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Internationales Jahrbuch des Deutschen Idealismus

International Yearbook of German Idealism


Internationales Jahrbuch
des Deutschen Idealismus
International Yearbook
of German Idealism

Logik
12 ‧ 2014
Logic

Herausgegeben von/edited by
Dina Emundts (Konstanz) und/and Sally Sedgwick (Chicago)
Redaktion/Associate editors
Jaroslaw Bledowski und/and Anne Mone Sahnwaldt
Begründet von/founded by
Karl Ameriks (Notre Dame) und/and Jürgen Stolzenberg (Halle/S.)
Fortgeführt von/continued by
Fred Rush (Notre Dame), 2008–2014, mit/with Jürgen Stolzenberg (Halle/S.)

Wissenschaftlicher Beirat/Editorial Board


Karl Ameriks (Notre Dame), Andreas Arndt (Berlin), Manfred Baum (Wuppertal), Frederick C. Beiser (Syracuse),
Robert Brandom (Pittsburgh), Daniel Breazeale (Lexington), Claudio Cesa (Pisa), Klaus Düsing (Köln), Michael
N. Forster (Chicago), Eckart Förster (Baltimore), Manfred Frank (Tübingen), Paul Franks (Toronto), Hans Fried-
rich Fulda (Heidelberg), Karen Gloy (Luzern), Henry S. Harris (Toronto), Vittorio Hösle (Notre Dame), Rolf-Peter
Horstmann (Berlin), Michael Inwood (Oxford), Wilhelm G. Jacobs (München), Jörg Jantzen (München), Walter
Jaeschke (Bochum), Salvi Turró (Barcelona), Charles Larmore (Chicago), Béatrice Longuenesse (New York),
Frederick Neuhouser (New York), Robert B. Pippin (Chicago), Claude Piché (Montreal), Terry Pinkard (George­
town), Alain Renaut (Paris), Michael Rosen (Cambridge, Mass.), Fred Rush (Notre Dame), Birgit Sandkau-
len (Bochum), Hans-Jörg Sandkühler (Bremen), Dieter Schönecker (Siegen), Ludwig Siep (Münster), Pirmin
Stekeler-Weithofer (Leipzig), Jürgen Stolzenberg (Halle/S.), Dieter Sturma (Bonn), Charles Taylor (Montreal),
Lars-Thade Ulrichs (Halle/S.), Violetta L. Waibel (Wien), Michael Wolff (Bielefeld), Allen W. Wood (Stanford),
Günter Zöller (München)
ISBN 978-3-11-051893-1
e-ISBN (PDF) 978-3-11-052104-7
e-ISBN (EPUB) 978-3-11-051895-5
ISSN 1613-0472

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Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek verzeichnet diese Publikation in der Deutschen
Nationalbibliografie; detaillierte bibliografische Daten sind im Internet
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© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston


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www.degruyter.com
Inhalt

Vorwort VII

Preface IX

Dina Emundts/Sally Sedgwick


Einleitung XI

Dina Emundts/Sally Sedgwick


Introduction XVII

I. Beiträge/Essays

Günter Zöller
Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental
Logic 3

Timothy Rosenkoetter
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 29

Emily Carson
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical Model 53

Clinton Tolley
The Relation between Ontology and Logic in Kant 75

Robert B. Pippin
The ‘Given’ as a Logical Problem 99

Stephen Houlgate
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s Science of Logic 115

Luca Illetterati
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 139

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-101
VI Inhalt

Paul Redding
Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought and Being: Hegel’s Logical
Reconstruction of Aristotle’s Speculative Empiricism 165

Angelica Nuzzo
“Das Ich denkt nicht, sondern das Wissen denkt – sagt der transzendentale
Logiker”. Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 189

Christoph Asmuth
„Sie muß drum als Wissenschaft nicht nur vernachlässigt, sondern positiv
bestritten, und ausgetilgt werden“ – Fichtes Logik als Logikkritik 213

Sebastian Schwenzfeuer
Logik und Transzendentalphilosophie – Schellings Interpretation des Satzes
der Identität 237

Philipp Schwab
A = A. Zur identitätslogischen Systemgrundlegung bei Fichte, Schelling und
Hegel 261

Anton Friedrich Koch


Kant, Fichte, Hegel und die Logik. Kleine Anmerkungen zu einem großen
Thema 291

II. Rezensionen/Reviews

III. Anhang/Appendix

Autoren/Authors 349

Hinweis an die Verlage/Letter to Publishers 351


Vorwort

Der 12. Band des Internationalen Jahrbuchs des Deutschen Idealismus ist der zweite
Band, den wir herausgeben. Wir freuen uns, eine Gruppe hervorragender Auto-
rinnen und Autoren zum Thema Logik gewonnen zu haben. Wir danken den
Autorinnen und Autoren herzlich für ihre Beiträge.
Wir freuen uns, vier Rezensionen in diesem Band versammeln zu können,
die sich intensiv mit Büchern zu Kant, Hegel, Schelling und den Romantikern
beschäftigen. Wir danken den Rezensenten dafür.
Unser Dank gilt außerdem dem De Gruyter Verlag, insbesondere Gertrud
Grünkorn und den Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeitern, die uns geholfen haben.
Danken möchten wir außerdem Jaroslaw Bledowski und Anne Mone Sahnwaldt
für die erneute kompetente redaktionelle Betreuung des Bandes.
Band 13 wird dem Thema Begehren gewidmet sein.

Dina Emundts (Konstanz) und Sally Sedgwick (Chicago)

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-102
Preface

Volume 12 of the International Yearbook of German Idealism is the second volume


we have co-edited. We are pleased to have engaged an outstanding group of
authors who have written essays dedicated to our theme, Logic. We extend our
thanks to our thirteen authors for their contributions. This volume in addition
contains four reviews of books on Kant, Hegel, Schelling and the Romantics.
We thank our reviewers for their contributions as well. We are of course grateful
to De Gruyter Verlag, in particular to Gertrud Grünkorn and other staff members
who helped us prepare the volume for publication. Finally, we wish to express
our appreciation for the highly competent editorial assistance (once again) of
Jaroslaw Bledowski and Anne Mone Sahnwaldt.
The theme of Volume 13 of the Yearbook will be Desire.

Dina Emundts (Konstanz) und Sally Sedgwick (Chicago)

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-103
Dina Emundts/Sally Sedgwick
Einleitung

Für den 12. Band des Internationalen Jahrbuchs des Deutschen Idealismus haben
wir das Thema „Logik“ gewählt. Der Band beginnt mit Beiträgen zu Kant. Kant
kennt verschiedene Arten von Logik, und die Abgrenzung der transzendentalen
Logik von anderen Logikauffassungen ist wichtig für Kants philosophisches
Programm. Wie ist die transzendentale Logik einzuordnen und wie zu charakte-
risieren? Wie ist ihr Verhältnis zur Ontologie? Ist sie selbst eine formale Logik,
insofern sie a priori ist, oder kann man auch sagen, dass sie material ist, weil sie
die notwendigen Bedingungen für Erfahrungen enthält? Unterliegt Kants Logik-
auffassung Änderungen? Wie verhält sie sich zu früheren Logikauffassungen,
inbesondere zu denen in der Tradition von Leibniz und Wolff? Die verschiedenen
Logikauffassungen sowie deren Änderungen im Laufe der kritischen Philosophie
werden in den Beiträgen von Emily Carson, Timothy Rosenkoetter, Clinton Tolley
und Günter Zöller untersucht.
Günter Zöller beschäftigt sich mit der Frage, was Kants transzendentale Logik
ist und wie durch sie Erkenntnis möglich ist, indem er die Begriffe „transzen-
dental“ und „logisch“ in den Kontext anderer Begriffe bringt, also mit ihnen
kontrastiert oder ihre Verbindungen bzw. Zusammenhänge untersucht. Er dis-
kutiert in vier Schritten die Verbindung von „transzendental“ und „a priori“, von
„logisch“ und „psychologisch“, von „logisch“ und „ästhetisch“ und von „trans-
zendental“ und „empirisch“. Dabei wird unter anderem geklärt, wieso subjektive
Bedingungen zur Logik gehören, ohne dass dabei der Unterschied zur Psychologie
verloren geht. Außerdem wird Kants Gegenstandsauffassung (sowie seine Auf-
fassung vom Ding an sich) entwickelt.
Timothy Rosenkoetter widmet sich in seinem Beitrag der metaphysischen
Deduktion. Er argumentiert dafür, dass die Standardlesart, der zufolge die Tafel
der Urteile oder Funktionen der allgemeinen formalen Logik zukommt, nicht
zutrifft. Rosenkoetter präsentiert und verteidigt einen Alternativvorschlag, dem-
zufolge Kant eine Logik meint, die er zwar als solche nicht eigens benennt und
anführt (sondern zur allgemeinen Logik zählt), die er aber von allgemeiner for-
maler Logik und von der transzendentalen Logik abgrenzen kann. In der Tafel der
Urteile oder Funktionen wird die Rolle der Anschauungen berücksichtigt, sie ist
daher weder nur logisch, noch nur formal. Rosenkoetter zeigt auf, dass sich so die
verschiedenen Äußerungen Kants dazu, wo die Urteilstafel herkomme, gut ver-
stehen lassen.
Emily Carson untersucht in ihrem Beitrag die Entwicklung von Kant zwischen
der Dissertation 1770 und der Kritik der reinen Vernunft mit Blick auf die Frage nach

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-104
XII Dina Emundts/Sally Sedgwick

der Bedeutung der Zahl und somit der Rolle des Verstands beim Konstituieren der
Erfahrung. Während in der Dissertation die Zahl auch in der Anschauung gegeben
ist und durch Abstraktion von dieser gewonnen wird, gibt Kant diese Auffassung
in der Kritik der reinen Vernunft auf, weil alle Synthesisleistung vom Verstand
abhängen soll. Carson geht dann der Frage nach, inwiefern die Mathematik ein
Modell für die Synthesisleistung bei quantitativen Einheiten ist. Sie konzentriert
sich dabei auf die Synthesisleistung eines Gegenstands als einer raum-zeitlichen
Einheit. Hier grenzt sie sich von Interpretationen ab, die in der Mathematik nur ein
Modell sehen. Bei dieser Synthesis, so die These, ist die Mathematik mehr als ein
Modell: Sie entspricht dem Verfahren, wie wir Einheiten zusammenfassen.
Clinton Tolley behandelt die Frage, was für einen Charakter die transzen-
dentale Logik hat, indem er Kants Auffassungen von verschiedenen Logiken mit
der traditionellen Logikauffassung der Frühen Neuzeit vergleicht. Nach Tolley
stimmt Kant einerseits mit der in der Frühen Neuzeit vertretenen These überein,
dass die traditionelle Logik der traditionellen Ontologie untergeordnet ist. An-
dererseits entwickelt Kant nach Tolley seine transzendentale Logik im Ausgang
von der traditionellen Logik, und die transzendentale Logik tritt dann an die Stelle
der Ontologie. Sie ist nämlich eine Wissenschaft von „Konzepten von Objekten“.
Am Ende schlägt Tolley ausgehend von Kants intuitivem Verstehen eine Brücke zu
Hegels Konzeption der Logik.
Mit Blick auf Hegels Philosophie ist das Verständnis und die Rolle der Logik
zentral und eine Auseinandersetzung über Ziel, Aufbau und Inhalt von Hegels
Hauptwerk Wissenschaft der Logik gehört zu den wichtigsten Interpretationsauf-
gaben. Da längere Zeit eher andere Themen von Hegels Philosophie im Fokus der
Aufmerksamkeit vieler Interpreten standen, ist das Thema Logik gerade mit Blick
auf seine Philosophie sehr aktuell. Ist Hegels Logik eine Metaphysikkritik? In-
wiefern entwickelt er eine Kategorienlehre? Wie ist das Verhältnis von Hegels
Logik zu Aristoteles’ Metaphysik, wie zu Kants Transzendentalphilosophie? Die-
sen Fragen gehen Stephen Houlgate, Luca Illetterati, Robert Pippin und Paul
Redding in ihren Beiträgen nach.
Robert Pippin stellt eine neue Lesart des Projekts vor, das Hegel in seinem
Hauptwerk Wissenschaft der Logik verfolgt. Er interpretiert die Logik als eine
Antwort auf das Problem, wie man vermittelte Unmittelbarkeit denken kann.
Spontaneität und Rezeptivität sind nach Pippin unterscheidbar, aber gleichzeitig
nicht voneinander zu trennen. Hegel vertritt nach Pippin keine Theorie, die an-
nimmt, dass man erst affiziert wird und dann Begriffe anwendet. Stattdessen soll
man den Begriff erst anwenden können, wenn das gegebene Einzelne in einer
gewissen, dem Einzelnen entsprechenden Weise, verstanden ist. Inhalt und Form
sind nach Pippin also bei Hegel so verstanden, dass sie immer schon mit dem je
anderen ‚angereichert‘ sind (und nicht erst aufeinander bezogen werden müssen).
Einleitung XIII

In diesem Aufsatz wird auch deutlich, inwiefern Hegel bei diesem Thema teils
aufnehmend, teils distanziert auf sowohl Aristoteles als auch Kant bezogen ist.
Stephen Houlgate beschäftigt sich in seinem Beitrag mit Hegels logischer
Einführung des Maßes.Während Philosophen wie Spinoza und Kant Quantität und
Qualität als notwendige Begriffe des menschlichen Denkens erkannten, etabliert
Hegel in diesem Zusammenhang auch den für die Griechen wichtigen Begriff des
Maßes als einen von Kant (und der Moderne) vernachlässigten Begriff. Die von
Houlgate rekonstruierte These lautet, dass man eine Änderung der Qualität
durch eine Änderung der Quantität nur erklären kann, wenn man das Maß eines
Dinges berücksichtigt. Das Verständnis des Maßes setzt wiederum voraus, dass
man das Bedürfnis aufgibt, alles quantitativ zu erklären. Houlgate verteidigt die
These, dass die Formen des Maßes logisch im Begriff des Maßes selbst liegen.
Anhand dieses Beispiels des Maßes aus der Logik wird weiterhin das Verhältnis
von logischen Kategorien und naturwissenschaftlichen Ausführungen diskutiert
und die These entwickelt, dass die naturwissenschaftlichen Ausführungen als
Beispiele fungieren, während Hegel eine ‚intrinsische Logik des Maßes‘ darstellt.
Luca Illetterati untersucht den Begriff „Objektivität“ bei Hegel, um die Frage
zu beantworten, in welchem Sinn Hegel dem Denken Objektivität zuschreiben
kann. Dieses Projekt wird in drei Schritten durchgeführt. Zunächst wird geklärt,
wieso Hegel die ersten beiden Teile der Logik „objektive Logik“ nennt. Die These
ist, dass Hegel sich hier der traditionellen Verwendung von „objektiv“ anschließt.
Zweitens wird untersucht, was die Bestimmung der Objektivität in der subjekti-
ven Logik bedeutet. Drittens wird vor diesem Hintergrund ausführlich analysiert,
was Hegel unter ‚objektivem Denken‘ versteht. Hierbei geht es Illetterati vor allem
darum, verständlich zu machen, dass Hegel nicht meint, wir würden objektiv et-
was vorfinden, aber dennoch auch nicht behaupten muss, dass wir die Wirk-
lichkeit durch unsere Begriffe konstruieren. Man erkennt, so Illetterati, dieses
Programm Hegels nur richtig, wenn man auch bedenkt, dass und wie er die tra-
ditionelle Trennung von ‚epistemisch‘ und ‚ontologisch‘ kritisiert hat.
Paul Redding setzt sich in seinem Aufsatz mit dem strittigen Thema ausein-
ander, ob Hegels objektive Logik ‚subjektiv‘ in einem Kantischen Sinn ist oder ob
wir sie eher als ‚objektiv‘ in einem Aristotelischen (oder vielleicht Spinozistischen)
Sinn verstehen sollen. In welchem Verhältnis stehen objektive und subjektive
Logik innerhalb von Hegels Logik? Redding nähert sich diesem Thema, indem er
sich auf den Teil von Hegels Logik konzentriert, der seines Erachtens hierbei zu
wenig Aufmerksamkeit bekommen hat: Hegels subjektive Logik. Redding vertei-
digt die These, dass Hegel hier eine formale Logik im Kantischen Sinn so kritisch
rekonstruiert, dass ihre inhaltlichen Momente in einem Aristotelischen Sinn zu
Tage treten. Auf diese Weise wird erhellend gezeigt, inwiefern die subjektive Logik
eine „Identität“ von Denken und Sein behaupten kann, die im Rahmen der ob-
XIV Dina Emundts/Sally Sedgwick

jektiven Logik nicht möglich war. Es wird in diesem Zusammenhang dargestellt,


was Hegel als Stärken und Schwächen von Aristoteles’ „spekulativem Empiris-
mus“ ansieht sowie seine Bezüge zu den Sophisten und zur Stoa erörtert.
Bei Fichte und Schelling ist die Rolle der Logik weniger offensichtlich als bei
Kant und Hegel. Die Beiträge von Christoph Asmuth, Angelica Nuzzo und Se-
bastian Schwenzfeuer widmen sich daher vor allem der Frage, welchen Platz die
Logik in den jeweiligen Konzeptionen inne haben kann und soll. Sie diskutieren
unter anderem folgende Punkte: Verabschieden sich die späteren Idealisten zu-
nehmend von der Kantischen Idee, dass die Logik ihre Grundlage im Selbstbe-
wusstsein oder der transzendentalen Einheit der Apperzeption hat? Fichte scheint
die Logik beispielsweise im Wissen verankern zu wollen. Schließt Fichte hiermit
an Hegel an? Und folgt Schelling hingegen eher wieder Kant, wenn er die Logik von
der Transzendentalphilosophie, genauer: von der transzendentalen Subjektivität
ableiten will? In den hier versammelten Beiträgen zu Fichte und Schelling wird
bereits deutlich, dass das Thema Logik sich auch besonders für eine vergleichende
Untersuchung der verschiedenen Vertreter des Deutschen Idealismus anbietet.
Weitere Vergleiche zwischen verschiedenen Vertretern des Deutschen Idealismus
führen Anton Koch und Philip Schwab durch.
Angelica Nuzzo beschäftigt sich in ihrem Beitrag mit Fichtes Logik. Im ersten
Teil zeichnet Nuzzo die Entwicklung der Logikidee bei Fichte von 1794 an nach. Sie
betrachtet hierfür das Verhältnis der Logik zur Wissenschaftslehre und vergleicht
Fichtes Konzeption mit der von Kant und Hegel. Im zweiten Teil beschäftigt sich
Nuzzo mit Fichtes transzendentaler Logik von 1812.Thematisiert wird vor allem die
Frage, wie man den Standpunkt der Wissenschaft einnehmen kann. Außerdem
geht es um den Begriff des Denkens. Vor diesem Hintergrund diskutiert Nuzzo die
Abgrenzung Fichtes zu Kants transzendentaler Logik. Am Ende wird die Dreier-
konstellation Fichte, Kant und Hegel unter der erarbeiteten Perspektive betrachtet
und neu beleuchtet. Anders als Kant sieht Fichte 1812 erstens nicht das Subjekt als
Grund der Logik, sondern nimmt eine fundamentalere Einheit von Anschauung
und Begriff an, nämlich Wissen. Zweitens unterscheidet Fichte sich dadurch von
Kant, dass er die Prinzipien der Logik nicht als ursprüngliche Setzungen annimmt,
sondern sie als aus der synthetischen Tätigkeit des Wissens ableitbar ansieht. Dies
ist eine Tätigkeit, die Bilder produziert, welche ursprüngliche Einheiten von Be-
griffen und Anschauungen sind. Als Gemeinsamkeit von Fichte und Hegel ergibt
sich eine Art ‚Eliminierung des Subjekts‘.
Christoph Asmuth setzt sich in seinem Aufsatz auch mit Fichtes Auffassung
der Logik auseinander und bezieht diese auf die Kantische Transzendentalphi-
losophie. Er konzentriert sich aber zunächst vor allem auf Fichtes Idee der for-
malen Logik. Besonderes Interesse gilt Fichtes These der Vorrangstellung der
Philosophie vor der Logik. Diese These wird in den verschiedenen Schriften
Einleitung XV

Fichtes nachgewiesen, erläutert und auf ihren Erfolg hin betrachtet. Während die
These im Jenaer System (1793–1799) klar nachgewiesen werden kann, gelingt
Fichte die Ableitung positiv jedoch nicht. In Erlangen (1805) und Berlin (1812) hat
die formale Logik laut Asmuth dann einen Bedeutungsverlust zu verzeichnen und
gilt Fichte schließlich nur noch als empirische Wissenschaft. Dagegen kann man
jedoch die Wissenschaftslehre als Fortsetzung der transzendentalen Logik Kants
verstehen. In diesem Zusammenhang wird der Einfluss von Fichtes Ideen auf die
weitere Entwicklung in der Philosophie des 19. Jahrhunderts aufgezeigt.
Sebastian Schwenzfeuer beschäftigt sich in seinem Beitrag mit dem Ver-
hältnis von Logik und Transzendentalphilosophie bei Schelling. Schwenzfeuer
konzentriert sich auf den Satz der Identität. Dabei zeigt er auf, wie Schelling be-
haupten kann, dass die Logik aus der Transzendentalphilosophie ableitbar ist. Der
Satz der Identität soll aus dem obersten Grundsatz der Transzendentalphilosophie
gewonnen werden, der den Begriff transzendentaler Subjektivität betrifft. Der
Autor zeigt außerdem, dass die Transzendentalphilosophie nach Schelling da-
gegen nicht die Logik voraussetzt. Die Transzendentalphilosophie gründet in einer
Handlung der Synthesis. Aus dieser Handlung der Synthesis soll, wie Schwenz-
feuer im Einzelnen zeigt, die Logik verständlich werden.
Philip Schwab beschäftigt sich in seinem Beitrag mit den Logikkonzeptionen
von Fichte, Schelling und Hegel. Angelpunkt der Darstellung ist Schelling, in
dessen Logikvorlesung die Identitätsaussage A = A im Vordergrund steht. Schwab
stellt dar, wie diese Identitätsaussage von Fichte eingeführt wurde, wie Schelling
sie aufnimmt und wie schließlich Hegels Position in dieser Debatte verstanden
werden kann. Die Pointe der Dreierkonstellation liegt darin, dass alle drei den
Identitätssatz in einer entscheidenden Rolle bei der Begründung der Philosophie
sehen, sich aber gleichzeitig deutlich darin unterscheiden, wie sie Identität und
Differenz verstehen. Man kann daher sagen, dass Schwab Etappen eines ‚Streits
um die Differenz‘ in den Jahren 1794– 1801 rekonstruiert und hierbei besonders
auf Fichtes und Schellings Differenzen bezüglich der Differenz auf der einen Seite
und auf Hegels und Schellings Differenzen mit Blick auf dieses Thema auf der
anderen Seite eingeht. Mit Blick auf Fichte und Schelling entwickelt Schwab
überzeugend die These, dass sich Schelling zunehmend von Fichte emanzipiert
und dass die These von der Eigenständigkeit der Natur auch für die Rolle der
Identitätsaussage entscheidend ist.
Anton Koch entwickelt in seinem Aufsatz, der den Abschluss unseres Bandes
bildet, einigen Thesen zur Entwicklung der Logik-Konzeptionen von Kant, Fichte
und Hegel. Fichte entdeckt, so Koch, etwas an der Logik, das ihn dazu zwingt,
mehr über das Selbstbewusstsein zu sagen, als es in Kants Absicht lag und liegen
konnte. Fichtes Konzeption der Tathandlung reagiert demnach darauf, dass die
Logik in ihrer unbedingten Gültigkeit infrage gestellt werden kann, weil die Logik
XVI Dina Emundts/Sally Sedgwick

Antinomien aufweist. Diesen Widerspruch hat Kant laut Koch zwar gesehen, aber
in seiner Bedeutung herabgestuft, um die Logik nicht zu gefährden. An diese
Einsicht von Fichte knüpft Hegel mit seiner Logik an.Während Fichte versucht, die
Logik erneut widerspruchsfrei zu entwickeln, können wir Hegel als jemanden
lesen, der den Widerspruch innerhalb der Logik akzeptieren wollte.
Dina Emundts/Sally Sedgwick
Introduction

We have chosen “logic” as the theme of Volume 12 of the International Yearbook


of German Idealism. The volume begins with essays devoted to the role Kant as-
signs logic in his system. Kant’s views on the nature and role of logic change
over time, and he distinguishes among different kinds of logic. How does he
characterize and classify his transcendental logic? What is its relation to ontol-
ogy? Is transcendental logic, for Kant, a formal logic, or is it somehow material
as a necessary condition of experience? What is the relation between Kant’s con-
ception of logic to earlier conceptions such as those of Leibniz and Wolff? The
contributions of Emily Carson, Timothy Rosenkoetter, Clinton Tolley and Günter
Zöller consider changes in the nature and role of logic in Kant’s thought.
Günter Zöller’s paper is primarily concerned to consider the nature of Kant’s
transcendental logic and its role in making cognition possible. What does it
mean, for Kant, to characterize transcendental logic as a priori? How is it logical
versus psychological? How is the logical different than the aesthetic, for Kant?
How does Kant distinguish the transcendental from the empirical? Zöller ex-
plains how Kant’s logic is in a certain respect subjective, even though it is not
exactly a species of psychology. He furthermore considers Kant’s views on the
nature of objects of cognition and things in themselves.
The focus of Timothy Rosenkoetter’s essay is Kant’s Metaphysical Deduction.
Rosenkoetter challenges the interpretation according to which the Table of Func-
tions (Judgments) is part of pure general logic, for Kant. He defends the alterna-
tive thesis that by “general logic,” Kant in fact has two logics in mind which he
does not explicitly distinguish. Rosenkoetter argues that although the Table of
Functions is a species of Kant’s general logic, it takes thought’s dependence
on intuition into account. The Table is a species of general logic that is thus nei-
ther purely logical nor purely formal.
Emily Carson argues that, from the Inaugural Dissertation of 1770 to the
first Critique, there is a fundamental change in Kant’s conception of number
and thus a fundamental change in his view of the role of the understanding
in constituting experience. In the Dissertation, Kant tells us that, although num-
ber is a concept, it is also given intuitively. It is derived from a given intuited
manifold with the help of the “logical” operations of the understanding. In
the first Critique, however, Kant argues that there can be no given manifold with-
out the synthesizing activity of the understanding. Rather than given intuitively,
the category of quantity makes possible the generation of homogeneous magni-
tudes and hence the spatial-temporal form of experience. Carson defends the

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-105
XVIII Dina Emundts/Sally Sedgwick

view that Kant’s later account of the synthesis involved in mathematical cogni-
tion is “very same synthesis” that he identifies in the first Critique as a condition
of the possibility of experience.
Clinton Tolley considers the influence of Baumgarten and other early mod-
erns on Kant’s critical account of the relation between ontology (the science of
being) and logic (the science of the understanding or intellect). According to
Tolley, there are reasons for supposing that Kant agrees with the early modern
thought that traditional logic is subordinate to traditional ontology, in that its
concern is not being in general but rather a particular kind of being, namely
the understanding or intellect. On the other hand, Tolley suggests, Kant develops
his new “transcendental” logic out of traditional logic. Indeed, the new logic is
Kant’s replacement for traditional ontology. It is both a science of concepts and a
science of being (a science of all possible objects of our understanding). Kant’s
transcendental logic thus in a certain respect anticipates Hegel’s conception of
logic.
An understanding of Hegel’s treatment of logic is of course central if we wish
to understand not just his main work, the Science of Logic, but his system as a
whole. Although other components of Hegel’s system have typically received
more attention, his logic has recently attracted a good deal of philosophical in-
terest. Does Hegel intend his logic as a critique of metaphysics? What is the re-
lation of his logic to Aristotle’s metaphysics and to Kant’s transcendental philos-
ophy? In what respect is Hegel’s logic a doctrine of categories? These are among
the questions considered by our authors Stephen Houlgate, Luca Illetterati, Rob-
ert Pippin and Paul Redding.
Robert Pippin examines the Science of Logic for clues to Hegel’s account of
the contribution, in knowledge, of receptivity and spontaneity, such that they are
distinguishable and yet somehow also inseparable. According to Pippin, Hegel
does not defend the “two-step” “impositionist” thesis whereby we are first sen-
sibly affected and then achieve determinate consciousness by applying a con-
cept. For Hegel, there can be no application of a concept unless the given intui-
tive particular has already been apprehended in a certain way, namely in a way
that ‘calls for’ the relevant concept. For Hegel, on Pippin’s reading, matter is al-
ways “enformed” and form is always “enmattered.” Pippin clarifies Hegel’s po-
sition by discussing the extent of his debt to, as well as his departure from, Ar-
istotle and Kant.
Philosophers such as Spinoza and Kant acknowledge that quantity and qual-
ity are concepts (or classes of concepts) necessary for the possibility of human
cognition. According to Stephen Houlgate, however, Hegel demonstrates in his
Science of Logic that quantity and quality logically imply what was a central con-
ception for the Greeks, namely the concept of measure. In his essay, Houlgate
Introduction XIX

considers Hegel’s analysis of the various forms of measure. Houlgate defends the
thesis that, for Hegel, the forms of measure are logically contained in the concept
of measure itself. The basis of Hegel’s account of those forms, then, is neither
merely his reconstruction of nor his critical reflections on the history of science.
According to Houlgate, Hegel instead gives us the “intrinsic logic of measure”.
Luca Illetterati investigates Hegel’s concept of objectivity in order to deter-
mine the precise respect in which Hegel means to attribute objectivity to thought.
Illetterati’s discussion proceeds in three steps: First, he explains why Hegel clas-
sifies the first two parts of his Science of Logic under the heading Objective Logic.
Illetterati argues that in this instance Hegel’s use of “objective” is taken over
from the tradition. Second, Illetterati considers what Hegel means by “objectiv-
ity” in the context of his Subjective Logic. Third, Illetterati develops an interpre-
tation of Hegel’s conception of objective thought. According to Illetterati, Hegel’s
conception of objectivity is compatible with the thesis that we construct reality
by means of concepts. We properly understand Hegel’s position only if we bear in
mind his criticism of the traditional separation of the epistemic and the ontolog-
ical.
Paul Redding’s essay, too, is an effort to capture the precise status of Hegel’s
logic. Is Hegel’s logic subjective, like Kant’s? Or, should we think of Hegel’s logic
as objective in an Aristotelean or perhaps Spinozistic sense? Redding considers
a part of Hegel’s Science of Logic that has received little attention, namely the
treatment of formal logic. In particular, Redding focusses on the Subjective
Logic of the Logic which contains Hegel’s critical reconstruction of Aristotle’s
formal logic. Redding illuminates the respect in which, in the Subjective
Logic, Hegel defends a category theory which he believes achieves an identity
of thought and being. Redding’s essay contains discussions of Hegel on the
strengths and weaknesses of Aristotle’s “speculative empiricism,” as well as of
the logics of the Sophists and Stoics.
Christoph Asmuth, Angelica Nuzzo and Sebastian Schwenzfeuer dedicate
their essays to the question of the place of logic in the systems of Fichte and
Schelling. Among the topics these authors discuss is whether and to what extent
Fichte and Schelling take exception to the Kantian thesis that logic has its basis
in self-consciousness or in the transcendental unity of apperception. Fichte, for
example, seems to want to anchor logic in knowledge [Wissen]. Is Fichte in this
respect a Hegelian? Does Schelling, in contrast, follow Kant in seeking to derive
his logic from transcendental subjectivity? The essays collected here, including
those of Anton Koch and Philip Schwab, demonstrate that the theme of logic
gives us a valuable means of distinguishing the various representatives of the
German idealist tradition.
XX Dina Emundts/Sally Sedgwick

Angelica Nuzzo’s essay considers developments in Fichte’s idea of logic, be-


ginning with his 1794 Concerning the Concept of the Science of Logic, and end-
ing with his Berlin lectures on logic in 1812. Fichte gives us a transcendental
logic, but it is unlike Kant’s transcendental logic in two main respects. First,
the ground of Fichte’s logic is not Kant’s transcendental unity of apperception.
Fichte argues in his lectures of 1812 that the ‘I think’ is not what is most funda-
mental, but rests upon and derives from a more original unity of concept and in-
tuition, namely Wissen. Fichte departs from Kant, secondly, in arguing that the
principles of logic are not original presuppositions, but must be deduced per-
formatively or genetically from the synthetic activity that is Wissen – an activity
productive of “images,” that is, of original unities of concept and intuition.
Nuzzo claims that, in arguing for the development of logic out of the production
of images, Fichte’s transcendental logic of 1812 is “close to Hegel’s idea of a ‘phe-
nomenology of spirit’ as the ‘science of the experience of consciousness’.”
In his contribution, Christoph Asmuth considers Fichte’s conception of logic
and its relation to the Kantian transcendental philosophy. Asmuth begins with a
discussion of Fichte’s idea of formal logic, and highlights in particular Fichte’s
insistence upon the priority of philosophy to logic. This priority thesis is already
evident, but not yet positively derived, in Fichte’s Jena system (1793–1799). In the
later Erlangen (1805) and Berlin (1812) versions of the system, Fichte assigns for-
mal logic less significance and continues to treat it as an empirical science. As-
muth argues that we should nonetheless understand Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre
as an advance beyond Kant’s transcendental logic. Asmuth furthermore draws
attention to the influence of Fichte’s ideas on further 19th century developments.
The focus of Sebastian Schwenzfeuer’s essay is the relation in Schelling be-
tween logic and transcendental philosophy. Schwenzfeuer is most interested to
demonstrate how Schelling can claim that logic may be derived from transcen-
dental philosophy. The principle of identity, for example, rests for Schelling on
the highest principle of transcendental philosophy which concerns transcenden-
tal subjectivity. Schwenzfeuer furthermore argues that Schelling’s transcenden-
tal philosophy does not presuppose logic. Transcendental philosophy consists
in an act of synthesis, and for Schelling, we are to understand logic as deriving
from such an act.
Philip Schwab compares the logics of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. Central to
Schwab’s discussion is Schelling’s focus in the logic lectures on the principle of
identity, A = A. Schwab clarifies Schelling’s relation to Fichte on the principle of
identity, and he suggests how we should understand Hegel’s contribution to this
debate. For all three philosophers, the principle of identity has a decisive role to
play in the grounding of philosophy, even though each defends a unique posi-
tion on how we are to distinguish identity and difference. Schwab’s essay recon-
Introduction XXI

structs the stages of a “Streit um die Differenz” in the years from 1794– 1801. In
doing so, he clarifies the debates both between Fichte and Schelling and be-
tween Hegel and Schelling on how we should understand difference. Schwab de-
fends the thesis that Schelling increasingly liberates himself from the influence
of Fichte. He demonstrates that the thesis of the independence of nature leads
Schelling to develop his own conception of identity.
The volume concludes with Anton Koch’s essay which develops a number
of proposals regarding the development of the views of logic in Kant, Fichte
and Hegel. According to Koch, Fichte’s reflections on logic force him to say
more about the nature of self-consciousness than Kant could have intended.
Fichte’s conception of the act [Tathandlung] is a response to the fact that logic
may not be unconditionally valid because it is by nature antinomial. Koch sug-
gests that although Kant was aware of logic’s antinomies, he downplayed them.
Hegel appreciated Fichte’s insight about the nature of logic; but instead of en-
dorsing Fichte’s effort to develop a new and contradiction-free logic, Hegel set
out to preserve contradiction as an internal feature of logic.
I. Beiträge/Essays
Günter Zöller
Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical
Conception of Transcendental Logic
Abstract. This paper presents a systematic reconstruction of Kant’s project of a
transcendental philosophy in general and a transcendental logic in particular.
The focus is on Kant’s account of the a priori conditions for the cognitive reference
to objects. The paper proceeds in four sections, each addressing a defining feature
of transcendental philosophy, especially of transcendental logic, by means of con-
trast with an alternative, correlated or opposed feature also involved in Kant’s
transcendental project. Section 1 differentiates between the transcendental and
the a priori, section 2 distinguishes the logical from the psychological, section 3
contrasts the logical and the aesthetic, while section 4 links the transcendental
and the empirical.

Dieser Beitrag liefert eine systematische Rekonstruktion von Kants Projekt einer
Transzendentalphilosophie im Allgemeinen und einer Transzendentallogik im Be-
sonderen. Der Schwerpunkt liegt auf Kants Theorie der apriorischen Bedingungen für
die kognitive Beziehung auf Gegenstände. Der Beitrag verfährt in vier systematischen
Schritten, deren jeder ein definitorisches Wesensmerkmal der Transzendentalphi-
losophie und speziell der Transzendentallogik im kontrastierenden Vergleich mit
alternativen, korrelierten oder opponierten Merkmalen behandelt. Der erste Ab-
schnitt differenziert zwischen dem Transzendentalen und dem Apriorischen. Der
zweite Abschnitt unterscheidet das Logische vom Psychologischen. Der dritte Ab-
schnitt kontrastiert das Logische und das Ästhetische, während der vierte Abschnitt
das Transzendentale mit dem Empirischen in Zusammenhang bringt.

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-001
4 Günter Zöller

That from the earliest times logic has traveled this secure course [of a science] can be seen
from the fact that since the time of Aristotle it has not had to go a single step backwards […].
What is further remarkable about logic is that until now it has also been unable to take
a single step forward, and therefore seems to all appearance to be finished and complete.
(B VIII; Kant 1998, p. 106)

Kant’s summary assessment of logic in its history since Aristotle, as conveyed in


the opening quotation, suggests a static science essentially completed by its
founder that serves as the object of envy for other disciplines not yet on the “se-
cure course” (B VII; Kant 1998, p. 106) of a science. Yet the picture portrayed by
Kant of the non-history of logic seems to be belied by his own extensive contri-
butions to logic, as recorded in the transcripts of his lectures on logic, in the
logic material from his literary remains (Ak. 24.1 and 24.2; Ak. 16; Kant 1992;
Kant 1998a) and in pertinent parts of his published work (A 70–76/B 95–101;
Kant 1998, p. 206–210), which have become the object of extensive scholarly
and philosophical investigation in recent years.¹ More importantly, the very
work in the Preface of which Kant offers his assessment of logic’s early and last-
ing closure, viz., the Critique of Pure Reason, contains – under the heading of
“transcendental logic” – a substantial enlargement of logic in scope as well as
conception that goes not only beyond Aristotle but even exceeds the presenta-
tional improvements introduced into logic by Kant’s immediate predecessors
in German academic philosophy.²
But as already indicated by the cautiously inserted qualifications “seems”
and “to all appearance” in the opening quotation by Kant, the closed and com-
plete character of logic since Aristotle might prove deceptive in the face of alto-
gether novel developments in logic that could change the confines and the con-
ception of this scientific discipline. To be sure, Kant is not about to revolutionize
logic by merging it with mathematics in the way that modern, formalized logic
did since Frege a century after Kant. Rather, the growth of logic beyond Aristotle
intimated in the opening passage from the Critique of Pure Reason can be taken
to allude to Kant’s introduction of transcendental logic as the doctrinal core of
the first Critique, located in the comprehensive center part of the work, preceded
only by the Transcendental Aesthetic and succeeded only by the Transcendental
Doctrine of Method. Commentators and interpreters of the first Critique, from
Paton (1957) and Grayeff (1959) through Pinder (1979 and 1986) to Tolley (2012)
typically have sought to integrate Kant’s logical novelty, transcendental logic,

 Reich 1986 and 1992, Brandt 1991, Wolff 1995, Longuenesse 1998, Rameil 2004, Martin 2006,
Prien 2006, Stuhlmann-Laeisz 2013, Bohnet 2015.
 On Kant’s position on the tradition of modern logic, s. Tonelli 1994.
Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental Logic 5

into the typology of logic outlined by Kant in the Introduction to the section so
entitled.³
In particular, transcendental logic tends to be portrayed as a logic that
shares with logic generically conceived (“logic in general”) the abstraction
from the specifics of content and the focus on the rules of thinking – modernly
speaking, of concern with (formal) validity rather than (material) truth – and,
moreover, as sharing with standard, Aristotelian logic qua “pure logic” the point-
ed disregard of subjective, psychological conditions for the actual application of
the logical rules. Yet unlike Aristotelian logic, which holds comprehensively of all
kinds of objects, making it “general” in addition to “pure” (“general […] pure
logic”; A 53/B 77; Kant 1998, p. 194), transcendental logic, on the customary ac-
count provided in the literature, has a special object domain, objects a priori, or
a “transcendental content” (A 79/B 105; Kant 1998, p. 211), making it a domain-
specific or content-specific pure logic.⁴
The longstanding reading of Kant’s transcendental logic as a pure logic
with a special object or content domain notwithstanding, Kant himself does
not call transcendental logic a “special logic.” To be sure, he distinguishes tran-
scendental logic from “general logic,” while stressing their shared, non-empiri-
cal (“pure”) character. But the logical typology offered immediately prior to the
introduction of the very idea of a transcendental logic should not be taken to
suggest that the novel kind of logic about to be introduced by Kant can be easily
accommodated by the traditional taxonomy reflecting the kinds of logic distin-
guished so far. Instead, Kant’s twofold intersecting distinctions among logic
(pure – applied, general – special) should be seen to allow a concise classifica-
tion of traditional, Aristotelian logic as general pure logic, which then can serve
as the reference point for the comparative and contrastive introduction of tran-
scendental logic in its difference from “general pure logic” as well as in its var-
iance from the established classificatory logical scheme altogether. On Kant’s
construal, transcendental logic, while sharing the feature of purity with Aristo-
telian logic, departs from the latter, not through some specific, extensionally lim-
ited object or content domain that would make it “special” in the sense of object-
or content-specific, but through the mode or manner in which it addresses ob-
jects in its domain, as concisely conveyed by Kant’s initial approach to the
very idea of a transcendental logic, which is predicated on “a difference between

 In what follows minuscule and majuscule opening letters will be used to distinguish between
the text, labeled “Transcendental Logic”, and the project, titled “transcendental logic”, in Kant.
 On the difference between object-specific and content-specific accounts of transcendental
logic, s. Tolley 2012.
6 Günter Zöller

pure and empirical thinking of objects” (A 55/B 79–80; Kant 1998, p. 196, transl.
modified).
The following systematic reconstruction of Kant’s project of transcendental
philosophy in general and of transcendental logic in particular argues for an ad-
verbial rather substantival understanding of the reference to objects peculiar to
transcendental philosophy, according to which transcendental logic does not in-
volve special, a priori objects or contents but involves a special way of referring
to objects, viz., a priori. To that effect, the account provided proceeds in four sec-
tions, which each address a crucial, defining feature of transcendental philoso-
phy, especially of transcendental logic, by means of contrast with an alternative,
correlated or opposed feature also involved in the transcendental project. In par-
ticular, section 1 differentiates between the transcendental and the a priori, sec-
tion 2 distinguishes the logical from the psychological, section 3 contrasts the
logical and the aesthetic, while section 4 links the transcendental and the empir-
ical. The scope and intent of the reconstruction offered is strategic and compre-
hensive, aiming at a succinct portrayal of Kant’s overall project in transcendental
philosophy and in its doctrinal core – transcendental logic – as undertaken in
the Critique of Pure Reason. Its purpose is to provide a clearer understanding
of what is specific and unique about Kant’s original introduction of transcenden-
tal logic. Its goal is to distinguish Kant’s project of transcendental logic from the
subsequent inflationary extension and expansion it received at the hands of self-
declared students, followers and emendators, beginning with the exponents of
German idealism, for all of whom Kant’s “transcendental critique” (A 12/B 26;
Kant 1998, p. 150) is at once the point of origin, the object of critique and the oc-
casion for alternative attempts.

1 The Transcendental and the A Priori


Entrenched doxography and neo-Kantian appropriations alike have tended to
reduce Kant’s project, first founded in the Critique of Pure Reason, of a transcen-
dental aesthetic-cum-transcendental logic (“transcendental philosophy”; A 12/
B 26; Kant 1998, p. 149) to an answer to the key question “How are synthetic judg-
ments a priori possible?”. While Kant himself provides this summary formula for
his transcendental project, originally in the Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphy-
sics (Ak. 4, p. 276; Kant 2004, p. 81)⁵ and subsequently in the Introduction to the

 To be precise, the wording of the question in the Prolegomena refers to “propositions” rather
than “judgments”.
Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental Logic 7

second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason (B 19; Kant 1998, p. 146), the ques-
tion so posed is not entirely suited for defining transcendental philosophy, and a
fortiori transcendental logic, as conceived in the first Critique. By its sheer gen-
erality, the formulaic question exceeds the confines of transcendental philoso-
phy, which is restricted to the theoretical cognition of what there is, at the exclu-
sion of the practical cognition of what one ought to do (or will) and the aesthetic
cognition qua taste of what one ought to like (or dislike).
To be sure, both the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Critique of
the Power of Judgment (1790) are presented by Kant himself as further areas of
inquiry demarcated by the question concerning the possibility of synthetic judg-
ments, or propositions, a priori – and as admitting affirmative answers to it
(Ak. 5, p. 31; Kant 1996, p. 164; Ak. 5, p. 289; Kant 2000, p. 169). But the presence,
even prominence of the transcendental question type outside the first Critique
does not amount to a subsequent extension of transcendental philosophy, and
of transcendental logic along with it, to critical moral philosophy and to critical
aesthetics. The general question as posed in the first Critique solely concerns the
theoretical determination of objects for purposes of cognition, with the further
proviso that the cognitive elements involved are entirely (“purely”) a priori
(B 3; Kant 1998, p. 137), at the exclusion of empirical elements, and moreover de-
void of practical and aesthetic features involving desire and feeling (A 14–15/
B 28–29; Kant 1998, p. 151). The project in the first Critique of a transcendental
philosophy in the strict sense, and of transcendental logic within it, remains lim-
ited to critical theoretical philosophy.
Furthermore, even within the confines of the first Critique and its summary
presentation in the Prolegomena, the transcendental (transcendental-logical)
question “How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?” is a mere stand-in
for three specifically different questions, each providing its own answer and
drawing on specifically different cognitive resources. In particular, the first Cri-
tique distinguishes three kinds of synthetic judgment a priori, one involving
mathematical concepts and judgments based on intuition, another featuring
concepts and judgments about spatio-temporal, natural objects, and yet another
one involving concepts and (complex) judgments about pure objects of thought
(B 20–22; Kant 1998, 147 f.; Ak. 4, p. 280; Kant 2004, p. 84) – in short mathemat-
ical, natural-scientific (“physiological”; Ak. 5, pp. 303, 306; Kant 2004, pp. 109,
111) and metaphysical judgments. Moreover, the answers to the three questions
differ widely: from the appeal to (quasi‐) visual rendition (“construction”;
A 713/B 741; Kant 1998, p. 630) in the case of mathematical judgments, through
the appeal to conditions of principal verification (“possible experience”; A 94/
B 126–127; Kant 1998, p. 225) for judgments in pure natural science, to the out-
right denial of such judgments regarding metaphysical objects.
8 Günter Zöller

If the generic reference to synthetic judgments a priori, as far as the neces-


sary conditions of their very possibility are concerned, is to have any significance
beyond being a merely nominal bracket around heterogeneous, if analogous
questions, then the three distinct questions into which the lead question “How
are synthetic judgments a priori possible?” is typically divided by Kant need to
be taken as articulating so many distinct moments, elements or features of a
core concern of transcendental philosophy that ties together all three kinds of
actual or alleged theoretical cognition with regard to their very possibility (or im-
possibility). While there may well not be an identical answer to the three sepa-
rate transcendental questions, they each individually and all together address a
generic feature of a peculiar kind of cognition – synthetic cognition a priori –
that is profoundly puzzling and requiring an answer unavailable within tradi-
tional philosophy and with recourse to its logical means.
Transcendental philosophy, under the guise of transcendental logic, is set up
to supply a satisfactory response to the primary problem for the completion of a
critique of pure reason – a problem that first found expression in the famous let-
ter to Marcus Herz from 21 February 1772 (Ak. 10, p. 129–135, here p. 130; Kant
1999, p. 132–137, here: p. 133) as well as in contemporaneous reflections in
which Kant wonders how cognition might be able to refer to objects entirely a pri-
ori, hence without objects first being given in experience (e. g., Refl. 4633; Ak. 17,
p. 615–616; Kant 2005, p. 149).
It is this problem of a cognitive reference to objects available all in advance
and entirely independent of the objects themselves being, somehow, given that
motivates Kant’s formulaic question “How are synthetic judgments a priori pos-
sible?”. The very type of judgment so described is profoundly problematic as to
its actuality and even its possibility. The fact, adduced by Kant chiefly in the Pro-
legomena (Ak. 4, p. 275; Kant 2004, p. 79–80), that modern mathematical and
natural science along with modern philosophy are full of cognitive claims to
that effect – claims to an extension of knowledge in advance and in excess of
any and all experience – does not reduce the need for posing and answering
the basic question. On the contrary, the current, conventional claims add urgen-
cy to the transcendental project by rendering palpable the extent to which the
principal possibility of such cognition is presupposed and taken for granted in
contemporary scientific and philosophical practice.
The strategic move from actually claimed synthetic cognitions a priori to
their critical investigation thus involves a kind of meta-cognition – of cognition
regarding cognition, more precisely regarding synthetic cognition a priori – and
hence a cognition that is not identical, either extensionally or intensionally, with
the cognition so investigated. The terminological testimony of this strategic move
from the conditioned cognitions to their cognitive conditions is Kant’s distinction
Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental Logic 9

between “a priori” and “transcendental”. On Kant’s account, only that (synthet-


ic) cognition is to be considered transcendental which, in addition to being a pri-
ori, is all about the very possibility of synthetic cognitions a priori – in the first
instance, about the possibility of all such cognitions in terms of their generic
transcendental conditions and, in the second instance, about the possibility of
different kinds of such cognitions (mathematical, natural-scientific, metaphysi-
cal) with regard to their specifically different enabling conditions. In Kant’s
own words: “I call all cognition transcendental that is occupied not so much
with objects but with our manner of cognition of objects insofar as this is to
be possible a priori” (B 25; Kant 1998, p. 133 and p. 133 note a). And: “[…] that
not every a priori cognition must be called transcendental, but only that by
means of which we cognize that and how certain representations (intuitions
and concepts) are applied entirely a priori, or are possible […]” (A 56/B 80;
Kant 1998, p. 196).
The import of the differentiation of levels introduced by Kant into the do-
main of the a priori (that of the transcendental a priori and that of the non-tran-
scendental a priori) is not exhausted by the disciplinary and methodological dis-
tinction between an (actual or alleged) science (pure mathematics, pure physics,
metaphysics) and its philosophical foundation, as a reading too focused on the
presentation of the matter in the Prolegomena (Ak. 4, p. 279; Kant 2004, p. 84)
and the parts taken over from it into the second edition of the Critique of Pure
Reason (B 20–21; Kant 1998, p. 147) might lead one to think. Transcendental cog-
nition may serve the purpose of a proto-philosophy of (mathematical and natu-
ral) science. But the issue of transcendental cognition is both more far reaching
and more radical. It reaches farther in that this type of cognition extends cogni-
tion a priori beyond discrete cognitive object domains (particular sciences) to a
sphere in which such objective cognitive claims are ultimately grounded, viz., the
forms and functions of finite rational (“human”) subjectivity, to use a term for
the site of the sum-total of transcendental principles, “subjectivity,” that origi-
nated not with Kant but is entirely due to him. The issue of transcendental cog-
nition also is more radical in that, for Kant, transcendental cognition involves a
dimension of cognitive life that exceeds and precedes the founding of concrete
claims about particular objects, including claims to a priori cognition of such ob-
jects, in favor of a critical self-cognition on the part of reason under the guise of
determining the “boundaries of reason” (Ak. 4, p. 350; Kant 2004, p. 152).
The term “transcendental”, as both inclusive of and opposed to “a priori”,
thus marks a conceptual move that reaches beyond objects by grasping what
lies at the very basis of objects. The cognitive scope beyond any object in partic-
ular – a scope that does not so much aim at all objects together as at any object
in general or an object at all – places the focus on the very (justificatory) grounds
10 Günter Zöller

of such a curious kind of claim. In line with the ancient understanding of the
transcendentals as super-predicates that transcend categorial distinctions with
regard to objects (unum, verum, bonum; B 113–116; Kant 1998, p. 216–218), tran-
scendental cognition in Kant is transcategorial – exceeding categorially specific
claims about objects in favor of a comprehensive cognitive grasp of objects as
such and in general, with regard to the sum-total of their principal conditions.
So novel is Kant’s introduction of the peculiar, meta-cum-proto-objective kind
of cognition in the Critique of Pure Reason that the terminological traditions
and the conceptual conventions failed to provide him a more apt appellation
for the enterprise than the traditional term “transcendental.” The latter term
had already received a modest revival in Kant’s time (“transcendental cosmolo-
gy”)⁶ and also suggested itself by its linguistic proximity to, as well as semantic
distance from, the term “transcendent,” the latter connoting transgression rather
than foundation and excess rather than extension.
Subsequent attempts to define or rather redefine the transcendental project
initially inaugurated by Kant have taken to coining new terms and articulating
fresh concepts in order to convey the novel as well as final turn of philosophy
from particular objects to generic (and generated) objectivity and the associated
turn from individual subjects to generic (and generative) subjectivity. In the proc-
ess, the successors and transformers of Kant have run the risk of changing the
scope of the transcendental project and its disciplinary core, transcendental
logic, by narrowing, widening or otherwise modifying it, compared to Kant’s
original intent. Such is the case with the “Doctrine of Science” or the “Science
of Knowledge” (Wissenschaftslehre) in Fichte, with the “Philosophy of Identity”
(Philosophie der Identität) in Schelling and with “speculative logic” (spekulative
Logik) in Hegel, but also with the “epistemology” (Erkenntnistheorie) and the
“philosophy of science” (Wissenschaftstheorie) of the neo-Kantians and with
the “fundamental ontology” (Fundamentalontologie) of the early Heidegger.
By turning synthetic cognitions a priori into its very subject matter, transcen-
dental philosophy – more precisely, transcendental logic – in Kant assumes an
exceptional status. Given the threat of defective circularity or infinite regress, the
logical means and methods by which the first Critique ascertains the principal
conditions of synthetic cognitions a priori cannot consist in yet another set of
the very kind of cognitions that it sets out to legitimate. In order to account
for the very possibility of synthetic cognitions a priori, transcendental cognition
does not introduce meta-level synthetic cognitions a priori about first-level syn-
thetic cognitions a priori. Rather transcendental philosophy qua transcendental

 S. Hinske 1970.
Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental Logic 11

logic involves and even essentially consists in sustained reflection on the cogni-
tive conditions underlying regular, first-order claims to synthetic a priori condi-
tions, in an effort to ascertain the warrants for those kinds of claims. Such tran-
scendental-logical reflecting – not to be confused with the “transcendental
reflection” (transzendentale Überlegung) introduced as a doctrinal device in the
Amphiboly Chapter of the first Critique (A 261/B 317; Kant 1998, p. 367) – may ter-
minate in what could seem synthetic cognitions a priori, such as the eight a pri-
ori principles of the pure understanding identified in the Transcendental Analyt-
ic, among them the transcendental principle of cause and effect. Yet those
principles are not themselves instances (tokens) of synthetic cognitions a priori.
Rather they exhibit the principal forms (types) – under the guise of search rules
for subsequently identifying specific synthetic cognitions a priori that might
emerge, e. g., with respect to the transcendental principle of causality, as distinct
causal laws in natural science.⁷
In the first instance, the a priori principles of the pure understanding are the
transcendental conditions, expressed in proto-judgments about possible experi-
ence, for possible synthetic cognitions a priori. Only secondarily, in their outward
logical presentation, artificially severed from their founding function, do they
take on the character of synthetic super-judgments a priori. Moreover, most of
the first Critique is devoted not to the formal presentment and the logical valida-
tion of such primary propositions but to the disclosure of the various features
inherent in the cognitive processes that manage, or fail to manage, to endow a
possible cognition with a warranted claim to objectivity. Kant himself conveys
the anomalous status of transcendental cognition when, in the second edition
of the first Critique, he characterizes the principle of transcendental appercep-
tion, hence the supreme principle from which to derive synthetic judgments a pri-
ori, as a first principle that, in its transcendental-logical formality, is not synthet-
ic but analytic (B 135; Kant 1998, p. 248).
The peculiar pairing of a first principle that is itself analytic with subordinat-
ed synthetic principles issued from the former has Kant characterize the entire
systematic solution to the problem of transcendental cognition as an Analytic
– a Transcendental Analytic, to be precise. The core of Transcendental Logic is
an Analytic in the sense of furnishing the hitherto little attempted “analysis of
the faculty of understanding itself” (A 65/B 90; Kant 1998, p. 202; Zergliederung
des Verstandesvermögens selbst; in the original emphasis). To be sure, the ana-
lyticity of the transcendental principle of apperception only holds for the latter’s
inner form, while its outward relation to possible objects of apperception (ap-

 S. Friedman 1992.
12 Günter Zöller

pearances in space and time) is marked by their a priori synthesis in accordance


with apperceptive form functions (categorial rules). It is not the first principle as
such that matters in transcendental cognition but its essential operative role in
the a priori synthesis of intuitions given into objects thought.

2 The Logical and the Psychological


The transcendental turn from the direct engagement with synthetic cognitions
a priori, as practiced in actual or alleged regional sciences, to the critical concern
with the principal possibility of any and all such cognition, which is definitional
of Kant’s pioneering proto-science, extends the scope of philosophical reflection
beyond the domain of objects in two different directions: from particular objects
and particular types of objects to objects “in general” and from objects to the
“subjective conditions” which first make the cognition of objects possible – in
advance of objects being given. The dimension disclosed by the latter move in-
timately includes the human cognitive constitution among the core conditions
of cognition, in particular those of synthetic cognition a priori. Kant refers to
the subjective side of the transcendental project generally as the “mind”
(Gemüt; A 239–240/B 299; Kant 1998, p. 356) and particularly as the latter’s “ca-
pacity” (Fähigkeit; A 51/B 75; Kant 1998, p. 194) or “faculty” (Vermögen; A 51/B 75;
Kant 1998, p. 194). The terms derive from the discourse during Kant’s time about
the compositionality and functionality of human mentation, and cover in Kant
both the active, spontaneous and the passive, receptive side of the mind.
The psychic dimension of human cognition conveyed by Kant’s chosen
vocabulary places the consideration of the subjective cognitive conditions in his-
torical and systematic proximity to empirically based and empiristically cast ac-
counts of cognition from Locke (“human understanding”) and Hume (“human
nature”) to their German followers, chiefly among them J. H. Tetens,⁸ whose Phil-
osophical Essays on Human Nature and Its Development were reportedly ready at
hand on Kant’s writing desk during the final composition of the Critique of Pure
Reason. ⁹ A further material source for the subjective dimension and details in
Kant’s execution of the transcendental project is “empirical psychology” (empiri-
sche Psychologie) – temporarily rendered as “experiential study of the soul” (Er-
fahrungsseelenkunde)¹⁰ –, which formed part of the German school metaphysics

 S. Zöller 1998.
 On the high esteem in which Kant held Tetens, s. Ak. 10, p. 270; Kant 1999, p. 181.
 S. Moritz 1978–79.
Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental Logic 13

of the time, including the section titled “psychologia empirica” in the Latin met-
aphysics textbook by Baumgarten (Metaphysica) (Ak. 15.1, pp. 5–54) that served
throughout as the doctrinal basis for Kant’s own lectures in metaphysics
(Ak. 28.1; 28.2/1; 28.2/2), with the section on empirical psychology additionally
informing Kant’s own disciplinary innovation of (psycho-cultural) anthropology
(Ak. 25.1 und 25.2).
The subjective dimension that accrues to Kant’s transcendental project
through its proximity to contemporary psychology and anthropology admits of
alternative assessments, depending on the view taken of the intended scope
and the targeted yield of Kant’s novel first philosophy. Doctrinally, the inclusion
of crucial contributions on the part of psychology and anthropology to the sub-
jective constitution of cognition invites the charge of subjectivism, of unduly in-
troducing contingent mental conditions into the normative constitution of cogni-
tion. But the psycho-anthropological dimension of the transcendental account of
cognition in Kant also can be considered continuous with the modern move in
philosophy since Montaigne and Descartes to trace and track any access to the
world to and through the self. Methodologically, the transcendental turn is apt
to attract the charge of psychologism, of illicitly deriving non-psychological fea-
tures from psychological ones, while also occasioning the opposite opinion that
Kant’s transcendental philosophy forms part of the modernist project of uncov-
ering the mental machinery underlying seemingly mind-independent events and
entities.
Kant himself clearly acknowledges the subjective side of the transcendental
project – chiefly concerned with ascertaining “how” the categories can find ap-
plication in experience –, while insisting that its ultimate accomplishment lies
squarely on the objective side, in particular on establishing “that” the categories
apply to the objects of possible experience (Ak. 4, p. 474 note; Kant 2002, p. 189
note). In so doing, he effectively prepares the post- and neo-Kantian distinction
between descriptively psychological and normatively epistemological considera-
tions with regard to transcendental philosophy. To be sure, the terms “epistemo-
logical” and “epistemology”, or rather their German equivalents (erkenntnis-
theoretisch, Erkenntnistheorie), are nowhere to be found in Kant and represent
a post-Kantian terminological and conceptual innovation.¹¹ Yet the epistemolog-
ical conceptuality is prepared by, if not present in, Kant’s critical discourse about
the “validity” (Gültigkeit), especially the “objective validity” (objektive Gültigkeit)

 S. Rorty 1979, pp. 131–139, esp. p. 135, and the reference to Vaihinger 1876 on p. 135 note 5.
14 Günter Zöller

(A 89–90/B 121–122; Kant 1998, p. 222),¹² of cognitions in clear contrast with the
subjective side of the transcendental project and its psychological casting in the
form of “capacities” (Fähigkeiten), “faculties” (Vermögen) and “forces” (Kräfte).
But the primary counter-concept to the subjective and the psychological to be
found in Kant is the logical, based on the traditional understanding of the nor-
mative nature of logic as the art of thinking well or the doctrine of thinking cor-
rectly. Accordingly, transcendental philosophy’s core is transcendental logic.
But Kant’s transcendental-logical philosophy not only distinguishes the
mental from the epistemical and the psychological from the logical. The Critique
of Pure Reason also addresses the intricate interplay and the close cooperation
between the two domains or dimensions. In fact, the very definition of “tran-
scendental” provided by Kant joins subjective and objective aspects in the char-
acterization of the transcendental project by having the consideration of the
principal conditions of synthetic cognitions a priori address the source (“origin”,
“sources”) as well as the extent (“objective validity”, “boundaries”) of the cog-
nitive claims involved (A 11/B 25; Kant 1998, p. 133). Moreover, on Kant’s concep-
tion of the matter, the aspect of origin and the aspect of validity are closely con-
nected in the constitution of cognition. The origin of cognitions regarding objects
impacts the extent of the cognitions’ possible application to objects, just as in-
versely the objects of cognition in their very constitution reflect the origin of
the cognitions involved. To be sure, the mutual requirement of the subjective
and the objective side of the transcendental project is complicated by the circum-
stance that the cognitions involved are – or are supposed to be – a priori, and
synthetic a priori at that. Accordingly, the origin as well as the application in-
volved in transcendental cognition have to be non-empirical and cannot involve
merely factual, contingent circumstances and conditions. After all, it is the very
point and purpose of transcendental cognition to address and assess the possi-
bility of cognitions referring to objects in an a priori manner, independent of and
(in a logical sense) in advance of experience.¹³
Kant’s preferred imagery for articulating the essential interplay between sub-
jective origination and objective extension in the constitution of synthetic cogni-
tion a priori is the metaphor of generation or production informed by the proto-
biological theorizing of his time (“natural history”).¹⁴ More specifically, Kant
thinks of the subjective origin of cognition as involving “germs” or “predisposi-

 For a sustained reading of Kant’s transcendental project in the first Critique as an axiological
theory of objective reference, s. Zöller 1984.
 On the sustained focus of Kant’s transcendental theory of a priori reference to objects, s. Zöl-
ler 1989.
 On the status and function of metaphor in Kant’s philosophy, s. Zöller 2015a.
Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental Logic 15

tions” (Keime, Anlagen), which, while not yet constituting the future mature ex-
emplar in its particular traits and features, prepare the latter’s eventual growth
and development. Both in natural history and in transcendental philosophy Kant
favors epigeneticism (“epigenesist”, “epigenesis of pure reason”; B 167; Kant
1998, p. 265), according to which the adult organism (or the completely consti-
tuted object of a priori cognition) is the outgrowth (“product”) of generative
and formative processes on the basis of dispositional guides that direct the un-
folding (“development”) of a virtual item into an actual entity.¹⁵ According to
Kant, the germs and predispositions operate by contributing specific limitations
and restrictions to the general, pluripotential forces underlying natural and, by
analogical extension, cognitive life.
The dynamic, generative process that intimately links the twin dimensions of
origin and of application in Kant’s epigeneticist account of synthetic cognition
a priori treats the subjective origin of a priori cognition not as the site of some
preexisting, inert prototype but as the point of origination for a development
that first brings out what was prepared but not yet realized in the germinal
state. Accordingly, the object attained by a priori cognition is not some preexist-
ing entity awaiting discovery and disclosure but the dynamic result (“product”)
of complex cognitive processes that essentially, if not sufficiently involve subjec-
tive cognitive conditions (“germs”, “predispositions”). On Kant’s account, only
an epigeneticist construal of a priori cognition, which has a subjective origin
qua origination unfold itself into an objective application, is able to account
for, and vouch for, the necessity and universality contained in the claim to an
a priori cognition of objects. Alternative accounts make the match and meet
between subjective origin and objective application a contingent or miraculous
matter, as Kant himself maintains against Chr. A. Crusius (B 167–168; Kant
1998, p. 265; Ak. 4, p. 319 note; Kant 2004, p. 123 note). By the same lights,
the strictly a priori status assigned to the cognition of objects in transcendental
philosophy must not be confused with the theologically framed original endow-
ment of minds with universal representations of object properties (innatism), or
with a psychologically framed preparation of the mind through physiological
features that issue or process cognitive data.¹⁶

 On Kant’s advanced understanding of epigeneticism, s. Ak. 5, p. 422–423; Kant 2000, p. 290–


291. S. also Zöller 1988 and Mensch 2013.
 On Kant’s distinction between innate and a priori, s. Ak. 8, p. 221–222; Kant 2002, p. 312–313.
S. also Zöller 1989a.
16 Günter Zöller

3 The Logical and the Aesthetic


In the Critique of Pure Reason the project of transcendental philosophy is chiefly
carried out under the designation “transcendental logic”. The novel coinage that
seems to blend an emerging and a well-entrenched tradition conveys the system-
atic affinities of transcendental logic to traditional, “general” and “pure” logic,
from which Kant’s new logic takes over the division of logic according to the dis-
tinct devices of concepts, judgments and (syllogistic) inferences. In view of tran-
scendental philosophy’s critical concern with distinguishing warranted from
unwarranted claims to synthetic cognition a priori, transcendental logic is addi-
tionally divided into a “logic of truth” (A 131/B 170; Kant 1998, p. 267) – the Tran-
scendental Analytic comprising the Transcendental Analytic of Concepts and the
Transcendental Analytic of Principles – and a “logic of illusion” (A 61/B 86; Kant
1998, p. 198) – the Transcendental Dialectic.
Yet transcendental philosophy, in the materially compressed but essentially
complete, propaedeutical presentation it receives in the Critique of Pure Reason,¹⁷
is not exhausted by transcendental logic. It also contains and, moreover, re-
quires an extra-logical part under the guise of the Transcendental Aesthetic.
The historical precedent for the praeter-logical counterpart to transcendental
logic is the introduction of a lower logic of the subrational mental powers and
their rules of operation undertaken by Baumgarten, who also coined the term
for “aesthetics” in German (Ästhetik), employing it for the title of his counter-
logic (published in 1750/1758; Baumgarten 2007). But in Baumgarten, the aes-
thetic is an extension of logic (analogon rationis), rather than its opposite. More-
over, by the time Kant published the Critique of Pure Reason, which opens with
a fairly short section labeled “Transcendental Aesthetic” before devoting most of
the remainder of the work to the Transcendental Logic, “aesthetics” had taken
on an additional association with the investigation of taste and feeling – a
shift from the cognitive to the affective eventually effectuated by Kant himself
through the transcendental treatment of the “feeling of pleasure and displeas-
ure” in the Critique of the Power of Judgment (Ak. 5, p. 168–170, p. 188–192;
Kant 2000, p. 56–58, p. 75–79). In the first Critique, though, “aesthetic”, the
noun as well as the adjective (Ästhetik, ästhetisch), is still used throughout in
a narrowly cognitive, specifically theoretical sense (A 21 note/B 35–36 note;
Kant 1998, p. 173 note).

