Reading "Hegel's Idealism as a Radicalization of Kant". For the most part, I like it.
I'm not sure how McDowell's argument that the Deduction fails is supposed to work. McDowell claims that sliding from "spatio-temporally-formed sensible intuitions" (which the Aesthetic is to have shown as being a condition on how objects can be given to us) to "sensible intuitions which are formed (in general)" is supposed to undercut Kant's claim for the objective validity of the categories. I'm not sure how this objection is supposed to work. As Kant presents it (in McDowell's interpretation), that our sensible intuitions have some form or other is a prerequisite for objects being presented to us. That the form our intuitions take is spatiotemporal is supposed to be a problem:
If we allow ourselves — as Kant encourages — to play with the idea of sensibilities formed otherwise than ours, we can suppose they would generate formal intuitions that reflect their specific ways of being formed as space and time reflect ours. And we can perhaps imagine that beings endowed with such sensibilities might construct their own transcendental deductions of the objective validity of categorial thinking, each exploiting — as Kant’s Deduction does — the thought that the unity of the mode in which empirical intuition is given in their sensibility is no other than that which the category prescribes to the manifold of a given intuition in general (compare B144-5). But such a fancy is no help in our task of vindicating the objective validity of categorial thinking for ourselves. What that requires is averting the threat that categorial requirements are merely subjectively imposed on objects as they are given to our senses. That was the threat that indeed seemed to be averted when Kant noted that the unity of the formal intuitions, space and time, is itself a case of the objective unity of apperception....I don't see how this objection is supposed to work at all. It seems to me that even if Kant does simply leave the spatio-temporal nature of the forms of our intuition as a "brute fact", this doesn't preclude those intuitions from reaching all the way out to the world; it merely limits the objects they can reach out to to those which are spatio-temporally extended. If there are non-spatio-temporal objects, or if the objects we know of have non-spatio-temporal properties, then these "can be nothing for us", but I don't see how this hurts the Deduction. That there are conditions under which alone we can know objects entails that these conditions must obtain in the case of any objects we know. I don't see why it should be a problem if there are (possibly) some objects which we don't know to which those conditions don't apply -- which we can't know, though they might be perfectly real for all that. If the Deduction goes through, then we can't apply any of the schematized categories to such (hypothetical) unknowable objects, so there is no interesting sense in which we can imagine them to be interacting with objects which we do know, or in which we can imagine them as they might be in themselves. It would mean that the spatio-temporal objects which we do know might have non-spatio-temporal properties which we cannot know, but I'm not seeing why this is an objectionable sort of ignorance. Beings with other forms of intuition than ours might (hypothetically) be able to notice some things about the objects we know which we are unable to know. But we can still notice plenty about those objects. (And indeed we do know plenty about them, as shown in the "Refutation of Idealism".) Kant spoils this by making space and time transcendentally ideal (along with all the objects in it, and our knowledge of them), but that doesn't seem to be quite where McDowell is lodging his complaint (at least in some parts of the paper).
If there are conditions for it to be knowable by us how things are, it should be a truism that things are knowable by us only in so far as they conform to those conditions. And Kant wants it to look as if any hankering after an objectivity that goes beyond pertaining to things as they are given to our senses is a hankering after what could only be a mirage, a violation of that truism. But it is equally truistic that a condition for things to be knowable by us must be a condition for a possibility of our knowing how things are. And if some putative general form for cases of how things are is represented as a mere reflection of a fact about us, as the spatial and temporal organization of the world we experience is by transcendental idealism, that makes it impossible to see the relevant fact about us as grounding a condition for our knowing that things (really) are some way or other within that form. Transcendental idealism ensures that Kant cannot succeed in depicting the formedness of our sensibility as the source of a condition for things to be knowable by us.
My interpretation also strikes me as more likely to be one Kant held (or at least aspired to); Kant claims the reason we are unable to imagine a "noumenal" causation (such as freedom) is because we lack a schematized category of causation other than the spatio-temporal-sensible one we have, and a locus of freedom (such as the noumenal Will) cannot be spatio-temporal in nature (for to exist in space and time is to be subject to the analogies of experience, and thus to nature's laws, and a free will cannot (Kant thinks) be bound by laws it did not impose upon itself). Kant hypothesizes that the Deity might have an "intellectual intuition" (and so a form of intuition unlike our own spatio-temporal-sensible one) which might enable it to know (and so judge) the free will. As for us, we can only apply the logical form of relational judgement (the idea of one thing standing in some relation to another another in general) to non-spatio-temporal objects, and this gives us only problematic knowledge: Something analogous to causation might apply to noumenal objects. Kant holds that there are objects which we cannot know, because we cannot intuit them. McDowell seems to view this as a failure on Kant's part; I don't see how it wasn't something Kant positively intended to be a part of his system. Kant wanted an empirical realism, but not one that extended the conditions of our knowledge of objects to condition of the existence of objects in general -- not a realism sans term. "I denied reason to make room for faith" and all that.
