Norman Kemp Smith.

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

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no solution." In the practical sphere of morals, on the other
hand, the Ideal of Reason must never be so described.
Though only partially realisable, it is genuinely actual.
Even those actions which imperfectly embody it none the
less presuppose it as their indispensable condition. In two
respects, therefore, as Kant points out, the statement that the
transcendental concepts of Reason are merely Ideas calls for
qualification. In the first place they are by no means " super-
fluous and void." They supply a canon for the fruitful em-
ployment of understanding. And secondly, they may perhaps


be found to make possible a transition from natural to moral
concepts, and so to bring the Ideas of practical Reason
into connection with the principles of speculative thought.
The reader may again note the genuinely Platonic character
of Kant's use of the term Idea.

In A 330-1 = B 386-7 Kant returns to the problem of
the metaphysical deduction, and analyses the nature of
syllogistic reasoning. The analysis differs from that of
A 321 ff. = C 377 ff. only in emphasising that when a conclusion
is given as valid the totality of the premisses required for its
establishment can be postulated as likewise given, and that
when completely stated in the implied prosyllogisms the
premisses form a regressive series. In this way Kant contrives
to bring the logical process into closer connection with the
transcendental principle, which he now definitively formulates
as follows :' When the conditioned is given, the series of con-
ditions up to the unconditioned is likewise given. The series
of antecedent conditions may either have a first term or may
be incapable of such. In either case it has to be viewed as
unconditioned, in the one case in virtue of its unconditioned
beginning, in the other in its character as an unending and
therefore unlimited series. In one or other form Reason
demands that the unconditioned be recognised as underlying
and determining everything conditioned. 1



The three Ideas of Reason, as derived from the three
kinds of syllogism, are now brought into connection with the
three possible relations in which representations are found to
stand : first, to the thinking subject ; secondly, to objects as
appearances ; thirdly, to objects of thought in general. Kant
argues that the completed totalities towards which Reason
strives are likewise three in number. Reason seeks: (i) in
regard to the subject known, as constituting the fact of inner
experience, a representation of the self or soul that will
render completely intelligible what is peculiar to the inner
life ; (2) in regard to the object known, a conception of the
completed totality of the world of phenomena, the cosmos ;
(3) in regard to the ultimate synthesis of the subject known
and the object known, such a conception of all existing things

1 Regarding the progressive series from the conditioned to its consequences,
cf. A 336-7 = 6 393-4, A 410-11 = 6437-8, A 511 = 6539. 2 A 333 = 6 390'.


as will render intelligible the co-operation of mind and
external nature in one experience. In this way Kant pro-
fesses to obtain transcendental justification for the threefold
division of metaphysical science into rational psychology,
rational cosmology, and rational theology. The absolute
unity of the thinking subject is dealt with by psychology, the
totality of all appearances by cosmology, and the Being, which
contains the condition of the possibility of all that can be
thought, by theology.

In thus proceeding, Kant is assuming that the concepts of
unconditioned substance and of unconditioned necessity can
be interpreted only in spiritualist and theological terms. 1 This
assumption stands in direct conflict with what the history
of philosophy records. The Absolute has frequently been
materialistically defined, and, as Kant himself admits, we
cannot prove that the thinking subject may not be natural-
istically conditioned. Architectonic is again exercising its
baleful influence. That the argument is lacking in cogency
is indeed so evident that Kant takes notice of the deficiency, 2
and promises that it will be remedied in the sequel. This
promise he is unable to fulfil. Such further reasons as he
is able to offer are of the same external character. 3

" Of these transcendental Ideas, strictly speaking, no
objective deduction, such as we were able to give of the categories,
is possible." 4 As Kant indicates by use of the phrase ' strictly
speaking/ this statement is subject to modification. He
himself formulates a transcendental deduction of the Ideas,
as principles regulative of experience. 5 The deduction from
the three forms of syllogism, which Kant here entitles subject-
ive, ought properly to be named ' metaphysical.' 6

\ Cf. above, pp. 418, 436, 439-40; below, pp. 473-7, 520-1, 537, 543 ff., 575.

