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KANTS CONCEPT OF THE TRANSCENDENTAL OBJECT

by Henry E. Allison, University of Florida


Kant-Studien 59 (1968), pp165-186

The proper interpretation of Kant's concept of the transcendental object (transzendentales Objekt or transzendentaler Gegenstand) has long been a subject of considerable controversy. Since the general debate concerns its relation to the thing in itself this is not surprising, and a catalogue of the basic positions on this question serves to define some of the main battle lines of Kant scholarship. Thus, we find Kemp Smith arguing for the complete identification of these two concepts, and using this identification as one of the chief supports of his "patchwork theory": c c ... the doctrine of the transcendental object is a pre-Critical or semi-Critical survival and must not be taken as forming part of Kant's final and considered position1." Cohen likewise identifies the two, although since he rejects any realistic interpretation of the thing in itself, viewing it instead as the idea of the totality of experience, this does not bring with it any *\in-Critical" connotations 2. Others have endeavored without much success to distinguish the two completely3, while the third, and dominant line of interpretation argues for a basic ambiguity in Kant's position, contending that he sometimes identifies and sometimes distinguishes the two concepts, although here again there is a great deal of divergence in regard to specific passages 4. Norman Kemp Smith, A Commentary to Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason9, Second edition, New York 1962, p. 218. 2 Hermann Cohen, Kantus Theorie der Erfahrung, Second edition, Berlin 1885, pp. 502510. 3 The most interesting attempt in this direction is by Graham Bird, Kant's Theory of Knowledge, London 1962. See also Herbert Herring, Das Problem der Affektion bei Kant, Kantstudien-Ergnzungshefte 67, 1963, and Georg Jinoska, Der transzendentale Gegenstand, Kantstudien 46 (19541955), pp. 193221, As M. J. Scott-Taggart points out in his Recent Work on the Philosophy of Kant, American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 1966, p. 174, the basic difficulty with these interpretations is that they select only those passages whidi fit their theory, and fail to give an account of those passages where Kant uses the term "transcendental object" and "thing in itself as synonymous. 1 The classic statement of this view is by Eridi Adickes, Kant's Opus postumum, Berlin 1920, pp. 675677, and Kant und das Ding an Sich, Berlin 1924, pp. 99108. A similar view is to be found in Faton, Kant's Metaphysic of Experience, London 165
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liiere can be little doubt that the third alternative is in principle the correct one. Although there are many passages where the transcendental object can only be understood as equivalent to the thing in itself, and one (B366) where they arc explicitly identified, in the two passages in which the concept is analyzed (A104110 and A250253) and in several less significant ones, it is crucial that they be distinguished. This ambiguity was recognized by Adickes, who treats the concept in some detail. However, rather than explaining this ambiguity, he simply dismisses it as "unfortunate" *, and the general tendency of those who recognize that Kant uses the concept in a twofold sense seems to be to regard this simply as another instance of Kant's notoriously loose use of technical terminology. It is no doubt easy to read the Critique of Pure Reason in such a manner, immediately dismissing all difficulties and apparent contradictions as either vestiges of a "pre-Critical" position, or as cases of careless terminology, especially since the Critique abounds with such carelessness. It does, however, seem worth the effort to see if this undeniable ambiguity can be explained on other, more philosophical grounds. That this is in fact the case is the main contention of this paper. We shall try to show that far from being a "pre-Critical survival", the concept of a transcendental object and the ambiguity of its meaning are necessary consequences of Kant's transcendental enterprise.

I "I entitle transcendental all knowledge which is occupied not so much with objects as with the mode of our knowledge of objects in so far as this mode of knowledge is to be possible a priori" (B25) e . With these words Kant ushers his readers into the domain of transcendental philosophy. The concern with the conditions of our knowledge of objects, and especially our a priori knowledge, is to replace the concern of traditional metaphysics with the objects themselves. The famous "Copernican Revolution" is both a condition and a consequence of this new concern. It is a condition in that the supposition that "objects must conform to our knowledge" (Bxvi) provides an obvious philosophical justification for this shift of emphasis, and it is a consequence in that it constitutes Kant's critical solution to the problem of a priori knowledge. 1936, Vol. I, pp. 420425, and Vol. II, pp. 442445. Robert Paul Wolff, in his Kants Theory of Mental Activity, Cambridge Mass. 1967, offers a far more hesitant version of this thesis. 5 . Adickes, Kant und das Ding an Sich, p. 100. e The citations are, with some modifications, taken from the Kemp Smith translation of the Critique. 166

As we all know, the "Copernican Revolution" only succeeds in justifying a priori knowledge at the cost of limiting sudi knowledge to the realm of possible experience. Aside from our scientific knowledge of the world of experience and its necessary structures, there is, of course, transcendental philosophy. This, however, is not to be understood as.a "super-science" providing us with knowledge of non-empirical or transcendental entities, but only as a body of second-order reflective propositions about the nature, limits, and conditions of our ordinary scientific knowledge7. This line of thought runs throughout the Critique^ but its clearest formulation is to be found at the beginning of the Transcendental Logic: And here I make a remark whidi the reader must bear well in mind, as it extends its influence over all that follows. Not every kind of knowledge a priori should be called transcendental, but that only by whidi we know that and how certain representations (intuitions or concepts) can be employed or are possible purely a priori. The term 'transcendental' that is to say, signifies sudi knowledge as concerns the a priori possibility of knowledge, or its a priori employment. Neither space nor any a priori geometrical determination of it is a transcendental representation; what can alone be entitled transcendental is the knowledge that these representations are not of empirical origin, and the possibility that they can yet relate a priori to objects of experience. The application of space to objects in general would likewise be transcendental, but, if restricted solely to objects of sense, it is empirical. The distinction between the transcendental and the empirical belongs therefore only to the critique of knowledge; it does not concern the relation of that* knowledge to its objects. (B8081) But, if the distinction between the transcendental and the empirical does not concern the relation of that knowledge to its object, then it would appear that the very idea of a "transcendental object" is a contradiction in terms, and hence, that our endeavor to get at the meaning whidi Kant gives to this concept by way of an analysis of his "transcendental turn" has led us to a dead end. However, Kant's transcendental philosophy is also a "transcendental idealism", and it is in this context that the significance of the transcendental object is to be found. Ulis idealism follows from an analysis of the nature of a priori knowledge. The two criteria of the a priori are universality and necessity. Since diese cannot be derived from experience, they must be imposed by the mind on experience, and this leads Kant to what is perhaps the basic tenet of the Critique: " . . . we can know a priori of things only what we ourselves put into diem." (Bxviii) However, if we know things only insofar as we determine them through the activity of understanding, then we cannot know them as they are in themselves, but only as they appear. But appearances are themselves not entities whidi exist independently of being apprehended, but mere representations "in us", and thus, in the last analysis, Kant's whole claim that the understanding is the "lawgiver of nature" and that objects must necessarily conform to the conditions of our appre-

