Cambridge Kant Reading Group—sixth session 26th February

As part of our Semester 2 Research Seminars, today we’ll discuss B. Longuenesse (2005) “The transcendental ideal, and the unity of the critical system”. In Kant and the Human Standpoint (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 211-235.

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One Response to Cambridge Kant Reading Group—sixth session 26th February

  1. Katharina Kraus says:

    In the last session, we discussed Longuenesse’s paper on the principle of complete determination, which Kant states at the beginning of the Transcendental Ideal (CpR, A572/B600). Longuenesse presents an interpretation of this principle from the critical point of view and contrasts it with the rationalists’ accounts of this principle. The principle is discussed in the Transcendental Dialectic, a part of which is the Transcendental Ideal, because it gives rise to an illusionary principle that runs as follows: “If the conditioned is given, then the totality of its condition is also given.” Rationalists have taken this principle to mean that the absolutely unlimited “totum realitatis” is given as a distinct being, the ground of all finite reality, i.e., the “ens realissimum”. Kant, of course, criticises the rationalists’ assumption as hypostatization of a being that does not exists as such. But what does Kant suggest as the critical interpretation of the principle of thoroughgoing determination? Why does he not dispense with it?
    In the first part of her paper, Longuenesse puts forward a reading of principle from the Kantian standpoint, which to us seemed very interesting, but also very dense and difficult. At the beginning, she points out an important difference between rationalists (Leibnizians) and Kant: the Leibnizians think that a thoroughly determined representation is an “ultima species, an ultimately specified concept” (p. 215). For Kant, what can be thoroughly specified can only be an individual object given in intuition, but not a concept, which as such is always in some sense general. This, however, leads to a tension in Kant’s account: although only intuitions can be fully determined, determination is a conceptual operation, i.e., to determine an object means to subsume its intuition under concepts. Longuenesse presents two reasons why Kant still holds the principle of thoroughgoing determination. The first reason is the “infinite-cum-disjunctive judgment” and its role for the determination of objects. The second is the comparability of objects, which rests on the unity of apperception and the unity of experience that arises from the former.
    The first reason, although Longuenesse’s presentation of it was difficult to understand, seems to be adequate. Infinite judgments, judgments of the form “A is non-B”, locate the subject-concept in the “infinite sphere of all possible beings” (p. 217). Combined with the disjunctive syllogism, a complete ground of determination seems to be given because the disjunctive major premise states the complete division of the infinite sphere of concepts.

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