Heidegger’s Hegelian Phenomenological Method (Part 2/2)

FOR PART 1 PLEASE SEE Heidegger’s Hegelian Phenomenological Method (Part 1/2)

(3) Heidegger’s Hegelian Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant’s Ek-static Transcendental Idealism

  • (A) The History of Being and Mastery of beings

Kant’s critical philosophy was a major object of inquiry for Heidegger his entire career, from the early lecture course on Kant and Phenomenology and the Kant and metaphysics book of the late 1920’s, to the lecture course of 1935-36, to the essay on Kant’s thesis on Being in 1961.  The standard bearer for reading Heidegger’s interpretation of Kant is Engelland (2017) which provides a needed corrective to Dreyfus by reintroducing the Husserl question as central.  My goal here is somewhat different from Engelland in seeing Kant in terms of the “as” structure introduced above, trying to think what Heidegger sees as the Hegelian dis-closing phenomenological approach to thinking with Kant.  A guiding clue here will be Kant’s famous claim “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”  To place Heidegger’s interpretation of Kant into the history of Being contextualized above, we need to see how in the inception of the modern philosophical era with Descartes a change/decision (i) in the nature of truth, and (ii) in the nature of entities became key. 

(i) Traditionally “truth” had much polysemy, such as “correct,” “true friend (exemplary),” “great truths of the human condition (what is ownmost to it),” etc. But, for Descartes something had changed.  As Will to Power pregnant in Thomas and birthed in Luther, the notion of truth in history became clothed as “certainty, free from doubt,” because what needed to be certain, free from doubt for the Christian was the salvation of the soul.[i]  Descartes appropriated this disposition to a philosophical context, which was philosophically useful in that it clarified the standards and criteria for assessing and evaluating error.[ii] 

(ii) “Entities/Beings” in Homer, ta eonta, meant not just beings of nature, but Homer applies the term ta eonta to the Achaean’s encampment before Troy, the god’s wrath, the plague’s fury, funeral pyres, the perplexity of the leaders. Man too belongs to ta eonta: a being/entity is (i) something (ii) that is (iii) in some way or other (a thought being, a natural being, etc.).  By contrast, for Descartes the understanding of “entities” was limited/circumscribed into the dimension of beings that are calculable and can be reckoned with, and so, for instance Heidegger (2001) describes how the being of beings is presence-at-hand, so that if we are in dispute as to the color of the table we resolve the dispute by appealing to the table at-hand.  Specifically, for Descartes beings “as” extended substances means unique haecceities are as Will to Power re-presented mathematically: in terms of shape and motion as what is “really real” in them, location and mobility, that which makes the res extensa predictable and controllable, making us in Descartes’ words “the masters and possessors of nature.” (Descartes, Opp. VI, 61 ff)[iii]  

Heidegger says modernity asked how must nature be determined and thought in advance (limited/circumscribed) so that the entirety of this nature as such can “appear” and become accessible “as” mathematical, which is to say become calculable knowledge: “to appear / be determined” primarily in terms of measure, number, and weight? The answer is that nature must be understood in advance as a closed system of the locomotion of material bodies in time (made intelligible through the general concepts of body, motion, velocity, place, and time).

Heidegger argues natural “objects” for modernity thereby “appear/show themselves (phainómenon)” now only in the relations of places and time-points and in the measures of mass and working forces, meaning a general blueprint of nature was generated that specific principles could be derived from:

  • “All bodies are the same. No motion is privileged. Every place is the same as every other; every point in time is likewise the same. Every force is determined only in accordance with the change of motion it causes—and this change of motion is itself understood as change of place. (Heidegger, 2018, loc1598).” 

This blueprint was not derived from experience, but rather is the context that is projected a priori that allows the world to be encountered “as mathematical.”  Against this background, Heidegger points out Galileo for example was able to project the specific principle that “the motion of each body is uniform and rectilinear if every obstacle remains excluded, but also changes uniformly when an equal force acts upon it.” 

Kant’s Transcendental idealism relates to the objects of experience, phenomenon/appearance, not to the unique thing-in-itself apart from us.  Meaning what?  Basic is the insight indicated above that all bodies are first of all the same and individuation secondarily accrues on top of that general base.  Bodies are inherently the same because what they really are, their fundamental characteristics, are extension and impenetrability.  But the notion of “truly real (ontos on; alethes on)” is a mental projection. For how can something be identified as really real unless a relationship is posited with the perceiver judging the real to be extension and impenetrability as such?

(B1) Kant and Leibniz

To begin to unfold Kant’s key concepts, the two key figures Kant will be distinguishing himself from are Hume and Leibniz.  Above I noted a being only comes to stand as what it really is in relation to its logos/ground.  In this regard, Heidegger notes in his “Principle of Reason” book from the 1950’s “in Leibniz’s sense, a ratio sufficiens, a sufficient reason, isn’t at all a ground capable of supporting a being so that it doesn’t straightaway fall into nothing. A sufficient reason is one that reaches and offers to beings that which puts them in the position of fulfilling their fill their essence, that is, perfectio. ” (71).  Leibniz’s basic question of metaphysics is “Why is there something rather than nothing?” from which we can flip the question and extract “To be means to have a why.”  The principle of reason says “to be” means to stand in relation to a ground, and the fundamental characteristic of beings are that they are immaterial monads that have perception (are sight related, individuals), appetite, and are mirrors of the universe.  Leibniz says regarding perception that perception is “the expression of many things in one, or in simple substance” (A New Method of Learning and Teaching Jurisprudence, revision notes of 1697–1700; A VI, i, 272/L 91). 

Monads are mirrors in the sense that they reflect universal predicates (The table as hard).[iv]  For instance, all the words for the self etymologically were words for nature (I’m boiling mad), and all beings amplify their sense when they stand in relation to others (eg., in metaphor, analogy, etc: “The laws for the Greeks were the ‘children’ of their ideals, and they cherished them above all else”).[v]  Leibniz says “One thing expresses another … when there is a constant and regulated relation between what can be said of the one and of the other” (letter to Arnauld, 9 October 1687; G II, 112/LA 144).  Leibniz however thought Monads don’t interact causally with other monads, being immaterial, but were in community due to a pre-established harmony from God like different clocks being in harmony though not causally interacting with  one another. 

Everything for Leibniz is regulated by the pre-established harmony (§§78–9) – like how one clock may be in synchronicity with another though there is no interaction between the two.  Besides perception monads have appetite which is tendency to discover itself beyond just the current perception. Leibniz thus says each monad is a mirror of the universe.  With God as the primary monad perceiving every monad as unique, we see this at the macro level with the analogy of Being.[vi] 

Kant saw a problem here with Leibniz and countered with the notion of a thoroughgoing community of beings grounded in the third transcendental time determination of the simultaneity of all experienced beings (in the third analogy).  Kant says “Without community every perception (of appearance in space) is broken off from the others, and the chain of empirical representations, i.e., experience, would have to start entirely over with every new object without the previous one being in the least connected or being able to stand in a temporal relation with it. (A 214)”

(B2) Kant and Hume

As the rigor and specialization regarding Kant’s theoretical philosophy in the recent secondary literature grows, conspicuous in its absence is the earlier scholarly attention to Kant’s claim the critical period was an answer to Hume.  There must be an answer to Hume’s skepticism, e.g. one that demonstrates “like causes produce like effects,” because as Hume noted as a roadblock to inductive reasoning just because this pot of water boils right now at 100 degrees Celsius, this in no way establishes the neighbor’s pot of water will do the same or that yours will do so again later that evening.  Just because something happened in the past doesn’t mean it will happen in the future (see for instance Prolegomena, 4:298-299). 

As is clear from Kant’s Prolegomena, Hume unhooking the necessity of effect from cause wasn’t so specifically a concern from natural scientific causal experiences and judgements but rather the need of establishing the mind as an efficient cause of objects generally.  Kant says Hume failed to see the problem Hume unearthed in the universality with which he is posing it.  Kant’s problem is to discover how synthetic a priori judgments are possible, such as “heating water to 100 degrees causes it to boil.”  This was the main thrust of Hume’s critique, but Kant unfolded the question to (unlike analytic judgments), in synthetic judgments how can a predicate necessarily be attributed to a subject if it isn’t contained in the subject?  In math, which is illuminating for philosophy though very different from it, Kant gives the example (B 16) of how 7+5=12 isn’t analytic but requires a demonstration such as counting fingers.  It makes sense this point resonated with Kant as he was a private tutor for young children for six years after college.  This example is perhaps more conspicuous in multiplication equations where a child can know her multiplication facts such as 3X4=12 by rote but it is meaningless to her because the further step of making it concrete is still needed (there are a number of ways to do this) such as with manipulatives modelling that with manipulative counters we have groups of 3, and 4 such groups, when added together gives 12 total counters.  Kant says we must fill our thoughts full of meaning (fulfill) through examples or other illustrations in concreto (A xviii).  He writes we “also need an intuition in addition to the thinking of an object in general (in the category), through which I determine that general concept (B 159).”