 On the distinction of transcendental philosophy into a propaedeutical “critique” and the


eventual entire “system”, s. A 13–14/B 27–28; Kant 1998, pp. 134 and 150–151.
Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental Logic 17

Kant justifies the pairing of a transcendental logic with a transcendental aes-


thetic by adducing two specifically different basic cognitive capacities, sensibil-
ity (Sinnlichkeit) and understanding (Verstand), each with its own epistemic ve-
hicle, intuitions (Anschauungen) provided by sensibility and concepts (Begriffe)
furnished by the understanding (A 19/B 33; Kant 1998, p. 155). Kant distinguishes
between the two kinds of cognition in terms of their relation to objects, with in-
tuitions standing to their objects in an immediate relation and accordingly hav-
ing particulars as their objects, and concepts standing to their objects in an in-
direct relation, mediated by other cognitions and their relation to objects and
ultimately based on intuitions, so that concepts as such have universals as
their objects. In semantic terms, Kant contrasts intuitions as containing their ob-
jects in them with concepts as containing their objects under them (A 25/B 39–
40; Kant 1998, pp. 159, 175).
Kant considers the duality of sensibility and understanding complete and
irreducible, hence ultimate – at least as far as human insight into the constitu-
tion of the mind is concerned. While he leaves open the possibility of a “common
but to us unknown root” (A 15/B 29; Kant 1998, p. 135), he does so merely in pass-
ing and only in the introduction of the Critique of Pure Reason. Any attempt at
reducing the manifest duality of sensibility and understanding to an alleged
common root – such as the “faculty of representation” in Reinhold, “transcen-
dental intuition” in the early Hegel or the “power of imagination” qua original
“temporality” in Heidegger – risks losing the critical edge of Kant’s dualism,
which goes beyond the mere recognition of two distinct kinds of cognition,
and essentially encompasses the mutual requirement of both kinds of cognition
for the coming about of cognition proper.
The complementary duality characteristic of Kant’s account of complete
cognition is based on the specifically different functionality of each of the two
basic cognitive modes. While through sensibility, by means of intuitions, objects
are “given”, through the understanding, by means of concepts, objects are
“thought” (A 19/B 33; Kant 1998, p. 155). In epistemic terms, the difference be-
tween the two is the difference between a merely passive, entirely receiving
side of the mind (“receptivity”) and its active, more specifically self-active (ac-
tive-on-its-own initiative) side (“spontaneity”) (A 50/B 74; Kant 1998, p. 193).
Moreover, on Kant’s account, the relation between receptivity and spontaneity
is one of (logical) sequence. First, the object is given due to receptivity and in
intuition, then the object is thought by the understanding and through concepts.
Without sensibility and its deliverances, the understanding would lack any mat-
ter for its conceptual, discursive thinking. But without the understanding and its
conceptual contributions, sensibility and its deliverances would remain inert
18 Günter Zöller

and unused. In Kant’s famous phrase: “Concepts without content are empty, in-
tuitions without concepts are blind” (A 51/B 75; Kant 1998, p. 193–194).
Considered more closely, the blindness that characterizes intuitions as such,
or intuitions in isolation from their subsequent employment by and in concepts,
consists in their opacity. Like windows that are closed to the outside, by having
their glass obscured or their opening obstructed (metaphorically called “blind
windows”, blinde Fenster, in German), intuitions, while each having their intuit-
ed object or object of intuition (“appearances”; A 20/B 34; Kant 1998, p. 155), do
not see out and beyond those immediate, intuitional objects to the different kind
of object introduced and endowed by the concepts of the understanding.¹⁸ The
latter, on Kant’s understanding of the matter, are not just another, second set
of objects, analogous to the first such set involved in intuitions. Rather the ob-
jects of the understanding and of its concepts are the objects proper in the
weighty sense of entities regarded, or experienced, as being independent from
conditions of perception as well as interdependent with regard to other such ob-
jects.¹⁹ Moreover, the intuitionally presented, subjective objects (“appearances”)
stand to the logically construed, objective objects in a semiotic relation of refer-
ence, insofar as the former serve to “designate” the latter (A 190/B 235; Kant
1998, p. 305).
To be sure, on Kant’s considered view, as conveyed by the “doctrinal con-
cept” of transcendental idealism (A 491/B 519; Kant 1998, p. 511), even the ob-
jects thought by the concepts of the understanding on the basis of the intuitions
(and their intuited objects) delivered by sensibility are only “appearances” (Er-
scheinungen), as opposed to those inscrutable entities resulting from the nega-
tive thought procedure of strategically disregarding any subjective condition of
objective cognition, viz., the “things in themselves” (Dinge an sich). But compa-
ratively considered, concepts refer to objects conceived as independent from
mind and mentation, whereas intuitions stand in a relation to objects that re-
flects the latters’ passive presence to sensibility, rather than an objective refer-
ence spontaneously engaged in and actively undertaken by intellectual activity.
Semantically put, the relation to objects on the part of intuitions is de re, that of
concepts is de dicto. Strictly speaking, then, it is not the same object – neither
numerically nor qualitatively identical – that would be, first, intuited and,
then, thought. The move from the level of sensibility and its intuitions to that
of spontaneity and its concepts is also a move from the merely sensory objects

 On the dual epistemic specter of empty thoughts and blind intuitions, s. Zöller 2010.
 On the different senses of “object” in Kant, s. Zöller 2016.
Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental Logic 19

of intuition to more-than-sensory, intellectually determined objects of the under-


standing.
The functional differentiation and the operative sequentialization of sensi-
bility and understanding, along with that of their conveyances – intuitions
and concepts –, are of considerable consequence for the status and function
of transcendental logic in Kant. To be sure, in the crucial case of transcendental
cognition regarding the principal possibility of synthetic cognitions a priori, the
general contentual dependence of logical operations on an aesthetic material
cannot take the form of extra- or pre-logical sensory data being delivered for con-
ceptual clearing. That would introduce contingent conditions (a posteriori) into
the principal enabling of what are supposed to be synthetic cognitions a priori.
Rather the matching material provided for the dual constitution of pure cogni-
tion, a constitution involving sensibility as much as the understanding, must it-
self enter a priori, independent of any content given a posteriori.
The move from a posteriori intuitions based on “sensation” (A 20/B 34; Kant
1998, p. 155) to intuitions a priori as the suitably pure material for the conceptual
contributions of the understanding introduces formal features into sensibility.
According to the Transcendental Aesthetic, sensibility, while engaged entirely
passively, by means of objects given in sensations, always also involves forms
– a priori forms –, which await the sensational givings and furnish the latter
with form, with spatio-temporal form that is, space and time being the two
pure forms of all intuiting and, by extension, of everything intuited (A 42/
B 59–60; Kant 1998, p. 168). On Kant’s account, the formal, preformed material
so provided by sensibility as such – by receptivity prior to any and all actual re-
ceiving – is “the manifold of pure a priori intuition” (A 77/B 102; Kant 1998,
p. 210), a term of art reflecting the artificial nature of what is devoid of (sensory)
content, lacks any determined form and consists entirely in the presentment of
some proto-structure, or rather structurability, amenable to all types and tokens
of material (sensational) and formal (conceptual) determination, while not as yet
possessing any such dual determination.
The entire further unfolding of transcendental philosophy, undertaken in the
Transcendental Logic of the Critique of Pure Reason, is predicated on the extra-
logical provision of the pure, pre- or proto-formal manifold of intuition, which
informs the operations of the understanding in the formation and deployment
of concepts and judgments (and of concatenated judgments in syllogistic infer-
ences). Without such a formal provision that enters the logical sphere from with-
out, while still staying within the sphere of the a priori, the understanding would
remain “empty” and unable to attain the a priori cognition of objects aimed at.
Yet given the pure provisions of sensibility, the understanding finds itself deeply
shaped, even afflicted (“affected”; A 77/B 102; Kant 1998, p. 210) by extraneous
20 Günter Zöller

conditions of its functionality and operability that enable as much as control its
range – that enable the understanding, while controlling it, and that control it
through engaging it. Accordingly, in the systematic architectonic of the Critique
of Pure Reason, the Transcendental Logic not so much succeeds the Transcen-
dental Aesthetic, as that it proceeds from it by integrating the latter’s results
into its own unfolding. More specifically, the issue of the Transcendental Aes-
thetic – formally put, the pure manifold of space and time, materially put, the
transcendentally ideal objects of intuition (“appearances”) – informs the Tran-
scendental Logic under the triple guise of (finite, sensory) “intuition in general”
(B 150; Kant 1998, p. 256), of specifically spatio-temporal (“our”) intuition and of
temporally determined “transcendental schemata” (A 138/B 177; Kant 1998,
p. 272), to name only the most outstanding instances of the Transcendental Log-
ic’s thorough impregnation with what might seem to “belong” to the Transcen-
dental Aesthetic.²⁰
Among the systematic legacy of the Transcendental Aesthetic to the Tran-
scendental Logic, which places the latter under conditions introduced and im-
posed by the former, is the “doctrinal concept” of “transcendental idealism”
(A 490–491/B 518–519; Kant 1998, p. 511), which declares everything intuited
under the universal and necessary (“a priori”) receptivity conditions of space
and time, and a fortiori all objects of (sensory) intuitions, to be “nothing”
(this the original meaning of “ideal”, signifying “null and void”) but appearan-
ces, with no claim to cognition of how things are (in) themselves. To be sure, the
doctrine of transcendental idealism, with its “critical distinction” (B XXVIII; Kant
1998, p. 116) between things in themselves and appearances modeled on the pre-
critical division of objects into “phenomena” (phaenomena, sensibilia) and “nou-
mena” (intelligibilia) (Ak. 2, pp. 398, 406–407; Kant 1992a, pp. 391, 401; and
A 248–249/B 307; Kant 1998, pp. 347, 360–361), permits and even grounds and
justifies, in principle, the “empirical reality” (A 28/B 44 and A 35/B 52; Kant
1998, p. 160 and pp. 177, 164 and 181) of intuitions and their objects. Accordingly,
the objects of intuition qua appearances are neither semblance nor illusion but
real entities and the possible objects of a priori cognition. Still, the Transcenden-
tal Aesthetic, together with its far reaching repercussions in the Transcendental
Logic, casts a philosophical reservation over the entire account of synthetic cog-
nition a priori, intimating its ultimate irreality (“mere representations”; A 491/
B 519; Kant 1998, p. 511), which is exactly what is required to hold open the con-

 On the methodological status of the formal unity of intuition (“formal intuition” as opposed
to “form of intuition”), as “belonging” to sensibility, while resulting from the application of con-
ceptual and judgmental functions, s. B 160–161 note; Kant 1998, p. 261 note. S. also Zöller 1987.
Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental Logic 21

ceptual space for (moral) freedom in a theoretical account of things that tacitly
prepares and indirectly, negatively, enables a practical account of persons
(s. B 430–431; Kant 1998, p. 457–458).
But the Transcendental Logic is not exhausted by transcendental idealism’s
reduction of things to appearances and of objects to representations. To be sure,
there is Kant’s repeated reminder that what appears as an object in space and
time is ultimately just that, appearance – shaped by a priori subjective forms
of intuition and as such a representation in the mind rather than the thing itself.
Yet it is only by comparison and contrast with a fictitious, factually unavailable
standard of mind-detached, absolute objectivity – of objects being artificially
considered, though not actually cognized, in their independence from the neces-
sary aesthetic conditions of cognition – that things in space and time vanish into
nothing (“transcendental ideality”; A 28/B 44 and A 35/B 52; Kant 1998, p. 160
and pp. 177, 164 and 181). Alternatively assessed, it is the very nullity of the cog-
nitive conditions with regard to everything that is radically removed from their
reign that enables the cognitive forms of sensibility (space, time) in the Transcen-
dental Aesthetic, together with the further formation contributed by the “forms
of thought” (B 150; Kant 1998, p. 256) in the Transcendental Logic, to turn
mere appearances (Erscheinungen) into “things in space and time,” “objects of
experience” or “empirical objects” (B 146–147; Kant 1998, p. 254).
Under the restrictively controlled exercise of the transcendent-logical forms
and functions of the understanding, an entire objective order (nature) comes
about that is lawfully regulated by a priori principles and affords synthetic cog-
nition a priori with regard to its foremost formal features. Moreover, the objects
within this domain, which have their laws “prescribed” to them a priori by the
categorial concepts, make possible a sum-total of synthetic cognition a posteri-
ori, to be acquired through “possible experience” (B 166; Kant 1998, p. 264), i. e.,
experience first rendered possible by the unity and objectivity functions of the
understanding intellectually appropriating the sensory manifold. Finally, on
Kant’s account, such knowledge (Wissen) – scientific knowledge or science (Wis-
senschaft) – in the strong sense of containing at its core synthetic cognitions a
priori is possible only of and about appearances-phenomena, while the cognition
of the supersensible remains elusive, banished from the realm of theoretical cog-
nition and reassigned to the extra-theoretical validation of supersensory cogni-
tion on the basis of practical freedom as manifested in moral obligation.
22 Günter Zöller

4 The Transcendental and the Empirical


The manifold methodological distinction of transcendental logic from all other
logic, from empirical as well as transcendental psychology and from transcen-
dental aesthetics, lends a specific scope to the logical core of Kant’s transcen-
dental project: transcendental logic is exclusively and exhaustively concerned
with the forms of thinking – under the guise of concepts, judgments and syllo-
gistic inferences – that make possible the a priori cognition of objects. Kant’s
characteristic specification that the cognition in question pertains to objects
“in general” brings out the transcendental, transcategorial function of the con-
ditions in question, which do not condition a particular, categorially specified
type or token of object, but all objects to the extent that they are objects at
all, thereby making the transcendental conditions in question the conditions
that make possible the a priori cognition of objects in the first place. No other
set of conditions, whether specifically psychological or transcendentally aesthet-
ic, is capable of founding the original, absolutely first reference to objects (in
general) and hence of objectivity as such – the latter a post-Kantian term of
art prefigured by Kant’s conceptual constructs “something in general” (A 104;
Kant 1998, p. 231), “object in general” (A 94/B 128; Kant 1998, p. 226) and “tran-
scendental object” (A 109; Kant 1998, p. 233). The former, psychological alterna-
tive kind of conditions fails at such first founding because they are mental, psy-
chological conditions rather than normatively cognitive or epistemological
conditions. The latter, aesthetic conditions fail because they are sensory condi-
tions involving states of the subject rather than intellectual conditions involving
(apparentially) independent objects.
In an effort to convey the unique linkage of thinking and objectivity – ac-
cording to which thinking as such is the thinking of objects and objects as
such are products of thinking –, Kant contrasts the artificially isolated capabil-
ities of intuiting and thinking, each considered in its pure formality and non-em-
pirical, “transcendental” mode of operation. While concepts without intuitions
are devoid of any specific content (“empty”), even the mere form of thinking
still includes a generic reference to objects, regardless of how imaginary, illusory
or even absurd these “things of thinking” might be (A 253–254/B 309; Kant 1998,
pp. 349–350 and 361–362). For Kant, thinking as such, due to its basic, transcen-
dental form, is of objects in the intentionalist sense of being about objects.²¹ In
particular, thinking under transcendental conditions always includes and essen-
tially involves objects conceived of as distinct from the thoughts of them and

 On the intimation of intentionality in Kant’s account of objective reference, s. Zöller 1989.


Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental Logic 23

about them. By contrast, intuitions without concepts – intuitions considered in


artificial isolation from the concepts with which they are ordinarily joined – are
intuitions of objects only in the attenuated sense of being materially based on
the impact (“affection”) of entities which remain unseen (“blind”). Any further
and formal reference to objects, including the cognitive reference to objects of
pure intuition such as mathematical objects and their physical instantiations, ac-
crues to them only on the basis of thinking and its conveyances, viz., concepts
and judgments. Quite tellingly, the foundation of mathematics – and of natural
science built on it – is laid out not in the Transcendental Aesthetic and its pre-
sentation of space and time as a priori forms of sensibility, where it is at most
anticipated (B 41 and 48–49; Kant 1998, pp. 176 and 179–180), but in the Tran-
scendental Logic and its presentation of the pure principles of extensive and in-
tensive magnitude, along with the relational principles of substantiality, causal-
ity and community and the modal principles of possible, actual and necessary
existence. More specifically, it is the understanding that turns the as yet (concep-
tually) undetermined principles of sensibility (“forms of intuition”) into concep-
tually determined object-forms of intuition (“formal intuition”) (B 160–161 note;
Kant 1998, p. 261 note).
The specifically different conditioning contributions made by intuiting and
thinking to the a priori cognition of objects is only insufficiently characterized
by recourse to the different sets of forms involved – “forms of intuition” and
“forms of thinking”. Considered more closely, the forms investigated in the Tran-
scendental Aesthetic are forms “for” intuitions, forms which lie ready in the es-
sentially passive ability of the mind to receive material filling under the guise of
“sensation”, resulting in “empirical intuition” and its “as yet undetermined ob-
ject”, viz., “appearance” (A 20/B 34; Kant 1998, p. 155). By contrast, the forms
contributed by the understanding, as detailed in the Transcendental Logic, in-
volve formation – a self-active, “spontaneous” processing of the pre- or proto-
formed aesthetic material into logical entities or objects. More specifically,
Kant contrasts the passively occurring “affections” (Affektionen) that underlie
the set-up of (materially filled) intuitions, with the actively engaged “functions”
(A 68/B 93; Kant 1998, p. 205) that involve the formation and deployment of con-
cepts, including the primary formal concepts, the “pure concepts of the under-
standing” or the “categories,” which “refer a priori to objects of intuition in gen-
eral” (A 79/B 105; Kant 1998, p. 212, transl. modified) and serve as “fundamental
concepts for thinking objects in general to the appearances” (A 111; Kant 1998,
p. 234, transl. modified).
The role of the understanding and its primary concepts, as captured by the
term “function”, consists in bringing “unity” – more precisely transcategorial,
“transcendental” unity (B 130–131; Kant 1998, p. 246) – into the manifold of in-
24 Günter Zöller

tuition previously provided to the understanding by sensibility under the proto-


forms of space and time. In line with the self-activist, spontaneous nature of the
understanding, the unity that accrues to the intuitional manifold through con-
ceptual formation – a formation through concepts based on the formation of con-
cepts – is itself active and a process of unification. To be sure, the process in
question, while subject to a sequential presentation that might suggest a tempo-
ral order, is to be regarded as originally timeless and as logical in nature, given
that the cognitions under scrutiny with regard to their very possibility are sup-
posed to be a priori as well as synthetic. The unification required for the intellec-
tual unity of the manifold of intuition in turn presupposes a gathering together
(“synthesis”) of the diverse pure material (“manifold”) previously provided by
sensibility (B 129–130; Kant 1998, p. 245).
The unity that comes about through the generic function of the understand-
ing along with its categorially specified subfunctions is a “synthetic unity”
(B 130; Kant 1998, p. 246). On Kant’s account as alternatively advanced in the
first- and second-edition versions of the Transcendental Deduction, the supreme
synthetic unity – and therewith the very essence of the understanding’s overall
operation (B 134 note; Kant 1998, p. 247 note) – is the “original-synthetic unity of
apperception” (B 131; Kant 1998, p. 246) or “original apperception” (A 117 note;
Kant 1998, p. 237). The latter gathers together the multiple cognitions, otherwise
given, according to conditions of their rule-governed coexistence in a unitary
consciousness that is at once the formal, generic consciousness of a stable
self (“universal self-consciousness”, B 132; Kant 1998, p. 247) and the formal, ge-
neric consciousness of an identical object distinct from its multiple possible cog-
nitions (“object in general”, “transcendental object”, B 158 and A 109; Kant 1998,
pp. 260 and 233). For the critical Kant, objects in the logical sense – as opposed
to mere objects of intuition, which as such are devoid of conceptual determina-
tion – are conceptually informed products of apperceptive thinking. Transcen-
dentally considered, particular objects are the plural instantiations of the univer-
sal form of objectivity as provided by the “objective unity” of apperceptive (self‐)
consciousness.²²
But not only do the logical functions of thinking under their principal vehi-
cle – transcendental apperception – add the further feature of objectivity to the
affections of sensibility and the latter’s pure forms of intuitive presentment,
space and time. In drawing on the provisions of sensory intuition, the intellectu-
al form-functions of the understanding also find themselves in turn under con-
ditions arising from outside the (transcendentally) logical sphere. In particular,

 On Kant’s conceptions of apperception and self-consciousness, s. Zöller 2015 and 2015b.


Conditions of Objectivity. Kant’s Critical Conception of Transcendental Logic 25

in their regular exercise, the intellectual cognitive functions are bound to the
conditions inherent in the material upon which they deploy their concepts
and judgments, viz., intuitions, which in effect limit the range of transcenden-
tal-logical formation to the objects of sensory proto-formation. According to
Kant, the very sensory conditions that realize the otherwise empty concepts
also restrict the objects of contentful thinking to objects in space and time and
hence to appearances (A 147/B 187; Kant 1998, p. 277). To be sure, the objects
of intellectually formed cognition involve features exceeding those inherent in
mere (sensory) intuition. But the logically construed objects of which intuitions
are intuitions remain tied to their material basis in intuition and hence to the
latter’s spatio-temporally preformed manifold. Extensionally considered, the ob-
jects of transcendental-logical cognition coincide with the sum-total of appear-
ances in space and time. In intensional terms, the forms of thinking comprehend
the appearances under principles that exceed those of pure sensibility and that
yield objective features that generically surpass the form and content of sensory
intuition as such.
The double role of the form and the content of sensory intuition, which both
realize and restrict the forms of thinking along with their objects, carries over
from the level of transcendental conditions of the a priori cognition of objects
to the cognition of the objects so conditioned. All objects of a priori cognition
– more precisely, all objects of warranted theoretical such cognition – are “ap-
pearances” (Erscheinungen) or objects located in space and time and cognized
under the latters’ limiting conditions. While the synthetic cognition of the objects
involved may be a priori, the objects so cognized are, throughout, objects a pos-
teriori, typically encountered in experience, but exceptionally entertained in
their invariant formal features, which, while being cognized a priori, only “antic-
ipate” (A 762/B 790; Kant 1998, p. 655), in principle, what might occur a posteriori
in a yet to be given place and at a yet to be given time. Kant’s characteristic
phrase for the a priori, formal anticipation of some a posteriori, material instance
is “possible experience” (B 166; Kant 1998, p. 264), a modal locution that con-
veys both the confirmation that experience eventually is to give to a priori cog-
nitive claims about objects a posteriori and the role of the transcendental condi-
tions in rendering experience possible “at all” (überhaupt) or in the first place.
In the more limited perspective of the Prolegomena, with their popular intent
and anti-idealist as well anti-skepticist polemics (and under the latter’s influence
also in parts of the second edition of the first Critique), the relation to possible –
rendered possible – experience even becomes a defining feature of the transcen-
dental, with the term designating “something which, though it precedes (a priori)
all experience, is not destined for anything more than solely to make cognition
by experience possible” (Ak. 4, p. 373 note; Kant 2004, p. 173–174 note). But no-
26 Günter Zöller

where in Kant is the essential reference of the transcendental to the empirical


presented as a matter of instantial verification. The experience in question is al-
ways “possible experience”, as rendered possible by a priori cognitive condi-
tions, and the empirical element adduced is, strictly speaking, “the empirical
in general”, the cognition of which “belongs to the investigation of the possibility
of every experience, which is of course transcendental” (A 343/B 401; Kant 1998,
p. 412). In Kant’s transcendental philosophy, as chiefly presented in the Tran-
scendental Logic of the Critique of Pure Reason, the transcendental is not so
much empiricized – verified and justified from outside and independent of the
a priori. It is rather the case that the empirical is transcendentalized – exposed
with regard to the a priori conditions that make experience along with all its ob-
jects possible in the first place.

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Timothy Rosenkoetter
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table
of Functions
Abstract. In order to evaluate Kant’s Table of the Functions of the Understanding
in Judging, we need to know to which logic it belongs. Considerable textual evi-
dence speaks for each of two incompatible candidates: pure general logic and
transcendental logic. This paper solves this puzzle by showing that Kant uses
“pure general logic” to refer to two genuinely distinct logics. Each is general rather
than transcendental by virtue of treating all uses of the understanding. They are
distinguished most fundamentally by the different perspectives that they take on
that capacity, with the logic of the Table specifying the basic operations that the
understanding uses in cognizing objects by means of intuitions.

Um Kants Tafel der Funktionen des Verstandes in Urteilen zu evaluieren, müssen wir
wissen, zu welcher Logik sie gehört. Textbelege gibt es für zwei inkompatible Kan-
didaten, die reine allgemeine Logik und die transzendentale Logik. Dieser Aufsatz
löst dieses Rätsel, indem gezeigt wird, dass Kant mit „reine allgemeine Logik“ auf
zwei genuin zu unterscheidende Logiken Bezug nimmt. Jede ist allgemein, aber nicht
transzendental, weil sie alle Fälle von Verstandesgebrauch behandelt. Sie sind
fundamental unterschieden durch die verschiedenen Perspektiven, die sie zu diesem
Vermögen einnehmen; die Logik der Tafel spezifiziert die basalen Operationen, die
der Verstand vornimmt, wenn er Objekte mittels Anschauungen erkennt.

1 The Question
The argument of the Metaphysical Deduction begins with one table and ends
with another. More specifically, it begins with a list of the basic “functions”
that the understanding uses in judgment and moves to the Table of Categories,
whose centrality to Kant’s overall project can hardly be overstated.¹ According to
a nearly universal consensus, the starting point of this argument is both (i) entire-

 I will be using “Metaphysical Deduction” as a rough label and do not wish to take a position
on whether it actually begins with argumentation supporting the first Table. Throughout the
paper italics will be used when introducing terms, as well as for standard reasons of emphasis.
I use translations from The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant as my starting
point, though I modify them when necessary without noting this in each instance.

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-002
30 Timothy Rosenkoetter

ly formal, and (ii) distinctively logical. Kant seems to provide straightforward


confirmation of the former in this short Preamble to the Table of Functions:

If we abstract from all content of a judgment in general, and attend only to the mere form of
the understanding in it, we find that the function of thinking in the same [in judgment,
T. R.] can be brought under four titles, each of which contains under itself three moments.
(A 70/B 95)

As to (ii), the distinctively logical nature of the Table of Functions follows, first,
from its formality, since logic is the only body of a priori cognitions that is purely
formal.² In addition, Kant’s texts confirm the logical nature of this starting point
in any number of ways, beginning with the fact that he calls the functions “log-
ical functions” and labels their table the “Logical Table of Judgments”.³ Kant
does not call them “epistemic functions”, and they are not gathered together
in a “Table of Knowledge” or “Table of Inquiry”. This is one reason why critical
discussion surrounding the Table has often centered on which logical constants
are necessary – or at least necessary for anything that Kant would have recog-
nized as a logic.⁴
For anyone familiar with the multiplicity of Kantian logics, the crucial next
question is “Which logic?”. Since the Table of Functions is pure and so cannot
belong to an applied logic, Kant’s taxonomy of logics would seem to leave just
two candidates: pure general logic or transcendental logic.⁵ But since transcen-
dental logic (TL) is partially constituted by the fact that it does not “abstract from
all content of cognition” (A 55/B 80), the home of the purely formal Table⁶ seems
obvious. It must belong to pure general logic (PGL). This PGL-interpretation has
long been the nearly universal consensus among commentators.⁷ My contention

 Cf. GMS 387.


 A 70/B 95; Prol 302.
 Critics typically assume that the Table has been superseded by the Fregean revolution in
logic. M. Wolff’s (1995) important defense of Kant against that charge shares the critics’ assump-
tion that “for Kant the Table of Judgments is a ‘logical’ matter” (p. 3, my translation), an assump-
tion that I will challenge below. Wolff’s defense instead challenges their assumption that Kant
would have made Fregean logic part of pure general logic, had he been aware of it (p. 202).
 Cf. A 52–56/B 76–78.
 I will normally refer to the Table of Functions simply as the “Table”, adding its full title only
when there is some risk of confusion. In contrast, all references to the Table of Categories will be
spelled out.
 Adherents include: Allison 2004, p. 137; Beck 1992, p. xiv; Bennett 1966, pp. 79–83; Bird 2006,
pp. 259–268; Forster 2008, pp. 71–75; Guyer 2010, p. 127; Hanna 2001, pp. 76–78; Kemp Smith
1992, p. 178; Paton 1936, p. 245; Prichard 1909, pp. 152–156; Strawson 1966, pp. 74–82; Tolley
2012, p. 425; Waxman 2014, pp. 266–277; M. Wolff 1995, p. 3; and R. Wolff 1963, p. 62.
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 31

is that we are bound to misunderstand the Metaphysical Deduction so long as we


locate the Table within PGL. The next section will survey evidence for the PGL-
interpretation and sketch two other natural readings that appear in the litera-
ture. Then I will present an alternative that has remained unconsidered, most
likely because it at first appears to require a radical departure from Kant. My
goal in this paper is to show that this initially improbable alternative has the
best claim to be Kant’s considered position.

2 The Problematic Texts and an Alternative


The main reason for the PGL-interpretation’s long-standing dominance is the
broad support that can be found for it in centrally located texts. It will be useful
to distinguish three ways in which these texts provide support:
(α) “General”. First, there are passages that characterize the Table’s func-
tions as “general,” thereby suggesting that they belong to general logic, and
thus to pure general logic. Here is one relatively discrete example:

In the metaphysical deduction the origin of the a priori categories in general was establish-
ed [dargetan] through their complete coincidence with the general logical functions of
thinking […]. (§ 26, B 159)

The most significant (α)-passage spans the entire first half of § 10, just after the
Critique has presented and explained the Table of Functions in § 9. For now, what
is important about this extended text is just that it contrasts TL as the home of
the Table of Categories with a logic that it associates with the Table of Functions
and repeatedly calls “general logic”.⁸
(β) “Form”/“Content”. Second, there are a number of passages in which we
are told that the Table “abstracts” from “the content of judgments” (or some-
times “the content of cognition”) and, correlatively, attends merely to “form.”⁹
These passages are important because they are strikingly similar to descriptions
that Kant provides of PGL. Most importantly, the Critique introduces TL by point-
ing to the possibility of “a logic in which one did not abstract from all content of
cognition”, offering this in explicit contrast to PGL, the logic that abstracts from

 A 76–79/B 102–105. To the list of (α)-passages we can add the opening of the Analytic of Prin-
ciples (A 130–136/B 169–175), which in relevant respects is similar to § 10.
 Aside from the Preamble (A 70/B 95), the most important (β)-passages are: A 76/B 102, A 79/
B 105, A 299/B 355–356, A 321/B 377–378, and MAN 475.
32 Timothy Rosenkoetter

“all content of cognition” and considers only “the form of thinking in general”
(A 55/B 79).
(χ) “Logical”/“Transcendental”. Third, there are passages in which Kant
contrasts the Table of Functions and the Table of Categories as “logical” versus
“transcendental”. This occurs already in the Critique, whose section containing
the first Table is labeled “On the logical function of the understanding in judg-
ments”, while § 10’s preparation for the Table of Categories makes clear that
with it we have entered TL.¹⁰ While the Critique makes this contrast easy to over-
look, it is impossible to miss in the Prolegomena, whose two tables are presented
in immediate succession and labeled: “Logical Table of Judgments” and “Tran-
scendental Table of Concepts of Understanding” (4:302). This is important in the
first place because Kant often uses “logic” and “logical” as shorthand for PGL.¹¹
More significant, though, is that if Kant in fact considers the Table of Functions
to be a part of TL – apparently the only other possibility – his exposition is pos-
itively irresponsible, and consistently so. After all, he uses the term “transcen-
dental” to characterize the Table of Categories. If the Table of Functions likewise
belongs to TL, why not simply call it the “Transcendental Logical Table of Judg-
ments” at least once?¹²
Beyond this textual support, several substantive considerations likely ex-
plain the PGL-interpretation’s dominance in the literature. Prime among these
is the sense that it would somehow be circular for Kant to use TL itself as a start-
ing point to derive the categories.¹³ Though a full explication of this worry has (to
the best of my knowledge) yet to be given, in some versions it is buttressed by the
belief that Kant’s compilation of the Table is a distinctively logical undertaking.
Since TL is properly concerned with epistemological questions that extend be-
yond the merely logical, the news that the Table belongs to TL would rob the Met-
aphysical Deduction of what is taken to be one of its notable features, viz., that it
uses facts about logic to reach a conclusion that has epistemological and onto-
logical significance.¹⁴

 A 70/B 95, italics added; cf. A 78–79/B 104–105.


 E. g., B vii; GMS 387.
 For further examples of (χ), see A 299/B 355–356.
 Allison explains that “any appeal to transcendental logic in order to derive the moments of
judgment in general logic would be viciously circular, since the whole purpose of the Metaphys-
ical Deduction is to derive the categories of the former from the logical functions of judgment
specified (supposedly on independent grounds) in the latter” (2004, p. 140). I can see no reason
why the grounds supporting the Table, were it to belong to TL, could not nonetheless be inde-
pendent in the sense relevant to circularity.
 For instance, Kemp Smith tells us that “formal logic […] can supply a criterion for the clas-
sification of the ultimate forms of judgment just because its task is relatively simple, and is in-
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 33

Even if one doubts that straying from this argument strategy would suffice
to render the Metaphysical Deduction circular, it is nonetheless easy to see, sec-
ond, how the PGL-interpretation brings with it the promise that a candidate list
of categories might be justified to a level of credence that would be otherwise
elusive. The thought might take this shape: whereas proposals within TL regard-
ing the identity of the categories are likely to be just as controversial as most
philosophical theses, it should be possible at least in principle to obtain wide-
spread agreement concerning a logic that is “finished and complete” in all es-
sential respects and allows “the different co-workers to achieve unanimity”
(B vii – viii). The person making this point would likely go on to concede that
Kant’s subsequent realization of the Table does not in fact live up to this prom-
ise. Yet the fact that an epistemologically sound footing for the project of iden-
tifying the categories is in principle available by recourse to PGL would at
least appear to explain Kant’s argument strategy in the Metaphysical Deduction.
For all of the evidence which points toward the PGL-interpretation, several
recalcitrant texts are difficult to square with anything but the competing TL-in-
terpretation. ¹⁵ They center on what we can call the Appendices to the Table,
which Kant includes so as to avert misunderstandings, since the Table “departs
from the customary technique of the logicians” (A 70–71/B 96). Though I will
argue below that there are other, less obvious departures, Kant makes two
easy to spot. Namely, two functions that the Table recognizes as separate and
irreducible are said to enjoy no special status within PGL: the singular function,
which is actualized when judging “This S is P”, and the infinite function (“S is
not-P”).¹⁶ I will sometimes call them the extraordinary functions, thereby con-
trasting them with the ten remaining ordinary functions.
The relevant passages present modest interpretative challenges. Appendix 1
does not explicitly tie the Table to TL. Moreover, it attributes disregard of the sin-
gular form’s special status to “that logic that is limited only to the use of judg-
ments with respect to each other” (A 71/B 96–97). Allison has argued that this

dependent of all epistemological views as to the nature, scope, and conditions of the thought
process” (1992, p. 185).
 Passages (α) – (χ) make outright support for the TL-interpretation – as opposed to holding
that there is “something transcendental” about the Table – relatively rare. Greenberg 2001 is
an exception.
 Though this paper cannot focus on the function-form distinction, I disagree with interpreters
such as M. Wolff who suggest that it is the key to resolving significant apparent contradictions
(1995, pp. 28–32). I take functions to be act-types of synthesis. When these act-types take con-
cepts as inputs, they yield judgments. In some cases the resulting judgment instantiates the cor-
responding logical form. However, for reasons that will become clear in § 5, we should not as-
sume that which function was used can always be determined simply by consulting logical form.
34 Timothy Rosenkoetter

is not a reference to PGL but rather to “syllogistics”, which he takes to be no


more than a part of PGL (2004, p. 141). However, the beginning of Appendix 2
would seem to provide retroactive confirmation that it is indeed TL that recogniz-
es the singular function and none other than PGL that disregards that function’s
special contribution:

Likewise, in a transcendental logic infinite judgments must also be distinguished from af-
firmative ones, even though in general logic they are rightly included with the latter and
do not constitute a special member of the classification. General logic abstracts from all
content of the predicate (even if it is negative), and considers only whether it is attributed
to the subject or opposed to it. Transcendental logic, however, also considers the value or
content of the logical affirmation made in a judgment by means of a merely negative pred-
icate, and what sort of gain this yields for the whole of cognition. (A 71–72/B 97)

Shortly thereafter we are told that the distinction between affirmative and infin-
ite judgments “may not be passed over in a transcendental table of all the mo-
ments of thought” (A 73/B 98). In sum, if we could just ignore the textual evi-
dence provided by (α) – (χ) and restrict our focus to these two Appendices, it
would be wholly uncontroversial that the Table belongs to TL. Moreover, the
clear message of the first two Appendices is that if the Table had belonged to
PGL, there would have been just ten categories instead of twelve. One could
scarcely wish for a more perspicuous refutation of the PGL-interpretation.
All of this leaves the charitable interpreter in a difficult position. First, the
alert reader will note that Appendix 2 also stands in apparent contradiction to
(β)-passages such as the Preamble, which had told us that the Table abstracts
“from all content of a judgment in general [überhaupt]” (A 70/B 95). Now just
two pages later, and in an avowed effort to avoid misunderstandings, Kant ex-
plains that the distinction between affirmative and infinite judgments is part
of the Table precisely because it does consider “content”, viz., the content of
the predicate-concept (A 72/B 97). Perhaps it can be shown that the content of
the predicate-concept is not an instance of the “content of a judgment in gener-
al” (A 70/B 95).¹⁷ But even if this is successful, it seems like a merely local fix to a
more pervasive problem. It would appear, namely, that Kant simply avoids
choosing between PGL and TL and locates the Table in both.

 This is in fact the position that will emerge. To anticipate, we will see that the categories are
the “content of a judgment in general [überhaupt]”, since they are the concepts whose content
has its origin in the very nature of judgment. Of course, the Table abstracts from these concepts,
for it is nothing more than a table of functions (§ 3). Yet Kant can maintain this and still hold that
which function a subject is using is sometimes partially determined by the content of a predi-
cate-term (§ 6).
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 35

Some interpreters have made this their final take on the matter. Kemp Smith,
for one, presents Kant as admitting “in the frankest and most explicit manner” in
the Appendices that the Table is not, in fact, exclusively formal, though that is
what he has announced as well as what his project demands (1992, p. 192). Ac-
cording to a more charitable proposal, which I will call inclusivism, Kant believes
that no simple answer to the question “To which logic does the Table belong?” is
available. It might, for instance, be that though the Table does in some sense le-
gitimately belong to PGL, the distinctive contributions of the two extraordinary
functions are recognizable only from the perspective of TL.¹⁸ If this is the case,
then there is something wrong with the very expectation that Kant’s answer
will take the simple form: “The Table belongs to logic x.”
My aim in this paper is to argue that an answer of just this simple form is
both available and well supported by Kant’s texts. The root cause of the confu-
sion regarding the Table’s home, I claim, is that Kant uses a single term, “general
logic” (as well as the fully explicit “pure general logic” and his standard short-
hand “logic”), for both PGL and a separate logic that he never explicitly distin-
guishes from PGL. I will call the unnamed logic the logic of cognition (LC).
A logic, in Kant’s broad sense of the term, is a theory that considers the use
of a particular capacity, the understanding.¹⁹ Yet no logic considers all aspects
of thought. Hence, any logic is constituted, for Kant, by a perspective that deter-
mines which aspects are relevant and which must be ignored, if one is to remain
within that logic. This point will be used below to argue against inclusivism,
which in effect helps itself to the idea that one and the same logic can be regard-
ed from different perspectives, all the while maintaining its identity. My contrary
suggestion will be that each perspective, so long as it succeeds in capturing gen-
uine features of thought, defines its own logic. This sets us up to notice that there
are two distinct perspectives, each of which is sometimes intended (to the exclu-
sion of the other) when Kant uses the term “general logic”. The constitutive per-
spective of PGL dictates that it focuses on the relations that thoughts bear to
other thoughts, while abstracting from how these thoughts relate to intuitions.
It is this focus that makes PGL distinctively logical. In contrast, the constitutive
perspective of LC dictates that it focuses on the relations that thoughts bear to
objects. LC builds upon an analysis of our capacity to cognize objects. It will

 This is normally taken to render the Appendices fully consistent with the PGL-interpretation.
Proponents include: Allison 2004, p. 141, Krüger 1968, pp. 347–348, and Lu-Adler 2014. Cf. Brandt
1991, pp. 72–74.
 Cf. A 51–52/B 75–76. See KU 176 for a particularly clear instance of Kant distinguishing the
study of capacities (in this passage, “critique”) from the study of objects (“doctrine”). Logic is
one form that critique takes. Their relation is complex, but this will suffice for present purposes.
36 Timothy Rosenkoetter

prove crucial that this capacity for cognition cannot be actualized without the
contribution of intuition.²⁰
Though LC takes thought’s dependence on intuition into account, it still
qualifies as a “logic” in Kant’s broad sense of the term, since it attends specially
to the contributions that thought makes to cognition. Yet this is, understandably
enough, not what commentators typically have in mind when they take the Met-
aphysical Deduction to argue from a “logical” starting point.²¹ And it is of course
worlds away from PGL, whose constitutive perspective requires that it abstracts
from thought’s relation to anything except thought, and thus from thought’s ul-
timate reliance on intuition. Below we will see that Kant positively intends for
the Table to take “content” that is provided by intuition into account when clas-
sifying acts of judgment. So not only is the Table not (ii) distinctively logical in
the sense usually assumed. Neither is it (i) purely formal.
Here’s the plan for the rest of the paper. The important task for § 3 below is to
show that the passages that are almost single-handedly responsible for the dom-
inance of the PGL-interpretation are in fact making a subtly different point. Kant
is instead telling us that the Table is, in a sense to be worked out, an object-free
logic. As we will also see in § 3, it follows that the Table does not belong to TL,
since as a particular logic TL is precisely not object-free. Now, PGL is an object-
free logic and thereby a candidate to be the home of the Table. Yet PGL need not
be the sole member of that genus. § 4 argues that the genus also includes LC,
while providing a diagnosis of why Kant makes do with a genus-term (“pure gen-
eral logic”) that fails to distinguish between PGL and LC. § 5 takes up two pro-
posals that promise all of the advantages of the LC-interpretation without requir-
ing that we recognize a logic distinct from PGL and TL. Here we will see that
though Kant attaches great importance to his claim that the Table is a system,
at key points he correctly treats PGL as though it is not a system. This gives us
a compelling reason to expect that Kant himself would have agreed to disambig-
uate the genus-term “pure general logic”, if only he had witnessed the confusion
that his more relaxed nomenclature has invited. My short final section (§ 6)
makes a start at using the LC-interpretation to explain the Table’s inclusion of

 Hence, these objects cannot simply be other thoughts (cf. A 108). Nor does the “x of judg-
ment” that is implied by any thought that relates concepts to one another (apart from their con-
nections to intuition) qualify (cf. Longuenesse 1998a, p. 88). Unless otherwise noted I will use
“cognition” in the robust sense, in which it contrasts with mere thought (cf. B xxvi).
 The most significant exception is Longuenesse: “Kant asked himself which logical forms of
judgment should be considered primitive if the original function of judgment is […] to relate our
representations to objects” (1998a, p. 78; cf. 2006, p. 144). This paper can be read as a working
out of this important thought.
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 37

the infinite function. We will see that, contrary to what is nearly always assumed,
there are differences between PGL and the Table not only with respect to the in-
finite function but also with respect to the affirmative and negative functions.
This suggests that future work would do well to scrutinize the very natural as-
sumption that the ten apparently ordinary functions can be adequately under-
stood from the perspective of PGL. It might just be that only LC equips us to un-
derstand all of the Table’s functions.

3 General versus Transcendental Logic


It is a familiar point that what Kant means by “logic” is different from what
we mean by the same term.²² Rather than the study of inferences that are
valid by virtue of their form, logic for Kant is a study of the subject – in partic-
ular, the study of the use of a certain capacity of the subject. This conception
leads Kant to recognize logics that are difficult to distinguish from sciences
that study particular types of objects. All of the examples of this phenomenon
that matter for our purposes are particular [besondere] logics, which contain
“the rules for thinking correctly about a certain kind of object” (A 52/B 76).²³
Let’s begin with an example of a commonplace particular logic such as juridical
logic, which is defined by its attention to legal objects. It qualifies as a logic be-
cause it contains rules for our thought about contracts and the like.²⁴ Yet it is evi-
dent that at least some of these rules will amount to truths about the objects
themselves (contracts), even if they are couched as truths about our thought
about those objects. My claim is that Kant takes logicians who are pursuing par-
ticular logics to have objects in view. Moreover, it is not surprising that Kant
would adopt this understanding, given the absence of a clear boundary between
(e. g.) juridical logic and the study of legal objects.
Why is this relevant? First, we will see that Kant conceives of TL, no less than
juridical logic, as a particular logic with a certain kind of object in view. Second,

 Cf. Brandt 1991, p. 53, Longuenesse 1998a, p. 74, and M. Wolff 1995, p. 19.
 A different example is applied logic, which is simply (a branch of) empirical psychology, as
Kant acknowledges (A 53/B 77). Our capacity of thought, when studied empirically, is itself one
of the many types of objects that doctrines can study.
 I use juridical logic as my stock example because it may well be a particular logic that Kant
actually envisaged (cf. M. Wolff 1995, p. 210). No importance should be attached to the fact that
legal objects are different in kind from ordinary objects such as pomegranates. The particular
logic of pomology would serve equally well as an example, save for the fact that there is no
sign that Kant took that particular logic seriously.
38 Timothy Rosenkoetter

Kant does not treat general logics (the contrast concept to particular logics) as
having objects in view in the same way. General logics are object-free. This sec-
tion will work at specifying this claim and showing how it enables us to make
sense of passages (α) – (χ). I will approach the contrast between general and par-
ticular logics from two directions, each of which will help us to understand a dif-
ferent set of passages.
I. Scope-difference. General logics do not pick out a set of privileged ob-
jects and focus on them, while particular logics do precisely that. The logic of
the Table is “general” in the sense that its distinctions apply to the thought of
anything whatsoever. For instance, the distinction between the affirmative “S
is P” and the infinite “S is not-P” is not dependent on the substitution of any par-
ticular concepts for “S” or “P”. This is the primary reason that Kant calls the
Table and its functions “general” in (α)-passages.²⁵
The very same message can instead be conveyed using the term “content”,
as we see in this description of PGL: “[A]s general logic it abstracts from all con-
tent of cognition of the understanding and the difference in its objects” (A 54/
B 78). To understand this passage we need to know that here Kant is using “con-
tent” much as we now use the term “intensional content”.²⁶ PGL abstracts from
the meanings of the concepts that it treats, such that its contributions are most
perspicuously represented if variables are used. Yet if a logic is to treat juridical
objects differently from all others, it cannot simply use variables. Juridical logic
is constituted by the fact that it privileges certain concepts such as “contract”,
while not privileging other concepts such as “pomegranate”.²⁷ In contrast, be-
cause PGL abstracts from all contents, it cannot pay heed to the “difference in
its objects”, e. g., to the difference between contracts and pomegranates. PGL at-
tends instead to formal differences between thoughts (whatever their intensional
content), prime among them the difference between contradictory and non-con-
tradictory thought. Notice, though, that the mere fact that PGL abstracts from in-
tensional contents, and therefore fails to distinguish any particular sphere of ob-
jects, does not itself determine which forms are privileged by PGL. This point will
be central to § 4.

 Most straightforwardly, § 26 (B 159). The same point is sometime made without using the
word “general”: the Table is “undetermined with respect to every object” (Prol 323).
 As he does also at Prol 266 (cf. A 65/B 90). More often, Kant uses the term “content” in re-
lated senses that will be covered below.
 Kant says little about particular logics other than TL, so it is unclear precisely how such a
logic would go about privileging these concepts. I presume that it would at least include
some rules for how to think about contracts, but no similar rules for how to think about pom-
egranates.
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 39

Above it was simply asserted that TL is a particular logic. This classification


is not made evident by the Critique, so it requires defense. We must also under-
stand why TL is particular in order to comprehend Kant’s reasons for locating the
Table outside of TL. Finally, this discussion will help us to understand the sense
in which TL has objects in view and the Table does not. This is essential if we are
to make sense of (β)-passages.
If TL is indeed a particular logic, the preceding discussion suggests that
there will be concept(s) that pick out its privileged objects, thereby distinguish-
ing TL from other particular logics. These concepts are the categories. So one rea-
son that TL qualifies as particular is simply that this set of twelve concepts is not
equivalent to the set of all possible intensions.²⁸ We can note immediately that
this fits one of the broad patterns to be found in the (α)-aspects of § 10, the sec-
tion which effects a transition from “general logic” with its Table of Functions to
TL with its Table of Categories. The end point of this transition is a logic defined
by a set of concepts, which are concepts (as opposed to “functions” or “forms”)
only because they have “content” (A 79/B 105). This stands in contrast to “gen-
eral logic”, which, as we are repeatedly reminded, abstracts from all content.
This is inter alia a way of making the by now familiar point that the Table of
Functions is not constituted by its attention to particular concepts.
The most important objection to the classification of TL as a particular logic
is that the categories have all objects whatsoever as their objects. How then, it is
natural to wonder, could TL be anything but a general logic?²⁹ I propose that
Kant in fact recognizes two possible grounds for the particularity of a logic.
First, a logic can be either general or particular with reference to the set of ob-
jects of our thoughts. This is the rationale for particularity that is cited in Kant’s
initial definition quoted above (A 52/B 76), and it suffices to explain the partic-
ularity of juridical logic. Second, a logic can be either general or particular with
reference to the set of uses of the capacity for thought, rather than the objects of
these thoughts. This second rationale for particularity leaves Kant free to con-
cede that we use the categories to think about anything whatsoever, while clas-
sifying TL as particular because it treats only a particular subset of thoughts, viz.,
pure thoughts. Even if all objects whatsoever fall under the categories, thoughts
of pomegranates are not pure thoughts.

 The next paragraph will suggest that this is not the full story, as can be seen if we ask how
the present rationale can explain TL’s inclusion of the Transcendental Dialectic, which is itself
defined by three different concepts. I begin with the simpler story because it helps to clarify
some (α)-passages.
 Cf. Tolley 2014.
40 Timothy Rosenkoetter

If we look at how Kant introduces his new logic, it reflects this second ration-
ale for particularity: “But now since there are pure as well as empirical intu-
itions […], a distinction between pure and empirical thinking of objects could
also well be found”.³⁰ This is different from the sense in which PGL is pure:
“[A]s pure logic it has no empirical principles” (A 54/B 78). Though its principles
are pure, PGL treats all thought, whether empirical or pure. We find Kant empha-
sizing just this point about PGL when preparing his introduction of TL: “A gener-
al, but pure logic therefore has to do with strictly a priori principles, and is a
canon of the understanding and reason, but only in regard to what is formal
in their use, be the content what it may (empirical or transcendental)”.³¹ TL’s pu-
rity, in contrast, is defined by its exclusive focus on pure content: “[T]hat logic
that contained merely the rules of the pure thinking of an object would exclude
all those cognitions that were of empirical content” (A 55/B 80).
II. Object-free? We have seen in outline why TL is a particular logic and why
this makes it natural for Kant to contrast the Table of Functions with TL in terms
of scope, as general versus particular. We have also seen how “content” can be
used to express the same contrast. However, the same term typically appears
within the Metaphysical Deduction in the service of a second (albeit related) con-
trast: concepts represent objects, while functions and forms do not. ³² In Kant’s ter-

 A 55/B 79–80, italics added; for parallel terminology applied specifically to reason, cf.
A 303–309/B 359–366. I believe that it is no accident that Kant often makes this point using be-
sondere (A 842/B 870, A 845/B 873, and GMS 390), including: “[…] general logic is not limited to
any particular [besondere] kind of cognition of the understanding (e. g., not to the pure cognition
of the understanding) nor to certain objects […]” (A 708/B 736, italics added). Note that the two
italicized phrases offer a choice between the two alternative rationales for particularity identi-
fied above.
 A 53/B 77, italics elided; cf. A 796/B 824. “Empirical or pure” would have been an extension-
ally equivalent formulation. I would suggest that Kant chose “transcendental” in order to flag
the particularity of TL.
 A remarkable confirmation of this claim can be found when the Paralogism-chapter argues
that pure self-consciousness does not consist in cognition of oneself as an object:
I do not cognize any object merely by the fact that I think, but rather I can cognize any ob-
ject only by determining a given intuition with regard to the unity of consciousness, in
which all thinking consists. Thus I cognize myself not by being conscious of myself as think-
ing, but only if I am conscious to myself of the intuition of myself as determined in regard to
the function of thought. All modes of self-consciousness in thinking are therefore not yet
themselves concepts of the understanding of objects (categories), but rather mere logical
functions, which provide thought with no object at all, and hence also do not present myself
as an object to be cognized. (B 406–407, italics added)
The functions that we use in all thought do not by themselves already represent an object. When
I self-consciously think the contentful concept “pomegranate”, it represents an object. Yet the
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 41

minology, concepts “have content”, which functions and forms lack.³³ Since the
Table attends merely to functions, it will be object-free. TL, in contrast, also has
the objects of its particular concepts in view.³⁴
I propose that it is this contrast, rather than any point that specially con-
cerns PGL, which is the primary message of the (β)-passages. This holds, first,
for the all-important Preamble, which announces that the Table will “abstract
from all content of a judgment in general [überhaupt]” (A 70/B 95).³⁵ Kant adopts
the overall plan of beginning with the functions because they provide an ac-
count of the “origin” of the categories (A 57/B 81). This particular reason for pro-
viding the Table is not cited in its Preamble, but it assumes centrality after the
presentation of the functions. Consequently, not only does § 10 contrast “general
logic” and TL in terms of whether they contain representations of objects, the
discussion also explains how object-free functions yield concepts.
The fact that object-free functions can be used to explain concepts (of ob-
jects) figures prominently in an exceptionally illuminating (χ)-passage. This pas-
sage provides a summary of § 10 in the course of preparing readers for a second
metaphysical deduction: “As in the case of the understanding, there is in the
case of reason a merely formal, i. e., logical use, where reason abstracts from

same is not true of “the mere logical functions” that unify the concept with my “representa-
tion ‘I’, which for itself is completely empty of content, and of which one cannot even say
that it is a concept […]” (A 345–346/B 404). Functions operate on concepts but are not them-
selves concepts.
 Famously, A 55/B 79 paraphrases “all content of cognition” as “all relation of [cognition] to
the object”. Once we are clear that Kant takes concepts, in contrast to forms, to represent objects,
it is less mysterious why he uses Inhalt to mean both “intensional content” and “object”, de-
pending on context.
 A full reconstruction of TL as a particular logic would require additional attention to these
object(s), which Kant calls Gegenstände überhaupt (cf. A 11). For current purposes it suffices to
note that (α) – (χ) treat them much like ordinary objects. To make complete sense of Kant’s po-
sition, though, we would need to see why he thinks that to study them really is to study the sub-
ject (“critique”), not objects (“doctrine”) (see ft. 19). For instance, Kant does not conceive of the
four species of nothing as types of objects, but rather as four ways that our cognition can fail (cf.
A 290–292/B 346–349). Full development of this and related points would allow us to marry the
two rationales for TL’s particularity. This must be attempted elsewhere.
 The target of this abstraction is the content “of a judgment überhaupt” (A 70/B 95), which I
suggest we render as “as such”. This conveys the Preamble’s point that the Table of Functions
abstracts from the categories (which represent the properties that any object has simply by virtue
of being the object of a judgment) better than “in general”, which falsely suggests that the Table
brackets any and all consideration of content. As noted in § 2, the Table must attend to the “con-
tent” of the predicate-term if it is to include the infinite function (A 72–73/B 97–98).
42 Timothy Rosenkoetter

all content of cognition, but there is also a real use, since reason itself contains
the origin of certain concepts […]”.³⁶ After referring, somewhat inaccurately, to
each use as a “capacity” and calling the second a “capacity, which itself gener-
ates concepts”, we read:

Now since a division of reason into a logical and a transcendental capacity occurs here, a
higher concept of this source of cognition must be sought that comprehends both concepts
under itself, while from the analogy with concepts of the understanding, we can expect
both that the logical concept will put in our hands the key to the transcendental one and
that the table of functions of the former will give us the family tree of the concepts of rea-
son.³⁷

This passage illustrates nicely why we should not simply assume that (χ)-style
contrasts of the “logical” with the “transcendental” are referring to PGL in par-
ticular. In each of the (χ)-passages Kant is instead using “logical”, just as he does
here, to designate how we treat thought when we abstract from concepts and
their implied objects and focus instead on forms or functions, which by them-
selves are not concepts. Though Kant’s terminology makes it natural to assume
that there is just one such object-free perspective on thought, we have not en-
countered any substantive support for this assumption. The next section will dis-
tinguish the two object-free perspectives that constitute PGL and LC and sketch
how it comes to be that Kant calls both logics by a single name.

4 General Logics
Kant’s use of a single term, “pure general logic”, to designate two distinct logics
can be traced to an ambiguity in the sense in which general logics can be said to
contain “[…] the absolutely necessary rules of thinking, without which no use of
the understanding takes place […]”.³⁸ Taken in one natural sense, the absolutely
necessary rules of thinking are just those with which every thought must be con-
sonant, since otherwise it would not be a thought. This sine qua non construal of
the quoted definition will turn out to yield PGL.

 A 299/B 355, italics added; cf. A 333/B 390.


 A 299/B 355, italics added. The inaccuracy noted above is that there are really just two uses (a
logical use and a real use) of a single capacity. The section containing this passage, when viewed
as a whole, makes this tolerably clear.
 A 52/B 76, italics added. Nominally, this is a definition of general logic. Yet since it directly
contradicts what Kant goes on to say about the only other named species of general logic (ap-
plied general logic), it is clear that Kant intends it as a definition of pure general logic.
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 43

One hint that there is an alternative is that within the genus of general logic
Kant treats applied general logic as the sole alternative to pure general logic.
Since the applied version treats the use of the understanding “under the contin-
gent conditions of the subject, which can hinder or promote this use”, there is
space for a general logic that is not applied – and so “pure” by the terms of
Kant’s taxonomy – simply because it brackets the variable ways in which the un-
derstanding is realized “in concreto” (A 54/B 78–79). The rules of this general
logic – or the distinctions that it makes³⁹ – are “absolutely necessary” only in
the weaker, capacity-relative sense that they reflect facts about the capacity it-
self, as opposed to the variable contexts in which it operates. This is relevant be-
cause Kant clearly takes the distinction between the general and singular func-
tions and the distinction between the affirmative and infinite functions to belong
to the nature of the understanding itself, rather than to any contingent circum-
stances of its operation. Yet the Appendices are unambiguous that these distinc-
tions, unlike the principle of contradiction, are not sine qua non conditions on all
thought whatsoever. So it makes sense that they belong to a general logic whose
rules and distinctions are “absolutely necessary” in the weaker, capacity-relative
sense.
If Kant had only been consistent in maintaining this weaker construal of the
relevant necessity, there would have been nothing misleading about locating the
Table within “pure general logic”. Yet in some contexts, as we will see shortly,
the strong construal is precisely what Kant is looking for. The result is that the
Transcendental Analytic moves back and forth between these two conceptions
of general logic without notice, making use of whichever construal meets the de-
mands of the moment. In order to track this movement and ask whether it can
help us to identify the logic of the Table, we need first to sketch how the logic
that arises from the sine qua non construal becomes PGL as interpreted above
in § 2, namely: the logic that “[…] considers only the logical form in the relation
of cognitions to one another […]” (A 55/B 79, italics added).
Kant takes for granted that there is only one property that thoughts must
possess in order to qualify as such: all thoughts whatsoever are non-contradic-
tory. Yet it is not immediately clear what this has to do with PGL’s constitutive

 Though Kant introduces the very notion of a logic by speaking of “rules” (A 52/B 76), we
must be careful about concluding from this that general logics consist exclusively in rules.
PGL contains both the requirement to avoid contradiction and permissive inference rules. Yet
we should not simply assume that a general logic can only recognize the special status of
(e. g.) the infinite function if it also includes a corresponding requirement or permission. Logics
are distinct from doctrines because they study a capacity, and some versions of this study may
bottom out in a list and classification of the capacity’s fundamental actions.
44 Timothy Rosenkoetter

focus on the relations that thoughts bear to one another. After all, the use of the
principle of contradiction as a “conditio sine qua non” (A 59/B 84) can proceed
one representation at a time. So where is the relation? The answer is that contra-
diction is not a monadic property. Even when the principle of contradiction is
used merely as a filter to exclude non-thoughts singly, it is the relation of contra-
diction between two (or more) of their constituents that justifies this exclusion.
Of course, Kant takes PGL to do more than just (i) partition representations into
two classes, thoughts and non-thoughts. He includes within the same logic the
“positive use” use of the principle of contradiction in cognizing (ii) analytic
truths and (iii) rules of valid inference (A 151/B 190). What ties (i) – (iii) together
as all belonging to PGL is not merely that they share the same supreme principle.
It is also that each is composed of the rules that we discover when we ask which
pure principles govern the relations that thoughts bear to other thoughts, all the
while bracketing consideration of anything other than thought, including the in-
tuitions by means of which thoughts refer to objects.
Now that we have some insight into the connection between the sine qua non
construal of necessity and the constitutive perspective of PGL, let’s compare it to
the perspective that gives rise to a second logic that is both general and pure. We
can do this by examining three sections of the Critique in which Kant moves back
and forth between these perspectives: (1) § III of the Introduction to Transcen-
dental Logic (A 57–62/B 82–86); (2) the opening of the Transcendental Analytic,
stretching from A 64/B 89 until § 10’s transition into TL; and (3) On the Supreme
Principle of All Analytic Judgments (A 150–153/B 189–193).
The first of these sections is largely taken up with PGL’s role as a filter ex-
cluding non-thoughts and so is a pure expression of the sine qua non construal
of pure general logic. At first (3) appears to be different, since recognition of an
analytic truth counts as “cognition” of an “object [Objekt]” (A 151/B 190). But
these terms are polysemous. Because PGL brackets thought’s relation to intu-
ition, the objects of analytic cognition are no more than posits from within
thought.⁴⁰ Though it may be the case that the object of this or that analytic cog-
nition is real-possible, analytic cognition by itself does not require this.⁴¹ Corre-

 We find hints of this in Kant’s careful wording: “For the contrary of that which as a concept
already lies in, and is thought in, the cognition of the object [Objekt] is always correctly denied
[…]” (A 151/B 190, italics added).
 One indication of this is that throughout the section Kant uses Ding and Objekt for objects
known entirely through the positive use of the principle of contradiction. The sole occurrence
of Gegenstand comes when Kant wishes to convey a more robust conception of objects: “But
even if there is no contradiction within our judgment, it can nevertheless combine concepts
in a manner not borne out by the object” (A 150/B 189–190).
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 45

latively, Kant is using “cognition” here in a weak sense that contrasts with the
robust sense that figures in LC’s perspective. Thus, (1) and (3) are both concerned
exclusively with standards of consistency internal to thought.
What about (2)? Though these sections follow almost immediately upon (1),
the species of general logic that figures in these opening sections of the Tran-
scendental Analytic is engaged in a much more ambitious undertaking than
PGL. The section “On the Logical Use of the Understanding in General [über-
haupt]” opens with a sentence that flags the fact that general logic, as the reader
has encountered it thus far (namely, as PGL), has been considering the under-
standing in abstraction from intuition: “Above the understanding was explained
merely negatively: as a non-sensible capacity of cognition” (A 67/B 92). The re-
mainder of that section offers, by contrast, a positive explanation of the capacity,
which requires that Kant take into account that concepts refer to objects via in-
tuitions.⁴² Consequently, its logic regards judgment as “the mediate cognition of
an object”, with “cognition” now intended in the robust sense (A 68/B 93, italics
added). This logic, which is both pure and general, is LC. There is much more to
be said about the connections between LC’s perspective and Kant’s choices in
“On the Logical Use”. However, the crucial point for present purposes is that
there is absolutely no indication of a sudden shift in the logic under considera-
tion in the transition from that section to § 9, which contains the Table. Accord-
ingly, even prior to considerations that hinge on the Table’s particular list of
functions, we should expect that it reflects the perspective of LC.
Having marked off PGL and LC from one another, we can now formulate a
minimal claim concerning the Table: the logic that distinguishes three functions
(and their corresponding forms) under quantity and quality is LC, while PGL rec-
ognizes only two logical forms in each case. Though I believe this minimal claim
to be correct, it stops short of what the identification and isolation of LC can do
to further our understanding of the Table. Our working hypothesis should be that
all of the Table’s functions reflect the perspective of LC. To be clear, this is conso-
nant with recognizing that PGL makes distinctions in logical form that corre-
spond to some of the Table’s functions. This is obviously true of the general, par-
ticular, affirmative, and negative forms, which must be distinguished from one
another if PGL is to contain rules of valid syllogistic inference for A-, E-, I-,
and O-judgments. However, this surface-level coincidence does not show that
these are precisely the same distinctions.⁴³ Each function will require its own in-

 For related observations, cf. Longuenesse 2006, p. 139.


 Even correcting for the fact that the Table contains functions, while PGL concerns only
forms. For a prima facie case that there is a difference between the two logics with respect to
the universal-particular distinction, cf. Prol 302.
46 Timothy Rosenkoetter

vestigation. This paper can do no more than begin this project for the functions
of quality, thereby at least providing an example of the kinds of questions that
we need to ask about all of the remaining functions (§ 6). First, however, it is im-
portant to gain a more secure foundation for that project by considering two
challenges to the separateness of PGL and LC.

5 Individuating Logics
The interpretation on offer requires that we posit a logic that is distinct from both
PGL and TL. It is obviously important to consider whether the same work can be
done more economically. The most popular way to resolve perceived tensions in
Kant’s statements is inclusivism, the position that denies that there is a simple
answer to the question of the Table’s home. Inclusivism almost always takes
the particular form of holding that though the Table belongs to PGL, the two ex-
traordinary functions reflect the perspective of TL. For this to be true there
must be one sense in which PGL recognizes singular and infinite judgments,
though in another sense it does not and TL does. Inclusivists have specified
the second sense by suggesting that only TL recognizes the singular and infinite
forms of judgment as “basic”, “relevant”, or “useful”.⁴⁴ What they seem to have
in mind for the first sense is that PGL recognizes these forms insofar as it treats
them as well-formed judgments, thereby enabling us to see that “This AB is B” is
true and to construct syllogisms that include negated predicate-concepts. This
claim is true but irrelevant. There is no meaningful sense in which a list of pu-
tatively fundamental forms (or functions) of judgment belongs to PGL simply be-
cause PGL treats those forms as syntactically well-formed and distinct from one
another. After all, the same argument might be used to show that a table that
includes indeterminately many forms (including, e. g., disjunctive judgments
with seven disjuncts) belongs to PGL.⁴⁵ It belongs to PGL only in a weak sense
that is irrelevant to identifying the logic whose analysis of the understanding
finds expression in the Table. In the relevant sense of belonging, the Table be-

 Lu-Adler 2014, pp. 372 & 369; Allison 2004, p. 141.


 An alternative form of inclusivism (perhaps closer to Lu-Adler 2014) would hold that PGL at-
taches importance to the distinction between universal and singular judgments (and likewise for
quality), as opposed to simply declaring both forms syntactically acceptable and distinct (along
with indeterminately many other forms). What PGL does not do, but TL does, is to grant them a
further status, which we might call robust importance. I find it mysterious what these two grades
of importance could amount to.
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 47

longs to a logic only if it reflects the perspective that this logic takes on our ca-
pacity.⁴⁶
Other than inclusivism, the most promising alternative to recognizing LC as a
separate logic is the Robust PGL-interpretation. This assigns the Table to what
Kant calls “pure general logic”, while interpreting that logic robustly, so that it
includes all uses of the principle of contradiction, as well as the positive explan-
ation of the understanding in “On the Logical Use” (A 67–69/B 92–94). PGL and
LC are thereby combined into a single logic. This is a serious position that merits
close consideration. Yet it faces three problems that speak in favor of what I take
to be its sole remaining competitor, the LC-interpretation.
First, the Robust PGL-interpretation has difficulties explaining Kant’s expos-
itory choices in the Appendices. The central point is that when Kant is contrast-
ing the logic that does not recognize the special contributions of the extraordi-
nary functions with the logic that does, he treats them as two distinct logics.
This is a strange choice if Kant really believes that the logic responsible for rec-
ognizing analytic truths and valid inferences is the same as the logic that recog-
nizes the special contributions of those two functions. The LC-interpretation ob-
viously fares better in this respect. Yet this may not matter if it falters on the fact
that Kant calls the second logic TL. Somewhat surprisingly, though, so long as
the TL-interpretation is indeed untenable (§ 3), Kant’s mention of TL in Appen-
dix 2 actually speaks in favor of the LC-interpretation. First, though LC does
not meet the technical definition of TL, it is still recognizably transcendental
in a relaxed sense, since it concerns “our manner of cognition of objects”
(B 25). Second, Kant finds himself in Appendix 2 in the unusual situation of
needing to contrast PGL and LC, so he cannot follow his usual practice of simply
letting “general logic” refer to whichever one fits the present context (§ 4). Under
these circumstances it is not surprising that Kant would call LC “transcenden-
tal”, opting for the closest logic that will not leave him, absurdly, contrasting
“general logic” with “general logic”.
The final two problems share the same form: if there is only one logic, Ro-
bust PGL, then Kant assigns inconsistent properties to it. We know, for instance,
that “pure general logic” is defined by its abstraction from all content, including
the intensional content of the predicate-terms in judgments that it treats.⁴⁷ Yet

 A radical version of inclusivism would hold that the reason why there is no simple answer to
the question of the Table’s home is that in the final analysis the Table belongs to two different
logics, with the singular and infinite forms (or functions) assigned to TL and the remainder as-
signed to PGL. In contrast to the versions discussed above, there is nothing confused about this
version of inclusivism. However, it conflicts with Kant’s belief that the Table is a (single) system.
 Cf. A 72/B 97 and A 598/B 626.
48 Timothy Rosenkoetter

Appendix 2 makes clear that attention to that very content provides the sole ra-
tionale for distinguishing the affirmative and infinite functions. This second
problem is neatly resolved if we posit LC.
The final problem arises because Kant is convinced that the Table is a sys-
tem.⁴⁸ This means that it instantiates a species of unity that can only be under-
stood when its manifold is interpreted in light of an idea that is also an end.⁴⁹
Kant’s claim raises many important and difficult questions that cannot be treat-
ed here. What is essential for our purposes is a series of broad contrasts that we
find when we compare PGL with the Table and its logic. First and primarily,
though the Table and PGL are both unities, we can understand PGL’s unity with-
out appealing to the elaborate theory that Kant uses in his attempt to clarify sys-
tematic unity. As sketched above, PGL’s unity can be traced to the fact that a sin-
gle principle – one whose application is determinate in a way that we simply do
not find with ideas – can be used negatively as well as positively. The bounds of
PGL are traced by what can be accomplished when this rule concerning contra-
diction is applied to individual cases. In contrast, the Table’s unity is ultimately
explained by the fact that the understanding is a capacity for judgment. This uni-
fies the parts of the Table into the “form of a whole” (A 832/B 860), rather than
by serving as a rule that can be mechanically applied to individual cases. These
primary differences just sketched should not be surprising, second, given that
the Table arises from an account of a capacity and its end. In order to grasp
the principle of contradiction, in contrast, one need only recognize that contra-
diction annuls thought.
A third difference between the Table and PGL hinges on the fact that the
techniques of PGL require no special mental acuity among their practitioners,
which is not true of philosophy. This is not to say that every competent subject
can employ all valid rules of inference, no more than every competent subject
knows the truths of mathematics. Yet Kant is convinced that mathematics and
logic can be successfully taught, so that a competent subject who is paying at-
tention will gain these skills. He argues that this is not true of philosophy.⁵⁰ In
the context of making this point he takes the important step of denying the
title “philosopher” to the “mathematician” and the “logician”, insisting that
they are only “artists of reason [Vernunftkünstler]” (A 839/B 867). Of course,
Kant would never think of denying that the Table is philosophical. Achieving
philosophical insight into the Table’s unity is not a “trade” that can be taught,

 Cf. A 64–67/B 89–92, A 80–83/B 106–109, and Prol 322–326.


 For Kant’s theory of systematic unity, cf. esp. A 832–851/B 860–879. A 67/B 92 speaks of the
role of an “idea” in unifying “transcendental-philosophy” (by means of the Table).
 Cf. A 836/B 864.
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 49

in which incremental progress is guaranteed to the diligent pupil.⁵¹ So the logic


that Kant considers a mere art must be distinct from the Table’s. It seems clear
that it is PGL. This fits Kant’s belief that PGL was completed long ago, save for a
few inessential subtleties, whereas he was the first to grasp the Table in its sys-
tematic unity.⁵² Of course, this is not to say that logicians prior to Kant were un-
familiar with the various logical forms whose corresponding functions make up
the Table. Yet even if some of Kant’s predecessors had happened upon an exten-
sionally equivalent list, they will not have attained the perspective of the Critique
so long as they did not understand each function in light of its relation to the
idea that explains the Table’s systematic unity. Now, one insight that Kant
takes himself to have been the first to achieve in full clarity is that both concepts
and intuitions are required for cognition of an object. Accordingly, if the above
reading is correct in taking this insight to be essential to the logic of the Table, it
should be no surprise that previous logicians were without this key to the foun-
dation of philosophy.

6 Quality
The Table is naturally understood as split into two parts: a larger portion, which
can be fully understood from the perspective of PGL, and the two extraordinary
functions, which require something more. At first glance, the functions of quality
fit this expectation perfectly. What makes a judgment affirmative or negative is a
particular relation between its subject- and predicate-concepts: “Logical nega-
tion, which is indicated solely by the little word “not”, is never properly attached
to a concept, but rather only to its relation to another concept in a judgment
[…]”.⁵³ However, the distinguishing feature of infinite judgment is not similarly
relational. An affirmative judgment, “The soul is mortal”, is converted into an
infinite judgment simply by negating the predicate-concept, while leaving the
copula unchanged.
At this point we can pause and notice that Kant could have stopped with this
characterization of infinite judgments, which would have sufficed to distinguish
them from affirmative judgments. Instead, we are also told that the logic of the

 Here I assume that Kant would extend the following claim to logics as an “art”: “For math-
ematics a completely different mind is required than for philosophy […]. Philosophy is more a
science of genius, mathematics in contrast more an art[;] one can learn it as a trade [Handwerck]
[…]” (Ak. 25, p. 164, my translation).
 Cf. B viii; A 767/B 795, on how Hume did not see the whole.
 A 572/B 600; similarly, NG 172.
50 Timothy Rosenkoetter

Table considers whether these negative predicates augment “the whole of cogni-
tion” (A 72/B 97). It is by virtue of the fact that infinite judgments are “merely
limiting with respect to the content of cognition in general” that the correspond-
ing function deserves a special place in the Table (A 73/B 98). Now, clearly, the
logic that distinguishes the infinite function regards judgments inter alia as cog-
nitions. Yet why should the shift to this perspective yield just one new function?
Why doesn’t quality include a fourth function, which is distinguished by the fact
that it amplifies the content of cognition? The answer, I suggest, is that this miss-
ing fourth function is already to be found in the existing Table in the guise of its
affirmative function. Otherwise, the fact that infinite judgments do not augment
the content of cognition, despite having an affirmative “logical form”, would sim-
ply not count as noteworthy (A 72/B 97).
If this line of reasoning is correct, then PGL’s exclusively relational under-
standing of affirmative judgment is foreign to the logic of the Table. This is
not to deny that the affirmative function enables us to relate subject- and pred-
icate-concepts using a copula. Kant’s position is instead that it accomplishes this
as part of an act whose purpose is to increase what is known about objects.
Kant’s parallel position regarding the negative function is that its purpose is
to avoid error. Appendix 2 itself contains tolerably clear evidence of this (cf. A 72/
B 97), but it is explained at greater length later in the Critique:

Logically one can, to be sure, express any proposition [Sätze] that one pleases negatively,
but in regard to the content of our cognition in general, whether it is expanded or limited
by a judgment, negative judgments have the peculiar job, solely of preventing error. ⁵⁴

It would of course be misguided to hold within PGL that the purpose of negative
judgments is strictly to prevent error. Kant recognizes this and treats affirmative
and negative judgments symmetrically within the context of inference. He also
treats affirmative and negative analytic truths symmetrically.⁵⁵
Though this leaves several important questions regarding functions of qual-
ity untouched⁵⁶, this brief coda has at least made the case that it is not merely

 A 709/B 737. Kant uses almost exactly the same phrase in Appendix 2, when explicating the
perspective which distinguishes the infinite function: “in regard to the content of cognition in
general” (A 73/B 98).
 Regarding the former, the minor premise of a disjunctive syllogism is always a negative judg-
ment. Yet when used in this context its purpose is not to avoid error. Regarding the latter, the
treatment of the positive use of the principle of contradiction leaves no doubt that affirmative
and negative judgments are on equal footing (A 151/B 190).
 Prime among them is Kant’s case for holding that the subject-concept in an infinite judgment
does not “grow” and is not “affirmatively determined”, simply because the predicate-concept is
The Logical Home of Kant’s Table of Functions 51

the infinite function, but all three functions of quality, that reflect the perspective
of LC. This shows that it is dangerous to assume that there are two extraordinary
functions, while the remaining ten are taken over from PGL. It behooves us to
examine each of the remaining functions closely with the constitutive perspec-
tive of LC as our interpretative key.

