Norman Kemp Smith.

A commentary to Kant's 'Critique of pure reason,' online

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Gidliver's Travels (Dent, 1897, p. 166) : "And as to 'ideas, entities, abstrac-
tions, and transcendentals,' I could never '.drive the least conception into their

3 Organon, i. 484, cited by Eucken in Geschichte der philosophischer Termino-
logie, p. 205.

4 A ii = B 25, A 56 = 680.


perverting power of which all false metaphysics is due. That
this is the primary and fundamental meaning common to the
various uses of the term is constantly overlooked by Max
M tiller. Thus in A 1 5 = B 30 he translates transcendentale
Sinnenlehre " doctrine of transcendental sense " instead of as
" transcendental doctrine of sense." In transforming tran-
scendentale Elementarlehre into "elements of transcendent-
alism" he avoids the above error, but only by inventing a
word which has no place in Kant's own terminology.

But later in the Critique Kant employs the term tran-
scendental in a second sense, namely, to denote the a priori
factors in knowledge. All representations which are a priori
and yet are applicable to objects are transcendental. The
term is then defined through its distinction from the empirical
on the one hand, and from the transcendent on the other.
An intuition or conception is transcendental when it originates
in pure reason, and yet at the same time goes to constitute
an a priori knowledge of objects. The contrast between the
transcendental and the transcendent, as similarly determined
upon by Kant, is equally fundamental, but is of quite different
character. That is transcendent which lies entirely beyond
experience; whereas the transcendental signifies those a priori ,
elements which underlie experience as its necessary condi-
tions. The transcendent is always unknowable. The tran-
scendental is that which by conditioning experience renders
all knowledge, whether a priori or empirical, possible. The
direct opposite of the transcendent is the immanent, which
as such includes both the transcendental and the empirical.
Thus while Kant employs the term transcendental in a very
special sense which he has himself arbitrarily determined, he
returns to the original etymological meaning of the term
transcendent. It gains a specifically Critical meaning only
through being used to expound the doctrine that all know-
ledge is limited to sense - experience. The attempt to find
some similar etymological justification for Kant's use of the
term transcendental has led Schopenhauer and Kuno Fischer
to assert that Kant entitles his philosophy transcendental
because it transcends both the dogmatism and the scepticism
of all previous systems ! x Another attempt has been made
by Stirling 2 and Watson, 3 who assert, at least by implication,
that the transcendental is a species of the transcendent, in
that while the latter transcends the scope of experience, the
former transcends its sense-content. Kant himself, however,

1 Cited by Vaihinger, i. p. 468.

2 Cf. Text-Book to Kant, p. 13.

3 Cf. Kant Explained, p. 89.


nowhere attempts to justify his use of the term by any such

A third meaning of the term transcendental arises through
its extension from the a priori intuitions and concepts to the
processes and faculties to which they are supposed to be due.
Thus Kant speaks of the transcendental syntheses of appre-
hension, reproduction, and recognition, and of the transcend-
ental faculties of imagination and understanding. In this
sense the transcendental becomes a title for the conditions
which render experience possible. And inasmuch as processes
and faculties can hardly be entitled a priori, Kant has in this
third application of the term departed still further from his
first definition of it. 1

The distinction between the transcendental and the tran-
scendent may be illustrated by reference to the Ideas of reason.
Regarded as regulative only, i.e. merely as ideals which inspire
the understanding in the pursuit of knowledge, they are tran-
scendental. Interpreted as constitutive, i.e. as representing
absolute realities, they are transcendent. Yet, despite the
fundamental character of this distinction, so careless is Kant
in the use of his technical terms that he also employs tran-
scendental as exactly equivalent in meaning to transcendent.
This is of constant occurrence, but only two instances need
here be cited. In the important phrase " transcendental
ideality of space and time " the term transcendental is used in
place of the term transcendent. For what Kant is asserting
is that judged from a transcendent point of view, i.e. from the
point of view of the thing in itself, space is only subjectively
real. 2 The phrase is indeed easily capable of the orthodox
interpretation, but, as the context clearly shows, that is not
the way in which it is actually being used by Kant. Another
equally surprising example is to be found in the title " tran-
scendental dialectic." Though it is defined in A 63-4 =
B 88 in correct fashion, in A 297 = B 354 and A 308-9 =
B 365-6 it is interpreted as treating of the illusion involved
in transcendent judgments, and so virtually as meaning tran-
scendent dialectic. 3

Not a Critique of books and systems. 4 Kant here inserts a
statement from the omitted Preface to the first edition. 6
He now adds that the Critique will supply a criterion for the
valuation of all other systems.