2 Cf. A 335.

3 Cf. A 337-8 = B 394-6 and note appended to B 394.

4 A 336 = 6393.

Cf. A 671 = 6 699; above, pp. 426, 430, 436 ; below, pp. 552-4, 572 ff.
6 On the difference between the ascending and the descending series, cf.
A 331-2 = B 338 and A 410-11 = 6437-8.





As rational psychology fails to distinguish between appear-
ances and things in themselves, it identifies mere appercep-
tion with inner sense ; the self in experiencing the succession
of its inner states is supposed to acquire knowledge of its
own essential nature. " I, as thinking, am an object of inner
sense, and am entitled soul," in contrast to the body which is
an object of outer sense. Empirical psychology deals with
the concrete detail of inner experience ; rational psychology
abstracts from all such special experiences, indeed from every-
thing empirical, professing to establish its doctrine upon the
single judgment, " I think." That judgment has already been
investigated in its connection with the problem of the possi-
bility, within the field of experience, of synthetic a priori judg-
ments. It has now to be considered as a possible basis for
knowledge of the self as a thinking being (em denkend Wesen)
or soul (Seele).

Following the guiding thread of the table of categories, but
placing them in what he regards as being, in this connection,
the most convenient order, Kant obtains a " topic " or classi-
fication of the possible rubrics for the doctrines of a rational
psychology: (i) the soul is substance; (2) is simple] (3) is
numerically identical ; (4) stands in relation to possible objects
in space. Now all those four doctrines are, Kant holds,

1 The questions raised in the two introductory paragraphs (A 336-40 =
B 396-8) as to the content of the Ideas, their problematic character, and their
possibility as concepts, are first adequately discussed in later chapters. The
three new terms here introduced, Paralogism, Antinomy, and Ideal, can also best
be commented upon in their own special context.

a A 341 = 6399.



incapable of demonstration. The proofs propounded byrational
psychology are logically imperfect, committing the logical
fallacy which is technically named paralogism. 1 The fallacy
is not, however, of merely logical character. Had that been
the case, it could never have gained such general currency.
Certainly no metaphysical science, widely accepted by profound
thinkers, could ever have come to be based upon it. The
paralogism is transcendental in character, resting upon a tran-
scendental ground. It represents an illusion which from any
non-Critical standpoint is altogether unavoidable. Its dialectic
is a natural dialectic, wrongly interpreted by the Schools, but
not capriciously invented by them. The key to its proper
treatment is first supplied by the results of the transcendental
deduction. We are now called upon to apply these results in
explanation of the occurrence of the paralogisms, and in judg-
ment upon their false claims. Little that is really new is to
be found in this chapter ; but many of the established results
of the Analytic receive interesting illustration, and are thereby
set in a clearer light.

In rational psychology the " I think " is taken in its uni-
versal, or to use Kant's somewhat misleading term, problem-
atic aspect, that is to say, not as a judgment expressive of
the self s own existence but " in its mere possibility," 2 as
representing the self- consciousness of all possible thinking
beings. As we cannot gain a representation of thinking
beings through outer experience, we are constrained to think
them in terms of our own self-consciousness. The " I think "
is thus taken as a universal judgment, expressing what
belongs to the conception of thinking being in general. The
judgment is so interpreted by rational psychology, " in order
to see what predicates applicable to its subject (be that sub-
ject actually existent or not) may flow from so simple a

In summarising what is directly relevant in the argument
of the transcendental deduction, Kant emphasises that the I,
as representation, is altogether empty of content. 3

" We cannot even say that it is a conception, but only that it is
a bare (blosses) consciousness which accompanies all conceptions.
Through this I or he or it (the thing) which thinks, nothing further
is represented than a transcendental subject of the thoughts x . . ."