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52 Timothy Rosenkoetter

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Emily Carson
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical
Model
Abstract. This paper compares Kant’s account of number in the Inaugural Dis-
sertation to the account in the first Critique, with the aim of showing that the
changes in that account noted in Parsons’ classic paper ‘Arithmetic and the Cate-
gories’ reflect fundamental changes in the way Kant conceives of the relation be-
tween sensibility and understanding. It then discusses the implications of this for
Longuenesse’s construal of mathematical thought as a model for Kant’s notion
of synthesis.

In diesem Aufsatz wird die Beschreibung des Zahlbegriffs, die in Kants De Mundi
Sensibilis atque Intelligibilis Forma et Principiis von 1770 zu finden ist, mit seiner
späteren Darstellung dieses Begriffs, die sich in der ersten Kritik findet, verglichen.
Das Ziel dieses Vergleichs ist es zu zeigen, dass die Änderungen, die Kant vornimmt
und die Gegenstand des berühmten Aufsatzes „Arithmetic and the categories“ von
Charles Parsons sind, die grundsätzliche Veränderung in Kants Auffassung der
Beziehung zwischen Sinnlichkeit und Verstand widerspiegeln. Abschließend wird
dargelegt, welche Folgen diese These über die Änderungen für Longuenesses Auf-
fassung des mathematischen Denkens als Modell für Kants Begriff der Synthesis hat.

The general theme of this paper is the close interrelation between Kant’s under-
standing of mathematics and his Critical philosophy. More specifically, I compare
Kant’s account of number in the Inaugural Dissertation to the account in the first
Critique, with the aim of showing that changes in that account reflect changes in
the way Kant conceives of the relation between sensibility and understanding.
In his classic 1984 paper “Arithmetic and the categories”, Charles Parsons
undertook to fill a gap in the literature on Kant’s philosophy of mathematics
by investigating the role of the categories of quantity in Kant’s conception of
mathematics. Until then, as Parsons notes, the literature had largely focused
on the role of the construction of mathematical concepts in intuition for Kant.
The role of concepts, and more specifically, of the categories, had not been
fully investigated. Parsons concluded from his analysis of Kant’s various pro-
nouncements on arithmetic and number that “Kant did not reach a stable posi-
tion on the place of the concept of number in relation to the categories and the
forms of intuition” (Parsons 1984, p. 118). Since that paper appeared, much work
has been done on the relationship between the categories and the forms of intu-

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-003
54 Emily Carson

ition, and on the role of imagination in bringing the two together. In this paper,
I undertake to investigate this instability by outlining the development of Kant’s
treatment of the concept of number from the Inaugural Dissertation to the first
Critique. I want to suggest that the changes Parsons notes in Kant’s conception
of number reflect fundamental changes in the way Kant conceives of the role
of the understanding in constituting experience and correspondingly, of the in-
volvement of a pure category of quantity.
First, let’s consider the basis for Parsons’ conclusion. The instability he at-
tributes to Kant’s position is between two poles. In the pre-Critical period,
Kant seems to treat arithmetic and the concept of number as abstract and intel-
lectual, requiring intuition only in their application. By the time of the first edi-
tion of the Critique of Pure Reason, Parsons points out, Kant seems to reject this
distinction between the “intellectual concept of number” and its “actualization
in the concrete” in favour of treating number as the schema of the concept of
quantity, so as mediating between the categories and intuition, and therefore
having both intellectual and sensible content. But then Kant seems to return
to the pre-Critical position in a 1788 letter to Schultz in which he describes the
science of number as “a pure intellectual synthesis”.
Béatrice Longuenesse takes Parsons to hold that Kant wavered between two
conceptions of number, one according to which it is thought by purely intellec-
tual concepts, the other according to which it is a sensible representation (a sche-
ma) (Longuenesse 1998, p. 256 n. 24). She correctly points out that in the Sche-
matism, Kant describes number as the schema of the category of quantity, so he
still defines number in terms of the pure categories. If, Longuenesse argues, the
worry is that by ‘pure categories’, Kant means “having no relation to the sensi-
ble”—that is, he means unschematized categories—then there is nothing to
worry about: Kant never defined number in terms of the pure categories thus un-
derstood, not even in the Inaugural Dissertation. In other words, there is no pure-
ly intellectual concept of number in Kant’s work.
But I think Longuenesse’s criticism misses the real issue raised by the appa-
rent instability of Kant’s concept of number. There is indeed a progression from
talk of the concept of number being applied to sensible objects to a concept of
number which essentially has sensible content itself in the first Critique.
I want to suggest that this progression marks Kant’s recognition of what Alison
Laywine has called his “overinvestment in the principles of sensibility” (Laywine
2003, p. 445) and the resulting recognition of an active role for the understanding
in our sensible representations. As we’ll see, the development of Kant’s view on
the concept of number reflects the development of his view of the relation be-
tween sensibility and understanding in general.
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical Model 55

In the first part of this paper, I work through Kant’s remarks on the concept
of number in the pre-Critical Inaugural Dissertation of 1770, trying to reconcile his
claim there that the concept of number “belongs to the understanding” with his
claim that pure mathematics is “the science of sensory things”. Kant’s view here
reveals the overinvestment in sensibility in the Inaugural Dissertation.
In the second part of the paper, I take up Kant’s correction in the first Cri-
tique of that overinvestment by appeal to Longuenesse’s claim that Kant’s notion
of synthesis is modelled on mathematical thought. While I agree that mathemat-
ics serves as a model for Kant, I disagree with Longuenesse’s construal of the
significance of that model. I offer a construal that reflects more fully Kant’s at-
tempt to correct the overinvestment in sensibility as described in the first part,
and that gives us a more accurate picture of his conception of number, and
more generally, of mathematics.

1 Space, time and number in the pre-Critical


period
It’s in the Dissertation that Kant first makes the distinction crucial to his Critical
philosophy between the faculties of sensibility and understanding. He uses the
example of the concept of composition to display the differences between the
conditions governing the understanding and those governing sensibility. We
can, he says, conceive of the composition of a whole by means of an abstract
concept of the understanding (“composition in general”), and so by means of
“ideas in the understanding which are universal” (Ak. 2, p. 387);¹ but we can
also “follow up” this general concept by the sensitive faculty of cognition: we
can represent the same concept in the concrete by a distinct intuition. Kant is
thus describing how a universal concept can be applied both to sensible and “in-
telligible” things, objects of pure reason.
However, the two different ways of representing the concept of a whole also
reveal differences between the conditions governing the understanding and
those governing sensibility. In particular, the representation of the concept in in-
tuition is subject to the conditions of time, whereas the representation of the con-
cept by the understanding is not. One consequence is that “according to the laws

 Unless otherwise indicated, translations of this work are from Theoretical Philosophy 1755–
1770, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Subsequent references to Kant’s work cite
volume and page number of the Akademie edition Gesammelte Schriften. Edited by the Königlich
Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften. 29 vols. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1900 ff.
56 Emily Carson

of intuitive cognition”, an “infinite compound cannot be thought completely as


regards totality” because the progression from part to whole required for the syn-
thesis of an infinite magnitude can’t be completed. This is not to say, however,
that the concept of infinity is impossible: whatever conflicts with the laws of
the understanding is impossible, but “an object of pure reason” which simply
doesn’t come under the laws of intuitive cognition is not thereby impossible.
This illustrates that the conditions governing sensibility do not apply to intelli-
gible things. More generally, though, what we see is that for Kant of the Disser-
tation, general concepts of the understanding may apply to sensible things, they
may apply to intelligible things, and they may apply to both. Their conditions of
application will differ, however, because sensible representations “rest on the
conditions of time”: the processes of analysis and synthesis must be carried
out in a finite period of time (Ak. 2, p. 388).
Having argued in Section 1 that there is a distinction between the faculties by
appeal to two ways of conceiving a whole, Kant takes up in Section 2 the nature
of the distinction. For our purposes, it is enough that Kant says that sensibility is
“the receptivity of a subject in virtue of which […] the subject’s own representa-
tive state is affected […] by the presence of some object”. Intelligence is “the fac-
ulty of representing things which cannot come before the senses” (Ak. 2, p. 392).
That which “contains nothing but what is cognised through intelligence” is intel-
ligible. Our focus, however, is on the sensible. Because they result from affection
of the subject, sensible representations have both matter—sensation—and form.
Since, Kant says, objects do not strike the senses in virtue of their form, the co-
ordination of the “various factors in an object which affect the sense” into a rep-
resentational whole requires “an internal principle in the mind” (Ak. 2, p. 393).
Here we see what I have referred to as Kant’s overinvestment in the princi-
ples of sensibility: in the Dissertation, this internal principle in the mind
which coordinates the various factors resulting from affection by a sensible ob-
ject is itself sensible. This will change in the Critique.
Because the form of sensory cognition is distinct from its matter, we can have
sensory cognition which is “free from all sensation” and based on “what is sen-
sitively given by pure intuition” (Ak. 2, p. 393). Pure intuition is an intuition “de-
void of sensation but not therefore deriving from the understanding” (Ak. 2,
p. 397); it contains only the singular form of sensibility. Kant identifies space
and time as the formal principles of the sensible world in virtue of which it is
necessary that all the things which can be objects of the senses “are seen as nec-
essarily belonging to the same whole” (Ak. 2, p. 398). The concepts of space and
time, because they “determine nothing as to the quality of sensible things”, are
objects of science only with respect of quantity (Ak. 2, p. 397). Thus pure math-
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical Model 57

ematics as the science of quantity “explains the form of all our sensitive cogni-
tion” (Ak. 2, p. 398).
This finally brings us to Parsons’ puzzling passage:

[…] pure mathematics deals with space in geometry and time in pure mechanics. In addi-
tion to these concepts, there is a certain concept which in itself indeed belongs to the un-
derstanding, but of which the actualization in the concrete requires the auxiliary notions of
time and space (by successively adding a number of things and setting them simultaneous-
ly side by side). This is the concept of number, which is the concept treated in arithmetic.
(Ak. 2, p. 397)

We can now see how there’s a question of where the concept of number fits in:
unlike space and time—the objects of geometry and pure mechanics—which are
pure intuitions belonging to sensibility, number is a concept of the understand-
ing. But later in the Dissertation, Kant tells us that the principles of mathematics
—space, time, and number—are given intuitively “by sensitive but pure intuition”
(Ak. 2, p. 410). How can we reconcile these claims?
The answer, I suggest, lies in Kant’s claim that the use of the understanding
in sciences, “the fundamental concepts of which are given by sensitive intuition,
is only the logical use of the understanding” (Ak. 2, p. 411). This is contrasted
with the real use of the understanding, by which the fundamental concepts
and axioms of metaphysics are given by the understanding itself.
The picture that emerges is this: sensible representations are given to us in
sensible intuition. By means of the logical use of the understanding as Kant de-
scribes it in his logic lectures²—that is, by means of comparison, reflection and
abstraction—we form general or common concepts. For example, I compare a
spruce, a willow and a linden and note that they are different with respect to
the trunk, branches, leaves, etc. I then reflect on what they have in common
with respect to the trunk, branches, leaves, etc., and I abstract from “the quan-
tity, the figure, etc.” of the trunk, branches, leaves: what results is the concept of
a tree. Ultimately, as shown by the more general example of composition, we ar-
rive at more and more general concepts that may in turn be applied either to sen-
sible or to intelligible things. But as we’ve seen, different conditions govern these
two kinds of application.
In addition to these general concepts arrived at by means of the logical use
of the understanding, there are also pure concepts which “are given by the very
nature of the understanding”, “abstracted from the laws inherent in the mind”

 See, e. g., Ak. 9, p. 95; translated by J. Michael Young in Lectures on Logic, Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, 1992.
58 Emily Carson

(Ak. 2, p. 394): these include “possibility, existence, necessity, substance, cause,


etc.” together with their opposites or correlates. These concepts, Kant says,
“never enter into any sensory representations as parts” and so could not be ab-
stracted from sensory representations. They are “intellectual in the real sense”:
their real use constitutes metaphysics. They can also be applied to sensible ob-
jects in their logical use: appearances can be brought under the concepts of ex-
istence, cause, substance, etc., but they have not been “abstracted from any use
of the senses” (Ak. 2, p. 394).
So we have pure intuitions, general concepts of the understanding, and pure
concepts of the understanding. Our question now is where does the concept of
number fit into this scheme? Kant calls it a concept which belongs to the under-
standing, but it does not seem to be one of the pure concepts of the understand-
ing, because he also describes its principles as “given intuitively […] by pure in-
tuition” (Ak. 2, p. 410). We can get some idea of an answer to this question in
Section 5 of the Dissertation, where Kant sets out the ways in which his distinc-
tion between what is sensitive and what belongs to the understanding allows us
to avoid the illusions of metaphysics by ensuring that concepts of the under-
standing are not “tainted” by sensible cognition. An example of this kind of il-
lusion is where the sensible conditions “under which alone it is possible to com-
pare what is given so as to form a concept of the understanding of the object” is
taken to be “a condition of the possibility itself of the object” (Ak. 2, p. 413).
Now it turns out that the example of such a concept is the concept of quan-
tity. Since every magnitude and every series is “cognised distinctly as a result of
successive co-ordination”, the concept of a magnitude and a multiplicity “arises
only with the help of this concept of time” and can only be completed if the syn-
thesis can be achieved in a finite time. But Kant warns against the mistake of
allowing these conditions of sensibility that govern the formation of a concept
to dictate the possibility of the object itself: this would lead to the mistaken
claim that “every actual multiplicity can be given numerically, and thus every
magnitude is finite”. The mistake arises from the fact that although the concept
of time does not enter into the concept of the predicate (‘finite’, ‘given numeri-
cally’—in other words, these concepts have a more general application than just
to the sensible), and is not considered to be a characteristic mark of the subject
concept (magnitude, multiplicity), “it nonetheless serves as a means for giving
form to the concept of the predicate”, so “as a condition, it affects the concepts
formed by the understanding of the subject, for it is only with its help that we
reach the latter concept” (Ak. 2, p. 415).
Note first that Kant allows that a concept of the understanding may be
formed by comparing what is given in sensibility, i. e., by means of the logical
use of the understanding. It seems that we arrive at or form the concept of mag-
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical Model 59

nitude by means of the logical use of the understanding operating on intuited


series of coordinates or compounds of parts. Because of the limitations on our
understanding, an infinite series or totality “cannot be comprehended distinctly”
(Ak. 2, p. 415); but it is a mistake to conclude that such a series or totality is im-
possible. In other words, despite its origins in sensibility, the concept of magni-
tude we arrive at can be applied beyond the conditions of sensibility.
Kant seems here to be treating the concepts of magnitude (and the related
concept of number) as originating in sensibility, but as concepts of the under-
standing nonetheless. Time “does not enter into the concept” of magnitude or
number, although we reach these concepts “only with its help”. This is to be con-
trasted with pure concepts that arise from the nature of the understanding itself.
But despite their origin in sensibility, these concepts needn’t be limited by the
sensible conditions governing their formation.
I suggest that we should understand Kant’s claim that the concept of number
“belongs to the understanding” as a claim that it is a concept of the understand-
ing in this very general sense. The context in which Kant describes it as belong-
ing to the understanding suggests that he intends mainly to contrast it with
space and time, which are themselves pure intuitions. Recall that Kant glosses
pure intuition here as “an intuition devoid of sensation but not for that reason
deriving from the understanding” (Ak. 2, p. 397). Number is a concept belonging
to the understanding, in that it is formed by means of the logical use of the un-
derstanding. He is struggling, I think, to capture the purity of the concept of
number in order to account for the apriority of arithmetic alongside geometry
and mechanics. His description of how it requires space and time for its actual-
ization in the concrete can be reversed to explain how we come to form the idea
in the first place: it arises from our “successively adding a number of things and
setting them simultaneously side by side” (Ak. 2, p. 397). Because presumably
any spatiotemporally distinct things can be added regardless of their qualitative
difference, the concept can be thought of as, like space and time, “devoid of sen-
sation” and therefore as part of pure mathematics, the “science of sensory
things” which “explains the form of all our sensitive cognition”.
The concept of number is more general than geometrical concepts in the
sense that we can count non-spatial things, whereas the idea of a non-spatial tri-
angle does not make sense. What Kant says of time holds also of number:

[It] more nearly approaches a universal and rational concept, for it embraces in its relations
absolutely all things, namely, space itself and, in addition, the accidents which are not in-
cluded in the relations of space, such as the thoughts of the mind. (Ak. 2, p. 405)
60 Emily Carson

The concept of number is applicable beyond space, but its application requires
that we “actualise in the concrete” the things counted. We can count, for exam-
ple, the number of thoughts in my mind by running through them and drawing a
stroke for each one and “setting them [the strokes] simultaneously side by side”.
So whereas space is studied in geometry and time in pure mechanics, arithmetic
concerns, at one remove, time and space: taken together, these disciplines are
said to explain “the form of all our sensitive cognition”: pure mathematics is
“the science of sensory things”. It provides us with pure cognition of space,
time, and the relation between them, but is nonetheless sensory since “the
use of the understanding is not real, but only logical” (Ak. 2, p. 398).
Daniel Sutherland has argued forcefully that one important role for intuition
in Kant’s Critical philosophy of mathematics is that it allows cognition of homo-
geneous manifolds: that is, it makes possible the representation of numerical
diversity with qualitative identity, which is not possible by means of concepts
alone (Sutherland 2004, p. 167). As I understand it, Kant’s view in the Disserta-
tion is that sensibility is not only necessary, but together with the mere logical
use of the understanding, is sufficient for the representation of numerical diver-
sity with qualitative identity. We form the concept of number by comparing col-
lections of spatiotemporally distinct things, and abstracting from the ‘sensation’
therein, the qualitative differences among them. Kant’s conception of number
here is of a homogeneous manifold of discrete units, or, as Sutherland has put
it, a collection of pure units. As Kant sees it, arithmetic contributes to the explan-
ation of the form of all our sensitive cognition in that its subject matter is the
forms of space and time. But again, the only use of the understanding is its log-
ical use: mathematical principles are sensible. Kant says:

[…] the principles of sensitive form which are found in geometry, no matter how much the
understanding may operate upon them by reasoning according to the rules of logic from
what is sensitively given (by pure intuition), nonetheless do not cease to belong to the
class of what is sensitive […] no matter how high they ascend by abstracting, they always
remain sensitive. (Ak. 2, pp. 393–394)

Similarly, the concept of number is formed by reasoning according to the rules of


logic from what is sensitively given, from given manifolds. The concept is, how-
ever, at a higher level of abstraction than geometrical concepts in that it can be
applied to non-spatio-temporal objects. That application requires an “actualiza-
tion in the concrete” of the things counted, but the concept of number itself is
not spatiotemporal, where geometrical concepts are essentially spatial.
Notice, though, that this account of how we form the concept of number pre-
supposes that the manifolds are given in sensibility as manifolds. Now we come
to my claim that Kant’s treatment of number in the Dissertation reveals his over-
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical Model 61

investment in the principles of sensibility. This presupposition that the sensible


manifold is given as manifold is given up in the first Critique, where instead, Kant
argues that the representation of a manifold requires the synthesizing activity of
the understanding.
In moving from the Inaugural Dissertation to the Critique, Kant recognises
that our representations of spatiotemporally individuated objects cannot be
purely sensible, but require synthetic activity of the understanding. Longuenesse
has argued that mathematical thought provided Kant with a model for this syn-
thesizing activity of the understanding. On her view, the salient feature of math-
ematical thought is “its a priori generation of multiplicities, which may be repre-
sented as multiplicities of objects to be thought under concepts” (Longuenesse
1998, p. 33). I want to extend Longuenesse’s insight by offering a reading of
the mathematical model that will, I think, reveal the extent to which the concept
of number (through the category of quantity) is implicated in the representation
of objects in the Critique. I hope that this will make clear both how the Critique
corrects the overinvestment in sensibility and provides a clearer sense in which
arithmetic can be said to explain the form of all our sensitive cognition.

2 The mathematical model in the first Critique


Longuenesse’s emphasis on the generation of multiplicities as the salient feature
of mathematical thought leads her to claim that

[…] in relating number to the pure concept of quantity and the latter to the logical quantity
of judgments […] Kant thus appears strikingly close to Frege’s view that numbers are prop-
erties of concepts, namely [that they] attach to collections of individuals falling under the
same concept. (Longuenesse 2001, p. 201)

Michael Friedman has objected that this conception of number gives priority
to the discrete over the continuous, and thereby makes it difficult for Kant to ac-
count for the mathematics of continuous quantity. Instead, Friedman claims that
for Kant, the mathematics of continuous quantity is primary: “number is con-
ceived in terms of the addition of line segments with an arbitrarily chosen
unit, say, rather than in the Fregean style in terms of the extension of concepts”
(Friedman 2000, p. 206).
Longuenesse attributes Friedman’s objection to her Fregean analysis of Kant
on number to his lack of attention to the role she sees for figurative synthesis in
the Transcendental Analytic. She claims—correctly, I think—that Kant’s notion of
synthesis must be understood against the background of his reflection on the
62 Emily Carson

model provided by mathematical thought. In taking the salient feature of math-


ematical thought to be its a priori generation of multiplicities of objects to be
thought under concepts, Longuenesse is led to the view that for Kant “forming
the concept of number depends on constituting sets of objects thought under
the same concept” (Longuenesse 1998, p. 257). But I want to bring to the fore
the second sense described by Longuenesse herself in which mathematical
thought provides a model for the notion of synthesis. This second sense,
I think we’ll see, supports Friedman’s claim for the primacy of the continuous
over the discrete, and makes clearer the role of the category of quantity in our
cognition of homogeneous manifolds as described by Sutherland. It will also
have implications for the concept of number different from those emphasized
by Longuenesse.
Longuenesse emphasizes the relation between Kant’s notion of synthesis
and what she calls the mathematical model of thinking. In the famous letter
to Herz in which he announces the problem of relating pure concepts of the
understanding to given objects, Kant tells us that it’s not hard to see how
such a relation can be effected in the case of mathematical concepts. The prob-
lem is to explain how the understanding can form a priori concepts of things
with which “the facts must necessarily agree” (Ak. 10, p. 131).³ This is possible
for mathematical objects, he says, because we generate objects for mathematical
concepts in pure a priori sensible intuition. This insight into mathematical
thought, Longuenesse argues, informs Kant’s notion of synthesis in the Critique
of Pure Reason: by recognising the mathematical model, we can understand bet-
ter the notion of a priori synthesis that establishes the relation of a priori con-
cepts to empirical objects.
The question I want to turn to now is how precisely to understand that
model and the way in which Kant appropriates it to explain the notion of synthe-
sis. On Longuenesse’s view, as we’ve seen, the essential feature of the mathemat-
ical model is its generation of multiplicities of objects to be thought under con-
cepts. But she recognises that there is another way to read Kant’s use of the
mathematical model that leads (or so I’ll claim) to a different role for synthesis
and the concept of number. I’ll first present Kant’s discussion of the three-fold
synthesis in the A-edition of the Critique, and then I’ll briefly consider the two
alternative readings of it.⁴

 Translated by Arnulf Zweig in Correspondence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.


 This account of synthesis is elaborated in Carson (forthcoming).
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical Model 63

(a) The mathematical model in the A-edition

Kant’s use of the mathematical model first comes to the fore in the A-edition
of the Deduction, where he tells us that a three-fold synthesis makes possible
“all experience as an empirical product of understanding” (A 97–98).⁵ I’ll first
characterise this synthesis briefly; I’ll elaborate further below. According to
Kant, through sensibility, we passively receive an undifferentiated manifold of
representations. To represent it as a manifold, we must actively differentiate its
parts. This requires that we successively “run through” the manifold. Kant
calls this action the synthesis of apprehension. But this apprehension of the
manifold on its own doesn’t give us a “connection of impressions” unless we
can call back a preceding perception from which the mind has passed on and
adjoin it to the succeeding perceptions, so this synthesis is “inseparably com-
bined” with a synthesis of reproduction. Only in this way is it possible for us
to “exhibit entire series of perceptions”. Finally, the synthesis of recognition in
a concept unifies this successively intuited series into one representation. This
three-fold synthesis makes possible experience “as an empirical product of un-
derstanding” (A 98).
For example, to represent a house, I must distinguish the elements of the
manifold given in intuition—e. g., the windows, door, roof, chimney. This process
takes time, so I must also reproduce the previous elements as I proceed, and
then bring all the elements together under the concept ‘house’. But, Kant goes
on, this synthesis “must also be exercised a priori” on non-empirical representa-
tions, the pure intuitions of space and time, because otherwise we would not
have a priori representations of space and time. The thought is that the represen-
tation of particular spaces and times also requires a synthesis. This synthesis is a
priori because the manifold of space and time is given a priori. Kant illustrates
this pure synthesis—the transcendental synthesis of imagination—with the ex-
amples of lines, durations, and numbers:

Now it is obvious that if I draw a line in thought, or think of the time from one noon to the
next, or even want to represent to myself a certain number, I must necessarily first grasp
one of these manifold representations after another in my thoughts. (A 102)

This would be the synthesis of apprehension whereby I run through the manifold
distinguishing the parts.

 Unless otherwise indicated, translations of this work are from Critique of Pure Reason, Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
64 Emily Carson

But if I were always to lose the preceding representations (the first parts of the line, the pre-
ceding parts of time, or the successively represented units) from my thoughts, and not re-
produce them when I proceed to the following ones, then no whole representation […] not
even the purest and most fundamental representations of space and time, could ever arise.
(A 102)

The representations of lines, durations and number require that ‘units’ of time
or space—the first parts of a line, the preceding parts of time, the successively
represented units—are differentiated by the synthesis of apprehension. In
order for the manifold to be represented as a multiplicity or manifold, these
units must also be reproduced. This is still not enough, though: all this reproduc-
tion would be pointless “without consciousness that that which we think is the
same as what we thought a moment before”. This consciousness unifies the
manifold that has been successively intuited and reproduced into one represen-
tation: this is the synthesis of recognition under a concept.
To illustrate what he has in mind by the synthesis of recognition, Kant offers
a particularly salient example:

If, in counting, I forget that the units that now hover before my senses were successively
added to each other by me, then I would not cognise the generation of the multitude
through this successive addition of one to the other, and consequently I would not cognise
the number; for this concept consists solely in the consciousness of this unity of the syn-
thesis. (A 103)

In counting, we distinguish units in time, reproducing the previous units as we


proceed, and combine them into a whole—into one representation. This amounts
to bringing them under the concept of number.
So for the A-edition Kant, the processes of counting and of drawing lines
serve as models for the three-fold synthesis which makes experience possible:
as Longuenesse puts it, “Kant uses the example of the synthesis of a mathemat-
ical representation as a model to present the capacity for mentally constituting
a distinct manifold of elements” (Longuenesse 1998, p. 42). The question now
is how more specifically to understand the extension of the mathematical
model to experience: what are the elements of the manifold in the empirical
case? What is the ‘empirical product’ that the three-fold synthesis makes possi-
ble? And is it just a model?
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical Model 65

(b) Two readings of the mathematical model

Longuenesse describes two ways in which these mathematical examples are


used by Kant to illustrate “the conditions of the intuition of a whole as the
unity of a manifold”. On one reading of the mathematical model, the line, the du-
ration, and the number are analogues for any singular intuition. This reading is
suggested by Kant’s illustration of the synthesis of reproduction with the exam-
ple of cinnabar:

[…] if I were always to drop out of thought each of the impressions making up the appre-
hension of a piece of cinnabar […], I would never form the sensible intuition of a conjunc-
tion of impressions—that is, of the unity of a spatial manifold with its various sensory de-
terminations. (Longuenesse 1998, p. 41)

This suggests that the elements synthesized are the various sensory determina-
tions: the colour, smell, texture etc.; the empirical product is a unified represen-
tation of a spatial object, a particular empirical intuition.
On the other reading, the mathematical examples are analogues for the rep-
resentation of a whole of experience. The analogues to the parts of a line, parts of
time, and successively synthesized units are already particular empirical intu-
itions like that of a piece of cinnabar, which are brought together to constitute
a whole of experience: that is, a world of causally related empirical objects.
Of course, the two readings are compatible: the synthesis involved in consti-
tuting a particular empirical intuition and the synthesis involved in constituting
a whole of experience out of such particular intuitions are both modelled by a
mathematical synthesis. Longuenesse acknowledges this in considering Kant’s
example of a piece of cinnabar: without the synthesis involved in constituting
a particular intuition, I could never form the representation of the conjunctions
of impressions, but “even less” could I form the representation of “any repetition
of these conjunctions” (Longuenesse 1998, p. 41), which I must do if there is to be
any Humean association of appearances in experience.
The first reading uses the mathematical model to explain the representation
of an instance of cinnabar as a unified spatial object, the second reading uses it
to explain the regularity of our repeated perceptions of cinnabar. As Longue-
nesse puts it, “either the singular empirical intuition is itself considered as a
whole in which the manifold must be apprehended”, or “the particular empirical
intuition is a unit that may be reproduced in prospect of the constitution of a
whole of experience […] that is a condition for the reproduction of the particular
intuitions” (Longuenesse 1998, p. 43). Again, she acknowledges a role for synthe-
sis both in generating the individual empirical intuition of a piece of cinnabar,
66 Emily Carson

and in generating a whole of experience including a succession of representa-


tions of cinnabar. However, in her analysis of the categories of quantity, Longue-
nesse privileges the latter role for synthesis; this, I want to suggest, is what leads
to the Fregean conception of number.
Laywine also emphasizes the second role for synthesis in explaining how
in the first Critique Kant corrects his earlier overinvestment in the principles of
sensibility. She focuses on the cosmological question of “what conditions are
sufficient for us to represent appearances as belonging to one and the same sen-
sible world?” The answer in the Inaugural Dissertation, she says, “depended en-
tirely on [Kant’s] new story about the pure intuitions of space and time” (Lay-
wine 2003, p. 445): therein lies the overinvestment. Laywine shows that in the
Duisburg Nachlass from the mid-1770s, Kant denied that the pure intuitions of
space and time could serve as sufficient conditions of the sensible world, and
argued instead that the understanding was required to represent appearances
as belonging to one and the same sensible world.
I want to suggest that taking the first reading of the mathematical model—
and therefore the associated role for synthesis—as fundamental captures
Kant’s conception of number better, and in fact, I think we’ll see that the math-
ematical model is more than just a model.

(c) Synthesis, quantity and number

As Longuenesse argues, the category of quantity plays a fundamental or “primor-


dial” role in the constitution of experience for Kant. Her analysis begins with the
logical forms of judgement corresponding to the categories of quantity: univer-
sal, particular, singular. The basic thought is that judgements of quantity like
‘Some bodies are heavy’ or ‘All trees in the garden bear fruit’ require that we
be able to run through the elements thought under the subject-concept (‘body’
or ‘tree in the garden’) and compare them with respect to the predicate-concept
(‘heavy’, ‘bear fruit’). To do this, I have to generate a manifold of elements
thought under the same concept—‘bodies’, ‘trees in the garden’. In this way,
judgements of quantity require a “faculty of constituting the extensions of con-
cepts” (Longuenesse 1998, p. 255). The categories of quantity are “pure concepts
of just those syntheses necessary so that particulars are subsumed under con-
cepts in singular, particular, and universal judgements” (Longuenesse 2000,
p. 200). So the basic cognitive ability that Longuenesse emphasizes is the ability
to constitute extensions for concepts in order to make universal, particular and
singular judgements.
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical Model 67

In Kantian terms, Longuenesse’s claim is that when we make such judge-


ments, we must synthesize a manifold of homogeneous elements and gather to-
gether the successive addition of the homogeneous units. Now the representa-
tion of this successive addition, or gathering together, of homogeneous units is
just what Kant calls the schematism of the category of quantity, or number.
This is how Longuenesse arrives at a Fregean conception of number: number
“is the schema of quantity in that it is a rule of synthesis we are able to produce
by virtue of our faculty of constituting the extensions of concepts when generat-
ing judgments determined with respect to the logical form of quantity” (Longue-
nesse 1998, p. 255). Because for Kant “forming the concept of number depends
on constituting sets of objects thought under the same concept” (Longuenesse
1998, p. 257), Kant’s view “appears strikingly close to Frege’s view that numbers
are properties of concepts, namely [that they] attach to collections of individuals
falling under the same concept” (Longuenesse 2001, p. 201).
Although as we’ve seen, Longuenesse acknowledges two interpretations of
the mathematical model of synthesis, her identification of the fundamental ca-
pacity as the faculty of constituting the extensions of concepts clearly privileges
the one model over the other. Because for Longuenesse the “primordial” role of
the category of quantity is explained in terms of the generation of extensions of
concepts for judgements, it takes for granted that there are individuals to be
brought under concepts. This is essential to her account of the genesis of the cat-
egories, their “original acquisition”:

[…] the category of quantity is originally acquired insofar as the power of judgement, re-
flecting on the sensible given in order to subordinate representations to empirical concepts
combined in judgements, generates the schema of quantity—that is, a successive synthesis
of homogeneous elements (where ‘homogeneous’ means ‘reflected under the same con-
cept’). (Longuenesse 1998, p. 252)

In my view, however, the most fundamental role for the synthesis according to
the category of quantity is precisely in first generating the individual intuitions
which in turn constitute the extensions of concepts. This difference may not
sound significant, but (a) I want to suggest that in this case the mathematical
model is more than just a model; and (b) the two readings rest on different read-
ings of Kant’s notion of homogeneity and consequently (as we’ll see) have differ-
ent implications for his conception of number.
68 Emily Carson

(d) The mathematical model in the B-edition

To see this, let’s turn to the use of the mathematical model in the B-edition of
the Transcendental Deduction, where the three-fold synthesis is replaced by a
figurative synthesis which makes possible any determinate intuition. Kant claims
that we can “perceive this in ourselves” in the following way:

We cannot think a line without drawing it in thought, we cannot think of a circle without
describing it, […] we cannot even represent time, without, in drawing a straight line […],
attending merely to the action of the synthesis of the manifold. (B 154)

The claim seems to be that to have determinate representations of particular


spaces and times requires a figurative synthesis as described by the pure version
of the three-fold synthesis in the A-edition. But—and here is the key step of the
transcendental deduction—empirical objects occupy spaces and times, so that
the representation of empirical objects in space involves the determination of
the spaces they occupy by means of a figurative synthesis:

Thus if, e. g., I make the empirical intuition of a house into perception through apprehen-
sion of its manifold, my ground is the necessary unity of space and of outer sensible intu-
ition in general, and I as it were draw its shape in agreement with this synthetic unity of the
manifold in space. This very same synthetic unity, however, if I abstract from the form of
space, has its seat in the understanding, and is the category of the synthesis of the homo-
geneous in an intuition in general, i. e., the category of quantity […]. (B 162)

Kant has argued that for the perception of a house to arise out of the reception of
an empirical manifold, that manifold must be combined in a certain way. The
combination of the empirical manifold presupposes a combination of the pure
manifold of space in which the empirical manifold is given. But that pure spatial
manifold is homogeneous, so its synthesis is a synthesis of the homogeneous in
an intuition. But, according to Kant, this just is the category of quantity.
Recall now that for Longuenesse, the fundamental synthesis of the homoge-
neous manifold in intuition, insofar as it is related to the concept of number, is to
be understood primarily as the gathering together of objects falling under the
same concept—the constitution of the extension of a concept—Kant’s example
of a house indicates that the fundamental synthesis is, in the first instance,
the composition of homogeneous spaces. This brings us back to the stricter no-
tion of homogeneity which Sutherland has attributed to Kant: the homogeneity
at issue here is not mere logical homogeneity—falling under the same concept—
but strict homogeneity, where a manifold is strictly homogeneous if it consists of
qualitatively identical parts. For example, the parts of space are numerically dis-
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical Model 69

tinct, but qualitatively identical, so a spatial manifold is strictly homogeneous.


Sutherland has argued that Kant recognised that intuition is necessary for the
representation of strict homogeneity. But the considerations I’ve adduced sug-
gest that the Critical Kant also recognised that intuition on its own is not suffi-
cient for the representation of strict homogeneity (as he seemed to think it
was in the Inaugural Dissertation). Something more is needed than intuition
and the merely logical use of the understanding; that ‘something more’ is the fig-
urative synthesis in accordance with the category of quantity.
Contrary to Longuenesse’s claim that the quantitative examples that Kant of-
fers to illustrate the figurative synthesis have a merely “introductory and prop-
aedeutic role” (Longuenesse 1998, p. 43), it seems that the quantitative examples
are examples of the very mathematical synthesis underlying the generation of
objects of experience.⁶ This is one of the main results of the Axioms of Intuition
section of the Critique where Kant spells out the synthetic principles that follow
from the application of the category of quantity to possible experience. Kant
claims that these axioms taught us how the intuition in appearances can “be
generated in accordance with the rules of a mathematical synthesis” (A 178/
B 221). The argument here is again that because all appearances are in space
and time, they can only be apprehended through the synthesis of the manifold
through which the space or time they occupy is generated; because space and
time are homogeneous manifolds, the determination of spaces or times requires
a composition of a homogeneous manifold and consciousness of the synthetic
unity of this homogeneous manifold; but that, according to Kant, just is the con-
cept of a magnitude (B 203). It follows that all appearances in space and time are
magnitudes, and more specifically, extensive magnitudes in which the represen-
tation of the parts makes possible the representation of the whole (B 203). Again,
the examples are lines and times, and Kant goes on to describe this synthesis of
the productive imagination as generating shapes (B 204).
This description of the role of the category of quantity in generating appear-
ances by means of the composition of a homogeneous manifold seems quite far
removed from Longuenesse’s description of constituting the extensions of con-
cepts. This is even more evident in the Discipline of Pure Reason towards the
end of the first Critique, where Kant introduces the notion of construction in

 This, I take it, is how Thompson understands Kant’s example of a house: “when the object is a
construction in pure intuition it is apprehended solely through a mathematical synthesis, but
when the object is given in empirical intuition both a mathematical and a dynamical synthesis
are necessary for its apprehension. […] there is the fundamental difference that while in geom-
etry the construction itself is the object I apprehend, in the case of a house, the construction is
only the outline of the object I apprehend” (Thompson 1989, p. 175).
70 Emily Carson

pure intuition. He explains the possibility of mathematics as an a priori science


by the fact that only a concept of quantity “contains a pure intuition in itself”,
which allows it to be constructed (A 719/B 747). Because the forms of space and
time provide us with a homogeneous manifold in a priori intuition, we can de-
termine that manifold a priori, for we create the objects themselves in space
and time through homogeneous synthesis, considering them merely as quanta”
(A 723/B 751). This is what Kant calls construction in pure intuition, which is the
distinguishing feature of mathematics, and it is what he has in mind in his letter
to Herz when he says that we can have a priori cognition in mathematics because
we generate objects for mathematical concepts in pure a priori sensible intuition.
When Kant explains this notion of construction in the Discipline of Pure
Reason, geometrical construction is primary. In order to illustrate the important
role of construction, Kant begins with the demonstration of the angle-sum the-
orem (A 716/B 744); he then adds that “mathematics does not merely construct
magnitudes (quanta), as in geometry, but also mere magnitude (quantitatem), as
in algebra”. Quanta, for Kant, are “magnitudes as such”, or “concrete magni-
tudes”, as Sutherland (2004, p. 158) has put it; quantitas is “the answer to the
question ‘how big is something?’”(B 204): it is the size of a quantum.
Now recall that the representation of empirical objects in space involves the
determination of the spaces they occupy by means of a figurative synthesis. The
mathematical construction in pure intuition exhibits this pure figurative synthe-
sis underlying the generation of the spatio-temporal form of objects. Mathemat-
ical construction provides us with what we might call mathematical objects that
exhibit the formal features of empirical objects arising from the forms of intu-
ition and the category of quantity alone. Parsons has called these “quasi-con-
crete objects”.⁷ I have referred to them elsewhere as minimally concrete objects.⁸
Construction in pure intuition, either in geometry or arithmetic, then expresses
in a rigorous way the pure form of constituting objects—not extensions—accord-
ing to the category of quantity alone.
Indeed, Kant summarizes the concern of mathematics as “to determine an
intuition a priori in space (shape), to divide time (duration), or merely to cognise
the universal in the synthesis of one and the same thing in time and space, and
the magnitude of an intuition in general (number) which arises from that”
(A 724/B 752). As I’ve suggested elsewhere, Kant seems to take arithmetic to
give us cognition of “the universal in the synthesis of one and the same thing

 Parsons (1979–1980), p. 149.


 Carson (forthcoming).
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical Model 71

in time and space”, that is, the figurative synthesis.⁹ So while this agrees nom-
inally with Longuenesse’s claim that number, for Kant, is the representation of
the procedure for composing a homogeneous multiplicity into a whole, I think
the most basic instance of this procedure is in generating the determinate spaces
and times occupied by objects of empirical intuition, not in generating exten-
sions for concepts. The difference between these two readings of the claim lies
in the different notions of homogeneity to which they appeal. Longuenesse’s
reading is driven by her adherence to the logical notion of homogeneity as
“thought under the same concept”. My reading, however, emphasizes Suther-
land’s notion of strict homogeneity. The generation of those determinate spaces
and times occupied by objects requires the composition of a strictly homogene-
ous multiplicity into a whole and it is that procedure which, in turn, number rep-
resents.¹⁰ The concept of number thus represents the most fundamental cogni-
tive activity underlying the constitution of geometrical ‘objects’ and thereby
objects of perception. This is quite a different activity from generating extensions
for concepts. Consequently, Kant’s conception of number no longer seems quite
so close to the Fregean conception.
With Friedman, then, I think Longuenesse’s treatment of the mathematical
model, by emphasizing its role in generating extensions for concepts, under-
states the role of the categories in “structur[ing] the form of our experience of
nature prior to all inductive generalization and empirical concept formation”.¹¹
It is precisely this role for the categories that, in the first Critique, corrects
Kant’s earlier overinvestment in the principles of sensibility.

Conclusion
We began by considering the changes noted by Parsons in Kant’s conception of
number. I claimed that those changes reflect fundamental changes in the way
Kant conceives of the role of the understanding in constituting experience. In
the Inaugural Dissertation, Kant seems to take the concept of number to be ab-

 Carson (forthcoming).
 For a more detailed account of the relation between number and the mathematical synthe-
sis, see Sutherland (2004) and, especially, (2006, p. 542) where he argues that “Kant’s synthesis
of composition corresponds to the special composition of which homogeneous magnitudes and
only homogeneous magnitudes are capable, and it is the representation of this composition in
intuition that is required in arithmetic as well as the generation of continuous magnitudes”.
 This is not to say, of course, that Friedman would endorse the account of that role for the
categories presented here!
72 Emily Carson

stracted from discrete collections of things given in sensibility, but nonetheless


to belong to the understanding. By the time of the Critique, Kant recognises
that sensibility alone is not sufficient for our experience of spatiotemporally in-
dividuated objects, but requires in addition the synthetic activity of the under-
standing. This synthetic activity is, as Longuenesse has pointed out, modelled
by mathematical thought. I suggested, however, that the mathematical model
of synthesis is more than just a model; rather, the synthesis involved in mathe-
matical cognition is the very same synthesis that underlies the generation of ob-
jects of experience. The concept of number, as the schema of the category of
quantity, is in this way a condition of the possibility of experience.¹²

References
Ak. | Kant, Immanuel (1900 ff.): Gesammelte Schriften. Königlich Preußische Akademie der
Wissenschaften (ed.). 29 vols. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Carson, Emily (forthcoming): “Arithmetic and the conditions of possible experience”. In:
Rechter, Ofra; Posy, Carl (eds.): Kant’s Philosophy of Mathematics, Volume 1. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Friedman, Michael (2000): “Logical form and the order of nature”. In: Archiv für Geschichte
der Philosophie 82, No. 2, pp. 202–215.
Kant, Immanuel (1992): Lectures on Logic. Young, J. Michael (trans., ed.). Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Kant, Immanuel (1992): Theoretical Philosophy 1755–1770. Walford, David; Meerbote, Ralf
(trans., eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kant, Immanuel (1998): Critique of Pure Reason. Guyer, Paul; Wood, Allen (trans.).
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kant, Immanuel (1999): Correspondence. Zweig, Arnulf (trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Laywine, Alison (2003): “Kant on sensibility and the understanding in the 1770s”. In:
Canadian Journal of Philosophy 33, No. 4, pp. 443–482.
Longuenesse, Béatrice (1998): Kant and the capacity to judge. Princeton and Oxford:
Princeton University Press.
Longuenesse, Béatrice (2001): “Synthesis, Logical Forms, and the Objects of our Ordinary
Experience: Response to Michael Friedman”. In: Archiv für Geschichte der
Philosophie 83, No. 2, pp. 199–212.
Parsons, Charles (1979–1980): “Mathematical Intuition”. In: Proceedings of the Aristotelian
Society New Series 80, pp. 145–168.

 I’m grateful for discussion of earlier drafts of this paper to Charles Parsons, Sally Sedgwick,
and Daniel Sutherland, as well as to audiences at the University of Chicago and at the confer-
ence on the work of Charles Parsons held in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in 2013. I’d also like to
thank the editors of this volume for their very helpful comments and their patience.
Synthesis, Number and the Mathematical Model 73

Parsons, Charles (1984): “Arithmetic and the Categories”. In: Topoi 3, No. 2, pp. 109–121.
Sutherland, Daniel (2004): “Kant’s Philosophy of Mathematics and the Greek Mathematical
Tradition”. In: The Philosophical Review 113, No. 2, pp. 157–201.
Sutherland, Daniel (2006): “Kant on arithmetic, algebra, and the theory of proportions”. In:
Journal of the History of Philosophy 44, No. 4, pp. 533–558.
Thompson, Manley (1989): “Unity, Plurality, and Totality as Kantian Categories”. In: The
Monist 72, No. 2, pp. 168–189.
Clinton Tolley
The Relation between Ontology
and Logic in Kant
Abstract. It is shown in this paper how reflection on the views of Kant’s predeces-
sors on the relation between ontology (the science of being in general) and logic
(the science of the intellect or understanding in general) can help illuminate
Kant’s own “Critical” reconception of the relationship between ontology and
logic. The paper begins by focusing especially on the question of what sort of on-
tological cognition is involved in Kant’s new “transcendental” logic, understood as
the science of “concepts of objects in general”. The paper concludes with a sketch
of how Kant’s account of intuitive understanding sets the stage for Hegel’s more
speculative conception of logic.

In diesem Aufsatz wird gezeigt, wie die Betrachtung der Meinungen von Kants
Vorgängern über das Verhältnis zwischen Ontologie (der Wissenschaft vom Sein
überhaupt) und Logik (der Wissenschaft von Verstand überhaupt) dazu beitragen
kann, Kants eigene „Kritische“ Konzeption der Beziehung zwischen Ontologie und
Logik zu erhellen. Der Fokus richtet sich besonders auf die Frage, welche Art
ontologischer Erkenntnis bei Kants neuer „transzendentaler“ Logik, verstanden als
Wissenschaft von „Konzepten von Objekten überhaupt“, gemeint ist. Abschließend
wird skizziert, wie Kants Betrachtung von intuitivem Verstand die Voraussetzung für
Hegels spekulativere Konzeption von Logik schafft.

§ 1 From ontology to logic and back again?


Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in re-contextualizing Kant’s ide-
alism within the tradition of early modern German metaphysics, in order to bet-
ter understand the metaphysical commitments and presuppositions of transcen-
dental idealism itself.¹ Here I aim to contribute to this project, by exploring how
reflection on the views of Kant’s predecessors on the relation between ontology,
as the science of being in general (as metaphysica generalis), and logic, as the
science of the intellect or understanding in general, can help us better under-

 Compare Ameriks 2000, Watkins 2005, Jauernig 2008, Boehm 2013, Dyck 2014, Stang 2016,
and the essays in Stang and Schafer forthcoming. For earlier attempts at this sort of recontextu-
alization, see Pichler 1910, Heimsoeth 1924, and Beck 1969.

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-004
76 Clinton Tolley

stand Kant’s own “Critical” reconception of the relationship between ontology


and logic – especially in light of Kant’s broadening of logic to include what
he calls “transcendental” logic, understood as the science of “concepts of ob-
jects in general”. I will also outline how threads in Kant’s own claims about
logic and ontology threaten to push beyond their own official limits, and in
part anticipate, or at least motivate, the more speculative and ostensibly more
metaphysical conception of logic that follows in Kant’s wake.
In § 2 I show, first, that Kant accepts the early modern thought that logic is in
some sense subordinate to ontology, because logic is only about one specific
kind of being (i. e., our understanding), whereas ontology is about being “in gen-
eral”. This is so, despite the fact that Kant also means to recharacterize the tradi-
tional logic as a specifically “formal” discipline, in the sense of focusing only on
the forms of acts of understanding. In § 3 I introduce Kant’s revolutionary thesis
that a new “transcendental” logic must be developed out of the traditional logic,
and that this new logic itself will be the science of “concepts of objects in gen-
eral” (B 125), in order to begin to clarify how and why he thinks that transcen-
dental logic can and should ultimately serve as a replacement for the traditional
ontology (cf. B 303). As I argue in § 4, however, it becomes less clear exactly how
transcendental logic is supposed to differ from the traditional ontology, insofar
as Kant seems to allow that, like ontology, transcendental logic and its principles
can be used to establish conclusions, not merely about our concepts of objects,
but rather about all possible objects of our understanding “in general”.
In § 5 I turn to the difficult task of showing how the foregoing is supposed to
cohere with Kant’s “Critical” insistence that, for the (theoretical) cognition of an
object, the mind must have a sensible intuition of that object, and the cognition
of the object must go by way of a consciousness of this intuition (cf. B 75–76). For
one thing, this view of cognition would seem to speak against the possibility of
the kind of unrestrictedly universal “object-theoretical” cognition floated in § 4,
and speak for a restriction of transcendental-logical cognition (and hence the
“Critical” ontology) to objects of possible intuition. More problematically, this re-
striction also seems to speak against the very possibility of the kind of cognition
presupposed in the traditional logic in the first place – i. e., cognition, not merely
of the concept of understanding, nor merely of how the understanding appears
in (inner) intuition, but rather cognition of the understanding itself and its acts.
Moreover, this cognition of the understanding itself is to be done by the under-
standing alone, as “self-cognition”, which would seem to bypass intuition alto-
gether.
I conclude in § 6 by introducing a still further difficulty, one that points for-
ward to the subsequent reconception of logic as metaphysics, by the post-Kant-
ian idealists. This is Kant’s acceptance of the conceivability of, and in fact, belief
The Relation between Ontology and Logic in Kant 77

in the existence of, a species of understanding different from our own – more
specifically, one which would cognize “things as they are in themselves” and
yet would do so by an act whose form and content both are of a fundamentally
different kind than our own acts of understanding. This possibility introduces a
gap between how we can think or even cognize things (through concepts), and
how this understanding would cognize things (without concepts), and would
therefore seem to place all of the findings of the logic of our specifically discur-
sive intellect (whether traditional or transcendental) on the opposite side from
the things themselves. Even more problematically – at least from the point of
view of self-consistency, as Hegel in particular would later emphasize – this
very awareness of such a restrictedness of our own understanding (and hence
of the domain of both the traditional and transcendental logic) would seem to
be itself something achieved by our own understanding.

§ 2 The subordination of the traditional logic


to ontology in Baumgarten and Kant
In Baumgarten’s Metaphysica, the textbook Kant used for his own metaphysics
lectures, ontology is described as a distinguished component part of metaphy-
sics. Metaphysics itself, for Baumgarten, is “the science of the first principles
of human cognition” (Baumgarten 1779, § 1). Metaphysics divides into two
parts: first, it has a universal component (metaphysica universalis), which is
identified with “ontology”, and is “the basic science [die Grund-Wissenschaft]”
and “first philosophy [philosophia prima]”, and which consists in “the science
of the most general predicates of entities” (Baumgarten 1779, § 4). Second, meta-
physics contains a part which focuses instead on particular “species” of entities
(what Kant himself refers in his notes on metaphysics as “metaphysica specialis”:
Ak. 18, pp. 11, 284), such as necessary being, spiritual being, etc.
Baumgarten’s Acroasis Logica gives the following succinct picture of where
logic fits into this general taxonomy of metaphysics:
Philosophy, as it is pursued among humans, considers being:

I. in general, ontologia [Grund-Wissenschaft] (metaphysica strictus);


II. according to the species,
. necessary being, theologia naturalis;
. contingent being,
a. in general, cosmologia;
b. according to the species, in this world,
α. bodily […]
78 Clinton Tolley

β. spiritual,
i. in general, pneumatica [Geisterlehre],
ii. according to the species, human soul
) generally, psychologia [Seelenlehre oder Seelenwissenschaft],
) specifically, as to the
A) cognitive,
a) lower faculty, aesthetica [Wissenschaft vom Schoenen],
b) higher faculty, logica [Vernunftlehre];
B) appetitive, practica […]. (Baumgarten , § )

Note, first, that logic is explicitly placed on the side of philosophy (metaphysics)
which considers being “according to species” rather than “in general”. Secondly,
logic is subordinate to a whole series of other “specific” disciplines, as it is fo-
cused on a very particular species of being: one that is contingent, worldly, spi-
ritual, and human. In fact, logic doesn’t even consider this species of being “in
general”, but rather considers it only as to one of its two specifically cognitive
faculties: its faculty or capacity for “reason” – or, as Baumgarten also describes
it later in the Acroasis, “the intellect” (cf. Baumgarten 1773, § 41; cf. § 42).
For this reason, Baumgarten claims that the “first principles” of logic (along
with aesthetic) are “contained in psychology”, whose principles are in turn con-
tained in general “metaphysics”, or ontology (Baumgarten 1779, §§ 501–502). In
order to know what it is to be an intellect, one needs to know what it is to be a
cognitive, psychological, spiritual, contingent capacity more generally, and what
it is simply to be at all.
Now, Kant’s readers would not fail to hear echoes of Baumgarten’s taxonomy
in the first Critique’s own characterization of logic:

If we want to call the receptivity of our mind to receive representations, insofar as it is af-
fected in some way, sensibility, then by contrast the capacity to bring forth representations
from itself, or the spontaneity of cognition, is called understanding [Verstand]. […] Hence
we distinguish the science of the rules of sensibility in general, i. e., aesthetic, from the sci-
ence of the rules of understanding in general, i. e., logic. (B 75–76)

Indeed, similar definitions are given throughout Kant’s lectures on logic and
metaphysics.² For Kant as for Baumgarten, then, the subject-matter of logic is

 Cf. Ak. 9, p. 13; Ak. 24, p. 693; Ak. 29, p. 755. Throughout I will cite Kant’s works according to
the Akademie-Ausgabe volume number and pagination (cf. Kant 1900–), with the exception of
the first Critique, which I will cite according to the B-edition pagination, save for places
where the passage is only to be found in the A-edition. All translations throughout are my
own, though I have consulted (and often followed) the Cambridge Edition translations when
available (cf. Kant 1992).
The Relation between Ontology and Logic in Kant 79

thus a specific faculty (“capacity [Vermögen]”) that a specific kind of being (a


human mind) possesses: our understanding (“intellect”).³ Hence, even in its
most “universal [allgemeine]” form, logic provides those “absolutely necessary
rules […] without which no use of the understanding takes place [stattfindet]”
(B 76; my ital.).
Kant also follows the tradition in seeing the understanding as a capacity
whose activity is most generically characterized as “thinking [Denken]” (B 75),
and in viewing thinking as coming in various kinds, kinds that are traditionally
organized under four main headings: conceiving, judging, inferring (reasoning),
and constructing a science (cf. Ak. 9, pp. 91, 101, 114, and 139).⁴ Even so, as has
often been noted, Kant argues for a recentering of this fourfold division by taking
judging to have priority as the paradigmatic kind of activity of understanding.⁵
Logic will therefore be occupied first of all with the identification of the most
basic kinds of judging – a task Kant thinks has already been accomplished by
the “common [gemeine] logic” of his day: it has been able to “fully and system-
atically enumerate” the “simple acts [einfache Handlungen]” of understanding (A
xiv), such that “the already finished work of the logicians put [him] in a position
to present a complete table” of these acts, albeit now ordered around their rela-
tion to judging in particular (Ak. 4, pp. 323–324).
Along with the identification of its basic kinds of activity, logic will also have
the task of setting out the laws or rules that govern the acts of understanding. In
Kant’s view, the most “elementary logic [Elementarlogik]” will present those laws
or rules that constitute the activity of understanding as such, i. e., the laws or
rules the following of which is unconditionally or categorically necessary for
something to be an act of understanding in the first place, or a “use [Gebrauch]”
of this capacity at all. That is, it will contain “the absolutely necessary rules of
thinking, without which no use of the understanding takes place” (B 76, my
ital.; compare Ak. 9, p. 12, Ak. 24, p. 792).
Now, because we can think about (“direct [richten]” ourselves in thought to-
ward) many different kinds of things, a truly elementary logic must consider our
use of understanding in thinking “without regard to the difference of the objects

 Kant emphasizes, in a way that Baumgarten does not, that our mental capacity for under-
standing can be investigated “purely”, and concludes that a pure logic therefore cannot draw
any specifically “empirical principles” from psychology (B 78; my ital.). But this does not change
the fact that, for Kant as for Baumgarten, the ultimate subject-matter of logic (the understand-
ing) remains something “psychological” in the broad sense of being a capacity of a mind pos-
sessed by a soul.
 Compare Arnauld and Nicole’s 1662 Logique ou l’art de penser (the “Port-Royal” Logic).
 Compare B 94; Ak. 4, p. 323; B 89; see Longuenesse 1998, pp. 58 – 106.
80 Clinton Tolley

to which it may be directed” (B 76; compare again Ak. 9, p. 12, Ak. 24, p. 792). This
will allow the elementary component of the “common [gemeine]” logic to consti-
tute a genuinely “general or universal [allgemeine]” logic, by presenting only
what pertains to all acts of understanding whatsoever (B 76). Yet as should al-
ready be evident, Kant takes this “universality” to range over only a very partic-
ular domain – namely, the domain of acts of understanding or thinking.
What is more, a second key feature of traditional elementary logic makes its
domain even more restricted: its formality. As we have just seen, the traditional
logic abstracts from the differences in kinds of objects toward which thinking
can be directed, in order to consider only what is common to the basic kinds
of acts of understanding, regardless of their objects. Now, the “relation [Bezie-
hung]” that a cognition bears to its object is what Kant calls the “content [Inhalt]”
of the cognition (B 79; my ital.; cf. B 83). Hence, when the traditional logic “ab-
stracts from the differences of the objects” to which our understanding can be
related, it thereby “abstracts from all content of the cognition of understanding”,
which Kant takes to imply that it “has only to do with the mere form of thinking”
(B 78; cf. B 79, Ak. 24, p. 791, Ak. 9, pp. 12–13). In this respect, the common ele-
mentary logic is a “merely formal logic” (B 170; my ital.; cf. Ak. 24, pp. 695, 699,
814).
Finally by “abstracting from all objects of cognition and all the distinctions
between them”, the traditional, merely formal, logic has attained a standpoint in
which “the understanding has to do with nothing further than itself” (B ix; my
ital.). In this, logic itself contrasts sharply with other sciences – including meta-
physics and ontology as it is traditionally understood – where our understanding
“does not have to do merely with itself, but has to deal with objects as well” (ibid.;
my ital.; cf. Ak. 4, p. 387; Ak. 24, p. 699; Ak. 29, p. 945). For this reason, Kant
thinks the traditional logic can be aptly characterized as the “self-cognition
[Selbst-Erkenntniß] of the understanding” (Ak. 9, p. 14; my ital.).⁶
Crucially, then, the forms at issue in “formal logic”, for Kant, are forms of
certain mental acts (thinking, judging, etc.) and are therefore not at all seen
as (or claimed to be) the forms of every object whatsoever. We should therefore
resist any urge to assimilate what Kant means when he claims that the tradition-
al logic is a “universal” and “formal” logic to what others, especially more recent
philosophers of logic, might mean when they characterize logic using similar la-
bels. Especially after Russell, it has been common to think of the universality of
logic in terms of an unrestrictedness of its domain: logic is about the most gen-

 Compare: “Logic is a self-cognition of the understanding and of reason with regard to form”
(Ak. 29, p. 784).
The Relation between Ontology and Logic in Kant 81

eral or universal features of everything whatsoever.⁷ Certain properties and rela-


tions are distinctively “logical” because they hold of every object simply in virtue
of its being an object at all, not in virtue of any specific feature that would dis-
tinguish one object from another. This in turn then allows us to classify certain
propositions as distinctively logical: they state universal relations between these
universal predications (express what is true (or false) in all possible circumstan-
ces (“worlds”)). Finally, because of its invariant presence in and across all ob-
jects, and its indifference to any features that would differentiate objects into
kinds or species, what is expressed in such logical propositions is then often
identified with what is “formal” in the world itself.⁸
As we have just seen, none of this is built into Kant’s own characterization of
the subject-matter of the traditional logic as something “universal” and “for-
mal”. Kant thinks logic has in view, not objects and the world in general, but
rather one capacity of the human subject and the forms of its activity. Despite
what might otherwise be connoted nowadays by these labels,⁹ Kant simply
does not think that calling logic a pure general formal science at all entails
that it is the most universal science that there is.¹⁰

§ 3 From act to content: Kant’s introduction of


a new “transcendental” logic
I have argued that, for Kant, the subject-matter of the traditional logic is not the
domain of all objects whatsoever, but is restricted to a very specific kind of object
or being: our capacity for understanding, and the elementary forms of its acts.
What I want to introduce now are the motivations behind Kant’s new “transcen-
dental” logic, as well as its nature as a discipline. This will set up our discussion
in the following section (§ 4), in which we will consider the striking connection
Kant draws between this logic and ontology as he means for it to be understood.
What does Kant mean by a “transcendental” logic, and why does he think its
investigations are as necessary, and every bit as “logical”, as those of the tradi-
tional logic? The first thing to note is that, though he thinks logic in general is in

 Compare Russell 1918; cf. Goldfarb 2001 and MacFarlane 2002.


 See Sher 1991; compare what Sider 2012 calls “structure”.
 For a catalogue of a still further variety of things that have been meant by calling logic “for-
mal”, in particular, see MacFarlane 2000 and Dutilh Novaes 2011.
 For more discussion of the specific kind of generality that pertains to Kant’s logic, see Tolley
2012a, 2012b, and 2013; compare MacFarlane 2002.
82 Clinton Tolley

need of supplementation, Kant does not mean to deny any of the achievements
of the traditional logic as to its specific domain. Indeed, once its true nature has
been clearly understood, Kant (infamously) thinks that it is actually a “complete
and finished” portrayal of its object (B viii) – namely, the basic forms of acts of
thinking.¹¹ Even so, precisely because of its focus on form, this logic has neglect-
ed an equally fundamental aspect of our understanding and its acts. This aspect
is what would now be called the intrinsic intentionality of thinking. For though
Kant agrees that the understanding is a capacity for certain kinds of acts, the par-
ticular kind of activity that it engages in is one that is representational. Now, Kant
takes all “representations [Vorstellungen]” to “have” an object, at least in the
sense of being intentionally related to something (even if this object is not
real or does not exist; cf. A 108). Thinking is, of course, a species of representa-
tion – namely, a representation “through concepts” (cf. B 94) – and as such, it
too will be the sort of thing that “has” an object.¹²
Since this “relation to an object” is what constitutes the “content” of think-
ing, it is essential to all thinking that it has at least some, however minimal, con-
tent.¹³ But then, given the universality of this determination of thinking itself, we
should be able to at least raise the possibility of a science of thinking – and
hence a kind of logic – “in which one did not abstract from all content of cogni-
tion” after all (B 80; my ital.), but sought to analyze the most universal, elemen-
tary contents that belong to all thinking per se, if there were any such contents.
Of course, it might turn out that there is simply nothing to say “in general” about
the content of thinking, other than the bare assertion that there must be some
content or other involved, and that it will involve the representation of properties
(“marks”; cf. B 377). If this were so, one might be forgiven for viewing the tradi-
tional logic as more or less exhausting its topic – save, perhaps, for providing an
explicit argument showing that there is nothing much for it to say about nature
of content of thinking in general.
Kant, however, thinks that there is in fact a good bit to say about this content
“in general”. In fact, Kant thinks the very findings of the traditional logic already
provide a “clue [Leitfaden]” to the discovery of a distinctive set of contents that
are and must be involved in all thinking (cf. B 91–92). In effect, Kant’s proposal is

 Though Kant does say that “the work of the logicians” is “not entirely without errors” (Ak. 4,
p. 323; my ital.).
 In his logic lectures, Kant makes clear that he takes all cognitions (whether through concepts
or otherwise) to have a “relation to an object”; cf. Ak. 24, p. 805 and Ak. 9, p. 33. See also B 376 –
377.
 Whether or not this conceptual content can be put in any kind of coordination with intuitive
content, and so whether or not it is “empty” in this more specific sense (cf. B 75).
The Relation between Ontology and Logic in Kant 83

that, due to the intentionality of all acts of understanding, each distinct “elemen-
tary” form of thinking that the traditional logic has already uncovered must at
the very same time be something that determines (or at least is correlated
with) a distinct “elementary” way of representationally relating to an object:

The same understanding, therefore, and indeed by means of the very same acts [Handlun-
gen] through which it brings the logical form of a judgment into concepts […] also brings a
transcendental content [Inhalt] into its representations […] on account of which they are
called pure concepts of the understanding that pertain to [gehen auf] objects a priori.
(B 105; my ital.)

For example, having one’s mind act in such a way that brings about a unity of
two conceivings, according to the logical form of a categorical judgment (an
act expressed by “S is P”), is something that also consists in our having a
thought with a certain content – namely, our having a thought that representa-
tionally relates us to something as an object or thing or “substance” (represented
by the subject-concept) as having (represented by the copula) a certain property
or “inherence” (represented by the predicate-concept; cf. B 106). The content that
distinguishes a representation as being of an object in this way is what Kant calls
the “pure concept” of the relation between substance and inherence (B 106).
By engaging in reflection on each of the basic traditional-logical forms, we
can identify a whole set of such concepts (contents), and can then arrange
them on a corresponding Table of concepts of objects that parallels exactly
the Table of logical forms of acts of thinking in judging. In this way Kant thinks
“there arise [entspringen] exactly as many pure concepts of the understanding
[…] as there were logical [forms] of all possible judgments” (B 105).¹⁴ And just
as the Table of traditional-logical forms “completely exhausts and fully measures
the understanding and its capacity” (B 105), so too does the Table of transcen-
dental-logical contents (concepts) provide a “listing [Verzeichnung] of all the orig-
inal [ursprünglich] pure concepts” (my ital.) and so attains an equivalent “com-
pleteness [Vollzähligkeit]” in its analysis (B 106). Just as the traditional logic
provides the universal formal conditions for an act of understanding’s “taking
place” (cf. B 76), so too does transcendental logic provide the universal condi-
tions on what contents such acts must involve: i. e., “it exhausts all moments
of the understanding, under which every other concept must be brought”

 Here Kant writes “function” where I have “form”. For Kant’s explanation of the notion of a
function, see B 93; for the association of the form of thinking with functions, see B 95. For our
purposes, any difference that might obtain between the two notions is not significant. For some
helpful suggestions concerning what the nature of the difference between form and function
might amount to, compare Longuenesse 1998, p. 3 note 2.
84 Clinton Tolley

(Ak. 4, p. 325).¹⁵ Hence, just as the traditional logic completely and systematically
enumerates the elementary (“simple”) acts of thinking, so too does transcenden-
tal logic provide an “analysis” of the “elementary concepts” involved in thinking
(B 89; cf. B 168).
Now, many persisting questions remain about whether Kant’s Metaphysical
Deduction of these elementary concepts is, or even can be, a successful one.¹⁶
What is most important for us, however, is simply that, in order to arrive at
the subject-matter of Kant’s new logic, we have not gone outside of the original
subject-matter of the traditional logic itself. Despite the traditional logic’s inten-
tion to bracket questions of content (which entails that the discovery of these
basic contents “can never be accomplished by [this] logic”; B 105), Kant thinks
that its very findings are nevertheless sufficient to allow us to determine that cer-
tain kinds of content will be involved in acts of thinking simply in virtue of their
being unified according to one or another logical form. Just so long as we keep in
mind the essential intentionality of thinking when we look at its findings, these
forms can provide “the clue for the discovery of all pure concepts of understand-
ing” (B 91). In order for the pure concepts to “arise”, all Kant had to do (as he
tells the story) was “relate these [forms] of judging to objects in general”
(Ak. 4, p. 324; my ital.).¹⁷ The transcendental-logical contents were implicitly
there to be discovered all along.
Yet for this very reason, Kant takes these concepts (contents) to have the
same “origin [Ursprung]” (“birthplace [Geburtsort]”; B 90) as the logical forms
themselves (B 159), since it is our understanding that itself “brings” a certain
“content” into this form simply by acting a certain way, indeed “through the
very same actions [Handlungen] […] that it brings about the logical form of judg-
ment” (B 105; my ital.).¹⁸ Strikingly, all of this leads Kant in his lectures to claim
that transcendental logic, too, is ultimately only the “self-cognition of the under-
standing” (Ak. 29, pp. 752–756 and 784–785).

 Compare: the pure concepts of the understanding are those “without which no object can be
thought” (Ak. 5, p. 136; cf. B 106).
 For the classic, spirited, and still very informative defense of Kant’s strategy, see Reich 1932/
1948; more recently, see Wolff 1995, and Longuenesse 1998. Compare also the discussion below
in § 5.
 Here again I have replaced “function” with “form”.
 Compare: the pure concepts “have their seat [Sitz] and origin [Ursprung] in the pure under-
standing solely as the faculty of thinking, independently and prior to any intuition” (Ak. 5,
p. 136). The new transcendental logic, therefore, will investigate “the pure understanding” as
something that “completely separates itself [sondert sich aus] […] from all sensibility”, as “a
unity that subsists for itself and is sufficient by itself” (B 89 – 90).
The Relation between Ontology and Logic in Kant 85

This, however, would seem to introduce a clear restriction into the domain at
issue in transcendental logic as well. First, as the study (“analytic”) of the pure
concepts qua contents of acts of understanding, transcendental logic ultimately
retains the traditional logic’s distance from objects themselves, since its subject-
matter, too, remains at the level of representations (concepts) of things rather
than the things themselves. Secondly, insofar as this logic only investigates con-
cepts (content), since not every object or thing is itself a concept (viz., the under-
standing itself, or the subject engaged in acts of thinking by “using” this capaci-
ty), the domain of transcendental logic, too, should not be thought to constitute
a genuinely universal domain of all things.

§ 4 From content to object? Transcendental logic


as a successor to ontology
Strikingly, in Kant’s metaphysics lectures, he also claims that the traditional on-
tology itself should be reconceived along just these same lines as well. That is,
ontology itself is better understood as a logic:

If [ontology] is to consider the properties of all things, then it has as an object nothing but a
thing in general, i. e., every object of thought, thus no determinate object. Thus nothing re-
mains for me to consider other than the cognizing. (The science which deals with objects in
general, will deal with nothing but those concepts through which the understanding thinks,
thus of the nature of the understanding and of reason, insofar as it cognizes something a
priori.) […] But this science will not properly be called ontology. For to have a thing in gen-
eral as an object is as much as to have no object and to treat only of a cognition, as in logic.
(Ak. 29, pp. 784–786; my ital.)