I have a related quibble with this passage:
According to transcendental idealism, our capacities to know things reach only so far, and beyond that boundary there is something we cannot know — whether things themselves are really spatially and temporally organized. And the thought that we cannot know whether things themselves are really spatially and temporally organized undermines the possibility of recognizing as knowledge the supposed phenomenal knowledge, that things are spatially and temporally organized, that we are supposed to be able to achieve within the boundary.I think that Kant does hold that we know whether "things themselves" are spatially and temporally organized: They are not. The Aesthetic is supposed to show that objects can only be given to us in space and time if we assume that space and time are transcendentally ideal, that they are forms imposed by the mind on matter given ab extra and do not adhere in the things themselves. (This is something Kant had held since at least the Inaugural Dissertation.) This is why Kant is only an empirical realist. Phenomenal knowledge is knowledge which does justice to our experience, both inner and outer, but not to objects as they would be outside of experience (as in a Divine cognition via "intellectual intuition").
I should probably reread the Aesthetic to make sure I'm not just in error here, but this is how I recall it working when I first read it, and it's how Kenneth Westphal reads it in Kant's Transcendental Proof of Realism. Which is mostly about Kant's (failed) proof of Transcendental Idealism, despite the title. It probably would have been asking too much to want McDowell to address both the B Deduction and the Aesthetic in one article, but I think he should have. He refers to the problem with the Deduction being "imported" from the Aesthetic and spreading from there to poison the whole stew, but I'm not sure I get how he's pinning down the problem in the Aesthetic. (Really, this is a minor quibble: If the problem with Kant is his doctrine of the transcendental ideality of space & time, then the precise sense in which this doctrine was understood isn't a huge deal, so long as we can agree that it is unsatisfying for reason X.)
Despite the above quibbles, I mainly like the article. McDowell comes close to isolating Kant's problem where I think it is, in the Aesthetic's arguments for the transcendental ideality of space and time, and he ends up at a position I find amenable. Everything McDowell says about Hegel I find entirely salutary. I think it was McDowell's discussion of Hegel in "Reading McDowell" that first lead me to read "the Concept" as "the conceptual", and this made Hegel much more comprehensible than he had been previously; McDowell makes the point explicit in this article, in a footnote, since Pippin appears to have read "the Concept" as "the Concepts". Which is just a weird error, and leads Pippin to make some utterly baffling comments ("table of notions"??). McDowell also does a nice job at bringing complaints Hegel makes against Kant closer to Kant himself; Hegel can occasionally seem to be arguing against a strawman-Kant, as when he merely gestures to criticisms by complaining about "formalism" in the Critical philosophy. I think McDowell makes a very plausible suggestion at the end: It's easier to just go from Kant to Hegel than to try to approach Hegel head-on. So we'd do better to look at Kant, look to Hegel for suggestions for how Kant goes wrong, and then use this amended Kantian understanding to try to work out how Hegel argues for his own positions.
There are also some nice smaller points. The suggestion that we should "make sense of the objective purport of intuitions and the objective purport of judgements together" is a good one. It can seem mysterious that what are merely our judgements can "reach out" to the world (rather than falling short of doing justice to what is given us), and it can seem mysterious that objects can be "given" to us (rather than our purported intuitions of objects being dumb & mute happenings). But when the objects which are "given" to us are taken to be already suitable candidates for inclusion in a judgement, then it is no longer mysterious how judgement can "reach out" to the world; and when an object being "given" to us is taken to be a suggestion about how to judge things to be, it is no longer mysterious how a purported event of "intuition" can be an intuition of an object. Both mysteries are dissolved by dissolving them both.
Back to complaints: I am not quite sure what McDowell takes Hegel to be rejecting in Kant. McDowell seems to say both that Hegel rejects Kant's transcendental idealism, which is true, and that Hegel rejects the idea that space and time are forms of our sensible intuition, which is not quite right. Hegel rejects the Kantian articulation of the idea that space and time are forms of our sensible intuition, but I think it's misleading to say he rejects it tout court. For Hegel, space and time are the forms of the objects given in intuition, and the forms in which those objects are given to us. I suppose this is a fairly minor quibble, since Hegel (unlike Kant) doesn't think other forms of intuition are possible; for Hegel extension in space and endurance in time are requirements for objects to have the sort of distinctiveness that is a requirement of their being possibly given in intuition at all, so the fact that the form of our intuition is spatio-temporal says nothing; all forms of intuition would be like that. Which is why Hegel doesn't talk about "forms of intuition" but just of "space" and "time". (In any case, the rejection that seems to be doing the heavy lifting in McDowell's picture of Hegel is the rejection of transcendental idealism. And that's the right move to make.)