It is apprehended only in its relation to the thoughts which
are its predicates ; apart from them we cannot form any con-
ception whatever of it, but can only revolve in a perpetual

1 Cf. below, pp. 466, 470. 2 A 347. 3 A 345-6 = 6 403-4.


circle, since any judgment upon it has already made use of its
representation. 1

The patchwork character of the Critique, the artificial
nature of the connections between its various parts, is nowhere
more evident than in this section on the Paralogisms. Ac-
cording to the definition given of transcendental illusion, we
naturally expect Kant's argument to show that the Paralo-
gisms rest upon a failure to distinguish between appearance
and reality. As a matter of fact, the cause of their fallacy
is traced in the first three Paralogisms solely to a failure to
distinguish between the logical and the real application of the
categories. The argument can indeed be restated so as to
agree with the introductory sections of the Dialectic. But
Kant's manner of expounding the Paralogisms shows that
this chapter must originally have been written independently
of any intention to develop such teaching as that of the
sections which in the ultimate arrangement of the Critique
are made to lead up to it. 2

First Paralogism : of Substantiality. 3 Save for the phrase
' subject in itself,' there is, in Kant's comment upon this
Paralogism, not a word regarding the necessity of a distinction
between appearance and reality, but only an insistence that
the " I think " yields no knowledge of the thinking self. (Con-
sciousness of the self and knowledge of its underlying sub-
stance are by no means identical) The self, so far as it enters
into consciousness, is a merer^Togical subject ; the under-
lying substrate is that to which this self-consciousness and all
other thoughts are due. It is in the light of this distinction
that Kant discusses the substantiality of the subject. As
expressive of the " I think," the category of substance and
attribute can be employed only to define the relation in which
consciousness stands to its thoughts ; it expresses the merely
logical relation of a subject to its predicates. It tells us
nothing regarding the nature of the " I," save only that it is the
invariable centre of reference for all thoughts. In order to know
the self as substance, and so as capable of persisting through-
out all change, and as surviving even the death of the body,
we should require to have an intuition of it, and of such intui-
tion there is not the slightest trace in the " I think." It
(^signifies a substance only in Idea, not in reality."^ As Kant
adds later, 5 the permanence and self-identity of trTerepresenta-
tion of the self justifies no argument to the permanence and
self-identity of its underlying conditions. Inference from the
nature of representation to the nature of the object represented

1 Cf. A 354-5. 2 Cf> aboye> p> 437> 3

4 A 351. 5 A 363-4.


is entirely illegitimate. In the equating of the two, and not,
as the introduction to the Dialectic would lead us to expect,
in a failure to distinguish appearance from reality, consists the
paralogistic fallacy of this first syllogism.

Second Paralogism: of Simplicity. 1 We may follow Adickes 2
in his analysis of A 35 1-62. (a) The original criticism, parallel
to that of the first Paralogism, would seem to be contained
in paragraphs five to nine, (b) The opening paragraphs,
and (c) the concluding paragraphs, would seem, for reasons
stated below, to be independent and later additions.

(a) The argument of the central paragraphs runs almost
exactly parallel with the criticism of the first Paralogism,
applying the same line of thought, in disproof of the assumed
argument for the simplicity of the soul. It may be noted, in
passing, that Kant here departs from his table of categories.
There is no category of simplicity. The connection which he
seeks to establish between the concept of simplicity and the
categories of quality is arbitrary. It more naturally connects
with the category of unity ; but the category of unity is required
for the third Paralogism. For explanation of the way in

' which he equates the concept of simplicity with the category of
reality Kant is satisfied to refer the reader to the section on
the second antinomy in which this same identification occurs. 3
Indeed the simplicity here dwelt upon seems hardly dis-
tinguishable from substantiality, and therefore it is not surpris-
ing that Kant's criticism of the second Paralogism should be
practically identical with that of the first. 4 Since the " I," as
logical subject of thought, signifies only a something in
general, and embodies no insight into the constitution of this
something, it is for that reason empty of all content, and
consequently simple. " The simplicity of the representation of
a subject is not eo ipso a knowledge of the simplicity of the
subject itself. ..." The second Paralogism thus, in Kant's
view, falsely argues from the merely logical unity of the subject
in representation to the actual simplicity of the subject in itself.