Hume’s point is if we start with the idea that beings are first of all unique things in themselves causality as necessary falls apart and with it scientific causal judgements.  Kant concedes this point and says certainty can’t come through induction in this way of thinking about things in themselves, only probability: “always only a greater or lesser degree of probability” (Kant, 1992, p. 586 [IX:84]). 

Kant responded if the general phenomenon which appears to me is not the haecceity/unique thing in itself,[vii] whereby individuation only accrues after the fact, then various objects are fundamentally identical, this means “like causes produce like effects” because what is true of one object is true of all others similar to it. And this is the ordinary understanding. 

According to Strawson (1966), this is a “non-sequitur of mind-numbing grossness: to conceive this order of perception as necessary is equivalent to conceiving the transition or change from A to B as itself necessary, as falling, that is to say, under a rule of law of causal determination; it is equivalent to conceiving the event of change or transition as preceded by some condition such that an event of that type invariably and necessarily follows upon a condition of that type (Strawson, 1966, 137-138).”  Strawson is contending Kant in no way demonstrates like causes produce like effects.  Kant clearly never doubted, eg., the stone always warms when in the sun as an instance of the hypothetical form of judgment, his concern was how this is possible.  Strawson focused on general irreversibility such as with Kant’s boat example (I’ll discuss below) but neglected that this needed to be schematized according to material, semi-formal and formal irreversibility.  Kant says “Without schemata, therefore, the categories are only functions of the understanding for concepts, but do not represent any object. This significance comes to them from sensibility, which realizes the understanding at the same time as it restricts it (B188).”  A pure concept requires “determinations of their application to sensibility in general (schema), and without these are not concepts through which an object can be cognized and distinguished from others (A 246).”  The general category of cause requires the threefold rule of irreversibility (outlined below)

Kant says “nature’s objects have in themselves a sameness of kind (A 658, B656).”  We see Bob as a “something indeterminate” which allows him to be understood physically, mathematically, psychologically, sociologically, anthropologically, etc.  For instance, Bob is a material body in the same way as any other human. 

(C) CAUSE: Threefold Material / Semi-Formal / Formal Irreversibility

Kant identifies the transcendental time determinations of (i) the persistence of substance amidst change of accidents and (ii) causality of objects and (iii) community of objects pertain to all scientific objects as pure science.[viii]  Heidegger says for Kant the ego is Descartes’ “I-think,” refined as “I-combine:” I think substance, I think cause etc. Substance and cause are not simply attributed to the object in itself, but in experience, since for instance we cannot arrive at substance as persistence through time discursively through concepts.  Kant argues “human understanding is discursive and can cognize only by means of general concepts (Prolegomena, §57),” and so requires time as a form of intuition.  Moreover, it is in fact the commonality between things grounded in simultaneity that is needed for knowledge.  Kant says contra Leibniz’s non-interacting monads “ If every individual representation were entirely foreign to the other, as it were isolated and separated from it, then there would never arise anything like cognition, which is a whole of compared and connected representations (A97).”

Kant gives the example that the mind with the concept of “triangle” applies the rule “straight sided enclosed figure with three angles as either isosceles, equilateral, scalene, obtuse, acute, or right” to intuition to allow us to encounter/experience something (an indeterminate object) “as” a triangular phenomenon.  Kant says the understanding “is always busy poring through the appearances with the aim of finding some sort of rule in them (A 127).”  We will see below the 3-fold rule the understanding uses through the concept of cause to search through appearances.  The mind utilizing the pure concept of causality is able to apply the rule of either (i) material, (ii) semi-formal, or (iii) formal irreversibility to Hume’s bare “following-upon in intuition,” allowing me to encounter something from nature “as” causal (see below). 

It is only on the grounds that the object in general is basic that there can be lower and higher levels of concept application, to use Kant’s geometry example in the Prolegomena §38,

  • “two lines that intersect each other and also the circle always partition each other in a regular manner such that the rectangle from the parts of one line is equal to that from the other,” show the understanding constructed this figure out of the equality of the radii.  Because of the generality of the object, this principle of circles can be expanded with the circle as a conic section being subject to the laws of other conic sections, and then to physical astronomy with the principle “all possible orbits of the celestial bodies are conic sections, but also that their mutual relations are such that no other law of attraction save that of the inverse square of the distances can be conceived as suitable for a system of the world.” 

To recapitulate, there is a fundamental relationship between the I and the way objects “appear” to it.  Heidegger (and Leech, 2022) argues the three basic “transcendental” time determinations of objects appearing as natural in transcendental idealism are (i) Substance: persistence/self-sameness over time, (ii) Irreversible Causality of nature, and (iii) Co-existence: the simultaneity of the objects of nature.  What does transcendental mean?  In the previous essay sections above we considered “ek-static,” being outside of self.  Here for Kant, our cognition likewise crosses over to the object, transcendit: “transcendental.” 

How does “substance” relate to the “I?”  Time as the pure ideal form of intuition allows the pure concept of substance as the subject of predicates (B 186) to become the principle of the permanence of substance.  Phenomenologically, there is not in every moment a completely different “I” which no longer knows of itself and of its previous moments. There must be a “fixed and abiding self,” and this must be the “I think” of transcendental apperception.  In other words, Heidegger argues for Kant if I was fundamentally different and disconnected from one moment to the next, for who would there be a table that is “experienced or appears-as” self-same at all times?  Kant says “for of it alone can I say that through it I think anything” (A346/B404).  Similarly, I don’t phenomenalize the empirical “I” when I’m just bored, but apperceive it as the me that remains when I transition from bored to entertained and back again to bored through time as I’m watching a movie: I apperceive rather than perceive the “I.”  The “I” allows the manifold in constancy to stand over against me (gegenstand in German, object).  Of course, the transcendental I and empirical I are different views of the same thing (A346/B404).

Secondly, the principle of cause and effect says: “All alterations take place in conformity with the law of the connection of cause and effect.”   Hume argued we only ever sense a continuous alteration of the manifold (this-> this-> this …), not necessity, but Kant counters that the mind nonetheless interprets experience in such a way that I understandingly experience events causally, which is to say in terms of the varying degrees of the rule of causal irreversibility.  In causality of nature the self unconsciously[ix] applies a rule of irreversibility to experience generally: Kant gives the example of perceiving the boat floating downstream unlike viewing a house where the order of perceiving the various parts of the house is arbitrary.  The further 3-fold irreversibility causal “rule” of natural causality (see below) applied by the concept of cause to intuitions allows us to encounter any type of event “as causal,” just like applying the “rule” of “enclosed shape with three straight sides” allows us to encounter any object as a triangle (Kant, 1999, A 132/B 172).  Some events really are causal just as some figures really are triangular, as I will show.   

Let us unfold the response to Strawson more fully.  Against a general backdrop of irreversibility (Kant’s boat that travels in one direction in contrast to me viewing various parts of the house which can go in any direction and order I wish) we specifically experience natural causality as a threefold rule of either (i) ball hitting ball as “positively” one-directional where there is no change of form, (ii) “comparatively greater” where there is a temporary change of form (e.g., boiling water that then cools), and (iii) “superlatively” when there is a permanent change of form (e.g., cooking an egg that then can’t be uncooked). The mind unconsciously interprets experience / applies a rule in such a way that it applies the rule of irreversibility that makes recognition of causal experiences and scientific causal judgments/experiences possible.  Kant says “all empirical laws are only particular determinations of the pure laws of the understanding A 127).”

Where Hume focused on sense, Kant distinguished between sense and experience (perception with rules, R 2740).  We don’t sense the “can’t be uncooked” of (iii) above, but understandingly experience it.  Similarly, the downstream perceived boat doesn’t merely follow upon the upstream boat as sense conveys, but rather there is rule governed irreversibility in the experience of the event.  Because alterations of objects in ideal space and time happen according to the rule of this 3-kind material, semi-formal, and formal alteration, there is more than just mere Humean “following uponbecause, for instance, we experience cooking an egg as causal to a greater degree than a billiard ball hitting another billiard ball.  Hume thought that we merely see cooked egg following upon hot pan many times and we come to associate one with the other without there being necessity, but Kant showed we do in fact experience cause and effect as varying degrees of irreversibility.  Kant notes in the Prolegomena that this quickly balloons beyond what Hume saw into the more general problem of how I can go beyond one concept and connect it with another that is not contained in it and do it in a necessary way?  Such connections can be made through experience, but objective necessity is not to be found there.  

(D) The General and the Individual in the Sciences

The ground of experience is the object in general, which Kant calls the transcendental object as “something in general, = X (Kant, 1999, A 104,109; 250-51).” It is this object in general that our cognitions (e.g., physics) are directed at.  The transcendental object in general = X means “the solution is representing properties as unified by the transcendental concept of an object in general, which represents properties as having necessary connections with each other, and this enables us to represent the object as something constraining our cognition (Allais, 87).”