Cf. Bird, Kanfs Theory of Knowledge, p. 38.

hcnsion, rests upon the fact that these objects, and nature as a whole, are nothing but representations in the mind 8. Transcendental idealism, however, which is defined as the doctrine that ".. . appearances are to be regarded as being, one and all, representations only, not things in themselves, and that time and space are therefore only sensible forms of our intuition, not determinations given as existing by themselves, nor conditions of objects viewed as things in themselves" (A 369), must be distinguished from other, illegitimate forms of idealism. The basis for this distinction lies in the Kantian contention that the distinction between appearances and things in themselves is transcendental and not empirical. It is not the result of a direct reflection upon the objects of our experience, but of a second-order analysis of the necessary conditions .of their cognition. Thus, a transcendental idealism is consonant with an "empirical realism", viz the belief that objects as they are presented to consciousness in experience really are in space and time* In the Aesthetic this is argued in*terms of the thesis that space and time as a priori forms of sensibility are empirically real and transcendentally ideal, but it finds its clearest expression in the Fourth Paralogism of the First Edition (A367380). This section constitutes Kant's first version of the Refutation of Idealism" and it provides a good introduction to the problem of the transcendental object. His specific target is the empirical idealist, which is the name he attaches to the proponents of the "theory of ideas", e. g. Descartes and Locke. The basic tenet of this position is that we are immediately aware only of our own ideas or states of consciousness, and consequently, that the existence of external objects corresponding to these ideas is a matter of causal inference rather than immediate apprehension. Kant's refutation essentially involves the demonstration that empirical idealism implies a transcendental realism, and thus ultimately scepticism, and in so doing, he is expressing the classical conception of the development of philosophical thought from Descartes to Hume. Transcendental realism, which Kant opposes to his own transcendental idealism, is the doctrine which holds that space and time are given in themselves independently of the conditions of human sensibility, and consequently, that objects in space and time are not appearances but things in themselves. The empirical idealist is a transcendental realist because his contention that we are only immediately aware of our own ideas or states of consciousness is itself nothing but the result of the reflection that we are not in fact immediately aware of those "real", i. e. non-mental entities, whidi we must nevertheless presuppose as the cause of the ideas in the mind. In other words, it is only because the empirical idealist begins with the assumption that by "real things" we must understand things which exist independently of the mind, i. e. things in themselves, that he is led to deny any direct access to these things. From Kant's standpoint, sudi a position ultimately leads to
8

Cf. A127130.

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scepticism, not only because of the uncertainty involved in all inference from effect to cause, but more significantly, because: "If we treat outer objects as things in themselves, it is quite impossible to understand how we could arrive at a knowledge of their reality outside us, since we have to rely merely on the representation which is in us." (A378) The transcendental idealist, on the other hand, is also an empirical realist, i. e. one who holds that we are immediately aware of things in space and time. Since he regards space as nothing but the form of outer intuition, he can view matter transcendentally as "a species of representations (intuition) whidi are called external, not as standing in relation to objects in themselves external^ but because they relate perceptions to the space in which all things are external to one another, while yet the space itself is in us." (A370) On such a view it is obvious* that we are as immediately aware of matter in space as of ourselves in time, and Kant can therefore conclude that "our doctrine thus removes all difficulty in the way of accepting the existence of matter on the unaided testimony of our mere self-consciousness, or of declaring it to be thereby proved in the same manner as the existence of myself as a thinking being' is proved."1 (A370) Thus, Kant's empirical realism is a logical consequence of his transcendental idealism. We are immediately aware of things in space because space itself and all things in it are nothing but a series of representations "in us" As Kant proceeds to point out (A372373) the whole debate between the empirical and the transcendental idealist turns upon the meaning of the terms "external" and "in us". Viewed empirically they refer primarily to spatial location. From an empirical, common sense standpoint an external object is one which is located in space, a certain distance from me, and from other objects, and such objects are to be sharply distinguished from ideas, which as determinate psychic entities are "in the mind". For the transcendental philosopher, however, the term refers to the question of mind dependence. Since space itself is, when viewed transcendentally, merely the form of outer intuition, external objects or appearances in space are "in us", and a transcendentally external object would begone which exists entirely independently of the conditions of our sensibility, it would be in short a thing in itself. This being the case, it is clear that the basic fallacy of empirical idealism is that it takes "in us" in an empirical, and "external" in a transcendental sense, thereby committing what would today be called a "category mistake". Moreover, such a mistake is an inevitable consequence of the starting point of the theory. It is, as we have seen, just because philosophers such as Locke begin with the assumption that "real" things must exist independently of the mind, that they were led to their "empirical" thesis, that we are not immediately aware of these "real" things, but only of ideas in the mind. What Kant shows in this section is that' this position is not only bad epistemology, since its logical consequence is (as was shown by Hume) scepticism, but bad psychology as well. Since we are in fact 169