(b) One reason for regarding the first four paragraphs as a
later addition is their opening reference to the introductory
sections of the Dialectic, of which this chapter otherwise takes
little or no account. This Paralogism is, Kant declares, " the
Achilles of all the dialectical inferences in the pure doctrine of
the soul," meaning that it may well seem a quite invulnerable
argument. 5

1 A 351. 2 K. 688 n.

3 A similar criticism holds true of the conception of identity employed in the
third Paralogism, and arbitrarily equated with the categories of quantity.

4 Cf. A 355-6.

6 It is very forcibly developed in Mendelssohn's " Phadon " (1767) (Gesam-


" It is no mere sophistical play contrived by a dogmatist in order
to impart to his assertions a superficial plausibility (Schein), but an
inference which appears to withstand even the keenest scrutiny and
the most scrupulously exact investigation."

The second paragraph is a very pointed restatement of a
main supporting argument of this second Paralogism. This
argument well deserves the eulogy with which Kant has
ushered it in. It is as follows. The unity of consciousness
can not be explained as due to the co-operative action of
independent substances. Such a merely external effect as
that of motion in a material body may be the resultant of the
united motions of its parts. But it is otherwise with thought.
For should that which thinks be viewed as composite, and the
different representations, as, for instance, of the single words of
a verse, be conceived as distributed among the several parts,
a multiplicity of separate consciousnesses would result, and
the single complex consciousness, that of the verse as a whole,
would be rendered impossible. Consciousness cannot there-
fore such is the argument inhere in the composite. The
soul must be a simple substance. 1

As there is no reference in this argument to the " I think,"
the criticism cannot be that of the "first Paralogism, nor that
of the central paragraphs of this second Paralogism. Kant's
reply as given in the third and fourth paragraphs is in
effect to refer the reader to the results of the Analytic, and is
formulated in the manner of his Introduction to the Critique.
/The principle that multiplicity of representation presupposes
absolute unity in the thinking subject can neither be demon-
strated analytically from mere concepts, nor derived from
experience. Being a synthetic a priori judgment, it can be
established only by means of a transcendental deduction. But
in that form it will define only a condition required for the
possibility of consciousness ; it can tell us nothing in regard
to the noumenal nature of the thinking being. And, as Kant
argues in the third Paralogism? there may be a possible
analogy between thought and motion, though of a different
kind from that above suggested.)

The entire absence of all connection between the argument
of these paragraphs and the argument of those which immedi-

melte Schriften, 1843, u - P- I 5 I #) This is a work with which Kant was familiar.
Cf. below, p. 470.

1 This is the argument which William James has expounded in his character-
istically picturesque style. " Take a sentence of a dozen words, and take twelve
men and tell to each one word. Then stand the men in a row or jam them in a
bunch, and let each think of his word as intently as he will ; nowhere will there
be a consciousness of the whole sentence" (Principles of Psychology, i. p. 160).

2 A 363 . Cf. below, pp. 461-2.


ately follow upon them, at least suffices to show that this
second Paralogism has not been written as a continuous
whole ; and taken together with the fact that the problem is
here formulated in terms of the Introduction to the Critique,
would seem to show that this part of the section is of com-
paratively late origin.

(c) The concluding paragraphs, which are of considerable
intrinsic interest, also reflect an independent line of criticism.
As the phrase " the above proposition " * seems to indicate,
they were not originally composed in this present connec-
tion. They give expression to Kant's partial agreement
with the line of argument followed by the rationalists, but
also seek to show that, despite such partial validity ,/the argu-
ment does not lend support to any metaphysical extension
of our empirical knowledge. In A 358 we have what may be
a reference to the argument of the introductory sections of the
Dialectic. The argument under criticism is praised as being
" natural and popular," " occurring even to the least sophisti-
cated understanding," and as leading it to view the soul as an
altogether different existence from the body. The argument
is as follows. None of the qualities proper to material exist-
ence, such as impenetrability or motion, are to be discovered
in our inner experience. Nor can feelings, desires, thoughts,
etc., be externally intuited. In view of these differences, we
seem justified in asserting that the soul cannot be an appear-
ance in space, and cannot therefore be corporeal. Kant
replies by drawing attention to the fundamental Critical dis-
tinction between appearances and things in themselves. 2 If
material bodies, as apprehended, were things in themselves,
the argument would certainly justify us in refusing to regard
the soul and its states as of similar nature. But since, as the
Aesthetic has shown, bodies, as known, are mere appearances
of outer sense, the real question at issue is not that of the
distinction between the soul and bodies in space, but of the
distinction between the soul and that something which con-
ditions all outer appearances.

