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APPERCEPTION AND ANALYTICITY

IN THE B-DEDUCTION

Henry E. ALLISON
University of Califomia, San Diego

In the B-Deduction Kant states that, although it "reveals the neces-


sity of a synthesis of the manifold given in intuition", the "principle
of the necessary unity of apperception is ... an identical, and there-
fore analytic proposition" (B 135). Moreover, as if to emphasize that
thjs was not a momentary slip, he remarks shortly thereafter that the
proposition which "makes synthetic unity a condition of all thought
... is, as already stated, itself analytic". This, he continues, is because:
[I]t says no more than that all my representations in any given intuition
must be subject to that condition under which alone I can ascribe them
to the identical self as my representations, and so can comprehend them
as synthetically combined in one apperception through the general
expression, 'I think'(B 138).
But, in spite of Kant's unambiguous pronouncements, this claim
has proven to be a stumbling block for even the most sympathetic
and thorough commentators.' To be sure, one could regard as
analytic the trivial claim that all my representations must be subject
to those conditions, whatever they may be, that allow them to be
my representations. As the above citations indicate, however, Kant
took the analyticity to extend also to the apparently substantive
claim that the essential condition of the possibility of such self-
ascription is that the representations be unifiable in a single self-
consciousness. In short, Kant regards the principle of the necessary
synthetic unity of apperception as itself analytic. And it is here that

1. See, for example, H.l. Paton, Kant' sMetaphysic 01Experience, New York:
Macmillan, 1936, vol. 1 pp. 518, H.l. de Vleeschauwer, La Deduction transcen-
dentale dans I'oeuvre de Kant, 3 vols. Paris etc. 1934-37, Reprinted New York
& London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1976, Vol. III, pp. 115-16.
234

the problems begin; for it certainly seems strange that Kant, of all
philosophers, would characterize wh at he terms "the highest prin-
ciple in the whole sphere of human knowledge" (B 135) as analytic.
How could such a principle be analytic, and if it is, how could it
ground the possibility of synthetic apriori knowledge?
In Kant's Transcendental Idealism, I attempted to take this claim
seriously, making the analyticity of apperception into a key for
interpreting the B-Deduction as a whole. In the present paper, I
would like to return to this issue, considering the thesis both in light
of Kant's overall teachings on apperception and of some of the
literature that has appeared since the publication of my book. The
paper is divided into three parts. The first sketches the main argu-
ments against the thesis that the principle of apperception is analytic.
The second attempts to show that the principle, in the form in which
it appears in the first part of the B-Deduction, is in fact analytic and
that this is is consistent with the significance Kant attributes to it.
The third considers the implications of the analyticity of the prin-
ciple of apperception for the overall proof-structure of the B-Deduc-
tion. In particular, it argues that such an understanding of this
principle is not only compatible with the two steps in a single proof
schema noted by Dieter Henrich in his classical paper, but also serves
to explain why the proof proceeds in two sharply distinguished
steps.2

Perhaps the most serious discussion of Kant's claim for the analy-
ticity of the principle of apperception in the recent literature is that
of Paul Guyer, who considers this claim in light of his overall
interpretation of the Transcendental Deduction. According to Guyer,
the Deduction in both editions is a patchwork of radically different
argumentative tactics. Some, resting on the presupposition of
knowledge of objects, argue for the categories as necessary condi-
tions of the possibility of such knowledge. Since this li ne of argu-

2. Dieter Henrich, "The Proof-Structure ofKant's Transcendental Deduction",


Review 01 Metaphysics, 22 (1968-69), pp. 640-659.

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