Reconceived in this way, what had purported to be a science of being in general


should now simply collapse into Kant’s new science of the basic contents of un-
derstanding.
In fact, in the first Critique, Kant famously claims just this: “the proud name
of an ontology which purports to give synthetic cognition a priori of things in
general in a systematic doctrine (e. g., the basic proposition of causality) must
give up its place for the more modest one of a mere analytic of the pure under-
standing” – with the latter “analytic” now understood to be a component of tran-
scendental logic itself (B 303; my ital.). A similar point is hinted at already much
earlier in the “Analytic”, which foreshadows the sort of replacement or revision
he has in mind:
86 Clinton Tolley

The allegedly transcendental predicates of things [named in traditional ontology] are noth-
ing other than logical requirements and critieria of all cognition of things in general […] and
they have their ground in the categories [i. e. pure concepts], only while these must have
been taken genuinely materially, as belonging to the possibility of things themselves, in
fact they are to be used only in formal significance, as belonging to the logical requirement
with respect to each cognition, and so these criteria of thinking are made in a careless way
into properties [Eigenschaften] of things. (B 113–114; my ital.)

The traditional ontology, therefore, has actually mistaken its subject-matter:


while it takes itself to be investigating properties (predicates) of objects, really
it is only investigating the pure contents of understanding – in fact, only inves-
tigating our understanding itself.
This might suggest that Kant means to radically “subjectivize” ontology, by
shifting its domain to something “contained” entirely within our intellect.¹⁹ Re-
call, however, that these “contents” themselves are nevertheless object-directed:
they are the elementary ways in which we “can think objects a priori”. What is
more, elsewhere in the Critique, transcendental logic, and transcendental philos-
ophy more generally, seems to be able to teach us something about the objects to
which we are related through pure contents (concepts), rather than merely some-
thing about the concepts of these objects. In fact, Kant ultimately appears to de-
scribe transcendental philosophy as both part of “metaphysics” but also as “on-
tology” in this more object-involving sense:

The speculative part of [metaphysics] […] consists in transcendental philosophy and the
physiology of pure reason. The first considers only understanding and reason itself in a sys-
tem of all concepts and basic propositions that are related to objects in general, without
assuming [annehmen] objects that would be given (ontologia); the second considers nature,
i. e., the sum-total of given objects (whether they may be given to the senses, or, if one
wants, another kind of intuition), and is therefore physiology (though merely rational).
(B 873)

Ontology continues to provide “a system of all concepts and basic propositions


that are related to objects in general”, even (seemingly) beyond those objects
which we can demonstrate can be “given to the senses”.
What is more, logic itself at times seems to be able to yield cognition about
the possible objects of understanding, rather than simply a “self-cognition” of
the understanding itself. Consider Kant’s acceptance of the possibility of analytic

 It is this line of thought that gives force to Hegel’s central criticisms (in his own Logik) of
Kant’s doctrine of the categories, and transcendental logic more generally, for being too subjec-
tive; cf. Ameriks 1985, Bristow 2002, and especially Sedgwick 2012; see also below § 6.
The Relation between Ontology and Logic in Kant 87

judgments whose truth is able to be “cognized” simply through principles “be-


longing in logic”, such as the “proposition [Satz]” (“principle”) of contradiction:

Now, the proposition: to no thing pertains a predicate which contradicts it, is called the
proposition of contradiction and is a universal though merely negative criterion of all
truth, which for this reason belongs in logic, because it holds of cognitions merely as cog-
nitions in general without consideration of their content and says that contradiction entire-
ly annihilates and cancels [vernichte und aufhebe] them. One can, however, also make a
positive use of it, i. e., not merely to prohibit falsity and error (insofar as it rests on contra-
diction) but also to cognize truth. For if a judgment is analytic, whether it is negative or
affirmative, then its truth must always be able to be cognized sufficiently according to
the proposition of contradiction. (B 190)

What would it mean to cognize the truth of a judgment or cognition – i. e., its
“correspondence or agreement [Übereinstimmung] with its object” (B 82) – with-
out coming to know how things are with the object(s) represented by the con-
cepts in the judgment or cognition? Furthermore, we can cognize the judgment’s
agreement with its object (i. e., with what is represented in it) even “without con-
sideration of its content”, which implies that the truth we come to cognize is not
(primarily) a truth about the content itself.²⁰
Elsewhere, however, Kant does appear to infer conclusions about how things
are at the level of objects, from facts about how things are at the level of contents
(concepts, thoughts) – claiming, for example, that “the object of a concept which
contradicts itself is nothing because [weil] its concept is nothing, the impossible,
as in: the rectilinear figure of two sides (nihil negativum)” (B 348; my ital.). What
is more, it is precisely the concept of an object in general which Kant thinks is
the absolutely “highest concept” – i. e., the concept under which absolutely ev-
erything falls, and with which the “transcendental philosophy” must “begin”
(B 346). This concept allows us to grasp something “higher” than even “the di-
vision between the possible and the impossible” – namely, what it is to be an
object as such, leaving it “undecided whether it is something or nothing”
(B 346). That is, the “manifold differentiation of the concepts of something
and nothing”, which Kant recognizes as “one of the most abstract ontological di-
visions” (Ak. 4, p. 325), is something that only comes after the grasp of the con-
cept of an object itself. But what would it mean for us to grasp the “highest” con-

 For further discussion of the options available to Kant concerning the truth of analytic judg-
ments, see Rosenkoetter 2008, Lu-Adler 2013, Anderson 2015.
88 Clinton Tolley

cept of an object without understanding or knowing what it is to be an object –


i. e., without knowing something about this most universal property of objects?²¹
This line of thought about the cognition available within transcendental
logic ultimately brings it quite close in several ways to the cognition thought
to be available in the traditional metaphysics and ontology of the rationalist tra-
dition of Wolff and Baumgarten. Baumgarten himself begins the very first con-
tentful section of his ontology precisely with what “universal predicates” of en-
tities can be determined by virtue of the principle of contradiction:

Nihil negativum is that which is unrepresentable, impossible, repugnant, (absurd,) what in-
volves a contradiction, what is A and non-A; that is, there is no subject of contradictory
predicates; that is, nothing is and is not. 0 = A + non-A. This proposition is called the prin-
ciple of contradiction and the absolutely first. (Baumgarten 1779, § 7)

Baumgarten, too, seems to infer equally to the absence of a “subject”, at the level
of objects, from the presence (involvement) of a contradiction among the predi-
cates, even while he also seems to take contradiction to be something which it-
self stands in the way of (Kant: annihilates and cancels) the possibility of the
representation of this object. What is more, Baumgarten here seems to take for
granted that the concept of what is representable is at least as primitively under-
stood, if not more so, as this first universal predicate of objects, since it is that in
terms of which the predicate of being a “negative nothing” is elucidated.²²
How does this fit with the countervailing line of analysis noted above in
Kant’s discussions, which does seem to treat what is cognized “logically”, due
to the presence of contradiction in thought, as something wholly “internal” to
the level of content itself? When discussing the principle of contradiction, for ex-
ample, Kant emphasizes that the principle “holds [gilt] of cognitions merely as
cognitions in general”, as a “general [allgemeine] condition of all our judgments”
(B 189–190; my ital.). Similar remarks can be found throughout his lectures on
logic, where Kant identifies the principle of contradiction as that “through

 Even if we don’t thereby know if this property is actually instantiated in any really existing
object.
 Compare Pichler 1910 and Heimsoeth 1924. As Pichler especially emphasizes, this brings
both Baumgarten and Kant close to Meinong, who also means to reconceive of the most univer-
sal science, not as the traditional “metaphysics”, by which he understands the science of what
exists or is real, but rather with the theory of “objects in general” (Gegenstandstheorie). This sci-
ence extends to all possible objects of thinking and cognizing (Meinong 1904, § 2), which Mei-
nong takes to include all objects whatsoever: “what is cognizeable, is also what there is [es
gibt]”; “there is […] no object which would not be in possibility an object of cognition” (Meinong
1904, § 6; my ital.).
The Relation between Ontology and Logic in Kant 89

which the internal possibility of a cognition is determined” (Ak. 9, pp. 52–53; my


ital.; cf. Ak. 24, pp. 823–827). What Kant seems to have in mind here, first and
foremost, is that “agreement [Übereinstimmung]” with this principle (and others)
is a necessary condition for something to be a cognition of the understanding at
all (cf. Ak. 9, p. 51). There is no further claim that such agreement or failure of
agreement is determinative of anything about the objects of the putative cogni-
tion; the agreement at issue here is not the agreement of the thought with some-
thing external to it qua act of understanding (as would be an agreement with the
object it is representing). Rather, this “agreement with the universal laws of un-
derstanding” is, in some sense, an “agreement of the cognition with itself [Übe-
reinstimmung mit sich selbst]” (Ak. 9, p. 51; my ital.; cf. Ak. 24, pp. 823, 718).
Moreover, the kind of “truth” that is achieved in this self-agreement of the
understanding is said to be the “formal truth” of a cognition, which consists
merely in “the consistency [Zusammenstimmung] of cognition with itself, in com-
plete abstraction from all objects whatsoever and from all difference among
them” (Ak. 9, p. 51; my ital.; cf. Ak. 9, p. 16.). This suggests that what Kant himself
might call a “logical truth” (like the principle of contradiction, understood purely
logically as determinative of possible acts of thinking or contents of thoughts)²³
can be an expression only of basic conditions for the consistency or coherence
among acts and contents of our understanding with themselves. There is little
sign in the passages that the truth of such principles consists in their further
agreement with basic or generic features of objects or things themselves.²⁴

 This qualification is necessary, since, as the quote from Baumgarten above indicates, the
“principle of contradiction” was not taken as a distinctively logical principle at the time, holding
first and foremost at the level of thinking or the intellect (understanding), but rather understood
as an ontological principle, holding more generally for all of being. As Baumgarten’s Metaphysica
makes clear, logic “presupposes” this principle from ontology (cf. above § 2). What is more,
Baumgarten’s Acroasis logica does not give any pride of place whatsoever to the principle of con-
tradiction (for example: neither contradiction, nor its “principle”, are topics on its index), let
alone single it out as of special relevance for logic or the determination of its domain.
 Maddy 1999 describes this feature of Kant’s views as consisting in the fact that, for Kant,
“our simple logical truths” are “true by virtue of the structure of judgment” itself (98) and
“[l]ogical truth is grounded in the structure of the discursive intellect” (104). The closely related
but more difficult question is whether we should construe such principles (propositions) as ac-
tually being about our understanding, or about its concepts. Compare Henry Allison’s way of
cautioning against attempts to make either a logical principle (such as the principle of contra-
diction), or something cognized to be true or false solely on its basis, into a claim about things in
themselves: “they can yield only analytic judgments about the concepts of things so considered”
(Allison 2004, p. 56). For worries about this way of construing such propositions, see MacFarlane
2000.
90 Clinton Tolley

Conversely, when Kant identifies candidates for not agreeing with the basic
laws of understanding (i. e., that which would be “logically false”), Kant again
consistently characterizes the items in question as mental acts or contents (con-
cepts, judgments, thoughts, and so on), rather than objects. In the foregoing dis-
cussion of the principle of contradiction, for example, recall that it is putative
judgments and cognitions that are said to be what would “contradict them-
selves” and so ultimately be “nothing in themselves [an sich selbst nichts]”
(B 189; my ital.), because “contradiction entirely annihilates [vernichtet] and can-
cels [aufhebt] them” (B 190; cf. B 191). Here again, Kant does not point to the im-
possibility of an agreement with something outside of the mental activity of the
understanding in order to ground the “nothingness” of these judgments on the
impossibility of there being things or objects to which they could correspond.
Rather, such judgments are “false” (or better, “nothing”) simply because, as
the lectures put it, they flout the “necessary rules […] apart from which our cog-
nition is untrue in itself [in sich selbst unwahr], regardless of its objects” (Ak. 9,
p. 16; my ital.).

§ 5 Logic, ontology, and the limits of discursive


“self-cognition”
Let us bracket for the moment the question of whether, and in what respect, Kant
thinks that either traditional- or transcendental-logical “truths” concerning the
acts and contents of the understanding entail any traditional-ontological truths
about objects in general (however minimal, abstract, or indeterminate).²⁵ What I
want to focus on now is the more specific, and in many ways more fundamental,
question of how and in what way Kant thinks it is possible to achieve the kind of
cognition which is expressed in the traditional logic textbooks in the first place:
i. e., cognition of the understanding itself (its acts, its basic forms) as object.
At least according to the official doctrine of cognition enunciated in the Cri-
tique itself, the cognition of an object requires both a concept of the object as
well as an intuition which relates to it (cf. B 75–76). An a priori cognition of

 For interpretations which affirm that Kant holds we can know (perhaps “trivially”) that log-
ical laws, and analytic and tautologous propositions, apply to all objects, see Adams 1997, Van
Cleve 1999, Watkins 2002, and Hogan 2009. Strictly speaking, there is some difficulty in the very
idea that traditional (formal‐) logical laws, as Kant understood them, would “apply” to anything
other than the acts of our capacity for understanding. (Indeed, Kant explicitly claims that “no-
body can dare to judge of objects and to assert anything about them merely with logic”; B 85.)
The Relation between Ontology and Logic in Kant 91

an object requires both an a priori concept and an a priori intuition. Now, be-
cause the traditional logic provides us with the pure self-cognition of the under-
standing and its forms, it seems to bypass the intuition requirement, since the
understanding cannot intuit anything all by itself (cf. B 92–93). Moreover, no par-
ticular intuition seems well-suited to give the understanding and its laws to it-
self. To be of the understanding, it would need to be an “inner” intuition, by
which “the mind intuits itself” (B 37). It would also need to be a “pure” inner
intuition, so that logic can avoid drawing on any “empirical” principles (cf.
B 78). Yet the pure inner intuition that we have, thinks Kant, is the intuition of
time as “the form of inner sense, i. e., of intuiting our self and our inner state”
(B 49; my ital.). Precisely because it merely gives the universal and necessary
form of all inner intuiting, however, the pure intuition of time alone cannot
give us a pure intuition of our understanding in particular, or any of its acts.
In order to give the understanding and its acts to the mind, rather than simply
give time alone, something more than the mere (pure) intuition would be neces-
sary. More specifically, it would seem that there must be some sort of inner “af-
fection” of inner sense by our understanding, so as to yield sensations which
would fill in time to yield “inner appearances” of the understanding to the
mind through inner intuition (cf. A 107). The problem with this, though, is that
it would make the resulting representation of the understanding impure, because
it would involve sensation (cf. B 34). What is more, the resulting inner intuition
of our understanding and its activity would only represent our understanding in
appearance or as it appears, rather than the understanding itself (cf. B 155).
The only “pure” self-representation of the understanding that Kant mentions
comes through an act of pure “self-consciousness [Selbst-Bewußtsein]”, what
Kant calls “pure apperception”. This is a mental act in which our thinking can
become aware of itself directly and yet non-sensibly, and so not through inner
sense or inner intuition: it is “a representation” that is itself “a thinking and
not an intuiting” (B 157); a thinking directly about thinking, as it were. Yet
while this would keep the representational relation in question “pure”, Kant ex-
plicitly restricts the representational relation involved to a kind of “conscious-
ness” of one’s own activity, rather than a full-blown “cognition” of it, writing
that “the consciousness of oneself is far from being a cognition of oneself”
(B 158). What is more, though the object of such pure self-consciousness is dis-
tinguished from thinking “as it appears to myself”, it is also distinguished from
thinking “as it is in itself”, and limited only to merely “that” the thinking act is
(cf. B 157). Without being conscious of the “what” of thinking, however, it is not
at all clear how logic could apprehend the manifold forms of its activity.
The absence of an account of the self-cognition presupposed by the tradi-
tional logic becomes especially problematic once we reconsider how it is that
92 Clinton Tolley

Kant’s new transcendental logic itself – and hence, the alleged successor to the
traditional ontology – was to be discovered or arrived at in the first place.²⁶ Re-
call Kant’s methodology in the Metaphysical Deduction of the pure concepts: he
intends to derive these concepts from an already given, and already cognized, set
of forms of acts of understanding, identified by the traditional logic. The step to
the pure concepts, and hence to transcendental logic, is taken when we “relate
these [forms] for judging to objects in general” (Ak. 4, pp. 323–324).²⁷ Kant’s ac-
count of the discovery of transcendental logic therefore implies that the knowl-
edge gained in the traditional logic – i. e., the “self-cognition” of the understand-
ing itself – was achieved prior to, and independently of, the cognition of the pure
concepts themselves. This in turn, however, would seem to place what Baumgart-
en and the tradition would regard as fairly straightforwardly metaphysical cog-
nition at the basis of the traditional logic itself – and hence, at the ground of
the alleged successor to the traditional metaphysics (transcendental logic) as
well. In effect, the self-cognition of the understanding, which Kant officially pre-
sumes we can achieve in logic, would have to constitute a case of the under-
standing’s self-overcoming of the alleged “Critical” restriction of our understand-
ing to cognition only through sensible intuition.
In fact, in Kant’s third Critique, there is an even more ambitious self-over-
coming of the limits of the understanding by the understanding – or at least
by “thinking” – itself. There Kant emphasizes that we can not only think (form
the concept) of another “higher”, divine species of understanding (cf. §§ 76–
77), but that we have reason to believe in (affirm, hold-true) its existence (cf.
§ 91). Kant’s account of the intuitive intellect, and its instantiation in the divine
mind, is quite subtle and complex, and has fortunately been treated at length
elsewhere.²⁸ All that is crucial for our purposes is that Kant’s account of this un-
derstanding implies that neither its activity nor the content of this activity would
be constituted in the same fashion as that of our own understanding. The activity
of the intuitive understanding would differ insofar as it would not be unified ac-
cording to certain forms (functions), because it would be absolutely simple. As
Kant puts it in his lectures on religion, God’s knowledge will be the “knowledge
of the simple understanding [scientia simplicis intelligentiae]” (Ak. 28, pp. 1053–
1054) because God will “intuit all things immediately through its understanding

 Compare Hegel’s complaint that Kant’s starting-point for the metaphysical deduction is
merely “empirical” (cf. Sedgwick 2012). J. F. Fries, by contrast, attempted to furnish a pure psy-
chological foundation for logic and hence for Kant’s transcendental philosophy more generally
(cf. Beiser 2015).
 Again replacing “function” with “form”; see note above.
 See Gram 1981, Förster 2002, and Nuzzo 2009.
The Relation between Ontology and Logic in Kant 93

and cognize everything at once [Alles auf einmal]” (Ak. 28, p. 1051). The content
of such an act will differ since it will not involve our pure concepts. Kant claims
in the B-Deduction that such concepts only have significance for understandings
like ours; for such an intuitive understanding, “the categories would have no sig-
nificance at all” (B 145; my ital.).²⁹ In fact, Kant makes the even stronger claim in
the third Critique that, for this sort of understanding, “concepts […] would fall
away [wegfallen]” altogether (§ 76, Ak. 5, p. 402).³⁰
This achievement of the thought of the intuitive understanding has impor-
tant consequences for Kant’s conception of the relation between logic and ontol-
ogy. The first and most immediate consequence is that it introduces an even
sharper gulf between the findings of both traditional and transcendental logic,
on the one hand, and any genuine cognition of objects “in themselves”, on
the other. This is because this alternate, divine understanding (if any) would
know things as they genuinely are: while “we cognize only the appearances”,
“God cognizes things in themselves” (Ak. 29, p. 833; my ital.). Yet as we have
seen, God’s way of cognizing things does not go “through concepts”, because
God’s understanding is not discursive but intuitive (Ak. 5, p. 406). But then gen-
uine cognition of things as they are in themselves is simply not a cognition in
terms of concepts. Hence, the transcendental logical principles that govern con-
cepts would also not apply directly to the divine cognition of things in them-
selves. Furthermore, anything that would require concepts to be represented –
i. e., any marks or properties “common [gemein]” to several things (cf. B 377), in-
cluding even very basic, elementary, “universal” ones like those represented by
the categories as pure concepts – would simply not be things that God cognizes
or could even represent (since he would have to make use of concepts to do so).
Or more precisely, what cannot be represented by God does not genuinely exist,
because God cognizes all and only what is; the semblance that there really “are”
marks or properties – presumably even the universal ones, such as: being an ob-
ject – would itself ultimately “fall away”.³¹

 Such an understanding would “cognize its object not discursively through categories [i. e., not
through pure concepts] but intuitively” (B 311; my ital.).
 Compare: “our understanding cannot cognize things other than through certain general
marks [allgemeine Merkmale]; but this is a limitation of the human understanding and this can-
not occur in God” (Ak. 28, p. 996); cf. Ak. 28, pp. 1017 and 1051.
 This likely lies behind Kant’s remark in a lecture that there are no “universal things [entia]”,
but rather only concepts of things: “an ens universale cannot be thought” (Ak. 28, p. 560). This is
directly in contrast to some of the Leibnizians, such as Baumgarten, who accept that there are
both universals “post rem” but also “in re”; cf. Metaphysica § 149, Ak. 17, p. 57. Moreover, for
Baumgarten, since universals are among “what is”, God can and must somehow know them
as well. In this way, our thinking retains an intellectual community with divine thought. For
94 Clinton Tolley

Because our thinking consists in representing through concepts, it follows


from the foregoing that, for Kant, there is very little – perhaps nothing at all –
for us to say positively about whatever it is that the higher understanding
would represent in its alternative manner, or how this X (whatever it may be)
would relate to what we ourselves are thinking of by representing this same X
as bearing instances of common properties. Compare Kant’s own characteriza-
tion, at several places, of “the object corresponding to and therefore distinct
from the cognition” of it by our understanding, as something which “must be
thought of only as something in general [etwas überhaupt] = X” (A 104; cf.
A 109). Likewise, Kant describes the ultimate object to which appearances are
related by our understanding as a “something = X of which we know [wissen]
nothing at all nor can know anything in general” – adding parenthetically that
this impossibility is due to “the current constitution [Einrichtung] of our under-
standing” (A 250, my ital.). In the B-edition, Kant describes “the representation
of an object in itself [an sich selbst]” that we form of that which lies beyond an
appearance – or as he here describes it, the representation of the “object in a
relation [Gegenstand in einer Beziehung]” (i. e., in a relation to our sensibility)
but “outside of [außer] this relation” – as “an entirely indeterminate [ganz unbes-
timmte] concept of a being of understanding, as a something in general [Etwas
überhaupt] outside of our sensibility” (B 306–307; cf. Ak. 4, pp. 315, 351).
The thrust of these and other passages would seem to be that our own think-
ing of whatever it is that is ultimately correlated with our cognition is so radically
“indeterminate” that we cannot even affirm that this X has the basic kind of cat-
egoriality that is represented by the most “elementary” concepts of our under-
standing.³² Indeed, Kant appears to explicitly assert as much at the outset of
the Schematism, claiming that the pure concepts “cannot pertain to things in
themselves at all [auf Dinge an sich gar nicht gehen können]”, and, even more
stringently, that for such a domain, “concepts are entirely impossible” (B 178;
my ital.).³³

Kant, by contrast, the fact that our understanding proceeds only via common properties is a re-
sult not only of our finitude but also indicative of a more radical gulf separating us from both the
activity and content of the divine mind; at best Kant could accept that we share the same object
– or perhaps better expressed: we relate to the same “ = X” (cf. below).
 For some discussion of just how indeterminate this is, and how “agnostic” it should leave us
(even, e. g., as to the quantity (singular? plural?) of the X), see Ameriks 2003, pp. 24, 29, and 83 –
84 – though Ameriks himself claims that such agnosticism “cannot be the last word” (24).
 It is therefore unclear whether Kant is ultimately entitled to retain even minimal character-
izations of this X as a “thing” or even a “something”, since even the concepts of a thing and of
something are, of course, concepts, cf. Cowling 2010.
The Relation between Ontology and Logic in Kant 95

§ 6 Conclusion: from discursive to speculative


logic
As a consequence of his belief in the divine understanding, Kant would seem,
then, to be also committed to believing that not only the contents of our sensi-
bility (appearances), but also the contents of our understanding (concepts) are
ultimately “transcendentally” ideal rather than real.³⁴ In both cases, these con-
tents ultimately relate us to some “ = X” which does not have a form or structure
corresponding to that of our concepts.
Considerations along just these lines led Hegel to criticize Kant for making
everything we represent in thought into something that can have only “subjec-
tive”, and never any “objective”, validity.³⁵ They also led Hegel to claim, howev-
er, that Kant’s own thinking about thinking already implicitly contains the seeds
for its own overcoming, since the articulation of the concept of a higher under-
standing is something even Kant recognizes can be achieved by the thinking of
our own allegedly lower understanding itself. This self-overcoming of the alleged
limitation of thinking is something Hegel took to signal the need to fully recon-
ceive, from the ground up, the very conception of thinking which had been re-

 Maddy, for one, embraces this conclusion, claiming explicitly that “logic is transcendentally
ideal” because “it reflects features of the world as it is (partly) constituted by our cognitive ma-
chinery, rather than features of the world as it is in itself” (Maddy 1999, p. 106). Maddy’s argu-
ment for this conclusion, however, does not bring in the divine intellect, and so ultimately does
not absolutely block the possibility that logic might also (somehow) apply to the world “in it-
self”. Instead, Maddy tries to get to the ideality of logic directly from the fact that logic is
about our discursive intellect rather than about the world as it is in itself. The relevant conclu-
sion cannot follow quite this directly, however, because Kant does accept that the contents at
issue in transcendental logic can be shown to apply to at least some objects that lie beyond
or outside of concepts – namely, appearances. Of course, these items are themselves merely
“ideal”, yet like the “world as it is in itself”, they are not already contained “in” the concepts
of the discursive understanding itself. Hence, the mere fact that something is not already “in”
the discursive intellect does not mean that logic cannot also somehow characterize or apply
to this thing, or that it cannot be demonstrated to do so.
 For two recent and insightful interpretations and defenses of Hegel’s criticisms of Kant on
this front as apt, see Bristow 2002 and especially Sedgwick 2012. Kant can still insist, however,
that the contents of thought, like appearances themselves, are not completely subjective, since
they are, after all, ways of relating to this X, whatever it is. For an analysis of appearances along
these lines, in terms of object-dependent relations linking our mind to some unknown relatum,
Tolley forthcoming; compare Rosefeldt 2007. For further worries about leaving Kant with “a bad
version of a global idealism”, compare Ameriks 2003, pp. 135 – 136; see also Quarfood 2010, esp.
pp. 152– 153.
96 Clinton Tolley

sponsible for the official outlines of Kant’s philosophy of logic in the first place.
The science of thinking – logic according to its traditional denomination – must
now include the “speculative” doctrine of this infinite intellect and its funda-
mental relation to being. And since this infinite thinking provides the ultimate
ground for being itself (including the ground of the being of our own allegedly
finite intellect), the science of this thinking will itself provide the science of the
being which it is responsible for grounding or determining – that is, this new
logic will “coincide [fällt zusammen] with” metaphysics and ontology itself, as
Hegel himself proclaims (Hegel 1971, vol. 8, p. 81). Logic becomes the science
of this higher understanding: “the presentation of God as he is in his eternal es-
sence before the creation of nature and a finite spirit” (Hegel 1971, vol. 5, p. 44).
Whether Kant could have ever followed Hegel down this speculative path is an-
other story.³⁶

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Robert B. Pippin
The ‘Given’ as a Logical Problem
Abstract. A central conceptual issue in Hegel’s denial of any model of experiential
knowledge that is understood to be based on a foundation that consists simply in
the direct sensory presence of the world to the mind, is what a more successful
model should look like. That is, how we are to understand the relation between
“immediacy” and “mediation” in a successful account? So the issue is the logical
content of the notion of “mediated immediacy,” on the face of it a paradoxical no-
tion. Understanding his approach to that problem requires a general description of
how Hegel approaches the issue of conceptual content in his Science of Logic, and
how the “Being Logic” addresses the issue of mediated immediacy. Both tasks are
undertaken in this article.

Eine zentrale konzeptuelle Frage angesichts Hegels Ablehnung eines jeglichen Mo-
dells von Erfahrungswissen, das so verstanden wird, dass es auf einer Grundlage
basiert, die nur in einer direkten sensorischen Präsenz der Welt im Geist besteht, ist,
wie ein erfolgreicheres Modell aussehen sollte. Die Frage ist, mit anderen Worten, wie
wir das Verhältnis zwischen „Unmittelbarkeit“ und „Vermittlung“ erfolgreich be-
schreiben können. Das Thema ist also der logische Inhalt des Begriffs „vermittelte
Unmittelbarkeit“, ein auf den ersten Blick paradoxer Begriff. Um Hegels Annäherung
an dieses Problem zu verstehen, ist eine allgemeine Beschreibung davon notwendig,
wie Hegel das Thema des konzeptuellen Inhalts in seiner Wissenschaft der Logik
angeht und wie die „Seinslogik“ auf die Frage der vermittelten Unmittelbarkeit
antwortet. Der Aufsatz widmet sich diesen beiden Aufgaben.

I
There is an extended apagogic argument in the first three chapters of Hegel’s
Phenomenology of Spirit that is meant to show the impossibility of any model
of experiential knowledge that is understood to be based on a foundation that
consists simply in the direct sensory presence of the world to the mind, a putative
consciousness of a content that is contentful just by being passively apprehend-
ed, contentful on its own, in no relation to any other or any remembered content.
By imagining such a model and showing some inner incoherence or as necessa-
rily raising a question that cannot be answered in its terms, Hegel shows that the
possibility of any such determinate consciousness requires a capacity beyond
differential responsiveness, a capacity to track, keep attending to, any such con-

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-005
100 Robert B. Pippin

tent over time, and that it is a condition of such determinacy that the differenti-
ability of such content from what is other than it must also be possible. This is
supposed to establish the impossibility of any epistemological atomism, and to
undermine any idea of a strict separability between our sensible and intellectual
faculties, since fulfilling these conditions on experiential determinacy requires,
he wants to show, the exercise of “spontaneous” conceptual capacities. This is
all not in any way a denial of our reliance on direct sensible contact with objects
in gaining empirical knowledge. It is meant as a denial that such sensory recep-
tivity can properly play its role in a model of empirical knowledge on its own,
conceived as independent of, or prior to, as he would say, any conceptual medi-
ation.
But Hegel also wants to pose such an issue at a different level of abstraction,
and he is right to understand that the more abstract formulation is primary, is
that on which the conceptual coherence of his favored account of experience de-
pends. To put it simply, the problem at what Hegel would call the logical level, is
how we are to understand the conceptual possibility appealed to in this summa-
ry, the possibility of a mediated immediacy. The notion can seem problematic in
its very formulation. If any such immediacy is to be considered as mediated, then
it is not immediate. (A cancelled event is not a kind of happening.) A mediated,
say a conceptually articulated, content, can of course be further mediated, or ar-
ticulated. But preserving the informatively sensory dimension of empirical
knowledge seems to require a notion of mediated immediacy. But if we mean,
as many have, that the expression summarizes a temporal dynamic, that what
had been immediately apprehended, was then mediated, then we have lost
hold of the opening arguments of Hegel’s Phenomenology. That argument has
ruled out such an independent step, or any such two-step account. So the prob-
lem is not merely how there can be distinguishable but not separably occurring
elements in some whole, like, say, pitch and timbre in a musical note, distin-
guishable but never occurring separately. The problem is how the logical or con-
ceptual character of this relation between activity and receptivity is to be under-
stood, if not in this stepwise way. Hegel’s formulations of the problem seem to
take delight in forcing the issue into paradox:

[…] immediacy of knowledge is so far from excluding mediation, that the two things are
linked together—immediate knowledge being actually the product and result of mediated
knowledge. (Hegel 1969, § 66)

One brief example of not attending this problem as such: Brandom, in his manu-
script on the Phenomenology (Brandom 2014), carefully and rightly follows a Sell-
arsian line in distinguishing in Hegel between the immediacy of the act of appre-
The ‘Given’ as a Logical Problem 101

hending (it is non-inferential) and any putative immediacy of determinate con-


tent (a mere illusion), and then gives his own interesting spin to the issue of
what is going wrong with the latter assumption (a claim to immediate authority
without a corresponding responsibility), but he still says frequently that “the de-
liverances of immediacy […] are incorporated into the mediated structure of con-
cepts.” (Brandom 2014, Part Two, p. 76) “These noninferential applications of
concepts […] are wrung from or elicited by the particulars to which the concepts
are on that occasion applied.” (Brandom 2002a, p. 224) He speaks often of a me-
diation that articulates immediacy.
And so we get formulations like: “Immediate judgments express a dimension
along which particulars exert an authority over the universals or concepts that
apply to them.” (Brandom 2002a, p. 224) By his lights, this has to mean that,

Perceptual observations of things in general are not merely immediate, but they are nonin-
ferentially elicited, and so provide a crucial friction for the inferentially articulated Concept:
a kind of constraint without which the determinate contentfulness of ordinary empirical
concepts would be unintelligible. (Brandom 2014, Part Two, p. 71)

Brandom is right to think that his formulations should be glossed this way, but
we are here moving rapidly away from Hegel and towards Brandom’s own theory
of such a two stage or two-ply process, his RDRD (“reliable differential respon-
sive disposition”)¹ account, basically a non-conceptual, matter of fact sensory
encounter. Without a clarification of the notion of mediated immediacy, this is
inevitable. And any two-step process is always going to open up an unsatisfac-
tory gap, at least by Hegelian lights. (In Hegel’s account, experience is not guid-
ed or elicited or provoked by sensations. Experience is sensory awareness, and
can only be sensory awareness, on to particular objects and events, if that ca-
pacity originally involves the power of discrimination, a conceiving power, ac-
tualized sensorily.) But the issues are hardly clear-cut. Hegel sometimes himself
seem to understand all of this as a two-step process. From the Encyclopedia
Logic: “thinking is in fact essentially the negation of something immediately
given [in der Tat ist das Denken wesentlich die Negation eines unmittelbar Vorhan-
denen].” (Hegel 1969, § 12 A) This, even though in the same paragraph he denies
that these moments are ever distinct, and are always “inseparably bound togeth-
er [in unzertrennlicher Verbindung].”
There is a global argument about this issue in Hegel’s most important work,
his Science of Logic (Hegel 1984) (and in the corresponding Encyclopedia Logic),
but it is daunting and not easily summarizable. To move forward, I have to sug-

 Brandom 2002b. For more on the relevance to Hegel, see Pippin 2015.
102 Robert B. Pippin

gest, hesitatingly, what the Germans call aptly a “Lesart,” for the book, a way of
reading what it is about. Here are the essentials.

II
The Science of Logic is the science of pure thinking. Pure thinking’s object is it-
self, what it is to be thinking (where this must also include, at an a priori level,
what it is for thought to have objects at all), and is pure in the sense that it is not
aided by empirical experience. But a science of pure thinking is not a science of
the rules of thinking or thinking well, as in the Port Royale Logic. Hegel tells us
that “logic coincides with metaphysics,” and that it “takes the place of metaphy-
sics.” (Hegel 1969, § 24) He does not say that metaphysics has a subject matter
that requires a special form of thought, or logic. He says logic is metaphysics.
This has a deliberately Aristotelian ring. The forms of thought studied by
philosophy are the forms without which a thing could not be intelligible as
what it is (where what it is is a determinate something). We study the intelligibil-
ity of what there is by studying judgmental, essentially predicative form. This is
not the study of some subjective capacity for rendering things intelligible. Kant,
or Hegel’s Kant, was too frequently tempted by this thought and too frequently
gave in to it. (Hegel also points to Kant’s better, anti-psychological side. Especial-
ly when he discusses Kant’s understanding of the transcendental unity of apper-
ception; Hegel 1984, vol. 12, p. 18.) Such an account of thinking is not subjectivist
because to be is to be intelligible, the ancient version, let us say, of the now more
familiar “unboundedness of the conceptual” claim². (None of this means that we
cannot experience new content for which we have no concept. In Kant, say, the
categorical determination of any possible sensory manifold does not exhaust the
conceptual determinability of such a manifold, but noting that does not solve
our problem. The notion of categorical determination just raises our mediated
immediacy issue at a higher level of abstraction.)
The Logic’s subject matter, what it is trying to make sense of, are the modal-
ities of sense-makings.³ But, given that Hegel does not think of such modalities
of sense-making as a species-specific “subjective” capacity, but as constitutive of
any possible sense, he would not say that this can be distinguished from “mak-
ing sense of things.” Logic emerged in Kant as something much more than the

 McDowell 1996, p. 24.


 I borrow the notion of this connection between metaphysics and modalities of sense-making
from A. N. Moore’s invaluable book. Moore 2012.
The ‘Given’ as a Logical Problem 103

study of valid forms of inference, but much less than an account of the laws that
thinking does or ought to obey (as in the Port Royale Logic), or as categorizing a
basic ontological structure (as in Wolffian accounts of logic). For Kant, logic
states the conditions of any possible sense, the distinctions and relations with-
out which sense would not be possible, and so covers more than truth-functional
assertions, but also imperatives and aesthetic judgments. For Hegel this ambi-
tion already represents a task of great philosophical substance, but he insists
that Kant dealt inadequately with the questions it raises: how we determine
what those conditions are and whether they can be rightly confined to what
the avoidance of logical contradiction will allow, whether the “emptiness” that
Kant ascribes to these forms can be maintained. Stated in Kant’s terms, Hegel’s
claim is that general logic, properly understood, is already transcendental logic,
properly understood, and transcendental logic, properly understood, is already
metaphysics. (And finally, obviously, not every attempt to make sense of some-
thing is metaphysics. We must be talking about ways of making sense at the
highest level of generality, without which nothing else would make sense: the
sense of identity through change, individuality within common class member-
ship, the relation of discrete moments to their continuum, and so forth.)
That is, general logic as Kant formulated it is for Hegel a logic of general in-
telligibility, not just of truth bearers; so failing to observe the “norms of think-
ing” is not mistakenly thinking, making an error in thinking; it is not thinking
at all, not making any sense. The prospect of objects “outside” something like
the limits of the thinkable is a non-thought, a sinnloser Gedanke. ⁴ But just be-
cause it is, the strict distinction between a priori, content-free general logic,
and an a priori transcendental logic, the forms of possible thoughts about ob-
jects, can hardly be as hard and fast as Kant wants to make it out to be. Most
controversially, the distinction depends on a quite contestable strict separation
between the spontaneity of thought (as providing formal unity) and the deliver-
ances of sensibility in experience (as the sole “provider of content”).⁵ If that is
not sustainable, and there is reason to think even Kant did not hold it to be a
matter of strict separability, then neither can the distinction between forms of
thought and forms of the thought of objects be a matter of strict separability.⁶

 See here Tolley 2006. For more on the same point, see Wolff 1984, p. 186. And on the mere
“Schein” of sense, see James Conant 1991.
 I hasten to note that the denial of strict separability is not a denial of distinguishability, as if
Hegel thought there was no sensible receptivity, no intuitions, that there were infima species or
“concepts” of individuals. See Pippin 2005.
 Wolff suggests that we think, with Hegel, of the relation between formal or general logic and
transcendental logic not as “vorgeordnete” but as “beigeordnete” and that seems wise. Wolff
104 Robert B. Pippin

To consider beings in their intelligibility (what Hegel called “the science of


things in thought”) is not to consider them in terms of some species-specific sub-
jective capacity, anymore than considering truth-functional relations between
sentences in a logic is a consideration of how we happen to go on with senten-
ces. To be is to be intelligible; the founding principle of Greek metaphysics and
philosophy itself. (Entertaining the idea of an unintelligible being is not thinking
of something strange and limiting; it is not thinking at all.)
Now, this all places enormous pressure on what amounts to a kind of oper-
ator in Hegel’s Logic on which all the crucial transitions depend; something like:
“would not be fully intelligible, would not be coherently thinkable without …”.
What follows the “without” is some more comprehensive concept, a different
distinction, and so forth. Excluding logical contradictions would be one obvious
instantiation of the operator. But—and here everything in the possibility of He-
gel’s logical enterprise depends on this point—the range of the logically possible
is obviously far more extensive than the range of what Kant called the “really pos-
sible.” The latter is what we need if we are to have a logic of the real. And Hegel
cannot avail himself of Kant’s nonconceptual forms of intuition to establish a
priori the sensible conditions that set the boundaries of “the really possible.”
However, to pick a strange ally at this point, Strawson (1966) demonstrated, in
The Bounds of Sense, that the really possible can be determined without what
he considered Kant’s subjective idealism (the subjective forms of intuition),
and this—revealingly for our purposes—by a reflection on whether a candidate
notion of experience could be said to make sense. Moreover, the key issue in He-
gel’s account is not logical contradiction and logical possibility, but the possibil-
ity of the intelligible determinacy of non-empirical conceptual content. He would
also point out that it is already the case in Kant that he seems to assume that he
is showing how the minimal intelligibility of judgment could not be possible
without his version of the necessary logical moments, the twelve moments of
the Table of Pure Concepts. That is already a kind of determination of the really
possible. Kant, however, does not provide the arguments for such a deduction.
Again, Hegel’s huge debt to Aristotle emerges here.⁷ Entities are the determi-
nate entities they are “in terms of” or “because of” their concept or substantial

1984, p. 196. He also suggests that the general-logical formulation of “the law of non-contradic-
tion” means it cannot have unconditional, but only conditional validity.
 Redding 2007 has noted the oddity of Hegel using Aristotle’s realism “to counter Kantian sub-
jectivism” (p. 222), even while still being indebted to Kant. Redding’s general formulation states
the (apparently) paradoxical position in all its glory. With respect to the relation of categories to
being:
The ‘Given’ as a Logical Problem 105

form. That is, such a form (or kind) accounts for such determinacy. Such entities
embody some measure of what it is truly to be such a thing, and instantiate such
an essence to a greater or lesser degree. A wolf is not simply, in itself, a wolf (we
could also say: is not fully intelligible as what it is; this is part of the identity
claim), but to some degree or other a better or worse exemplification of such
a concept “for itself.” The object is not just “as it is”; it is “for” (here, in some
sense of, “for the sake of”) its concept and hereby itself. A merely “existing”
wolf is thus not an “actual” wolf. The latter would involve truly being for itself,
the realization of wolfness. Hegel will tell us later that the subject matter of the
Science of Logic is “actuality,” not existence, about which more in a moment.⁸
This is all in keeping with Hegel’s general tendency to gloss his use of “for-itself”
with Aristotle’s notion of an actualized potential, an energeia, actus or in Hegel
Wirklichkeit, and “in itself” as dynamis, potentia, or, in Hegel, Möglichkeit. ⁹ To
say that an object is “for its form” is just to say that there is an intelligible dy-
namic in its development. Various aspects or elements or moments make
sense in terms of the concept of the thing. This intelligible dynamic is its concept
and is not something that “exists” separate from or supervening on some phys-
ical attributes and efficient causation. It just is the intelligible way a develop-
ment develops; there is nothing “over and above” the development.¹⁰
But there is a crucial difference between Hegel and Aristotle, and here Kant
comes charging back into the picture. Thinking, for Hegel, is in no sense a kind
of perceiving. As in Kant (in one of Kant’s many, dozens of, revolutionary in-
sights), it is discursive. There is no nous pathetikos. Thinking is a productive
power, spontaneity. The categorical structure of being is not simply noetically
available to, transparent to, the light of reason. So in saying that pure thinking’s
object is pure thinking itself, we do not mean that thinking attends to a special
object or event. We have to say that it determines its own possibility. We could
even say that it self-legislates its own laws, and so connects the thought with

The categories, or thought determinations, do not reflect an independent determinate realm of


objects, but nor do objects reflect an independently structured realm of determinations of
thought. Rather we must be able somehow to think of these two realms as one. (p. 222)
See also the apt formulation on the last page (p. 232). I think we need to go deeper into Kant to
find the Hegelian position on logic than Redding intimates, and to say more about what one
means by “being,” but I agree with this formulation.
 The unity of concept and “Realität” is what Hegel means by Wirklichkeit, actuality. See Hegel
1969, § 215 and for its bearing on the famous “Doppelsatz” on the Philosophy of Right, see § 6. See
also § 121 Z on the “ground” of the plant’s growth being ultimately “nothing but the concept of
the plant itself.”
 For the relevant passage and a longer discussion see Kern’s invaluable article, Kern 1971.
 See Lear on Aristotle here, 1988, pp. 41– 42.
106 Robert B. Pippin

what was most inspiring for later German philosophy, especially Fichte. (We
could say this, and we would be right to say it, but it is endlessly misleading.)
That is, only pure practical reason can determine what the form of pure practical
reason is, its supreme law. Kant speaks of this as self-legislation, of being the
author (Urheber) of the law. But “legislating” is not positing such a law ground-
lessly; not volitional anarchy. It is reason knowing what Kant teaches is its only
object: not supersensible objects, but itself. In exactly the same sense in which
pure thinking’s determination of any possible intelligibility, its determination
of thinking’s own requirements does not face the question of whether the
world matches or fits these requirements (to be is to be intelligible), this legisla-
tion by pure practical reason does not face the question of whether we are
“bound” or obligated to such results. There is no such second step. To act is
to be bound to reason.
Unfortunately, this all still gets us almost nowhere in understanding The Sci-
ence of Logic. But it is a start in understanding its tri-partite structure, the logics
of being, of essence, and of the concept. Radically simplified in terms of predi-
cative form, this amounts to the logic, presuppositions and implications of “this
is F,” “this is essentially or necessarily F,” and finally, “this is a good F.”
With such a background, here is Hegel’s logical formulation of the problem
of the given as the problem of immediacy:

Being is the immediate. [Das Seyn ist das Unmittelbare.] [Here I think we should say: ‘being’
is the ‘given’ in its logical form] Since the goal of knowledge is the truth, what being is in
and for itself, knowledge does not stop at the immediate and its determinations, but pen-
etrates beyond it on the presupposition that behind this being there still is something other
than being itself, and that this background constitutes the truth of being. (Hegel 1984,
vol. 11, p. 241)

As this passage already indicates, the Logic of Being is an attempt to demonstrate


why there cannot be a logos of being just as such, understood as atomic contents
grasped by a receptive mental or sensory power. In Hegel’s terms,

Being is Schein. The being of Schein consists solely in the sublatedness of being, in being’s
nothingness; this nothingness it has in essence, and apart from its nothingness, apart from
essence, it does not exist. It is the negative posited as negative. Schein is all that remains of
the sphere of Being. (Hegel 1984, vol. 11, p. 246)

The full, official form of the argument is that a distinct logic of being is impos-
sible except if conceived within a logic of essence, which Hegel understands as
“reflected being,” another statement of our most basic problem. (To be more pre-
cise: “conceived within a logic of essence” means, ultimately, conceived under
The ‘Given’ as a Logical Problem 107

the concept of “actuality,” which involves the proper understanding of the rela-
tion between “essence” and “appearance,” yet another higher order statement of
the mediated immediacy problematic.) That alone doesn’t help us much, but see-
ing the problem as a problem of reflection might get us somewhere. I will make a
couple of suggestions in this brief presentation.
To start, here is a typical formulation of the issue to be addressed:

We must then reject the opposition between an independent immediacy in the contents or
facts of consciousness and an equally independent mediation, supposed incompatible with
the former. The incompatibility is a mere assumption, an arbitrary assertion. All other as-
sumptions and postulates must in like manner be left behind at the entrance to philosophy,
whether they are derived from the intellect or the imagination. (Hegel 1969, p. 78)

One way to approach what Hegel is getting at is to pay attention to those many
instances of the logical issue he presents in the Logic of Essence. Being and Re-
flected being are one such instance; “appearance and essence” is another in-
stance; so is matter and form, and there is an interesting and relevant discussion
of Kant’s distinction between reflective and determinate judgments. Now, my
very brief suggestion in this context is that Sellars’s approach to Aristotle in
an important article can help us move a bit forward. This will involve my quoting
two long, but, for me anyway, extremely helpful, even indispensable paragraphs.
First, this is what I take to be Sellars’s formulation of the Kantian theme of an
exclusively discursive intellect, and the kind of problem caused in Aristotle by
its absence. It is also Hegel’s point against the sufficiency of the logic of being
as such.

Here the guiding thread is that Aristotle’s rejection of Platonism leads him to the idea that
since the fundamentum in re of the truth of ‘This is a K’ is the K itself (i. e., this-K), rather
than the fact that it is a K, there must be a form of knowing which has the K qua nameable
(rather than the fact that it is a K) as its object (i. e., which combines somehow the (incom-
binable) characters of being a grasping of this item as a K and of being prior to the idea of
its being a K (as contrasted with other actual, or possible, K’s). In other words, instead of
recognizing that knowledge is ab initio the knowledge that this is a K (or that this is f), and
is ab initio expressible by means of the statement ‘This is a K’ (or ‘This is f’). Aristotle pos-
tulates (and he was not the last to do so) an ur-knowing which, if it had a verbal expres-
sion, would be properly expressed by a (fictitious) singular term of the form ‘This-K’ and
supposes that the thinking expressed by ‘This is a K’, which involves the multiple predicat-
able ‘a K’ is derivative from the direct, simple, and intuitive knowledge of this-K. (Sellars
1977, p. 101)

If what Sellars is saying is correct, his interpretation is just another way to lead
us back to the issue of mediated immediacy embedded in “this is a K” as what
we know ab initio. But the form-matter relation inherent in such an issue also
108 Robert B. Pippin

gives Sellars another way of formulating the Hegelian aperçus we have been
tracking. It is compressed in this dense but terrifically illuminating passage; a
kind of model of a “two that is actually a one” dialectic at stake in so much
of what Hegel is about. (It helps distinguish both as elements of a unity—mo-
ments in the das Moment, element sense—as opposed to the der Moment, or tem-
poral phase sense.)

Are we to suppose that as in the ordinary sense the spatial togetherness of two individuals
(the parts) constitutes a new individual (the whole), so in the metaphorical sense a nonspa-
tial, metaphysical, togetherness of individual matter and individual form (the ‘parts’) con-
stitutes a new (and complete) individual (the ‘whole’)? The answer, I submit, is no, for the
simple reason that the individual matter and form of an individual substance are not two
individuals but one. The individual form of this shoe is the shoe itself; the individual matter
of this shoe is also the shoe itself, and there can scarcely be a real distinction between the
shoe and itself. What, then, is the difference between individual form and matter of this
shoe if they are the same thing? The answer should, by now, be obvious. The individual
form of this shoe is the shoe qua (piece of some appropriate material or other—in this
case leather) serving the purpose of protecting and embellishing the feet. The individual
matter of this shoe is the shoe qua piece of leather (so worked as to serve some purpose
or other—in this case to protect and embellish the feet). Thus, the ‘parts’ involved are
not incomplete individuals in the real order, but the importantly different parts of the for-
mula (piece of leather) (serving to protect and embellish the feet) projected on the individ-
ual thing of which they are true. (Sellars 1977, p. 118)

Sellars’s formulation of this particular immediacy-mediation point is deeply He-


gelian in spirit. It is what we need: a way of disabusing ourselves of assumptions
that make it impossible to understand any modality of immediacy and mediation
as inseparable even if necessarily distinguishable. A form, like a concept, a
thing’s concept, or The Concept, is not a thing but the distinct being-at-work
of the whole thing, in the way in which the De Anima tells us in an analogy
that the form or soul of the eye, were it a being, would be seeing. Sellars’s
“what appears to be two is really one” formulation is also Hegelian.
Here are Hegel’s versions of the same point. First:

Further, form presupposes a matter to which it refers. But for this reason the two do not find
themselves confronting each other externally and accidentally; neither matter nor form de-
rives from itself, is a se, or, in other words, is eternal [weder die Materie noch die Form ist an
sich selbst oder, in anderer Sprache, ewig]. (Hegel 1984, vol. 11, p. 297)

and,

The two sides of the whole, condition and ground, are therefore one essential unity, as con-
tent as well as form. They pass into one another, or, since they are reflections, they posit
The ‘Given’ as a Logical Problem 109

themselves as sublated, refer themselves to this their negation, and reciprocally presuppose
each other. But this is at the same time only one reflection of the two, and their presuppos-
ing is, therefore, one presupposing only; the reciprocity of this presupposing ultimately
amounts to this, that they both presuppose one identity for their subsistence and their sub-
strate. This substrate, the one content and unity of form of both, is the truly unconditioned;
the fact in itself. [Diese, der eine Inhalt und Formeinheit beyder, ist das wahrhaft Unbedingte;
die Sache an sich selbst.] (Hegel 1984, vol. 11, p. 318)

The claim that “matter” in whatever logical register, is to be understood as al-


ways enformed and form is to be understood as always being enmattered, cannot
in Kantian terms be leading back to the position that sensible intuiting is a kind
of thinking, and thinking is a kind of intuiting, as if along a continuum. That is
what Kant has liberated us from, but the promised land requires that we think of
matter and form, intuiting and thinking, as both absolutely different and logical-
ly distinguishable as such, as well as also inseparable within a logical whole. (So
perceiving is one moment (in the der Moment sense) but two moments (in the
das Moment sense).)
This is not a wholly unfamiliar point. The matter of a dog is not any old mat-
ter. It must already be the matter-of-a-dog, even though the flesh and bones and
organs (each of which is also a form of some matter) are not, considered on their
own, a dog. In a related sense, if the dog is dead, the matter is also not dog-mat-
ter, so separated from the being-at-work of the species form. Here is Hegel’s stab
at making the points:

What appears here as the activity of form is, moreover, just as much the movement that
belongs to matter itself. The determination that implicitly exists in matter, what matter is
supposed to be, is its absolute negativity. [Die ansichseyende Bestimmung oder das Sollen
der Materie ist ihre absolute Negativität.] Through it matter does not just refer to form simply
as to an other, but this external other is the form rather that matter itself contains locked up
within itself. (Hegel 1984, vol. 11, p. 299)

Or the “material” of a specific house-perception is already, in its mode of being


as potentiality, already sensory-house-perception material. But the mode of its
being so is a “Sollen.”
And Hegel cites several other examples that make the two-is-one point. The
appearances of an essence are not, taken singly, what the thing essentially is. Yet,
Hegel insists, that essence is nothing other than its appearances, or is the what it
was to be of its appearances, playing on the tense of to ti ên einai and gewesen.
A cube can be red or green, heavy or light, but qua cube it manifests itself as six,
each side same-sized squares, and that showing is what it is to be a cube, a fact
that requires further specification of how a square manifests itself. A cube is
what had been made manifest, understood in the proper reflective way. Or:
110 Robert B. Pippin

“The German language has kept ‘essence’ (Wesen) in the past participle (gewe-
sen) of the verb ‘to be’ (sein), for essence is past—but timelessly past—being.”
(Hegel 1984, vol. 11, p. 241, my emphasis) A person’s character, his essence in
that sense, cannot be understood as a mere list of what actions she has under-
taken (what is immediately apparent in this context), but neither can it not be
understood as something other than the right reflective understanding of
those actions, the mediation or reflection of that immediacy. (Hegel 1969,
§ 112Z) (Incidentally, this is how Hegel wants us to understand the truth in
Kant’s “we only know appearances, we cannot know things in themselves.”
We are therewith not talking about two worlds or two points of view. There is
no duality. The thing in itself is its appearances, rightly understood. There is
no separate entity underlying them. In that sense, Kant is exactly right. The
thought of noumenal agency is just the thought of a reality that cannot appear
as such, requires another modality of existence to be understood as what it is;
a practical reality.)
But as we have seen from the beginning, the most difficult context involves
the Kantian language of spontaneous mediation of the immediate, and in that
context, the material we have looked at suggests that a rethinking of sorts is nec-
essary with what we, and virtually everyone else, characterized as the Kantian
innovation perhaps more important than any other: that thinking is discursive,
is not itself open to the world in any direct way, qua thinking alone. There is
no lumen naturale, no nous pathetikos, no Jacobi-esque flash of insight. But with-
out some dissolving of what Hegel called the typically metaphysical or Verstand-
typical either/or of receptive but blind intuition, and active but empty thinking,
we will not be able to explain the simplest case of concept application. In even
the simplified and misleading “impositionist” interpretation of Kant that is so
common, we will not be able to explain the determination of what to impose
if we hold to such an exclusive disjunction. Moreover, Hegel points out early
in the Logic that Kant himself could not observe such a distinction so quickly.
That is, for Kant, in the Metaphysical Deduction, thought must be able to de-
termine its own moments or forms, not conceptualize an alien content. Accord-
ingly, Kant announces at the very beginning of the first Critique, that he is seek-
ing what the “cognitive faculty […] provides out of itself.” (Kant 1998, B 1) This
determination is not anything like the “seeing” of thought’s nature as an object;
it is spontaneous, productive, but in its relation to itself, determines a content.
But neither is it the discursive application of a predicate to a concept of an ob-
ject. And, as noted before, most suggestively for the entire enterprise of the
Logic, practical reason can determine the form of a rational will that is also itself
a substantive content. The self-legislation of the moral law is not volitional an-
archy, but practical reason’s knowledge of “what” it is to determine its own law.
The ‘Given’ as a Logical Problem 111

III
Here is one of the best examples of this logical point about immediacy and me-
diation, formulated in these faculty terms. This occurs in Hegel’s discussion of
Kant’s distinction from the Critique of the Power of Judgment between determin-
ing and reflective judgment. As we shall see, Hegel is looking in exactly the right
spot in Kant. In a Remark in the Essence Logic, Hegel reminds us that Kant,

defines judgment in general as the faculty of thinking the particular as contained under the
universal. If the universal (the rule, the principle, the law) is given, then the judgment
which subsumes the particular under it is determining. But if what is given is only a par-
ticular, for which it is up to the judgment to find the universal, then the judgment is reflect-
ing. Here, too, reflection is therefore a matter of rising above the immediate to the universal.
(Hegel 1984, vol. 11, p. 254)

But if this distinction between determining and reflecting judgment is conceived


as a disjunction, matters get confusing. Every determinate judgment must also
involve a reflective determination of which concept to apply, and every reflective
search for a concept must already proceed from a particular sufficiently determi-
nate to warrant the judgment for one rather than an other. The two forms of judg-
ment must be considered two moments—in the sense of elements—of one whole,
not two different activities. As Hegel puts it in his own inimitable way,

On the one hand, the immediate is determined as particular only by being thus referred to
its universal; for itself, it is only a singular or an immediate existent. But, on the other
hand, that to which it is referred, its universal, its rule, principle, law, is in general that
which is reflected into itself, which refers itself to itself, is the essence or the essential.
(Hegel 1984, vol. 11, p. 254)

“Essence or the essential” here means that the particular must already be “uni-
versally determined” in some way in order to be “referred to the universal.” (As
Hegel puts it: “For the universal, the principle or the rule and law to which re-
flection rises in its process of determination is taken to be the essence of the im-
mediate from which the reflection began.” Hegel 1984, vol. 11, p. 254) Kant, for
Hegel, did not fully understand the implications of his identification of these
moments, but they intimate what he calls “absolute reflection,” our last example
of the territory the notion of mediated immediacy leads us into.

Transcending the immediate from which reflection begins occurs rather only through this
transcending; and the transcending of the immediate is the arriving at the immediate.
(Hegel 1984, vol. 11, p. 252)
112 Robert B. Pippin

This is Hegelese, but the point he is making is crucial and relatively clear. For
any reflective judgment, the “ascending” search for a universal cannot begin un-
less the particular is already determinate enough (and that must mean concep-
tually determinate) for the “search” to have a determinate direction; or, really,
any direction. And any subsuming, determining judgment cannot “apply” the
concept unless the particular has already been apprehended in a way that
“called for” the relevant concept, unless a moment of reflecting judgment had
already occurred. The two moments are inseparable and this is the model we
need at the logical level if there is to be a mediated immediacy. I think this is
the Kantian-Hegelian version of the point Sellars is making about Aristotle.
It is also useful to recall that Hegel is responding here to something in Kant;
he is not correcting Kant. Reflection had been a topic in Kant’s logic courses, and
“transcendental reflection” had been another topic in the first Critique, and it is
possible to argue that many elements of the later topic were present in the crit-
ical project before 1790. But by isolating and highlighting the issues, by formu-
lating the problem in a new way, as the problem of reflective judgment, Kant was
noting that judgment was important for far more than “subsuming” activities or
locating elements in a transcendental geography of faculties, but was a capacity
required for the empirically under-determined and—most importantly—not for-
malizable and not rule-guided—activity by virtue of which rules, concepts, the-
ories and laws were first possible. In the most general sense, it was this non-
rule-guided characteristic, some sort of element of free activity and even “crea-
tivity,” that could link the cognitive issues with aesthetic experience and judg-
ment. Appreciating the beautiful was not the application of a concept, the sub-
sumption of an individual under a concept, but was a free play activity that
nevertheless intimated a harmony, as if conceptually ordered, as if, but not,
an instantiation of a concept of purposiveness. Kant seemed to see that there
were other activities as well that could not be understood as conceptually deter-
mined or empirically guided, but which were nevertheless not arbitrary, merely
subjective or heuristic, but involved a “discernment” of such purposiveness that
was productive in a way necessary for empirical knowledge.
Since, as we have been noting, Kant’s general position was that “intuitions
without concepts are blind,” the possibility that it was not only aesthetic expe-
rience, with its exclusion of any unity produced by the application of a concept,
that seemed an unusual exception of sorts to this principle, but that concept and
theory formation, systematizing, and even life and organic intelligibility “fit”
somehow into that “exception,” all gave the issue considerable importance.
This is true even if, as Kant insists, this new activity and its principle do not con-
stitute an objective domain or Gebiet, do not ground any “doctrine,” the way the
principles of the understanding constitute the realm of nature, and the way prac-
The ‘Given’ as a Logical Problem 113

tical reason and its law constitute the realm of freedom. The necessity involved in
judgment is not, he claimed, constitutive of a domain but rather something that
judgment freely requires of itself. This notion of requirement, which Kant calls
heautonomy, we can already see from what has been said above, will form an im-
portant link to how Hegel understands his own project (and how he thinks Kant
might better have understood his own).
Finally, if we recall that for Hegel, the sublation (Aufhebung) of the immedi-
ate is the preservation in some way of the immediate, then an analogy suggests
itself. In the same way that we can imagine that the determination of a person’s
character from his deeds, from the immediate appearances, is not a once-for-all
determination, but a reflective determination always attentive to future deeds
and so to an expanded or revised “essence,” and therewith an expanded or re-
vised interpretation of deeds as typical or untypical, then we can imagine that in
both logical and empirical determination of conceptual content, a similar point
is relevant. This process or movement can be better considered as a kind of os-
cillation in the same sense (one recalls Fichte’s word, schweben), and we will
have at least a sketch of how the matter seems to Hegel. A very rough sketch,
but at least a sketch.

References
Brandom, Robert (2002a): “Some Pragmatist Themes in Hegel’s Idealism”. In: Brandom,
Robert: Tales of the Mighty Dead: Historical Essays in the Metaphysics of Intentionality.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, pp. 210–234.
Brandom, Robert (2002b): “The Centrality of Sellars’s Two-Ply Account of Observation to the
Arguments of ‘Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind’”. In: Brandom, Robert: Tales of
the Mighty Dead: Historical Essays in the Metaphysics of Intentionality. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, pp. 348–368.
Brandom, Robert (2014): A Spirit of Trust. http://www.pitt.edu/~brandom/spirit_of_trust_
2014.html, visited on 1 June 2015.
Conant, James (1991): “The Search for Logically Alien Thought: Descartes, Kant, Frege, and
the Tractatus”. In: Philosophical Topics 20, No. 1, pp. 115–180.
Hegel, G. W. F. (1969): “Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften. Erster Teil. Die
Wissenschaft der Logik”. In: Hegel, G. W. F.: Werke. Theorie-Werkausgabe. Vol. 8.
Moldenhauer, E.; Michel, K. M. (eds.). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.
Hegel, G. W. F. (1984): “Wissenschaft der Logik”. In: Hegel, G. W. F.: Gesammelte Werke.
Vols. 11, 12, 21. Hogemann, F.; Jaeschke, W. (eds.). Hamburg: Felix Meiner.
Kant, I. (1998): The Critique of Pure Reason. Guyer, P.; Wood, A. W. (trans.). Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Kern, W. (1971): “Die Aristotelesdeutung Hegels”. In: Philosophisches Jahrbuch 78, pp. 237–
259.
114 Robert B. Pippin

Lear, Jonathan (1988): Aristotle: The Desire to Understand. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
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Hegel-Studien 40, pp. 25–39.
Pippin, Robert (2015): “Robert Brandom’s Hegel”. In: Pippin, Robert: Interanimations:
Receiving Modern German Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 29–62.
Redding, Paul (2007): Analytic Philosophy and the Return of Hegelian Thought. Cambridge:
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Sellars, Wilfrid. (1977): “Aristotle’s Metaphysics: An Introduction”. In: Sellars, Wilfrid:
Philosophical Perspectives: History of Philosophy. Atascadero, Ca.: Ridgeview Press,
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Strawson, Peter F. (1966): The Bounds of Sense. An Essay on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
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Tolley, Clinton (2006): “Kant on the Nature of Logical Laws”. Philosophical Topics 34,
Nos. 1&2, pp. 371–407.
Wolff, Michael (1984): “Der Begriff des Widerspruchs in der ‚Kritik der reinen Vernunft‘”. In:
Tuschling, Burkhart (ed.): Probleme der Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Berlin: De Gruyter,
pp. 178–202.
Stephen Houlgate
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s
Science of Logic
Abstract. In his account of measure in the Logic Hegel discusses various natural
phenomena, such as specific heat and specific gravity, and associates each one
with a particular form of measure. Yet Hegel’s conception of measure is not guided
by his understanding of nature or by modern science. His derivation of the forms of
measure proceeds immanently by rendering explicit what is implicit in the concept
of measure itself. Natural phenomena are then adduced as examples of the meas-
ures that have been derived logically. My aim in this essay is to explain how the
distinctive logic of measure proceeds in its early stages.

In seiner Behandlung des Maßes in der Logik erörtert Hegel verschiedene natürliche
Phänomene, wie spezifische Wärme und spezifisches Gewicht, und er verbindet jedes
mit einer besonderen Form des Maßes. Hegels Auffassung des Maßes wird jedoch
weder durch sein Verständnis der Natur noch durch die moderne Naturwissenschaft
bestimmt. Seine Ableitung der Formen des Maßes verläuft auf immanente Weise
durch das Explizitmachen dessen, was im Begriff des Maßes selbst implizit ist.
Natürliche Phänomene werden dann als Beispiele der Maße, die logisch abgeleitet
worden sind, angeführt. Mein Ziel in diesem Aufsatz besteht darin, zu erläutern, wie
sich die eigentümliche Logik des Maßes in ihren ersten Phasen entfaltet.

I Introduction
In the first Critique Kant counts among the conditions of the objects of experi-
ence the categories of “quantity” and of “quality”, but he does not derive one
set of categories from the other logically. ¹ In the Science of Logic, by contrast,
Hegel argues that quantity is made necessary logically by quality, specifically
by the qualitative category of the “one” (Eins) and the connected categories of
“repulsion” and “attraction” (which, in quantity, become “discreteness” and
“continuity”).² Hegel goes on to argue that quantity in turn makes quality neces-

 CPR B 106, 202–218. S. Houlgate 2014, p. 16–17. Note that, for Kant (in contrast to Hegel),
“quantity” and “quality” are not themselves categories, but are rather the names of two sets
or “classes” (Klassen) of categories (CPR B 110).
 S. SL 163–178/LS 166–184, and Houlgate 2014, p. 17–19.

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-006
116 Stephen Houlgate

sary and thereby gives rise to the explicit unity of the two in the form of measure
(Maß). Measure, he notes, was a central concept for the Greeks, who, indeed,
maintained that “everything has a measure” (SL 329/LS 367).³ It is, however,
a concept that is lost on Kant, as it is lost on Spinoza.⁴ Hegel’s speculative
logic thus restores the concept of measure, neglected by the moderns, to its right-
ful place in our understanding; and it does so by demonstrating that measure is
made necessary logically by the very quantity and quality that for Kant—albeit in
the guise of two “classes” of categories⁵—are the indispensable conditions of ob-
jective cognition.
Now in his account of measure in the Logic Hegel discusses numerous nat-
ural phenomena and laws, many of which were unknown to the Greeks, and he
associates each one with a particular form of measure. These phenomena and
laws include specific heat, specific gravity and Kepler’s third law of planetary
motion.⁶ Hegel’s interest in these aspects of nature is not accidental, but follows
from the fact that “the different forms in which measure is realized belong also
to different spheres of natural reality” (SL 331/LS 369). It is important to empha-
sise, however, that Hegel’s conception of measure is not itself guided by his un-
derstanding of nature or by the findings of modern science. His derivation of the
various forms of measure proceeds immanently by rendering explicit what is im-
plicit in the concept of measure itself. (“The whole course of philosophising”,
Hegel states in the Encyclopaedia, is, indeed, “nothing else but the mere positing
[Setzen] of what is already contained in a concept”, EL § 88 R.) Natural phenom-
ena and laws are then adduced as examples of the measures that have been de-
rived logically. Speculative logic is understood by Hegel to be both a logic and an
ontology or metaphysics: an account of the necessary categories of thought and
of the fundamental ways of being.⁷ The examples from nature thus serve to con-
firm that the measures made necessary by logic belong just as much to the
world.
Logic, then, does not follow nature or natural science, but nature exempli-
fies the structures derived a priori by logic.⁸ If we are to understand why there

 S. also EL § 107 A, and Harris 1983, p. 146.


 S. SL 327–328/LS 364–365.
 S. note 1 above.
 S. SL 338–339, 341–343, 349–351/LS 377–378, 381–383, 390–392, and Rinaldi 1992, p. 173.
 S. SL 27/LS 6, and Houlgate 2006, p. 115–143.
 On the relation between Hegel’s philosophy (including his philosophy of nature) and natural
science, s. Houlgate 2005, p. 110–121. By contrast, Ruschig contends that, in the chapter on real
measure at least, the logical transitions are actually determined by the scientific models that
Hegel cites as mere ‘examples’; s. Ruschig 1997, p. 16, 28, 46, 233. Kruck argues, as I do in
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s Science of Logic 117

are measures in the world, therefore, it is crucial that we understand the distinc-
tive logic of measure that makes its various forms necessary. My aim in this essay
is to further such understanding by explaining, as clearly as I can, how that logic
proceeds in its early stages.

II The Specific Quantum


In the Logic a measure is initially some determinate amount, or “specific quan-
tum”, that confers a determinate quality on a thing and without which the thing
would lose that quality and cease to be what it is (SL 333/LS 371). A mere quan-
tum can be changed without destroying the thing concerned: the latter can be-
come bigger or smaller and remain what it is.⁹ The quantum (or range of quanta)
that constitutes a thing’s measure, however, cannot be changed without destroy-
ing the thing, because it is precisely what gives the thing, or enables it to have,
its particular quality: it “belongs”, and is specific, to that quality.¹⁰ Water, for ex-
ample, must be kept below 100o C or it turns into steam, and “a republican con-
stitution like that of Athens, or an aristocratic constitution tempered by democ-
racy, is suitable only for states of a certain size” (SL 332/LS 370).¹¹
Speculative logic proves that being cannot just be indeterminate but must
take the form of determinate, finite things. Such things must also have a certain
quantity or “magnitude”, and they must have a certain measure: a specific quan-
tum, thanks to which they are what they are.¹² Hegel points out, however, that
measure is in fact an ambiguous determination.
Note that a measure is not an ideal standard that a thing has to meet in order
to be itself; it is the magnitude a thing actually has and to which it owes its dis-
tinctive quality. This magnitude must be (or fall within the range of) the thing’s
measure, for if the thing has it, it obviously permits the thing to be what it is. The
ambiguity of such a magnitude is this. As a simple quantum, it can change like
any other: it is “an indifferent magnitude” that is “capable of increase and de-

this essay, that Hegel’s account of measure proceeds logically and is intelligible “without the in-
tegrated, concrete material of intuition” supplied by science; s. Kruck 2014, p. 123–124.
 S. SL 186/LS 193, and Houlgate 2014, p. 17.
 SL 336/LS 374. Miller translates “ihr zugehörigen” as “attaching to it”. S. also Moretto 2002,
p. 76.
 S. also EL § 108 A, and Stace 1955, p. 169–170. Ruschig points out that water starts to evap-
orate below 100o C, but that at boiling point not only does the surface evaporate, but water
below the surface also turns to steam; s. Ruschig 1997, p. 287.
 On Hegel’s logic of quality, s. Houlgate 2006, p. 263–435.
118 Stephen Houlgate

crease” (SL 334/LS 372). As a measure, however, it grounds, or makes possible,


the quality of the thing. This in turn sets a limit to the extent to which it can
change: for if it is to preserve the quality concerned, it can change only within
a certain range. The measure is thus a thing’s magnitude or quantum that is “dis-
tinguished [verschieden] from itself as a quantum” and limits the latter (SL 334/
LS 372). The actual temperature of the water before us is a quantum that can vary
from 1 to 99o C. This temperature range enables the water to remain a liquid and
so constitutes its measure. Yet that range is also just a range of quanta, and as
such can be increased or decreased beyond the limits of the measure that it
is. If this happens, however, water will change its quality and become ice or
steam. The quantum (or range of quanta) that something actually has thus con-
stitutes both the bare, changeable quantum of the thing and the measure that
sets a limit to the changes that quantum can undergo.¹³
Note, though, that that measure cannot itself prevent the thing’s quantum
from exceeding its limit. This is because a quantum as such is irreducibly
changeable, and the measure cannot take this feature away from it. The measure
does not, therefore, make it impossible for the quantum to go beyond the limit
set for it, but simply determines that, if it does so, the quality disappears. In this
sense, a thing’s magnitude, which allows the thing to be what it is and so is or
belongs to its measure, is actually impotent as a measure in the face of its own
quantitative nature.
It follows from the nature of measure, therefore, that a thing can change its
quantity without altering its quality, but that it will (or may) reach a point at
which that quality, and therewith the thing, ceases to be. This change in quality
and demise of the thing, Hegel writes, will appear “unexpected”, if one is un-
aware of the thing’s measure, because it will seem that only a change in quantity
is occurring. One can then be tempted to try to make such change in quality in-
telligible with the help of the idea of “gradualness” (Allmählichkeit): if one focus-
es one’s attention on the changes in quantity, one will be able to see—or so one
might think—the qualitative change come about ‘gradually’ before one’s eyes. Yet
Hegel insists that thinking of qualitative change as merely ‘gradual’ actually re-
duces it to something purely quantitative and so makes it impossible to see any
qualitative change, or to explain how the latter could occur (SL 335/LS 373). The
only thing that can explain how a change in quantity brings about a change of
quality is the measure of a thing; and understanding the latter requires us to give
up the desire to explain everything in quantitative terms.

