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Introduction to German Idealism (5/26)

Introduction to German Idealism 5/26 - Robbert Veen at www.wiziq.com

"Self-consciousness as Principle of Cognition" Reading material for the lecture on Monday February 15th, 7 PM GMT (8 PM, CET) The text of Hegel will be read in detail on Friday, February 19th, at the same time.
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www.wiziq.com Robbert Veen http://www.robbertveen.com

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1. Hegel on Kant (History of Philosophy) 2. Phenomenology of Spirit: Selfconsciousness 3. Jill Vance Buroker: Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. An introduction

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Introduction to German Idealism 5/26 - Robbert Veen at www.wiziq.com

The issue: What does it mean to say that the synthesis of sensuous experience and reason is grounded on the unity of selfconsciousness? • Kantian project: transcendental synthesis of apperception: objective basis for the unity of perceptions = basis for objective experience • Hegel's criticism: still remains a subjective act without foundation in reality Working backwards: 1. Hegel's critique of Kant's thought 2. Hegel's grounding of this Phenomenology 3. Kant's position clarified
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Introduction to German Idealism 5/26 - Robbert Veen at www.wiziq.com

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Introduction to German Idealism 5/26 - Robbert Veen at www.wiziq.com

Hegel on Kant (History of Philosophy)
1. Critique of Pure Reason

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1.1 Understanding "thinks" the object but remains empty as such. The understanding is active thought, I myself; it “is the faculty of thinking the object of sensuous perception.” Yet it has thoughts merely without real content: “Thoughts without content are void and empty, sensuous perceptions without Notions are blind.”

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1.2 The ground for all applied logic is the synthetic unity of apperception Now logic, as transcendental logic, likewise sets forth the conceptions which the understanding has a priori in itself and “whereby it thinks objects completely a priori.” Thoughts have a form which signifies their being the synthetic function which brings the manifold into a unity. I am this unity, the transcendental apperception, the pure apperception of self-consciousness. I=I; I must ‘accompany’ all our conceptions. This is a barbarous exposition of the matter. NOTE: the self-consciousness that I am is identified with the self-consciousness of the unifying function in Hegel

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1.3 Concepts are mere forms of unity Now as ‘I’ is the universal transcendental unity of selfconsciousness which binds together the empirical matter of conception generally, there are various modes in this relationship, and here we have the transcendental nature of the categories or universal thought -determinations. […]

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Summary: • Though understanding thinks objects, as thinking it remains empty of concents. • Only the form of concepts is part of the ultimate unity of thinking, i.e. the self-conscious mind in action: synthetic unity of apperception • All thought-forms are expressions of this ultimately functional unity of apperception.

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Hegel on Kant 2. Self-consciousness in the Phenomenology of Spirit

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2.1 General structure of self-consciousness If we call the movement of knowledge conception, and knowledge, qua simple unity or Ego, the object, we see that not only for us [tracing the process], but likewise for knowledge itself, the object corresponds to the conception; or, if we put it in the other form and call conception what the object is in itself, while applying the term object to what the object is qua object or for an other, it is clear that being "in-itself" and being "for an other" are here the same.

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2.2 Identification of the I with itself The distinction is not, and self-consciousness is only motionless tautology, Ego is Ego, I am I. When for selfconsciousness the distinction does not also have the shape of being, it is not self-consciousness. For [220] self-consciousness, then, otherness is a fact, it does exist as a distinct moment; but the unity of itself with this difference is also a fact for self-consciousness, and is a second distinct moment. With that first moment, selfconsciousness occupies the position of consciousness, and the whole expanse of the world of sense is conserved as its object, but at the same time only as related to the second moment, the unity of selfconsciousness with itself.

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2.3 Self-consciousness as posited necessarily breaks up into a relation of two selfconsciousnesses The independent members exist for themselves. To be thus for themselves, however, is really as much their reflexion directly into the unity, as this unity is the breaking asunder into independent forms. The unity is sundered because it is absolutely negative or infinite unity; and because it is subsistence, difference likewise has independence only in it. This independence of the form appears as a determinate entity, as what is for another, for the form is something disunited; and the cancelling of diremption takes effect to that extent through another.

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2.4 The dialectics of this movement Since we started from the first immediate unity, and returned through the moments of form-determination, and of process, to the unity of both these moments, and thus again back to the first simple substance, we see that this reflected unity is other than the first.

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2.5 The meaning of Desire The simple ego is this genus, or the bare universal, for which the differences are insubstantial, only by its being the negative essence of the moments which have assumed a definite and independent form. And selfconsciousness is thus only assured of itself through sublating this other, which is presented to selfconsciousness as an independent life; self-consciousness is Desire. Convinced of the nothingness of this other, it definitely affirms this nothingness to be for itself the truth of this other, negates the independent object, and thereby acquires the certainty of its own self, as true certainty, a certainty which it has become aware of in objective form.

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2.6 The object as self-negating On account of the independence of the object, therefore, it can only attain satisfaction when this object itself [226] effectually brings about negation within itself

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2.7 The structure of the first, immediate concept of self-consciousness It is in these three moments that the notion of selfconsciousness first gets completed: (a) pure undifferentiated ego is its first immediate object. (b) This immediacy is itself, however, thoroughgoing mediation; it has its being only by cancelling the independent object, in other words it is Desire. The satisfaction of desire is indeed the reflexion of selfconsciousness into itself, is the certainty which has passed into objective truth. But (c) the truth of this certainty is really twofold reflexion, the reduplication of self-consciousness.

