06 July 2008

this looks promising

Thom Brooks links to this new blog, "Apperception and Spirit", which only has one post so far. But I definitely like the topic -- the role that Kant's "transcendental unity of apperception" plays in Hegel's thought, in particular the relationship between Kant's apperception and Hegel's Geist. I suspect that much e-ink will be shed over "the 'I'" in the future.

Hopefully, McDowell's "Hegel's Idealism as a Radicalization of Kant" will get discussed at some point, since McDowell's article largely centers on his interpretation of the Science of Logic quote which Chitty points out at the end of his post:

It is one of the profoundest and truest insights to be found in the Critique of Pure Reason that the unity which constitutes the essence of the concept is recognized as the original-synthetic unity of apperception, as the unity of the I think, or of self-consciousness.

As far as Chitty's post goes, I only have one short comment. Chitty writes that "it seems doubtful whether when Hegel says 'I is the pure concept itself' he means the same thing as Kant might have meant if he had used the same phrase." I think it's more than doubtful: Kant definitely would not have meant what Hegel means by this phrase. For Kant's distinction between intuitions and concepts is not Hegel's; for Hegel, intuitions are already "conceptual" -- they are the sort of thing that can be taken up in thinking, which is just the use of (determinate) concepts in judgements and inferences ("syllogisms"); the moments of "The Subjective Concept" in the Logic are also the moments of "Thinking" in Philosophy of Spirit.

Hegel explicitly links the "I" of apperception to thinking in a broad sense (though he decries Kant's phrasing it in terms of the 'I' "accompanying" my representations as "awkward", presumably because it makes it seem as if the 'I' and its thoughts could be placed alongside one another; Hegel has a general dislike for "spatial imagery" when it comes to discussing thinking). The "Preliminary Conception" in the Encyclopedia Logic features a fairly length discussion of Hegel's use of "the 'I'" and its relation to Kant's "I think", as an overview of where the Logic is headed. "[S]ince I am at the same time present in all my sensations, notions, states, etc., thought is present everywhere and pervades all these determinations as [their] category." "All other humans have this in common with me, to be 'I'... but taken abstractly as such, 'I' is pure relation to itself, in which abstraction is made from representation and sensation, from every state as well as from every peculiarity of nature, of talent of experience, and so on." (Encyclopedia Logic, ss20) What is taken to be valid for 'I', then, is not valid merely for myself as some determinately existing individual, but for thinking generally: if I judge, then I judge not merely how things are for me, but how things are; though my judgement is always my judgement, it also "does not stop short of the fact, but says: This. Is. So." (PI 95)

Hegel is thus clearly committed to "the unboundedness of the conceptual", in McDowell's phrase. Kant, on the other hand, uses "concept" in a more limited way, as something opposed to "intuition", and he thinks that there are "noumena" which are unable to be brought under our determinate concepts, yet which we can still know to exist (as the ground of the material of sensation). Thus if Kant spoke of the 'I' as "the pure concept itself", he would have to mean this in a sense still shot-through with dualisms -- what is concept is diverse from what is intuition, and what is conceptual is diverse from what exists. But all of these -- intuition, concept, and existence -- are something for the 'I'. Hence the 'I' for Kant cannot be simply der reine Begriff selbst, but must be something which includes also these other powers, of intuiting and relating to reality, as separate faculties. Whereas for Hegel, intuiting and relating to reality (and feeling and sensing and etc.) are all moments of the concept, are all unboundedly conceptual; the 'I' can thus be identified with the conceptual generally, without the worry that something is thereby being left out. Hegel is able to reach this position, though, through his radicalization of Kant: once the "transcendental ideality" of space and time is abandoned, the notion that our forms of intuition are merely our forms of intuition drops out, and they become simply the forms of intuited objects generally; thus Hegel can drop the idea that our intuitions might somehow be at variance with "things in themselves" or with conceptuality as such (as with Kant's unschematized categories). Conceptuality is then able to assert the universality which is its rightful possession.


Andrew Chitty said...

Hi Daniel

Do you have a copy of "Hegel's idealism as a radicalisation of Kant" in English? I can only find the Italian published version.

Daniel Lindquist said...

I am pretty sure it was published in English somewhere or other -- "Hegel: New Directions" I think. Weirdly, "Heterodox" was published in English three years earlier than "Radicalization", despite the former drawing heavily on the latter.

But I do have a PDF version in English, which I've passed along.