 S. Ferrini 1988, p. 34, Hartmann 1999, p. 151, Carlson 2007, p. 206, and Winfield 2012, p. 145.
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s Science of Logic 119

In this context Hegel briefly discusses the ancient Greek “sorites” paradoxes
(from the Greek for heap, soros), attributed to Eubulides of Miletus.¹⁴ “The ques-
tion was asked”, Hegel writes, “does the pulling out of a single hair from the
head or from a horse’s tail produce baldness, or does a heap cease to be a
heap if a grain is removed?” (SL 335/LS 373). The answer, surely, is no, and it con-
tinues to be no when one pulls out a second and then a third hair, or removes a
second and then a third grain. Indeed, formal logic tells us that the answer
should remain no, as long as one continues to remove just one item at a time.
Yet, of course, we eventually reach a point at which we say that the head is
bald or there is no more heap; so pulling out a single hair would appear to
make us bald after all, leaving us with a paradox.
Hegel insists that such paradoxes are neither “an empty or pedantic joke”,
nor merely sophistical as if the contradiction they contain were a “sham”, but
that they are “in themselves correct” (SL 336/LS 374, translation altered). They
are, in other words, not just puzzles to be solved or dissolved with the resources
of formal logic, but paradoxes that disclose a fundamental truth. This truth is the
truth of measure, namely, that quantitative differences are not merely quantita-
tive, but at some point—or within a certain range of points—make a qualitative
difference. The value of the paradoxes, therefore, is that they expose the “mis-
take” of “assuming a quantity to be only an indifferent limit”. As Hegel notes,
those who think that repeatedly removing just one grain should not eliminate
the heap forget that “the individually insignificant quantities […] add up” and
that the sum constitutes a “qualitative whole” (SL 335/LS 374). Similarly, those
to whom the steady increase in their wealth “appears at first to be their good for-
tune” overlook the fact that such an increase may well at some point lead to
their misfortune (SL 336/LS 374).¹⁵

III The Specifying Measure


A measure is a quantum that constitutes (or enables there to be) a certain qual-
ity. We know from the first section of the Doctrine of Being, however, that quality

 On the early history of these paradoxes, s. Moline 1969.


 From the Hegelian point of view, the phenomenon exposed by sorites paradoxes is thus not
principally the ‘vagueness’ of concepts such as ‘heap’, but (in Harris’s words) “the interdepend-
ence of the moments of measure” (Harris 1983, p. 147). For an account of the relation between
the paradoxes and the topic of vagueness, s. Hyde 2011. On Hegel’s discussion of the paradoxes,
s. also Johnson 1988, p. 70, and Winfield 2012, p. 145.
120 Stephen Houlgate

does not stand alone, but is the quality of something (Etwas).¹⁶ A measure is thus
not just an abstraction, but a quantum constitutive of a thing with a certain qual-
ity, and it is as such that it differs from a “mere” quantum in the way we have
seen.¹⁷ Following the logic of “something”, however, that mere quantum should
itself be something other than the measure. The measure is immediately itself and
must, therefore, be immediately different from a quantum that is in turn imme-
diately itself. When this thought is rendered explicit, a new form of measure
emerges. This new measure does not simply differ from the mere quantum
that it is, but both sides now have “a distinct existence” (eine verschiedene Exis-
tenz) (SL 336/LS 375).
Yet, as we know, a measure is not indifferent to the mere quantum, but sets a
limit to it and in that sense ‘negates’ it. This continues to be true of the new
measure: it, too, limits the mere quantum that lies outside it. It does so on the
basis of its own specific determinacy and so proves to be the activity of specifying
that external quantum. Measure has thus now to be understood, not just by it-
self, but in relation to an “alterable, external” quantum, which it specifies
(SL 336/LS 375).¹⁸
It should be stressed that what drives the logic of measure forward here is
the double character of the measure itself. On the one hand, a measure is the
unity of quantity and quality: it is a quantum that constitutes and sustains a
quality. On the other hand, quantity and quality remain different in the measure,
since the latter contains quantity in two forms: once as constituting quality and
thus as the measure, and once as a mere quantum. Moreover, the quantum as
qualitative—as the measure—‘negates’ the mere quantum that the measure
also is by setting a limit to it: this limit is one that that quantum cannot exceed
without undermining the quality attached to the measure. This difference be-
tween the quantum as measure and as mere quantum initially falls within the
measure itself: the measure sets a limit to the changes that it, as mere quantum,
can undergo. As a self-relating something, however, the measure now sets itself
in relation to a quantum that is (or belongs to) something of its own and so falls
outside the measure itself. In this way, the difference internal to the measure mu-
tates logically into a relation between the measure and another quantum. Such a

 S. SL 115/LS 109–110, and Houlgate 2006, p. 312–330.


 Hegel employs the phrase “[the] mere quantum” (das bloße Quantum) on SL 336/LS 375.
 Kruck appears to get confused here. He correctly states that a difference emerges between a
“specifying” quantum and a quantum being specified, but he describes the latter as a “specific
quantum” and an “intrinsic determinateness” (ansichseiende Bestimmtheit) when these terms ac-
tually characterise the specifying quantum. S. Kruck 2014, p. 125, and SL 329, 333–334/LS 367,
371–372.
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s Science of Logic 121

relation is thus not just an accidental feature of measure, but renders explicit the
difference that is at the heart of the measure from the start.¹⁹
A measure ‘in relation’ first specifies the quantum that it confronts by pro-
viding an external measure for it: one that Hegel calls a “rule” (Regel) or “stan-
dard” (Maßstab) (SL 337/LS 375).²⁰ Since this rule and the external quantum are
initially just immediately other than one another, the former does not actively
negate and change the latter (as the third form of measure will do) but simply
stands next to it. Yet, as a measure, the rule must specify and limit the quantum
in some way. So how does it do so? We learn in the account of quantity that a
quantum as such—or, more precisely, a quantum as a number—is a determinate
“amount” of featureless “units” (SL 202–203/LS 213–214).²¹ The rule, therefore,
must specify either the amount of the external quantum, or the units it compris-
es, or both. The amount, however, belongs to the quantum, since it makes the
latter the quantum or number that it is, and so it falls outside the rule. Accord-
ingly, the rule—unlike the first form of measure—does not determine how big
something may be or what degree it may reach. It must, therefore, specify the
quantum by providing the unit (Einheit) in terms of which the latter is to be
measured. Now the rule, as a measure, is something specific and determinate,
so the unit it provides for the quantum must also be determinate.²² This unit
is thus not just a bare unit as such, but a determinate one, such as a foot or a
metre, and the quantum, which stands in relation to the rule, must in turn be
a certain amount of such units. The rule specifies the quantum, therefore, by de-

 S. SL 330/LS 368: “The development of measure contains the differentiation of these mo-
ments […]”; s. also Hartmann 1999, p. 151, and Kruck 2014, p. 129. Burbidge maintains that we
move to a new measure in order to “improve the rigour of our measuring”, rather than by ren-
dering explicit the difference that is implicit in the specific quantum (Burbidge 2006, p. 54). In
my view, however, Hegel’s logic of measure is not (or not principally) about the ways in which
we measure things, but it sets out the measures inherent in being itself.
 The thought of a rule or standard is introduced by Hegel in the first sub-division of the first
chapter on measure (1.A)—in which he examines the initial immediate measure, or “specific
quantum”—but, strictly speaking, that thought does not belong there. A rule or standard is a
measure that, unlike the “specific quantum”, is explicitly distinct from the quantum to which
it relates, and so it belongs in the second sub-division of that chapter (1.B.a) (s. SL 333/
LS 371). Kruck appears to conflate the initial measure with the rule or standard in his discussion
of 1.A—though he goes on to point out that the rule must also be conceived as “something for
itself” that is distinct from the quantum for which it provides the rule; s. Kruck 2014, p. 126–127,
129.
 S. Houlgate 2014, p. 20–22.
 Measure is, at the start of its logical development, “its own determinateness [Bestimmtheit]
within itself” (SL 333/LS 371), and such determinateness remains a feature of measure through-
out that development (until we reach the thought of “indifference”).
122 Stephen Houlgate

termining the latter to be an amount, not just of bare units, but of units of a spe-
cific character.²³
Note that, pace John Burbidge, Hegel is here not just describing a process of
measuring in which we engage.²⁴ He is arguing that being itself must produce
measures and that these measures themselves serve to specify the magnitudes
of other things. Yet insofar as they are no more than a rule or standard of meas-
urement, such measures remain external to the quanta they specify. They
can thus be replaced by other measures and so are “arbitrary” magnitudes
(SL 334/LS 372). Furthermore, due to their externality, these measures are them-
selves quanta that contain their own amounts. They can thus be specified in turn
in terms of other units, just as a foot can be determined as an amount of inches.²⁵
Hegel now points out, however, that measure must take a further, third form.
This emerges as we continue to render explicit what is implicit in being a meas-
ure. As we have seen, the measure is not only the immediate unity of quantity
and quality but a something (Etwas) in its own right. As such, it must be accom-
panied by, and directly related to, another something, and so, as Hegel puts it, it
must have “in it this side of being-for-other” (SL 337/LS 376). In accordance with
the logic of “something”, however, the first something must also be open to
being changed by the other to which it relates and so have what Hegel earlier,
in the account of quality, called a “constitution” (Beschaffenheit).²⁶ Since the
other is here principally another quantum, the something must be open in par-
ticular to having its quantum changed by that other.
Yet the first something is not merely a something, but also a measure. As
such, it must limit and specify the quantitative change that the other brings
about in it. In his account of quality Hegel argued that something is not com-
pletely at the mercy of other things, but has an intrinsic being or “determination”
(Bestimmung) of its own that affects how other things affect and change it: “the
determining from outside is at the same time determined by the something’s
own, immanent determination” (SL 125/LS 121). We now see more clearly one
of the things that this means: through the measure that it contains, something

 There appears to be some confusion in Kruck’s account of the rule in 1.B.a, when he de-
scribes the rule as providing, for the quantum to which it relates, “the measure for determining
the latter’s measure” (das Maß der Bestimmung von dessen Maß) (Kruck 2014, p. 130, my empha-
sis). On my view, the rule relates to a “mere quantum” (SL 336/LS 375), not to a quantum that is
also a measure, and it simply provides the unit of which that quantum is a certain amount.
 S. Burbidge 1996, p. 27–28, 30, and Burbidge 2006, p. 53–54.
 S. SL 337/LS 375. For the “externality” of quantity, s., for example, SL 185, 239, 314/LS 192,
258, 350.
 S. SL 123–125/LS 119–121, and Houlgate 2006, p. 348–356.
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s Science of Logic 123

limits in a specific way—and so specifies—the changes in quantity to which it is


subjected by another.
The measure has thus mutated, logically, from an external standard or rule
into an explicitly “specifying measure” (SL 337/LS 376).²⁷ Accordingly, it now no
longer relates only to a quantum that is outside and other than it, but in relating
to another quantum it also relates to itself, to the quantum that it is: for it speci-
fies the quantum within itself that comes from the other. In this respect the
measure blends together the relation to another quantum that characterizes
the second form of measure with the specifying of its own quantum that charac-
terizes the first form. This third form of measure thus embodies more explicitly
than either of its predecessors what it is to be a measure.
Note, too, that its relation to the “mere” quantum is more active and negative
than in the case of the rule. The rule simply limits such a quantum to being an
amount of these units, rather than those; it thereby remains external to that
quantum and leaves the latter itself unaltered. By contrast, the new specifying
measure limits the change that is imposed on it by the other quantum, and there-
by negates and changes that change: it alters the quantum that it is given by the
other. In this way, the something negates the mere quantum in two senses: it
negates its own quantum insofar as the latter is determined by the other quan-
tum, and so it negates that other quantum as well. It does so in a specific way
that is governed by its own measure. In specifying the effect that another quan-
tum has on it, therefore, something shows itself to be something of its own,
something for itself. Hegel pulls these thoughts together in the following lines:

Something, in so far as it is a measure within itself, has the magnitude of its quality altered
from outside itself; it does not accept this externally imposed alteration as an arithmetical
amount: its measure reacts against it, relates itself as something intensive [ein Intensives] to
the amount and assimilates it in a distinctive way [auf eine eigentümliche Weise]; it alters
the externally imposed alteration, makes this quantum into a different one and through
this specifying shows itself to be being-for-self [Fürsichsein] in this externality (SL 337/
LS 376, translation altered).

It is crucial to recognise the complexity of the logical structure that Hegel is set-
ting out here. There is one something in relation to another, the first of which is a
measure, whereas the second is merely a quantum. The one that is a measure,
however, is thereby itself a quantum. As a measure, therefore, it stands in a neg-

 Note that in the 1st edition of the Logic’s ‘doctrine of being’, Hegel continues to call this
measure a “rule”; s. LS 1812, 230: “In the rule, on the contrary […]” (In der Regel hingegen
[…]). In the 2nd edition this is changed to: “In the specifying measure, on the contrary […]” (In
dem spezifizierenden Maße hingegen […]) (SL 338/LS 376).
124 Stephen Houlgate

ative relation to both its own quantum and that of the other: it negates its own
quantum, insofar as the latter is in turn determined by the other. More precisely,
it negates the amount that is added to its own quantum by the other. Here we see
the clear difference between a merely quantitative relation between quanta and
the more nuanced relation between a quantum and a measure. If one bare quan-
tum is added to another bare quantum, the latter increases by precisely what is
added to it: add 2 to 3, and 3 becomes 5. Something with a measure, however,
does not directly take on what is added to it: as Hegel puts it, it does not accept
the “arithmetical amount” that is given to it. Rather, it accepts, and so increases
by, an amount that has been specified by its measure. This additional amount
remains a quantum, and is still dependent on the other quantum. Yet it is not
completely dependent on the latter and is not a mere “quantum as such”, but
it is a quantum “specified in a constant [konstante] manner” (SL 337/LS 376).
This moment of constant ‘specification’, Hegel notes, constitutes the “exponent”
that governs the relation between the something and any quantum that changes
it. If the same amount is added to different things, their specific measures or ex-
ponents will thus ensure that each in fact increases by a different amount.
This kind of measure, Hegel claims, explains why different bodies absorb in
different ways the heat transferred to them. As the temperature of a “general me-
dium”—say, the air—increases, particular bodies in the medium differ in the way
they absorb it, “for through their immanent measure they determine the exter-
nally received temperature” (SL 338/LS 377–378, translation altered). This “imma-
nent measure” is their “specific heat” (spezifische Wärme), and it explains why,
for example, a metal absorbs heat at a different rate from water. The third form of
measure is thus not just a form of thought, but it underlies a significant phenom-
enon in nature.

IV Measure as the Quantitative Relation between


Qualities
After examining this “specifying measure”, Hegel proceeds to render explicit
what is implicit in the latter, and he thereby again derives a new form of meas-
ure. He points out first that the merely external quantum we have been consid-
ering is not in fact purely quantitative after all, because it is itself “qualitatively
different” from quality, that is, from the qualitative, specifying measure (SL 339/
LS 378, translation altered). This in turn reflects the fact that quantity as such is
qualitatively different from quality: it is a further form of quality that no longer
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s Science of Logic 125

exhibits the characteristic logical structure of quality itself.²⁸ For this very rea-
son, however, the external quantum to which the specifying measure relates is
explicitly quantitative, not qualitative; this is why it is subject to specification
by the measure and not the other way around. The quantum, as quantum, is
thus only implicitly qualitative, and there is only an implicit qualitative differ-
ence between it and its specifying counterpart. When, however, that implicit
qualitative difference is rendered explicit, or “posited in the immediacy of
being” (SL 339/LS 378–379), in accordance with speculative method,²⁹ both
sides in the relation have to be conceived as explicitly qualitative. That means
in turn that the quantum on each side is not merely a quantum but the specific
quantum of a quality.
This takes us to a new logical structure that must be carefully distinguished
from its predecessors. Both the rule and the specifying measure confront a quan-
tum that is, or belongs to, something other than the measure.³⁰ Such a some-
thing in turn necessarily has a certain quality; indeed, in the case of the specify-
ing measure Hegel states that the quantum belongs to a something with “the
same quality” as the measure itself (which enables the former to act on the latter
and the latter to specify the effect the former has on it) (SL 337/LS 376). Yet
in these two cases, the quantum specified by the measure is a matter of indiffer-
ence to the quality of the thing with that quantum; it is not explicitly the thing’s
measure and so in that sense is not itself explicitly ‘qualitative’. The quantum
belongs to something with a quality, and implicitly constitutes its measure
since it permits the thing to be what it is; yet it is explicitly a mere “measureless”
(maßlos) quantum—the mere quantum that the rule and the specifying measure
require as their logical counterpart (SL 337/LS 376).³¹
In the new logical structure, by contrast, that quantum is now itself explic-
itly qualitative. This means not just that it belongs to something with a quality,
but that it is explicitly specific to such quality. The quantum that is merely exter-
nal to the specifying measure is now no longer just a quantum but the “quantum
of a something and of its quality” (SL 339/LS 379, my emphasis). Both sides of the
relation, therefore, now have the same logical structure: each is explicitly quan-
titative and qualitative.
Note, however, that this shared structure does not eliminate the difference
between the two sides. The reason why is that the external quantum becomes

 S. LS 1812, 234, and SL 239, 323/LS 258, 360: “The externality of the determinateness is the
quality of quantum”.
 S. EL § 88 R.
 S. SL 337/LS 375–376.
 Miller translates “maßlos” as “having no significance as a measure”.
126 Stephen Houlgate

qualitative when we render explicit the implicit qualitative difference between it


and its specifying counterpart. As Hegel puts it, it is “this difference between
them” that is posited in the “immediacy of being” (SL 339/LS 378–379). So, al-
though the external quantum does, indeed, become qualitative, like its counter-
part, it does so as it becomes explicitly different qualitatively from the latter. The
two sides in the new logical structure must, therefore, have their own distinctive
qualities, and the quantum that each is must be the specific quantum of that
quality. It is, of course, possible, as a matter of fact, to encounter two related
things with the same specific quantum and same quality, such as two equal
amounts of water; but such a relation between things is not what is made nec-
essary at this point by the logic of measure. What is made necessary here is a
relation between two things, each of which has its specific quantum and the dis-
tinctive quality associated with the latter. In the new measure, therefore, two
quanta now coincide with two different qualities in relation to one another.³²
There is, however, a subtle logical difference between the things as qualita-
tive and as quantitative. As qualitative, they are principally distinct from one an-
other; indeed, Hegel states, “each is for itself [für sich] such a determinate being”
(SL 339/LS 379, translation altered).³³ As such, therefore, they are not explicitly
related to one another: they are not connected by their different qualities. In
the previous “specifying” measure, however, measure took the form of the ex-
plicit relation between two quanta (in which one altered or “specified” the
other). This remains the case in the new measure, since the latter simply renders
explicit what is implicit in its predecessor. Accordingly, although the two things
in this measure are, as qualitative, not explicitly related, they are explicitly relat-
ed to one another by their specific magnitudes. As Hegel puts it, “measure is
thus the immanent quantitative relating of two qualities to each other”
(SL 340/LS 379).
This measure is, more precisely, a single measure—“ein Maß” (SL 336/LS 375)
—that consists in a quantitative relation between qualities. Moreover, since each
side of this relation is the “specific magnitude” of a quality, each is itself a meas-
ure in its own right (SL 339/LS 379). The new measure we are considering is thus
one measure that is a relation between two measures.³⁴
Now, as we know, a measure as such contains a quantum in two senses:
once as constituting the measure itself—as the quantum that is specific to,
and sustains, the quality of the thing concerned—and once as an immediate, ‘ex-

 This is not to deny that the two quanta may be the same, but in each case it is the specific
quantum of its quality.
 S. also SL 344/LS 384.
 S. SL 330, 339/LS 368, 378.
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s Science of Logic 127

ternal’ quantum that can change (and exceed the measure of the thing). Accord-
ingly, the two quanta in the new measure must also be both kinds of quantum.
In Hegel’s words, “the quantum in its dual character [Doppelsein] is both exter-
nal and specific so that each of the distinct quantities possesses this twofold de-
termination and is at the same time inseparably linked with the other” (SL 340/
LS 379). Each, therefore, must be a merely external, changeable quantum in re-
lation to another such quantum, but each must also be a specific quantum that
belongs specifically to this quality rather than that. Hegel argues that this logical
complexity requires the new measure to take three different forms, depending on
which aspect of the measure is more to the fore. Two of these will mirror meas-
ures we have already encountered, whereas the third will be unique to this new
measure and, indeed, will alone be the full realisation of the latter.
As just noted, each quality in the new measure has a quantum that belongs
specifically to it (and so each has its own measure). Initially, however, this must
itself be merely some simple, immediate quantum that is attached to the quality:
as Hegel puts it, the two sides in the relation are “taken at first simply as deter-
minacies of magnitude [Größebestimmtheiten]” (SL 341/LS 380, translation al-
tered). The new measure thus consists first in the relation between these magni-
tudes. It is a definite, fixed relation between them, because it has a determinate
character of its own that makes it the measure it is; yet the two quanta in the
relation, as simple, immediate quanta, are also inherently changeable. The dis-
tinctive “determinacy of the measure” (Maßbestimmung) thus resides in a
fixed relation, or direct ratio, between two changeable quanta: so, as one in-
creases, the measure requires the other to increase by a proportional amount.³⁵
As an example of this measure, Hegel points to velocity, in which a certain quan-
tum of space is traversed in a given time: say, two metres per second. The dis-
tance travelled can increase from two to four metres, but the measure is pre-
served insofar as the direct ratio between distance and time—the velocity—is
preserved: so four metres are traversed in two seconds.³⁶ Velocity might seem
to be a purely arbitrary relation between distance and time, but it in fact com-
bines the two aspects of measure noted above. The magnitudes of the distance
and time are, indeed, simply given, and so arbitrary, and the velocity could
just as easily have been another. Yet the velocity is the measure of a certain (uni-

 For the term “Maßbestimmung”, s. SL 340/LS 379. Miller translates it as “determination of


measure”.
 S. SL 342/LS 381–382. Note that space (or distance) and time are regarded here as qualities
whose quanta stand in a certain relation; s. SL 341/LS 380. In the Philosophy of Nature, however,
the ‘quality’ of space is itself understood to be “pure quantity”; s. EPN § 254 R.
128 Stephen Houlgate

form rectilinear) motion,³⁷ and each magnitude, as a moment of that measure, is


specific to its quality and stands in a fixed relation to its counterpart (even as it
changes).
The two sides of the new measure must, however, be more clearly differen-
tiated from one another than this, since their relation must also render explicit
the difference within measure between the measure itself and the mere quantum.
This difference is present in velocity, since, as in the rule, one of the qualities
provides the “unit” through which the other’s amount is “specifically deter-
mined” (SL 341/LS 380): velocity is distance-per-unit-of-time or time-per-unit-
of-distance. Just as in the rule, however, the unit can itself be regarded as an
amount, so each side remains a given quantum. To understand how measure
and quantum can be explicitly distinguished in the new measure, therefore,
we must look back to the measure that comes after the rule. In the latter, one
moment remains a mere quantum, but the other is the “specifying” measure
that explicitly negates and changes the first (rather than just subordinating it
to a rule). It does so by asserting its distinctive quality—or, in Hegel’s words,
“the qualitative moment”—against its counterpart (SL 338/LS 377).
Now, as we know, every measure is a quantum that is specific to, and so one
with, a quality. The identity of quantum and quality can, however, be more or
less explicit. In the first, immediate measure (described in 1.A of the section
on measure in the Logic), the quantum to which a quality is attached is itself
simply immediate: it is just “some determinate quantum”, or range of quanta,
that sustains “some determinate quality” (SL 333/LS 371, translation altered).
Yet at the end of the account of quantity, just before the transition to measure,
the quantum proves to be explicitly qualitative by raising itself to a power of it-
self: for, in doing the latter, it relates to itself in becoming another quantum and
thereby exhibits the distinctive quality of “self-relation” that characterizes
“being-for-self”.³⁸ It follows that a quantum is most explicitly one with quality
as a measure, when it is not just “some determinate quantum” but one raised
to a power. Logically, therefore, the specifying measure that explicitly differenti-
ates itself from and acts on the mere quantum must change the latter “in accord-
ance with a power-determination [Potenzenbestimmung]” (SL 338/LS 377, transla-
tion altered)—though Hegel does not explain exactly how this might manifest
itself in specific heat.³⁹

 S. Biard et al. 1981, p. 247.


 S. SL 321–323/LS 359–361, and Houlgate 2014, p. 27–28.
 In fact specific heat or ‘heat capacity’ itself decreases at low temperatures ‘in accordance
with a power-determination’; s. Vallance Group: “the Debye heat capacity decreases as T 3 at
low temperatures, in agreement with experimental observation”.
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s Science of Logic 129

Since the two quanta in the new measure must also be distinguished from
(and related to) one another as explicit measure and mere quantum, the former
must also determine the latter by raising itself to a power of itself. This yields the
second form of the new measure. Hegel’s example is Galileo’s law of falling bod-
ies, according to which distance is proportional to the square of the time, or (as
Hegel expresses it) s = at2 (SL 342/LS 381). The distance and the time needed to
traverse it are both changeable quanta, but, as in the case of simple velocity,
their relation to one another is once again fixed. In this case, however, to calcu-
late the distance travelled in an increased time—say, in three seconds, rather
than one—the initial distance-per-second is multiplied not just by the new
time, but by the square of the new time. So, as Hegel explains in an addition
to his Encyclopaedia Philosophy of Nature, if “the body falls a little more than
15 feet in the first second”, “in two seconds, the body falls, not twice but four
times the distance, i. e. 60 feet; in three seconds it falls 9 x 15 feet, and so on”
(EPN § 267 A).⁴⁰ This relation between distance and the square of the time
does not characterise all movement, but it is the distinctive measure of freely
falling, and thereby uniformly accelerating, bodies (on a planet or moon); and
Hegel claims that it is logically necessary that there be a measure with this
form.⁴¹
The new measure that has arisen at this point in the Logic thus takes the
form of two distinct relations between quanta. Yet Hegel argues that it also
takes the form of a third relation, in which, indeed, this new measure is most
fully realised. This third relation renders explicit the fact that the measure is a
relation between two measures. The two sides are thus not just quanta, and
are not just related as quantum and its specifying counterpart, but both are
quanta raised to a power—though each is raised to a different power, and so
“specified” in a different way, by the different quality to which it belongs.⁴²
The example Hegel gives of this third form of the new measure is Kepler’s
third law of planetary motion: the principle that the squares of the orbital peri-
ods of any two planets are proportional to the cubes of their mean distances
from the sun, or (in Hegel’s expression) s3 = at2 (SL 342/LS 381).⁴³ Once again,
not all motion is subject to this law, but the law is a specific measure of plane-

 S. Houlgate 2005, p. 138–144.


 Another possible example of this form of measure is “e = mc2”, though of course we cannot
know what Hegel himself would have thought about the latter.
 S. SL 341–342/LS 381 (on the “extensive” and “intensive”). Note that, in Hegel’s view, the dif-
ference between the “extensive” and “intensive” also explains which quantum must be the
power-determination in the second form of this measure.
 S. Houlgate 2005, p. 147–153.
130 Stephen Houlgate

tary motion, and it exemplifies a form of measure that, in Hegel’s view, is made
necessary logically by the nature of measure itself.
Hegel calls the measure we have been considering in this section “the real-
ized measure” (SL 340/LS 380). This measure realizes itself most fully, however,
only in the third of the three forms that it takes: for only in this case are the two
measures related to one another explicitly as quanta that are “qualitatively deter-
mined” and so as measures. The “higher realization of the qualifying of the
quantitative”, Hegel states, “is that in which both sides are related to each
other in higher determinations of powers (as is the case in s3 = at2)” (SL 342/
LS 381).⁴⁴

V Contingency in Measure
It can be tempting to admire the consistency of Hegel’s derivation of categories in
the Logic, but to wonder what the point of it all is. In Hegel’s view, however, the
point is one of great significance. Logic shows not just that certain categories are
conceivable, but that they—and the corresponding ways of being—are logically
necessary. It does so by demonstrating that they are inherent in thought—and
being—itself; and it does this by rendering explicit what is implicit in the cate-
gory of pure being and the subsequent categories that arise. The logic of measure
thus shows that certain forms of measure belong of necessity to the very fabric of
being. The occurrence of these forms of measure in nature is then confirmed by
the examples that Hegel provides.⁴⁵
Hegel’s logic of measure is thus not just a “reconstruction” of concepts from
the history of philosophy or science; nor is it just a critique of inadequate ways of
thinking “determinately” about reality.⁴⁶ It is a positive metaphysics that disclo-
ses the measures there must be in the world. This in turn means that, for spec-
ulative philosophy, certain forms of motion and the laws that govern them are

 It is clear from Hegel’s account of the realized measure that his interest in Galileo and Kepler
arises not just from their importance for science but from the fact that their laws express neces-
sary measures; s. SL 343/LS 383. On the relative significance of Kepler and Newton, in Hegel’s
view, s. Houlgate 2005, p. 155–156.
 In speculative logic these are just examples, but in the philosophy of nature Hegel argues
that some (namely, Galileo’s law and Kepler’s third law) are themselves made necessary by
the logic of nature (that is, of space and time); s. SL 342/LS 382; EPN § 267 R, § 270 R, and Houl-
gate 2005, p. 138–153.
 For Karin de Boer, by contrast, Hegel’s logic as a whole is such a reconstruction, and for Rob-
ert Pippin the doctrine of being as a whole is such a critique. S. de Boer 2010, p. 40–41, and
Pippin 1989, p. 191–201.
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s Science of Logic 131

not just contingent, but exemplify being’s very own measures. This, however, is
not to deny that there is contingency in the world. Indeed, Hegel argues that
such contingency is actually an integral feature of measure itself.
It has been noted above that in a measure the quantum has a “dual charac-
ter” (SL 340/LS 379): it is, on the one hand, a mere quantum and, on the other,
a quantum that is specific to a certain quality (and thus the measure of the thing
concerned). This dual character is evident in the fact that the very first measure
(in 1.A) is a quantum that sets a limit to the changes it can undergo as a mere
quantum; and it becomes explicit in the relation between, first, the rule and
the quantum and, second, the specifying measure and the quantum. As we
have just seen, this dual character also manifests itself in the new “realized”
measure by requiring the latter to take three forms: the relation between two
quanta, the relation between a quantum and a “specifying” quantum in the
form of a power-determination, and the relation between two power-determina-
tions. The dual character, however, also manifests itself in the fact that the last
two relations themselves coincide with relations between simple, given quanta;
and it is this fact that places contingency at the heart of measure.
A simple quantum is by its nature contingent, since it is simply and imme-
diately what it is and could just as well be different; there is thus contingency in
the fact that there is this much water, rather than that much, in the sea. There is
also contingency in the fact that something has its measure in this immediate
quantum—that water boils at 100o C, rather than 60o C—and the fact that the
first form of realized measure, velocity, has this magnitude. These measures,
as measures, are logically necessary; but they necessarily contain contingency,
because the quanta they involve must be immediately given and thus be beyond
explanation by logic. This is not, of course, to deny that natural science might be
able to explain why water boils at 100o C or an object travels at a certain speed,
but logic alone cannot do so.⁴⁷
Now logic, as we have seen, requires the realized measure to take two further
forms beyond the form exemplified by velocity. In these forms, however, the
quanta concerned are not just immediate, and so contingent, but one has, or
both have, a character that is made necessary by logic itself (more specifically
by the logic of quantity). In the ‘Galilean’ realized measure one quantum is
thus a power-determination, and in the ‘Keplerian’ measure both quanta are.
The ‘Keplerian’ measure in particular is, therefore, explicitly the relation between

 On the limits of philosophy with respect to nature, s. EPN § 250 R, 268 A, and Houlgate 2005,
p. 112–115.
132 Stephen Houlgate

two specifying quanta, or measures, rather than between two merely immediate
and contingent quanta.
Yet a measure as such is both a measure and an immediate quantum at the
same time. This should thus be the case in both the last two forms of realized
measure; and indeed closer attention shows that it is. One might think that
such immediacy can be found in the particular powers to which quanta are
raised in those measures, but Hegel argues in the Philosophy of Nature that
these powers are themselves necessary, so I will leave them to one side here.⁴⁸
There is, however, an element of immediacy and contingency in those measures
in another sense: for each power is itself the power of an immediate quantum.
These immediate quanta are represented in the two laws that exemplify the
two measures by s and t, that is, distance and time; any power of s and t
must, therefore, also be an immediate quantum, and, accordingly, the measure
itself—s = at2 or s3 = at2 – must be a direct ratio between such quanta. This ratio in
turn must have an exponent that is found by dividing one side of the ratio by the
other, and this exponent is the ineliminable element of contingent immediacy in
the realized measure. It is what Hegel calls the “empirical coefficient” in such a
measure and it is represented in his expressions of the two laws of motion by a
(SL 346/LS 386).⁴⁹
Note, however, that this “coefficient” is not only a function of s and t, but
also the immediate quantitative determinacy of the measure: it is the quantum
that gives the measure its distinctive empirical character. As such, it is the mo-
ment of fixed immediacy or “being-for-self” in the measure that limits the change
of s and t (SL 346/LS 386)—though, of course, it can itself change and so give rise
to a different empirical measure. The change of s and t is thus limited in two
ways by the two aspects of the measure. On the one hand, it is limited by the
logical form of the measure: so in the ‘Galilean’ measure, the distance travelled
by a falling body must be proportional to the square of the time that has passed,
or s = t2. On the other hand, it is also limited by the “empirical coefficient” in the
measure: so s = a x t2 (where a is the distance the body falls in the first unit of
time).
Freely falling bodies thus always fall in accordance with Galileo’s law, but
their rate of fall is also governed by a particular number that is not determined
by the logic of measure (or by the nature of space and time). From the point of
view of speculative philosophy, then, their rate of fall is immediate and contin-
gent. In the Philosophy of Nature Hegel reminds us that, leaving aside the effects

 S. EPN § 267 R, 270 R, and Houlgate 2005, p. 141–142, 150–153.


 S. Doz 1970, p. 141, and Ferrini 1998, p. 300–301.
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s Science of Logic 133

of air resistance, bodies on the same planet fall at the same rate.⁵⁰ Their rate of
fall may differ, however, from planet to planet and moon to moon: the same body
in the same initial unit of time may fall a different distance on a different planet.
The ground of the distinctive immediacy that determines the way bodies fall is
thus to be found in the terrestrial (or lunar) body to which they belong.⁵¹
A similar empirical coefficient governs the movement of the planets in our
solar system. Each planet lies at a different mean distance from the sun and
has a different orbital period; but in each case the cube of the distance is propor-
tional to the square of the period, and in each case the exponent of the direct
ratio between the two sides is the same, namely approximately twenty-five.⁵²
Planets belonging to a different solar system will also obey Kepler’s third law
(unless contingencies in the system intervene), and the ratio between the
cubes of their mean distances from their sun to the squares of their orbital peri-
ods—when these are converted into simple numbers—will also be governed by
an exponent; but the numerical value of that exponent may differ from that of
our solar system.

VI Transition to Real Measure


The measure that governs the fall of a body or the orbit of a planet is thus not
just one single measure but comprises two relations: a ‘specifying’ relation be-
tween powers (or a power and a quantum) and a direct relation between
amounts. These two relations are, however, independent of one another: the
fact that a body is subject to Galileo’s law does not determine how far it should
fall in the first period of time, and the fact that s3 = at2 does not require a to have
one value rather than another. In that sense, the two relations constitute two dis-
tinct measures governing falling or orbiting bodies. Yet these two distinct meas-
ures actually constitute one measure, since any ‘specifying’ relation between
quanta of qualities is inseparable from a direct relation between quanta and

 S. EPN § 267 A, and Houlgate 2005, p. 142.


 The surface gravity on the Moon, for example, is 0.16 of that on Earth, and on Mars it is 0.38.
S. Sparrow 2006, p. 72, 88.
 The mean distance of Mars from the sun is 227.9 million kilometres and its orbital period is
687 earth days. If one divides the cube of the former by the square of the latter, the result is
25.079. The mean distance of Jupiter from the sun is 778.3 million kilometres and its orbital pe-
riod is 11.86 earth years. In this case, the cube of the former divided by the square of the latter
yields the result, 25.158. S. Sparrow 2006, p. 88, 140.
134 Stephen Houlgate

the latter will always have a given exponent: that is to say, whenever s = at2 or
s3 = at2, a must have some particular numerical value.
The realized measure is thus not simply a relation between two quanta (one
or both of which is a power-determination), but it is also the relation between,
and indeed unity of, two different relations between those quanta (SL 347/
LS 387–388). Implicit in this measure so conceived, Hegel argues, is a new meas-
ure that he calls a “real measure”. When that new measure is considered in its
initial immediacy, however, it must be a relation between two immediate, direct
ratios, rather than between a direct ratio and a ratio involving powers (as in the
realized measure). As Hegel puts it, “since the sides which now constitute the
measure relation are themselves measures, but at the same time real somethings,
their measures are, in the first place, immediate measures and the relations in
them are direct relations” (SL 348/LS 388–389, translation altered). The real
measure, therefore, is a ratio in which the two sides are no longer just quanta
—whether simple or raised to a power—but ratios. Since, however, the latter
are direct ratios, their sides are once again—like the sides of the simplest realized
measure—quanta of given qualities. Density, which Hegel cites as an example of
such a direct ratio, is thus the ratio between a quantum of mass and a quantum
of volume.⁵³
The real measure is therefore exemplified in nature by the direct ratio be-
tween two densities, each of which is itself the direct ratio between a mass
and a volume. The ratio between the density of a substance and that of a refer-
ence substance (usually water or air) is called “specific gravity”. Specific gravity
thus exemplifies the real measure, while simple density exemplifies the ratio that
constitutes one side of such a measure.

VII Conclusion
Readers will note that the various measures examined by Hegel are exemplified
by very different natural phenomena: specific heat, the laws of gravitational mo-

 Ruschig points out that density can be expressed as g/cm3 and so still involves a power-de-
termination (Ruschig 1997, p. 42). Yet density is nonetheless a direct ratio between mass and vol-
ume. If the density remains constant and the volume increases, the mass increases in proportion
to the volume, not to the square or cube of the volume. By contrast, when the rate of fall of a
body is constant, the distance travelled is proportional to the square of the time elapsed. Density
thus exemplifies one ‘side’ of a real measure, whereas Galileo’s law of fall exemplifies the sec-
ond form of realized measure. For an insightful account of real measure in the Logic, s. Schick
2014.
The Logic of Measure in Hegel’s Science of Logic 135

tion, density (or specific gravity). Hegel, however, is not claiming that there is a
necessary natural connection between these phenomena, or that one gives rise
to the other in nature. That is something for natural science to consider. His
claim is that implicit in the logical structure of each measure exemplified by
such a phenomenon is the logical structure of a new measure, and that one
measure thus makes another necessary logically. It is the intrinsic logic of meas-
ure, therefore, that generates the sequence of measures that Hegel discusses.
Measure is initially (in 1.A) the immediate unity of a quantum (or range of
quanta) with a quality. This measure, however, also contains the difference be-
tween itself and the quantum of the thing by setting a limit to the latter beyond
which the thing ceases to be. When this difference is rendered explicit, two new
forms of measure are generated. In the first (in 1.B.a), the measure relates, as a
mere quantum, to another quantum by providing the unit of which the other is
the amount. In the second (in 1.B.b), the measure relates, as a specifying meas-
ure, to another quantum by limiting the changes that the latter can bring about
in it. The mere quantum in this relation is, however, itself implicitly qualitative,
since, as a quantum, it is qualitatively distinct from the explicitly qualitative
measure. This implicitly qualitative character of the quantum points logically
to a new, “realized” measure in which both sides have an explicit and distinct
quality, but in which they are related by their quanta (see 1.B.c). Those quanta
in turn are, in the first form of realized measure, mere quanta (for example, in
simple velocity); but then, in the other two forms, at least one of them is an ex-
plicitly qualitative, “specified” quantum. As Hegel argues in the account of
quantity, such a quantum is one that raises itself to a power of itself: for in so
doing it exhibits the distinctive quality of “self-relation” that belongs to
“being-for-self” (SL 321–323/LS 359–361). The second and third forms of realized
measure are thus relations, respectively, between a quantum and a power-deter-
mination and between two power-determinations. Each relation, however, coin-
cides with a direct ratio between two mere quanta, and the realized measure
thereby proves to be a relation between, or unity of, two different relations be-
tween the quanta concerned.
This leads logically to the real measure, in which one measure is the relation
between two relations, which in their initial immediacy are direct ratios, such as
densities. The development of measure then leads to the explicit unity or “com-
bination” of such ratios (because the real measure is two as one), and to a series
of such combinations (since each ratio, as the relation between quanta, is sub-
ject to the logic of the quantum and the one [Eins], and so is not just one of two
136 Stephen Houlgate

but one of many). The real measure thus proves to be an explicit unity, but is then
dispersed into many different unities.⁵⁴
The subsequent development of measure leads via further complex meas-
ures, such as “elective affinity” and the “nodal line”, to the transition from
measure to essence.⁵⁵ That development is too detailed to summarise here.
What needs to be borne in mind throughout, however, is that the development
continues to be guided by the logic of measure, rather than the natural phenom-
ena that, in Hegel’s view, exemplify each measure. It is certainly tempting to
think that Hegel considers elective affinities only because they were the subject
of scientific concern at the time he was writing the Logic. In truth, however, he
considers these affinities, and all the other measures, because the logic of meas-
ure itself requires him to.⁵⁶ This logic is one to which Kant and Spinoza were
both blind, but in Hegel’s view it is at work in both thought and being. It deter-
mines us to think about measures in certain ways (though such thought needs
time and history to become fully explicit), and it also determines there to be cer-
tain measures in the world.⁵⁷

References
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Luca Illetterati
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s
Science of Logic
Abstract. The notion of objectivity in the Hegelian conceptual constellation is one
that, if not ambiguous, is at least characterized by a strong polysemy. This paper
considers the significance that “objectivity” assumes for Hegel in relation to logic;
it therefore also raises questions about the kind of objectivity Hegel attributes to
logical thought. The thesis defended is that one can understand the Hegelian no-
tion of objectivity only if one recognizes the inextricable bond between the episte-
mological and the ontological in Hegel’s philosophy, or rather, only if one acknowl-
edges the radical critique Hegel directs at the modern gap between epistemological
and ontological dimensions. It is shown that the Hegelian notion of objectivity
should be understood neither in traditionally epistemological terms (as a notion
belonging to some theory of knowledge or epistemology) nor in purely ontological
terms (as a property exclusive to being, facts, or the states of things).

Hegels Begriff der Objektivität ist ein schillernder Begriff. Dieser Artikel beschäftigt
sich mit Hegels Einschätzung der Bedeutung „Objektivität“ in Bezug auf die Logik
und deshalb mit der Frage, welche Art von Objektivität Hegel logischem Denken
zuschreibt. Die These dieses Artikels ist, dass man den Hegel’schen Begriff der
Objektivität nur verstehen kann, wenn man die untrennbare Verbindung zwischen
der epistemologischen und der ontologischen Philosophie Hegels erkennt, oder wenn
man die radikale Hegel’sche Kritik an die moderne Lücke zwischen der epistemo-
logischen und der ontologischen Dimension erkennt.

1 Introduction
In his introduction to the Science of Logic, Hegel writes that “objective thinking is
thus the content of pure science [objektives Denken ist denn der Inhalt der reinen
Wissenschaft]” (WdL I, p. 34 [29]). In this paper, I intend to focus on the signifi-
cance that “objectivity” assumes for Hegel in relation to logic. In particular, I will
address the question of what type of “objectivity” Hegel attributes to logical
thought. The thesis I would like to defend is that one can understand the Hege-
lian notion of “objectivity” only if one recognizes the inextricable bond between
the epistemological and the ontological domains in Hegel’s philosophy. In order
to approach Hegel’s notion of “objectivity,” one has to interrogate Hegel’s radical

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-007
140 Luca Illetterati

critique of the modern gap between the epistemological dimension (i. e. the dis-
course relative to the modes through which we seek to know being and reality)
and the ontological dimension (i. e. the discourse around being, which includes
discourse relative to the basic structures that articulate reality in all of its com-
plexity). I will therefore attempt to show that the Hegelian notion of “objectivity”
should be understood neither in traditionally epistemological terms (as a notion
belonging to some “theory of knowledge” or “epistemology”) nor in purely on-
tological terms (as a property exclusive to being, facts, or states of things).
I will proceed as follows: First, I will closely investigate the various mean-
ings attributed to the notion of “objectivity” as it appears in the Science of
Logic. In fact, the notion is one that, if not ambiguous, is at least characterized
by a strong polysemy. In the table of contents of the Science of Logic, the word
appears explicitly two times. It appears once to indicate the first of the two
volumes of which the text itself is composed: Objective Logic. It then appears
a second time within the second volume, namely Subjective Logic—and more pre-
cisely, as its second section, “Objectivity” (which follows the first section, “Sub-
jectivity,” and precedes the last, “The Idea).” I will therefore briefly outline the
two major variations on the notion of “objectivity” that are present in Hegel’s
text.
I will then investigate the ways in which these two major meanings of “ob-
jectivity” are connected to the notion of “objective thinking”. In doing so, I will
demonstrate that the latter goes beyond the meanings of “objectivity” as a single
notion that were outlined in the first section.

2 Objective Logic
With regard to the notion of “objective logic,” objectivity refers—to use an ex-
pression from Hegel himself—to the “existent concept” (WdL I, p. 45 [39]). This
is the concept as a form of being, as a structure of the real and the existent,
which only in a later stage will become concept as concept, that is, self-moving
concept.

Accordingly, the first division must be between the logic of the concept as being and of the
concept as concept, or (if we want to avail ourselves of otherwise familiar, but very indeter-
minate and therefore very ambiguous expressions) in objective and subjective logic. (WdL I,
p. 46 [39])
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 141

In this remark, the notion of objectivity, in the phrase “objective logic”, implies
the dimension of being. It refers in this way to that domain traditionally inves-
tigated by ontology.
With the expression “objective logic,” Hegel explicitly recalls the notion of
conceptus objectivus or of ratio objectiva discussed by Francisco Suárez in the
second of his Disputationae metaphysicae. He also indexes Descartes, who, in
the wake of Suárez, discusses this notion in the Third Meditation. In order to il-
lustrate the view of Suárez, one can take as example the concept of “man”: if the
formal concept is the act with which the mind conceives of something as “man,”
the objective concept is the man himself inasmuch as he is represented in that
act. The objective concept, one could thus say, is that which is intended by
the mind (what today one might call “the content” of an act of thinking). The
act itself, on the other hand, is called the formal concept. In this sense it is evi-
dent that, with the notion of “objective logic,” Hegel refers to the metaphysical
tradition of both late scholasticism and the early modern age, which—from the
time of Suárez, passing through Leibniz and continuing through to Wolff—con-
stituted the basic framework for the philosophy taught in German universities
until the early years of the eighteenth century. This tradition served as the
very background deconstructed by Kant’s transcendentalist approach.
It is no coincidence, in this sense, that Hegel connects the notion of “objec-
tive logic” to Kantian “transcendental logic,” or rather to that operation that, to
use Hegel’s own words, had “indeed already turn[ed] metaphysics into logic”
(WdL I, p. 35 [30]). According to Hegel, the distinctive features of “transcendental
logic”—the features that distinguish it from what Kant calls “general logic”—ba-
sically consist of two elements:

– “Transcendental logic” contains the a priori conditions of objects, “the rules


of the pure thought of an object” (Ak. 4, p. 50 [95]). This kind of logic does
not, as in the case of “formal logic,” abstract from every content of objective
knowledge.
– By reconstructing the conditions for knowing an object, “transcendental
logic” moreover shows that these conditions cannot be found in the objects
themselves but rather belong non-empirically to the structure of the know-
ing subject.

With these moves, according to Hegel, Kant brought the traditional domains of
ontology and metaphysics into that of logic. Yet with the same operations, again
according to Hegel, Kant also ran the risk of conflating ontology with epistemol-
ogy, the object with the subject. Roughly speaking this means that, for Hegel,
Kant essentially ran the risk of reducing the objective world—in all of its reality
142 Luca Illetterati

and substantiality—to the very knowledge of it, or to the subjective structures


through which it gets brought to consciousness.
In his “objective logic” Hegel seems to use Kant against Kant: he radicalizes
the Kantian notion of “transcendental logic” by liberating it from the subjective
element it still embodies. Hegel certainly aims to show, in the wake of Kant, that
the real in its essence is conceptual. Yet this does not mean reducing the real to
the forms of transcendental subjectivity; Hegel aims at conferring upon thought
itself a status that is not simply “subjective”. Through this step, “objective logic”
therefore becomes that part of “science” (Wissenschaft) that—by radicalizing the
endeavor started by Kantian “transcendental logic”—takes the place of metaphy-
sics and ontology. This is not to say that “objective logic” should be identified
with metaphysics and ontology. “Objective logic” should rather be understood
as a third option: it is not the reduction of the objective world to the categorical
requirements of transcendental subjectivity; at the same time, it also does not
name a metaphysical substantialism that assumes that the structures of being
are things that are simply given. “Objective logic”, like the whole Science of
Logic, is a path in which the determinations traditionally at the core of ontolog-
ical and metaphysical discourses (such as Being, Existence, Substance, Unity, In-
finity, Identity, Difference, Ground, Matter, Necessity, Possibility, Actuality, etc.)
are developed as thought’s determinations, i. e. as categories that find their jus-
tification in the very logical movement they produce. In this sense, it is possible
to think of Objective Logic as pressing a sort of “epistemological turn” onto on-
tology (and this is the very effect of modern thought, in particular of Kant’s crit-
ical philosophy). At the same time, however, it also gives a peculiar “ontological
turn” to epistemology (and this is an effect of the ancient legacy within modern
thought).
In his “General Division” of the Science of Logic, Hegel asserts in fact that
“objective logic” “takes the place [an die Stelle tritt] rather of the former meta-
physics which was supposed to be the scientific edifice of the world as construct-
ed by thoughts alone” (WdL I, p. 48 [42]). More specifically, Hegel says that “ob-
jective logic” takes the place of ontology, or of that science “intended to
investigate the nature of ens in general [der die Natur des Ens überhaupt erfor-
schen sollte]” (WdL I, p. 48 [42]). It is probably not an exaggeration to maintain
that our understanding of Hegel’s philosophy—including the contemporary op-
position between so-called “metaphysical” and “anti-metaphysical” readings
of Hegel—depends to a large extent on the way we interpret this “substitution.”¹

 For further reading on Hegelian thought in the key of “anti-metaphysics” and “practice,” see
the classics Pippin 2001 and 2008, and Pinkard 1994. For a broader view of the suggested “anti-
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 143

Yet what does it mean to say that logic takes the place of, or is a substitution
for, metaphysics? In The First Position of Thought with Respect to Objectivity, the
peculiar ambiguity characterizing Hegel’s relation to that tradition referred to as
“metaphysics” emerges: on the one hand, Hegel acknowledges that metaphysics
has a legitimate claim to truth; on the other, Hegel criticizes metaphysics and
does not allocate any space within his theoretical system to metaphysics under-
stood as a philosophical discipline. Almost a consequence of this conscious am-
biguity, “metaphysics” is presented by Hegel, on the one hand, as the most in-
genuous position. On the other hand, however, such naiveté—which necessarily
depends on a certain lack of justification—expresses an identity of being and
thought that, as we will see, the Hegelian notion of “objective thought” itself
aims to recall.²

The first position [that is the one that refers, in fact, to the concept of metaphysics, LI] is the
naïve way of proceeding, which, being still unconscious of the antithesis of thinking within
and against itself, contains the belief [Glauben] that truth is (re)cognized [erkannt], and
what the objects genuinely are is brought before consciousness, through thinking about
them. In this belief, thinking goes straight to the objects [Gegenstände]; it reproduces the
content of sense-experience [Empfindungen] and intuition [Anschauungen] out of itself,
as a content of thought, and is satisfied with this as the truth. All philosophy in its begin-
nings [alle anfängliche Philosophie], all of the sciences [Wissenschaften], even the daily
doing and dealing of consciousness [das tägliche Tun und Treiben des Bewußtseins] lives
in this belief (Enz § 26).³

According to Hegel, the attitude or position of thinking that he considers “meta-


physics” generally characterizes common sense, i. e. our ordinary relation with
the world, but also defines the way in which any philosophy or science, at
least broadly speaking, relates to reality (Realität). Such an attitude is defined
by the idea that one can know truth simply through reflection, through the ac-

metaphysics,” the volume of Engelhardt and Pinkard 1994 is a very interesting reading. On op-
position to the “anti-metaphysical” tendency, see also the positions of scholars convinced of He-
gel’s indisputable desire to maintain the metaphysical component as constitutive part of his the-
oretical system, including the fundamental contributions of Houlgate 2006 and 2005, Kreines
2015, and Stern 2009, offer useful frameworks for the metaphysical position. Horstmann,
2008 dedicates particular attention to the epistemological aspect of the relation between subject
and object.
 Cf. Rockmore 1994.
 Gearets, Suchting, and Harris translate the German expression “dass durch Nachdenken die
Wahrheit erkannt werde” into the English one “that truth is (re)cognized.” In my opinion, the
correct translation does not have to do with recognition but with knowing. Instead I propose:
“that truth is known.”
144 Luca Illetterati

tivity of thought that reflects on the world. Or rather, it is defined by the idea that
reflection is able to relate to the world as it really is. What renders this position
one-sided, and therefore makes Hegel’s critique and sublation of “metaphysics”
necessary, is that this relying on reflection is ultimately based on faith (Glauben).
It is based on a presupposition—the identification of thought and being—that is
only assumed, taken to be true without justification.
From the perspective of the history of philosophy, Hegel is referring here to
what he calls the vormalige Metaphysik, that is, that metaphysical tradition
whose cognitive claims Kant criticized in the “Transcendental Dialectic” of the
Critique of Pure Reason. But if this is the explicit reference, Hegel nonetheless
seems to mean “metaphysics” in a more general sense, as an attitude that
goes beyond a specific position in the history of philosophy to resemble the
point of view from which most of our ordinary discussions of the world arise.
Or, still more generally, Hegel seems to conceive of “metaphysics” as the per-
spective from which any discussion about the world originates before undergo-
ing the splitting that occurs when the subject reflects on its own practices of
thinking and their adequacy or lack thereof with respect to reality.
Metaphysics therefore has a double connotation. On the one hand it inhabits
a position that is evidently more rearward as much with respect to empiricism as
with respect to critical philosophy. For empiricism removes authority from faith
and lays claim to the need for the subject to recognize itself in its own state-
ments; whereas critical philosophy is the attitude of thought that most clearly
brings to light the internal contradictions, discrepancies, inadequacies, and
therefore, emptiness of its cognitive claims. Metaphysics, because of its naiveté,
instead is based on a faith that is not adequately justified and proceeds through
determinations of thought that respond to the “mere understanding [of] views
[die bloße Verstandesansicht]” (Enz § 27).
However, it is precisely because “metaphysics” considers “thought-determi-
nations as the fundamental determinations of things [die Denkbestimmungen als
die Grundbestimmungen der Dinge]” (Enz § 28) that it is placed at a level higher
than both empiricism and critical philosophy, in the sense that it does not oper-
ate under the assumption (typical of empiricism and critical philosophy, the two
positions reflecting the spirit of modernity) that there is a gulf between thought
and reality, mind and world, of subject and object – a gulf that prevents thought
from comprehending reality in all of its truth.⁴

 See Houlgate 2004, pp. 100 – 104. Houlgate concentrated his attention precisely on studying
the relation between epistemology and ontology, between being and thought (cf. Houlgate
1991), and between nature and logic (Houlgate 2002), and the extent to which they are connect-
ed within the development of Hegelian thought.
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 145

If we assume that metaphysics is a position committed to the assumption


that the true exists outside and independently of thought, Hegelian philosophy
is without a doubt radically “anti-metaphysical.” For, in Hegel’s view, thought
cannot find justification in anything other than itself. It is this character that ren-
ders philosophy, in its radicalness, the science of liberty. For Hegel, philosophy
does not depend on anything external or given but is able to proceed from itself
and therefore justify its own activity. In other words, engaging in “Wissenschaft”,
one cannot assume foundations that are foreign to the scientific procedure; start-
ing from such givens, essentially assumptions or presuppositions, would under-
mine the scientific character of the “science.” Likewise, there is no basis outside
of thought itself through which thought can support itself or give an account of
its own procedures or concepts.
Yet Hegel’s thought is not anti-metaphysical if one means by this that his
philosophy retreats from the world, from being and from essence, in order to
close itself in a solely logico-linguistic coherence and transform what to “meta-
physics” appears naïvely as the objective structures of reality into mere subjec-
tive constructions. Indeed, according to Hegel, the “true”—and therefore the real,
objective world—is not something simply constructed. Intersubjective practices,
although essential for Hegel’s notion of rationality in its historical evolution,
cannot constitute the ultimate guarantee or justification for thinking.⁵
The fact that “objective logic” takes the place of metaphysics means for
Hegel that the determinations of metaphysical thought come to be considered
non-metaphysically. That is, such determinations are not assumed as a reality ex-
ternal to thought. To use another expression from The Science of Logic: they come
to be considered as “free of those substrata, which are the subjects of figurative
representations (diese Formen frei von jenen Substraten, den Subjekten der Vor-
stellung)” (WdL I, p. 49 [42]). In this sense, “objective logic” takes the place of
metaphysics, occupies its space, and engages that to which metaphysics has tra-
ditionally been committed. At the same time, placing itself in that space and in-
terpreting it beyond any naïve foundationalism, “objective logic” also becomes
metaphysics’ most radical critique.
According to Hegel, the determinations of “objective logic,” i. e. the determi-
nations of being and of essence, are not in fact simply “found” and “accepted”;
they do not belong to anything like a substance that lies outside of thought. In-
stead, in a Hegelian account, the determinations of “objective logic,” and the
modes in which they are articulated, emerge from one another thanks to a logical

 Here one is referred to the thesis expressed in the essays cited above by Pippin 2001, and
Pinkard 2004. For a criticism of such a “constructivist” attitude, see McDowell 2009, p. 171.
146 Luca Illetterati

necessity that only the activity of thought is able simultaneously to justify and to
make explicit.

3 The Objectivity of the Concept


The second explicit reference to the concept of “objectivity” in the table of con-
tents of the Science of Logic can be found in the last part, the Doctrine of the Con-
cept, which Hegel also calls Subjective Logic. “Objectivity” constitutes the second
section of the Doctrine of the Concept and follows the part on “Subjectivity,” in
which Hegel shows how the structure of the concept leads to a discussion of
judgment, further developing into the unity of the syllogism. “Objectivity”
thus precedes the section dedicated to the Idea, where the unity of the “subjec-
tive” and the “objective” moment is realized first in the Idea of Life, then in the
Idea of Consciousness, and lastly in the Absolute Idea. Here it is also evident that
the notion of objectivity refers to the dimension of being and of reality. Not, how-
ever, in the same manner as in Objective Logic. Whereas Objective Logic shows
the process of the emergence of the Concept from the reality of being and es-
sence, the “objectivity” at stake in Subjective Logic instead is the process of
the emergence of being and reality from the concept: “objectivity is the real con-
cept that has emerged from its inwardness and has passed over into existence”
(WdL II, p. 30 [527]). To put the point somewhat differently, if the internal
route of Objective Logic is a pathway from Being to Essence that arrives at the
“freedom of the concept,” then the “objectivity” proper to Subjective Logic con-
stitutes the being free of the concept that becomes objective. Hegel shows the
process through which the “freedom of the concept” takes a concrete, objective
and real configuration, so to speak, whereas previously—i. e. in subjectivity as
such, in the element of thought—freedom itself has not yet become objective.
Previously, freedom was always “in itself” (an sich). If thought is not developed
into objectivity, then it tends to remain in a closed dimension that is a sort of
abstraction. Mechanism, Chemism, and Teleology (the three determinations
which make up the object) are in this sense the “objective forms” by which
the concept is concretely articulated. Hegel calls “objectivity” that which emerg-
es from the subjectivity of the concept and which therefore constitutes the taking
objective and concrete form of the concept, “das Anundfürsichseiende.”
Mechanism, Chemism, and Teleology in fact constitute three conceptual rela-
tions but also three different modes of syllogistic organization of objects them-
selves. “Mechanism” is a relation among parts that are, albeit to different de-
grees, autonomous and independent from each other. In “Mechanism”, those
parts are put into communication by relations that are for the most part “extrin-
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 147

sic” or “external”. “Chemism” is instead a conceptual relation that implies the


reciprocal attraction and repelling of parts; a relation that is a tension brought
about by the aggregation of parts into a unity that is other than just its constit-
uent components. “Teleology” is a relation that goes one step further in reducing
the exteriority of the relata among its constituent parts. These three articulations
of “objectivity” thus move from the maximum exteriority that is typical of the
mechanical relation to the maximum unity among parts that is indicative of
the teleological relation. As a processual relation, however, the teleological rela-
tion is not the complete sublation of exteriority. In order to reach a structure in
which parts and whole are interrelated in such a way that the parts result from
the whole and the whole results from its parts, it is necessary to pass to the suc-
cessive stage, i. e. the domain of the Idea, which Hegel identifies as “the unity of
the concept and objectivity” (WdL I, p. 174 [671]) or “the congruence of concept
and reality” (WdL I, p. 174 [671]). The unity of the “idea,” according to Hegel, is
not simply a “given”, namely, is not something that already is so much as it is
something to identify or to retrieve. Such a unity, for Hegel, is something that
should essentially be understood as a process. It is therefore active; and because
of this processual and active nature, it contains in itself a “stubborn opposition
[den härtesten Gegensatz]” (WdL I, p. 177 [674]).
It is noteworthy that the insertion of these determinations of thought (Objec-
tivity and Life) into the structure of the Logic immediately sparked a heated de-
bate concerning their legitimacy. With regard to this debate, we can identify two
paradigmatic positions: one that emerged immediately after the death of Hegel
and was espoused by Karl Rosenkranz, and another that in many ways brought
together several nineteenth-century interpretations of Hegel and was espoused
by Rüdiger Bubner. Karl Rosenkranz, in his Wissenschaft der logischen Idee, ob-
served that concepts like “mechanism,” “chemism,” and “teleology” constitute a
“metaphysics of nature” and not, as Hegel instead would argue, “the concept of
objectivity” (Rosenkranz 1972, vol. 1, p. 26). In his attempt to give an account of
this difficulty presented by Hegelian logic, Rosenkranz referred to a sort of per-
sistence within “the science” of the dichotomy between “subjective” and “objec-
tive” that belongs to the phenomenological domain rather than the logical one.
Phenomenology is the place where this gap should be totally dissolved and sub-
lated (aufgehoben). What Rosenkranz missed is that science, and therefore He-
gel’s system and above all his logic, overcomes the level of phenomenology,
where consciousness is always something other than itself. Yet this does not
mean that, with such overcoming, thought has already crossed through its sub-
jective and objective dimensions. Rather, surpassing the subjective and the ob-
jective at the level of the “idea” still implies, also for pure thought, the crossing
through of the different forms of relation between “subjectivity” and “objectivi-
148 Luca Illetterati

ty” that are constitutive of thought itself. Only by acknowledging that “subjectiv-
ity” and “objectivity” are not simply experiences of a divided and torn conscious-
ness but features belonging to the very nature of thought, can thought reach the
unity of “subjective” and “objective” that is manifest in the Idea.
Albeit within a cultural context profoundly different, the same complica-
tions already indicated by Rosenkranz also emerge for Bubner. Bubner maintains
that any understanding of Hegel’s Science of Logic must essentially take into ac-
count the heart of Hegel’s entire process, which is, according to Bubner, the Logic
of the Concept. However, Bubner upholds the very Doctrine of the Concept as an
“illegitimate” step, in a manner of speaking, in the logical development. In fact,
according to Bubner, in the shift from Syllogism to Objectivity the Science of Logic
transcends itself, going beyond its own task. Bubner’s thesis is that Hegel’s sec-
tion on Objectivity constitutes a sort of prolongation of logic beyond itself—that
is, beyond the determinations of the concept—and is therefore a sort of trespass-
ing into the domain of the Philosophy of Nature and of the Philosophy of the Spi-
rit. According to Bubner, the problems that arise in this transition between Sub-
jectivity and Objectivity—alongside those involved in the final step of the Science
of Logic, from the Absolute Idea to the “idea as nature”—are evidence of the im-
possibility of logic proceeding beyond itself. This constitutes the basis for Bub-
ner’s critique, which reproaches Hegelian Idealism for advancing the false
dream of producing the world out of the concept. Nevertheless, as with Rose-
nkranz, this type of interpretation cannot expect to save Hegelian logic simply
by purifying it of those elements that get interpreted as extra-logical. Such an
account, in fact, is not just a critique of Hegel’s conception of objectivity but
of his very concept of logic, which is explicitly meant as the science of thinking
as logos, that is “the reason of that which is [die Vernunft dessen, was ist]”
(WdL I, p. 17 [19]). Hegel’s immense undertaking is therefore that of thinking
“thought in so far as this thought is equally the fact as it is in itself; or the fact
in itself in so far as this is equally pure thought [den Gedanken, insofern er eben-
sosehr die Sache an sich selbst ist, oder die Sache an sich selbst, insofern sie
ebensosehr der reine Gedanke ist]” (WdL I, p. 33 [29]). To amend Hegel’s logic
by freeing it from what goes beyond logic itself would mean to consider the
forms of thought as property of the subject, which would be tantamount to re-
moving from Hegel’s logic the very idea around which it develops. The Science
of Logic is neither a formal logic nor a philosophy of mind: rather it is, according
to Hegel himself, the attempt to investigate the logical structure of the world. It is
the system of connections that enable us to explain our experience of the world
as something unified, on the one hand, but also makes up the dynamic struc-
tures underlying reality itself, on the other.
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 149

A proper understanding of the logical structure of Objectivity—meaning


Mechanism, Chemism, and Teleology, as well as the Idea—requires an adequate
understanding not only of those single sections of the text but also of Hegel’s
entire system, including the relation between the Science of logic and other
parts (Philosophy of Nature and Philosophy of Spirit) of Hegelian thought. In
order to get a thorough understanding, one needs a strong grasp of the Hegelian
notion of “objective thought”, which is the real issue at stake, not only as it ap-
pears in the Science of Logic but also in its other forms, such as those in the Phi-
losophy of Nature and the Philosophy of the Spirit, which are not reducible to pure
logic.
Before moving on to the notion of “objective thought,” it is worth dwelling
yet another moment on this section on Objectivity in order to focus on two par-
ticularly significant examples Hegel uses to introduce the notion. Like the notion
of “subjectivity,” Hegel writes in the Introduction that “objectivity” has a double
meaning. In fact, just as “subjectivity” refers both to the one-sidedness of the
subjective point of view (something Hegel was strongly critical of throughout
his work) and to the self-movement of the concept (which instead constitutes
the specifically Hegelian contribution to the study of thought), so “objectivity”
can be understood as much as “standing opposed to the self-subsistent concept
[dem selbständigen Begriff gegenüberzustehen]” (WdL II, p. 131 [629]) as the con-
cept “existing in and for itself [das Anundfürsichseiende]” (WdL II, p. 131 [629]).
The first form of objectivity is the exact correlate of the one-sidedness of sub-
jectivity: the objectivity of subjective idealism. According to this meaning of ob-
jectivity, the object is understood as nothing in itself. The object—in the manner
of the Fichtean “Not-I”—lacks any ontological autonomous consistency and has
the sole purpose of allowing the “I” to recognize its true nature, or its status as
an activity.
The second sense of objectivity instead points to an overcoming of its own
opposition with respect to subjectivity. For Hegel, being “in and for itself,” in
this sense, means acknowledging a reality that does not simply find itself in
something other than itself—that is, does not in its essence exist for another. Ob-
jectivity is thus not the concept that opposes “finite subjectivity” (the subjectivity
that arises before an object extraneous to it), but is what sublates the opposition
between concept and object, between “finite subjectivity” and “exterior objectiv-
ity.” To clarify how this objectivity is established beyond the opposition between
subject and object, Hegel proposes two particularly interesting examples. Hegel
states:

Rational principles, perfect [vollkommene] works of art, etc., are said to be objective to the
extent that they are free and above every accidentality. (WdL II, p. 131 [629])
150 Luca Illetterati

These “rational principles”—which Hegel intends both as theoretical principles,


and thus relative to the logical and epistemic structure of discourse, and as prac-
tical principles, or moral norms that guide action—have according to Hegel the
characteristic of being at once subjective and objective. They are subjective inas-
much as they do not exist outside their reference to subjectivity, or because they
live, so to speak, within the consciousness. On the other hand, consciousness it-
self relates to these principles not simply as aspects that freely change based on
particular needs or interests; rather, although these principles are grasped by
consciousness and can exist only in relation to it, they at the same time tran-
scend the subjective dimension and constitute for the subject an objective some-
thing, with its own peculiar form of independence from the subject itself. Consid-
er, for example, Kant’s categorical imperative. Notably, the first formulation of
the categorical imperative requires that you are to act only in accordance with
that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a univer-
sal law. This imperative is, according to Kant, a rational principle of our practical
life. It is subjective, inasmuch it functions only as far as it is grasped by the con-
sciousness of subjects. But it is at the same time objective, for it is valid in itself
and not only for the subject who thinks it.
In the same way, the perfect work of art is the one that expresses the subjec-
tivity of the artist in the most radical way. But the work also transcends that sub-
jectivity and in some way assumes a life of its own, its own objective substance,
which is precisely what renders it a work of art (and therefore a Form of the Ab-
solute Spirit) rather than simply an accidental manifestation of a “finite subjec-
tivity.” The work of art is therefore subjective inasmuch as it is produced by sub-
jectivity for the subjectivity that is recognized in it. At the same time, however, in
order to be able to activate this process of recognition, the artwork must be “ob-
jective”, i. e. it must no longer involve only the subjectivity that produced it but
also exist as something “for itself”. These last two examples open the door to
what Hegel, in the introduction to the Science of Logic, calls “objective thinking
[objektives Denken].”