I encounter, not a unique haecceity thing in itself, but an “object in general” or “something” in front of me “as” a triangle, or a living thing, etc.  It’s because I unconsciously have the rule of “general enclosed figure with three straight sides” in front of my mind’s eye that I encounter the object in general in front of me “as a triangular phenomenon,” which obviously depends on the haecceity being re-presented as a phenomenon.  It is only on the condition of the general phenomenon-ness of experienced beings upon which individuation later accrues does it make sense that we encounter the very different isosceles, scalene, right, and equilateral shapes all “as triangles” in the same sense.  From the point of view of the pure modal category of possibility, the concept of triangle is having before the mind’s eye this set of all possible triangles that allows me to encounter this shape in front of me as a triangle.  

It’s only on the ground that all bodies in experience are inherently the same and individual differences merely accrue on top of this sameness as secondary determinations can, for instance, causality be said a priori of experienced nature.  We are after a priori knowledge that is not analytic and merely grounded in the principle of contradiction.   This prior projection of an “object in general” creates the place for beings ‘to appear’ and be dealt with ‘as’ mathematical/scientific: in a predictable controllable way – as sociological; anthropological; physical, etc. 

Historically the human sciences followed suit with the natural sciences to make their objects of inquiry/investigation predictable and controllable, and so for instance a psychological causal prediction might be “abuse in childhood predicts future difficulties as an adult,” and understanding this facilitates diagnosis, treatment, and recovery (we’ll explore this paralogism of psychology here below).[x]  In this way we speak of phenomena as objects: e.g., “objects” of academic psychological inquiry.  So, an object is a person or thing to which a specified action or feeling is directed: “disease became the object of investigation.”  And Kant indeed uses the phrase “object of investigation (B 252).”  Transcendental idealism is the thesis that just as the various sciences circumscribe their object in advance, the mind does so too generally with objects of experience.  Stang comments

  • Because “object” is always implicitly “object of representation” and because we have multiple distinct capacities for representation, which operate according to distinct principles, when we talk about objects we must always (at least implicitly) specify which representational capacity they are objects for: objects of intuition, objects of concepts, objects of theoretical cognition (which are both intuited and conceptualized), objects of reason (some of which are not objects of cognition), objects of desire, objects of our representational capacity in general, etc. Objects as such are always objects of some capacity for representation (some capacity for having objects). (302)

Let’s consider this.

Each scientific discipline’s “object,” as an individuation of the original phenomenon “Object of Scientific Inquiry in general,” is dependent on transcendental idealism’s metaphysics of the object (e.g., the three transcendental time determinations), and so philosophy is rightly called the empress of the sciences, and more primordial than science itself.  Kant writes “Mathematics, natural science, even the empirical knowledge of humankind, have a high value as means, for the most part to contingent but yet ultimately to necessary and essential ends of humanity, but only through the mediation of a rational cognition from mere concepts, which, call it what one will, is really nothing but metaphysics (A 851/B 879).”  Just as an object of the concept of psychological inquiry is not “empty” but is already circumscribed in advance in terms of possible content (e.g. various models of love in social psychology) and methodological form (e.g. psychological experiments, statistics), so too is the object of ethical inquiry and the general object of experience in Kantian transcendental idealism (Kant interprets the person as fundamentally rational and responsible).  Likewise, in literary sciences we have pre-determined objects as readings (Marxist, feminist, psychoanalytic, etc.) and methods (deconstructive, hermeneutic, etc).

In this way “object” is being understood analogous to the original sense of “thing.”  Heidegger comments (2013, 175-6) the Roman word res/thing means that which concerns somebody, that which is pertinent, which has a bearing.  In English ‘thing’ means: ‘He knows his things.’  In this way we also speak of an “object of affection, or ridicule, or worship, etc.,” an object which announces its essence out of its relation to my mental faculties.  There is no sense in which the object of my affection, as such an object, has any objecthood apart from my loving, which is why Kant says there is nothing left over to ascribe to the thing in itself.  The object-hood of the object of my affection “is” in its being circumscribed by my loving, and tragically in that way some derogatorily “object-ify” lovers, projecting their essence in relation to your prejudices. 

Object is “antikèimenon,” standing in relation to the person.  Each academic discipline circumscribes in advance what it means to be an object of inquiry as content and method in their particular domain (e.g. literary entities, sociological entities, etc.).  In philosophy for instance, Kant in his critical period defined his domain of philosophical entities, and thereby systematically rooted out and excluded the dogmatic contents and methods of earlier thinkers from the critical domain.

Efficient and Natural causes and effects will differ in the different sciences as making the various scientific predictions possible: e.g., we can predict in advance what kinds of things we will find in a text in relation to a Marxist disposition/reading.  In historical prediction we can predict what we will find in the evidence given our interpretive model (eg., If the gospels were written by semi-literate peasants why do we find highly sophisticated Greek and Jewish intertextuality in them?). 

Analogously, merely by analyzing the concept of mathematical probability “in general” we can learn a priori and predict that if we toss a coin 10 000 times, around half will be heads and half will be tails.  But “specifically,” no knowledge of prior results (e.g. 4 tails in a row) allows us to predict what the result of the next unique coin toss event will be because while there is something like a mathematical “prediction causal connection” between a series of 10 000 coin tosses “in general” (the more times heads comes up the more likely it is you will toss a tails) there is no causal connection allowing us in any way to predict the result of a unique (haecceity) coin toss event given the results of the unique coin toss events that happened previously:  As Nietzsche noted I have no idea what the result of the next coin toss or dice throw will be.[xi]  Kant speaks in the Prologomena of the plaything of probability (Wahrscheinlichkeit).  It’s meaningless to predict the outcome of one coin toss. 

We nicely phenomenalize this in that many children initially struggle with probability concepts like impossible, certain, unlikely, likely etc., because they don’t have a fully developed concept of “object in general” and so have difficulty seeing the probability generalizations in what for them are unique cases, children saying things like “I have no clue whether or not lightning will hit my house today?”  What we are really asking the child about is not about her house tonight in itself at all, but for her to consider the history of her house in general as not being hit by lightning and infer the same pattern in predicting about her house tonight, or tomorrow, or a week from now.  We can ask a child does she think lightning struck her house today since she came to school?  Again, we are asking about the house in general, not the thing itself.  Causal inference is focused on knowing what happens to Y when you change X. Prediction is focused on knowing the next Y given X.  But, generally speaking with modernity since Descartes we are interested in what makes beings predictable and controllable, so in that context there is overlap.[xii] 

Hume has a point that you can’t know for certain that water will boil at 100 degrees Celsius the next time you experiment as a limit of inductive reasoning, but this in no way negates the truth that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius any more than our inability to predict the next coin toss will be tails if the previous one was heads invalidates the truth that the probability of tossing tails is still ½.  As was noted above, when an egg is cooked, we don’t just see cooked egg following upon heat many times and so come to associate one with the other as “heat cooks egg (as Hume thought),” but rather I experience the superlative causal “can’t be uncooked” of the egg cooking process as my concept of cause makes intelligible this sensuous intuition.  As my mind unconsciously sorts through experience, certain relevant events are grouped (A126) as causal: either material (ball hits ball), semi-formal (water is boiled and then cools), or formal (cooking an egg that can’t be uncooked) irreversible alterations.  The concept of cause is this threefold set of all possible irreversibilities that allow us to encounter events as causal. 

In this way Allais (2022) notes that just because intuitions need to be synthesized doesn’t mean all sense gives us is a mass of unorganized sensation.   The dog senses the lamp as distinct and bounded, but not as a subject with properties (subject/predicate) as human cognition does once synthesized.[xiii]  There are indefinite ways this could be done using empirical concepts, so pure concepts must be applied first then making applying empirical concepts possible. 

Similarly, just as causal connections can predict, in the probability of historical reasoning metaphysics reverse causal connections we can retrodict from a body of evidence that something “probablyhappened, and so for instance even though there is a lot of mythologizing of Jesus in the bible, historians think it’s likely he existed and was not just a mythical being Euhemerized (placed in historical fiction narratives) because of such things like our earliest source the apostle Paul says he met Jesus’s brother, and said Jesus was part of David’s bloodline.  In this way we scientifically establish the likelihood of the historicity of Jesus by applying historical probability reasoning that is true of any historical figure in general.  Historical reasoning isn’t aimed at Jesus in his uniqueness, but Jesus “as” a person from history in general that probability claims can be made about (e.g. he probably knew John the Baptist because the Baptist narrative would have been uncomfortable to the early church to include, etc.).  Metaphysics of history is the idea that the object in general is intended, not the unique thing, so the historical methods that lead to probability conclusions about Jesus apply to any analogous historical figure given analogous evidence.  We establish Jesus existed the same way we establish Napoleon existed, though the historical reasoning process adapts itself to the available evidence in each case.  Biblical Historians are actively proposing and revising assessment/evaluation criteria of authenticity to see what can be reliably said of the figures of Jewish/Christian history like John the Baptist.  In this way Kant says categories like causality apply to appearances,[xiv] phenomena, the object in general– not the thing in itself (Kant, 1999, B129; A79; A139).[xv]  Scientific reasoning means analyzing an object in general that is predictable and controllable, and determined according to the specific discipline (anthropology, sociology, etc.). Recall Galileo’s principle of the motion of “bodies in general” above.