immediately aware of things in space, the theory of ideas is simply empirically false. However, although empirically false, it is transcendentally true. It is indeed true that we are only aware of representations "in us", but this is to be understood as the result of transcendental analysis, and not empirical psychology. It follows not from simple introspection, which contradicts it, but from the Copernican revolution 9 . Thus, we are led to the conclusion, which is central to our further analysis, that Kant does not so much reject the theory of ideas, as to re-interpret it from his transcendental standpoint, and it is precisely this re-interpretation which gives rise to the problem of the transcendental object. This is clearly brought out in the following passage: We can indeed admit that something, which may be (in the transcendental sense) outside us, is the cause of our outer intuitions, but this is not the object of whidi we are thinking in the representations of matter and of corporeal things; for these are merely appearances, that is, mere kinds of representation, whidi are never to be met with save in us, and the reality of which depends on immediate consciousness, just as does the consciousness of my own thoughts. The transcendental object is equally unknown in respect to inner and to outer intuition. But it is not of this that we are here speaking, but of the empirical object, whidi is called an external object if it is represented in space, and an inner object if it is represented only in its time-relations. Neither space nor time, however, is to be found save in us. (A372373) Here we see the notion of a transcendental object introduced by way of contrast with the empirical object, and this suggests that the idea of such an object is a necessary consequence of Kant's distinction between the empirical and the transcendental standpoints. Just as the empirical proponents of the theory of ideas believed that these ideas were caused by and corresponded to (at least this .was the case in regard to ideas of primary qualities) objects in the "external" world, so the transcendental idealist, who regards the whole "external" world as merely a series of representations in the mind needs the notion of a transcendental object to refer to the transcendentally external correlate of these representations. Unlike the empirical object, however, which the empirical idealist mistakenly regards as transcendentally real, the truly transcendental object is not encountered, but is simply the idea of an unknowable cause of our intuitions, which "may3', in the "transcendental sense" be outside us. It is clear that if this object be understood as the transcendental, i. e. nonempirical cause of our representations, then it must be identical with the thing in itself, and this is precisely the sense in which it has in numerous passages in the Critique, of which it is here only necessary to cite two examples. Neither the transcendental object which underlies outer appearances nor that whidi underlies inner intuition, is in itself either matter or a thinking being, but a ground (to us unknown) of the appearances whidi supply to us the empirical concept of the former as well as of the latter mode of existence. (A379380) and again: This whole analysis is greatly indebted to the excellent treatment of Bird, Kant's Theory of Knowledge, pp. 4447. 170
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The much-discussed question of the communion between the thinking and the extended, if we leave aside all that is merely fictitious, comes then simply to this: how in a thinking subject outer intuition, namely, that of space, with its filling-in of shape and motion, is possible. And this is a question whidi no man can possible answer. This gap in our knowledge can never be filled; all that can be done is to indicate it through the ascription of outer appearances to that transcendental object whidi is the cause of this species of representations, but of whidi we can have no knowledge whatsoever and of whidi we shall never acquire any concept. (A393) The idea of such a transcendentally real and unknown ground of our representations is a necessary consequence of Kant's transcendental re-interpretation of the "theory of ideas". It is indeed the thing in itself, but the thing in itself as viewed from the standpoint of transcendental idealism, and thus, carefully distinguished from the objects of experience. As such, Kant's references to sudi objects serve to underline two of the central theses of his transcendental idealism: that our knowledge, is limited to possible experience, and that the whole world of experience (the phenomenal world) is nothing but a series of representations mus We have also claimed, however, that there are passages in the Critique where the transcendental object mut be distinguished from the thing in itself, and further, that the consequent ambiguity is not to be dismissed as mere carelessness, but rather understood as the logical outcome of Kant's transcendental idealism* This, S we shall see, is because this idealism is ultimately grounded in his transcendental re-interpretation of the "theory of ideas", and it therefore, can best be comprehended when Kant's position is compared with that of a typical proponent of this theory, John Locke. Like all empirical idealists, Locke regarded ideas not only as mental entities, ultimately caused by objects in the external world, but also, at least in regard to the ideas of "primary qualities", as representations of these objects. His famous analysis of substance as a "something I know not what", his justification of "sensitive knowledge", and his treatment of the "reality of knowledge" are all based on this assumption. This emerges most clearly in relation to his analysis of substance. Since we are only immediately aware of our own ideas, whidi he regarded primarily as ideas of qualities of substances (he sometimes identifies them with the qualities, themselves), the substance or thing to whidi they refer must remain unknowable. Yet since it is only by reference to sudi a substance or real thing that our ideas can be viewed as representative of objects, and thus, our judgments based on these ideas as objectively valid, Lbe found it necessary to assume the existence of an "unknown substrate" of these ideas. It is in light of these considerations that he writes: Hence, when we talk or think of any particular sort of corporeal substances, as horse, stone, & c, though the idea we have of either of them be but the complication or collection of those several simple ideas of sensible qualities, whidi we used to find united in the thing called horse or stone; yet, because we cannot conceive how they should subsist alone, nor one in another, we suppose them existing in and supported 171

by some common subject; whidi support we denote by the name substance, though it be certain wc have no clear or distinct idea of that thing we suppose a support10. The criticism of this doctrine by Berkeley and Hume and the consequent reduction of a thing to a "collection of ideas" or "aggregate of impressions" is well known, but it is one which Kant could not accept because it undermined the distinction between a judgment about the world and a merely subjective play of representations. As a transcendental idealist for whom the world of experience is merely a series of representation "in us", he had to explain the objectivity of this world and of our judgments about it, that is to say, he had to explain what is meant by an "object of our representations". Since the whole empirical world is transcendentally ideal this could not be the empirical object, and it must therefore be the transcendental object. Thus, as a direct consequence of his transcendental idealism, Kant was led to regard the transcendental object both as the cause and the object of our representations, and if in the former sense it is identified with the thing in itself, it is clear that in the latter it cannot be, without undermining the entire argument of the Critique.