"... this something which underlies the outer appearances and
which so affects our sense that it obtains the representations of space,
matter, shape, etc., this something, viewed as noumenon (or better,
as transcendental object), might yet also at the same time serve as
the subject of our thoughts. . . ." 3

Thus the argument criticised serves only to enforce the very
genuine distinction between inner and outer appearances ; it

1 A 356. Cf. Adickes, K. p. 688 .

2 The argument is here in harmony with Kant's definition of transcendental
illusion. 3 A 358.


justifies no assertion, either positive or negative, as to the
nature of the soul or as to its relation to body in its noumenal
aspect. The monadistic, spiritualist theory of material exist-
ence remains an open possibility, though only as an hypothesis
incapable either of proof or of disproof. We cannot obtain, by
way of inference from the character of our apperceptive con-
sciousness, any genuine addition to our speculative insight.

Third Paralogism : of Personality. 1 Kant's criticism again
runs parallel with that of the preceding Paralogisms. The
fallacy involved is traced to a confusion between the numerical
identity of the self in representation and the numerical identity
of the subject in itself. The logical subject of knowledge
must, as the transcendental deduction has proved, think itself
as self-identical throughout all its experiences. This is indeed
all that the judgment " I think " expresses. It is mere identity,
" I am I." But from the identity of representation we must
not argue to identity of the underlying self. So far as the
unity of self-consciousness is concerned, there is nothing to
prevent the noumenal conditions of the self from undergoing
transformation so complete as to involve the loss of identity,
while yet supporting the representation of an identical self.

" Although the dictum of certain ancient Schools, that everything
in the world is in a flux and nothing permanent and abiding, cannot
be reconciled with the admission of substances, it is not refuted by
the unity of self-consciousness. For we are unable from our own
consciousness to determine whether, as souls, we are permanent or
not. Since we reckon as belonging to our identical self only that of
which we are conscious, we must necessarily judge that we are one
and the same throughout the whole time of which we are conscious.
We cannot, however, claim that such a judgment would be valid from
the standpoint of an outside observer. As the only permanent
appearance which we meet with in the soul is the representation
' I ' that accompanies and connects them all, we are unable to prove
that this 'I,' a mere thought, may not be in the same state of flux
as the other thoughts which are connected together by its means." 2

And Kant adds an interesting illustration. 3

" An elastic ball which impinges on another similar ball in a
straight line communicates to the latter its whole motion, and there-
fore its whole state (i.e. if we take account only of the positions in
space). If, then, in analogy with such bodies, we postulate substances
such that the one communicates to the other representations together
with the consciousness of them, we can conceive a whole series of

1 A 361. 2 A 364>

8 William James's psychological description of self-consciousness is simply an
extension of this illustration. Cf. Principles of Psychology ', i. p. 339 ; quoted
above, p. 278 n.


substances of which the first transmits its state together with its
consciousness to the second, the second its own state with that of
the preceding substance to the third, and this in turn the states of all
the preceding substances together with its own consciousness and
with their consciousness to another. The last substance would then
be conscious of all the states of the substances, which had under-
gone change before its own change, as being its own states, because
they would have been transferred to it together with the conscious-
ness of them. And yet it would not have been one and the same
person in all these states." l

The perversely Hegelian character of Caird's and Watson's
manner of interpreting the Critique is especially evident in

Online LibraryNorman Kemp SmithA commentary to Kant's 'Critique of pure reason,' → online text (page 55 of 72)