The human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) like psychology, sociology, and anthropology took on the model of the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) and math to make their objects (e.g. psychological objects) predictable and controllable.  This passage below, long but helpfully quoted in full from Kant, is particularly instructive contrasting the general predictability and controllability of the object in general of anthropology science with the individual person:

  • All the actions of the human being in appearance are determined in accord with the order of nature by his empirical character and the other cooperating causes; and if we could investigate all the appearances of his power of choice down to their basis, then there would be no human action that we could not predict with certainty, and recognize as necessary given its preceding conditions.[A 550/B 578] Thus in regard to this empirical character there is no freedom, and according to this character we can consider the human being solely by observing, and, as happens in anthropology, by trying to investigate the moving causes of his actions physiologically.  But if we consider the very same actions in relation to reason, not, to be sure, in relation to speculative reason, in order to explain them as regards their origin, but insofar as reason is the cause of producing them by themselves – in a word, if we compare them with reason in a practical respect – then we find a rule and order that is entirely other than the natural order…One may take a voluntary action, e.g. a malicious lie, through which a person has brought about a certain confusion in society; and one may first investigate its moving causes, through which it arose, judging on that basis how the lie and its consequences could be imputed to the person. With this first intent one goes into the sources of the person’s empirical character, seeking them in a bad upbringing, bad company, and also finding them in the wickedness of a natural temper insensitive to shame, partly in carelessness and thoughtlessness; in so doing one does not leave out of account the occasioning causes. In all this one proceeds as with any investigation in the series of determining causes for a given natural effect. Now even if one believes the action to be determined by these causes, one nonetheless blames the agent, and not on account of his unhappy natural temper, not on account of the circumstances influencing him, not even on account of the life he has led previously; for one presupposes that it can be entirely set aside how that life was constituted, and that the series of conditions that transpired might not have been, but rather that this deed could be regarded as entirely unconditioned in regard to the previous state, as though with that act the agent had started a series of consequences entirely from himself.[A 555/B 583] This blame is grounded on the law of reason, which regards reason as a cause that, regardless of all the empirical conditions just named, could have and ought to have determined the conduct of the person to be other than it is. And indeed one regards the causality of reason not as a mere concurrence with other causes, but as complete in itself, even if sensuous incentives were not for it but were indeed entirely against it; the action is ascribed to the agent’s intelligible character: now, in the moment when he lies, it is entirely his fault; hence reason, regardless of all empirical conditions of the deed, is fully free, and this deed is to be attributed entirely to its failure to act. In this judgment of imputation, it is easy to see that one has the thoughts that reason is not affected at all by that sensibility, that it does not alter (even if its appearances, namely the way in which it exhibits its effects, do alter), that in it no state precedes that determines the following one, and hence that reason does not belong at all in the series of sensible conditions which make appearances necessary in accordance with natural laws. (A555 B583)

So for instance, Freud wrongly modeled his causal unconscious on causality in nature.  However, though the childhood abuse example mentioned above may be thought “in general” to cause trauma to the unconscious and so for someone to become a dysfunctional adult, as Nietzsche said such a claim is merely rule of thumb because it could be interpreted in the reverse as an iron sharpens iron sense, what does not kill me may make me stronger, so you could have triplets growing up in an abusive home where: One grows up dysfunctional; One grows up unaffected; One grows up stronger for it.[xvi]  This is true of a person generally, and so we might test a child as having a high IQ in general, but is completely incompetent when it comes to baking, hockey, the guitar, and geography.  In fact, gifted with Learning Disabilities is a common special education identification.  The scientific usefulness of the categories of the object in general breaks down the more we penetrate the object and go beyond rule of thumb generalized experience to the unique individual, and so physicist Carlo Rovelli points out categories like “substance with properties” aren’t particularly helpful at the quantum level.

Empirical objects, be they sociological beings, physical beings, beings of history etc., are clearly dependent on the background of object in general metaphysics, appearance “in general” and the transcendental object = X.  In this regard, transcendental idealism makes obvious sense as an approach to philosophy. 

Heidegger notes fundamental principles can be applied to general calculable objects.  Heidegger argues Galileo and Kepler philosophically overcame the thing in itself, which in science meant the insight that there are no such thing as pure facts and that facts can only be grasped and experimented with when the “context” or realm of nature as such is already circumscribed “as” mathematical.  Many historians for instance try to ground their reasoning in Bayes’ Theorem math, just as formal logic is foundational for many American philosophers.  This is part of what Kant meant by the unknowability of the unique thing in itself (“kath auto,” as we remember Plato’s critique of Antisthenes in the Sophist discussed above).  “Thing in itself” is already a general concept the haecceity is being re-presented through. 

Existence is important here because what is more “in-itself” than bare existence?  Kant disagrees!  The scholastics argue from the point of view of a being’s essential (essentia) or “what being (the table as hard),” and its existential (existentia) or “how-being (the table as badly positioned).” This second sense of Being refers both to how the observer encounters the being (it appears badly positioned) and the context of the being. In this second existential sense, a table is (i) at-hand if we need to resolve a dispute about its color, and (ii) badly positioned in the corner of the lecture hall during a lecture vs well positioned in the corner of the stadium when the game is going on.  To the essence/what-being of the “house” belongs its foundation wall, roof, door, size, extension, color: “real” predicates or determinations of the thing “house,” regardless of whether the house is actually “existent” or not.  And as we noted earlier the subject is general (something) so too is the predicate (something as something – e.g., red – (B133–34n).

Kant says “how-being” as “existence” is not a “real” predicate, doesn’t belong to the “res (thing/object)” and doesn’t belong to the determinateness of a concept.  We can phenomenalize it in this way:  Initially it seems, falsely for Kant, there need not be any experiential difference between the experience of the tree in (i) our sensing of a tree, (ii) or dreaming one, or (iii) hallucinating one.  All are experienced/taken as extant in exactly the same way.  For example, it is perfectly possible that I am an insane, invisible, immaterial, magical goblin hallucinating my spatial-temporal reality in a reality that is in fact universe-less.  Descartes’ argument that God is not deceiving him is no help.  Existence is merely something we unconsciously posit as absolute, “as though” it is not occurring in relation to our unconscious spontaneity – as a correlate to the passiveness of experience: e.g. because I can’t “will” the table in front of me to stop “appearing” to me – but that is true of an actual tree, a tree I dream, or a tree I hallucinate.  Kant  calls existence absolute positing/position in Beweisgrund, 77.

However, there is a nuance here that leads to much confusion over Kant’s basic position.  Given the above analysis, we initially would want to conclude there may indeed be reality external to my mind (Kant is not Berkeley), but there is no way to know.  Heidegger says of phenomenological intentionality “[t]he intentional relation does not arise first through the actual extantness of objects but lies in the perceiving itself, whether illusionless or illusory.” Kant agrees in the Prolegomena: “[t]he difference between truth and dream, however, is not decided through the quality of the representations that are referred to objects, for they are the same in both (4: 290; also see Kant, 1999,  A219/B266; also Anthropology 7:161).”  So, if we are to win back reality clarification is needed.

The positive result of this line of phenomenalizing is that if the objects of real life, hallucination and dream are encountered in this respect of “sameness,” then the primary marks of objects in space, extension and impenetrability, are mere representations, just as taste and color are.[xvii]  The horse I am riding in real life, or in a dream, or in a hallucination are all experienced as spatio-temporal: extended, impenetrable, etc.  Under the transcendental realism Kant is arguing against, Descartes’ argument that God is not deceiving him fails and the reality of the world is lost.  Kant says:

  • “[T]ranscendental realism, which regards space and time as something given in themselves (independent of our sensibility). The transcendental realist therefore represents outer appearances (if their reality is conceded) as things in themselves, which would exist independently of us and our sensibility and thus would also be outside us according to pure concepts of the understanding. It is really this transcendental realist who afterwards plays the empirical idealist; and after he has falsely presupposed about objects of the senses that if they are to exist they must have their existence in themselves even apart from sense, he finds that from this point of view all our representations of sense are insufficient to make their reality certain. (A 370).”
  • “Thus the transcendental idealist is an empirical realist, and grants to matter, as appearance, a reality which need not be inferred, but is immediately perceived. In contrast, transcendental realism necessarily falls into embarrassment, and finds itself required to give way to empirical idealism, because it regards the objects of outer sense as something different from the senses themselves and regards mere appearances as self-sufficient beings that are found external to us; for here, even with our best consciousness of our representation of these things, it is obviously far from certain that if the representation exists, then the object corresponding to it would also exist; but in our system, on the contrary, these external things – namely, matter in all its forms and alterations – are nothing but mere representations, i.e., representations in us, of whose reality we are immediately conscious. (A 372)”