II Kant first deals with the problem of the "object of representations" in the "preparatory" version of the subjective deduction in the First Edition. His concern in this section as a whole (A95114) is to delineate "in their transcendental constitution, the subjective sources which form the a priori foundation of the possibility of experience". (A97) Essentially this involves the demonstration of the necessity of a three-fold transcendental synthesis for the explanation of the possibility of knowledge. Although the analysis is thus avowedly transcendental, Kant begins with, and bases his entire argument upon the factual recognition of the temporal nature of consciousness. Whatever the origin of our representations, whether they be a priori or empirical, "they must all, as modifications of the mind belong to inner sense", and since the Transcendental Aesthetic has already established that time is the form of inner sense: "All our knowledge is thus finally subject to time, . . . In it they must all be ordered, connected, and brought into relation." (A99) This reference to representations as "modifications of the mind'* (Modifikationen des Gemts) appears to suggest that Kant is assuming the standpoint of empirical idealism, but the whole point of the Transcendental Deduction is to show that the problem engendered by this reflection, viz., how the mind can become conscious of the unity or identity amongst its diverse and successive representations, John Lodce, An Essay concerning Human Understanding, ed. A. C. Fraser, New York 1959, Vol. I, p. 395. 172
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and thus aware of an abiding object, cannot be resolved in empirical terms, but requires the theory of the three-fold transcendental synthesis of apprehension, reproduction and recognition* It has often been pointed out that Kant is here speaking not of three distinct syntheses, but of one synthesis which is analyzed into three aspects or momenta. All three aspects are necessarily involved in the explanation of how the mind comes to apprehend a manifold as a manifold. Since an intuition, here understood as an act of intuiting, lasts through time, it follows that the mind cannot apprehend an object (the manifold as a manifold) without holding before itself representations given at different times. In Kant's own words, the manifold must be "run through and held together", and this act is called the "synthesis of apprehension". (A99) This, ' however, is impossible unless the mind is able to reproduce past representations. Without such reproduction, which is here regarded as the fundamental activity of the imagination "not even the purest and most elementary representations of space and time could ariseJ\ (A102) Kant illustrates this contention in regard to both space and time. The attempt to draw a line in thought or to think the time from one noon to the next obviously requires the apprehension of representations successively intuited. "But", Kant reflects, "if I were always to drop out of thought the preceding representations (the first parts of the line, the antecedent parts of the time period, or the units in the order represented), and did not reproduce them while advancing to those that follow, a complete representation would never be obtained: ...". (A102) Thus, we are led to the conclusion that reproduction is a necessary element in apprehension, and that both are "to be counted among the transcendental acts of the mind". (A102) Yet apprehension and reproduction, taken by themselves, are not sufficient to account for the consciousness of a unified manifold. Unless the mind were conscious of the identity of its reproduced representations with the original model, mere reproduction would never yield the awareness of a whole. But since these representations (the original and the reproduction) are given to the mind at different times, the only way in whidi it can be aware of their identity is if it is conscious of the rule whereby they are reproduced in the imagination. Kant calls this consciousness the "synthesis of recognition in a concept", although it is clearly not an additional synthesis, but merely a reflection of the need for the mind to be able to become conscious of its own synthetic activity, a point which in the "Metaphysical Deduction" was formulated as the need "to bring the synthesis to concepts". (B104) The upshot of this analysis is that the mind is the source of the unity of the manifold whidi it apprehends, and that this unity is the unity of its own activity. Indeed this follows necessarily from Kant's starting point, for since* the manifold is given successively any unity therein must be imposed by the mind and not simply found. The mind is, of course, not always conscious of 173

its generative activity, and is usually aware only of its result. Nevertheless, Kant concludes, " . . . such consciousness, however, indistinct, must always be present; without it, concepts, and therewith knowledge of objects, arc altogether impossible." (A104) With this last assertion, Kant clearly goes beyond everything which he has said so far. Previously he had been talking simply about the problem of the relation of representations in consciousness, and describing the necessary conditions for the recognition of their unity or identity. Now, however, he suggests that these same conditions (the unifying activities of consciousness) are also the ground of our concepts, and hence our knowledge of objects. Ultimately, as we shall see, knowledge of an object will be identified with the recognition of the necessary synthetic unity of our representations, but before this can be established, and in order to justify the shift from a discussion of representations in the mind to one of objects in the world, Kant must first determine what is meant by an "object of representations", or as he also expresses it, "an object corresponding to, and consequently also distinct from, our knowledge"* (A104) Kant regards it as obvious that this object can only be thought as a "something in general X". This is highly reminiscent of Locke's conception of substance as a "something I know not what", and both men were led to their conceptions by a similar chain of reasoning. If we are, in fact, only aware of our own representations or ideas (the question of whether this be taken in the empirical or transcendental sense is here irrelevant), then it follows that the notion of something corresponding to, and hence distinct from, these representations must remain completely indeterminate. It is tempting to dismiss, with Berkeley and Hume, such a vacuous concept as utterly meaningless. But Kant's main point is that this concept is necessarily involved in all our empirical knowledge. The central feature in our conception of the relation between knowledge and its object is necessity, and "the object is viewed as that which prevents our modes of knowledge from being haphazard or arbitrary, and which determines them a priori in some definite fashion." (A104) It is only insofar as it relates them to an object that the mind can relate its representations necessarily to one another. Thus, it is only in terms of the idea of this relation that the mind, which is acquainted only with its own representations, is able to distinguish between the subjective connection of ideas in the imagination and the objective connection of qualities in a thing. Since the lauer connection is characterized by necessity, it cannot be explained la Hume in terms of association. Rather, as Kant is at great pains to show in his several treatments of the difficult doctrine of "transcendental affinity", the subjective connection of ideas through association is only possible on the basis of an objective connection u .

11

Cf. A10Q, A112113, A122.

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Kant's problem is thus to explain what is meant by objective connection, or what amounts to the same thing, show what is involved in the relation of representations to an object. Locke had viewed this relation in realistic terms, regarding the unknown object of our representations as a substance in the "external" world, a position whidi, we have seen, leads inevitably to scepticism. For Kant, however, it is not the object, viewed realistically as the cause of our representations, whidi serves as the ground of their objectivity, but rather the concept of the object, whidi turns out on analysis to be nothing more than the concept of the necessary synthetic unity of the representations themselves. We have already seen that the unity of representations is to be explained in terms of the unity of consciousness, and thus, all that Kant has now to do is show that this likewise accounts for the unity of th object represented. This is undertaken in the next paragraph where Kant asserts: But it is clear that, since we have to deal only with the manifold of our representations, and since that x (the object) whidi corresponds to them is nothing to us r being, as it is, something that has to be distinct from all our reprsentations the unity which the object makes necessary can be nothing else than the formal unity of consciousness in the synthesis of the manifold of representations. (A105) Thus, the connection is established between die "synthesis of recognition in a concept", and knowledge of an object. Since our conception of an object is exhausted by the synthetic unity of representations, the recognition of this synthetic unity is precisely what is meant by knowledge of an object. Moreover, since this unity is a result of the mind's own activity in the synthesis of its representations, the unity whidi it "finds" in the object turns out to be one whidi it has itself produced. But since it has been established that the mind can only produce unity in its representations insofar as it synthesizes them in accordance with a rule, Kant can conclude: CBut this unity is impossible if the intuition cannot be generated in accordance with a rule by means of such a function of synthesis as makes the reproduction of the manifold a priori necessary, and renders possible a concept in. whidi it is united." (A105) Here we find a clear expression of the full implications of the "transcendental turn". The unity of the object is explained completely in terms of the unity of the rule whereby it is constructed in the imagination, and the concept of the object is nothing but the consciousness of this rule. Kant will go on to argue that the categories, as "concepts of an object in general"12, are the rules or "functions of synthesis" whidi are necessarily involved in the awareness of any object. Here, however, he illustrates this basic contention in regard to a triangle, whidi strictly speaking is not an object at all, but merely the form of a possible object. Kant's point is simply that when we think of a triangle as an object we are conscious of the combination or synthesis of three straight lines in accordance with a rule, and that the intuition of a triangle can always be produced by " Cf. B128, B146. 175

