Categories, Logical Functions, and Schemata in Kant

By Melnick, Arthur | The Review of Metaphysics, March 2001 | Go to article overview

Categories, Logical Functions, and Schemata in Kant


Melnick, Arthur, The Review of Metaphysics


IN THE FIRST EDITION TRANSCENDENTAL DEDUCTION of the categories Kant does not mention the logical functions of judgment. In the second edition (the B edition) the Deduction can be said to be dominated by the logical functions of judgment. A transcendental deduction supplies a method for showing that pure concepts can have applicability. My contention is that the two deductions constitute exactly the same method, and so are the exact same deduction. The difference between them, rather, is in the characterization of the pure concepts that the method is supposed to be a method for. The undifferentiated categories of the A edition become the logical functions together with their schemata in the B edition. This does not mean that Kant has split the A edition notion of categories since the A edition categories are equivalent to just the schemata themselves.

The B edition simply adds the logical functions to the characterization of the pure concepts. The rationale for this addition is that Kant's radically new theory of cognition had so changed the notion of judgment or thought that the issue of the relation of judgment, thus newly understood, to logical reasoning was called into question. I believe the picture I shall present clarifies not only the structure of the B edition Deduction, but the nature of the Metaphysical Deduction and the Schematism as well.

I

We begin with a characterization of the A edition Deduction. In the first of what he calls the preparatory sections of the Deduction, (1) Kant characterizes objective cognition or objective representation as cognition that involves a constraint which "prevents our modes of knowledge from being haphazard or arbitrary." (2) Kant holds that this constraint cannot be from an object outside our sensible representations. I believe that such objects for Kant would have to be represented purely conceptually or discursively, a kind of representation Kant had allowed in the Inaugural Dissertation but soon after came to reject. In any case, Kant locates the constraint, rather, in rules for sensible representation. (3) My actual sensible representations or reactions may be constrained by a rule of how it is proper or legitimate to react. This unity of reactions under a rule is equally a necessary unity since a rule unifies according to how it is necessary or required to proceed. Objective unity, in thus being identified with rule unity, is said by Kant to be "nothing other than the formal unity of consciousness" (4) or "nothing but the necessary unity of consciousness." (5) The unity of a rule, I suggest, is the unity of apperception. (6)

In the second of the preparatory sections of the Deduction, (7) Kant introduces the idea of one single experience (one and the same general experiences (8)) to which all possible perception belongs. Rules enable us not only to constrain our actual reactions but to extend cognition beyond actual experience altogether. Thus, it may have been proper to react so-and-so a long time ago (before my birth) even though such reaction is beyond my actual experience. Kant is saying here that not only do we cognize objectively, but that we cognize a world extending way beyond the course of actual experience. All possible appearances, Kant says, must stand in relation to apperception. (9) That is, my present cognitive ability (10) must encompass a set or repertoire of rules that together cover the full scope of all proper reactions (ranging over our "entire sensibility," (11) or over the full reach of space and time). This is an utterly central characterization of our cognitive power for Kant. I shall be suggesting that there is no understanding of Kant's proofs of substance and causation if one thinks that the "functions of synthesis," as Kant puts it, (12) pertain basically to other possible aspects of one's actual experience (such as the back side of a perceived object) as opposed to possible experience completely beyond actual experience. …

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