The difference is with Kant’s Transcendental Idealism we conclude the reality of real life from the places it has within the order and systemic connection of the whole, where for instance  dreams can become what Aristotle also noted as lucid because of the randomness in them.  Kant says “In space and time, however, the empirical truth of appearances is satisfactorily secured, and sufficiently distinguished from its kinship with dreams, if both are correctly and thoroughly connected up according to empirical laws in one experience (B521).”  It is this that allows a psychiatrist to challenge the delusional thoughts of a schizophrenic for who beings are presencing in a conspiratorial way (The doctor challenges “Why would world conspiracies be focused on little old you?).  Kant notes “That which is connected with the material conditions of experience (of sensation) is actual. (B 266).”  Meaning what?  Kant says

  • “The unity of the world-whole, in which all appearances are to be connected, is obviously a mere conclusion from the tacitly assumed principle of the community of all substances that are simultaneous: for, were they isolated, they would not as parts constitute a whole, and were their connection (interaction of the manifold) not already necessary on account of simultaneity, then one could not infer from the latter, as a merely ideal relation, to the former, as a real one. (A 218/B 265).”

Kant said we could not even dream or hallucinate unless there was “something” in relation to my passive senses that my imagination was combining, augmenting, etc. allowing me to hallucinate and dream (A 377; Notes 18: 310).  If space and time are forms of intuition and all spatial qualities/marks like impenetrability and extension are taken as secondary qualities, then objects are “real in [ideal] space, i.e., immediately given through empirical intuition (A 375),” because denying this would be analogous with saying to Locke (i) the meat is not salty in itself but just in relation to my tastebuds, and (ii) saltiness has nothing at all to do with the composition of the meat.  (ii) is obviously false from Locke’s point of view and he would correct us.  This world for Kant is empirically real, but also transcendentally ideal (a distinction that, to use Leibniz’s imagery of the “fold,” will unfold itself more fully by the end of this essay).  In other words, Kant never doubted the existence of a world of non-temporal non spatial things in themselves external to my mind (Hogan 2022; A494/B522–23).    

We live in a world of brown tables and salty ocean water, but we know this is a world of appearances, not things in themselves.  Locke noted the table is no more brown apart from our perception than the water is salty in itself.  But, browness and saltiness still point to causal features of the things in themselves.  Moreover, for Kant the basic determinations of objects, impenetrability and extension, also refer to the way beings appear to us, not things in themselves.  But, there still is something these marks are the correlate of.  To recapitulate, we know, for instance, riding a horse feels the same in terms of impenetrability in reality, as in a dream, as in hallucination.  But, what about extension? 

Extension does not belong to the thing in itself because just as we noted above motion contains contradictory predicates (something simultaneously being present and absent from a location as I noted above with Plato) when considered apart from time (as thinkers before Aristotle did), extension is self-contradictory when attributed to the thing in itself.  To be extended is to have magnitude and hence be infinitely divisible, which is impossible for a thing in itself.  If I take an extended thing like a cake and divide it in half, I am left with two halves.  Dividing is creating two extended substances from one.  If I take one of those halves, I can divide it in half again.  If I keep doing this it goes on indefinitely because each cut “produces” an extended thing.  Kant says “Matter is divisible to infinity, and, in fact, into parts such that each is matter in turn. (MAN 4:503).”  This led Leibniz to posit an immaterial monad as the substance of these composite beings, to stop the infinite regress. 

For Kant Leibniz’s error is that he applied the notion of parts to the thing in itself and so got caught in the finite/infinite part antinomy where, in current scientific debate, we could suppose the quark is elementary, or further made up of preons or divisible strings.[xviii] Thus, Kant counters Leibniz that “

  • – (A) [I]t does not follow, from the fact that its division proceeds to infinity, that the divisible contains an infinite aggregate of parts in itself, and outside of our representation. For it is not the thing, but only this representation of it, whose division, although it can indeed be continued to infinity, and there is also a ground for this in the object (which is unknown in itself), can nonetheless never be completed, and thus be completely given; and this also proves no actual infinite aggregate in the object (which would be an explicit contradiction). (MAN 4:507) … But one cannot admit that matter, or even space, consists of infinitely many parts (because it is a contradiction to think an infinite aggregate, whose concept already implies that it can never be represented as completed, as entirely completed). (MFNS 4:506)
  • – (B) For what is only actual by being given in the representation also has no more given of it than what is met with in the representation – no more, that is, than the progress of representations reaches. Therefore, one can only say of appearances, whose division proceeds to infinity, that there are just so many parts in the appearance as we may provide, that is, so far as we may divide. For the parts, as belonging to the existence of an appearance, exist only in thought, namely, in the division itself. (MAN 4:506–507
  • – (C) [I]t is by no means permitted to say of such a whole, which is divisible to infinity, that it consists of infinitely many parts. For though all the parts are contained in the intuition of the whole, the whole division is not contained in it; this division consists only in the progressive decomposition, or in the regress itself, which first makes the series actual. (CPR A524/B552)

Marschall (2019) notes “we have to do something to bring parts into being—their existence cannot be taken for granted.”  So the mind organizes experience that Leibniz is right about the infinite divisibility of matter, but this does not extend to things in themselves and hence prove immaterial, unextended monads.

This conceptualizing thing in itself regression of extension via fractions leads to an indefinite regress which can only be stopped by positing an immaterial ground, which is why Leibniz comes up with the monad (unless we deny Parmenides dictum that Being and thought are the same).[xix]  Kant resolves the difficulty by pointing out if I apply the category extended thing to the table sitting in front of me as a mere appearance I’m fine, because a mere appearance can be divided or multiplied to infinity.  but when I try to apply it to the table as something in itself apart from my mind, the infinite regress contradicts the notion of simple material substance.[xx] 

We think in a general everyday way that matter, like a table, is divisible, while substance is simple.  However small, matter is divisible, if not in fact in thought and so a particle in physics, if it is elementary like many think quarks are, is composed of opposing sides, inner and outer perspectives, and so certainly is mentally divisible- and so possibly divisible if technology makes it so.  Either things in themselves are contradictory with this infinite regress and monadology is true, or things in ideal infinitely divisible space (like time) are mere appearances and infinite divisibility is said of appearances, not things in themselves.[xxi]  We say any quantity of extension is infinitely divisible because for a quantity of  X>0 (‘0’ meaning not extended) there is no smallest quantity, and so for a magnitude of extension of 3 units it could always be smaller (e.g., 0.0000565 units).  There are an infinite number of magnitudes smaller than any magnitude.  Marschall writes:

According to Kant, geometrical construction can be used to create new measures (CPR A713–714/B741–742). Coming back to the example of the hour from above, we can represent it using minutes, seconds, milliseconds, microseconds, nanoseconds, and so on. Analogously, objects in space can be synthesized using many different measures (or, more likely, empirical concepts which to some extent incorporate measures). Importantly, for any measure m, we can construct a new measure which is finer than m, and so we will never reach a stage at which some object in space cannot in principle be represented using a finer measure. There is thus no danger of running out of concepts which are needed to constitute mereological facts—infinite divisibility is thus secured, and the first success condition can be fulfilled. (Marschall, 2019, online NP)

Hume’s issue raised the question beyond natural science to how predicates can necessarily be connected to subjects they are not contained in.  The divisibility of matter issue is also part of the larger problem of how math can be applied to nature, which was a big issue of modernity.  In “The Critique of Pure Reason”, Kant asserts that physical phenomena must conform to geometrical generalization. In particular, he writes the following, “Empirical intuition is possible only through pure intuition (of space and time); consequently, what geometry affirms of the latter, is indisputably valid of the former.” His example is of “the rule of the infinite divisibility of lines or angles”. He continues by complaining that “if these objections hold good, we deny space, and with it all mathematics, objective validity, and no longer know, wherefore, and how far, mathematics can be applied to phenomena.”  Of course, for Kant this will be shown to be possible because things are in ideal space, whereas in transcendentally real space a contradiction arises with the antinomes.  In this way matter in itself is not to be thought that it consist of simple parts, nor is it infinitely divisible—at least if infinite divisibility is understood to entail that matter is a thing in itself that consists of infinitely many parts. Rather, as he sums up his view in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, we should say “that there are just so many parts in the appearance as we may provide, that is, so far as we may divide” (MAN 4:506–507)

For anything in space we can picture it growing and taking up an infinitely larger place, or shrinking and taking up an infinitely smaller place.  Similarly, in time we can imagine something lasting an infinitely longer time, as well as an infinitely shorter time.  Space is that which we can represent all things being removed from, but we can’t represent the removal of space (A 30).  If space is just a thing in itself, a mind independent giant container, it can no more be infinitely large than a table can be infinitely small because this, in the one case, leads to an infinite progress, just as in the other leads to an infinite regress, which is impossible.  Just as a thing in itself can’t be infinitely divisible, it can’t be infinitely expandable.  Why then are space and time not contradictory concepts?  Because for Kant they are ideal, forms of intuition, not things in themselves.  Similarly, spatial/temporal appearances are infinitely divisible but not contradictory because they are not things in themselves.  This follows from the nature of appearances, such as when we attribute saltiness to the ocean water even though saltiness cannot be a predicate of something in itself apart from how it relates to our senses.

