To recap briefly: 1. that we couldn't get the concept of causal relations (necessary connections) between objects merely from our experience of those objects.html representations as belonging to a single self.edu/cbrown/modern/kant-deduction. 6. idea of an object in general = the categories Therefore.11. unified experience --> can apply 'I think' to representations 3.2012 21:55 . there's no way we could ever get it from the play of our sensations. 6. The concept of an object in general is precisely what the categories provide. move your eyes. His answer is that this is only possible if we can also think of all our representations as representations of an objective world. the colored shapes you see move and change. Now. So we have: 4. More specifically. can apply the categories to experience One question to ask about this reconstruction (which should make you suspect that either (a) it misses something important about Kant's argument. We can think of our representations as being ours only if we can also think of the m as representing an objective world. Why does he think this? The main point is that we need to interpret our mental states as representations of an external world in order for them to make sense. or (b) Kant's argument doesn't actually get him as far as he wants it to): 2 din 3 27.Kant: Transcendental Deduction http://www. It's hard to see how you could make any sense of the play of experience i f you didn't think of it as an experience of something objective. We can only think of our representations as representing an objective world if we can use the concept of an object in general to organize them. Try to imagine what experience would be like if you didn't regard it as representing an objective world. A unified experience would only be possible if we were able to apply the categories to experience. unified experience 2. can think of representations as representing objects --> can apply the idea of an object in general to experience 5. a world that exists outside us and is distinct from our subjective experience of it.) So. Now try to subtract the idea that y our experience of colored shapes is experience of a world outside you. and for reasons described by Hume in particular. the general concept of an object is the concept of substances that stand in causal relations with one another. Consider your visual experience. 5. we must be able to apply the categories. If we didn't already have the idea of an object. But the notions of substance and causation are important parts of the concept of an object. Kant thinks that we coul dn't get the concept of substance from experience. what could make that possible? Kant thinks that there's no way you could ever ge t the idea of an object from the raw material of sensation.trinity. So Kant thinks: 3. for reasons described by the empiricists. (To concentrate on only two of the twelve categories. Every time you turn your head. or blink. and use it to organize our experience. can apply 'I think' to representations --> can think of representations as representing objects 4.
and that's why we can successfully use them to make sense of experience? (And in fact post-Darwin we don't even need to appeal to luck: there could be an evolutionary explanation of why the ways we need to organize our ex perience correspond to the way the world actually is. substantiality. and that causation.trinity. Curtis Brown | Classical Modern Philosophy | Philosophy Department | Trinity University cbrown@trinity. are not features of things in themselves.Kant: Transcendental Deduction http://www. But why shouldn't we conclude instead that we've gotten lucky -.11. But how does it imply Kant's transcendental idealism? That is.2012 21:55 .edu 3 din 3 27. how do we get from the fact that we can apply the categories to th e idea that the empirical world is largely our own construction? Kant thinks that we construct the empirical world (the world of "appear ances") by applying the categories to our experience (or rather. 2009.that in fact our a priori concepts do apply to the things themselves.edu/cbrown/modern/kant-deduction. using the categories in the very construction of experience).) Last update: April 20.html The argument may show that we are in fact able to apply the categories to our experie nce. etc.