Kant and the Demands of Self-Consciousness

By Pierre Keller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Self-consciousness and the demands of judgment
in the B-Deduction

Kant's most sophisticated treatment of how self-consciousness constrains the character of experience is to be found in the B-Deduction. In the A-Deduction, in which the notion of judgment is only mentioned once in describing the powers of the understanding (A 126), Kant's argument turned on the enabling conditions of recognition. The BDeduction establishes objectivity by way of a more explicit appeal to the normative demands placed on experience by the possibility of forming judgments about what is experienced. Kant first argues that any cognitively significant content is a potential candidate for representation in a consciousness of self that potentially includes all representations whatsoever. He then argues that whatever is a candidate for self-consciousness is also something to which we can apply concepts and hence a candidate for judgment.

Judgments make an implicit claim to objectivity by making a truth claim. In forming a judgment, we commit ourselves to the truth of the proposition that is asserted by the judgment. It might be thought that this truth could merely be a truth for me or for someone else. In this case, the truth would be merely subjective. However, such a subjectrelative conception of truth would not do the job that we assign to the notion of truth, namely to capture the way things are independently of an individual point of view or take on the way the world is. For this reason, Kant accepts the nominal definition of truth as correspondence with an object even though there is no way to determine whether a judgment corresponds to an object independently of whether that judgment coheres with other judgments.

The claim to truth made by judgment, and with it the presumption that the proposition asserted by the judgment corresponds with an object, is the ground for the normative claim made by a judgment. This normative ground of judgment ultimately has its source in the possibility of representing the content asserted by a judgment in an impersonal

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