sudi a synthesis. But if this is the case, then the unity of the triangle, the ground of its "objectivity" is nothing but the unity of the rule whereby it is constructed in the imagination, and consequently: "The concept of this unity is the representation of the object = x, which I think through the predicates, above mentioned, of a triangle," (A105) If, however, the unity of the object known is to be explained in terms of the unity of the knowing consciousness, then this unity must be regarded as a necessary condition of experience. As such it cannot be explained in empirical or psychological terms but like all necessity must be grounded in a "transcendental condition". Kant calls this condition transcendental apperception, and is careful to distinguish it from empirical apperception, which he here identifies with inner sense. Both are modes of self-consciousness, but while the latter yields a merely empirical awareness of the flux of inner appearance, and hence, no abiding self, the former refers to that unity of consciousness which must be presupposed throughout all experience. The one is a datum of introspective psychology, the other the result of transcendental analysis. Thus, in effect what Kant is saying is that if we view the self in empirical terms, we must, like Hume, find nothing but a perpetual flux of representations, but that if we adopt the transcendental standpoint, whereby the whole of experience is nothing but a series of representations "in us", then the unity or identity of the self must be presupposed as the ultimate ground of the unity of its representations. Kant, however, not only regards this transcendental unity of apperception as a formal condition of all thought and hence experience, but also as an activity necessarily involved in all experiencing. "This transcendental unity of apperception forms out of {macht ans) all possible appearances, which can stand alongside one another in one experience, a connection of all these representations according to laws." (A108) It is not easy to see just how a formal condition can "do" anything, but Kant's aim seems to be to show that this unity of the knowing consciousness, as well as the unity of the object known are results of the mind's activity. This is suggested by the reflection that the requisite unity of consciousness is only possible insofar as the mind becomes conscious of the identity of its function "whereby it synthetically combines it in one knowledge". Tbus, it is only by becoming aware of the unity or identity of its own activity in knowing, i. e. the rule at work in the determination of the object, that the mind becomes aware not only of the unity of the object, but of itself as well. The unity of consciousness and the consciousness of unity are simply two sides of the same coin, and both are products of the synthesizing activity of the mind. We "recognize in a concept", i. e. a rule of synthesis, not only the unity of representations, and of the object represented, but the unity of the representing self as well. Here Kant articulated the thesis which was to provide the very starting point of German idealism; viz. that consciousness of the self and the consciousness of an object are not isolated facts, but mutually conditions of one another. 176

The original and necessary consciousness of the identity of the self is thus at the same time a consciousness of an equally necessary unity of the synthesis of all appearances according to concepts, that is, according to rules, which not only make them necessarily reproducible but also in so doing determine an object for their intuition, that is, the concept of something wherein they are necessarily interconnected. (A108) This explicit correlation between consciousness of self and consciousness of an object brings Kant back full circle to the problem with which we began; viz. -what is meant by an "object of representations" or an "object in general"? It was the initial concern with this problem which led Kant to the recognition that the unity of the object known must be understood in terms of the unity of the knowing consciousness, and that this unity of consciousness is only possible insofar as its representations stand in relation to an object, that is insofar as it is a knowing consciousness. But if this connection is to make any sense Kant must determine more precisely than he has hitherto done the nature of this mysterious "relation to an object", and this in effect means that he must provide a transcendental account of the meaning of objectivity. This account begins with an affirmation of the dual nature of representations, and it is here that we shall find the clearest expression of Kant's transcendental re-interpretation of the theory of ideas. Representations, he admits, in apparent agreement with the empirical idealists, are not only objects of consciousness or mental entities, but as the very term suggests, they likewise have a referential function, i. e. they refer to or "have objects". From an empirical standpoint this duality offers no great problem. "Appearances", Kant asserts, "are the sole objects' which can be given to us immediately, and that in them which relates immediately to the object is called intuition." (A109) Thus, since appearances are empirically real, we can affirm that we are immediately aware, not of our own ideas, but of "real things" in space and time, and that it is these "real things" which we regard as the objects of pur representations. However, when we view the situation transcendentally and recognize that these "real things" are appearances and hence nothing but representations "in us", dien we see that they themselves must have an object. This need to assign an object to our representations is an obvious consequence of the contention that it is only insofar as they, stand in relation to an object that these representations can be brought to the unity of consciousness. But since the object cannot be intuited, for dien it would be simply another representation, Kant concludes: 'The object of our representations may be entitled, "the non-empirical, that is transcendental object xr (A109) Thus, the transcendental object, the object of our representations regarded as transcendentally ideal, whidi we first encountered as the unknown cause of our representations, now emerges in a new role as the ground of their objectivity. This role is clearly defined in the next paragraph: The pure concept of a transcendental object, whidi is in reality one and the same = X throughout all our knowledge, is what can alone confer upon all our empirical concepts the general relation to an object, that is, objective validity. (A109) 177

This is essentially nothing but a slightly more explicit restatement of the earlier argument with the "object of representations" now definitively characterized as the "transcendental object = x". The identification of "relation to an object" with "object validity" is a necessary, and by now familiar, consequence of Kant's transcendental idealism. Since we are only aware of our own representations, and therefore cannot compare them with any transcendently real object, the relation of these representations to an object must be understood as a necessary relation among the representations themselves. But this implies that the concept of the transcendental object = x as the ground of objectivity cannot refer to any real entity, and therefore certainly not to the thing in itself, but only, as Kant states: "to that unity which must be met with in any manifold of knowledge which stands in relation to an object". (A109) As the idea of that unity, the concept of the transcendental object constitutes the very idea or formula of objectivity. It alone can confer on our representations relation to an object precisely because it alone defines what is meant by an object. Furthermore, it is because it does not refer to an entity but to the formula for objectivity that Kant can maintain that it remains identical throughout our knowledge. Finally, since this necessary synthetic unity of representations has already been identified with the unity of consciousness, and since this unity is itself grounded in the unity of the rule or function whereby the manifold was synthesized, we can see that the proclaimed necessity of the relation to a transcendental object is simply another way of stating, this time from the side of the object, what must be regarded as the fundamental thesis of xheTranscendentalDeduction: . . . all appearances, in so far as through them objects are to be given to us, must stand under those a priori rules of synthetical unity whereby the inter-relating of these appearances in empirical intuition is alone possible. In other words, appearances in experience must stand under the conditions of the necessary unity of apperception, just as in mere intuition they must be subject to the formal conditions of space and of time. Only thus can any knowledge become possible at alL (A110) This interpretation of objectivity in terms of the necessary synthetic unity of representations quite obviously implies a coherence theory of truth, and sudi a theory is indeed the logical consequence of Kant's transcendental re-interpretation of the theory of ideas. The empirical idealist, since he is also transcendental realist, posits the existence of an external object corresponding to the ideas in his mind. The transcendental idealist, on the other hand, since he regards all appearances as representations *in us", cannot meaningfully talk about such an external, corresponding object, and thus he naturally judges the objectivity of appearances in terms of their internal coherence. However, the perplexing thing about the whole discussion, and the basic reason why some commentators have equated the transcendental object with the thing in itself, and thus rejected the whole argument as "pre-Critical", is that it is formulated in the language of a correspondence theory. The object is regarded in the first instance as something corresponding to, and hence distinct from our representations, and this sounds 178