4 Objective Thought
The concept of objectivity involved in the notion of “objective thought” is totally
reducible neither to the “objectivity” of Objective Logic nor to the “objectivity” of
Subjective Logic. In Objective Logic, “objectivity” implies a direct reference to the
concepts of ontology and to the metaphysical tradition, which it simultaneously
deconstructs and logically justifies; in Subjective Logic, “objectivity” refers spe-
cifically to those conceptual structures that are articulated in the connections
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 151

proper to Mechanism, Chemism, and Teleology. These two meanings of the con-
cept of “objectivity” are certainly implied in the notion of “objective thought,”
but they do not exhaust its meaning.
Indeed, when Hegel speaks of “objective thought,” he means to affirm a con-
cept that is radically anti-subjectivist. In order to approach it, one can initially
say that Hegel’s notion has certain roots in the classic connection of the Platonic
and Aristotelian logos and the nous, but it also in some ways suggests that which
would later come to be known as the Fregean conception of thought (taken in
general terms, since the parallel perhaps does not apply to all the details of
the two conceptions).⁶ In the ancient Greek world, logos is not simply some
sort of “property” that “belongs” to thinkers which they are able to apply to
the world in order to render it intelligible; rather, it is logos of the world, the ra-
tional structure of that which is. In a similar way, for Frege, the objectivity of con-
cepts cannot be reduced or fully explained in terms of some psychological or
subjective element. As for Hegel, for Frege thinking as such (der Gedanke) is
never reducible to representation (Vorstellung). If thought were identifiable sim-
ply by the content of my consciousness, Frege said, one would not have “the Py-
thagorean theorem” but only “my [mein] Pythagorean theorem,” “your Pythagor-
ean theorem,” and so on (here one cannot help but think of the meinen that
Hegel speaks of in the Phenomenology of the Spirit).⁷ Moreover, in Hegel as in

 On the influence of Platonic and Aristotelian views on Hegel’s conception of thought see
Chiereghin, 1980. On the specific influence of Aristotle, see Ferrarin, 2001. With regard to the
possibility of a relation between the Hegelian and Fregean conceptions of thought, Sluga’s
text (1977) is particularly interesting. Contrary to Dummett, who makes Frege an anti-idealist
and above all an anti-Hegelian, Sluga shows how Frege’s position has as its critical referents
the empiricism of Locke, the empiricist idealism of Berkley, and most of all the “psychologistic”
tradition that has its roots in Fries and Beneke. Starting from an interpretation of Kant, these
thinkers attacked the objective idealism of Hegel. In this sense, according to Sluga, Frege cannot
be counted among the opponents of Hegel.
 The significance of the Fregean conception of the “third realm of thought” is summarized by
Dummett with a formulation that risks being ambiguous, because it suggests a peculiar priority
of the subjective with regard to the objective contained in the formula “the extrusion of thoughts
from the mind.” This is, according to Dummett, the guiding idea that Frege shares with other
German thinkers of the eighteenth century (Bolzano, Lotze, Meinong, the early Husserl): “For
Frege, thoughts—the contents of acts of thinking—are not constituents of the stream of con-
sciousness: he asserts repeatedly that they are not contents of the mind or of all that he includes
under the general term ‘idea (Vorstellung)’. He allows that grasping a thought is a mental act: but
it is an act whereby the mind apprehends that which is external to it in the sense of existing
independently of being grasped by that or any other subject. The reason is that thoughts are ob-
jective, whereas ideas are not. I can tell you something of what my idea is like, but it remains
intrinsically my idea, and, for that reason, there is no telling how far it is the same as your
152 Luca Illetterati

Frege, the conception of thought is developed in terms of a radicalization, which


is also a critique, of Kant’s transcendental approach.
Hegel attributes to Kant’s philosophy the merit of having traced “objectivity”
back to thinking, i. e. of having shown that it is not possible to establish some-
thing like “objectivity” if not through thought. That is to say: according to Hegel,
Kant recognizes that objectivity is not something other than or even opposed to
thought but rather is something that receives its meaning only thanks to and
within thought itself. At the same time, however, this position also unveils
what, again according to Hegel, is one of the fundamental limits of Kantian phi-
losophy: the fact that “thinking” in Kant—inasmuch as its categories are not con-
sidered simple dispositions of thought but as what make the unification of rep-
resentations in the object possible—is generally conceived as something that is
“of” the subject. Thought can be understood as a sort of “instrument” through
which the subject tends to harpoon and capture the world. For Hegel, this is
the origin of many of the tensions and ambiguities in Kant. In this way, Hegel
maintains that Kantian objectivity risks being reduced to a subjective objectivity.
If, in fact, thought is considered only as a property of the subject, and there-
fore as something that belongs to the sphere of subjectivity, the claim that objec-
tivity is possible only in thought risks resulting in a subjectivization of objectiv-
ity, according to Hegel. To put it differently, it risks conflating of ontology with
epistemology. To avoid this type of outcome—namely to avoid subjectivist drifts
and the total absorption of ontology within epistemology—Hegel finds it neces-
sary to think the “objectivity of thought.” In other words, Hegel finds it necessary
to consider thought in its objectivity.
According to Hegel, thought is not simply the product of a “faculty” of the
subject, an instrument through which the subject attempts to grasp a world en-
tirely “other” with respect to thought. Nor is it something other or separate from
the thinking activity of the subject. For Hegel, “thought” constitutes the very
structure of the world—in an entirely unique sense that does not imply that

idea. By contrast, I can communicate to you the very thought which I am entertaining or which I
judge to be true or false: if it were not so, we should never know whether or not we were really
disagreeing. No thought, therefore, can be mine in the sense in which a sensation is mine: it is
common to all, as being accessible to all. Frege maintained a very stark dichotomy between the
objective and the subjective, recognizing no intermediate category of the intersubjective. The
subjective was for him essentially private and incommunicable; he therefore held that the exis-
tence of whatever is common to all must be independent of any. On Frege’s view, thoughts and
their constituent senses form a ‘third realm’ of timeless and immutable entities which do not de-
pend for their existence on being grasped or expressed. The practical consequence of this onto-
logical doctrine was the rejection of psychologism” (Dummett 1996, pp. 22– 23).
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 153

“thought” is already organized and given, regardless of its articulation in the


thinking activity of subjects. The expression “objective thought” is the Hegelian
name for a rational structure which, while constituting itself through the think-
ing activity of the subjects—and therefore also through the sedimentation of ra-
tional and intersubjective practices—is never totally reducible to it:

Thought is an expression which attributes the determination contained in it primarily to


consciousness. But inasmuch as it is said that understanding, that reason, is in the objective
world, that spirit and nature have universal laws to which their life and their changes con-
form, then it is conceded just as much that the determinations of thought have objective
value and concrete existence. (WdL I, p. 35 [30])

Immediately evident here are the problematic elements underlying the Hegelian
theory of “objective thought,” particularly the ambiguous status attributed to the
notion of thought, which appears to be just subjective but cannot but be also ob-
jective. This fundamental problem traverses all of post-Kantian philosophy (and
in this sense also contemporary philosophy): it concerns the relation between
thought and reality and is tied to the status of objectivity itself. It moreover raises
the question of whether the objectivity of reality depends on the categorical re-
quirements (conceptual schemes) imposed upon it by the subject or if one can
instead justify objectivity while saving, so to speak, some type of independence
for the “world” from what could be seen as its “mentalistic” reduction.⁸
Hegel’s thesis is that objectivity cannot find true justification either in the
categorical requirements imposed on the world by the mind or in the world’s ac-
tion upon the subject. Objectivity is made possible only to the extent to which
the subject, by thinking, captures the noetic structure that is the real itself.
The subject takes thus an active role in the determination of a structure that si-
multaneously constitutes both the mode of being of the world and the mode of
being of the subject itself. The idea that we recognize some things as “laws” of
reality (the laws of nature, for example, or those laws that enable a predictive
consciousness of the phenomena of the natural world) is evidence of this “objec-
tive thought”: neither categorical requirements nor the habits produced by expe-
rience appear able to ground something like the laws of nature. This awareness,

 Cf. McDowell, 1999. In this regard, Westphal appears to agree with McDowell in arguing that
the fundamental task of contemporary epistemology is to reach a cogent philosophical under-
standing of consciousness that can respond affirmatively to these three questions: 1) Is there
a way in which the world does not depend on that which we say or think of it? (“Realism”);
2) If the ordinary realism implied in 1) is true, can we know anything regarding how the
world is? (“Anti-skepticism”); 3) Is human knowledge a social and historical phenomenon?
(“Moderate collectivism”) (cf. Westphal 2006, p. 274).
154 Luca Illetterati

according to Hegel, is already present in critical philosophy and in Fichtean ide-


alism (the latter being a radicalization of the former). Hegel maintains, however,
that the limit of these positions consists in their having given “to the logical de-
terminations [den logischen Bestimmungen] an essentially subjective significance
[eine wesentliche subjektive Bedeutung]” (WdL I, p. 35 [30]).
The relation between thought and reality, between mind and world, there-
fore should not be read in Hegel as “hyper-subjectivization” in an idealistic Kant-
ian sense. It is rather to be understood as an attempt to escape from the shackles
of “subjective idealism” (within which Hegel understands—not uncontroversially
—Kant’s transcendental project). For Hegel, all subjective idealism is able to ac-
count for the intimate rational structure of reality only by conceiving of it as the
“product” of a complex elaboration, which combines elements provided from
our senses with elements belonging to our categorical apparatus.⁹ In a way
both Kantian and Fichtean transcendentalism appear to Hegel to be ensnared
in the oppositional structure of consciousness, in which the object can be
known only to the extent that it can be reduced to the forms of consciousness.
It is in relation to these points that Hegel elaborates his theory of “objective
thought”—a theory for which his system as a whole (and not only The Science
of Logic) means to serve as justification.¹⁰
It is clear that Hegel used the expression “objective thought” above all with
the intent of challenging its ordinary meaning through a usage that cannot but
appear oxymoronic. For in its ordinary meaning, “thinking” is inevitably some-
thing subjective, while the objectivity of something implies, just as obviously, its
independence from subjectivity (its mind-independence). Indeed, as Hegel writes,
perhaps the most ordinary and habitual manner of thinking about thought is to
consider it one of the “faculties” or “spiritual activities” that belong to the sub-
ject “side by side with others” like sensibility, intuition, imagination, appetite, or
desire.¹¹ Now, leaving aside the problems arising from the attempt to separate
these “faculties” in man from their relation with thought,¹² what Hegel under-
scored is that if thought were simply a subjective activity (if it were reducible

 Cf. McDowell 2009.


 It is really in relation to the theory of “objective thought” that, as Wartenberg states, there is
a precise sense in which Hegel is an idealist: “[H]e believes that concepts determine the struc-
ture of reality” (Wartenberg 1993, p. 103).
 Cf. Enz § 20.
 On this point see Soresi 2012, and Corti 2016. From this point of view, of particular interest is
the dialectic that arises with respect to sense certainty in the Phenomenology of the Spirit, which,
not by chance, drew the attention of McDowell as a decisive element for a conceptualist perspec-
tive.
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 155

to a mental event), and if this activity was therefore the object of logic, logic
would not be differentiable in any way from a philosophy of the subjective spirit
(understood as a philosophy of mind) or from psychology. In other words, it
would not be differentiable from an investigation into how our mental processes
actually “function”. Logic, from such a perspective, would be a sort of ancilla psi-
chologiae, as it would be fundamentally based on psychology.¹³
Yet to say that according to Hegel the notion of “thought” at stake in logic
should not be understood solely as a subjective activity does not mean that
Hegel employs two different concepts of thought, which are not only distinctive
but even opposing. There is not “one” kind of thought that is the subject matter
of logic and another that instead is the subject of the Philosophy of Spirit. In both
it is always the same thought, just in particularized senses; what can be found in
the different “sciences” (for this also applies to the Philosophy of Nature) are
thought’s different “elements.” Whereas in the Philosophy of Nature thought is
located in the element of exteriority that is the natural world, and in the Philos-
ophy of Spirit it appears in the element of human determination itself, what char-
acterizes logic is that in it thought is treated precisely as “in itself.” It is consid-
ered, so to speak, independently from any other determination. To use Hegel’s
own words: to say that thought appears in the logic as only “in itself” means
that thought articulates itself “in this element lacking contrast.”¹⁴ Whereas
logic is the study of the unfolding of the determinations of thinking within the
(abstract) element of thought, nature and spirit instead represent elements in
which thought does not appear with the same fluidity, since what comes into
play with “Spirit” and “Nature” is some form of opposition that thought has

 This is the direction one of the outcomes of Kantianism takes, one against which Hegel was
never generous: that of Jacob Friedrich Fries, who in an explicitly anti-idealistic key intends to
provide in his Science of the Psychological Experience a complete analysis of the interior expe-
rience of the subject through the instrument of introspective self-observation that highlights
the forms by which consciousness is developed at an empirical level. Kantian philosophy, in
Fries’ framework, becomes eventually a “psychic anthropology.” On Fries and in particular on
his System of Logic, which constitutes an attempt to find an anthropological and therefore psy-
chological foundation for logic, Hegel expressed himself thusly in a note in the introduction to
the Science of Logic: “The shallowness of the representation or opinion on which it is based, in
and of itself, and of the execution, dispenses me from the trouble of taking any notice of this
insignificant publication” (WdL I, p. 36 [31]). On the philosophy of Fries understood as a credible
alternative to philosophy of the romantic nature (obviously including that of Schelling and
Hegel), inasmuch as Fries would have developed Kantianism in a coherent form with respect
to the development of the “mathematical” sciences of nature, see Bonsiepen 1997.
 Cf. Enz § 467 An.
156 Luca Illetterati

to face (objective constraints) and which compels it to assume specific structures


and categorical configurations.
Thus it is not thought, as ordinary consciousness understands it, that deals
with “logic” in the sense in which Hegel means it. In the introduction to the
Doctrine of the Concept, Hegel observes that the Concept is not to be considered
“as the act of the self-conscious understanding, not as subjective understanding,
but as the concept in and for itself which constitutes a stage of nature as well as
of spirit” (WdL II, p. 20 [517]). Avoiding, as Hegel suggests, the “isolation” of
thought as a faculty of the subjective spirit does not mean, however, that thought
is not an activity characterizing the way of being a subject. Represented as the
subject’s way of being, thought becomes the thinker, the subject that thinks:
“[T]he simple expression for the existing subject as thinker is ‘I’” (Enz § 20).
Nonetheless, recognizing the “I” as a thinking subject—a subject in which
thought is “active” and in which the self-movement of thought becomes conceiv-
able—does not for Hegel restrict thought to some purely subjectivist determina-
tion. Rather, when the “I” engages in the activity of thinking, it has the capacity
to go beyond itself, to overcome itself as a determined singularity and bring itself
to a distinct level of objectivity through an act of liberation and of emancipation
with respect to the elements conditioning it. For as a determined singularity, it is
always necessarily situated and conditioned. The product of this activity called
“thought” is in fact “the universal,” which contains, Hegel says, “the value of
the matter, what is essential, inner, true” (Enz § 21). Thus thought does not simply
mirror or offer another form for what is also provided by feeling, intuition, or
representation. Insomuch as it is active, thought grasps and produces the “uni-
versal”: it transforms empirical content, and “it is only through the mediation
[vermittelst] of an alteration that the true nature of the object [Gegenstand]
comes into consciousness” (Enz § 22).
For Hegel, the true nature of the object is not a “product” of the subject in
the sense that the subject itself in some way “created” or “constructed” the ob-
ject—this is a common reading of Hegel that understands the term “idealism” in
a subjectivist sense. But for Hegel this position would have that feature that in
the Addition he notably calls “the sickness of our time” (Enz § 24 An.). With
this expression he refers to the mark of his era, which has reached the desperate
point of recognizing only the subjective as true, and, in turn, of considering the
subjective as the last limit, beyond which no subject is able to go.¹⁵ According to

 In Enz § 24, Addition n. 3, Hegel speaks of the “subjectivity” of man as his “wickedness.”
With reference, on one hand, to the doctrine of original sin and, on the other, to the Rousseauian
conviction of the original goodness of man, Hegel maintains the theory of the natural vicious-
ness of man, underscoring that, to the extent to which man is “simply natural,” he is wicked. As
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 157

Hegel, the perspective of critical philosophy also suffers from this “desperation”,
for according to such an approach, the true nature of the object is true only be-
cause the subject has conferred it “transcendentally” with the nature of truth.
The task of philosophy, according to Hegel, is to face this subjectivist assumption
and show that the true nature of the object is true not because the subject makes
it true but because, through the activity of thinking, the subject is able to go be-
yond the subjectivist limits of its own experience of things. By thinking and
through thought the subject is able to transcend the subjective limits of its expe-
rience and is therefore able to grasp the true nature of the object.¹⁶
It is within this complexity that one must situate the Hegelian notion of the
Idea: since through reflection one obtains the true nature of things, and reflec-
tion is an activity of the subject, “this true nature is also the product of my spirit,
[of me] as thinking subject […] or it is a product of my freedom” (Enz § 23). This is
not a simplistic affirmation of the dissolution of the objectivity of things into a
subjective or transcendental representation; nor does it imply the conflation of
ontology with epistemology. The nature of things is a product of my freedom
not because the true nature of things is the result of some voluntary act that con-
structs the nature of things (and consequently grants them some sort of “truth”).
Rather, the true nature of things is a product of freedom insofar it is only by free-
ing itself from the conditioned “dimension” in which it is immersed that subjec-
tivity can bring itself to the level of truth.
Freedom is in this sense the subject’s capacity to emancipate above all itself
from being only an individual, finite subject. Such a position, in which thought is
both in the subject and simultaneously that which allows the subject to bring it-
self beyond its own subjectivity—to free itself—is in turn the condition of possi-
bility for Hegel’s peculiar take on objectivity. This view allows Hegel to conceive
of objectivity as neither a dimension totally separate from thought (as if essence
were totally independent with respect to the reflective process that makes it
emerge) nor a mere “product” of the activity of consciousness (as if essence

“natural,” in fact, man does not correspond to his proper authentic nature, which is an overcom-
ing of mere naturalness. But radically moving the discourse to a different level, Hegel also main-
tains that when man leaves his mere naturalness, but follows only his own particular and sub-
jective goals, man continues to be originally wicked. Hegel identifies subjectivity, understood as
man’s escape from nature in order to satisfy needs through his own thought and actions, as wick-
edness. In this way, one might say that, as long as a human being remains a subject in the par-
ticularistic sense of the term, it is necessarily wicked.
 On the subjectivist and transcendental framework as a presupposition to be rejected in
order to understand the logical movement of thought, see Houlgate 2006, chapters two and
three (Presuppositionless Thinking and Presuppositions of Presuppositionless Thinking respective-
ly), pp. 29 – 71.
158 Luca Illetterati

were a product of the subject itself and therefore devoid of any real anchoring to
things in themselves). It is thanks to this double overcoming—both of an inde-
pendent “objectivity” impermeable to the subject and of a subjectivist reduction
of “objectivity”—that “thoughts can be called objective thoughts” (Enz § 24).¹⁷
Hegel, against any subjectivist reduction, intends “objective thought” to
mean the organized structure within which something like reality assumes
form and sense—the rational pattern that permeates all of reality. But contrary
to a metaphysical perspective of the preformist persuasion, which was already
criticized by Kant, this “objective thought” is not already given and guaranteed.
There is no “objective thought” that is already constituted beyond subjectivity
and that subjectivity must simply try to discover—like an archeologist searching
in the subsoil for the ruins of a culture. “Objective thought” is nothing outside of
the very process of thinking and is constituted only by the reflective activity of
the subject on both itself and the world.
The reflecting activity carried out by the subject is, in fact, first of all a work
of clarification and criticism of the forms and practices of thought that constitute
subjectivity itself—but, as we have seen, are not simply its product. The work of
clarification, critique, and reconstruction that the subject performs on its own
forms and practices of thinking thus become the condition of possibility for
the subject to free itself of its solely subjective dimensions. This clarificatory
work allows the subject to transcend the dimension of “finite subjectivity”
and bring itself to the level of “objective thought.”
In this way, Hegel provides us with a conception of “thought” as an activity
that finds its justification—as well its foundation—in nothing other than his own
unfolding. There is no firm and stable place for it to rest secure and well-estab-
lished. The necessity revealed by logical connections is the only necessity
“thought” can rely upon in the process of “uncovering” objectivity. This is a ne-
cessity that the thinking subject itself reveals in the process of thinking, on the
one hand, and which at the same time is imposed normatively upon it as a
framework within which to think, on the other.
However, if one intends “objective thought,” as Hegel indicates, to mean the
rational pattern of the world, this cannot be understood as something given that
has simply to be “uncovered” or that the subject must in some way only “find”.
This rational pattern is constituted by the same work the thinking subject puts

 In this sense, Enz §§ 20 – 24 tends to show how, departing from the notion of “thought” un-
derstood as activity of the subject and by analyzing the workings of this same thought (i. e. its
attempt to grasp the universal and the essence of things), one reaches the notion of “thought”
understood as “objective thought.” Consequently, one gets to the identification of “logic” as sci-
ence of thought with “metaphysics.”
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 159

into action, yet still without being purely subjective. This rational pattern finds
its justification first of all in the critical analysis the subject itself performs on
the forms of thought within which it moves, which are initially given and there-
fore not justified. A first outcome, therefore, is that the subject frees itself from
the limited point of view that accepts these forms as simply given. Yet through
this process of logical critique and reconfiguration, the subject’s thought is
brought to that level of objectivity at which thought recognizes itself in things
without thereby making them just mental constructs.
Thought, for Hegel, is therefore not a product of the subject. It does not be-
long in a strict sense to the subject. This is not because the subject is not properly
thinking but because the subject is not, if we change the expression, “the master
of the thought,” i. e. the one who can determine the very structures of thought:

It is all the less possible, therefore, to believe that the thought determinations that pervade
all our representations—whether these are purely theoretical or hold a material belonging
to sensation, impulse, will—that such thought determinations are at our service; that it is
we who have them in our possession and not they who have us in theirs. (WdL I, p. 14 [15])

Thus determinations of thought are not simply instruments or “intellectual pros-


theses” that we use to subjugate the world. Similarly, the latter is not understood
as the sphere of “the other”, or that which is separate with respect to thought. To
the contrary, thought determinations constitute the horizon within which our
thought moves.¹⁸
It is precisely because thought determinations are not simply a product or
instrument we make use of thanks to one of our “faculties” that Hegel can arrive
at the conclusion that the domain of thought determinations is the domain to
which “our thought must limit itself” (WdL I, p. 14 [15]). Determinations of
thought constitute the framework within which both our thought—which is es-
sentially an activity of thinking—and the objective concepts of things find
their meaning. Or rather, said still differently, thoughts (die Gedanken) are not in-
tended “as a medium between us and the things”. This instead is how Hegel
characterizes “critical philosophy,” as the position that understands thoughts
as marking the distance between the thinking subject and a reality that presents
itself in the form of the object of this thought. Thoughts, for Hegel, are rather the
element in which both thinking activity and things find their realization.¹⁹

 Obviously tied to this is the theme of language as structure in which “[t]he forms of thought
are first set out and stored [herausgesetzt und niedergelegt]” (WdL I, p. 10 [12]).
 The theoretical implications of the notions of objective thought in relation to today’s philos-
ophy of mind are developed in Halbig 2002. On the notion of “objective thought” as the most
160 Luca Illetterati

5 Conclusion
It is in the sense we have just outlined that one can speak of Hegel’s “conceptual
realism.”²⁰ This conceptual realism does not imply the naïve assumption of some
existence of concepts independently from the existence of thinking subjects—
since it is only through the work of subjectivity that these concepts actually
find their reality. Highlighting the realistic dimension of thought is what allows
us to grasp the specific “anti-idealistic” thread of Hegel’s idealism.
The Hegelian position in fact intends to situate itself, on the one hand, be-
yond a subjectivist and instrumentalist conception of thought, i. e., a conception
according to which the reality the subject speaks of is always and only its own
construction, the appearance of something that remains inaccessible in its truth.
On the other hand, Hegel’s view goes beyond a conception in which reality is de-
termined as simply other and opposing to thought itself and, precisely for this
reason, is once again inaccessible. Such a conception is, for Hegel, simply the
flip-side of the previous coin.
Hegel’s conceptual realism thus is meant as a response as much to a con-
structivist approach—according to which the objectivity of reality depends
above all on categorical requirements, on conceptual schemes imposed on reality
by the subject—as to a realism that, in the attempt to save the independence of
the world from its “mentalist” reduction, ends up declaring the impossibility of
accessing the world and therefore legitimates precisely that subjectivism from
which it hoped to escape.
In summary, it is possible to say that the concept of objectivity within the
Science of Logic has an ontological meaning, for it involves a logical-conceptual
redetermination of concepts traditionally belonging to ontology. The notion of
“objective logic” in fact refers to the concept that is, or rather to the concept

pregnant expression for indicating thought that is the same in the subject and in the object, see
also Hösle 1987, in part. vol. I, pp. 66 – 68—according to which the expression objektive Gedanken
“summarizes in an excellent way the Grundmotiv of Hegel’s objective idealism” (p. 67). Accord-
ing to Hösle, in fact, the Hegelian conception can be considered a sort of synthesis of both a
position of the realistic persuasion and one that is idealistic (understood however in the subjec-
tive sense). In fact, in Hegel we cannot say, according to Hösle, either that our thoughts are ori-
ented towards being or that that being is oriented toward our notions and subjective represen-
tations, since both being and our thoughts are oriented in the direction of and starting from
“objective thought.” More recently, Nuzzo 1992 has called attention to the notion of “objective
thought.” See also, again Nuzzo 1995.
 Cf. Stern 2009.
The Semantics of Objectivity in Hegel’s Science of Logic 161

that has not yet become concept—i. e. the concept implicit in the determinations
of “being” and “essence.”
Yet if Objective Logic is the path to freeing the conceptual form from “being”
and from “essence,” the concept of objectivity in the Logic of the Concept (that is,
in Subjective Logic) points to some kind of inverse movement, with the freedom
of the concept obtaining an objective character. The Concept, in fact, as long as it
remains a concept, is in some way a form of restricted freedom. To use Hegel’s
vocabulary, it is only an “an sich” and not yet an “anundfürsich.”
With the notion of “objective thought,” Hegel aims instead at implementing
a new determination of objectivity. In this way, Hegel radicalizes the Kantian
idea according to which objectivity is a product of the a priori forms of subjec-
tivity. Objectivity is thus concept that cannot be thought in opposition to
“thought” but rather is a determination whose condition of possibility lies in
thought itself. The step Hegel believed to have accomplished by taking Kant be-
yond himself could be understood as a sort of de-subjectivation of thought: Hegel
rejects every form of the idea that thought is a “faculty” of the subject, embrac-
ing the position that sees “thought” as the condition allowing the subject to tran-
scend its own subjectivity. Thanks to “thought,” the subject obtains an objectiv-
ity that is at once produced by the subject and yet never subjective.
It is therefore evident that the Hegelian concept of objectivity has neither a
simply epistemological nature nor belongs purely to ontology. Hegel’s notion of
objectivity does not refer to the problem of what allows the subject’s conscious-
ness to be consciousness of objects, and therefore objective. By the same token, it
is not a notion that indicates an ontologically understood “being” or reality that
is as independent from thought and therefore from subjects (as happens in a re-
alistic approach). Hegel’s concept of objectivity involves an overcoming of both
an epistemological perspective—totally directed toward the conditions for know-
ing the world—and an ontological perspective that purports to make claims con-
cerning some “being” that is independent (mind independent) from thought.
Objectivity is instead a process in which the thinking subject is freed of its
own subjectivity, transcending its own being subject in order to go on to con-
struct—and not simply discover—a dimension of reality, the “Wirklichkeit,”
that is neither mind independent nor mind dependent, since it implies the over-
coming of both these perspectives.

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Paul Redding
Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought
and Being: Hegel’s Logical Reconstruction
of Aristotle’s Speculative Empiricism
Abstract. Interpreters disagree over whether the categories or “thought determina-
tions” of Hegel’s Objective Logic should be construed as, following Aristotle, funda-
mentally about being, or, following Kant, fundamentally about thought. Moreover,
they disagree over the relation that Objective Logic stands to Subjective Logic,
which in turn involves its own transition to “objectivity”.
This paper focuses on Hegel’s Subjective Logic as charting a process in which a
logic initially understood as subjective and formal, after the manner of Kant,
comes to acquire content, issuing in a type of unity of thought and being of
which the earlier Objective Logic was incapable. In particular, Hegel’s account
of judgment and syllogism can be read as a critical reinterpretation of the logic
governing the passage from experience to “ideas” in Aristotle’s account of epagoge
or “induction”.

Die Interpreten sind uneinig darüber, ob die Kategorien oder „Denkbestimmungen“


aus Hegels Objektiver Logik Aristoteles folgend als im Wesentlichen das Sein oder
Kant folgend als im Wesentlichen das Denken betreffend verstanden werden sollten.
Darüber hinaus sind sie uneinig über die Beziehung, in der die Objektive Logik zur
Subjektiven Logik steht, welche wiederum ihren eigenen Übergang zu „Objektivität“
beinhaltet.
Dieser Artikel legt den Fokus auf Hegels Subjektive Logik als Erfassung eines
Prozesses, in welchem eine als in Kantischer Weise zunächst subjektiv und formal
verstandene Logik Inhalt erlangt und auf eine Art Einheit des Denkens und des Seins
hinausläuft, zu der die frühere Objektive Logik nicht fähig war. Insbesondere Hegels
Beschreibung von Urteilen und Syllogismus kann als kritische Neu-Interpretation der
Logik gelesen werden, die den Übergang von Erfahrung zu „Ideen“ in Aristoteles’
Darstellung der epagoge oder „Induktion“ leitet.

When one starts to look through the contents of Hegel’s Science of Logic it seems
clear that the text is meant to follow an unfolding sequence of categories or
“thought determinations” that start with the most abstract, general and indeter-
minate—“being” (Sein)—and then become progressively more determinate as

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-008
166 Paul Redding

with the succeeding category, “determinate being” (Dasein).¹ Furthermore, it is


clear that this sequence is meant to unfold on a number of different, but system-
atically interconnected, levels and that negation plays a crucial role in the tran-
sitions. Thus, internal to each of the parent categories coinciding with the chap-
ter headings of Section 1, “Being”, “Determinate Being” and “Being-for-itself”,
are to be found transitions between finer-grained sub-categories that eventually
lead into the parent-category of the following chapter. For example, within the
chapter devoted to being we find a progression from being through nothing to be-
coming from whence we eventually transit to the parent category of the second
chapter, “Determinate Being”. At first glance, then, the contents of Hegel’s Logic
appear to be the type of contents found in what are generally termed “category
theories”, albeit subject to a style of presentation that is typical of Hegel’s “dia-
lectic”. The question that immediately arises is surely: how are the categories in-
volved meant to be understood?
Within current interpretative disputes over the nature of Hegel’s philosophy
more generally positions tend to divide along a line that separates interpreters
according to the issue of Hegel’s relation to Kant. On one side of this divide
are those “post-Kantians” who see Hegel’s philosophy as starting out from the
idea of Kant’s critique of traditional metaphysics and subjecting it to a further
internal critique (classically, Pippin 1989 and Pinkard 1994); on the other are
those who give sufficient weight to Hegel’s critique of Kant to take it as a critique
of critical philosophy itself, allowing for the restoration of a project much closer
to the type of substantive metaphysics that Kant had rejected, especially meta-
physical positions leaning towards Aristotle (Stern 2009) or Spinoza (Beiser
2005 and Houlgate 2005). Here the situation is no different. Given that Aristotle
and Kant are often themselves taken as providing opposing “objective” and
“subjective” approaches to the categories within their own category theories
(Thompson 1983), it is not surprising then that “Kantian” versus “Aristotelian”
models of category theory commonly reappear as general schemas in relation
with which the thought determinations of Hegel’s Logic are to be understood.
Thus we find some interpreters urging a continuity of Hegel’s Logic with
Kant’s Transcendental Logic, and seeing Hegel’s categories as fundamentally
norms of thought, while others insisting that Hegel’s categories are to be under-
stood objectively, construing Hegel’s Logic essentially as a metaphysics or ontol-
ogy.

 “Dasein” has been something of a term of art in German philosophy. Hegel stresses its etymol-
ogy as being (Sein) in a certain place, there (da) (Hegel 2010, pp. 83 – 84; GW 21, p. 97). A thing’s
Dasein is thus associated with it being available for the perceptual grasp of its determinate, spe-
cific qualities.
Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought and Being 167

As an exemplar of the former categories-as-norms-of-thought view we might


take the early proponent of the so-called “non-metaphysical” reading of Hegel,
Klaus Hartmann, who had insisted that Hegel’s logic constitutes “an immanence
of thought, an overall sphere in which determinations are viewed as from within,
from the stance of thought” (Hartmann 1988, p. 271). In Hartmann’s approach a
category is “the claim that being matches what thought thinks of it” (Hartmann
1988, p. 272–273). In this remark, it is not difficult to hear the echo of Kant’s
claim that “reason has insight only into what it itself produces according to its
own design” (Kant 1998, B xiii). Hartmann nevertheless concedes that there is
in some sense an “ontological” dimension of the categories (Hartmann 1988,
p. 271). It is the systematic determination of the categories that gives to them “on-
tological potential” (Hartmann 1988, p. 272). In particular, it is determinate neg-
ation that enables his procedure “to establish the ingredience of being into
thought” by considering the “otherness of being to thought as a negating”, al-
lowing being to be thereby reflected into thought (Hartmann 1988, p. 273). But
this does not detract from the fundamentally non-metaphysical status of Hegel’s
philosophy, a philosophy “devoid of existence claims” (Hartmann 1988, p. 274).
In contrast, we might consider the stance of Stephen Houlgate, a leading
proponent of the categories-as-features-of-being approach. Like Hartmann, Houl-
gate makes concessions to the opposed point of view. The fact that Hegel’s cat-
egories are generated by pure thought itself and that the categories “permeate our
consciousness and language and give structure to all that we perceive” (Houlgate
2005, p. 9), Houlgate points out, can make Hegel’s approach sound very much
like the view put forward by Kant, in the Critique of Pure Reason. But Hegel
must be read as rejecting Kant’s idea “that the categories do not apply to things
themselves” (Houlgate 2005, pp. 24–25). The categories are simultaneously about
thought and being. Houlgate, therefore, explicitly opposes Hartmann’s weaker
version of the ontological dimension of categories, and his denial that Hegel’s
logic includes existence claims (Houlgate 2005, p. 126).
The attempt to combine “Kantian” and “Aristotelian” readings of the catego-
ries, however, can look like that of trying to square the circle. For his part, Hart-
mann is faced with justifying his talk of any “ontological” potential for the cat-
egories. Here the critic will surely ask why, when Hartmann talks of being coming
to be established in thought because of the “ontological potential” of the cate-
gories (Hartmann 1988, p. 272), we should take this as meaning anything more
than some richer concept of being coming to be thereby established. Similar
questions face Houlgate. If the categories that “give structure to all that we per-
ceive” are generated by pure thought itself (Houlgate 2005, p. 9), why, the critic
will ask, should we think that the resulting structures bear any relation to the
structures of anything other than thought, that is, to being itself? Despite its lim-
168 Paul Redding

itations, at least Kant’s “subjective” construal of the categories is accompanied


by an intelligible story as to how the categories could be investigated by the
mind in such a pure, a priori fashion: for Kant, the categories are simply the
mind’s products and so the mind does not have to investigate anything beyond
itself in order to come to a knowledge of them. Houlgate is surely right in taking
Hegel to be critical of such a subjectivistic understanding of the categories, but it
nevertheless can seem entirely mysterious as to how the mind can, simply by
pure thinking, come up with features of the way the world is “anyway”, entirely
independent of its relation to any mind.
My claim in this essay will be that clarification of these issues is unlikely to
be made in isolation from attempts to address a topic that is typically circum-
vented in such discussions: Hegel’s treatment of formal logic in the context of
his more general project of a science of logic. ² It need hardly be said that Hegel’s
Science of Logic is not what is known in contemporary philosophy as logic con-
sidered as science—formal or mathematical logic—but this fact alone does not
imply that Hegel’s science can be understood as entirely indifferent to the
more general project of logic as a kind of formal discipline first arising in Greece
of which modern mathematical logic is one expression. Here my argument will
involve a number of basic claims. First, in his reflections upon the history of
speculative philosophy in Greece, Hegel had given pride of place to Aristotle
as having overcome a structural limitation of Plato’s project of a philosophical
knowledge of “ideas”, stressing the advantages of a certain type of empiricism
in Aristotle’s approach. Aristotle’s path to a philosophical cognition of ideas
and principles proceeded from an empirical basis, making him a type of specu-
lative empiricist, and this, I suggest, should be significant for Hegel’s own
thoughts about the mind’s self-consciousness of its own identity with being:
we should not bypass the broadly empiricist idea that “being” gets into thought
via experience, and that experience plays a necessary role in our capacity to have
thoughts that have “being” as their proper content. Next, this quasi-empiricist
dimension of Aristotle’s metaphysics had its own problems, however. Important-
ly, it compromises his own explicit thoughts about the logical processes involved
in going from empirical experience to a cognition of ultimate principles or ideas
as instantiated in being. We might say that Aristotle’s speculative empiricism was
compromised by his logical empiricism. Finally, I will suggest that the place to
look in Hegel’s Science of Logic for his engagement with this are those parts of
Volume Two, the Subjective Logic, where Hegel critically reconstructs, in his
own terms, Aristotle’s limited formal logic, and does so in a way that shows

 For a tentative start to such an attempt, see Redding 2014.


Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought and Being 169

how thoughts acquire content, and thereby allows the Science of Logic to transi-
tion to categories that properly identify being and thought.³

1 The Section “Subjectivity” in Hegel’s


Subjective Logic
The prima facie problematic significance of the first section of Hegel’s Subjective
Logic for standardly “objective” or categories-as-aspects-of-being readings of his
category theory might be brought into focus here by a glance at the way in which
a number of its advocates state their positions. Hegel’s logic is an “ontological”
or “metaphysical” project, it is often asserted, rather than some kind of formal
one. Thus Frederick Beiser notes that it is a “common misconception” that He-
gel’s dialectical logic “is some kind of alternative logic, having its own distinc-
tive principles to compete with traditional logic”. Hegel’s dialectic, he continues,
was neither “meant to be a formal logic, one that determines the fundamental
laws of inference governing all propositions, whatever their content”, nor was
it meant to “compete with formal logic”. It is, rather, “a metaphysics whose
main task is to determine the general structure of being” (Beiser 2005, p. 161).
A similar formulation is to be found in David Grey Carlson who describes Hegel’s
logic as a “theory of ‘being’”, and similarly contrasts such a characterization
with logic understood formally. “Hegel’s Science of Logic”, he asserts, “is, of
course, an ontology – a theory of ‘being’”. It is, he goes on, “radically not
what Logic is for analytic philosophy – an exercise for clarifying mathematical
or linguistic inferences” (Carlson 2005, p. xi).
However, Hegel’s apparent engagement with such “formal” issues in the
Subjective Logic seems to raise a problem for this stance. Does it not suggest
that for Hegel a consideration of formal logic is somehow internal to or a part
of the broader project of logic as a whole? And if this is the case, does it not
threaten any attempt to define Hegel’s logic in terms of its contrastive opposition
to formal logic?
One possible response here on the part of the categories-as-aspects-of-being
reading is that of André Doz who has described Hegel’s Subjective Logic as sim-
ply a continuation of the Objective Logic of Volume One, in which the categorial
structures discussed are, like the earlier categories, to be understood as determi-

 The Science of Logic is divided into two volumes, entitled Objective and Subjective Logic re-
spectively. The former consists of two books, Doctrine of Being and Doctrine of Essence, and
the latter of one, Doctrine of the Concept.
170 Paul Redding

nations of being. Thus Hegel’s notions of “concept, judgement, etc.” (with this
list presumably meant to include “syllogism”) in the Subjective Logic “are
only [ne sont que] more developed forms or modes of being” like those in the ear-
lier objective logic such as “becoming, finitude, infinite, …” (Doz 1987, p. 22, my
translation). Such an approach surely faces immediate problems, however. While
it is undoubtedly true that, especially in his Realphilosophie, Hegel appeals to
categories such as judgment and syllogism in the ontological sense, one might
ask whether it is possible to understand what it would mean for something,
say a state, to be a “syllogism” independently of understanding what being a syl-
logism amounts to in the usual logical sense of the term. Syllogisms in the logical
sense attempt to show how pairs of premises are linked to conclusions via con-
ceptual relations among major, middle and minor terms, and, moreover, they ap-
peal to particular configurations of terms that allow structures (judgments) to be
understood as linked in distinct patterns in terms of the truths of their compo-
nents. Without thinking of Hegel’s metaphysical/ontological readings of syllo-
gisms as drawing upon considerations of conceptual connections that are
found explicitly in syllogisms as traditionally understood, it is hard to see exactly
what could be meant to be conveyed by considering an entity such as a state as a
syllogism, and hard to understand the nature of the “conceptual” relations bind-
ing its parts to the whole.
More specifically, however, it might be argued that while it is true that the
Subjective Logic has its own internal return to a more “objective” terrain in
which judgments and syllogism gain a type of objectual status, this return ap-
pears to emerge out of developments within the considerations of these “formal”
issues themselves, in particular, out of issues central to Hegel’s treatment of for-
mal syllogisms. Thus it is difficult not to get the impression that, whatever exact-
ly has transpired in Hegel’s treatment of syllogistic inferences, it has been crucial
for the purpose of establishing, contra Doz, a discontinuity between the type of
ontology that emerges in the latter part of the Subjective Logic and the type of
ontology that is coordinate with the categories with which the Objective Logic
had concluded. Those earlier categories had predominantly been associated
with Spinoza, the modern representative of the type of substance-metaphysics
represented in antiquity by Aristotle, and so the Objective Logic ends with a
set of conceptual problems faced by Spinoza’s metaphysics. As Hegel famously
had put it in the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit, “everything turns on
grasping and expressing the True, not only as Substance, but equally as Subject”
(Hegel 1977, p. 10; GW 9, p. 18), and it is not surprising that the categories artic-
ulating the highest form of substance metaphysics will, following this, turn to is-
sues of “subjectivity”, objective logic becoming subjective logic. Would one then
not expect the type of objectivity returned to in the second half of the Subjective
Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought and Being 171

Logic to represent Hegel’s own metaphysical categories—ones that, in contrast to


those of Spinoza, do allow us to understand “the True, not only as Substance,
but equally as Subject”? At this point it might help to review just what is
found in Volume Two of Hegel’s Science of Logic, “The Science of Subjective
Logic”.
After a short two-paragraph foreword in which Hegel describes his project of
rejuvenating the existing somewhat dead and “ossified” logic of the concept,
Hegel then devotes about twenty pages to a consideration of “the concept”,
which is to a large extent taken up with a discussion of Kant. In this context,
“the concept” effectively refers to the Kantian “I think” that accompanies all rep-
resentations, a conception of concept that has been arrived at as “the unity of
being and essence” (Hegel 2010, p. 526; GW 12, p. 29). This, Hegel tells us, is
so far only “the concept of the concept” which is “only implicitly the truth”
(Hegel 2010, p. 526; GW 12, p. 29), the moments of which have the form of “im-
mediate fixed determinations” that “makes of the concept a subjective thinking, a
reflection external to the subject matter” (Hegel 2010, p. 527; GW 12, p. 30). It is
not until the following section that we learn what these “moments” are, but here
we are told that they will be set in “dialectical movement” such that the “sepa-
ration of the concept from the subject matter” is sublated, the totality of “objec-
tive concept” emerging as their truth. The text then transitions into Section I,
“Subjectivity”, which, after a brief introduction, is made up of three chapters,
Chapter 1, “Concept”, in which the concept is discussed in terms of its three mo-
ments universality, particularity, and singularity, Chapter 2, “Judgment”, with
three parts devoted to judgments of determinate being, reflection, and necessity,
and Chapter 3, “The Syllogism”, now treating the syllogisms of determinate
being, reflection and necessity. The last form of the syllogism of necessity, the
disjunctive syllogism, leads into Section II, “Objectivity”, which considers the
concept in its now achieved objectivity, and that in turn is followed by the
final third section of The Logic of Subjectivity, “The Idea”. We will only be con-
cerned with Section I, and only parts of it, at that.
It should be noted that the plan of the section “Subjectivity” follows a dis-
tinctly early modern plan for a logic as set out in the Port-Royal Logic of Arnauld
and Nicole (1996)—effectively, a series of “reflections” on “ideas”, “judgments”
and inferential “reasoning” (the fourth part of Arnauld and Nicole, on method,
it might be argued, coincides with Hegel’s Section II, “Objectivity”). This plan
can also be recognized in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. A further feature
worth commenting on is the comparative modernity of the role played by the
conceptual determination of singularity [Einzelheit]. This is a determination con-
spicuous by its absence as a quantity in Aristotle’s syllogistic, which only gives
a place to universally and particularly quantified sentences; the extension of
172 Paul Redding

syllogisms to include singular judgments had first occurred in medieval philos-


ophy, associated with the rise of nominalism. Significantly, the term is also con-
spicuous by its absence in Hegel’s Objective Logic, there being only two uses of
the term in the Doctrine of Being and two in the Doctrine of Essence (both on the
last page, signaling the introduction of the Concept-Logic). In contrast, there are
then 199 uses in the Subjective Logic.
Arnauld and Nicole are explicit in dividing ideas according to their general-
ity, particularity, and singularity, with singular ideas being described as represent-
ing single things and indicated by proper nouns such as “Socrates”, “Rome” and
“Bucephalus”, although the first example given is “the idea each person has of
himself” (Arnauld/Nicole 1996, p. 39). Importantly, single things, they point out,
can also be referred to by restrictions applied to general ideas, such as when the
common name “triangle” can be applied to a single triangle by attaching an in-
determinate idea “as when I say ‘some triangle’” (Arnauld/Nicole 1996, p. 40).
For his part, Leibniz had interchangeably used singular terms, like “Socrates”
and particular terms, like “some man” to refer to the same thing, but in Kant’s
Critique of Pure Reason, “singularity” had now become the mark of an empirical
intuition, which is “related to the object” (Kant 1998, A 320/B 377).⁴ In conformity
with traditional syllogistic logic, Kant’s account of judgment provided no real
place for singular judgments: judgments being either particular or general,⁵ re-
flecting the restriction of singularity to intuitions. But as in Arnauld and Nicole,
there is for Kant the alternative for reference to individuals by the use of corre-
sponding particular phrases. Hegel, in line with his general critique of Kant’s
concept-intuition distinction, has made singularity conceptual, by making it
one of its determinate moments, but other than this the starting point for subjec-
tive logic is broadly Kantian.
Another related innovation introduced by Arnauld and Nicole had been the
distinction between the comprehension and the extension of an idea (now usually
referred to as intension and extension), although there is a degree of ambiguity
about this distinction in this period, linked to the different uses of singular
and particular terms. Thus, Lanier Anderson (2015, p. 50) argues that “extension”
(étendu) in the Port-Royal Logic is basically an intensional notion, signifying sets
of species concepts gathered under an idea, not the individuals the idea charac-
terizes, and Anderson distinguishes this as a logical extension from non-logical

 Kant is hesitant in applying singularity to the I because of the suggestion of hypostatizing the I
as a single thing (Kant 1998, A 582/B 610).
 In the Jäsche Logic Kant distinguishes universal, particular and singular judgments, but sin-
gular judgments can be reduced to universal ones, for “in both the predicate holds of the subject
without exception” (Kant 1992, pp. 598 – 599).
Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought and Being 173

extensions. I will suggest below that Hegel diagnoses this confusion as having its
origin in Aristotle who similarly plays on an ambiguous analogue to the modern
idea of extension. In contrast, Kant, who also uses “Umfang” (extension) in this
intensional way (Kant 1992, p. 593), could be said to have a genuinely extensional
notion, in that individual objects are given to cognition via the contents of (sin-
gular) empirical intuitions.
In short, the intension-extension distinction is a distinctly modern one, first
clearly made in Kant. Armed with it, and looking back on the progress of Hegel’s
logic from this modern point-of-view characterizing the Subjective Logic, one
might say that the categories at the outset had surely been conceived intension-
ally, and that the dialectic had moved forward via interactions among the con-
tents of the concepts themselves, concepts such as “being”, “nothing”, “becom-
ing” and so on. The critic, however, will respond that this is not how the process
could have been understood then as it presupposes the distinction between inten-
sion and extension, while the methodology of the logic is supposedly presuppo-
sitionless. Without the distinction, it might be said, the unfolding of the catego-
ries at the start of the Objective Logic must be understood in a way that mirrors
Houlgate’s reading of the logic—that is, the categories would be conceived as cat-
egories of thought as well as being. On further reflection, however, this too ap-
pears incorrect, since “as well as” also seems to presuppose the intension-exten-
sion distinction. Surely it would be more accurate to describe the corresponding
set of categories from the start as having been understood as indifferently about
either thought or being.⁶
This, I suggest, is at least closer to the situation that should be thought to
obtain at the outset of the Objective Logic—that of a pre-modern philosophical
attitude that, from a modern perspective, seems to run subjective and objective
considerations together. Thus from the type of ‘modern’ thought reached at the
outset of the Subjective Logic, one might expect to find an attitude toward the
past like that expressed by Kant in his well-known letter to Markus Herz of Feb-
ruary 21, 1772 (Kant 1999, p. 133), in which he remarks that hitherto philosophers
had just assumed that their thought possessed the intentional features that it,
unreflectively, is taken to have—that it is of being. The Kantian attitude at the
outset of the Subjective Logic, therefore, should be concerned with how the
mind acquires its cognitive content, and the task will be to answer this question
with an array of notions meant to provide an account of how the mind acquires

 Thus Houlgate’s claim that “a fully self-critical philosophy must thus start from the twofold
idea that (a) thought is the awareness of being and (b) being is itself simply what thought dis-
closes” (Houlgate 2008, p. 121) seems to read too much into Hegel’s conception of how a self-
critical philosophy must start.
174 Paul Redding

rational knowledge of the world. Of course, Hegel’s path through this material
will not be one that accepts the modern account: it is only at the outset of the
process that each of the three moments of the concept, singularity, particularity
and universality, are held as understandable in their isolation from the other two.
Hegel, in this respect, will be shown to be the paradigmatic critic of the empiri-
cist “given”—the idea that singular mental contents are thought of as supplying
the empirical content of judgments that can be known with certainty and play a
foundational role for the subsequent logical “construction” of knowledge. Rath-
er, in Hegel’s unfolding of the process of judgment formation, singular items
will, in contrast, have their role assigned by the functional role they play in judg-
ments. Moreover, and in line with the “inferentialist” semantics recently champ-
ioned by Robert Brandom (1994), the semantic contents of judgments will them-
selves be subject to the functional role that those judgments play in inferential
relations to other judgments. Nevertheless, for Hegel, this type of holism must
be shown to emerge from an account of thought in terms of the interactions be-
tween concepts, judgments and inferences from which the Subjective Logic
starts.
While Hegel was obviously critical of the modern empiricist account of how
thought acquires its content, he was not critical in the same way of what might
be described as a type of speculative empiricism present in Aristotle. Neverthe-
less, he was critical of the type of indeterminacy surrounding the question of
the relation of thought and being that marked Aristotle’s account. The task fac-
ing Hegel, I suggest, was that of reconstructing the logic of Aristotle’s speculative
empiricist path from experience of the actual world to a knowledge of the ideas
in a way that is armed with the resources that allow this modern explicit sepa-
ration of thought and being to be properly made. This, on my reading, is what he
is doing in the first section of the Subjective Logic.

2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Aristotle’s


Speculative Empiricism
In his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Hegel rejects the commonplace op-
posing of Plato and Aristotle as representatives of antithetical extremes such as
idealism and realism, or rationalism and empiricism (Hegel 1995, vol. 2, pp. 118–
119; W 19, p. 132). For Hegel, as for the neo-Platonists, Aristotle was himself clear-
ly a Platonist—a developer of Plato’s speculative philosophy who took Plato’s di-
alectic beyond the limitations found in Plato himself.
Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought and Being 175

Many readers will undoubtedly find both Plato and Aristotle as presented
by Hegel rather unfamiliar figures. For Hegel, the most significant feature of Pla-
to’s philosophy was that Plato, in his masterpiece of dialectic, Parmenides, had
touched on the “speculative” unity of being and non-being (Hegel 1995, vol. 2,
p. 56; W 19, p. 79). This unity had nevertheless remained somewhat implicit
and hidden in Plato, who had one-sidedly focused more on the “affirmative prin-
ciple” concerning the idea’s abstract self-identity, while in contrast, Aristotle had
made explicit this hidden moment of negativity (Hegel 1995, vol. 2, p. 140; W 19,
p. 154).
In Hegel’s account of this history, the issue of language importantly enters
via a consideration of the Sophists who had used dialogue to confound an inter-
locutor by showing how, on questioning, particular ideas could become trans-
formed into their opposites. What the Sophists had played upon, it would
seem, was the egocentric nature of many everyday judgments: as Protagoras
put it, “what to one person is bitter, to another is sweet” (Hegel 1995, vol. 2,
p. 63; W 19, p. 70). Socrates too had used these apparent contradictions to con-
found assumptions unreflectively held by his interlocutor, but whereas the So-
phists had used this confusion to deny the ultimate distinction between truth
and falsity, Socrates used the technique to free the interlocutor from the con-
straints of the immediate certitudes of empirical consciousness so as to bring
“the universal in men to consciousness” (Hegel 1995, vol. 2, p. 51; W 19,
p. 61).⁷ But like Socrates, Plato had been too ready to dismiss the empirical
from philosophical inquiry and so pass over the imperfect empirical instances
of beings to their ideas. In contrast, Aristotle had assigned a more positive
place to the consideration of the sensuously presented world, and had come
to a more scientific understanding of the world’s categorical structure. “Aristotle,
because he looks at all sides of the universe, takes up all those single things [Ein-
zelne] more as a speculative philosopher, and so works [verarbeitet] upon them
that the profoundest speculative concept proceeds therefrom” (Hegel 1995, vol. 2,
p. 131; W 19, p. 145). But the degree to which Aristotle works on what he takes
from the empirical world seems in tension with that aspect of Aristotle’s empiri-
cism that comes to the fore when his logic is contrasted with that of the Stoics—
the image of thought passively accepting the forms it finds in things as they are
actually experienced.
Despite his generally much higher estimation of the philosophy of Aristotle
in relation to the Stoics, it is clear that Hegel treats the Stoics as having pro-
gressed beyond Aristotle in the field of logic. The Stoics, he writes, “made ab-

 For a more recent reading of Plato that stresses the role of the dialogue see Gadamer 1991.
176 Paul Redding

stract thought the principle” and thereby “developed formal logic”, such that
with them, logic was “no longer as with Aristotle, at least in regard to the cate-
gories, undecided [unentschieden] as to whether the forms of the understanding
are not at the same time the essences of things [Wesenheiten der Dinge]; for the
forms of thought are set forth as such for themselves [sind als solche für sich ge-
setzt]” (Hegel 1995, vol. 2, pp. 254–255; W 19, pp. 273–274). Earlier, discussing Ar-
istotle in relation to the Sophists, Hegel writes that “in perception, in ordinary
conception, the categories appear: the absolute essence [das absolute Wesen],
the speculative view of these moments, is always expressed in the expression
of perceptions. This pure essence in perception [Wahrnehmung] Aristotle takes
up [nimmt […] auf]” (Hegel 1995, vol. 2, pp. 131–132; W 19, p. 146).⁸ “Undoubted-
ly”, he sums up, “this method in one respect appears to be empirical […] in the
acceptance of objects [Aufnehmens der Gegenstände] as known in mere represen-
tation [Vorstellung]” (Hegel 1995, vol. 2, p. 133; W 19, p. 148, emphasis added).
Thus the passive side of Aristotle’s empiricism is expressed in the idea that
the categories of thought are equated with the forms of determinately qualified
actual things as encountered in empirical experience. The very forms found in
corporeal substances are conceived as accepted into nous in the process of per-
ception, wherein they now exist as forms without matter, simply as the knowl-
edge of those individual substances from whence they came. But this supposes
that it was the set of essential qualities, those that the object has in virtue of
being a representative of its species, that were accepted into nous. This logical
empiricism thus reflects what I have referred to above as the indifference to
the question as to whether the categories are regarded as categories of thought
or categories of being—they are implicitly accepted as both. Put another way, it is
unclear when referring to an object whether one is referring to it as a determinate
single thing or as mere representative of the essential features defining its spe-
cies: that is, in its singularity or as a particular instance of its kind. ⁹ Contrast
this indeterminacy with what Hegel says of the Stoics, who “set forth” the
forms of thought as such for themselves—clearly, the forms of thought as op-
posed to or as abstracted from those things they are about.¹⁰ He notes that,

 Hegel constantly plays on the etymological connection between taking (nehmen) and taking
up (aufnehmen) with perception (Wahrnehmen)—taking to be true.
 Aristotle’s ambiguity here might be regarded as the origin of the ambiguity between logical
and non-logical essence alluded to above.
 The Stoics, with their notions of incorporeal sayables “lekta” and assertibles “axiomata”, had
distinguished thought contents or intensions from their extensions of thought (Nuchelmans 1973,
Ch. 4). In contrast, Aristotle’s use of “protasis”, while standardly translated as “proposition” or
“premise”, does not seem to have the standard modern philosophical sense of the term—that of
Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought and Being 177

“the question respecting the harmony of thought and object” commences with
the Stoics (Hegel 1995, vol. 2, p. 255; W 19, p. 274). It is clear that the Stoics rep-
resent a philosophical position in antiquity that anticipates the subjectivist think-
ing of modernity with its clear intensional-extensional separation, especially that
of Kant (Gourinat 2004, p. 537). However, like modern thinkers, the Stoics seem-
ingly cannot combine the idea of the simplicity of the thought with its determi-
nacy (Hegel 1995, vol. 2, p. 255; W 19, p. 274).
In contemporary thought about the history of logic, it is usually said that the
Stoics, in contrast to the Peripatetics, anticipated the modern extensionalist turn
in with their propositional logic (Bobzien 2003), and that it was the great ach-
ievement of Frege to have unified these two forms of logical thought, effectively
by reconstructing term logic to conform with the demands of propositional logic.
In line with his appreciation of the Stoics, Hegel was, I suggest, appreciative of
the shortcomings of Aristotle’s own formal logic, but he also recognized the lim-
itedness of the Stoic alternative. If we are to follow Aristotle’s empiricist path to a
speculative knowledge of ideas, that path must be reconstructed in a way that
unifies these opposing attitude in a non-reductive way.
In the following section I propose that Hegel’s treatment of judgments and
syllogisms in the Subjective Logic can be understood as such a critical recon-
struction of the sorts of cognitive processes at the heart of Aristotle’s “thinking
empiricist” account of induction or epagoge. There, I suggest, we are meant to ap-
preciate for the first time in the Science of Logic exactly how “being” becomes in-
corporated into “thought”, leading to knowledge of “the profoundest speculative
concept”.

3 First Steps in a Reconstruction of Aristotle’s


Logical Ascent to the Idea
In Posterior Analytics (Aristotle 1960, Book II, Ch. 19), Aristotle states that all an-
imals have perception, but in some animals, percepts are retained in the soul.
Here he introduces his celebrated image of a group of soldiers who come to
take a stand as a group in the context of a rout in the course of a battle. This col-
lective or common stand comes about, first by being made by one soldier, then

referring to an abstract content expressed by an utterance (Crivelli/Charles 2012). While the Sto-
ics had insisted that it was the lekta expressed by the logoi, not the logoi themselves that were
true or false, in contrast, for Aristotle, it was the protasis as logos, qua complex of significant
sounds, that was true or false (Nuchelmans 1973, p. 77).
178 Paul Redding

another, then the next, and so on, until “the original position is restored” (Aris-
totle 1960, 100a1–14). The retreating individual soldiers represent the flow of in-
dividual percepts in time, and when the stream of percepts comes to make its
collective stand in this way “there is the first beginnings of the presence [in
the soul] of a universal (because although it is the singular [to kath ekaston]
that we perceive, the act of perception involves the universal, e. g., ‘man’ not
‘a man, Callias’)” (Aristotle 1960, 100a15–b1).¹¹ One might here pause to wonder
how while singular things, like this man Callias, are perceived, perception can,
nevertheless, involve universals. Hegel’s account of judgment in the Subjective
Logic, I suggest, is meant to provide an explanation.
Hegel contrasts two different approaches to the logical structure of judgment
that might be adopted: a term-first approach in which subject and predicate
terms are “treated as ready-made, each for itself outside the other […] the judg-
ment itself is simply the act that combines the predicate with the subject” (Hegel
2010, p. 552; GW 12, p. 55). This is superficial, however, as “it is in judgment that
[subject and predicate terms] must first receive their determination” (Hegel 2010,
p. 553; GW 12, p. 56). The former clearly reflects the approach to judgment in tra-
ditional term logics like that of Aristotle, while the latter seems to apply more to
modern conceptions of the proposition, in which the meaning of a part is deter-
mined by its contribution to a property of the whole, specifically, its truth-value.
Something close to this distinction can be found in the ancient world in the con-
trast between Aristotelian term and Stoic propositional logics. Moreover, this dis-
tinction might be thought to have been already anticipated by Aristotle himself,
in the way in which he had characterized predication with the implicit distinc-
tion between the imagery of the containment of the predicate in the subject on
the one hand, and on the other, a more linguistic imagery by the idea of the pred-
ication or saying of the predicate of the subject. But in equating the two—“for
one term to be wholly contained in another is the same as for the latter to be
predicated of all the former” (Aristotle 1938, Bk. I, 24b27–29)—Aristotle blurs
the distinction.
In this Aristotle thus blurs the distinction between objects regarded as single
things (objects of “non-logical extension”) and objects regarded as exemplars of
their species (quasi-objects of “logical extension”). It is only the latter quasi-sub-
sumptive relation that can be considered as “the same as” (or an inversion of)
that of intensional containment. Hegel, reflecting Kant’s separation of singular

 While the translators give “particular” here, I follow Whitaker, who claims that “Aristotle’s
own terms, ‘singular’ [kath ekaston] and ‘partial’ [en merei], are used clearly and consistently”
(Whitaker 1996, p. 89).
Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought and Being 179

and particular, treats the subsumptive relation as one between concepts and
their proper, (“non-logical”) extensions, and so these two relations will not be
the same. Predication as inherence is a characteristic of the first form of judg-
ment Hegel treats—the judgment of determinate being, by which he clearly
means an immediate perceptually based “de re” judgment about some specific
object, his examples including “the rose is red” and “the rose is fragrant”
(Hegel 2010, pp. 558–559; GW 12, pp. 61–62). Predication as subsumption, in con-
trast is found in the succeeding judgment of reflection that has a more fully prop-
ositional content as in a “de dicto” judgment.
An obvious peculiarity of Hegel’s judgment of determinate being lies in the
fact that the predicate term is described as singular, singular terms having no
real role within Aristotle’s syllogistic logic, but especially no role as the predicate
of a judgment. The modern “subjectivist” feature of Hegel’s approach soon be-
comes explicit in the fact that by the singularity of the “fragrance” or “redness”
of the particular rose Hegel clearly intends the specific fragrance or redness of
that rose—its way of being fragrant or red. This was the type of “singular” and
“immediate” subjective content that Arnauld and Nicole had tried to capture
with a sensory idea, and that Kant had tried to capture as the content of an em-
pirical intuition. What Hegel has done, then, is to reclassify Kant’s intuitive con-
tent as a type of conceptual content: singularity has become a “moment” of “the
concept” rather than the mark of something non-conceptual. In contrast, the
predicate of Hegel’s judgment of reflection will be a standardly abstract univer-
sal, signifying, say, the indeterminate in the sense of phenomenologically non-
specific redness that the rose can be said to share with other things such as
post-boxes and fire-engines—all things of which “red” could be truly said. Con-
sonant with this, the judgment of reflection clearly is meant to represent inferen-
tial judgments rather than non-inferential or immediate perceptual ones, as there
would be no peculiar “what it is like” suggested by the predicate, in contrast to
forms appropriate for the expression of immediate perceptual judgments. Along
with this, such phenomenological indeterminacy might be thought to be an aid
in the context of linguistic interaction, and to be appropriate for the attribution
of content to others on the basis of what they say.
This distinction between judgments characterized by the different inherence
and subsumption forms of predication is now repeated at higher and higher lev-
els, generating an array of increasingly complex judgment types, and ultimately
types of syllogisms, from this initial duality. Hegel notes that “every judgment is
in principle also an abstract judgment” (Hegel 2010, p. 558; GW 12, p. 61), the im-
plication seeming to be that in making a judgment of determinate being such as
“the rose is red” one simultaneously commits oneself to a higher-order judgment
concerning the categories exemplified by the terms in the initial judgment. Thus
180 Paul Redding

to assert that “the rose is red” is to implicitly assert the abstract proposition “the
singular is universal”—an identity that is rooted in the ultimate unity of the “mo-
ments” of conceptuality—universality, particularity and singularity. This underly-
ing identity of singularity and universality as “moments” of conceptuality will
mean that the subject term of the judgment, typically taken as a singular, will
also be able to be read as a universal and the predicate term, typically read as
a universal, will be able to be read as a singular. With this, the first “resolved”
form of the judgment of determinate being actually encountered—the one descri-
bed above in which the predicate is taken as expressing the determinate phe-
nomenal property of the thing—will have a singular predicate, and, congruent
with this, a universal subject. Thus “the rose” will designate an instance of a uni-
versal, a particular instance of rosehood. The subject, then, is no mere this, but, a
“this such”—a determination of particularity. In sum, in this type of judgment,
the property qua singular determination is taken to “inhere” in the object, qua
instance of a universal.¹² This is effectively the logical structure of what Hegel
treats in the Phenomenology of Spirit as an object of perception (Wahrnehmung)
(Hegel 1977, pp. 67–79; GW 9, pp. 71–81).
The reapplication of this higher-order rule identifying singularity and univer-
sality qua determinations of conceptuality will now re-establish the original (sin-
gular-universal) determinations of subject and predicate resulting in the judg-
ment of reflection. Now the predicate, re-established as a universal, is said to
subsume the subject, which is once more construed as a singular (in Anglophone
philosophical parlance, a “bare particular”), stripped of the sortal universal that
allowed the subject term to pick out something qua particular instance of a kind
in the earlier judgment of determinate being. The abstractly singular nature of
the subject of the reflective judgment allows it to take indefinite quantified
forms, there being particular and universal judgments of reflection that can be
contrasted with the explicitly singular ones (Hegel 2010, pp. 570–575; GW 12,
pp. 72–77).
Hegel’s device of switching between singular, particular and universal con-
struals of both subject and predicate terms may look idiosyncratic, but it can
be readily seen to be a variant of a simple device familiar from early analytic phi-
losophy. Treating the normally universal predicate as a singular term and the
normally singular subject term as a universal can be understood as simply re-
versing subject and predicate terms in the judgment in a manner suggested by

 Following the reflective judgment it will be the implicit “secondary substance” contained in
the subject term of the judgment of Dasein that will become the explicit subject of the next type
of judgment, as in “the rose [i. e., the rose as such] is a plant” (Hegel 2010, p. 576; GW 12, p. 78).
Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought and Being 181

Frank Ramsey who, in an effort to undermine the metaphysical significance of


the traditional subject-predicate relation, had pointed out that “Socrates is
wise” and “Wisdom is a characteristic of Socrates” are equivalent propositions
(Ramsey 1925, p. 404). On this model we can construe the judgment of determi-
nate being as having the form: “this red colour (the new subject) is in (predica-
tion as inherence) this rose (the new predicate)”. Retaining Hegel’s way of por-
traying the situation, however, the logical relation of predication can be seen
as mirroring the ontological relation between a property and a substance: one
thinks of the intension of the predicate as in that of the subject just as the
rose’s redness is in the rose itself. Furthermore, because other specific properties
of the rose, its shape, its colour, etc., can also be said to be in it, the rose as that
in which the various properties inhere must now be considered to have the gen-
erality typical of a predicate—to have become a universal—a concrete one—to
which various particular properties can belong. This logical structure will be-
come explicit in the categorical sub-form of the judgment of the necessity—a judg-
ment about a secondary substance, the rose as such, that succeeds the judgment
of reflection and contains features of both the two earlier forms of judgment
(Hegel 2010, pp. 575–576; GW 12, pp. 77–78).
This series of increasingly complex judgment forms generated by this mech-
anism will eventually lead to a judgment form, the apodictic judgment—the final
sub-form of the judgment of the concept—that is shown to be an implicit syllo-
gism (Hegel 2010, pp. 585–587; GW 12, pp. 87–89; Redding 2007, pp. 188–189),
and Hegel’s treatment of judgments thereby transitions to his treatment of infer-
ences or syllogisms. In this new context, the difference between the two concep-
tions of predication now appears as one between two different conceptions of
logical consequence, as both the “containment” and “said of” relations can be
considered as transitive. Hegel will aim to show that a conception of syllogistic
inference based on the transitivity of the containment relation, found in Aristo-
tle’s perfect, that is, intuitively obvious syllogisms, actually depends on the
weaker truth-based “said of” relation found in Aristotle’s conversion rules, re-
sulting in the collapse of the traditional syllogistic and its replacement by the
type of abstract mathematical logic introduced by Leibniz, and championed by
the Tübingen philosopher-logician, Gottfried Ploucquet—effectively Hegel’s
own logic teacher (Redding 2014).
Hegel proves to be a close and astute reader of Aristotle’s syllogistic. Early in
the Prior Analytics Aristotle defines what it is to be a perfect syllogism:

When three terms are so related to one another that the last is wholly contained in the mid-
dle and the middle is wholly contained in or excluded from the first, the extremes must
admit of perfect syllogism. By ‘middle term’ I mean that which both is contained in another
182 Paul Redding

and contains another in itself, and which is the middle by its position also; and by ‘ex-
tremes’ (a) that which is contained in another and (b) that in which another is contained
(Aristotle 1938, Bk. I, IV, 25b32–35).

