Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason

By Sebastian Gardner | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

The meaning of transcendental idealism

Perhaps the most intriguing single comment made about transcendental idealism is the famous remark of Kant’s contemporary Jacobi that, year after year, he had been forced in confusion to recommence the Critique because he had found himself unable to enter into the system of Kantian philosophy without the presupposition of the thing in itself, and yet, with that presupposition, unable to remain within it.

Jacobi accounted for his confusion by claiming to find a contradiction at the heart of the system itself. Kant asks us, Jacobi says, to think of the objects of our perception as mere subjective determinations of our being, and yet at the same time as the product of our being affected. The latter is essential in so far as transcendental philosophy wishes to stand in agreement with our fundamental conviction that our perceptions are of real things, things which are independent of our representations and present outside us; and since

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