Kant and the Demands of Self-Consciousness

By Pierre Keller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Introducing apperception

Kant introduces the notion of apperception as well as the notion of self-consciousness in the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories. This is the text of the Critique of Pure Reason that is widely regarded as the most central one of the whole Critique. It is the section of the Critique that Kant said had cost him “the most trouble, ” presumably because it is “laid out at a rather deep level” (A XVI).

In this chapter, I propose to develop Kant's account of apperception and the general way in which Kant connects apperception to representational content in the first (A) edition of the Deduction. First, I argue that the A-Deduction interprets the notion of apperception as self consciousness. I then argue that the numerical identity that Kant ascribes to transcendental self-consciousness in the A-Deduction is not to be understood as committing him to any specific claims about my individual personal identity. It is rather to be understood as an enabling condition of conceptual recognition of objects. I discuss Kant's argument that all representational content must have at least an indirect relation to a possible self-consciousness in order to be a determinate representation at all. I argue that this is best understood as the idea that each representation has a distinctive functional role in judgment and inference that is based on its relation to a possible self-consciousness.


APPERCEPTION IN THE A-DEDUCTION

Kant introduces empirical apperception in the following way:

The consciousness of oneself according to the determination of our state in inner perception is merely empirical, always mutable, there can be no standing or persistent self in the flux of these inner appearances, and it is customarily called inner sense, or empirical apperception. (A 107)

Here, Kant identifies empirical self-consciousness with inner sense and empirical apperception. In interpreting empirical self-consciousness in

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