1 Cf. below, p. 238. 2 Cf. below, pp. 116-17, 302.

3 Adickes has taken the liberty in his edition of the Critique of substituting in
A 297 = B 354 transcendental for transcendent. The Berlin edition very rightly
retains the original reading.

4 B 27. 5 A vi.


A 13 = B 27. Kant's reason for omitting the title of Section
II in the second edition was no doubt its inconsistency with
the assertion of its opening sentence, viz. that the Critique is
not transcendental philosophy, but only a preparation for it.
Instead of it, Kant has introduced the more appropriate
heading placed over the preceding paragraph.

The highest principles of morals do not belong to transcend-
ental philosophy. 1 Cf. A 801 = B 829. The alteration made
in this passage in the second edition 2 indicates a transition
towards the opposite view which Kant developed in the
Critique of Practical Reason?

The division of this science. 4 Kant in this paragraph alter-
nates in the most bewildering fashion between the Critique
and Transcendental Philosophy. In this first sentence the
Critique seems to be referred to. Later it is Transcendental
Philosophy that is spoken of.

Doctrine of Elements and Doctrine of Methods. 5 Cf. A 707 ff.
= B 735 ff., and below, pp. 438, 563.

Two stems, sensibility and understanding, which may perhaps
spring from a common root. 6 Kant sometimes seems to suggest 7
that imagination is this common root. It belongs both to
sensibility and to understanding, and is passive as well as
spontaneous. But when so viewed, imagination is virtually
regarded as an unknown supersensuous power, "concealed
in the depths of the soul." 8 The supersensuous is the point of
union of our disparate human faculties, as well as of nature and
freedom, mechanism and teleology.

The transcenedntal doctrine of sense would necessarily consti-
tute the first part of the Science of Elements. 9 " Necessarily
constitute the first part " translates zum ersten Theile gehoren
mussen. This Vaihinger explains as an archaic mode of
expression, equivalent to ausmachen. The point is im-
portant because, if translated quite literally, it might seem to
conflict with the division actually followed, and to support the
alternative division given in the Critique of Practical Reason.
The first Critique is divided thus :

1 A 14-15 = B 28. Cf. below, p. 570 n.

2 This alteration is not given in Max M tiller's translation.

3 Cf. the corresponding alteration made in the second edition at end of note to
A 21 = 635. 4 A 15 = 629.

5 Loc. cit. 6 Loc. cit. Cf. A 835 = 6 863.

7 Cf. A 124, B 151-2, and below, pp. 225, 265.

8 Cf. A 141 = 6 1 80- 1. Cf. Critique of Judgmeitf, 57: "Thus here [in the
Critiqtte of Aesthetic Judgment], as also in the Critique of Practical Reason^ the
antinomies force us against our will to look beyond the sensible and to seek in the
supersensible the point of union for all our a priori faculties ; because no other
expedient is left to make our Reason harmonious with itself." Cf. also below,
p. 473 ff., in comment on A 649 = 6 677. 9 A 16 = 6 30.


I. Doctrine of Elements.

1. Aesthetic.

2. Logic.

(a) Analytic.

() Dialectic.

II. Doctrine of Methods.

In the Critique of Practical Reason^ a much more satis-
factory division is suggested :

I. Doctrine of Elements.

1. Analytic.

(a) Aesthetic (Sense).

(b} Logic (Understanding).

2. Dialectic.

II. Doctrine of Methods.

The first division rests on somewhat irrelevant distinctions
derived from the traditional logic ; the other is more directly
inspired by the distinctions which naturally belong to Kant's
own philosophical system.