With this Aristotle clearly sets out his conception of the consequence relation as
based on the transitivity of the relation of containment. Consonant with this, Ar-
istotle is said to have utilized diagrams in his teaching of logic (Netz 1999, p. 15),
likening the way one can see diagrammatic containment relations to the way
that we can see how the conclusion of a perfect syllogism follows from its two
premises. But Aristotle immediately follows this with an account formulated
now in the “predicated” or “said of” mode: “For if A is predicated of all B,
and B of all C, A must necessarily be predicated of all C”. Remember that, for
Aristotle, the said of relation is only a pseudo-extensional one, being a mere re-
flex of the idea of conceptual containment. Hegel recognizes this, quoting this
passage with the gloss that Aristotle had thereby “confined himself […] to the
mere relation of inherence by defining the nature of the syllogism” (Hegel
2010, p. 591; GW 12, p. 93). But Hegel believes that Aristotle’s account of conse-
quence implicitly depends on the operation of properly extensional relations im-
plicit in the “conversion rules” required for proving imperfect syllogisms by re-
ducing them to perfect ones that are grasped intuitively on the basis of the
containment reading of predication. Hegel, of course, will not argue for one
form over the other: both must be aufgehoben in such a way that each continues
to play a role. It is the oscillation between each form as noted above that is the
means of this Aufhebung.
This is not the place to evaluate Hegel’s interpretation of an aspect of Aris-
totle’s logic, nevertheless, Hegel’s interpretation appears as a not implausible
one in the context of recent accounts (Malink 2013). What Hegel is intent on
showing is the interdependence of the explicitly intensionally based “contain-
ment” account of predication and consequence and the contrary extensional
“subsumption” view—a distinction blurred in Aristotle. In short, perceptual ex-
perience provides an initial determinate content for judgment, but as fundamen-
tally intensional this content cannot be thought of as representative of something
genuinely independent of those intensionally related concepts wielded by the
judging subject. For the independence of a genuinely extensional referent to
be accounted for, the judgment has to be transformed into its reflective analogue,
now understood as made true by some independent aspect of the world, but at
the expense of the judgment’s determinacy. This becomes explicit in Hegel’s
treatment of the “mathematical” syllogism of Leibniz and Ploucquet into
which the syllogism of determinate being collapses, and which signals the tran-
sition to the syllogism of reflection.
Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought and Being 183

The post-Aristotelian fourth-figure syllogism that concludes the sequence of


syllogisms of determinate being confounds the understanding of inference on
the model of the transitivity of either the inherence or subsumption relations
holding among the terms. In perfect syllogisms, the middle term had allowed
the predicate that inheres in (or subsumes) the subject in the major premise to
inhere in (or subsume) the subject of the conclusion. In the fourth-figure syllo-
gism, however, the term that is the predicate in the major premise becomes the
subject of the conclusion, while the term that had been the subject of the minor
premise becomes the predicate of the conclusion (Hegel 2010, pp. 602–608;
GW 12, pp. 104–110). Any notion of the transitivity of inherence or subsumption
relations has disappeared. Hegel describes a new conception of consequence op-
erating in this syllogism with the idea that “if two things or two determinations
are equal to a third, then they are equal to each other. – The relation of inherence
or subsumption of terms is done away with”. This “third” is “in general the me-
diating term” but it “has absolutely no determination as against the extremes”
(Hegel 2010, p. 602; GW 12, p. 104). “The third” here refers to an entirely posited
abstract entity that is regarded as subsumed by both the predicate and the orig-
inal subject term, that is now explicitly treated as a predicate (Antognazza 2007,
pp. 22–26). What has happened is that the subject term of the original Aristote-
lian proposition or protasis, which had been indifferently regarded as a singular
(an individual substance) or a particular (a representative instance of its class),
has been disambiguated. The overt judgment is now explicitly taken as a joining
of two intensional predicates, but at a deeper logical level this relation is seen as
underpinned by the fact that they are both truly predicated of a range of objects
not represented directly in the surface structure. The judgment structure is then
held together by properly singular indeterminate posits, the thirds determining
the truth of the overt judgment.
This mathematical syllogism, claims Hegel, “ranks […] as an axiom, as a first
self-explanatory proposition which is neither capable nor in need of proof, i. e., of
any mediation – which neither presupposes anything else nor can be derived
from anything else” (Hegel 2010, p. 602; GW 12, p. 104). Thus the axioms of math-
ematical syllogisms do not in fact have the type of immediate intuitable “certain-
ty” that had characterized those “perfect” traditional syllogisms. “If we take a
closer look at this prerogative that the proposition claims, of being immediately
self-evident, we find that it lies in its formalism, in the fact that it abstracts from
every qualitative diversity of determinations and admits their quantitative equal-
ity or inequality” (Hegel 2010, pp. 602–603; GW 12, p. 105, second emphasis
added). This mathematical syllogism structure is axiomatic in that it “is neither
capable nor in need of proof”, not because it was, like the perfect syllogism, in-
tuitable, but rather that, abstracting “from every qualitative diversity of determi-
184 Paul Redding

nations” it “only admits their quantitative equality or inequality” just as “lines


and figures, posited as equal to each other, are understood only according to
their magnitude” (Hegel 2010, pp. 603; GW 12, p. 105). Hegel is aware that Leib-
niz’s project of mathematical formalization had been linked to the idea of the
mechanization of thought, an idea he criticizes in Ploucquet (Hegel 2010,
p. 608; GW 12, p. 110).¹³
Negatively, the mathematical syllogism has undermined the assumptions on
which the Aristotelian syllogism was built. The intuitive and intensional basis of
the consequence relation purportedly at its heart had been shown to rely on ex-
tensional and ultimately mechanically applicable principles. The fate of the tradi-
tional syllogistic shows that “the customary exposition of the syllogism and of
its particular configurations is not a rational cognition, not an exposition of
them as forms of reason” (Hegel 2010, p. 605; GW 12, p. 107). The reconstruction
is to take place after the downfall of the traditional program brought about by
the mathematical syllogism and it will build on the positive features it shares
with the negative. Namely, “that in the abstract determinateness its other has
been posited and the determinateness has thereby become concrete”. “What is
truly present here”, Hegel goes on, “is not a mediation based on a given imme-
diacy, but a mediation based on mediation […] a mediation of reflection” (Hegel
2010, p. 603; GW 12, p. 105).
The series of syllogisms that build on the collapse of the traditional syllogis-
tic will eventually arrive at the syllogism of necessity that is “full of content”.
I have elsewhere argued that this syllogism is understood as concrete in the
sense that represents the conceptually mediated (and so “syllogizing”) intersub-
jective activities of mutually recognizing concrete socially and historically organ-
ized human beings (Redding 1996, p. 156–158). It is this syllogism that then tran-
sitions into the “objective” section of the Subjective Logic. Given that Hegel links
the syllogism of necessity to the ontological proof for the existence of God, this
genesis of concreteness can seem mysterious, but the process by which the syl-
logism has become contentful need not seem mysterious if it is recognized that it
has in fact been at work from the start of the Subjective Logic. It has been the
alternating “intensional” and “extensional” steps that have brought an inde-
pendently conceived “being” into thought, and this can only be understood as
commencing with empirically given content that is independent of any particular
determination because it is always subject to progressive re-determinations in
which it becomes linked in conceptually mediated ways to a wider and wider

 Both Leibniz and Ploucquet are discussed in relation to the history of the project of the
mechanization of thought in Marciszewski/Murawski 1995.
Subjective Logic and the Unity of Thought and Being 185

range of other elements. This has initially been conceived as a process holding
for a subject, but the collapse of Aristotle’s logic into mechanized thought has
produced a type of radically materialist “identity” of thought and being, albeit
surely not of a kind that advocates of Hegel’s categories as “ontological”
would wish, but an identity all the same. And, of course, Hegel’s reconstruction
does not stop there. The limitations of mechanical thought are not to be regarded
as lying in its image of thought as a worldly corporealized process; rather they lie
in the limitations of such a mechanical conception of worldly corporeality, the
limitations of which are displayed in Chapter 1 of Objectivity, “Mechanism”.
As the interrelated substances of the world become progressively more complex-
ly determined, they come to have properties that had initially been understood
as properties of the initially atomistically conceived conscious subject for
whom these processes held. Towards the end of Objectivity, worldly things are
meant to be sufficiently rich that a subject can find itself in such a thing.
In this essay I have suggested that we take seriously Hegel’s allusions to Ar-
istotle in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy as a type of empiricist, what I
have called a “speculative empiricist”, who offers a serious alternative to the
problematic picture of any kind of direct intellectual intuition that is linked to
the distinctly anti-empirical attitudes of his teacher Plato. Moreover, I have sug-
gested a reading of Hegel’s subjective logic as a type of critical reconstruction of
Aristotle’s formal logic that starts from a modern subjective position which holds
thought and being to be separate. It is then meant to show, on the model of Ar-
istotle’s original account, the logical transformation of the perceptual knowledge
of singular things into a conception of ideas and principles built into the struc-
ture of the world. Read in this way, the analyses of Hegel’s Subjective Logic and
his attitudes to formal logic more broadly, might be seen as having a far greater
relevance than they have been traditionally accorded.¹⁴

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Thompson, Manley (1983): “Philosophical Approaches to Categories”. In: The Monist 66,
No. 3, pp. 336–352.
Whitaker, C. W. A. (1996): Aristotle’s De Interpretatione: Contradiction and Dialectic. Oxford:
Clarendon Press.
Angelica Nuzzo
“Das Ich denkt nicht, sondern das Wissen
denkt – sagt der transzendentale Logiker”.
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath
Abstract. This essay discusses Fichte’s account of the discipline of logic within the
project of his Wissenschaftslehre or Doctrine of Science by focusing, in particular,
on the 1812 lectures on Transcendental Logic. At stake is Fichte’s understanding of
the distinction between formal and transcendental logic and the way in which he
advocates for a new transcendental foundation of logic in opposition to Kant’s own
transcendental logic. Finally, the implications of Fichte’s proposed transcendental
logic are investigated and weighted against a different model of logic such as He-
gel’s dialectical-speculative logic.

In diesem Essay wird Fichtes Darstellung der Disziplin der Logik im Projekt seiner
Wissenschaftslehre behandelt. Der Fokus liegt vor allem auf den Vorlesungen von
1812 über Transzendentale Logik. Diskutiert wird Fichtes Verständnis vom Unter-
schied zwischen formaler und transzendentaler Logik und die Art und Weise, wie er
für eine neue transzendentale Grundlage der Logik im Gegensatz zu Kants eigener
transzendentaler Logik argumentiert. Schließlich werden die Implikationen der von
Fichte vorgeschlagenen transzendentalen Logik untersucht und gegen Hegels dia-
lektisch-spekulative Logik als einem anderen Modell der Logik abgewogen.

There is a series of questions that interpreters of post-Kantian philosophy do


not tire of raising time and again when faced with a general assessment of He-
gel’s Science of Logic: is Hegel’s logic really a ‘logic’? On what basis does it right-
fully claim this title? What kind of ‘logic’ is it, and what is it properly about?
After all, next to a theory of judgment and syllogisms, Hegel’s book offers an
analysis of metaphysical forms, and includes titles such as “life,” “mechanism,”
“chemism” that do not seem to have much to do with logic properly. When pro-
posed by a Kantian sympathizer, this problematic constellation takes on an iron-
ic, even dismissive tone. When raised instead by someone concerned with the de-
velopment of the discipline of logic after Kant, the answer cannot avoid a
justificatory tone. Now, I want to suggest that an analogous series of questions
should be raised with regard to Fichte’s logic as well. Indeed, in Fichte’s case
the issue is complicated by the fact that we do not have a unitary text to
which we can address them. This may be one of the reasons why Fichte’s
logic has not been a central topic in the literature so far. However, taking as

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-009
190 Angelica Nuzzo

text of reference the series of lectures on Transcendental Logic delivered in Ber-


lin in 1812—the same year of the publication of the first volume of Hegel’s Science
of Logic—we should ask: is Fichte’s transcendental logic really a ‘logic’? In what
sense is it ‘logic’, and in what sense is it ‘transcendental’? After all, Fichte’s tran-
scendental logic does not deal with categories but is a “doctrine of images”—it
deals, puzzlingly, with Bild als Bild. In what sense, now, is his theory of images
logic and not psychology, phenomenology or metaphysics?
In Fichte’s case, the doubt implicit in these questions is, I believe, even more
justified than in Hegel’s. In both instances, however, if we take as our point of
departure Kant’s critical position, the legitimacy of the problem can hardly be
disputed. To raise the issue of the ‘logical’ status of both Fichte’s and Hegel’s
logic in Kant’s aftermath is to address the problem of logic’s relation to metaphy-
sics (early modern and Kantian critical metaphysics) after Kant’s critique. But it
is also to ask, with Fichte, what is logic’s “relation to philosophy in general,” i. e.,
the position it alternatively deserves within the system of philosophy or without
it as the necessary introduction or preparation or propaedeutic to the Wissen-
schaftslehre.¹ Furthermore, by setting Fichte’s logic in connection with Hegel’s
we shall be able to better shed light on the development of transcendental phi-
losophy (or properly of transcendental logic) after Kant. At stake is the problem
of the ‘method’ according to which logic should be carried out if it is not to fall
back into the pitfalls of traditional formal logic already criticized by Kant, and
considered by both Fichte and Hegel a no longer tenable choice.
Hegel’s position is clear in this regard, as it implies a radical rejection of the
transcendental perspective in favor of the utterly new idea of a dialectic-specu-
lative logic. On his view, the transcendental method is as untenable as that of
formal logic—the two being classed together as forms of un-dialectical Verstan-
deslogik. For Fichte, by contrast, at issue is a philosophical program that is
moved by some of the same instances put forth by Hegel around the same
years (roughly during the first decade of the century). This program, however,
is developed in a way that supposedly remains faithful to the transcendental
method first introduced by Kant, although it also aims at correcting it in some
crucial respects. This proves indeed a difficult balance for Fichte to strike.

 “Wissenschaftslehre” or “Doctrine of Science” is the term Fichte consistently uses to desig-


nate his own version of transcendental philosophy and philosophy in general (it is not in itself
a book title although it appears in the title of many of Fichte’s works). Since the literal transla-
tion “doctrine of science” does not quite render Fichte’s idea, it is customary, in the scholarship
on Fichte, to abbreviate the German word as “WL.” Henceforth I will use this customary abbre-
viation.
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 191

By functioning as the paradigmatic case of an alternative to Fichte’s ‘tran-


scendental’ position, Hegel’s dialectic will help us assess the closeness and
the distance separating Kant’s transcendentalism from Fichte’s. It is immediately
clear that placed in this framework, the issue of the nature and status of Fichte’s
logic sets us a rich but also complicated interpretive task. In the end, the ques-
tion that I shall propose is the following: is a ‘transcendental logic’ other than
Kant’s possible? Or should one rather conclude, on the basis of Fichte’s example
that the Kantian transcendental paradigm cannot truly be broken by rejecting
some of Kant’s crucial assumptions (such as the separation between intuition
and concept, for instance) so that either transcendental logic becomes some-
thing entirely different (metaphysics or the late WL) or, as logic, it has to aban-
don the transcendental method tout court as in Hegel’s case?²
Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason brings about a fundamental expansion of the
discipline of logic, which on Kant’s own assessment repeated later by Hegel
(KrV B viii; Hegel, TW 5, p. 46), had remained fundamentally unchanged since
the ancient Aristotelian treatises throughout the German Leibnizian-Wolffian
scholastic. Traditional logic, alternatively designated as “formal,” “general” or
“common” logic, is now accompanied by a “transcendental” logic. The former,
on the usual understanding of the discipline, is the science of the general and
abstract laws of formal thinking (Denken) valid independently of what is
thought; the latter, by contrast, is introduced by Kant as a “particular” logic,
i. e., as a logic of a particular employment of the understanding. Transcendental
logic is not the logic of formal, abstract thinking as such, but the logic of our
cognition of objects (Erkennen). In the Introduction to the Transcendental
Logic of the first Critique, Kant presents this distinction as an apparently straight-
forward one, proceeding as if merely clarifying concepts and definitions
(KrV A 50–64/B 74–88). And yet, the precise relation between the two disci-
plines, although crucial to the development of the Transcendental Logic (from
the “deduction” of the categories to the division into Analytic and Dialectic),
is not so straightforward after all. In fact, in Kant’s immediate aftermath, the In-
troduction to the Transcendental Logic proves to be quite controversial and rife
of many and often conflicting interpretations.
In his two prefaces and introduction to the successive editions of the Science
of Logic (1812, 1831), Hegel opens his presentation of the new dialectic-specula-
tive logic to be developed in this book by closely commenting on those pages of
the first Critique in which Kant draws the distinction between general and tran-
scendental logic and advocates the need to transform and expand the logical dis-

 I have argued for this conclusion in Nuzzo 2014.


192 Angelica Nuzzo

cipline with a new transcendental logic. For Hegel the issue is now to expand the
logical discipline even more, working apparently on the basis established by
Kant but bringing its transformation a step farther than Kant has done. In his
1812 lectures on Transcendental Logic, Fichte seems to be setting up the intro-
duction of his own transcendental logic by appealing to the same strategy as He-
gel’s. At stake is first the task of elucidating the relationship between formal or
“common” logic and “transcendental” logic, and then of showing that transcen-
dental logic must be developed in a new way beyond Kant’s transcendentalism.
Again, as Fichte recognizes his debt to Kant, he also acknowledges that Kant has
not gone far enough both in his criticism (or rather dismissal) of formal logic and
in setting logic on a transcendental basis. Fichte’s standpoint is the standpoint
of the late WL, and it is in relation to the latter that logic is now systematically
placed. It is relevant that while both Hegel and Fichte refer directly to Kant’s con-
sidered position in the first Critique, their interpretation of Kant’s assessment of
the relation between formal and transcendental logic as well as of the function
of transcendental logic itself differs significantly (and in both cases differs signif-
icantly from Kant’s own). Accordingly, the task that this situation poses to the
interpreter concerns the understanding of the broader systematic framework
within which Fichte and Hegel place their respective reconstruction and correc-
tion of Kant’s position.³ This is, in Fichte’s case, the “doctrine of science” (a proj-
ect that, as well known, changes quite significantly over the years) and, for
Hegel, the “system” of speculative philosophy.
In these reflections I shall proceed in the following way. I begin by consid-
ering the development of Fichte’s conception of the discipline of logic in relation
to his changing idea of the WL from the Jena to the later Berlin years. I will dwell
on an early episode of this itinerary, namely, Fichte’s position in the 1794 Con-
cerning the Concept of the Wissenschaftslehre. Then I move on to the discussion
of the second lecture course on Transcendental Logic of 1812. I suggest that
Fichte’s idea of transcendental logic is part of the broader problem of how to pre-
pare and introduce the empirical I, consciousness or the philosophy student to
the standpoint of the WL. On Fichte’s view, the introductory function assigned
to logic requires that this discipline be developed in a transcendental way,
which, however, departs from Kant’s transcendentalism in two interconnected
respects. On the one hand, the development of logic should be based on a
more “original” ground than that provided by Kant’s transcendental unity of ap-

 What is ‘transcendental’ respectively for Fichte and Hegel in Kant’s transcendental logic, so
that the need for overcoming his position is raised? As my present focus is Fichte’s logic,
I shall limit my discussion of Hegel to the minimum (for this see also Nuzzo 2010, pp. 202– 206).
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 193

perception; while on the other hand, it should be carried out by a “genetic”


method whereby thinking or rather knowing itself (Wissen) reproduces or per-
forms the very activity that is taken as thematic in the transcendental logic
(and is also at work in the WL). With regard to these programmatic points and
to the general issue of the nature of Fichte’s logic, further clarity is to be gained
by comparing the project of the 1812 transcendental logic in its relation to the WL
to the motivations of Hegel’s shift from the idea of a “phenomenology” as his in-
troduction to the system of philosophy (1807) to the later idea of a dialectical-
speculative logic as the first foundational part of that system itself (from 1812 on-
ward). I shall conclude this essay with a few hints in this direction.

1 Fichte’s Logic and the Wissenschaftslehre


In the essay Concerning the Concept of the Wissenschaftslehre (1794), which
frames programmatically the conception of the WL presented for the first time
in the Jena Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre (1794/95), Fichte offers
some reflections on the relation between (traditional formal) logic and the sys-
tem of science or the “system of all the sciences” which is the “doctrine of sci-
ence.” At stake, at this time, is the idea of grounding philosophy as a “system”—
the system to which, in an often repeated contemporary reproach, Kant’s critical
philosophy has famously introduced by giving a propaedeutic but has fallen
short to positively provide. As “a science of all the sciences,” Fichte’s WL is
meant to give, at the same time, the overall form of the “system” of all knowl-
edge (Wissen) and the form of the particular sciences comprised within the sys-
tem (SW I, p. 31; GA I/1, p. 55). Now it is precisely on this point that the function
ascribed to the WL seems to overlap with the function traditionally ascribed to
the discipline of logic. And this prompts Fichte to take a stand on the issue,
i. e., to investigate the question of “the relationship between the WL and
logic” (SW I, pp. 33, 45; GA I/1, pp. 56, 66). The difference between the two is
drawn through an appeal to the form/content distinction (Form/Gehalt). While
“the logic gives merely and only the form of all possible sciences, the WL
does not give the form alone but also the content,” since in the latter form
and content are always and necessarily united. With this distinction, Fichte pro-
vides an apparently obvious reason for the formality of traditional logic: logic
deals with form alone. This point, however, not quite accurate as it stands,
will receive a further characterization in the development of Fichte’s argument.
But the form/content distinction helps him also, and more importantly, to estab-
lish that logic, on the ground of the apparent lack of content of its propositions,
“is neither the WL itself nor properly a part of the WL.” And from here Fichte
194 Angelica Nuzzo

goes even a step further, and draws a conclusion which, he concedes, “given the
current state of philosophy” “may sound odd.” The conclusion is simply that
“logic is not a philosophical science at all,” although he immediately adds, “it
is, instead, a separate science in its own right” (SW I, p. 45; GA I/1, pp. 66–
67). Fichte insists that the two disciplines are separated by a “boundary”
(Grenze); hence that despite all their divergence, they somehow intersect or
touch each other. The claim, however, remains puzzling: if the WL is supposed
to give the (philosophical) form of all possible sciences, how is a formal science
outside of this system possible? In fact, the position of the logic with regard to
the WL turns out to be more complex than this.
Fichte’s way out of the systematic problem raised by that question consists
in generating the fundamental distinction between logic and WL in a transcen-
dental way. The very thinking and acting taking place in logic, i. e., the logical
activity itself on the character of which rests its separation from the WL, is a de-
termination of that freedom (or free thinking) which is the object, this time in
its form-content unity, of the WL. The starting point of his argument is the orig-
inal necessary unity and inseparability of form and content. This is the stand-
point of the WL in which the two are united. It follows that if form is separated
from content, as it is instead in the propositions of logic, this separation must be
the product of an act of freedom. The unity, not the separation, is original. Such
an act of freedom is called “abstraction,” observes Fichte. Hence, “the essence of
logic consists in abstraction from the entire content of the WL” (SW I, p. 46; GA I/
1, p. 67).
This is, to be sure, a clever solution. Logic is thereby presented as a sort of
negative counterpart to the WL—as the form that makes abstraction from all the
content embraced instead by the WL (a content to which, though, the WL gives a
different form than that presented by the logic). But logic in its specific formality
is also generated by that act of freedom on which philosophy itself ultimately
hinges. In other words, logic’s non-philosophical status is the product of the
chief activity of philosophy itself, namely, freedom.
Here we have an example of the way in which Fichte re-frames Kant’s claims
regarding the distinction between general and transcendental logic once at stake
is, this time, the reciprocal systematic position of the logic and the WL. In the
first Critique, Kant contends that general logic “makes abstraction from all con-
tent (Inhalt) of cognition (Verstandeserkenntnis) and from the difference in its ob-
jects, and is concerned with nothing but the mere form of thinking” (KrV A 54/
B 78). For Kant, general logic is a logic of the form of thinking (Denken) not a
logic of cognition (Erkenntnis), which is necessarily always cognition of objects.
General logic makes abstraction from the “content” of cognition (although obvi-
ously logic has its own content), i. e., it makes abstraction from “objects,” and
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 195

importantly, from the “difference” in the objects of cognition (objects of possible


experience, of a priori or a posteriori knowledge). Indeed, since such a difference
in the objects must be traced back to the origin of cognition itself (i. e., is neither
an empirical nor a metaphysical but a transcendental distinction), it can only be
detected transcendentally. Hence it cannot be the topic or the task of general
logic but only of a new transcendental logic.
Apparently following these same Kantian distinctions, Fichte acknowledges
that although logic gives only the form of all the sciences, it is impossible to
claim that logic has form only. For, “according to the concept of a proposition
as such, a proposition must have content as well as form.” What then is the
“content” of logic or of logical propositions? Here again a point of contact of
logic with the WL is established. It consists in bringing to light the mental activ-
ity or rather the determination of freedom underlying both. Next to abstraction,
Fichte now places reflection as a fundamental function of logic. The two activi-
ties are derived transcendentally and originally connected with the WL. The
claim is that “the content (Gehalt) of logic must be that which was merely
form in the WL, and this content receives in turn the universal form of the
WL.” The circular activity whereby the form becomes “form of the form itself
as its own content” is the act of freedom which is called “reflection” (SW I,
p. 46; GA I/1, p. 67). Abstraction and reflection are two mutually dependent
“acts of freedom” (Handlungen der Freiheit): neither can take place without
the other; neither can be thought without the other.⁴ Content is reflected form,
form of form. Significantly, in an entirely different context and within a very dif-
ferent conception of the WL, Fichte’s later idea of transcendental logic replicates
a similar argumentative turn, since it will claim that the content of the logic is,
this time, the image as image or the image of the image. What at this later stage
he calls “reflexibility” (Reflexibilität as the possibility of reflection itself), re-
mains for Fichte a fundamental character of logical activity and form.
Through the connection of logic to the WL by means of the two acts of free-
dom that are abstraction and reflection, the more determinate relationship be-
tween logic and the WL obtains. Systematically, logic is not a foundational sci-
ence for Fichte. Logic does not provide the foundation of the WL, rather, the
opposite is the case. The WL grounds the logic as it provides the justification
of its validity, its condition and proper determination.⁵ The WL cannot be de-

 In the 1798 edition, Fichte adds that although abstraction and reflection are two acts of free-
dom, “for synthetic thinking they constitute only one and the same action looked at from two
sides” (GA I/1, p. 68).
 The WL “begründet” logic and “lends it validity”; through the WL logic is “bewiesen,” “be-
dingt und bestimmt” (SW I, p. 47; GA I/1, p. 68).
196 Angelica Nuzzo

duced from and does not rest on any “presupposed” logical principle, not even
on the principle of contradiction. “On the contrary,” claims Fichte forcefully,
“every logical proposition and logic in its entirety must be deduced from the
WL” (SW I, p. 47; GA I/1, p. 68).
One has to keep this claim in mind as one approaches the first principles of
the 1794/95 Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre. These principles (abso-
lute I, non-I, reciprocal determination of I and non-I) are based on the principles
of formal logic (identity, contradiction, sufficient reason), which are, however,
only hypothetically presupposed. In fact, they are themselves justified in their
validity by the transcendental principles of the doctrine of science. Fichte’s dis-
satisfaction with this argument leads him to the different setup of the Wissen-
schaftslehre nova methodo (the series of lectures held in Jena during the three
winter semesters 1796/97, 1797/98, 1798/99). In this new version of the WL, Fichte
avoids the precarious circularity linking the principles of the doctrine of science
to the logical principles by making a different beginning, and by appealing, most
significantly, to a genetic method. The transcendental philosopher now invites
the student/reader to directly perform on herself the act of (self‐)reflection of
the I in order to realize that consciousness presupposes self-consciousness. In
the 1812 lectures on transcendental logic, Fichte holds on to the same point, al-
though at this time, the issue concerns the relationship between common and
transcendental logic. The principles of formal logic are by no means original pre-
suppositions. They must be deduced, instead, performatively or genetically by
the very activity of thinking—the factual activity that is the necessary presuppo-
sition of the very possibility of thinking. In sum, for Fichte, at no point in the
development of the conception of the WL does logic claim a foundational posi-
tion in relation to transcendental philosophy. This is due to the fact that, for him,
logic is primarily general or formal logic, while transcendental philosophy is de-
veloped not in—or as—logic but as WL (at least until the 1812 lectures on logic).
On this point, Hegel follows from the outset a very different path. Having
abandoned the project of transcendental philosophy entirely, although sharing
with all the post-Kantians the project of developing the system not delivered
by Kant, Hegel assigns to the logic a foundational role within the system of phi-
losophy. This requires him, however, to re-think both the issue of ‘foundation’,
which unlike Fichte’s in the Jena years is no longer the foundation out of a
first principle. The type of logic to be developed, this time, is neither general
logic nor transcendental logic. It is, instead, first the phenomenological logic
of the experience of consciousness (in the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit) and
then the dialectical-speculative logic that constitutes the first division of the sys-
tem of philosophy (in the 1812 Science of Logic and 1817 Encyclopedia). It is in-
teresting, then, that Fichte reserves the meta-scientific title of “doctrine of sci-
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 197

ence” for transcendental philosophy, while Hegel uses an analogous meta-title to


designate his logic as a “science of logic” (which in addition he claims to be the
“system of pure reason,” i. e., the true successor of Kant’s ‘critique’ of pure rea-
son, TW 5, p. 44).
There is a crucial ambiguity lingering in Fichte’s apparently straightforward
claim in Concerning the Concept of the Wissenschaftslehre that logic cannot be
the foundation of the WL, but the reverse is rather the case. When Fichte posits
that logic is not a foundational science, this should be taken in two respects. On
the one hand, the conclusion seems to follow from his premise that formal or
general logic depends on both an act of abstraction and an act of reflection
which operate on the original form of the WL in order to generate respectively
the form of the logic and its content. On the other hand, however, there seems
to be an additional suggestion here that logic cannot be transcendentally more
original than the WL. It is legitimate to conclude from this that for Fichte
logic cannot be said (or be made) ‘transcendental’ in a proper sense (it would
otherwise become WL or part of it). The WL is the only properly transcendental
discipline or philosophy. Indeed, in claiming that “every logical proposition and
logic in its entirety must be deduced from the WL” (SW I, p. 47; GA I/1, p. 68—my
emphasis), Fichte echoes Kant’s famous remark in the footnote of § 16 of the
Transcendental Deduction that “the synthetic unity of apperception is the high-
est point to which one must affix all employment of the understanding, even
logic in its entirety, and according to it transcendental philosophy itself”
(KrV B 134—my emphasis). In the Jena years, at stake in Fichte’s inquiry into
the relationship between logic and the WL is not the problem of establishing
logic as the foundation of the system of philosophy but rather the problem of
giving a transcendental foundation to logic—a foundation, however, that takes
place not in logic itself, not even in a new type of logic (as for Kant), but in
the “doctrine of science.” In other words, at this time Fichte is not contemplating
the project of a transcendental logic as a new discipline in its own right. In the
first Critique, by contrast, Kant is concerned with elaborating the structures of
the new logic of cognition which is transcendental logic. The synthetic unity
of apperception to which the transcendental deduction leads is precisely that
most original point to which logic owns its properly transcendental nature.
To measure the distance that separates Fichte from Kant on this issue, one
should consider that in drawing the distinction between general and transcen-
dental logic in the first Critique, Kant avoids setting the relation in terms of
the direct opposition of form and content—the point to which instead Fichte im-
mediately appeals at the outset of his argument in the 1794 essay. For, on Kant’s
view, transcendental logic insofar as it is logic is itself formal even though it does
not make abstraction from objects as general logic does. Since both kinds of
198 Angelica Nuzzo

logic are ‘formal’, their distinction, for Kant, hinges rather on the “general” and
the “particular” employment of the understanding to which the two disciplines
respectively appeal. Transcendental logic is a “particular” logic in two respects:
first, it is “the logic of the particular use of the understanding” (KrV A 52/B 77),
i. e., of the use of the understanding when the “origin” of cognition is a priori and
does not lie in the object (KrV A 56/B 80); second, it contains “the rules concern-
ing the correct way of thinking on a particular kind of objects” (KrV A 52/B 77),
i. e., rules of thinking in relation to objects of possible experience. This particular
logic still contains a formal component, for, unlike general logic, the pure con-
cepts of transcendental logic contain “the form of thinking of an object in gener-
al” (KrV A 50–51/B 74–75; Pinder 1979, p. 312). Since both logics are formal, the
discriminating opposition, for Kant, does not concern form and content (of think-
ing) but thinking “in general” or indeterminately,⁶ with no regard to the determi-
nation of objects and their differences, on the one hand, and thinking of objects,
on the other hand.⁷ The former is the case of general logic, the latter of transcen-
dental logic. To put the point differently, at stake in transcendental logic is a
logic of cognition of objects, not a logic that concerns the form of thinking in gen-
eral and has the laws of thinking in general as its ‘object’. Only the former is a
theory of cognition, for only transcendental logic can provide an account of the
origin of our representations, of how our concepts can relate to objects, and hence
of the different types of objects to which our concepts relate.⁸
In Fichte’s case, the WL that in these early Jena years seems to aim at replac-
ing Kant’s transcendental logic at least in some respects, is also somehow a ‘for-
mal’ discipline. On this point, Fichte must strike the difficult balance of granting
to the doctrine of science the formality that derives from its systematic function
of being the science that gives the form of all other sciences, but without conflat-
ing it with the formality of general logic (which, in an adaptation of Kant’s re-
mark, depends on the act of making abstraction from the content of the WL).
Now, this latter is a particularly important risk to avoid, given that at the end
of the century formal logic seems to have become an insult in the contemporary
post-Kantian debate. In this regard, Kant’s objection against Fichte’s WL in the
Erklärung published in the Allgemeine Literatur Zeitung on August 28, in 1799

 See KrV A 53/B 77: “Der Inhalt mag sein, welcher er [der Verstand] wolle.”
 Wolff’s critique of Kant’s distinction of general and transcendental logic is based instead on
the opposition of form and content (Wolff 1984; see the critical discussion of this position in
Sedgwick 1996).
 For example, objects of possible experience, intelligible objects, entia rationis. See Sedgwick
1996, p. 151. Ultimately, this is the reason why the synthetic-analytic distinction and the issue of
synthetic a priori judgment can only be raised by a logic that is transcendental.
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 199

is paradigmatic—and indeed quite ironic given how hard Fichte works to dis-
tance the WL from formal logic. In sum, Kant’s critical point is that since Fichte’s
transcendental philosophy is empty and has properly no content, the WL is ul-
timately nothing more than formal logic. Since, however, Fichte’s transcendental
philosophy claims instead a cognitive content, Kant concludes that the trick to
which Fichte’s transcendental philosophy appeals in order to produce such con-
tent out of the pure formality of logic, must be the trick of metaphysics. “The
pure doctrine of science is nothing more or less than mere logic, and the princi-
ples of logic cannot lead to any material cognition. Since […] pure logic abstracts
from the content of knowledge, the attempt to produce a real object out of logic
is a vain effort […]. If transcendental philosophy is correct [i. e., here, Kant’s tran-
scendental philosophy], such a task would involve metaphysics rather than
logic” (Ak. 12, p. 370). In other words, having failed to understand the critical na-
ture of Kant’s own transcendental logic and its difference from general logic, the
WL falls back into the double mistake fought by the first Critique, namely, the
emptiness of formal logic and the connected illusion of metaphysics. Fichte’s
idea of an original unity of self-consciousness without given contents to unify
is meaningless unless the I is made itself the source or the creator of such con-
tent (the absolute I). This conception of the unity of self-consciousness is, in
Kant’s view, the unacceptable position of the WL, which he sees perched be-
tween the emptiness of formal logic and the error of early modern metaphysics.
We know that Kant had not read Fichte’s Foundations at the time of this re-
sponse. His remarks, however, remain an important confirmation of the terms
of the debate at this time, in particular of the current sentiments around the is-
sues of reconfiguring the discipline of logic, and the crucial understanding of the
difference between general and transcendental logic after the Critique. ⁹
Fichte’s defense against Kant consists predictably in claiming that Kant mis-
understood the project of the WL, and that their differences are less momentous
than he thought.¹⁰ It is true, however, that after Kant’s attack in the Allgemeine
Literatur Zeitung, Fichte repeatedly comes back to the task of elucidating the dif-
ference between general logic and transcendental philosophy—indeed, he sug-

 See Martin 2003 for a discussion of the Kant-Fichte exchange in 1799.


 Fichte answers to Kant in a letter to Schelling of September 12, 1799 then published in the
ALZ of September 28, 1799, minimizing their differences but not really responding to Kant’s cen-
tral concern. Kant claims, says Fichte, that “the WL is nothing more and nothing less than mere
logic, which, as pure logic, abstracts from all content of knowledge. Concerning the latter point I
am of course in complete agreement with Kant. According to my own terminology, however, the
word Wissenschaftslehre does not at all indicate logic, but rather transcendental philosophy or
metaphysics itself. Our quarrel would accordingly be a merely semantic dispute.”
200 Angelica Nuzzo

gests that the understanding of the difference between the two constitutes the
most proper way to introduce common consciousness to the standpoint of tran-
scendental philosophy or the WL. This remains his central concern in the two
lecture courses on logic held in Berlin in 1812. It is here that Fichte presents
for the first and only time in a programmatic way his own project of a “transcen-
dental logic.” The first course was held in Berlin in the summer semester of 1812
(April–August); the second course was held in the winter semester of the same
year (October–December). In his edition of his father’s works, Immanuel Her-
mann Fichte does not even mention the summer semester course; he publishes
the second course but he erroneously indicates it as the first of two courses on
logic. In fact, after the winter of 1812 Fichte never lectured on the topic of logic
again.¹¹ In these lectures, Fichte is concerned thematically with the difference
between formal or “common” logic and transcendental logic, with a critique of
the former, and with the relation of transcendental logic to philosophy as such.

2 Fichte’s Transcendental Logic of 1812


In his letter to Reinhold of July 2, 1795 Fichte acknowledges that the chief diffi-
culty of his new “doctrine of science” consists in gaining a point of entrance into
its peculiar standpoint: “The entrance (Eingang) in my philosophy is that which
is absolutely incomprehensible (das schlechthin Unbegreifliche), and this makes
my philosophy difficult because its content can be grasped only by the imagina-
tion, and definitely not with the understanding” (GA III/2, p. 344). Thereby Fichte
indicates one of the central and most difficult issues of the WL to be the problem
of conceiving the appropriate introduction to its standpoint. This problem re-
mains crucial for Fichte until the later versions of the WL. In 1812 he thinks of
“transcendental logic” as an intermediate discipline and an “intermediate
knowledge” (Mittelwissen: SW X, pp. 326–346) placed between the absolute
knowledge of the WL and the empirical knowledge of the sciences. Owing to
this position, transcendental logic is now the proper introduction to philosophy.
While traditionally in the university curriculum (common or general) logic

 The two lecture courses have appeared in the GA edition of the Nachlass in 2006 respectively
as Vom Verhältniß der Logik zur wirklichen Philosophie, and as Vom Unterschiede zwischen der
Logik und der Philosophie selbst in GA II, 14. The second course appears in SW IX as Ueber
das Verhältniß der Logik zur Philosophie oder transzendentale Logik and has been critically edited
by R. Lauth and P. K. Schneider for Meiner in 1982. In what follows I will refer to SW IX.
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 201

served as an introduction to philosophy (and to metaphysics),¹² in Kant’s after-


math the problem of introducing to or preparing the student for philosophy re-
ceives a new and different connotation. For one thing, as we have seen in the
previous discussion, the type of logic to be embraced in this function now be-
comes an issue in its own right. But the problem of bringing consciousness to
the standpoint of ‘absolute knowing’ (absolutes Wissen) occupied by philosophy
also hinges on a new conception of philosophy as science and system. Impor-
tantly, at the beginning of the century, Hegel works on the same issue of how
to conceive of the introduction to philosophy as science and system. Here
again, however, Fichte meets the peculiar difficulty presented by the Kantian
heritage and particularly by his allegiance to the transcendental method rejected
instead by Hegel. While Kant somehow framed his transcendental philosophy (of
which the newly introduced transcendental logic is part) in terms of a “propae-
deutic to the system of pure reason” (KrV A 11/B 25), for Fichte the actual philo-
sophical system is constituted by the WL as transcendental philosophy. Accord-
ingly, Kant’s own brand of transcendental philosophy as merely introductory or
propaedeutic is downgraded to an empty, merely formal logic. Fichte’s problem
concerns now the introduction to the transcendental standpoint represented by
the WL—the problem of introduction being both the problem of ‘leading to/into’
(Einführung) and of preparing to (Vorbereitung) the doctrine of science. In 1812,
in addition, this introductory task also serves to connect the factual empirical
knowledge of the sciences to the absolute knowledge of the WL (or alternatively
indicates the problem of the reflection of the doctrine of science in and as a doc-
trine of empirical knowledge). In his Jena years by contrast, Hegel rejects the
idea of transcendental philosophy tout court (Kantian as well as Fichtean,
which he places at the same level of general logic as mere Verstandeslogik),
and which frames the introduction to the standpoint of ‘absolute knowing’ (ab-
solutes Wissen), i. e., to the standpoint of the speculative logic, in terms of a ‘phe-
nomenology’ of spirit. As we will see, all their differences notwithstanding, com-
mon to both Fichte and Hegel is to shape this introduction methodologically in
terms of a genetic—or indeed phenomenological—activity whereby consciousness
is lead to the standpoint of science by enacting in itself the fundamental struc-
tures of the thinking activity at work (and thematic) in science.
In the 1812 lectures on Transcendental Logic the criticism of “common” (ge-
wöhnliche) logic helps Fichte define the relationship between the WL and Kant’s

 The introductory course to philosophy was customarily the course titled “Logic and Meta-
physics.” Fichte lectured on Logic and Metaphysics throughout the Jena years using, quite inno-
vatively, Ernst Platner’s anti-idealist and anti-Kantian Philosophische Aphorismen (part I) as text-
book.
202 Angelica Nuzzo

Critique, and in connection to this to pinpoint the distinctive characters of his


own transcendental logic against Kant’s. As mentioned above, these lectures
are the first and only presentation that Fichte dedicates to the topic. In this
framework, Fichte now takes his revenge on Kant, repeating against the Critique
of Pure Reason the charge of being nothing more than mere formal or common
logic, which Kant had waged against the Jena WL in the 1799 Erklärung. Present-
ing a variation on the argument of the earlier Concerning the Concept of the WL
(which responded to Kant’s own views in the introduction to the Transcendental
Logic of the Critique), Fichte considers his own transcendental logic (precisely as
logic and not WL) still formal to the extent that it makes abstraction from the ab-
solute content of knowledge thematic in the WL. Transcendental logic analyzes
the transcendental structures of Wissen as such, and not knowledge as the ap-
pearance (Erscheinung) of the absolute, which is instead the task of the WL.
This logic, however, insofar it has “thinking” as its object, is “part of the WL”
(SW IX, p. 106). Both “are a Wissen, a consideration and objectivization of Wissen
in general” (SW IX, p. 105). By contrast, Fichte places Kant’s transcendental logic
“outside of philosophy,” i. e., outside of the WL, which is instead philosophy it-
self (SW IX, p. 108), in the same way he had placed formal logic outside of phi-
losophy in that early essay. But Fichte’s weightier criticism against Kant concerns
the very concept of thinking that he had placed at the center of his critical phi-
losophy and which now warrants the latter’s reduction to mere “common logic.”
On Fichte’s view, philosophy (or the “doctrine of science”) has “the entire Wis-
sen” as its object (and is itself such Wissen), while transcendental logic concerns
the same Wissen although not as absolute. By contrast, common logic and Kant’s
logic concern only a “part” of Wissen, namely, “thinking with the exclusion of
intuition” (SW IX, p. 106).¹³ And yet, Fichte’s argument continues, unaware of
their own limitation, common and Kantian logic operate under the illusion
that what they thematize is thinking as such or thinking in its proper essence.
In fact, Fichte suggests that their concept of thinking is “blind and unconscious”
(blind und bewußtlos: SW IX, p. 126). Since Kant’s transcendental logic is preced-
ed by a “transcendental aesthetic” and does not encompass it, his notion of
thinking (i. e., conceptual thinking) excludes intuition, i. e., is as such constitu-
tively empty of content and unable to give itself a content unless referred to
the empirical ‘factuality’ of the given sensible intuitions from which it ultimately
depends (SW IX, pp. 111, 122–123). For this reason, on Fichte’s view, Kant’s tran-
scendental logic is indeed nothing more than “common logic,” empty of content.

 Fichte’s shift from Denken to Wissen is here relevant, as we shall see in a moment.
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 203

Thereby it also revokes its promised peculiarity, namely, not to make abstraction
from the object of cognition in the way that formal logic does.
But Fichte pushes his objection even a step further. To be sure, because of its
exclusion of intuition from thinking (or because of the radical separation of the
two), Kant’s logic is also not properly ‘transcendental’. While it takes thinking as
the original synthetic activity that gathers a manifold of representations into a
unity—or rather, on Fichte’s account, as the activity of connecting a manifold
of Bildwesen into the unity of a Bild (SW IX, p. 109)—it rests, first, on the presup-
position of the givenness of the manifold it has to unite as a manifold posited
outside of thinking and before its activity. On Fichte’s view, Kant never asks,
“where does the manifold come from” (SX IX, p. 111)—not at least in the logic,
for his assumption is that the manifold ultimately comes from the external things
and as such is the topic of a separate Transcendental Aesthetic. But, in addition,
Kant’s logic rests on a second connected presupposition, namely, that through
thinking a synthetic connection takes place that is not due to the external things,
that thinking is originally a synthetizing activity. Both presuppositions constitute
the alleged “a priori” of thinking, which, in Kant’s logic, again, is only presup-
posed but never transcendentally produced, never as such taken up and dis-
played in and by the activity of thinking itself. In response to Kant’s incapacity
to come to terms with his own necessary assumptions, Fichte moves the tran-
scendental discourse of logic a step up—or back—to a more original and broader
dimension. Wissen encompasses now the synthetic activity of Denken as one of
its Gestaltungen. It follows that what appeared to Kant as laying outside of think-
ing (i. e., in intuition or rather “in the thing”) due to the limited focus of his logic
(whereby thinking is unaware of the broader context of Wissen in which Denken
is inscribed and to which intuition co-originally belongs), is properly a part of
Wissen itself—the part which Fichte now reclaims specifically for transcendental
logic (SW IX, p. 109). Thus, by instituting the more original unity of intuition and
concept/thinking, Fichte claims that the synthetic unification takes place within
Wissen, and never presupposes anything outside of knowledge itself (i. e., nei-
ther a given manifold nor, as we will see, a thinking subject). As the unity of con-
cept and intuition, Wissen is the original dimension of Fichte’s transcendental
logic.
Properly, however, for Fichte the very distinction between a priori and a pos-
teriori is meaningless because Wissen in all its figures and determinations can
only be self-produced and self-grounded, hence ‘a priori’. To be sure, Fichte’s
gesture does not consist in denying Kant’s “presuppositions” but in taking
them up in the dimension of Wissen (in ‘positing’ them within Wissen, as it
were), in showing that what is presupposed by thinking as given is properly pro-
duced and self-produced (hence a priori) by and in knowledge. If Kant’s aim was
204 Angelica Nuzzo

to “prove that there is an a priori in knowledge,” Fichte now rephrases this task
as Kant’s “denial of a philosophy that considers Wissen as an utterly pure faculty
of images (Bildvermögen), in itself entirely lacking any figure and determina-
tion,” and such as to receive figure and determination only through the external
things (which would be something like the empiricist tabula rasa). Fichte’s claim
is that for Kant, in contrast to the empiricist, at least some “figures” (Gestaltun-
gen) of knowledge (which is how Fichte refers to Kant’s account of the under-
standing’s categories) must be brought back to and grounded in thinking itself
(i. e., be a priori). This is, in Fichte’s rendition, Kant’s “a priori” (SW IX,
p. 130). But far from being a revolutionary proposal, this is for Fichte the funda-
mental limitation of Kant’s position—a limitation that ultimately seems to com-
pletely undermine Kant’s alleged gain over common logic (and over empiricism).
For, in the end, in Kant’s logic (just as in common logic) thinking is the activity
of conjoining and combining given representations without the logician ever
showing “how the I comes to them” (SW IX, pp. 114–115). In both cases, logic de-
pends on the presupposition, first, of the given manifold to be synthetized, and
second, of the synthetic activity of the ‘I think’. In order to make his point—
namely, that ultimately a partial a priori equals no a priori at all—Fichte adds
the sarcastic remark that one does not really know whether Kant meant that
claim concerning the limited a priori of knowledge “truly seriously,” or whether
he rather proposed that position “only provisionally” and in a half-hearted way,
ready to implicitly retract it as he found it too difficult to carry the proof of the
matter to the end (SW IX, p. 130). Fichte, by contrast, forcefully puts forth the
claim “that according to the WL absolutely all figures of Wissen with no excep-
tion are self-produced by knowing itself, that there is no figure outside of it, that
things or being itself (das Seyn selbst) is only a figure of knowing grounded in
knowing, and consequently that there are no things except in knowing—hence
that the WL knows all figures a priori, and that an a posteriori in this sense
does not exist” (SW IX, p. 130).
This position, Fichte suggests, is “transcendental idealism” in the doctrine
he proposes (SW IX, p. 131). This is also the central thesis that may help us under-
stand why for Fichte transcendental logic is a theory of images (Bildlehre)—not a
doctrine of categories or concepts or representations but also not an ontology of
forms of being.¹⁴ For, being itself (just as all the categories) is an image reflected
as image in the thinking-knowing process of the logic. Now, this central claim
allows Fichte to make two fundamental points with regard to the nature and

 I will not address this central aspect of Fichte’s late logic in this essay; for this see Nuzzo
2010, pp. 197– 200; Bertinetto 2013.
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 205

novelty of his transcendental logic. On the one hand, it allows him to show the
way in which this logic, being moved on a more original transcendental level
than Kant’s, is able to revoke or posit within itself Kant’s presuppositions. On
the other hand, the question of how the logician demonstrates the combined
claim that all figures of Wissen are a priori and that everything—including
Being—is a figure of Wissen, leads Fichte to describe the specifically genetic
method of his logic. I shall now turn briefly to these two points.
On Fichte’s account, the fundamental difference separating common and
Kantian logic from his own transcendental logic lies precisely in the latter’s rec-
ognition of the necessity of assuming an ultimate ground of meaning—a ground
that is the most original and broadest dimension of Wissen itself. The truly tran-
scendental starting point of philosophizing is gained if—and only if—logic begins
by placing thinking within that very presupposition (instead of shifting it outside
of it, in an alleged separate intuition, for example). Wissen becomes the most
extended horizon within which all thinking is placed. Thinking embraces intuit-
ing as well, that intuiting which Kant has separated from thinking and referred to
alleged ‘external’ given things. Ultimately, it is within the broadest horizon of
Wissen that the unity-identity of thought and intuition can be recognized. Fichte
expresses the claim with which his own transcendental logic opposes formal log-
ic’s oblivion of its first presupposition as follows: “Man is born in knowing as
such (Wissen); his existence (Dasein) brings knowing with itself with no further
intervention from his part,” and even without requiring an act of freedom. All
acts of freedom are originally inscribed in knowing. However, if such Wissen
is both form and origin of all presupposed content, Fichte argues that Wissen
is not “simply intuition, the opposite of thinking, but is rather—at the same
time and in one—thinking, Begreifen itself” (SW IX, p. 119). The presupposition
(of a given manifold of external things, of a separate intuition from which con-
tent issues) is eliminated by being integrated in the unitary nature of transcen-
dental thinking-intuiting—the unity that can be recognized only by advancing to
the dimension of Wissen, which now becomes the necessary starting point. This
starting point is Wissen as the horizon or original condition that constitutes the
very “existence” of the finite knowing subject (as Mensch). Under this condition,
the “second presupposition”—namely, that thinking synthetically thinks on the
ground of the original unity of apperception, or “that man or the I thinks”
(SW IX, p. 119)—is also eliminated. Wissen no longer needs to be enacted by a
presupposed subject or ‘I think’. Knowing is being itself to which the I think
in its very existence (Dasein) ultimately and always belongs—“man is born in
knowing,” as it were—because being is itself a “figure” of knowing (SW IX,
p. 130). “Wissen thinks absolutely through itself and through its own essence,
and cannot think in any other way but by being in the inseparable connection
206 Angelica Nuzzo

(unzertrennlichen Verbindung) of intuition and thought” (SW IX, pp. 119–120). The
‘I think’ is not original; it is rather a consequence or the result of the regressive
reflective movement of thinking toward a more original transcendental founda-
tion which is Wissen.
Common logic produces only that which has already been produced, yet it
obliterates the consciousness of that previous production and posits itself as a
first, original thinking. Such is the illusory notion of the creativity of thinking ex-
hibited by general logic and, ultimately, by Kant’s insufficiently transcendental
logic. Against this position, Fichte observes: “The I does not think, it is Wissen
that thinks—says the transcendental logician” (SW IX, p. 120). The ‘I think’ is not,
as Kant insisted, the “original unity” (of apperception), is not “the highest point”
from which the “entire logic” and the whole of transcendental philosophy ulti-
mately hangs (KrV B 134). For, the ‘I think’ does not properly ‘thinks’: it is Wissen
that thinks—and the ‘I think’, just as “apperception” and “perception,” is only
one of its figures. In fact, “when the logician shows up and fabricates (macht)
his universal concept, this concept is already there” as a given (SW IX, p. 120;
also pp. 122–123). The fact that the concept is a product of thinking is only an
illusory appearance built on an inescapable factual presupposition. The tran-
scendental logician shows that concepts are posited in Wissen, they are them-
selves images to be reflected within knowing.
Ultimately, at stake in the confrontation between common and transcenden-
tal logic is a contest for ‘originality’, for what is ursprünglich in thinking. Only
Wissen—not the logician’s ‘I’—thinks ursprünglich. In fact, this can also be
seen as Fichte’s advance over the position of his earlier Jena Foundations (in
which, properly, logic had no transcendental role to play). And yet, although
the ‘I’ does not ‘think’ originally, it can indeed re-produce the original—it can
“nachmachen und nachbilden” (SW IX, pp. 120–121). It can produce and form ac-
cording to the model or the image once the model or the image has been given.
Thus, the product of the I, i. e., the product of logical thinking, is not the original
but only the reproduction.
Fichte pushes his argument a step further. Not only formal and transcenden-
tal logic refer to different processes, construct a different concept or have a dif-
ferent image of what thinking is and does; they also have a different understand-
ing (or consciousness) of what it is that they actually do (SW IX, p. 121).
“Transcendental logic knows that what it [the thinking of common logic] does
is mere reproduction of the original life of knowing. Common logic, instead,
claims to be the first and original thinking itself” (SW IX, p. 121). Even within
transcendental logic, the original presupposition remains a presupposition:
logic is Bild. The difference, however, is that in transcendental logic it is a pre-
supposition recognized in its absolute necessity—it is Bild of the original. Tran-
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 207

scendental logic accepts the presupposition of a Wissen that is so constituted as


Wissen constitutes it, and rests content with its operating within that presuppo-
sition, with its being a mere Nachbild—or the image of the image. This is the
meaning of “transcendental” for Fichte at this point. His logic is transcendental,
“because it knows itself as suspended in-between-over true thinking (weil sie
sich erkennt als darüberschwebend über dem wahren Denken)” (SW IX, p. 121).
Transcendental is the intermediate perspective (darüberschwebend) that arises
out of the recognition that the original—das Ursprüngliche—is a necessary pre-
supposition of all meaningful thinking as the logical and ontological space with-
in which thinking is necessarily and from the beginning always inscribed. This
space encompasses the activity of the thinking subject but is much broader
than that. Logic, however, is independent of the ‘I think’ precisely as transcen-
dental logic because it is truly “original.” This claim implies a momentous rever-
sal when compared to Kant. Not only does logic not depend (or “hang”) on the ‘I
think’; it is the ‘I think’ that rather depends on Wissen as it is generated only
within knowing as the original activity that thinks and in thinking thinks the
‘I’ as one of its “figures,” namely as the ‘I think’.
Coming now to the question of how the transcendental logician institutes
the proof of his central claim—namely, that Wissen, not the I, originally thinks,
hence that all figures of knowing are a priori and everything is a figure of know-
ing—Fichte’s answer is through the genetic method (SW IX, pp. 130–131). Turning
to the audience of his lectures in a way that he practiced at least since the Wis-
senschaftslehre nova methodo, Fichte encourages the student “to let the original
and absolutely found figure of knowing take figure under our eyes; to dissolve in
its genesis that which is offered to the unscientific sense as simply ready-made”
(SW IX, pp. 130–131). The genetic method whereby thinking performatively en-
acts the process that otherwise appears in its results as a given, has a twofold
advantage. First, it dismantles the illusory originality of common and Kantian
logic by showing precisely what it is that thinking actually does, i. e., by showing
that thinking’s production is a re-production, as it brings thinking to do precisely
that. Second, by enacting those same structures that it thematizes, Fichte’s tran-
scendental logic avoids the objectification of thinking—thereby bringing to light
the active aspect of logic against the ‘factual’ approach of common logic (SW IX,
pp. 122–123). In this way, what makes Fichte’s logic transcendental is not its hing-
ing on the thinking subject as an original ‘I think’, but the fact that the self-con-
stituting activity which is knowing is taken up precisely by the subject’s enacting
or performing it on herself, i. e., by watching (in an act of zuschauen) how think-
208 Angelica Nuzzo

ing as a figure of Wissen takes figure or arises under our eyes.¹⁵ Thereby Fichte’s
logic proves genetically or performatively that the ‘I think’ is not originally given
(or presupposed as an a priori) but is a self-constituting and self-reproducing fig-
ure of Wissen. And it proves this as it lets it happen “before the eyes of the spec-
tator” (vor den Augen des Zuschauers: SW IX, p. 131).
To be sure, there are two movements implied in this genetic procedure. On
the one hand, we have the process of ‘taking figure or shape’ whereby the inde-
terminate knowing gains its successive determination—the movement is here
from “becoming” to “being.” On the other hand, there is the apparently opposite
movement whereby a factual given (or the “factually given consciousness”) is
“dissolved in its genesis”—the movement from being to becoming (SW IX,
pp. 131–132).¹⁶ Indeed, genesis is the consideration of “being in its becoming”
(SW IX, p. 128)—and this is life, the “inner life” of thinking itself (SW IX,
pp. 138 f.). Now this double direction of the genetic method leads to the utterly
new world-view disclosed by Fichte’s transcendental logic. This is, most proper-
ly, the “relation of logic to philosophy or transcendental logic” to which his 1812
lectures are dedicated. “Instead of a system of dead things, of a matter that
should form itself to consciousness and concept, what has become for us is a spi-
ritual (geistiges) […] life […]. Instead of matter and death, we have spirit and life”
(SW IX, p. 139). Now, on the ground of a new concept of transcendental logic,
philosophy is able to see for the first time an indeed transfigured, heretofore un-
known world.

Conclusion: Transcendental Logic, Phenomenology, Dialectic

To conclude, allow me a terminological aside, which will lead me to the brief


confrontation with Hegel I mentioned at the outset. What should have been strik-
ing throughout the previous discussion is the change of language that Fichte em-
ploys in presenting his transcendental logic in 1812. While Kant’s argument for
the introduction of a transcendental logic next (and in addition) to general
logic in the Critique is centered on the distinction between Denken and Erkennen,
Fichte’s distinguishes Wissen from Denken and sees the latter as Gestaltung of
the former. The topic of logic is now Wissen—not Denken in isolation and not Er-
kennen. This shift reveals that Fichte is as far from Kant as he is close to Hegel at

 Fichte recognizes that there is a sense in which Kant has already followed the genesis of
“das faktisch gegebene Bewusstsein.” Yet he has stopped short of the true origin, which is not
the I think but the absolute horizon of Wissen (SW IX, p. 131).
 For an analysis of this, see Nuzzo 2010, pp. 197– 200.
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 209

the time of the Phenomenology. Fichte and Hegel bring to the center both the idea
that the standpoint of science (or the WL) as “absolutes Wissen” needs an intro-
duction, and the idea that such an introduction must be carried out by enacting
genetically on consciousness or on oneself the successive “figures” (Gestalten) or
the “figuration” process (Gestaltung) of thinking at stake in science. My conclu-
sive suggestion is that Fichte’s program of transcendental logic in 1812 is close to
Hegel’s idea of a “phenomenology of spirit” as the “science of the experience of
consciousness,”¹⁷ which leads to “absolute knowing” as its conclusive “figure.”
It is relevant, however, that for Hegel the end of the Phenomenology is precisely
the point where the new dialectic-speculative logic properly begins. And the logic
begins by eliminating all presuppositions, including the very need for a phenom-
enological introduction (TW 5, p. 49). In 1812 (the year the first volume of the Sci-
ence of Logic is published), Hegel’s idea of a dialectical-speculative logic has left
the phenomenological science of the successive figuration of consciousness’s
knowledge behind once and for all. Indeed, the logic can begin only once the
“liberation from the opposition of consciousness” (TW 5, pp. 45, 59) has taken
place, and Wissen no longer plays any role in the Logic. Now, for Hegel, the “op-
position of consciousness” (i. e., the opposition of subject and object, certainty
and truth) is the standpoint that still characterizes the phenomenological move-
ment but, at this stage, is also the standpoint of Kant’s transcendental logic and
it certainly includes Fichte’s own brand of transcendentalism at least during
Fichte’s Jena years.
And yet, despite all the distance separating Fichte’s late transcendental logic
and Hegel’s Science of Logic, there is an important methodological point of con-
tact between the two. This is the elimination of the presupposition of a thinking
subject. As the “opposition of consciousness” is overcome, and the standpoint of
the logic is gained, the thinking that is now topic of this discipline is “objective
thinking” (Enz. § 25 Anm.), i. e., thinking that immanently determines its own
process without presupposing the subjectivity of an ‘I think’—a transcendental
thinking subject, a metaphysical res cogitans, a phenomenological conscious-
ness. The elimination of the thinking subject can be considered one of the defin-
ing features of the process presented in Hegel’s dialectic-speculative logic. Now,
this elimination of the ‘I think’ is also the crucial achievement of Fichte’s 1812
logic. Indeed, “Das Ich denkt nicht, sondern das Wissen denkt—sagt der transzen-
dentale Logiker.” Fichte’s logic, however, reclaims its “transcendental” character
precisely on this ground. This leaves us with a paradoxical situation. For, it is
precisely that which for Hegel constitutes the fundamental, irreconcilable differ-

 This is famously the subtitle of the Phenomenology.


210 Angelica Nuzzo

ence between speculative and transcendental logic, namely, the logic’s inde-
pendence from the thinking subject, that constitutes, for Fichte, the true nature
of a properly transcendental logic. The two claims are incompatible. For, the
elimination of the thinking subject cannot be, at the same time, both key to a
properly transcendental logic (as Fichte suggests), and key to a new speculative
logic that is the radical alternative to all forms of transcendentalism (as Hegel
proposes). The question then remains: what is left of Kant’s transcendentalism
in Fichte’s 1812 position? Or alternatively, is a version of transcendental philos-
ophy still viable after the modifications to which Fichte subjects Kant’s view, or
is Hegel’s dialectic-speculative choice the truly coherent way to go once those
modifications are embraced?

References
SW | Fichte, Johann Gottlieb (1971): Sämmtliche Werke. Fichte, I. H. (ed.). Berlin: Veit und
Comp. 1845–1846. Reprint Berlin: De Gruyter.
GA | Fichte, Johann Gottlieb (1962–2012): Gesamtausgabe der Bayerischen Akademie der
Wissenschaften. Fichte-Kommission der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (ed.).
Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog.
Enz. | Hegel, G. W. F. (1970): “Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften (1830).
Erster Teil. Die Wissenschaft der Logik”. In: Hegel, G. W. F.: Werke.
Theorie-Werkausgabe. Vol. 8. Moldenhauer, E.; Michel, K. M. (eds.). Frankfurt a. M.:
Suhrkamp.
TW | Hegel, G. W. F. (1969–1970): Werke. Theorie-Werkausgabe. Moldenhauer, E.; Michel,
K. M. (eds.). Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp.
Ak. | Kant, Immanuel (1922 ff): Gesammelte Schriften. Königlich Preußische Akademie der
Wissenschaften (ed.). Berlin: Reimer 1900 ff.; Berlin, New York: De Gruyter.
KrV | Kant, Immanuel: “Kritik der reinen Vernunft (1781/87)”. In: Gesammelte Schriften. Vol. 3
and 4.

Bertinetto, Alessandro (2013): “The Role of Image in Fichte’s Transcendental Logic”. In:
Lejeune, Guillaume (ed.): La question de la logique dans l’Idéalisme allemande.
Hildesheim: Olms, pp. 95–107.
Martin, Wayne (2003): “Nothing More or Less than Logic: General Logic, Transcendental
Philosophy, and Kant’s Repudiation of Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre”. In: Topoi 22,
pp. 29–33.
Nuzzo, Angelica (2014): “Transcendental Philosophy, Method, and System in Kant, Fichte,
and Hegel”. In: Breazeale, D./Rockmore, T. (eds.): Fichte and Transcendental Philosophy.
London: Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 58–70.
Nuzzo, Angelica (2010): “Fichte’s Transcendental Logic of 1812—Between Kant and Hegel.”
In: Fichte-Studien-Supplementa 24, pp. 189–206.
Pinder, Tillmann (1979): “Kants Begriff der Logik”. In: Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie
61, pp. 309–336.
Fichte’s Logic in Kant’s Aftermath 211

Sedgwick, Sally (1996): “The Conditioned Formalism of General Logic in the ‘Critique of Pure
Reason’”. In: International Philosophical Quarterly 36, No. 2, pp. 141–153.
Wolff, Michael (1984): “Der Begriff des Widerspruchs in der Kritik der reinen Vernunft: Zum
Verhältnis von formaler und transzendentaler Logik.” In: Tuschling, B. (ed.): Probleme
der Kritik der reinen Vernunft: Kant-Tagung in Marburg 1981. Berlin: De Gruyter,
pp. 178–226.
Christoph Asmuth
„Sie muß drum als Wissenschaft nicht nur
vernachlässigt, sondern positiv bestritten,
und ausgetilgt werden“ – Fichtes Logik als
Logikkritik
Abstract. Fichtes Auffassung der Logik schließt sich an die Diskussion um Kants
transzendentale Logik an. Gemeinsam mit Reinhold und Maimon befürwortet er eine
Vorrangstellung der Philosophie vor der Logik. Dies spiegelt sich bereits in den ersten
eigenen Reflexionen Fichtes über die Transzendentalphilosophie wieder. Er will Kant
korrigieren: Die Kategorien sollen nicht aus der formalen Logik abgeleitet werden,
sondern aus der Philosophie. Umgekehrt erkennt Fichte es jetzt als seine Aufgabe,
die formale Logik aus der Philosophie abzuleiten. Im Jenaer System (1793 – 1799)
gelingt ihm eine solche Ableitung nicht. In Erlangen (1805) und Berlin (1812) er-
scheint die formale Logik nur noch als Propädeutik. Sie hat keinen eigenen Platz
mehr als Wissenschaft. Sie wird schließlich nur noch als empirische Disziplin an-
gesehen. Wichtig ist Fichtes Entwicklung der Wissenschaftslehre als Fortsetzung der
transzendentalen Logik Kants. Sie hat großen Einfluss auf die Entwicklung der
Philosophie am Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts, formuliert aber auch ein interessantes
Konzept im Zusammenhang vom formalen Kalkülismus zur Sprachpragmatik.

Fichte’s understanding of logic follows the debate regarding Kant’s transcendental


logic. In common with Reinhold and Maimon, he argues for the primacy of philos-
ophy over logic. This can be seen in Fichte’s first own thoughts about transcenden-
tal philosophy. He wants to correct Kant: In his view the categories should be de-
duced from philosophy, not from formal logic. Fichte even regards it as his foremost
task to deduce formal logic from philosophy, but he does not manage to fulfill this
task in the Jena system; and in the texts from Erlangen and Berlin, the formal logic
just appears as propaedeutic. The “Formale Logik” no longer has a position as
“Wissenschaft”. It is finally just regarded as an empirical discipline. It is important
to understand Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre as a continuation of Kant’s transcen-
dental logic. Fichte’s version of a transcendental logic does have a major impact
on the philosophy at the beginning of the 19th century. Moreover, it reveals an in-
teresting correlation between formal calculus and pragmatics.

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-010
214 Christoph Asmuth

1 Fichtes Ausgangspunkt: Kant


Fichte war kein großer Freund der Logik. In einer Geschichte der Logik dürfte
man seinen Namen wohl vergeblich suchen.¹ Dennoch ist es von nicht nur his-
torischem Interesse, die Linien nachzuzeichnen, denen Fichtes Verhältnis zur
Logik folgte. Ich möchte das kurz begründen: In der Kritik der reinen Vernunft
entwickelte Kant die Idee einer transzendentalen Logik. ² Kant versteht unter Logik
die Lehre von den Regeln des Denkens. Die allgemeine Logik ist rein formal, die
Gegenstände mögen sein, welche sie wollen. Die allgemeine Logik abstrahiert von
allen Inhalten der Erkenntnis und bezieht sich auf die „schlechthin notwendigen
Regeln des Denkens“ (KrV B 76). Die transzendentale Logik ist nicht in diesem
Sinne abstrakt, denn sie beruht auf dem Unterschied zwischen reinem und em-
pirischem Denken der Gegenstände. In Kants transzendentaler Logik sind alle
empirischen Gegenstände ausgeschlossen; vielmehr bezieht sie sich auf den Ur-
sprung der Erkenntnisse von Gegenständen, „sofern er nicht den Gegenständen
zugeschrieben werden kann“ (KrV B 80). Dies ist nur möglich, weil die Methode
Kants davon ausgeht, dass die transzendentale Logik „isoliert“ (KrV B 87), dass die
„Elemente der reinen Verstandeserkenntnis“ als notwendige Bedingung aller
Wahrheit isoliert betrachtet, dass die reine Seite der Erkenntnis also für sich
untersucht werden kann. Die transzendentale Logik ist das zentrale Anliegen der
Kritik der reinen Vernunft und nimmt daher den allergrößten Teil des Werks ein.
Die transzendentale Logik Kants ist in dieser Hinsicht intentional, aber nicht
empirisch.³ Sie eröffnet einen Bereich, der einerseits in aller wirklichen Erkenntnis
enthalten ist, andererseits aber unabhängig von der wirklichen, von der empiri-
schen Erkenntnis betrachtet werden kann. Dies entspricht Kants Auffassung, dass
Erkenntnisse immer bereits vorliegen und als eine synthetische Leistung von
Sinnlichkeit und Verstand aller Analyse vorausgehen. Es geht Kant nicht um eine
kompositionale Erkenntnistheorie, nach der die Bestandteile der Erkenntnis –
Sinnlichkeit und Verstand – voneinander abgetrennt vorgefunden werden und
dann allererst erklärt wird, wie sie wohl zu einer Erkenntnis zusammengesetzt
werden könnten. Bei Kant gilt stattdessen der Vorrang der Synthesis vor der
Analysis (KrV B 130). Dem entspricht die methodologische Reduktion der Er-

 Eine kurze Erwähnung findet sich in Carl von Prantls Bedeutung der Logik für den jetzigen
Standpunkt der Philosophie. München 1849, S. 102– 103, allerdings nur durch generellen Bezug auf
die Wissenschaftslehre.
 Vgl. Kaulbach 1981, S. 122 – 145.
 Hiermit ist eine Diskussion berührt, die bis weit ins 20. Jahrhundert andauert, vgl. Gutzmann
1980.
Fichtes Logik als Logikkritik 215

kenntnistheorie auf eine Grundlegung der Wissenschaften in der Kritik der reinen
Vernunft, die ihr Autor als „Traktat von der Methode“ bezeichnet (KrV B XXII). Die
Kritik der reinen Vernunft ist eine methodisch-minimalistische Wissenschafts-
theorie.⁴
In der Kritik der reinen Vernunft regiert – der Ableitung nach – die formale
die transzendentale Logik: Die Verstandesform der Urteile bildet die Urteilstafel
der „logischen Funktionen in allen möglichen Urteilen“ (KrV B 105), aus der in der
Kategoriendeduktion schließlich die reinen Begriffe abgeleitet werden. Die for-
male Logik behandelt die reinen Urteilsformen und sieht von allem Inhalt der
Erkenntnis ab. Die transzendentale Logik bezieht sich dagegen auf „das Man-
nigfaltige der Sinnlichkeit a priori“ (KrV B 102). Insofern sind die Begriffe der
transzendentalen Logik gerade nicht leer, denn sie beziehen sich auf Gegenstände.
Die transzendentale Logik geht davon aus, dass das Mannigfaltige der reinen
Anschauung gegeben ist. Dann setzt sie voraus, dass eine Synthesis des Man-
nigfaltigen durch die Einbildungskraft faktisch ist. Und schließlich baut sie auf
den Begriffen auf, welche dieser Synthesis Einheit verschaffen. Diese Einheits-
funktion weist Kant sowohl dem logischen Urteil wie auch dem reinen Verstan-
desbegriff zu.⁵ Deshalb gibt es nach Kant die Möglichkeit einer Ableitung der
Einheitsfunktion der Verstandesbegriffe aus der Einheitsfunktion der Urteilsfor-
men. Die transzendentale Logik bildet die Mitte zwischen der formalen, reinen
Logik der Urteile und der angewandten Logik, etwa der Psychologie (KrV B 77).⁶
Um zu klären, welche Auffassung der Logik bei Fichte vorherrscht, kann man
deshalb festhalten: Die transzendentale Philosophie Kants eröffnet der Logik ei-
nen neuen Raum – die transzendentale Logik. Sie ist keine rein abstrakte Logik,
sondern ein Bereich, der die Möglichkeitsbedingungen der Erkenntnis metho-
dologisch rekonstruiert. Aber die transzendentale Logik ist auch nicht empirisch.
Sie enthält die Möglichkeitsbedingungen für erweiternde, synthetische Erkennt-
nisurteile und damit die Möglichkeitsbedingungen für Bedeutung. Von größtem
Interesse ist die Verbindung von abstrakter und transzendentaler Logik. Denn
beide liegen nicht – jeweils für sich autonom – nebeneinander. Die Kategorien-
deduktion in der Kritik der reinen Vernunft zeigt, dass beide deduktiv miteinander
verbunden sind. Die formale Logik bildet den grundsätzlichen Rahmen; die

 Ansatz, Aufgabe und Umfang des transzendentalphilosophischen Programms bei Kant sind
nach wie vor umstritten. Die Interpretationen divergieren teils erheblich was Anlage und Ziel des
kritischen Programms bei Kant anbetrifft.Vgl. Allison 2004, Cassirer 1922, Cohen 1871, Ficara 2006,
Guyer 1987, Hanna 2004, Heidemann 1998, Röd 1991, Rosefeldt 2000, Strawson 1975, Wundt 1924
und Zöller 1989.
 Vgl. Wolff 1995.
 Vgl. Grayeff 1951 und 21971, Menzel 1965 und Paton 1958.
216 Christoph Asmuth

transzendentale Logik verwandelt die Urteilsformen in reine Begriffe. Die Formen


werden zu reinen Inhalten.

