Kant and the Demands of Self-Consciousness

By Pierre Keller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Self-consciousness and the unity of intuition:
completing the B-Deduction

Kant develops and supports the claim to objectivity implicit in judgment by first arguing that all judgment that is dependent on a specific subject-matter dependent judgment derives its content from spatiotemporal experience and then by arguing that we can represent all objects in space and time together in a manner that is stand point neutral. This standpoint-neutral manner of representing objects in space and time is due to their relation to a possible self-consciousness. As contents of consciousness, objects in space and time are representable in a manner that depends on the spatio-temporal standpoint of the observing consciousness. However, this standpoint-dependent perspective is itself only intelligible relative to a possible standpoint-independent perspective from which the standpoint of the observer becomes cognitively accessible.

By appealing to the standpoint-neutral constraints on representing standpoint-dependent truths, it is possible to justify the objectivity claim made by judgment. Objectivity then consists in the way things must be represented in space and time so that they are the same for all observers at all spatio-temporal locations. Kant seeks to make it comprehensible how even subjective experiences can be regarded as subject to objectivity constraints. The key thesis here is that subjective experiences are inherently dependent on the way things present themselves to the spatio-temporal point of view of some consciousness. But this particular point of view is only intelligible as a specific perspective that one can take as a self. In self-consciousness one is then, in principle, able to combine the difierent possible spatio-temporal points of view in a single encompassing objective point of view. It is because the individual perspectives of diverse subjective experiences themselves presuppose a single comprehensive point of view of which they are the perspectives, that subjective experiences are subject to objectivity constraints.

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