very much as if Kant is here referring to a transcendentally real entity, i. e. a thing in itself. Yet this procedure becomes easily explicable when we view it in the context of Kant's polemic with empirical idealism, which is not found solely in the "Refutation of Idealism", but throughout rixeCritique as a whole. Kant's problem in the present instance is to explain what is to be understood by the claim that a judgment has objective validity. He admits, in agreement with Lodte, that this involves the claim of relation to an object, and therefore that one cannot explain the nature of judgment in the radically subjectivistic manner of Berkeley and Hume. Locke, however, went astray because he viewed this relation in realistic terms, regarding the object corresponding to our ideas as a mere "something I know not what". Hence, Berkeley and Hume were right in pointing out that from the standpoint of empirical idealism sudi a notion was meaningless, but since they had nothing to replace it with the ultimate consequence of the whole line of thought was scepticism. But if sudx be the case, then it is clear that Kant cannot simply reject the notion of relation to an object, but rather must re-interpret it in a manner consistent with his transcendental idealism. It is for the.reason that he introduces the notion of a transcendental object, whidi is here intended as the critical corrective for Locke's concept of substance. Since it is intended to do the job which Locke's concept of substance failed to do, Kant introduces it in the language of correspondence, but as we soon see, the whole point of the argumeent is to show that when we distinguish between representations and their objects, we are not distinguishing between two kinds of entities, one in the mind, and the other "out there", but between two ways in which we can regard our representations, or in other words, that the notion of objectivity must be re-interpreted in terms which are immanent to consciousness. Thus, far from being a "pre-Critical" survival, surreptitiously introduced, and externally linked to the rest of the text, the discussion of the transcendental object can be viewed as the bridge over whidi Kant leads his readers into the domain of transcendental philosophy. It is by means of this analysis that he endeavors to show, that the meaning of objectivity, and hence of an object of our representations, must be understood in transcendental and not in realistic terms. Moreover, when we view the teadiing in this sense, there is no need to be surprised that we find no mention of the categories, and we shall no longer be tempted, like the proponents of the "patdiwork theory", to view the whole discussion as an initial and inadequate stage of the Deduction18. It is a point often overlooked by sudi interpretations that the entire discussion of the transcendental object is contained in the section whidi Kant specifically asserts is "intended rather to prepare than to instruct the reader". (A98) The This is not only maintained by Kemp Smith, but also by Wolff, Kant's Theory of Mental Activity, pp. Ill118. 179
x8

categories, as the rules of the necessary synthetic unity of the manifold, or, as what we can now see comes to the same thing, the concepts of an object in general, are indeed implicit in the whole discussion, and thus we cannot agree that this section is contradicted by what comes later u . They arc not mentioned for the simple reason that Kant felt it advisable to introduce his readers to the transcendental theory of objectivity before spelling out its details.

Ill A further elucidation of the concept of the transcendental object and the problem of its relation to the thing in itself and the noumenon is to be found in the First Edition version of the chapter entitled: The Ground of the Distinction of all Objects in General into Phenomena and Nournena. The chapter serves essentially as a summary of the results of the Analytic and an introduction to the Dialectic. As Adickes points out, the existence of things in themselves is presupposed throughout, and the issue concerns the question of their knowability **. Kant's concern is simply to reinforce his basic claim that human knowledge and consequently the real use of the categories is limited to the phenomenal world, or in other words, that the categories have only an empirical and not a transcendental employment. . u Here Wolff, again following Kemp Smith, points to Kant's use of "empirical concept" in this context. According to "Wolffs construction of the relevant passage, Kant's aim at this "stage" is to prove that the unity of consciousness, and therefore consciousness itself, is only possible through the "application" to the given manifold of the pure concept of an object = x, and that since this concept has no content it must work by empirical concepts. However, since according to the Kantian doctrine empirical concepts are themselves formed by abstraction from experience, Wolff can conclude: "So it would appear that empirical concepts are ingredients in the very mental activity (unification of consciousness) whereby they first become possible. They both provide and depend upon consciousness." Wolff, pp. 117118. Now if this were in fact Kant's intent, Wolffs criticism would indeed be devastating. However, Kant's concern is not to argue that the "application" of the pure concept of an object in general to empirical concepts is a necessary condition of consciousness, but simply to offer a preliminary account of what is involved in the distinction between an objective and subjective connection of representations. Finally, Kant's use of "empirical concepts'* is not to be understood in the expression of an earlier position whidi he eventually abandoned, but as a reflection' of his task in this preparatory section to lead the reader to the transcendental standpoint. As sudi he naturally begins with ordinary empirical concepts, and enquires into the ground of their objectivity. Kant's position, to be sure, is that the given data of consciousness (empirical intuitions) or sensations only become apprehended as qualities of an object, and thus achieve the status of empirical concepts when synthesized in accordance with the categories, and as the First Analogy shows, when viewed as accidents of an abiding "substance phenomenon". But the position is the result of the entire analysis and cannot simply be assumed in advance. Cf. p. 96. 180