Heidegger notes a key reason math applies to the world is because the fundamental axioms of math are philosophical, not mathematical.  Usually, the math student simply proceeds from the mathematical axioms without having to actually understand or question the axioms themselves. The axioms, for instance, of math, occasionally have a proof of them, but this is done mathematically, through deduction or the establishment of relations, and hence already presuppose that which the proof is being attempted of.  This is circular, of course.  Rather, if I take the child’s math sentence  “3X3 balls = 12-3 cubes” according to the axiom A=A, I have to establish the truth of this (i) principle of identity (eg., why is it apodictically true all bachelors are unmarried); (ii) the principle of contradiction (should it be formulated like Aristotle did “something cannot both be and not be at the same time and in the same way” / or as Kant formulates it removing “at the same time?”);[xxii] (iii) what “equals” means; (iv) how two things can be one; (v) what a thing is, etc.  In this way there is a thoroughgoing community of beings because each discipline eventually questions itself back to its philosophical foundations: Philosophy of physics, history, etc.  “Math” originally meant what is learnable (consider the word polymath, mathema), and quantities and the relations between quantities were just exemplary cases of what is learnable.  When Plato wrote of his school “let no one enter who doesn’t know math,” he didn’t mean fluency in geometry is a pre-requisite for studying philosophy, but rather no one should enter who doesn’t know how teaching and learning work.

  • (E) Space and Time

Whereas transcendental realism falls into the trap of empirical idealism, by Kant focusing on the causal force of the things themselves and temporal/spatial marks as representation, the house I am looking at is real, meaning immediately given through empirical intuition.  Just as there is a metaphysical duality in the probability of a coin toss, while the existence of the world is left unsure due to the possibility of dream and hallucination, from the point of view of how a person forms thoughts there is an external world.  An external world is not only known from the content or form of sense, but through an analysis of how a person thinks.  The ideality of space and time is crucial, as they are intimately connected to the Being of beings to the extent two otherwise identical entities are differentiated in terms of their where and when.  Kant says if space and time were not the forms of intuition, then transcendental realism leads to empirical idealism: “then all the criteria of experience can never, outside our perception, prove the reality of these objects outside us (Prolegomena, §49).”

Space and time are the forms of outer and inner intuition.  Heidegger argues space and time are pure intuitions wherein what is encountered in terms of sensation can be put to order.  Space and time are the prior projection in advance of the pure whole of the manifold of being-beside-one-another (space) and being-subsequent-to-one-another (time) in general. 

Idealized space is the intuition of the totality of possible spatial relations (Being-together: above, below, inside, etc.) that makes possible certain facts of experience, such as when we look at the starry skies above and we see constellations, not just the really real random scattering of stars reason demands.  But, herein the transcendental realism with space as a thing in itself is refuted.  For, though we want to think randomness of stars is the “really real,” we cannot look at or visualize the big dipper and see mere randomness, but only the figure/shape, so the intuition of beings in transcendentally real space (in this case the stars that make up the big dipper as random without figure/shape) is impossible.  As with a hidden gestalt image,[xxiii] once you see the figure/shape of the big dipper, we can’t unsee it.  We move beyond transcendental realism / empirical idealism to transcendental idealism / empirical realism and mind independent reality because we ‘know’ the constellations are fictions, but the mind acts on sense to make us experience them “as” real shapes, as though God made the night sky as a gigantic connect the dot puzzle.  So, when someone objects to Kant’s argument and says space is just a giant container existing in itself, it should be noted objects in space are relational and something doesn’t become relational merely by being in an enclosed container.  And since we can’t see random stars, but only the constellations (eg., big dipper), transcendental realism is false.  The mind works on objects, such as with the constellations, and the three transcendental time determinations of persistence, succession, and simultaneity.

Kant says “If we remove our own subject or even only the subjective constitution of the senses in general, then all constitution, all relations of objects in space and time, indeed space and time themselves would disappear” (A42/B59).  So, three dimensions are the way we intuit the world, such as when I look at a box.  Similarly, if I look at a drawing of the box or a photo of it, it is still 3D, though not in itself since the picture and photo are 2 dimensional.  Similarly, I can represent a box for myself purely in thought, but not a 4D shape because that would contradict the 3D form of the intuition.  Kant says in the Critique “that our representation of things as they are given to us does not conform to these things as they are in themselves but rather that these objects as appearances conform to our way of representing (B xxi).”  In the Prolegomena this basic principle of space is that objects can only at most appear in 3D, e.g., not more than three lines can cut each other at right angles in one point.  It is an intuition because a line or motion can be extended indefinitely and so space is not bounded, which is not something we could know from concepts.  For example, the reality of two oppositely spiraled snails are differentiated not by concepts, but intuition, and pure geometry objectively applies to the world because it is directed at the form of outer intuition. 

Analogously, we experience the successive and irreversible one-dimensional flow of time (during the movie: bored->entertained->bored->etc), even though we only ever sense mere succession, not rule governed irreversibility.  We always must distinguish (i) sense and (ii) experience.  The concept of cause thinks the object in general and intuits time as an a priori intuition (Prolegomena, §8) as the form of all objects.

Heidegger argues Kant can determine various a priori knowledge truths from this: “Space has only three dimensions,” “Time has only one dimension,” “Various times are not simultaneous but successive.” The ideality of space is phenomenalized by thinking of some young children who have difficulty understanding and experiencing spatial relations (above, below, etc) because they don’t yet have a sufficiently developed experience of space. Importantly, Stefanie Grüne (2020) notes Kant (On a Discovery, 8:221-23) says space, time and the categories are not innate from birth but develop, as I said above a knowledge context which makes sense given after college Kant spent six years as a private tutor to young children outside Königsberg.  Likewise, the ideality of time follows from the fact that we experience the rule of irreversibility of the one directional flow of time even though we only encounter in sense mere succession: this -> this -> this etc (see below). 

To be in space doesn’t mean to be in a giant container, since spatial relations don’t appear as necessary simply by virtue of being enclosed, but rather to be in space is to be subject to certain spatial relations as necessary to the way objects appear.  Space/time mediate intuitions and concepts via the transcendental power of imagination, space and time designated by Kant as ens imaginarium.  And time?

Aristotle says time is impossible without the existence of the soul. For instance, when I experience the boringness of the book, this stretching out of time (boringness/Langeweile) is experienced as a property of the book, though I realize the next person may read the book without experiencing this stretching out of time.[xxiv]  Ellis (2000) notes for Heidegger time is neither pure perceiving (intentio) nor perceived (intentum), but somehow in-between (e.g., somehow dependent on the book, but somehow not).  It is another way the mind is ek-static, outside of itself, like how the categories were in the critique of Antisthenes above.  

Time as stretching creates the place wherein phenomena can appear to me, which we phenomenalize in contrast to dreamless sleep (see Prolegomena §24) or under general anesthesia where the mind isn’t creating this “time-place” and so many hours pass in an “experience-less” instant:  If there is no mental creation of this “time-place,” there is no experience.  Leibniz says when we enter a deep sleep, our perceptions in general may fail to rise to the level of conscious awareness altogether (Leibniz 1686: §33).  For Kant time emerges in the end as self-affection.  It is the pure sequence of Nows supplied by the mind (eg watching tv I go bored->entertained->bored), which is pure because it flows forward or backward depending on your arbitrary point of view: e.g., (i) Backward: Christmas is coming->has arrived->is gone [versus] (ii) Forward: I will make it to Christmas in a few days->I’ve arrived at Christmas->I’ve marched into the future  beyond Christmas.  In one case, Christmas is moving, and in the reverse case I am moving.

  • (F) Non Temporal Causality of Freedom

There is also non-temporal causality of freedom.  The person for Kant is fundamentally rational and responsible.  Besides natural causality, the mind already applies the rule of causality apart from time in morality with causality of freedom, which makes ethics possible by creating a “background” against which we can recognize the varieties of responsibility/culpability in what we do and don’t do.  “Backgrounds” is meant in the sense “the colors of the sunset stand out against the background of the evening sky,” perhaps part of what Hegel meant by the evening imagery with “The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the coming of the dusk.” 