1 Introduction (W. v. p. 16). Cf. below, p. 438.



THE Aesthetic opens with a series of definitions. Intuition
(Anschauung] is knowledge (Erkenntnis] which is in im-
mediate relation to objects (sich auf Gegenst'dnde unmittelbar
beziehf). Each term in this definition calls for comment.
Anschauung etymologically applies only to visual sensation.
Kant extends it to cover sensations of all the senses. The
current term was Empfindung. Kant's reason for introducing
the term intuition in place of sensation was evidently the fact
that the latter could not be made to cover space and time.
We can speak of pure intuitions, but not of pure sensations.
Knowledge is used in a very wide sense, not strictly consistent
with A 50-1 =B 74-5. J The phrase sich bezieht is quite
indefinite and ambiguous. Its meaning will depend upon the
interpretation of its context. Object is used in its widest and
most indefinite meaning. It may be taken as signifying
content (Inhalt, a term which does not occur in this passage,
but which Kant elsewhere employs 2 ). That, at least, is the
meaning which best fits the context. For when Kant adds
that intuition relates itself to objects immediately \ it becomes
clear that he has in mind its distinction from conception
(Begriff) which as expressing the universal is related to
objects only indirectly, representing some one or more attri-
butes of the given objects. Ultimately the whole content of
conception must be given. 3 The phrase "relates itself to
objects" may, therefore, be paraphrased "has some content,
such as red or cold, as its immediate object." Through the
content of intuition the whole material of thought is supplied.

1 Cf. also above, p. 25. 2 Cf. A 51 = B 75.

3 That thought finds in intuition its sole possible content is, of course, a con-
clusion first established in the Analytic. Kant is here defining his terms in the
light of his later results.



Intuition in itself is blind, but not empty. " Thoughts without
content are empty ; intuitions without concepts are blind." 1

But the phrase "is in relation to objects" has also for
Kant a second meaning, implied in the above, but supple-
mentary to it. As he states in the very next sentence,
intuition can have an object, meaning thereby a content, only
in so far as that content is given. The material of thought
must be supplied ; it cannot be invented. 2 The only mode,
however, in which it can be supplied, at least to the human
mind, is through the affecting of the mind by " the object."
This is an excellent instance of Kant's careless mode of
expressing himself. In the first part of the sentence object
means object of intuition. In the latter part it signifies the
cause of intuition. And on Kant's view the two cannot
coincide. The object which affects the mind is independently
real ; the immediate object of the intuition is a sense-content,
which Kant, following the universally accepted view of his
time, regards as purely subjective. The term object is thus
used in two quite distinct meanings within one and the same

Kant's definition of intuition, when stated quite explicitly,
and cleared of all ambiguity, is therefore as follows. Intuition
is the immediate apprehension of a content which as given is
due to the action of an independently real object upon the
mind. This definition is obviously not meant to be a descrip-
tion of intuition as it presents itself to introspection, but
to be a reflective statement of its indispensable conditions.
Also it has in view only empirical intuitions. It does not
cover the pure intuitions space and time. 3 Though space
and time are given, and though each possesses an intrinsic
content, these contents are not due to the action of objects
upon the sensibility.

"An intuition is such a representation as immediately depends
upon the presence of the object. Hence it seems impossible
originally to intuit a priori because intuition would in that event
take place without either a former or a present object to refer to,
and by consequence could not be intuition." 4

This interpretation is borne out by Kant's answer to Beck
when the latter objected that only through subsumption
under the categories can a representation become objective.
Kant replies in a marginal note, the meaning of which, though
difficult to decipher, admits of a fairly definite interpretatioi

1 A 51= B 75. 2 Cf. Prolegomena, 12, Remark ii. at the beginnii_

3 Cf. below, p. 88 ff. ; B 146-7. 4 Prolegomena, 8 (Eng. trans, p. 33]


" The determining of a concept through intuition so as to yield
knowledge of the object falls within the province of the faculty of
judgment, but not the relation of the intuition to an object in general
[i.e. the view of it as having a content which is given and which is
therefore due to some object], for that is merely the logical use of the
representation, whereby it is thought as falling within the province
of knowledge. On the other hand, if this single representation is
related only to the subject, the use is aesthetic (feeling), and the
representation cannot be an act of knowledge." x

Mind (Gemut) is a neutral term without metaphysical
implications. 2 It is practically equivalent to the term which
is substituted for it in the next paragraph, power of repre-
sentation ( Vorstellungsfahigkeif). Representation ( Vorstellung]
Kant employs in the widest possible meaning. It covers any
and every cognitive state. The definition here given of
sensibility " the capacity (receptivity) to obtain representa-
tions through the mode in which we are affected by objects "
is taken directly over from the Dissertation? In this defini-
tion, as in that of intuition, Kant, without argument or
question, postulates the existence of independently existing
objects. The existence of given sensations presupposes the
existence of things in themselves. Sensibility is spoken of
as the source both of objects and of intuitions. This is
legitimate since object and intuition mutually imply one
another ; the latter is the apprehension of the former. By
" objects " is obviously meant what in the third paragraph is
called the matter of appearances, i.e. sensations in their
objective aspect, as qualities or contents. The term " object "
is similarly employed in the last line of this first paragraph.