The argument begins with definitions of the relevant terms: Appearances, so far as they are thought as objects according tQ the unity of the categories, are called pbaenomena. But if I postulate things which are mere objects of understanding, and which, nevertheless, can be given as such to an intuition, although not to one that is sensible given therefore coram intuitu intellectuali such things would be entitled noumena (intelligibilia). (249) Thus, the concept of a noumenon is given an initially problematic- status. Noumena are not given, but postulated, and access to them depends on the possession of a non-sensible, i. e. intellectual intuition, a faculty which Kant goes to great pains to show is not possessed by any finite being. This, however, does not lead to the rejection of the concept, for as Kant goes on to argue: "The concept of appearances, as limited by the Transcendental Aesthetic, already of itself establishes the objective reality of noumena and justifies the division of objects into phenomena and noumena, and so of the world into a world of the senses and a world of the understanding." Moreover, this distinction is not to be understood in the Leibnizean sense, as a distinction in the logical form of our knowledge, of one and the same thing, but rather it refers "to the-difference in the manner in which the two worlds can be first given to our knowledge, and in conformity with the difference, to the manner in which they are themselves generically distinct from one another/' This follows from the very nature of appearance. Tot if the senses represent to us something merely as it appears/ this something must also in itself be a thing, and an object of a non-sensible intuition, that is, of the understanding. In other words, a [kind of] knowledge must be possible,, in which there is no sensibility, and which alone has reality that is absolutely objective. Through it objects will be represented as they are, whereas in the empirical employment of our understanding things will be known only as they appear. (A250) This is essentially the argument which Kant used in his Inaugural Dissertation in justification of metaphysics, i. e. knowledge of the intelligible world 16 . The basic point in both instances is the doctrine of the distorting character of sensibility. Since sensible apprehension depends on the subjective constitution of the percipient, it cannot yield a knowledge of the object as it is in itself. Hence, if such knowledge is to be possible it can only be through a purely intellectual apprehension. (Kant seems to simply assume that such apprehension would not distort the nature of its object.) But the object of such an intellectual apprehension is by definition a noumenon, and thus this concept can be identified with the thing in itself regarded as the object of a possible super-sensible knowledge. It is clear, however, that the affirmation of such knowledge contradicts the entire teaching of the Critique, and therefore Kant is forced to retrace some of his steps. This is accomplished by means of a further analysis of the
16

Cf. De mundi sensibilis atque intelligibilis forma et principiis9 Section II, 4. 181

transcendental object. Thus, Kant argues, it is true that the understanding refers all our representations to some object, and further, since transcendental idealism has shown that appearances themselves arc nothing but representations, these too must be referred by the understanding to some object. This explicit parallelism between representations in the first instance (obviously viewed empirically as ideas in the mind) and appearances viewed transcendentally as representations "in us" is further evidence for our contention that the whole problem of, and need for, the concept of a transcendental object grew out of the fact that Kant's transcendental philosophy was grounded in a re-interpretation of the theory of ideas. Just as representations in the first sense have an empirical object, so appearances viewed as representations must likewise have their object. But this something, thus conceived, is only the transcendental object; and by that is meant a something = X, of whidi.we know, and with the present constitution of our understanding can know, nothing whatsoever, but whidi, as a correlate of the unity of apperception, can serve only for the unity of the manifold in sensible intuition. By means of this unity the understanding combines the manifold into the concept of an object. This transcendental object cannot be separated from the sensible data, for nothing is then left through whidi it might be thought. Consequendy it is not in itself an object of knowledge, but only the representation of appearances under the concept of an object in general a concept whidi is determinable through the manifold of these appearances. (A250251) We have quoted this passage at length because it not only provides us with the clearest illustration of the ambiguity of Kant's treatment of the transcendental object, but also suggests the manner in whidi this ambiguity can be made comprehensible. The ambiguity is quite obviously grounded in the fact that Kant moves without warning from a vague conception of a transcendental object as an unknown, transcendent entity in general, to the object conceived or interpreted by the transcendental philosopher as the object to whidi we refer appearances. The transcendental object "thus conceived1* (insofern) or, as Slant himself describes it in a marginal notation in his own copy of Critique: "Something as the object of intuition in general"17, is the mere "something = X" already encountered in the Transcendental Deduction. This can indeed be regarded as the "correlate of apperception" because it refers to that consciousness of unity whidi is necessarily correlative with the unity of consciousness. Since it is this unity whidi constitutes the concept of an object, the transcendental object = X is, as we have seen, the idea of, or formula for, objectivity rather than a determinate entity. As sudi it obviously cannot be separated from the sensible data, nor made into an object of knowledge. Yet to say that the transcendental object = X i s not an object of knowledge, or that we can only conceive of sudi an object in terms of the unity of our representations, is not to deny that there may be transcendentally real entities, i. e. things in themselves. In fact Kant had just argued that the existence
17

Adidtes, Kant und das Ding an Sidy, p. 103.

182

of such entities must be inferred from an analysis of sensibility. Kant wants to hold to both, and it is this desire which is the basic cause of the ambiguity in his treatment of the transcendental object. Thus, in the very same paragraph in whidi his main concern has been to distinguish between the idea of the transcendental object qua object of our representations, and the idea of a transcendent entity, he proceeds to assert that due to "the present constitution of our understanding" (here referring to our lack of intellectual intuition) such objects must remain unknowable. This obviously makes sense only if it refers, not as the context suggests, to the correlate of apperception, but to the thing in itself, and we thus find the notion of the transcendental object used in a two-fold sense in one and the same sentence! Kant's formulation is extremely clumsy to say the least, but his intent seems to be to suggest that the equation for our concept of a transcendental object with the idea of an indeterminate "something = X" is not to be taken as a denial of their existence, but merely as a means of emphasizing the fact that due to the finitude of our knowledge, our concept of a transcendentally real entity remains necessarily empty, and hence does not signify a "true object". This interpretation is confirmed by the final paragraphs of the section where we find precisely the same ambiguity. Kant's concern here is to distinguish between the transcendental object and the noumenon in order to show that the recognition of the necessity of referring appearances to a non-sensible object does not bring with it any access to the intelligible world. Thus, he argues that although the very concept of appearance already indicates a relation to something which is not an appearance, i. e. the thing in itself, the object to whidi We refer appearances (the transcendental object) cannot be entitled the noumenon: " . . . for I know nothing of what it is in itself, and have no concept of it save as merely the object of a sensible intuition in general, and so as being one and die same for all appearances. I cannot think it through any category, for category is valid only for empirical intuition, as bringing it under a concept of object in general." (A253) .-..?.Although it is hardly free from ambiguity, this is the clearest statement to be found of the distinction, implicit throughout the First Edition of the Critique between the transcendental object as it is in itself or an sich and as it is fr uns. We know as a result of an analysis of sensibility that there are transcendently real objects, i. e. things in themselves, whidi underlie or "cause" our representations, and in a passage cited earlier we saw that Kant distinguished between the transcendental object "which underlies outer appearances" and "that whidi underlies inner intuition". But since we can have no intuition of a transcendental object "it" cannot be known through the categories, and thus, the transcendental object fr unsy or in Kant's terms, according to our conception, remains completely indeterminate, a mere "something = X" whidi is therefore."one and the same for all appearances". 183