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Summary: 1. Selfconsciousness is reflective knowledge: knowledge of knowledge 2. As such it is knowledge of the "self" of knowledge. 3. The identity of the knower with hisself is infinite and therefore exclusive 4. The original unity of knowledge and knowledge of knowledge collapses into a relationship of mutual exclusion between (shapes of) self-consciousness 5. This relationship is basically Desire, i.e. the attempt to maintain and express the identity with itself by excluding the other shape of selfconsciousness and thereby negating the independent object of consciousness. 6. Desire cannot achieve the exclusion and negation unless the object is self-negating. 7. Only as a self-consciousness can the object negate itself: the ultimate object of consciousness is (another) consciousness.
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3. Jill Vance Buroker: Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. An introduction

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Introduction to German Idealism 5/26 - Robbert Veen at www.wiziq.com

The transcendental synthesis in the A-edition 1. Consciousness of conceptual unity presupposes a unitary consciousness. (A103–4) 2. The notion of an object of representation includes the idea of a necessary unity. (A104–6;A108–9) 3. Consciousness of objective unity requires a transcendental selfconsciousness (as opposed to an empirical selfconsciousness). Awareness of this identical self makes possible the notion of a transcendental object. (A106–7;A108) 4. A transcendental self-consciousness is consciousness of unity of synthesis by means of pure concepts. (A107–8) 5. Thus the pure concepts are presupposed in all objective awareness. (A109–11)
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[…]

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Introduction to German Idealism 5/26 - Robbert Veen at www.wiziq.com

The ego as "I think" “The I think must be able to accompany all my representations; for otherwise something would be represented in me that could not be thought at all, which is as much as to say that the representation would either be impossible or else at least would be nothing forme” (B131–2).

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Dual nature of self-consciousness and the "I think" Now the act of attaching the “I think” is the act of apperception or self-consciousness. Insofar as I recognize a representation as mine, I ascribe it to myself, and thus must be conscious of myself as the subject of the state. As in the A edition, Kant calls this selfconsciousness the transcendental unity of apperception (t.u.a.), and he distinguishes it from empirical self-consciousness.

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Objectivity as a function of unity Understanding is, generally speaking, the faculty of cognitions. These consist in the determinate relation of given representations to an object. • An object, however, is that in the concept of which the manifold of a given intuition is united. • Now, however, all unification of representations requires unity of consciousness in the synthesis of them. Consequently the unity of consciousness is that which alone constitutes the relation of representations to an object, thus their objective validity, and consequently is that which makes them into cognitions and on which even the possibility of the understanding rests. (B137)

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The transcendental unity of apperception in the Bedition 1. It is necessarily true of humans as discursive intellects that they can attach the “I think” to any of their representations, and, by doing so, express the numerical identity of self-consciousness. 2. Attaching the “I think” is possible only insofar as one connects one’s self-ascribed representations by means of synthetic acts. 3. Any synthetic unity of representations requires unification under a concept. 4. Any manifold unified under a concept counts as a thought of an object. 5. Therefore, thinking of an object is necessary for the t.u.a.
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6. Therefore, the t.u.a. is a sufficient condition for representing an object.

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The differenece between the transcendental unity of apperception and self-consciousness “I am conscious of myself not as I appear to myself, nor as I am in myself, but only that I am. This representation is a thinking, not an intuiting”(B157).

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The I think as secondary act with regard to my existence “The I think expresses the act of determining my existence. The existence is thereby already given, but the way in which I am to determine it, i.e., the manifold that I am to posit in myself as belonging to it, is not yet thereby given.”

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The Transcendental Deduction contains Kant’s central justification for applying the categories to objects of experience. The A edition version argues that apprehending the data of intuition successively requires the imagination to reproduce previously apprehended representations, which presupposes concepts of the understanding. Although this version introduces Kant’s theory of synthesis and the t.u.a., it does not link the categories to judgment. The significantly revised B edition version corrects this defect, arguing that the categories are required to represent objects of both thought and perception. By analyzing the notion of an object in terms of judgment, Kant links the categories to the logical forms of judgment
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identified earlier. Thus he defends the application of pure concepts expressed in synthetic a priori principles to the objects of experience. Because these metaphysical concepts and principles have their seat in the subject, they apply only to appearances and not to things in themselves. But because they are necessary for experiencing objects, they represent real features of appearances, and thus ground empirical knowledge. Like the forms of intuition, they represent transcendentally ideal but empirically real features of experience.

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Introduction to German Idealism 5/26 - Robbert Veen at www.wiziq.com

Summary:
1. Hegel's critique is directed against Kant's distinction

2. 3. 4. 5.

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between the function of the synthetic unity of apperception and the empirical self-consciousness Self-consciousness is basically desire, i.e. is structured as the attempt to maintain self-identity which is lost in the consciousness of objects. Only by an direct relation with other selfconsciousnesses can the self achieve this balance of identity and otherness. Such a relationship is however also a basic fracture of this self-identity: self-consciousness is not alone, it is universal and it is "life". Kant's argument is based on a "mechanics" of conscious acts that maintain self-identity by shaping the material of the senses with the forms of inner unity. The sensuous material is in that mechanical description a foreign element.
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2010 © R.A. Veen

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