Understanding (Verstand} is defined only in its logical
or discursive employment. Kant wisely defers all reference
to its more fundamental synthetic activities. In us (bei uns)
is an indirect reference to the possibility of intellectual (non-
sensuous) intuition which is further developed in other parts
of the Aesthetic.*' Sensuous intuition is due to affection by
an object. In intellectual intuition the mind must produce
the object in the act of apprehending it. 5

Kant's definition of intuition applies, as already noted,
only to empirical intuition. He proceeds 6 to define the
relation in which sensation (Empfindung) stands to empirical
intuition. What he here says amounts to the assertion that
through sensation intuition acquires its object, i.e. that sensa-

1 Quoted by Vaihinger, ii. p. 4.

2 Cf. Ueber das Organ der Seek (1796) and Anthropologie, 22.

3 3- 4 A 27 = 6 43, A 34 = 6 51, A 42 = 6 59, A 51 = 6 75.
5 Cf. B 72. 6 In the second paragraph, A 20 = B 34.



tion is the content of intuition. And that being so, it is also
through sensation that empirical intuition acquires its relation
to the object ( = thing in itself) which causes it. (That would
seem to be the meaning of the ambiguous second sentence ;
but it still remains uncertain whether the opposition intended
is to pure or to intellectual intuition.) If this interpretation
of the paragraph be correct, sensation is counted as belonging
exclusively to the content side of subjective apprehension.
But Kant views sensation in an even more definite manner
than he here indicates. Though sensation is given, it likewise
involves a reaction of the mind.

" Whatever is sensuous in knowledge depends upon the subject's
peculiar nature, in so far as it is capable of this or that modification
upon the presence of the object." 1

Thus for Kant sensation is a modification or state erf
the subject, produced by affection through an object. The
affection produces a modification or state of the subject, and
this subjective modification is the sensation.

" Sensation is a perception \Perception\ which relates itself solely
to the subject as the modification of its state." 2

This view of sensation, as subjective, was universally held
in Kant's day. He accepts it without argument or question.
That it could possibly be challenged never seems to have
occurred to him. He is equally convinced that it establishes
the existence of an actually present object.

"Sensation argues the presence of something, but depends as to
its quality upon the nature of the subject." 3 " Sensation presupposes
the actual presence of the object." 4

Kant's view of sensation, as developed in the Aesthetic?
thus involves three points : (i) It must be counted as belonging
to the content side of mental apprehension. (2) Though a
quality or content, it is purely subjective, depending upon the
nature of our sensibility. (3) It is due to the action of some
object upon the sensibility.

Kant distinguishes between sensation (Empfindung) and
feeling (Gefuhl)* It had been usual to employ them

1 Dissertation, 4. a A 320 = 6 376.

3 Dissertation, 4. 4 A 50 = B 74.

5 This view, as I shall endeavour to show, is only semi-Critical, and is pro
foundly modified by the more revolutionary conclusions to which Kant finally
worked his way. Cf. below, p. 274 ff.

6 In this he was anticipated by Tetens, Philosophise he Versuche iiber die
menschlicke Natur, Bd. i. (1777), Versuch X. v. Cf. below, p. 294.


" We understand by the word sensation an objective representa-
tion of the senses ; and in order to preclude the danger of being mis-
understood, we shall denote that which must always remain merely
subjective and can constitute absolutely no representation of an
object by the ordinary (sonst iiblichen} term feeling." 1

Appearance (Erscheinung) is here defined as the undeter-
mined object of an intuition. By undetermined object is
meant, as we have seen, the object in so far as it consists of
the given sense contents. When these contents are inter-
preted through the categories they become phenomena.

