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1 sWeek 1 Kant's Problems Set reading Kant, Prolegomena, Preface/Introduction (4:255-264).

). Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, Preface to the Second Edition, Bvii-xxxvii {pp. 17-37 of the Kemp Smith edition; pp. 139-153 of Hatfield's CUP edition of the Prolegomena}. Commentary Kant's central preoccupation in the Critique is made clear in his Letter to Herz, 21 February 1772 (extract below; in full in Kant, Pre-Critical Writings, or Philosophical Correspondence). On the letter to Herz and Kant's discovery of the Critical problem, see E. Cassirer, Kant's Life and Thought, pp. 115-38. A short paper giving a clear idea of what Kant's Copernican revolution amounts to is E. Bencivenga, 'Knowledge as a relation and knowledge as an experience in the Critique of Pure Reason', in R. Chadwick ed., Immanuel Kant: Critical Assessments, vol. 2. Also on the meaning of Kant's Copernicanism, see E. Cassirer, Kant's Life and Thought, pp. 139-54. To get an impression of two important, and very different, lines of interpretation of Kant, see Strawson, The Bounds of Sense, pp. 15-24, 38-42, and Allison, Kant's Transcendental Idealism, ch. 1; Strawson denies, whereas Allison affirms, the philosophical significance of Kant's transcendental idealism. * * *

The Critical problem: Kant's letter to Herz In 1770 Kant thought that the Dissertation would be his final position, but its weakness soon became clear to him. His recognition of the difficulty it faced is expressed in an important letter that he wrote in 1772: I noticed that I still lacked something essential, something that in my long metaphysical studies I, as well as others, had failed to pay attention to and that, in fact, constitutes the key to the whole secret of hitherto obscure metaphysics. I asked myself: What is the ground of the relation of that in us which we call 'representation' to the object? If a representation is only a way in which the subject is affected by the object, then it is easy to see how the representation is in conformity with this object, namely, as an effect in accord with its cause ... [Kant goes on to say: so passive or sensuous representations have an understandable relationship to objects] ... In the same way, if that in us which we call 'representation' were active with regard to the object, that is, if the object itself were created by the representation (as when divine cognitions are conceived as the archetypes of all things), the conformity of these representations to their objects could be understood ... However, our understanding, through its representations, is not the cause of the object ... nor is the object the cause of the intellectual representations in the mind ... In my dissertation ... I had said: The sensuous representations present things as they appear, the intellectual representations present them as they are. But by what means are these things [i.e. things as they are] given to us, if not by the way in which they affect us? And ... whence comes the agreement they [our intellectual representations] are supposed to have with objects how do they agree with these objects, since the agreement has not been reached with the aid of experience? [...] Plato assumed a previous intuition of divinity as the primary source of the pure concepts of the understanding and of first principles. Malebranche believed in a still-continuing perennial intuition of this primary being. Various moralist have accepted precisely this view with respect to basic moral laws. Crusius believed in certain implanted rules for the purpose of forming judgements and ready-made concepts that God implanted in the human soul just as they had to be in order to harmonize with things. Of these systems, one may call the former [Plato and Malebranche] influxum hyperphysicum and the latter [Crusius; Kant might also have referred to Leibniz] harmonium praestabilitam intellectualem. But the deus ex machina is the greatest absurdity one could hit upon in the determination of the origin and validity of our knowledge. It has besides its deceptive circle in the conclusion concerning our cognitions also this additional disadvantage: it encourages all sorts of wild notions and every pious and speculative brainstorm. (Letter to Herz, 21 February 1772)

2 The different ways in which previous philosophers have attempted to answer this question of what grounds the relation of representation to object all involve a deus ex machina in so far as they all avail themselves of some completely ungrounded, arbitrary supposition, such as that God has pre-established a harmony between our concepts and the things that compose reality. By the time of the Critique, Kant had reformulated the problem stated in the letter to Herz, taking a broader and deeper view of it. The Critical problem in the Critique is the problem of explaining how it is possible for there to be any objects of experience, thought and knowledge at all for us, and Kant's claim is that it can be solved only by means of the Copernican revolution. The Copernican revolution, and transcendental idealism The doctrine of transcendental idealism that follows from Kant's Copernican revolution is Kant's solution to the Critical problem. It has two fundamental components. (1) Its methodological claim is expressed in Kant's statement that, 'Hitherto it has been assumed that all our knowledge must conform to objects', and that to this assumption, which has failed conspicuously to yield any metaphysical knowledge, there is an alternative: 'We must instead make trial whether we may not have more success in the tasks of metaphysics, if we suppose that objects must conform to our knowledge' (Bxvi). (2) Its substantial claim is that the object of our knowledge is 'to be taken in a twofold sense, namely as appearance [Erscheinung] and as thing in itself [Ding an sich selbst]' (Bxxvii), and that objects are known to us only in the first sense, as appearances (see Bxx, Bxxvi). The methodological and substantive claims are connected: in so far as an object is conceived as an appearance, it is conceived as necessarily conforming to our mode of knowledge; in so far as it is conceived as a thing in itself, it is conceived as something to which our mode of knowledge must conform. Because our mode of knowledge, according to Kant, presupposes sense experience, appearances are necessarily empirical objects. Thus the limits of knowledge coincide with those of possible experience. Transcendental idealism says that, in a philosophically complex sense, the subject constitutes its objects, and that these mind-constituted objects, that is, appearances, compose the only kind of reality to which we have access (hence the 'idealism'). Reality in the sense of a realm of objects constituted independently of the subject would consist of things in themselves, and Kant says that, although this is something which we can (indeed, must) conceive, we can have no knowledge of it. The division into appearances and things in themselves corresponds to the two kinds of metaphysics: the metaphysics of experience provides us with a priori knowledge of appearances; transcendent metaphysics is an illicit attempt to gain knowledge of things in themselves. The 'transcendental' dimension of Kant's philosophy derives from the Copernican requirement that objects be considered as standing in conformity with the cognitive constitution of the subject: 'I entitle transcendental all knowledge which is occupied not so much with objects as with the mode of our knowledge of objects in so far as this mode of knowledge is to be possible a priori' (B25); 'the word "transcendental" [...] does not signify something passing beyond all experience [transcendent] but something that indeed precedes it a priori, but that is intended simply to make cognition of experience possible' (Prolegomena 373n). Transcendental enquiry dictates a special method of philosophical enquiry, which consists in the identification of 'conditions of possibility', or transcendental conditions. These are conditions of possible experience, and they are argued to be necessary if there is to be experience of objects at all. Kant will show that they include the basic tenets of common sense metaphysics of experience, such as, that there are substances which persist throughout change, and that every event has a cause. The arguments that identify these conditions are called by Kant transcendental proofs, and these, if successful, refute skepticism, such as Hume's, by showing that skepticism incoherently violates the conditions which are necessary for experience to occur. Transcendental concepts and principles are consequently ones that supply us with a priori knowledge of objects. Kant indicates that two proofs will be offered to establish the transcendental idealist claim that all that we can know are appearances: (1) it will be argued (in the Antinomy of Pure Reason) that, unless the assumption that the objects of knowledge are things in themselves is abandoned, the contradictions of metaphysics cannot be avoided (Bxx); (2) Kant assures us that an 'apodictic' proof of transcendental idealism will also be provided in connection with space and time, and the concepts of the understanding (in the Transcendental Aesthetic and Transcendental Analytic) (Bxxii note a).