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Thursday, June 16, 2022


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OK, thanks for confirming that my interpretation of Kant is shared by Strawson and Prichard, who are giants of the English intellectual tradition. (I nominated Norman Kemp Smith, another giant). Thanks also for confirming the existence of passages that invite a subjectivist reading.

But the question remains, exactly what does Kant mean by ‘appearance’ (Erscheinung)? Can I speak of this Appearance? Is this Appearance the visible surface of my desk? Is it numerically identical to what F sees when she looks at the desk? (Surely it is, since you claim it is “public, intersubjectively accessible” – and in what passage does Kant say that Appearances are ‘public’ and ‘intersubjectively accessible’? What are the German terms corresponding to the English?)

On my daily commute I'm currently listening to Roger Scruton's little book Kant: A Very Short Introduction, becoming so befuddled in places I wonder if I'll miss my exit one of these days.

This blog entry has been immensely helpful in making sense of Scruton, and hence of Kant, and I thank our host for it.

It seems you're in agreement with Scruton on the interpration of Kant. I wonder if you've read the book and have any thoughts on it, or of Scruton as a philospher more generally?

There also remains the strange passage (A377-8) that I referred you to earlier.

They [the objections of the idealist] drive us by main force, unless we mean to contradict ourselves in our commonest assertions, to view all our perceptions, whether we call them inner or outer, as a consciousness only of what is dependent on our sensibility.
Set aside the reference to ‘commonest assertions’, which I do not understand.

My perception of the surface of my desk is, according to Kant, “a consciousness only of what is dependent on [my] sensibility. So what I am conscious of, namely the black surface of the desk, is dependent on my sensibility? How is that consistent with the visible surface of the desk being a public object, namely an object that is numerically identical with what F is conscious of when she looks at the desk? I don’t get it.

In case you object that Kant means the consciousness of the surface which is dependent on my sensibility, I reply: that is not what Kant says. He says consciousness of what, i.e. there is the consciousness, and there is what the consciousness is of. And that would be the surface of the desk: what else?

Simon Jones,

I am happy that my post was of some use to you.

I like Scruton's conservatism but I haven't read any of his books. only some articles. My impression, which may be inaccurate, is that he is more of a publiic intellectual than a philosopher strictly speaking. I read what I could of the Kant book over at Amazon, but the portion reproduced there was merely biographical.

Thank you for your comment.

Let’s start with sensation. Kant writes:

The effect of an object on the capacity for representation (Vorstellungsfähigkeit), insofar as [B34] we are affected by it, is sensation (Empfindung). That intuition (Anschauung) which is related to the [A20] object through sensation is called empirical. The undetermined object of an empirical intuition is called appearance (Erscheinung).
Question: is sensation ‘intersubjective’? If so, then my sensation is also F’s sensation. They are one in number. That does not seem right.

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