" Appearances so far as they are thought as objects according to
the unity of the categories are called phenomena." 2

But this distinction between appearance and phenomenon
is not held to by Kant. He more usually speaks of the
categorised objects as appearances. The term phenomenon
is of comparatively rare occurrence in the Critique. This
has been concealed from English readers, as both Meiklejohn
and Max M tiller almost invariably translate Erscheinung
phenomenon. The statement that appearance is the object
of an empirical intuition raises a very fundamental and
difficult question, namely, as to the relation in which repre-
sentation stands to the represented. 3 Frequently Kant's
argument implies this distinction, yet constantly he speaks
and argues as if it were non-existent. We have to recognise
two tendencies in Kant, subjectivist and phenomenalist. 4
When the former tendency is in the ascendent, he regards all
ippearances, all phenomena, all empirical objects, as repre-
sentations, modifications of the sensibility, merely subjective.
When, on the other hand, his thinking is dominated by the
atter tendency, appearances gain an existence independent
)f the individual mind. They are known through subjective
epresentations, but must not be directly equated with them.
They have a genuine objectivity. To this distinction, and
ts consequences, we shall have frequent occasion to return.

The phenomenalist standpoint is dominant in these first
wo paragraphs of the Aesthetic, and it finds still more pro-

1 Critique of Judgment, 3 (Eng. trans, p. 49). Kant was the first to adopt
:ie threefold division of mental powers "the faculty of knowledge, the feeling of
leasure and pain, and the faculty of desire." This threefold division is first given
i his Ueber Philosophic iiberhaupt (Hartenstein, vi. p. 379), which was written
Dme time between 1780 and 1790, being originally designed as an Introduction to
le Critique of Jitdgment.

2 A 248 (occurs in a lengthy section omitted in B).

3 This distinction between intuition and appearance practically coincides with
lat above noted between intuition and its object.

4 For statement of the precise meaning in which these terms are here
tnployed, cf. above, pp. xlv-vii ; below, pp. 270 ff., 312 ff.


nounced expression in the opening of the third paragraph.
" That in the appearances which corresponds (corresponding to
sensation, I call its matter." This sentence, through the use
of the term corresponds, clearly implies a distinction between
sensation and the real object apprehended in and through it.
That, in turn, involves a threefold distinction, between sensa-
tion as subjective content ( = appearance in the strict sense),
the real enduring object in space ( = phenomenon, the cate-
gorised object, appearance in its wider and more usual sense),
and the thing in itself. 1 Yet in the immediately follow-
ing sentence Kant says that " the matter of all appearance is
given a posteriori." By "matter of appearance" Kant must
there mean sensations, for they alone are given a posteriori?
On this view the phenomena or empirical objects reduce to,
and consist of, sensations. The intermediate term of the
above threefold distinction is eliminated. The matter of
appearance does not correspond to, but itself is, sensation.
Thus in these successive sentences the two conflicting
tendencies of Kant's teaching find verbal expression. They
intervene even in the preliminary definition of his terms.
This fundamental conflict cannot, however, be profitably
discussed at this stage.

The manifold of appearance (das Mannichfaltige der
Erscheinung). The meaning to be assigned to this phrase
must depend upon the settlement of the above question. 3
But in this passage it allows only of a subjectivist inter-
pretation, whereby sensations are appearance. The given -
sensations as such constitute a manifold ; as objects in space
they are already ordered. Kant's more usual phrase is " the
manifold of intuition." His adoption of the term "manifold"
(the varia of the Dissertation] expresses his conviction
that synthesis is indispensable for all knowledge, and also
his correlative view that nothing absolutely simple can be
apprehended in sense -experience. By the manifold Kant
does not mean, however, as some of his commentators would
seem to imply, the chaotic or disordered. The emphasis is
on manifoldness or plurality, as calling for reduction to unity
and system. The unity has to be found in it, not introduced
into it forcibly from the outside. The manifold has to be
interpreted, even though the principles of interpretation may
originate independently of it. Though, for instance, the

1 This would harmonise with the view developed in A 166 (in its formulation
of the principle of the Anticipations], A 374 ff., B 274 ff., A 723 = 6 751.

2 Cf. A 50 = B 74: "We may name sensation the matter of sensuous
knowledge." Similarly in A 42 = 6 59; Prolegomena, n ; Fortschritte ,

Online LibraryNorman Kemp SmithA commentary to Kant's 'Critique of pure reason,' → online text (page 14 of 72)