Like with the question ‘how are we able to encounter/recognize events as causal?,’ how do we encounter/recognize behavior as ethical/unethical?  For Kant ethical questions are issues of causality too.  There are ethical standards like the golden rule, ideal exemplars like the Stoic sage (A570/B598) and assessment/evaluation criteria like the universal declaration of human rights, but the question is how is this possible?  Even the most disturbed sociopath has a, so to speak, “circle of friends,” however small, that he has a benevolent disposition toward (B 426).  Experiments involving children under the age of two have led researchers to conclude that fairness is an innate and universal concept. 

Morality is based on practical reason, requires intelligence, and hence a 1-year-old or a dog or certain mentally challenged people cannot be held responsible for their actions like typical adult humans.  If they act in an “evil” way, we say “they just don’t know any better.”  To be a typical adult person is to know oneself as morally attached to your actions.  Heidegger argues for Kant transcendental apperception means the same as I-think. It is “I can,” i.e. disposition, the ability-character of my actions. Heidegger clarifies for Kant in ethics the moral disposition (Gesinnung) of good intentions of a human being is a basic position toward a realm of possibilities, analogous to how “taking-as” was noted above as our basic disposition toward the world.  Just as a schizophrenic’s unconscious stance toward the world may cause beings to “appear as” conspiracy-saturated, a stance toward the world of good intentions causes beings to call to you as needy-saturated (as Derrida/Levinas also noted).  

Heidegger says we phenomenalize the fact that out of a causality of freedom the Will auto-affects itself in that it unconsciously legislates the rule that the person is morally attached to all her actions, which as I said is un-hidden (a-letheia, truth, phenomenalized) when contrasted with lower animals and certain mentally disabled people or infants who are not morally attached to their actions in this way.  Heidegger notes in law the accused often try to argue they are not legally responsible as a defense from criminal prosecution (e.g. citing mitigating circumstances), which all the more strongly phenomenalizes we are attached morally to our actions (Heidegger, 2002, 199).

This unconscious self-legislation and pure respect for the rule makes moral experience and judgments/maxims possible:  Not just as an ethics but rather a metaphysics of morals.  Such an unconscious pure command of the Will is not a hypothetical imperative (if you want to be moral, then do X) but categorical (To be human means you are moral, meaning you act accountably as a function of being human”).  Schelling (Heidegger, 2002) later fulfilled this line of thought by arguing that our capacity for Evil is our distinctively human freedom.  Phenomenologically, this is artistically dis-closed by the thought that only humans can sink beneath animals in terms of depravity.

  • (Conclusion)

In this essay, I’ve tried to construct an exemplar/example showing what Hegelian dis-closive phenomenological reading looks like as it analyzes its concepts and makes them conspicuous.  What I really have in mind as an opponent reading is an interpretation that merely lists a thinker’s concepts without disclosing why a thinker should hold them to be true.  I began by phenomenologically disclosing ek-static humanity and the history of Being for Heidegger, and then used this context to make conspicuous Heidegger’s ek-staticreading of Kant.  Technically, I compared and contrasted two of Heidegger’s phenomenological investigations, and used them to triangulate a major aspect of what Heidegger regards as the Hegelian dis-closive phenomenological method   

The “post-modern” critique of the excessive claims of modernity and its metaphysics of the object in general, initiated by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, is still underway with followers of Deleuze, Derrida and others.  Heidegger says modernity/technology have been very useful and productive, and yet replete with paralogisms mistaking the unique individual for the object in general.  For example: ‘There is no reason to buy a lottery ticket because it’s virtually impossible that I will win … yet, it’s reasonable to think that “someone” will win, and I’m a “someone,” so it could be me.  I’m going to buy a ticket!’ The same paralogistic thinking happens in the reverse: “I just got a medical assessment that I have been healed in a way that defies medical explanation, so it must have been a miracle from God!”  Of course, on a planet of 7 billion people, some recoveries that defy medical explanation are expected completely apart from recourse to the supernatural.  Foucault said postmodernity involves rooting out these fascisms, both in society and in ourselves. 

From a cynical and overgeneralizing point of view, we see this with the ambiguity of the political object in general and how politicians try to “spin” and debate it into their context (conservative vs liberal).  It is no accident that many successful politicians were first lawyers (A 430/B 458).  In this way we have judges with a conservative or liberal disposition who project their opinions in advance, such as with a hanging judge.  There is a metaphysical duality in the object of the judge’s assessment and evaluation: (i) the case in general as it is pre-judged, and (ii) the specific case being judged. 

The positive content is seen when we teach children to debate and we have them research and make a case for both sides of the issue and only later assigning them to a side of the debate, unhooking truth from the perspective/narrative being spun (e.g., pro vs con uniforms in school).  Such deconstruction comes at a cost, and so for instance we have the 9’11 terror attacks being interpreted as a horrific evil by the west, yet the holiest good by many Palestinians at the time.  Again, though, this individual case of moral relativism does nothing to disturb the standards (golden rule) and evaluation criteria (universal human rights) of objective morality any more than the objective criteria for assessing fine wine (The American Wine Society lists: Appearance, Aroma & Bouquet, Taste & Texture, Aftertaste, and Overall Impression) are invalidated because an individual person finds wine repulsive in general.  So, two teachers may use the same criteria and standards/exemplars and come up with two very different grade evaluations for a student’s work.  But, on the whole, educational rubrics work and are replicable in assigning grades.  Noted earlier with the question of existence, this is the duality of the phenomenon as empirically real yet transcendentally ideal. The world of transcendental idealism is just getting clear about the world we all know of appearances and the object in general: filled with brown desks and salty oceans, entities of physics, psychology, ethics, education, history, anthropology, sociology, etc.


[i] Nietzsche indicates “To stamp Becoming with the character of Being—that is the supreme will to power (WM, 617).” 

[ii] But unfortunately, when a basic disposition toward life becomes standardized and popularized as securing against doubt, this magnifies anxiety for the same reason diets can be counterproductive in that you’re thinking about food all the time.

[iii] This circumscribing of beings in this Cartesian way is one sense objects are appearances for Kant, beings that are thus re-presented in this way: “everything intuited in space or in time, hence all objects of an experience possible for us, are nothing but appearances, i.e., mere representations, which, as they are represented, as extended beings or series of alterations, have outside our thoughts no existence grounded in itself. (A490–91/B518–19; cf. A369).”  For an object thought in terms of extension, the ideality of space renders it intelligible as extended since “Boundaries (in extended things) always presuppose a space that is found outside a certain fixed location, and that encloses that location (Prolegomena §57).”  Analogously, a feminist interpretation/object of inquiry of the bible as efficient cause circumscribes as really real those parts that marginalize or valorize women.  More on this notion of “object” below. 

[iv] Burnham (2024) argues in Leibniz the monad is “pregnant” with the future and “laden” with the past (see, for example, Monadology §22). All these properties are “folded up” within the monad; they unfold when they have sufficient reason to do so (see, for example, Monadology §61).”  Burnham notes Leibniz distinguishes four types of monads: humans, animals, plants, and matter. All have perceptions, in the sense that they have internal properties that “express” external relations.   The first three have substantial forms, and thus appetition; the first two have memory; but only the first has reason (see Monadology §§18-19 & 29).

[v] Kant explains this more fundamentally saying “If this subjective community is to rest on an objective ground, or is to be related to appearances as substances, then the perception of one, as ground, must make possible the perception of the other, and conversely, so that the succession that always exists in the perceptions, as apprehensions, will not be ascribed to the objects, but these can instead be represented as existing simultaneously. But this is a reciprocal influence, i.e., a real community (commercium) of substances, without which the empirical relation of simultaneity could not obtain in experience. (B 262).”

[vi] Aristotle said that Being cannot be equivocal (homonymous”) or univocal (sunonumos), but is rather analogical. Being is quite obviously not equivocal. On the other hand, it cannot be, as Plato wanted, genus like, univocal, because the genus is what is common to many, which must then be differentiated into species. The genus cannot be included in what defines any of the species, for otherwise it would not be the genus.  Heidegger gives the example of rationality, the determination of humans, as being included in the genus ‘living thing.’ In that case, plants, if they are living, would have to be rational. If Being were a genus and the different ways of being, such as being true and being possible were species, then insofar as these ways are something rather than not, the genus would have to be included in the species, which is impossible. Being, rather, is analogous. Health, for instance, is what is understood in general in something that possesses that condition (dehikon), or else something that produces health (poiein), or something that is an indication of health (semeion einai), or else something that is conducive to the recovery of health (phulatteiri). What is seen here is that while ‘health’ is general it is not said of the various kinds in the same way, and so is not a genus. Rather, in all the different cases health is “co-intended,” and hence thought analogously, that is, one thinks the various kinds of health and thinks ‘health as such’ at the same time. Let us consider this another way. It cannot be the case, for instance, that ‘essence’ goes out to both ‘essence of kind’ in the sense of a commonality of many things and ‘essence of Socrates’ in the same way, since the latter only goes out to one person.  ‘Essence’ in these cases is not intended in the same way.  Leibniz thereby sees each monad as expressing Being slightly differently.  Kant, by contrast, denied monadology and thought 2 objects could be identical and were differentiated only by their spatial/temporal location.