As we have seen, however, this reference to a vague "something = X" turns out to be of decisive significance, providing the basis upon which Kant argues for a coherence theory of truth and his idealistic conception of objectivity- The argument began with the common sense reflection that it is the relation to an object which distinguishes a necessary, and hence objectively valid, connection of representations in a judgment from a merely haphazard association in the imagination. But since we are only aware of our own representations, and thus, cannot intuit any transcendent entity corresponding to them, we can only understand this relation of our representations to an object as a necessary relation between the representations themselves. Thus, the consciousness of an object, and therefore ultimately the awareness of an objective phenomenal world, is, when viewed transcendentally, reduced to the consciousness of the necessary synthetic unity (coherence) of our representations. Finally, since the categories are the rules for this necessary synthetic unity, which is in itself nothing more than "the formal unity of consciousness", Kant can go on to argue that they are necessarily involved in the consciousness of an object, and are therefore necessary conditions of the possibility of experience. Thus, we can conclude that although Kant does not express himself in this manner, the whole of the "preparatory" version of the Transcendental Deduction, ultimately rests upon the distinction between the two senses of the transcendental object. It is precisely because we can have no intuition of an object corresponding to our representations (the transcendental object as it is fr sich), that we have to interpret the relation between representations and their object as a relation between the representations themselves. (The transcendental object as it is fr uns.) It is therefore not, as is generally supposed, the case that Kant simply has two distinct notions of a transcendental object: one of a thing in itself underlying"'appearances, the other of the necessary synthetic unity of these appearances, which he somehow manages to confuse. Rather, his whole concern is to show that since the former are unknowable, the idea of an object corresponding to appearances must be taken in the latter sense. However, although this may serve to explain the ambiguity of Kant's language, it also brings into focus the very real philosophical difficulty which this position entails. In its simplest terms this difficulty is that Kant wants at one and the same time both to affirm the existence of transcendental objects or things in themselves corresponding to appearances; and, since these objects are unknowable, to hold that by our concept of an object corresponding to appearances we cannot mean such entities, but merely the necessary synthetic unity of the appearances themselves. The obvious objection is that if this is indeed what is meant by an object corresponding to appearances, it hardly makes any sense to claim that there are in fact transcendental objects distinct from these appearances. It is one thing to argue that by an object underlying appearances we mean nothing but the necessary unity of these appearances, and quite another to say, 184

as Kant seems to, that we mean this because we can have no intuition of the objects which actually do. The first is merely a statement of the coherence theory of truth, while the latter involves an existential claim which this theory renders absurd. Kant's problem is that he feels it necessary to posit the existence of things which on his own principles must remain unknowable, and this is, of course, the old problem of the thing in itself, the traditional stumbling block of the "Critical Philosophy". However, this problem emerges in a new light when approached from the standpoint of the transcendental object, for this approach leads us bade to the reflection which was the outcome of our analysis of the Fourth Paralogism, viz. that Kant's transcendental idealism can best be viewed as a re-interpretation of the "theory of ideas". Seen in this light, we can fruitfully compare Kant's problem with a parallel difficulty in Locke's empirical idealism. Like Kant, Locke found it necessary to posit the existence of unknowable entities. He wanted to maintain both that ideas constitute the content of consciousness and that there are "real things" corresponding to these ideas. Thus, not only does, as we have seen, his whole account of the objectivity, or reality of knowledge, but also his physiological explanation of sense perception, presuppose the existence of a world of corporeal substance with the appropriate powers, which in terms of his "theory of ideas" must necessarily remain inaccessible to the human understanding. The fundamental inconsistency finds its expression in statements like the following: Every man's reasoning and knowledge is only about the ideas existing in his own mind; whidi are truly, every one of them, particular existences and our knowledge and reason about other things18 is only as they correspond with those our particular ideas. So that the perception of the agreement or disagreement of our particular ideas, is the whole and utmost of our knowledge19. The whole point of the Fourth Paralogism is to show that this position with its implicit scepticism, is the inevitable consequence of an empirical idealism, and thus, Kant of fers, his transcendental idealism, which being consonant with an empirical realism, allows him to claim that we are immediately aware of "real things". Now, however, we can see that this transcendental re-interpretation of the ideality of the objects of consciousness does not fully overcome the difficulties of the Lockean position. The epistemological problem is indeed solved by the limitation of knowledge to appearances, and the consequent coherence theory of truth. But this very limitation of knowledge to appearances, and the apparent desire to distinguish between his position and the subjective idealism of Berkeley, leads Kant to posit transcendently real, yet unknowable entities as the "cause" of these appearances. In short, Kant's transcendental idealism is only halfemancipated from the theory of ideas, and it is just this which constitutes its greatest difficulty.
18 19

Italics mine. Locke, An Essay concerning Human Understanding, Vol. II, p. 404. 185

Kant's own awareness of this problem may well have been one of the reasons why the three sections in which the transcendental object received an extensive discussion were completely rewritten in the Second Edition, with no further mention made of the concept. Certainly, the new ''Refutation of Idealism" is intended to correct, or at least more clearly interpret some of the subjectivistic implications of the first version. Thus, the new treatment of the problem omits all reference to the notion of transcendental ideality, and consequently, transcendental objects, and argues instead on the basis of the First Analogy, that the awareness of ourselves as beings existing throughout time presupposes the awareness of things in space. Likewise, the new statement of the Transcendental Deduction begins not with the consciousness of time, but with the general problem of the nature of combination or synthesis. Finally, the re-statement of the distinction between phenomena and noumena does not concern itself with the problem of what is meant by an "object of representations", but rather with the distinction between the merely negative, limiting concept of a noumenon as a being which is not the object of sensible intuition, and the positive but problematic conception of a noumenon as the object of a non-sensible intuition. It is largely because of these changes that the problem of the transcendental object has been overshadowed by that of the thing in itself. However, since the "Critical Philosophy" is, in essence, a transcendental re-interpretation of the theory of ideas, these problems are ultimately identical, and thus, although Kant no longer referred to the concept of the transcendental object, he was still faced with the problem of reconciling his idealism with the assertion of the existence of transcendentally real entities.

186