restricted access Kant and the Claims of Knowledge (review)
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138 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 28:1 JANUARY 1990 Paul Guyer. Kant and the Claims of Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Pp. xiii + 482. Cloth, $59.5 o. Paper, $x9.95. For several years now, Paul Guyer has been publishing articles on what he sees as numerous different strategies pursued by Kant in his attempt to deduce the objective validity of pure categories. In this very long, extremely detailed book, he has brought together the results of much of that work, added to it extensively, and defended at length a comprehensive and highly controversial view of the Deduction. The book has five major parts: on Kant's early views, on the deduction from 178187 , on the "principles of empirical knowledge" (most of which is devoted to an elaborate reconstruction of the Analogies argument), on the Refutation of Idealism, and on transcendential idealism in general. More broadly Guyer's central thesis has two parts. In the first he tries to show that the more well-known versions of the Deduction are disappointing failures. According to Guyer, Kant variously tried to deduce the objective validity of pure concepts from the assumption that we do possess a priori knowledge of objects, from the assumption of empirical knowledge of objects, for which a priori conditions must be found, from a claim about a priori knowledge of unity of the self, and from the a priori conditions of empirical self-knowledge. The first three attempts are said to fail, all for somewhat different reasons, but all in a way linked to an implausible (and, to a skeptic, question-begging) premise about "necessary connection" in experience. Moreover, given this premise, these strategies all involve a commitment to very strong views about experience (e.g., it is necessary that any possible manifold of experience be subject to the categories) and to an accompanying claim about the mindimposed unity of experience, considered by many the "dark side" of Kant's enterprise. It is the last strategy that for Guyer represents the most philosophically interesting tactic and that constitutes the second major claim he makes. In this version, Kant is trying to show that "time determination," whether of objects represented in consciousness , or of representations themselves, empirically apperceived, can be shown to presuppose the objective validity of, at least, the Analogies. Guyer claims that this last strategy, while it represents the "original" idea of a Deduction entertained by Kant in the first half of the Silent Decade, only emerges in the Cr/t/que in the Analogies and Refutation of Idealism, and is only fully explored by Kant after the Critique's publication . It involves only a "conditional" argument for the categories ("if there is to be experience there must be objectively valid categories"); the categories are thus valid for whatever in a manifold can be an object of a cognitive claim, and are not "necessarily" imposed on a manifold per se. Guyer's attack on what he regards as the standard reading of the Deduction is far too detailed to address point by point. I can merely note three difficulties with his approach. First, he attributes to Kant a premise that goes far beyond the "standard" beginning contrast between the "arbitrary representations of states of the self as such" and the "rule-governed representation of an object." According to Guyer, all commentators (somewhat surprisingly) have failed to see the following: that when Kant makes this contrast, and appeals to the object as "that in the concept of which the manifold of a given intuition is united" (B x37), he really means that the "object" is that in virtue of BOOK REVIEWS 139 which the representations of a manifold are necessarilyunited 0og). This attributes to Kant the very strange view that empirical judgments are necessary truths of some sort, and even though Kant often explicitly denies this (even once in the course of the Deduction, at B142, cited but dismissed by Guyer), Guyer claims that only by such a claim can Kant hope to deduce the objective validity of pure categories. In almost all cases of textual evidence cited by Guyer, however, it is possible and often much more natural to read Kant as claiming that...