[vii] In considering the thing-in-itself apart from our mind / appearance distinction I am generally of Allison’s (2004) school of thought that we are speaking of 2 different angles on the same thing rather than 2 different objects.  For Kant uniqueness did not pertain to appearances because two objects could be identical, but rather true individuation could be gleaned from an object’s unique spatiotemporal location, but then this needs to be understood in terms of the ideality of space and time.  By thing in itself we mean “that this is a concept of a kind of real beings, of things endowed with intensive degrees of causal force that appear to us by causally affecting our sensibility (Stang, 2022, 306).”  In the Prolegomena Kant notes things that are only known in representation include “To these predicates belong warmth, color, taste, etc. That I, however, even beyond these, include (for weighty reasons) also among mere appearances the remaining qualities of bodies, which are called primarias: extension, place, and more generally space along with everything that depends on it (impenetrability or materiality, shape, etc.), is something against which not the least ground of uncertainty can be raised … all of the properties that make up the intuition of a body belong merely to its appearance (Note II).”  Basically Kant is picking up on the appearance nature of Locke’s secondary qualities and amplifying it.  Probably the easiest way to think it is there is physical me, which is also psychological me, which is also sociological me, etc., which all assume a transcendental  object in general = X as their foundation (more on this below).  

[viii] In the Prolegomena Kant argues “for that would have to bring nature in general – whether pertaining to an object of the outer senses or of the inner sense (the object of physics as well as psychology) – under universal laws. But among the principles of this universal physics a few are found that actually have the universality we require, such as the proposition: that substance remains and persists, that everything that happens always previously is determined by a cause according to constant laws, and so on. These are truly universal laws of nature, that exist fully a priori (§15).” Hatfield notes the word physics here is used to mean the science of nature in general and was understood by many 18th century authors to include the study of living things and of the mind.

[ix] As Leibniz says, “insensible [unconscious] perceptions are as important to [the science of minds, souls, and soul-like substances] as insensible corpuscles are to natural science, and it is just as unreasonable to reject the one as the other on the pretext that they are beyond the reach of our senses” (New Essays, Preface; RB 56).

[x] The concept of causality which makes predictability possible thus pertains not only to physical alteration but to the fact that objects are unrecognizable without it (A 542 / B 570; Prol 4:294).  Rosenkoetter (2022) notes Hume in effect is denying “something must have broken the windowpane or caused the household article to disappear (149).”

[xi] The coin toss event is a metaphysical duality, both the (i) ideal causal coin toss in general as a phenomenon of probabilistic cognition, and (ii) specific un-causal unique coin toss event unto itself.  This is one way to think of the non-interaction between monads in Leibniz that only seem to be interacting with one another.  There is a rule of thumb connection between this and previous coin tosses, but no actual connection.

[xii] A feminist reading of a narrative text opens a field and predicts in advance what will be encountered in a narrative text in general and so opens a field of possible objects belonging to the reading, and in this way is like an efficient cause in Aristotle’s sense where, for instance, the seed is the blueprint for the flower.  Falcon (2023) notes it is the art, not the artisan that is the efficient cause of the bronze sculpture for Aristotle (Phys. II 3, 195 b 21–25).    Aquinas says  such a cause brings something into being or alters something that already is.  It is noted that for Kant the person is always implicated in the appearance.

[xiii] In Kant on Concepts, Intuitions and Sensible Synthesis Stefanie Grüne notes Kant writes “supposing an Australian aborigine, for example, were to see a house for the first time, and was near enough to distinguish all its parts, though without having the least concept of it) […] (96).”

[xiv] Kant defines an appearance as the “undetermined object of an empirical intuition” (A20/B34),

[xv] A significant problem with many readings of Kant is this issue of the applicability of the categories.  Rosefeldt (2022) helpfully supposes Kant meant something like a thing in itself is analogous to a poisonous snake that is not poisonous in itself but its secretion becomes poisonous when combined with the human physiology. 

[xvi] Burnham (2024) notes for Leibniz “A serious error would arise only if one took the “objects” of science (matter, motion, space, time, etc.) as if they were real in themselves. Consider the following analogy: in monitoring a nation’s economy, it is sometimes convenient to speak of a retail price index, which is a way of keeping track of the average change in the prices of millions of items. But there is nothing for sale anywhere which costs just that amount. As a measure it works well, provided one does not take it literally. Science, in order to be possible for finite minds, involves that kind of simplification or “abbreviation” (see, for example, “Letter to Arnauld,” 30 April 1687). 

[xvii] In ordinary perspective we know the color red is not a property of the chair itself but is rather a secondary quality.  Still, the positive content here is that in seeing the red table the mind is projecting an artificial context and space wherein redness is being placed on the table over there – since we really do feel like we see the red table.  Kant thinks the mind is doing this for all the properties of objects, including impenetrability and extension.  This is a natural development of Locke’s insight who said in the Essay “”Qualities thus considered in bodies are: First, such as are utterly inseparable from the body …[namely] solidity, extension, figure, and mobility … Secondly, such qualities which in truth are nothing in the objects themselves but powers to produce various sensations in us by their primary qualities, ie by their bulk, figure, texture, and motion of their insensible parts, as colours, sounds, tastes, etc. These I call secondary qualities.” (Bk II, Ch. VIII, Section 9).  For Locke primary qualities are inseparable from matter and are found in every part of it; the secondary qualities are not true qualities of matter but are merely powers in the objects to produce sensory effects in us by means of the primary qualities in their minute parts.  Locke says colors vanish in the dark, yet still say something about the thing in itself, dispositional powers to produce sensations in us, like when we say something is sour.

[xviii] Leibniz noted “extended” as traditionally understood as fundamental by Descartes was a self-contradicting predicate, which is why Leibniz postulated an immaterial monad.  Francis and Taylor (2017) explain for Leibniz an extended atom would still have parts: for example, a left half and a right half, inner and outer sections.  If monads are genuinely simple substances, they must be unextended.  Even if a quark turns out to be the smallest naturally occurring  elementary particle, it means nothing against infinite divisibility of matter because we can obviously suppose a sufficiently advanced technology or a God smashing or carving the quark ad infinitum.

[xix] Heidegger famously quipped in Introduction to Metaphysics that anyone who knew the true measure of Parmenides’ thought would lose all desire to write books.

[xx] As physicist Carlo Rovelli noted, categories like substance with properties don’t work at the level of the very small quantum physics.

[xxi] Space is the ideal form of outer intuition, since just as a thing is only infinitely indivisible if it is an appearance, so too we cannot represent space as containing an infinite number of places within it if it is a thing in itself.    

[xxii] Heidegger helpfully highlighted Kant took simultaneity out of the definition of the principle of contradiction, but re-inserted it back into the highest principle of all synthetic judgements as his reading of Parmenides, “the conditions of the possibility of experience in general are at the same time conditions of the possibility of the objects of experience” – the highest principle of analytic judgments being the principle of contradiction, or perhaps the principle of identity because to say a predicate is contained in a subject (all bachelors are unmarried) requires the further grounding of what A=A means.   Clear to Kant was if analytic judgments merely deal with relations between concepts and not intuitions, time as the form of intuition doesn’t belong in the highest principle of analytic judgments principle of contradiction.  The copula usually means “it is true that,” though this is the beginning of the inquiry rather than the end since there is much polysemy in the word “truth,” as I mentioned above.

[xxiii] Cameron Chapman notes in the simplest terms, gestalt theory is based on the idea that the human brain will attempt to simplify and organize complex images or designs that consist of many elements, by subconsciously arranging the parts into an organized system that creates a whole, rather than just a series of disparate elements.  Kendra Cherry adds When trying to make sense of the world around us, Gestalt psychology suggests that we do not simply focus on every small component. Instead, our minds tend to perceive objects as elements of more complex systems.  For example, phi phenomenon is an optical illusion where two stationary objects seem to move if they are shown appearing and disappearing in rapid succession. In other words, we perceive movement where there is none.  We perceive things by seeing the whole perception, not by understanding individual parts. In the example of blinking lights at a train station, the whole we perceive is that one light appears to move quickly between two points. The reality is that two separate lights are blinking rapidly without moving at all.

[xxiv] Physicist Carlo Rovelli explains that when traditional physics begins by describing the motion of a swinging pendulum while comparing it to a clock, it is a misunderstanding to think the pendulum is really held up to “objective time,” but rather the movement of the pendulum is held up to the movement of the hands on a clock.  Similarly, saying I woke up at 8:00 am really means I woke up when the sun was at such and such a position.  We seem to hold onto the belief of time as an objective entity because we fail to clarify what we mean when we invoke time as an explanation. 

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FOR PART 1 PLEASE SEE Heidegger’s Hegelian Phenomenological Method (Part 1/2)