2 Das Problem der Logik im Ausgang von Kant


Fichte rezipiert die Kritik der reinen Vernunft erstmals im Jahre 1790. Aus seinen
Aufzeichnungen geht hervor, dass ihm bereits zu einem sehr frühen Zeitpunkt klar
ist: Die transzendentale Logik müsse eine zentrale Bedeutung für die theoretische
Philosophie annehmen, denn es handle sich um diejenige Wissenschaft, die den
„Ursprung, den Umfang, und die objective Gültigkeit […] in unserer Erkenntniß“
bestimmt (GA II/1, 301). Mit Kant konnte Fichte begreifen, dass eine Philoso-
phie möglich ist, die ohne Rückgriff auf metaphysische Inhalte im engeren und
weiteren Sinne dennoch allgemein verbindliche und notwendige Aussagen treffen
kann. Mit Kant konnte er begreifen, dass die dualistische Konzeption einer
Spaltung von Subjekt und Objekt, von res cogitans und res extensa überwunden
werden kann, wenn die Synthesis in der Rekonstruktion einer Urteils- und Wis-
senstheorie vorgängig, die Analysis jedoch als nachgängig und nachrangig be-
trachtet wird. Mit Kant bewegte sich Fichte daher vom Beginn seiner transzen-
dentalphilosophischen Studien an in einem post-cartesianischen Theorierahmen.
Für Fichte zeigte sich jedoch ziemlich schnell, dass die Kategoriendeduktion
aus der formalen Logik ein Problem für die neue kritische Philosophie bedeuten
musste. Er stand damit freilich nicht allein. Das zugrundeliegende Problem be-
reitete vielmehr eine Gabelung in der Geschichte der klassischen deutschen
Philosophie vor, die aus einem handfesten Streit hervorging. Die Verortung der
Logik war dabei der entscheidende Punkt: Es war kein geringerer als Carl Leon-
hard Reinhold, der in den frühen neunziger Jahren des 18. Jahrhunderts den
Systemgedanken radikalisierte.⁷ Er erkannte es als seine Aufgabe, die kritische
Philosophie Kants nicht nur fortzuentwickeln, sondern sie in ein Ganzes der
Wissenschaft zu transformieren. Die Philosophie sollte Philosophie aus einem
Grundsatz sein. Reinholds Entwurf kreist um den Begriff des Vorstellbaren. Er
fordert eine spezielle Elementarphilosophie als Grundlage aller philosophischen
Überlegungen, ja sogar aller wissenschaftlichen Disziplinen.⁸ In den Beyträge zur
Berichtigung bisheriger Missverständnisse der Philosophen, die als Referenzschrift
der frühen Überlegungen Fichtes angesehen werden können, begründet Reinhold

 Zur Rolle Reinholds bei der Entwicklung der Transzendentalphilosophie Fichtes vgl. Schrader
1979.
 Reinhold 1790, S. 138.
Fichtes Logik als Logikkritik 217

seine Auffassung, dass Logik und Metaphysik keine autonomen Bestandteile der
Philosophie sein könnten. Beide Disziplinen haben nicht nur keine ersten
Grundsätze,⁹ sie können auch keine ersten Grundsätze erhalten.¹⁰ Diese Grund-
sätze will Reinhold in seiner Theorie des bloßen Vorstellungsvermögens auffin-
den. So hält Reinhold zusammenfassend fest: „Von der Zeit an, als der durch sich
selbst bestimmte Satz, welcher er auch seyn mag, gefunden ist, befindet sich die
Philosophie im Besitz eines allgemeingeltenden einzigen obersten Satzes, der also
in soferne im strengsten Sinn Grundsatz, und zwar Grundsatz aller Grundsätze, der
erste Grundsatz nicht der Metaphysik, nicht der Logik, sondern der Philosophie
ist. Alles als ausgemacht angenommene muß […] mittelbar oder unmittelbar,
durch jenen ersten Satz bestimmt werden.“¹¹ Damit drückt Reinhold eine Kor-
rektur an der Auffassung Kants aus. Nicht die Logik ist der Grund der Deduktion,
sondern die Philosophie selbst muss – in Form der Elementarphilosophie als
prima philosophia – diese Aufgabe übernehmen: „Die eigentliche Elementarphi-
losophie kann und darf durchaus nicht auf Logik; aber diese muss auf jene ge-
gründet werden.“¹² Man kann hier von einem Paradigmenwechsel sprechen. Die
Überlegungen Kants werden einerseits eng begrenzt, dann nämlich, wenn nicht
mehr nur nach dem Rechtsgrund synthetischer Urteile gefragt wird, sondern nun
das Vorstellungsvermögen insgesamt und überhaupt auf einen Grundsatz hin
geprüft werden soll.¹³ Es drückt sich darin auch der Zweifel aus, ob denn die Logik
überhaupt in der Lage sein könne, ein sicheres Fundament für andere Wissen-
schaften, insbesondere aber für die Philosophie zu bieten. Schließlich manifestiert
sich darin ein Grundzug der Moderne seit Kant: Die Philosophie beansprucht jetzt,
angesichts einer spürbaren Differenzierung und Partikularisierung von Wissen-
schaften und deren Autonomie, selbst Leitdisziplin zu sein, und zwar mit dem
Versprechen, Einheit zu stiften, Zusammenhang zu begründen und Kohärenz der
Disziplinen zu erhalten.
Bei Reinhold erscheint diese Entwicklung unbestimmt – eine globale For-
derung, die aus der Perspektive auf ein mögliches System der Philosophie als
System des Wissens erhoben wird. Eine differenziertere Analyse, wie genau die
Abhängigkeit der Elementarphilosophie von der Logik argumentativ abgewiesen
und das Verhältnis umgekehrt werden könnte, fehlt bei Reinhold. Bei Salomon

 Reinhold 1790, S. 128.


 Reinhold 1790, S. 136 – 137.
 Reinhold 1790, S. 358 – 359.
 Reinhold 1791, S. 121.
 Vgl. Asmuth 2009a.
218 Christoph Asmuth

Maimon kann man das weitaus konkreter lesen.¹⁴ Seine Gedanken haben großen
Einfluss auf Fichte.¹⁵ Die Formalität der allgemeinen Logik hat für ihn zwei
Konsequenzen: Einerseits abstrahiert sie von allen Bestimmungen der wie und
woher auch immer herkommenden Objekte; andererseits sieht sie auch von jenen
Bedingungen ab, unter denen gegebene Objekte gedacht werden können. Die
Formalität beseitigt also allen Inhalt. Dennoch haben die Funktionen der Logik
Bedeutung.¹⁶ Bejahen und Verneinen etwa sind logische Funktionen. In der Logik
spielt es keine Rolle, was wem zu- oder abgesprochen wird durch Bejahen und
Verneinen. Das macht die Formalität der Logik aus. Dennoch müssen Bejahung
und Verneinung selbst eine bestimmte Bedeutung haben. Für Maimon macht
diese einfache Überlegung klar, dass die inhaltlichen Bestimmungen der logi-
schen Funktionen aus einem anderen Bereich entlehnt und geborgt sind und nicht
der Logik selbst entspringen können. Er ordnet diese Bedeutung der logischen
Funktionen – in diesem Fall die transzendentalen Begriffe der Realität und der
Negation – dem neuen Bereich der Transzendentalphilosophie zu.¹⁷
Die Logik kann folglich nicht mehr als eine gänzlich autarke und autonome
Disziplin behandelt werden. Maimon konstatiert erhebliche Mängel in der tradi-
tionellen Logik, eben weil ihre Abhängigkeit von der Philosophie, letztlich von
der Transzendentalphilosophie nicht ausreichend beachtet worden sei. Er hält die
Logik keineswegs – wie Kant – für eine vollendete Wissenschaft. Die Logik sei
nicht einmal ein systematisches, zusammenhängendes Ganzes, vielmehr bloß
eine rhapsodische Zusammenstellung; ihre Gliederung in Begriff, Urteil und
Schluss sei bloß äußerlich.¹⁸ „Das Princip aber, wonach ein System der Logik
gedacht werden kann, muß aus der Transscendentalphilosophie hergenommen
werden.“¹⁹
Reinhold und Maimon kehren das von Kant unproblematisiert gelassene
Verhältnis von Logik und Transzendentalphilosophie um. Fichte wird beiden
darin folgen und für Hegel eröffnet sich damit der Weg für eine spekulative Logik.
Reinhold allerdings schert am Anfang des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dieser Entwick-

 Vgl. Gottselig 1908, Engstler 1990, Krämer 1997, Franks 2005, Freudenthal 2003 und 2006,
Gueroult 2006 und Kunze 1912.
 Zum Verhältnis von Reinhold und Maimon vgl. Schrader 1990.
 Vgl. zum Problem, freilich ohne Berücksichtigung Salomon Maimons, Gutzmann 1980.
 Vgl. Maimon 1794, S. XX–XXI und Schechter 2003, S. 18 – 53.
 Dass sich Maimon dabei auf Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft bezieht, liegt auf der Hand: Er hielt
die Logik „allem Anschein“ nach für „geschlossen und vollendet“ (KrV B VIII); die Urteilstafel und
die aus ihr folgenden Kategorien seien systematisch eingeteilt und keinesfalls „rhapsodistisch“
(KrV B 106).
 Maimon 1794, S. XXIII.
Fichtes Logik als Logikkritik 219

lungslinie aus und verlässt die Reihen derer, die die Logik für begründungsbe-
dürftig und die Philosophie für deren Grund halten.²⁰ Die Entwicklung kündigt
sich bereits 1799 an. Reinhold besucht Jacobi in Eutin. In einem öffentlichen
Sendschreiben teilt er Fichte mit, dass er Jacobis Standpunkt gegenüber der
Wissenschaftslehre nun teile. „Daß aber auch das philosophische Wissen […]
jenes [Glaubens; Ch. A.] nicht entbehren könne, ist mir durch Jakobi um sehr vieles
einleuchtender geworden.“²¹ Ende 1799 weist Reinhold Fichte auf Bardilis
„Grundriß der ersten Logik“ hin; im Januar 1800 teilt er Fichte mit, dass er,
Reinhold, nun von der Richtigkeit der Ausführungen Bardilis überzeugt sei. Eine
Rezension Reinholds über Bardilis „Grundriß“ in der Allgemeinen Literatur-Zei-
tung vom 5. bis 7. Mai 1800 macht den Bruch zwischen Fichte und Reinhold of-
fenkundig und öffentlich.²² Die nun beginnende Diskussion zeigt die innere
Verknüpfung der Entwicklung der Logik mit derjenigen der Transzendentalphi-
losophie. Bardilis „Grundriß“ entwickelt einen logischen Realismus. Bardili ver-
spricht, „ein reales Objekt durch reine Logik (demonstrativ) zu setzen, und […] der
Logik selbst […] noch ihr Prius auszumachen.“²³ Es sei „ein reales Objekt entweder
durch sie gesezt, oder sonst überall keines sezbar, der Schlüssel zum Wesen der
Natur entweder durch sie gegeben, oder sonst überall keine Logik und keine
Philosophie möglich […].“²⁴ Reinhold wendet sich dem Programm Bardilis zu.
Seine Wankelmütigkeit zieht denn auch zahlreiche sarkastische Bemerkungen
nach sich:

Was die eigene Philosophie Reinholds betrifft, so gibt er eine öffentliche Geschichte davon,
dass er im Verlauf seiner philosophischen Metempsychose zuerst in die Kantische gewan-
dert, nach Ablegung derselben in Fichte’sche, von dieser in die Jakobische und seit er auch
sie verloren habe, in Bardili’s Logik eingezogen sey.²⁵

Über Reinhold und Bardili ergießt sich der ganze Spott der spekulativen Philo-
sophie. Sie sehen im logischen Realismus den alten Dogmatismus am Werk. Sie
kritisieren die neue Position, die sie für die alte halten, nicht zuletzt deshalb, weil
der Standpunkt der formalen Logik falsch bestimmt sei: „die Verwandlung der
Philosophie ins formale der Erkenntnis, in Logik“.²⁶

 Vgl. Adam 1930, Beiser 1987.


 Reinhold 1799, S. 79.
 Vgl. Schrader 1993, Zahn 1998, Ahlers 2003, Fabianelli 2003.
 Bardili 1800, S. XI–XII.
 Bardili 1800, S. XII.
 Hegel, Differenzschrift, GW 4, 81; vgl. Bondeli 1997.
 Hegel, Differenzschrift, GW 4, 81.
220 Christoph Asmuth

Oder ähnlich im Ton Fichte:

Der Hauptpunkt aber des neuen Systems, ein Ur-denken unvermerkt und ehe man die Hand
umwendet in ein Ur-seyn zu verwandeln, und die Frage nach einem Bande des subjektiven, u.
objektiven gänzlich zu ignorieren, ist, seit dem ersten Gedanken eines Kriticismus in Kants
Kopfe, von Grund aus vernichtet; und die Wiederholung dieses Vorstoßes war nur von einem
Manne zu befürchten, der – weit entfernt von der W.L. einen Begriff zu haben – nicht einmal
in Kants Schriften flüchtig geblättert zu haben, und den Criticismus nur aus Nicolai’s und
Herders Relationen zu kennen scheint.²⁷

Das reine Denken, wie es Bardili, darin ähnlich verfahrend wie Reinhold, als
Faktum zugrunde legt, verfährt nach Fichte einseitig formal. Dagegen betont
Fichte,

daß das reine Denken gar nicht über dem Ich steht, daß das letztere [das Ich; Ch. A.] – daß ich
mich so ausdrücke – das Intelligiren κατ᾽ ἐξοχὴν bedeutet,von welchem Denken, Anschauen,
Wollen, u.s.w. nur Unterarten sind, die nicht schlechthin gesetzt, sondern aus jenem abge-
leitet werden müssen.²⁸

Mit dem Problem der Stellung der Logik kündigt sich also ein Grundlagenstreit der
Philosophie nach 1800 an.

3 Die ersten transzendentalphilosophischen


Überlegungen Fichtes
Angeregt von der Elementarphilosophie – noch in Unkenntnis der Logik Maimons
– entwickelt Fichte in den Eignen Meditationen über Elementarphilosophie – seine
Zirkeltheorie der Logik. Die Logik – so Fichte in diesem im Nachlass befindlichen
Manuskript – sei etwas im „menschl. Geiste. Eine Elementarphilosophie muß auch
sie begründen. […] Aber dann wär eine formelle Logik vor der ElementarPhilo-
sophie vorher nicht möglich; […]“ (GA II/3, 22). Es stimmt demnach mit dem
überein, was Fichte über viele andere Sachverhalte seiner neu zu entwickelnden
Elementarphilosophie, die kurze Zeit später den Namen ‚Wissenschaftslehre‘ er-
halten sollte, sagt: „Allenthalben treffe ich auf einen Zirkel“ (GA II/3, 26). Die von
Fichte angesprochene Zirkularität hängt sachlich zusammen mit der Einsicht
Kants, dass die Synthesis früher ist als die Analysis. Das Ganze der Erkenntnis ist

 Fichte an Karl Leonhard Reinhold, 4. Juli 1800, GA III/4, 270.


 Fichte, Rezension Bardili, GA I/6, 447.
Fichtes Logik als Logikkritik 221

eine – freilich komplexe – Einheit, deren Elemente erst durch ein isolierendes
Verfahren herausgestellt werden können. Für Fichte zählt die Logik mit zu diesen
Elementen. Anders als Kant meint er, dass die Logik nicht autonom sei. Auch sie
müsse in ihren Prinzipien aus der Elementarphilosophie, später: aus der Wis-
senschaftslehre, abgeleitet werden. Zu den Neuerungen, die in Fichtes Eignen
Meditationen vorgestellt werden, gehört die Reflexion auf den Ort, an dem die
Aussagen über das Erkenntnisvermögen gemacht werden. Er nennt es intellek-
tuelle Anschauung (GA II/3, 24). Damit erfährt auch die intellektuelle Anschauung
gegenüber der Philosophie Kants eine Bedeutungsveränderung.²⁹ Fichte kon-
struiert die Wissenschaftslehre, hier noch Elementarphilosophie, als eine Kette
von geistigen Tätigkeiten, einem Tun, Handeln, einer Anschauung einerseits und
einer Reflexion darauf andererseits. Es ergeben sich zwei Reihen: die des Pro-
zesses und die der Beobachtung des Prozesses. Der Prozess ist aber nichts anderes
als das, was wir selbst vollziehen, die Reflexion daher selbstbezüglicher Vollzug.
Der Inhalt eines Vollzugs, in der Elementarphilosophie noch ‚Satz‘, wird in der
Reflexion formal, dann als erneuter Vollzug material, in der Reflexion wieder
formal (GA II/3, 22). Dieser Wechsel von Perspektiven, von zwei Reihen, ist
grundlegend für die ganze Wissenschaftslehre Fichtes und hält sich bis zum
späten Fichte – trotz zahlreicher mehr oder minder starker Umbauten – durch.³⁰
Und sie sorgt dafür, dass für die rein formale Logik in der Wissenschaftslehre kein
Platz ist.

4 Die Logik in der Grundlage der gesammten


Wissenschaftslehre
Bereits die ersten knappen Einleitungssätze der Grundlage machen deutlich, dass
die Logik und der Stellenwert der Logik zu einem wichtigen Problem werden
müssen. Die Thathandlung, jenes genetische, dynamische, energetische Prinzip
des Bewusstseins, soll durch Abstraktion und Reflexion aus dem wirklichen
Wissen herausgehoben werden. Es ist implizit und muss eigens durch ein spezi-
elles Verfahren explizit gemacht werden. Wie in den Meditationen heißt es jetzt:

Die Gesetze [die der allgemeinen Logik; Anm. 2. Aufl.], nach denen man jene Thathandlung
sich als Grundlage des menschlichen Wissens schlechterdings denken muss, oder – welches
das gleiche ist – die Regeln, nach welchen jene Reflexion angestellt wird, sind noch nicht als
gültig erwiesen, sondern sie werden stillschweigend, als bekannt und ausgemacht, vor-

 Vgl. Stolzenberg 1986.


 Vgl. Asmuth 2009b.
222 Christoph Asmuth

ausgesetzt. Erst tiefer unten werden sie von dem Grundsatze, dessen Aufstellung bloss unter
Bedingung ihrer Richtigkeit richtig ist, abgeleitet. Dies ist ein Cirkel; aber es ist ein unver-
meidlicher Cirkel. (S. über den Begriff der Wissenschaftslehre § 7.) Da er nun unvermeidlich,
und frei zugestanden ist, so darf man auch bei Aufstellung des höchsten Grundsatzes auf alle
Gesetze der allgemeinen Logik sich berufen.³¹

Diese programmatischen Sätze bezeichnen zugleich ein Desiderat. Bekanntlich


ist Fichte in Jena nicht dazu gekommen, eine Deduktion der Logik aus der Wis-
senschaftslehre vorzustellen. Die Entwicklung desjenigen, was uns aus Kants
Kritik der reinen Vernunft als Kategoriendeduktion bekannt ist, bekommt in Fichtes
Grundlage eine systematische Wende.³² Das ergibt sich bereits aus dem Anspruch
Fichtes, Kants Kritik in ein System transformieren zu wollen.³³ Das Problem einer
allgemeinen Logik ist damit aber keineswegs gelöst. Die formale Logik ist durch
den Gewissheitsanspruch der Wissenschaftslehre zwar gänzlich aus dem Fokus
der prima philosophia ebenso wie aus dem Bereich der Grundlagenwissenschaften
verschwunden; aber Fichte kann ihr keinen neuen Ort zuweisen. Wir wissen, dass
Fichte in Jena und Berlin zwischen 1794 und 1802 elfmal über „Metaphysik und
Logik“ las, eine Vorlesung, der er Ernst Platners Philosophische Aphorismen zu-
grunde legte. Diese Vorlesungen gehörten zur Propädeutik der Philosophie. Sie
dienten der Einführung und hielten Fichte offenkundig den Rücken frei für die
Entwicklung der eigenen systematischen Bestrebungen, die sich vor allem auf die
Wissenschaftslehre, die Sitten- sowie die Naturrechtslehre bezogen.
Tatsächlich liegt Fichtes unausgesprochenes Verhältnis zur Logik weniger
an einem Desinteresse als an der Problematik der Sache selbst. Die Rezension, die
er zu Bardilis „Grundriß der ersten Logik“ verfasste, zeigt – neben der offen-
kundigen Konkurrenzsituation –, dass für Fichte die Frage nach der Stellung der
Logik sachlich zwingend mit der Entwicklung der Wissenschaftslehre selbst zu-
sammenhängt. Die Tathandlung, jenes sich selbst setzende Ich, ist eben nicht nur
formale Identität, A = A, sondern enthält auch allen Gehalt.³⁴ Gleichzeitig argu-

 Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre, GA I/2, 255 – 256.


 Vgl. Metz 1991.
 Vgl. Vorlesungen über Platners Aphorismen, GA II/4, 53: „Meine Schrift über den Begriff der
W.L. ist zum Theil Ktk. der reinen Vft.“
 Hier ist es wichtig, genau zu bestimmen, in welcher Weise der Satz A = A von Fichte benutzt
wird. Er ist sicher nicht so zu verstehen, dass aus diesem Satz die Tathandlung abgeleitet wird,
sodass man folgern könnte, das Prinzip der Wissenschaftslehre sei von der Logik abhängig. Ich bin
außerdem der dezidierten Auffassung, dass er nicht als logischer Satz eingeführt wird. Die von
Fichte hervorgehobene Eigenschaft des Satzes besteht nicht darin, dass er logisch ist, sondern dass
er absolut gewiss ist. Diese Eigenschaft hat auch der Satz des Selbstbewusstseins (Wissen-
schaftslehre nova methodo, GA IV/2, 18), der Satz des Dreiecks (Darstellung der Wissenschaftslehre
Fichtes Logik als Logikkritik 223

mentiert Fichte für eine transzendentale Verbindung einer logischen Grund-


funktion, der Identität, mit der transzendentalen Grundfunktion des sich selbst
setzenden Ich. Gerade für die Grundlage scheint Fichte eine immanente Logik
vorzusehen, sodass die Ableitung der Logik in einem Explizieren bereits implizit
geleisteter Voraussetzungen bestehen müsste.
Es ist lange über die drei ersten Grundsätze der Grundlage diskutiert worden.³⁵
Für den vorliegenden Zusammenhang ist es von erheblicher Bedeutung, die in-
nere Verbindung der drei Grundsätze zu verstehen. Es handelt sich nach meiner
Überzeugung weniger um eine Abfolge und ein inhaltliches Fortschreiten, als um
eine synchrone Setzungsbewegung. Die drei Grundsätze bilden eine Einheit. Sie
lassen sich nicht isoliert voneinander betrachten. Man kann sie auch in die um-
gekehrte Reihenfolge stellen. Insofern folgt der zweite nicht aus dem ersten
Grundsatz und der dritte nicht aus den beiden ersten. Erst in ihrer „Dreieinheit“
sind sie tatsächlich das gesuchte argumentative, nur durch Abstraktion und Re-
flexion aufzufindende Grundgerüst allen Wissens. „Wissen“ wird dabei von Fichte
im weiten Sinn aufgefasst und umschließt Empfindungen, Anschauen, Triebe,
Neigungen und Wünsche ebenso wie Wissenschaften, Sittlichkeit, Recht und eben
auch Logik. Fichtes Gebrauch des Wissensbegriffs unterscheidet sich daher von
demjenigen Kants, der in der Kritik der reinen Vernunft einen auf wissenschaftli-
chen Fortschritt (synthetische Urteile) abstellenden Wissensbegriff bevorzugt.
Der dritte Grundsatz der Grundlage verdient besondere Beachtung. Er be-
zieht seine Dynamik aus der synthetischen Verbindung der ersten beiden. Die im
so genannten Dritten Grundsatz ausgedrückte Synthesis zweier – unbedingter –
Handlungen setzt Fichte in seiner Lehre vom Beziehungs- und Unterschei-
dungsgrund fort – eine deutliche Anknüpfung an Maimon und ein Ansatzpunkt
für eine mögliche Ableitung logischer Strukturen. Das Ich – heißt es dort – setzt
sich selbst (§ 1), das Ich setzt sich ein Nicht-Ich entgegen (§ 2). Beide Handlungen
geschehen im Ich und durch das Ich. Beide Handlungen widersprechen sich und
ihrem Gesetzt-Sein durch das Ich. Zugleich sind beide Handlungen im Ich als
notwendig aufgewiesen worden. Das Resultat des dritten Grundsatzes schafft

1801/02, GA II/6, 136) und der Satz über das Sein als Singulum (Wissenschaftslehre 1804/2, GA II/8,
228 – 243). Diese Sätze bezeichnen eine Vorstellung, die mit dem Gefühl der Notwendigkeit be-
gleitet wird (GA IV/2, 18), die mit „absoluter Gültigkeit […] für die unendlich möglichen Ver-
nunftWesen schlechthin sicher sey“ (GA II/6, 136), das „Allerklarste und zugleich das Allerver-
borgenste“ (GA IV/2, 228), das „unmittelbar klar“ (GA II/8, 242) ist. Dass der Satz A = A ein Satz der
Logik ist, scheint für den Beginn der Grundlage keine entscheidende Rolle zu spielen. Diese Rolle
ist der unmittelbaren Gewissheit des Satzes vorbehalten. Fichte versucht, den Grund der Ge-
wissheit aufzuweisen. Vgl. Paimann 2006, S. 35 – 60, insb. 39, Schüßler 1981, S. 498 – 505.
 Vgl. Class und Soller 2004, Bader 1979, Baumanns 1974.
224 Christoph Asmuth

durch den Begriff der Teilbarkeit die Möglichkeit wechselseitiger Einschränkung


durch Bestimmung. Es handelt sich also nicht nur um einen Grundsatz der Teil-
barkeit – der Sache nach ist es ein Grundsatz der Bestimmbarkeit. Fichte verankert
den Begriff folglich im transzendental philosophisch-genetischen Prozess der
Deduktion der Vorstellung. Sieht man auf die der Entwicklung des § 3 (Teilbarkeit)
zugrunde liegende thematische Dreigliederung von Schluss, Urteil und Begriff,
dann kann man Fichtes systematische Ankündigung nachvollziehen, dass aus der
Wissenschaftslehre – und erst unter ihrer Voraussetzung – Logik der Sache nach
möglich wird.³⁶ Deshalb integriert Fichtes Grundlage sowohl eine – freilich kurz
gefasste – Lehre vom Begriff als auch eine Grundlegung der Logik und – bei
Weitem offensichtlicher – eine Deduktion der Kategorien. ³⁷ Was die Begriffslehre
betrifft, so beschränkt sich Fichte auf die Funktion der Begriffe zur Subsumtion.
Diese Funktion ist begründet in der Lehre vom Beziehungs- und Unterschei-
dungsgrund, der wiederum in der synthetischen Handlung der Teilbarkeit be-
gründet ist. Bereits die ersten beiden Grundsätze ergaben die Kategorien der
Realität und der Negation (Qualität). Das ist urteilslogisch betrachtet das Pärchen
Bejahung und Verneinung, in Fichtes Diktion thetische und antithetische Urteile
(GA I/2, 274). Teilbarkeit bei Fichte ergibt die Kategorie der Limitation und ergibt
den logischen Satz des Grundes, der – nach Fichte – zwei korrelationale Aus-
drücke hat: den Beziehungs- und den Unterscheidungsgrund. Unter sie fällt alles,
was in einem Merkmal gleich oder unterschieden ist, mit Ausnahme der absoluten
Identität des Ich und dessen Immanenz (GA I/2, 273). Insofern behauptet Fichte, es
gäbe dem Gehalt nach „keine bloß analytischen Urtheile“ (GA I/2, 274). In Be-
ziehungs- und Unterscheidungsgrund verankert Fichte seine Lehre von der Defi-
nition: Der Gattungsbegriff enthält den Beziehungsgrund, die spezifische Diffe-
renz den Unterscheidungsgrund. Gattungen und Arten bilden Hierarchien. Der
höchste Begriff ist der der Realität. Das Herabsteigen auf dieser hierarchischen
Leiter geschieht durch Bestimmen, d. h. durch Negation, die auf der antithetischen
Handlung des Entgegensetzens, also des Nicht-Ich beruht.
Die Grundlage bietet also Ansatzpunkte für eine Logik, entwickelt selbst aber
nur Grundlagen, keineswegs aber eine Logik, geschweige denn eine Aufstellung,
Verknüpfung und kohärente Systematisierung logischer Funktionen. Insgesamt
scheint Fichtes Bild von der Logik konservativ, an der Logik Kants entwickelt. Für
Fichte muss die Logik für das Ich sein und durch das Ich abgeleitet werden; aber
umgekehrt kann das Ich nicht für die Logik sein und aus ihr abgeleitet werden. Die

 Vgl. zum Folgenden Paimann 2006.


 Vgl. Metz 1991.
Fichtes Logik als Logikkritik 225

Logik – als wissenschaftliche Disziplin und Propädeutik – leitet Fichte jedenfalls


im Jenaer System nicht mehr eigens ab. Es bleibt eine offene Stelle.
Das – so könnte man denken – ist kein besonders großer Verlust. Fichte
hat sich an vielen Stellen nicht gerade als Verfechter einer formalen philosophi-
schen Logik geäußert; er gehört eher zu ihren Verächtern. Allerdings ist es bei dem
Übergang von einer Urteilstheorie zu einer Bewusstseinstheorie von einigem
Interesse, wie sich das Verhältnis der Wissenschaftslehre zur Logik überhaupt
gestalten soll. Wie soll unter einer erweiterten Perspektive eine entsprechende
Binnendifferenz eingezogen werden, die es erlaubt, die Regeln der Logik abzu-
leiten und gleichzeitig ihre unbedingte Geltung ausweisen zu können? Für eine
Philosophie, die mehr noch als nach Wahrheit nach Gewissheit strebt, könnte die
Subalternität der Logik ein Problem sein.

5 Fichtes Logik in Erlangen (1805)


In den Jahren 1799/1800 scheiterte Fichtes Professur in Jena. Grund war der
Atheismusstreit, eine Mischung aus Missverständnissen, ungerechtfertigten An-
schuldigungen, großmäuligen Beteuerungen und einer gewissen Ehrpusseligkeit
auf Seiten Fichtes. In Berlin gelang es Fichte in den kommenden Jahren nicht,
beruflich Fuß zu fassen. Mit großen Hoffnungen ging er deshalb 1805 nach Er-
langen. Dort dürfte Fichte einen erneuten Anlauf unternommen haben, sein
System als System zu entwickeln und einem größeren Publikum vorzustellen. Aber
diesmal weigert er sich, seinen Vorlesungen fremde Texte zu unterlegen. Auch die
Logik ist jetzt Sache des ‚Selbstdenkens‘. Er trägt deshalb „Metaphysik und Logik“
nicht mehr nach den Texten Platners vor, sondern entwickelt eine eigene Syste-
matik. Eine selbstständige Bestimmung des Logischen wird nun notwendig. Das,
was als Desiderat in der Jenaer Periode zu verzeichnen ist, rückt nun – allerdings
im Rahmen einer allgemeinen Propädeutik der Philosophie – in den Vordergrund:
eine Deduktion der Logik aus den Grundüberlegungen der Wissenschaftslehre
heraus.
Die „Institutiones omnis philosophiae“, gehalten 1805 in Erlangen,³⁸ ent-
halten vier Teile: eine Propädeutik, niedere und höhere Logik sowie einen Teil,
den Fichte mit dem missverständlichen Titel einer „Metaphysik“ kennzeichnet. Er
erläutert diese Bezeichnung, indem er aufzeigt, wie die alte Metaphysik, die On-
tologie als Metaphysica generalis und die Metaphysica specialis, nämlich Kos-
mologie, Psychologie und Theologie, in der Wissenschaftslehre aufgehen. Meta-

 Vgl. Janke 1999.


226 Christoph Asmuth

physik kann nun nur noch im Fragehorizont der Transzendentalphilosophie an-


gemessen diskutiert werden.³⁹ Metaphysik wird von Fichte nicht vorkritisch re-
stauriert, sondern kritisch dekonstruiert: „Metaphysik“ bedeutet dann so viel wie
Metaphysikkritik.
Fichte erklärt seine Wissenschaftslehre in der Propädeutik als „die Wissen-
schaft desjenigen, was nur dem Wissen als Wissen zukommt, – oder nur in ihm
begründet ist“ (GA II/9, 46). Wissen wird hier als Grundbegriff in weitester Be-
deutung eingeführt, der mit dem Begriff des Bewusstseins überhaupt kongruiert.
Wissen selbst bestimmt Fichte als Bild oder Repräsentation, genauer: als Bild, das
sich als Bild erkennen kann und erkennen soll. Der Begriff des Bildes fällt damit
ebenso mit dem des Wissens zusammen wie mit dem des Bewusstseins. Fichte
bringt damit die Tatsache des Bewusstseins zum Ausdruck, dass in allem Wissen
das Wissen über dieses Wissen implizit enthalten ist. Darin liegt die „Erhebung“
über das Wissen, eine „Besonnenheit“ auf dieses Wissen und sein energisches
Festhalten für die philosophische Reflexion. „Erhebung“ ist dabei ein ambivalent
konnotierter Begriff: Er meint sowohl die Erhöhung durch Reflexion, das Errei-
chen eines höheren gedanklichen Niveaus; er meint aber auch den „Aufstand“, die
Revolution, den Umsturz alles Gewesenen, die Herstellung einer neuen, gefes-
tigten Ordnung. Damit deutet der Begriff „Erhebung“ bereits an, dass nicht nur die
Sache des Wissens in der Erhebung erhöht, sondern auch der Wissende selbst
durch „Erhebung“ revolutioniert wird, indem er sich zugleich selbst als Wissender
in seinem Wissen und das Wissen in der Einheit seiner es unterscheidenden
Momente aktiv hervorbringt. Wissen ist nicht nur Theorie, sondern ebenso Praxis.
Hierhin fällt auch die Unterscheidung, auf die Fichte so großen Wert legt. Das
„gewöhnliche“ Wissen, das Wissen, das sich noch nicht erhoben hat, ist ver-
sunken in eine Welt voller Gegensätze: Fichte meint alle Gegensätze, die dem
Basisgegensatz von Wissen und Gewusstem, Denken und Gegenstand zu subsu-
mieren sind. Es gibt aber auch ein davon prinzipiell unterschiedenes genetisches
Wissen, eben „nicht das Wissen im Gegensatz: das Entgegengesetzte: sondern das
Entgegensetzende, u. Gleichsetzende. Darin ist nun der Philosoph, u. dies ist sein
Wesen, u. Gesichtspunkt. Darin ist er verlohren“ (GA II/9, 47). In dieser genetischen
Perspektive der Philosophie erfährt sich das Wissen nicht mehr nur als faktisch
und notwendig, sondern auch als frei und produktiv. Diese Freiheit ist die erste
Voraussetzung und der erste Schritt in die Philosophie. Sie setzt ein „stillehalten,
sich besinnen, kräftigst attendiren, Energie, voraus […], die bei den Menschen
auch wohl nicht seyn kann“ (GA II/9, 47).

 Vgl. GA II/9, 155.


Fichtes Logik als Logikkritik 227

Fichte beschreibt damit eine für die beginnende Moderne charakteristische


Gedankenbewegung. Das Wissen kommt zu sich selbst, besinnt sich auf sich
und die ihm eigentümlichen konstitutiven Bedingungen. Das Wissen kann nun als
etwas für sich Bestehendes aufgefasst werden. Dem Wissen kann Gewissheit,
Gültigkeit und Geltung zugesprochen werden – unabhängig von einem materi-
ellen oder ontologischen Substrat. Für Fichte – und dies zählt zweifelsohne zu
seinen Grundeinsichten – ist dieses Zu-sich-Kommen des Geistigen verbunden mit
einem Akt der Freiheit: Freiheit, die nicht unmittelbar und notwendig schon mit
Moralität und Sittlichkeit assoziiert ist.
Freiheit als die Art und Weise, wie das Wissen der Wissenschaft sich im
faktischen Wissen und im Wissen des Faktischen hervorbringt, bietet für Fichte
einen guten Einteilungsgrund für verschiedene Sphären des Wissens. In primä-
rer Hinsicht ist dieses genetische Wissen frei in einer ausschließlich transzen-
dentalen Hinsicht. Gewissheit und Wahrheit realisieren sich hier in unmittelbarer
Gewissheit, in überwältigender Evidenz: „die Energie nur auf der rechten Stelle
gesezt, springt die Wahrheit uns unmittelbar entgegen, schlechthin ohne allen
Grund“ (GA II/9, 47). Fichte nennt hier als Beispiel die Axiome der Mathematik. Er
denkt aber auch an jene Grundgedanken seiner Wissenschaftslehre, die einen
unmittelbaren Anknüpfungspunkt bieten, um die Rechtfertigung von Gewissheit
aufzuweisen – ein Satz wie etwa A = A. In dieser primären Hinsicht wird das
Wissen nicht erzeugt, sondern es drängt sich auf. Die Freiheit liegt nicht in der
Sache, sondern in unserer Weise, uns ihr zu öffnen. Fichte bezeichnet sie daher als
Form, da sie „nicht bedingend den Inhalt der Erkenntniß, der sich schlechthin
selber macht, sondern nur ihre Existenz für uns“ (GA II/9, 47). Das Wissen der
Wissenschaftslehre verfährt daher in einer Sphäre der formalen Freiheit, in der sie
auf ursprüngliche und absolute Weise die immanenten Bestimmungen des Wis-
sens hervorbringt, die sich auf ursprüngliche und absolute Weise selbst hervor-
bringen.
In einer zweiten Weise bestimmt die Freiheit auch den Inhalt dieser Er-
kenntnisse, und zwar nicht totaliter und absolut, sondern in Rücksicht auf die
ursprüngliche und absolute Weise, in der das Wissen und seine immanenten
Bestimmungen gegeben sind. Während in der ersten Weise die Freiheit in einem
energischen Aufmerken auf und Freiwerden für die Wahrheit besteht, die sich
ursprünglich selbst macht, ist hier, bei der zweiten Weise, eine die Inhalte her-
vorbringende Funktion gemeint. Die ursprüngliche, sich selbst machende
Wahrheit ist vorausgesetzt, erhält aber durch die Freiheit einen neuen Inhalt. „Der
Inhalt dieser Erkenntnisse [ist; Ch. A.] durch die Freiheit bestimmt, d. i. also werde,
wie er ist, u. bei einer andern Anwendung derselben anders seyn würde“ (GA II/9,
48). Die Freiheit, in dieser zweiten Weise, erzeugt, über die Freiheit in der ersten
Hinsicht hinaus, eine Sphäre der Kontingenz. Dies ist das in der Wissenschafts-
228 Christoph Asmuth

lehre argumentativ aufgewiesene Heraustreten aus dem Bild des Absoluten, aus
der Erscheinung des Absoluten, in das Bild des Bildes oder die Erscheinung der
Erscheinung. Die transzendentale Freiheit verwandelt sich in die Freiheit der
Willkür.
Nun ist es auf den ersten Blick erstaunlich, dass Fichte gerade die Logik in
diese Sphäre von Willkürlichkeit und Kontingenz versetzt – ein Erstaunen indes,
das beabsichtigt erscheint. Die Situierung der Logik ist nicht nur argumentativ
unterfüttert; sie scheint provokativ angelegt zu sein.⁴⁰ Fichte zeigt nicht nur, dass
der Logik ein bloß subalterner Status zukommt, er stilisiert diese Auffassung auch
so, dass sich an ihr die transzendentalphilosophische Anhänger- und Gegner-
schaft brechen muss. Im Klartext behauptet Fichte, dass die Logik nicht nur ein
formales Konstrukt ist, sondern zugleich im Spektrum der Wissenschaften eine
bloß dienende, in Bezug auf die Philosophie selbst eine redundante Rolle zu
spielen habe. Im Gegensatz zur formalen und materialen Notwendigkeit, die der
Philosophie zukommt, bestimmt Fichte die Logik als zwar in sich kohärente, in
Bezug auf ihren Inhalt aber kontingente Disziplin. So kommt er zu dem Schluss,
dass der Logik in wissenschaftlicher Rücksicht kein besonderer Wert zukomme.⁴¹
Die Logik stiftet zwischen gegebenen Wissensbestimmungen bestimmte
Verhältnisse. „Hier giebt es eine Regel (ich sage Eine, mit Bedacht) und diese
mit ihren Unterbestimmungen allein ist die Logik, macht aus und erschöpft ihr
Wesen“ (GA II/9, 53). Logik ist dementsprechend ein adäquates Auffassen von
wissensimmanenten Verhältnissen. Diese Verortung der Logik beruht für Fichte
auf der seiner gesamten Philosophie zugrunde liegenden Immanenzvorausset-
zung. Wahrheit ist dementsprechend nicht durch Adäquation zwischen Vorstel-
lung und Objekt zu begründen.

[…] Uebereinstimmung mit dem Objekte (welche, im Vorbeigehen, bei richtiger philosophi-
scher Ansicht überhaupt wegfallen dürfte) hier offenbar nicht stattfindet, da nicht von
Objekten sondern von Verhältnissen, u. noch dazu nicht von Verhältnissen von Objekten,
sondern von Bestimmungen des Wissens die Rede ist. (GA II/9, 53)

 Vgl. GA II/9, 59: „Aber ich habe schon bei einer andern Gelegenheit bekannt, dass ich diese
neuern Bearbeitungen nicht gelesen, da ich in rein wissenschaftlicher Rüksicht – von der jedoch
die akademische Rüksicht auf Studirende sehr zu unterscheiden ist – in die Logik keinen großen
Werth setze. Auch jetzt, durch mein Amt aufgefodert, die Logik vorzutragen, habe ich sie nicht
lesen wollen, weil es mir viel leichter, und für meine Zuhörer weitaus ersprießlicher ist, dass ich
das Rechte selbst erfinde, als dass ich es von andern aufnehme.“ Einige Kollegen Fichtes in Er-
langen hatten Logiken verfasst, unter ihnen F. Breyer und G. E. A. Mehmel.
 Vgl. GA II/9, 59.
Fichtes Logik als Logikkritik 229

Die Mannigfaltigkeit der wirklichen Welt entsteht in einem Prozess der imma-
nenten Differenzierung. Das eine reale Absolute bleibt jenseits jeglicher Differenz
eines, erscheint im Wissen jedoch zunächst durch eine reflexive Duplizierung als
Wissen und als Erscheinung oder Bild des Wissens. Das Logische besteht dagegen
in einem sekundären Akt, in der Verbindung des disparaten Mannigfaltigen, und
zwar der bloßen Form nach. Die logische Funktion ist demnach zu beschreiben
als eine „mittelbare Vergleichung entgegengesetzter“ (GA II/9, 64) Momente des
mannigfaltigen Wissens. Die Mittelbarkeit der logischen Funktion zeigt an, dass
ihr keine absolute Authentizität zugesprochen werden kann. Sie beruht auf der
„absoluten Disjunktion“ (GA II/9, 65), die in der Welt angetroffen wird, wenn man
sie als bloß gegeben betrachtet. Logik wird damit zum ersten Prinzip einer völlig in
der Zerstreutheit aufgegangenen Subjektivität.

[D]ie Disjunktion ist absolut, es ist daher gar kein unmittelbarer Uebergang zwischen den
Gliedern derselben; der Uebergang könnte nur geschehen durch die Gleichheiten, u. zu ihnen
müste das freie Denken zu allerst u. unmittelbar sich erheben können. (GA II/9, 65)

Der Akt, der eine vorfindliche Wissensbestimmung mit einem höheren Bezie-
hungsgrund verbindet, heißt, so Fichte, Urteil: die bloß auffassbare und bloß
vorkommende Wissensbestimmung heißt im logischen Sinne Subjekt, der höhere
Beziehungsgrund Prädikat. Vorausgesetzt ist dem Urteilen – als einem wirklichen
Akt des Prädizierens – die Prädikabilität. Das entspricht Fichtes Vorstellung, dass
alle Prädikate durch negative Bestimmtheit aufeinander bezogen sind. Sie bilden
ein geschlossenes, d. h. endliches System von Begriffen und Bestimmungen, weil
eine vollständige Bestimmtheit in den einzelnen Wissensbestimmungen gegeben
ist.

Jedem Begriffe steht ja die ganze menschl. Erkenntniß und die Summe aller möglichen
Begriffe gegen über. Da er, der gegebne, doch hierin mit ihnen zusammenhängt, so kann dies
nur auf eine bestimmte Weise seyn; d.i. es giebt ein bestimmtes Verhältniß, welche [Ver-
hältnisse] nun insgesammt aufgesucht werden könnten. (GA II/9, 48)

Hierin gerade besteht die Freiheit und Kontingenz des Logischen. Es hängt nach
Fichte von der Freiheit ab, welche Verhältnisse aufgesucht werden und welche
nicht und ob die Verhältnisse so aufgefasst werden oder anders. Damit kommt der
Logik eine Freiheitsfunktion zu; sie hat einen Bezug auf Wahrheit und Falschheit;
sie bringt neue Inhalte hervor; sie ist aber nicht schöpferisch, da sie nicht ur-
sprünglich konstruierend, sondern nur nachkonstruierend verfährt.⁴²

 Vgl. GA II/9, 67.


230 Christoph Asmuth

6 Fichtes „Transzendentale Logik“ 1812 in Berlin


Fichtes Vortrag im Jahre 1812 hieß ursprünglich „Vom Verhältnis der Logik zur
wirklichen Philosophie, als ein Grundriss der Logik, und eine Einleitung in die
Philosophie“.⁴³ Erst Fichtes Sohn, Immanuel Hermann, gab den Vorlesungen den
missverständlichen Titel einer „Transzendentalen Logik“. Tatsächlich schreiben
diese Vorlesungen die propädeutische Tradition der Logik-Vorlesungen Fichtes
fort, oder besser: Fichte setzt 1812 mit der Propädeutik ein. Allerdings verwandelt
sich ihm, wie öfters bei ihm zu beobachten, die Propädeutik unter der Hand in
die Sache selbst. Seine Reflexionen über die Logik verwandeln sich ihm unter der
Hand in Wissenschaftslehre selbst. Das lässt sich unschwer erkennen an den
mehrfach aufgezeichneten Hinweisen zur Gliederung: Fichte kündigt nicht nur
einen Abschnitt zum Begriff, sondern auch zum Urteil, und – wenn man die
wenigen Andeutungen so verstehen darf – auch eine Lehre vom Schluss an,⁴⁴ ohne
jedoch dieses Programm einhalten zu können. Vielmehr treibt ihn die Frage nach
dem Begriff schlechthin immer tiefer in die Wissenschaftslehre hinein: Es sind die
Fragen nach dem Reflex, der Reflexion und der Reflexibilität,⁴⁵ die ihn dazu
drängen, Wissenschaftslehre zu betreiben, um die Begriffsfunktion in den Funk-
tionen des Wissens überhaupt zu verankern.
Über die Logik fallen unterdessen 1812 schärfere Urteile. So heißt es nun:
Das Fundament der Logik sei die Empirie; sie sei, zumindest in ihrer bisherigen
Aufstellung als Wissenschaft, ein bloß empirisches Geschäft, das sich aus-
schließlich mit den Phänomenen beschäftige. Logik sei eine abstrakte Psycho-
logie. Eine Deduktion aus der Wissenschaftslehre ist daher nicht nur ein Desi-
derat, sondern sogar zwingend, wenn sie denn den Charakter auch nur einer
Propädeutik der Wissenschaft behalten will. Fichtes eigene Beschäftigung mit der
Logik erscheint 1812 als ambivalent: „Sie muß drum als Wissenschaft nicht nur
vernachlässigt, sondern positiv bestritten, und ausgetilgt werden“ (GA II/14, 13). –
Logik als Logikkritik.
Dabei liegt der Ausgangspunkt wie schon in Erlangen in einem absoluten
Immanentismus. Das unhintergehbare Faktum des Wissens und die Suche nach
einem absoluten Grund im und für das Wissen verbieten jede Annahme eines
bewußtseinstranszendenten Außerhalb. Konsequenterweise heißt es deshalb
auch in der „Transzendentalen Logik“: „Absolute Vereinigung der Anschauung u.
des Begriffs. Alles begriffen, was im Bewußtseyn vorkommt; denn es ist durch den

 Vgl. zur sog. Transzendentalen Logik Fichtes Bertinetto 2001.


 Vgl. die Hinweise in GA II/14, 8 und GA II/15, 15.
 Vgl. Bertinetto 1999.
Fichtes Logik als Logikkritik 231

Begriff im Bewußtseyn“ (GA II/14, 17). Damit zeigt Fichte nicht nur explizit an,
dass er Kants Zwei-Quellen-Lehre für korrekturbedürftig hält. Er weist damit nicht
nur darauf hin, dass die Trennung von Begriff und Anschauung künstlich ist. Er
versucht damit nicht nur, die fundamentalen Unterschiede der Kantischen Kritik
zu unterwandern, sondern bezeichnet damit auch eine philosophische Aufgabe
der besonderen Art: Der Außenweltcharakter der Außenwelt muss nun eigens
ausgewiesen werden. Die Anschauung, als eine faktische Instanz, in der das
Mannigfaltige gegeben ist, reicht in seinem Begründungsstatus nicht mehr aus.
Fällt sie im Prinzip mit dem Begriff zusammen, stellt sich die unabweisliche Frage
nach dem Woher jener gegebenen Mannigfaltigkeit, die wir Welt nennen und über
die wir so wenig verfügen, dass sie vielmehr über uns verfügt.
Fichtes Lehre vom Begriff geht hier in eine ähnliche Richtung wie schon in
Erlangen. Jede bestimmte Wissensbestimmung ist eine Zusammensetzung aus
verschiedenen Elementen, die selbst wiederum bestimmte Hierarchien ausma-
chen. Durch negative Bestimmtheit – jedes einzelne Element unterscheidet sich
von allen anderen – negiert es, insofern es das Übrige ausschließt, und ist selbst
durch die Negation aller anderen bestimmt. Ist das Element aber vollständig
bestimmt, dann gibt es eine abgeschlossene Totalität von Elementen. Diese Ele-
mente bilden daher ein System, das nun allerdings nicht in die Logik gehört,
sondern eine apriorische Semiotik erfordern würde, eine transzendentale Uni-
versalcharakteristik.

7 Transzendentale Logik als Desiderat


In der Philosophiegeschichtsschreibung gibt es Gespenster. Sie heißen ‚Vorgän-
ger‘ und ‚Nachfolger‘. Ein ‚Vorgänger‘ ist weniger ein Prophet als ein substanzloses
Wesen mit nebulöser Essenz. Oder: Ein ‚Vorgänger‘ ist die Herabsetzung eines
Philosophen mit je eigenem existenziellem Problemhorizont und Frageimpuls
zum Stichwortgeber für Andere, Größere. In der Entwicklung der Logik kommt das
häufig vor. So ist Lambert der ‚Vorgänger‘ für Kant, Kant für Fichte oder für Herbart
oder für Frege, Maimon für Fichte, Hegel für Fichte,⁴⁶ Fichte aber sicher für Hegel,
Hegel für Cantor!
Vielleicht suggeriert die philosophische Disziplin einer Logik, dass auch ihre
Geschichte kohärent und eindeutig, ihre Entwicklung daher gradlinig zu sein
habe. Dabei verkennt man jedoch die spezifische Modernität der Entwicklung.
Schulbildungen scheitern. ‚Vorgänger‘ und ‚Nachfolger‘ lassen sich nicht identi-

 Vgl. zu dieser These Lauth 1998.


232 Christoph Asmuth

fizieren, ohne eine interpretatorische Schuld einzugehen. Gerade die Zeit der
Französischen Revolution und der Herrschaft Napoleons führt zu einer reichen
Neubildung – und dies nicht nur in Kunst oder Gesellschaft, nicht nur in der
Sozialphilosophie und den Wissenschaften. Die Entwicklung spiegelt sich auch im
Nachdenken über die Logik. Das gesteigerte Selbstverständnis der Philosophen
reibt sich an der formalen Gewissheit. Die Dialektik treibt die Logik über den
Markt!
Tatsächlich scheint die Dynamik der Logik-Entwicklung am Beginn des
19. Jahrhunderts durch die transzendentale Logik bewirkt zu werden, deren
Grundlagen bei Kant zu finden sind. An ihrer Weiterentwicklung haben viele
Philosophen gearbeitet. Fichtes Beitrag zur Entwicklung einer Logik im engeren
Sinne mag gering sein. Seine transzendentale Logik, die er Wissenschaftslehre
nannte und die ein System bilden sollte, ist indes ein wichtiger Beitrag zur Phi-
losophie. Dass Hegels Logik von den Überlegungen Kants und Fichtes getragen
wird, ist kein Geheimnis. Aber sie verurteilt die Entwicklung nach Kant nicht dazu,
nur ‚Vorgänger‘ zu sein. Hegels Logik macht sich anheischig, die Tradition zu
beerben. Und tatsächlich kann man unschwer die Kristallisationskerne der
transzendentalen Logik Fichtes in der Logik Hegels wiedererkennen. Freilich geht
der Impuls einer transzendentalen Logik nicht vollständig in Hegels monumen-
taler Wissenschaft auf.
Tatsächlich ist die Idee einer transzendentalen Logik ein einflussreiches
Konzept, dessen Potential weiter zu prüfen und auszuloten wäre. Immerhin steht
sie an einer Vermittlungsposition zwischen formalem Kalkülismus und Sprach-
pragmatik und scheint – zumindest in den Augen Kants – die Formalität mit der
Bedeutung zu verbinden, ohne deshalb gänzlich empirisch oder bloß analytisch
zu sein. Vielleicht ist das der Grund für die Attraktivität einer transzendentalen
Logik als systematischer Untersuchung.⁴⁷

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Sebastian Schwenzfeuer
Logik und Transzendentalphilosophie –
Schellings Interpretation des Satzes der
Identität
Abstract. Im System des transzendentalen Idealismus vertritt Schelling die These,
dass die Logik aus den Prinzipien der Philosophie abzuleiten sei. Am Beispiel des
Satzes der Identität demonstriert er eine solche Ableitung: Der logische Satz der
Identität soll durch Abstraktion aus dem obersten Grundsatz der Transzendental-
philosophie gewonnen werden. Dieser Grundsatz betrifft den Begriff transzenden-
taler Subjektivität, die Inhalte der Logik werden dadurch als Residuum von Syn-
theseleistungen des Subjektes verständlich. Dieser Artikel untersucht die von
Schelling gemachten Voraussetzungen und vorgebrachten Argumente.

In his System of transcendental Idealism, Schelling defends the thesis that logic
may be derived from the principles of philosophy. He illustrates this process of der-
ivation using the example of the principle of identity: The principle of identity is
supposed to be deduced by means of abstraction from the highest principle. The
latter concerns the concept of transcendental subjectivity. Logical contents are
thereby understood as residues of the synthetic activities of the subject. This
paper investigates the presuppositions of Schelling’s argumentation.

1 Einleitung
Die Philosophie Kants und des deutschen Idealismus steht vielleicht nicht im
Ansehen, Maßgebliches zur Entwicklung der Logik beigetragen zu haben, dem-
entsprechend wäre Kant, Fichte, Schelling und Hegel kein besonderer Platz in der
Geschichte der Logik einzuräumen.¹ Dass es mit dieser Einschätzung nicht sein

 Die hier behandelte Zeit ist für Bocheński lediglich eine Zeit des Übergangs. „In dieser Logik und
ihren Vorurteilen gebildet, konnten die modernen Philosophen, Spinoza, die britischen Empi-
risten, Wolff, Kant, Hegel usw., kein Interesse für die formale Logik haben. Im Vergleich mit den
Logikern des 4. Jahrhunderts vor Chr., des 13. und 20. nach Chr., waren sie, was die Logik betrifft,
einfach unwissend: sie wußten meist nur das, was in der Logique du Port Royal steht“ (Bocheński
1970, S. 301).

DOI 10.1515/9783110521047-011
238 Sebastian Schwenzfeuer

Bewenden hat,² sei hier vorausgesetzt.³ Schellings Beitrag zu Fragen der philo-
sophischen Logik ist verglichen mit demjenigen Hegels, selbst mit demjenigen
Fichtes, marginal.⁴ Ein gesteigertes Interesse an formalen Fragen des Denkens, wie
es etwa Hegel offensichtlich hatte,⁵ kann man nicht erkennen. Die Logik wird
im Kontext der Identitätsphilosophie als „bloße Verstandeslehre“ (SW I/4, S. 345)
begriffen – eine Bestimmung, deren Kontext verrät, dass sie als Abwertung ge-
meint ist. Solchen negativen Einschätzungen stehen einige positive Bemerkungen
gegenüber, etwa wenn er von der „edeln Vernunftkunst“ (SW I/8, S. 214) spricht.
Schellings Verständnis der Logikgeschichte teilt sich auch eher schlicht ein in
die Unterscheidung zwischen einer „alten, gewöhnlichen Logik“ (SW I/10, S. 18) –
die ihm einmal sogar als „tiefsinnige Logik“ (SW I/7, S. 342) erscheint – und
neueren Abhandlungen, wobei Schelling u. a. auf Leibniz, Kant und Reinhold
verweist (Vgl. SW I/6, S. 529; SW I/7, S. 342). Im Würzburger System unterscheidet
er hingegen zwischen der vor-aristotelischen, der aristotelischen und der kanti-
schen Logik.⁶ Offenkundig kennt er also verschiedene Behandlungsformen des
Logischen, die zugleich mit methodischen Fragen der Philosophie – Spekulation,

 Schon G. Günther äußert die Vermutung, dass die Entwicklungen der Logik im 19. und
20. Jahrhundert zum Anlass werden, den deutschen Idealismus noch einmal neu in ein Gespräch
einzubinden: „Daß der Versuch einer definitiven Auflösung des Aristotelischen Formalismus in
der Hegelschen Logik, die als Strukturlehre den Unterschied von Form und Material nicht aner-
kennt, auf einem Mißverständnis beruhte, darüber braucht heute kein Wort verloren zu werden.
Vielmehr läßt sich die gegenteilige Frage stellen: sind in dem transzendental-dialektischen System
des deutschen Idealismus, dessen Entwicklung von Kant über Fichte zu Hegel und Schelling geht,
neue Formprobleme aufgetaucht, die nicht nur die treue Beibehaltung des klassischen Forma-
lismus erfordern, sondern die uns nötigen, denselben über alle bisherigen Grenzen hinaus zu
erweitern? Die Frage ist durch die Entstehung der modernen Logikkalküle im 19. Jahrhundert
dringlich geworden“ (Günther 1980, S. 73).
 Eine maßgebliche Studie ist die Arbeit von M.Wolff zur Systematik der syllogistischen Logik und
ihrem Verhältnis zum Klassen- und Funktionenkalkül der modernen Logik (vgl. Wolff 2009). Für
die Diskussion der Geschichte der Logik im Allgemeinen, aber auch mit Blick auf Kant und die
Idealisten im Besonderen ist damit ein neuer Ausgangspunkt markiert.
 „Schelling ist dagegen sicher der Denker unter den Idealisten, der am wenigsten Logiker ist“
(Schick 2010, 18). Aufgrund dieser Einschätzung werden in Schicks instruktiver Abhandlung nur
Fichte und Hegel behandelt.
 Zu Hegels Interesse an der Entwicklung der neueren Mathematik vgl. Wolff 1986.
 „Unter Logik wird entweder verstanden, was bei den Griechen vor Aristoteles: Vernunftwis-
senschaft. Dann ist sie speculative Philosophie selbst. Oder das System des reflektirten Erkennens,
Kants transscendentale Logik. Dann ist es das, was ich zuletzt vorgetragen. Oder endlich das, was
bei Aristoteles, und was auf Akademien gewöhnlich darunter verstanden wird; alsdann ist die
Logik die bloß subjektive Seite der realen, und nach gewöhnlicher Art des Vortrags sogar eine bloß
empirische Wissenschaft, die, wie jede empirische, bloß durch Abstraktion entsteht“ (SW I/6,
S. 529 – 530).
Logik und Transzendentalphilosophie 239

Reflexion und Abstraktion sind die Stichworte, die Schelling in diesem Zusam-
menhang anführt – verbunden sind.
Ein näherer Blick auf Schellings Schriften lohnt insofern, als er mehr oder
weniger explizit und ausführlich einige Thesen zu Fragen der philosophischen
Logik vertritt, die sachlich gehaltvoll, wenngleich auch kommentierungsbedürftig
sind. Eine dieser Thesen betrifft das Verhältnis zwischen Transzendentalphilo-
sophie und logischer Wissenschaft bzw. zwischen dem transzendentalphiloso-
phischen Prinzip und dem Satz der Identität. Auf sie – und nur auf sie – möchte ich
im Folgenden näher eingehen.⁷

2 Logik und Transzendentalphilosophie


2.1 Das Programm der Transzendentalphilosophie

Im System des transzendentalen Idealismus entwickelt Schelling die These,


dass die formale Logik aus der Transzendentalphilosophie abzuleiten sei.Wenn er
festhält, dass die Annahme „der Grundsätze der Logik als unbedingter, d. h. von
keinen höheren Sätzen abzuleitender“ (SW I/3, S. 360; AA I/9.1, S. 50 – 51), eine
falsche sei, und unmittelbar im Anschluss nahelegt, die formale Logik als „Ab-
straktion von den obersten Grundsätzen des Wissens“ (SW I/3, S. 360; AA I/9.1,
S. 51) zu begreifen, dann wird deutlich, dass er sich zwischen Transzendental-
philosophie, welche auf die erwähnten obersten Grundsätze des Wissens aus ist,
und der Logik ein Ableitungsverhältnis vorstellt.
Der Beweis dieser These gehört nicht zum Kern seiner Darstellung des Systems
der Transzendentalphilosophie. Wie man dem Vorwort entnehmen kann, geht es
Schelling in diesem Text zwar durchaus darum, die Transzendentalphilosophie
als ein System des gesamten Wissens zu entfalten.⁸ Dies solle im Unterschied zu
vorhergehenden Darstellungen der Transzendentalphilosophie nicht nur pro-

 Ein weiteres Thema wäre die Urteilstheorie des späteren Schelling, für die „der Begriff […] nur
das eingewickelte, der Schluß das entfaltete Urtheil ist“; eine Theorie, die Schelling selbst als
wichtig „für eine künftige höchst wünschenswerthe Bearbeitung der edeln Vernunftkunst“ (SW I/
8, S. 214) einstuft.
 „Der Zweck des gegenwärtigen Werkes ist nun eben dieser, den transscendentalen Idealismus
zu dem zu erweitern, was er wirklich seyn soll, nämlich zu einem System des gesammten Wissens,
also den Beweis jenes Systems nicht bloß im Allgemeinen, sondern durch die That selbst zu
führen, d. h. durch die wirkliche Ausdehnung seiner Principien auf alle möglichen Probleme in
Ansehung der Hauptgegenstände des Wissens, welche entweder schon vorher aufgeworfen aber
nicht aufgelöst waren, oder aber erst durch das System selbst möglich gemacht worden und neu
entstanden sind“ (SW I/3, S. 330; AA I/9.1, S. 24).
240 Sebastian Schwenzfeuer

grammatisch im Allgemeinen, sondern ganz konkret dadurch geschehen, dass die


Themenfelder des Wissens erschöpfend, nämlich „in der ganzen Ausdehnung“
(SW I/3, S. 331; AA I/9.1, S. 24) behandelt werden. Insofern verwundert es also
nicht, dass auch die Logik als ein Themengebiet menschlichen Wissens behandelt
wird. Wiewohl Schellings These vom Verhältnis zwischen Transzendentalphilo-
sophie und Logik sachlich einiges Gewicht hat, wird sie im Text selbst doch nur am
Rande genannt und wenig ausführlich behandelt.
Der Grund für diese Knappheit der Auseinandersetzung mag vielleicht nicht
nur darin zu suchen sein, dass Schelling Fragen der Logik insgesamt (also auch
jenseits des Systems des transzendentalen Idealismus) kein gesteigertes Interesse
entgegenbringt, was dann vielleicht sogar auf eine mangelnde Kenntnis logischer
Sachfragen zurückgeführt werden könnte. Diesem rein psychologischen Argu-
ment sollte man zumindest die Überlegung an die Seite stellen, dass Schelling
die Frage nach der Logik im System des transzendentalen Idealismus vielleicht nur
deshalb nicht ausführlicher behandelt, weil er sie in anderen Darstellungen der
Transzendentalphilosophie bereits hinreichend behandelt glaubt. So versteht er
den transzendentalen Idealismus ja explizit gleichermaßen als Projekt des „Er-
finders der Wissenschaftslehre“ (SW I/3, S. 331; AA I/9.1, S. 24), also Fichtes, und
als sein eigenes. Obwohl es über die Gesamtkonzeption der Philosophie tief-
greifende Differenzen zwischen Schelling und Fichte gibt, die sich gerade am
System des transzendentalen Idealismus dahingehend entzünden, als Schelling
neben der Transzendentalphilosophie noch ein zweite, diese ergänzende
Grundwissenschaft – die Naturphilosophie – ankündigt,⁹ versteht er sich doch
zunächst mit Fichte in einem gemeinsamen wissenschaftlichen Verbund. In der
Tat behandelt Fichte schon in der Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre
von 1794/95 die Frage nach dem Verhältnis von Logik und Transzendentalphilo-
sophie ganz im Sinne von Schellings eigener These, nämlich als Ableitung von
ersterer aus letzterer. Der Umfang dieser Auseinandersetzung Fichtes ist zwar auch
mit Blick auf das Ganze der Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre nicht zu
überschätzen, inhaltlich ausführlicher ist sie allemal. Man könnte Schellings
knappe Nennung und Bearbeitung der These, dass die Logik aus der Transzen-
dentalphilosophie abgeleitet sei, daher als einen kurzen expliziten Rekurs auf
Fichtes Ausführungen deuten, zumal Schelling zu diesem Thema keine über
Fichte hinausgehenden Thesen entwickelt.
Auf die Frage nach dem Verhältnis von Transzendentalphilosophie und Logik
kommt Schelling überhaupt nur da zu sprechen, wo er eine bestimmte Variante
von Kritik am Projekt der nach-kantischen Transzendentalphilosophie disku-

 Vgl. Schwenzfeuer 2012, S. 107– 118.


Logik und Transzendentalphilosophie 241

tiert.¹⁰ Zentral für die von Reinhold angestoßene, von Fichte und schließlich
Schelling aufgegriffene Neuinterpretation ist die Fundierung der Philosophie in
einem einzigen Grundsatz. Die Plausibilität dieses Ansatzes ist mit Blick auf die
kantischen Texte nicht schwer zu rekonstruieren: Die von Kant gezogene Differenz
zwischen theoretischer und praktischer Philosophie beruht auf einem unter-
schiedlichen Vernunftgebrauch, der von Kant gerade nicht auf einen einheitlichen
transzendentalen Grund hin reflektiert wird. Zwar ist es in theoretischer wie
praktischer Philosophie dieselbe Vernunft, deren Gebrauch jeweils analysiert
wird, dennoch wird von Kant keine der theoretischen und praktischen Anwen-
dung der Vernunft vorausliegende, fundamentale Tätigkeit der Vernunft be-
schrieben.¹¹ Dies aber ist genau die Absicht Reinholds, Fichtes und Schellings.
Ihre Frage ist, ob nicht die Vernunft einheitlich, nämlich dem theoretischen und
praktischen Gebrauch noch zuvorkommend, beschrieben werden kann. Eine
solche Beschreibung wäre dann der Inhalt (die Materie) des sogenannten obersten
bzw. ersten Grundsatzes.
Der von Schelling diskutierte Einwand gegen dieses nach-kantische philo-
sophische Projekt betrifft nun genau das Verhältnis des obersten Grundsatzes zur
Logik. Sofern der oberste Grundsatz ein Satz ist, setzt er die Sätze der Logik voraus.
Wenn er aber die Logik voraussetzt, um als solcher artikuliert zu werden, ist er
nicht der oberste Grundsatz, da es zum Begriff eines obersten Grundsatzes ge-
hört, dass er keine anderen Sätze voraussetzt. An diesem Einwand, den Schelling
mit Blick auf das Wechselverhältnis von Form und Inhalt des obersten Grund-
satzes entschärfen möchte, ist zunächst zweierlei bemerkenswert, das Aufschluss
über das zugrundeliegende Verständnis von Logik und Transzendentalphiloso-
phie gibt.
Auffällig ist nämlich erstens, dass ein oberster Satz, welchen Inhalt auch
immer er haben möge, allein schon aufgrund seiner Satzform die Sätze der Logik
voraussetzen soll.¹² Dies leuchtet nur dann ein, wenn die Satzförmigkeit selbst
Thema der Logik ist. Vor dem Hintergrund des seit Frege etablierten Verständ-

 „Gegen ein erstes Princip der Philosophie ist unter anderm auch auf folgende Weise argu-
mentirt worden. Das Princip der Philosophie muß sich in einem Grundsatz ausdrücken lassen:
dieser Grundsatz soll ohne Zweifel kein bloß formeller, sondern ein materieller seyn. Nun steht
aber jeder Satz, sein Inhalt sey welcher er wolle, unter den Gesetzen der Logik. Also setzt jeder
materielle Grundsatz bloß dadurch, daß er ein solcher ist, höhere Grundsätze, die der Logik,
voraus“ (SW I/3, S. 360; AA I/9.1, S. 50).
 Vgl. Prauss 1983, S. 116 – 239, insbesondere S. 116 – 126.
 „Nun steht aber jeder Satz, sein Inhalt sey welcher er wolle, unter den Gesetzen der Logik“
(SW I/3, S. 360; AA I/9.1, S. 50). Es ist zu vermuten, dass der Ausdruck ‚jeder Satz‘ hier zunächst nur
meint ‚jeder Aussagesatz‘.
242 Sebastian Schwenzfeuer

nisses von Sätzen als Funktionen Φ(A), die für die moderne Aussagen- und Prä-
dikatenlogik maßgeblich ist, mag man dies als problematisch empfinden.¹³ Die
vor-fregesche Logik orientiert sich hingegen, was für den von Schelling disku-
tierten Einwand natürlich auch gilt, am Verständnis des einfachen prädikativen
Satzes ‚S ist P‘. Sie ist mithin stärker am sprachlichen Ausdruck orientiert,¹⁴
wohingegen Frege die Logik gerade unterhalb der Struktur sprachlicher Artiku-
lation sucht. Insofern die Logik nach vor-fregeschem Verständnis etwas über den
Satz als Satz zu sagen hat, ist verständlich, dass auch ein Grundsatz von Fragen
der Logik betroffen ist.
Auffällig ist zweitens, dass der oberste Grundsatz die Sätze der Logik allein
schon aufgrund seiner Satzform voraussetzen soll. Denn wie soll man die Be-
hauptung verstehen, dass ein einzelner Satz als solcher (und sei es der oberste
Grundsatz) die Gesetze der Logik voraussetzt? Offenbar hat es die Logik immer
mit Verbünden von Sätzen zu tun, nämlich mit Fragen des gültigen Schließens. Ein
einzelner Satz lässt sich zwar als Form ‚S ist P‘ verstehen, darin scheint aber noch
gar nichts logisch Relevantes vorzukommen. Die Gesetze, d. h. Regeln der syllo-
gistischen Logik betreffen doch wohl die Folgerichtigkeit von Schlüssen. Auch
aussagen- und prädikatenlogische Gesetze betreffen nicht einzelne atomisierte
Aussagen a, sondern Verbünde von Aussagen, wie etwa das Kommutativgesetz
‚a ∧ b ≡ b ∧ a‘, oder Verbünde von logischem Vokabular, etwa Quantorenäqui-
valenzen wie ‚∃x ¬P(x) ≡ ¬∀x P(x)‘, und Ähnliches. Ein einzelner Satz scheint
hingegen logische Gesetze nur dann voraussetzen zu können, wenn aus ihm ir-
gendetwas gefolgert bzw. er selbst als Folgerung begriffen werden sollte. Ein
einzelner Satz wie ‚Alle Wale sind Säugetiere‘ enthält zwar logische relevante
Elemente (Allquantor) und lässt sich als (prädikaten‐)logischer Satz behandeln,¹⁵
die Gesetze der Logik, sofern Logik mit Folgerungszusammenhängen befasst ist,
setzt er damit gleichwohl nicht unmittelbar voraus. Sofern die Logik als Theorie
des gültigen Schließens verstanden wird, könnte ein einzelner Satz nur dann
Gesetze der Logik voraussetzen, wenn er als Teil eines Schlusses verstanden
würde.
In welchem Sinne kann dann Schellings These verstanden werden, dass der
oberste Grundsatz die Sätze der Logik voraussetzt? Zunächst hat diese Behaup-
tung nichts mit dem spezifischen Inhalt des obersten Grundsatzes zu tun, sondern
allein mit seiner Satzform. In Schellings Verständnis gilt nämlich für jeden Satz,
dass er die Logik voraussetzt. Dies kann nur plausibel sein, wenn Schelling damit

 Vgl. Frege 1964, S. 15 – 19.


 Dies bedeutet nicht, dass es keinen Unterschied zwischen grammatischem Subjekt bzw.
Prädikat und logischem Subjekt bzw. Prädikat gebe (vgl. Wolff 2006, S. 110 – 112).
 ∀x Wal(x) → Säugetier(x).
Logik und Transzendentalphilosophie 243

logische Regeln im Blick hat, die zur Formulierung von einzelnen Sätzen not-
wendig sind. Solche logischen Gesetze wären dann in dem Sinne vorausgesetzt,
als ohne sie einzelne Sätze nicht als solche formuliert werden könnten. Sie ge-
hörten in dieser Weise zu den Bedingungen einzelner Sätze. Diese Bedingungen
versteht er als Regeln des Denkens, jeder einzelne Satz ist demnach Darstellung
eines Gedankens. Dies ist ohne Weiteres verständlich, wenn man sich klarmacht,
dass Denken in Urteilen besteht, also sich in Urteilen nicht nur ausdrückt, sondern
selbst urteilsförmig ist. Urteile sind aber nichts anderes als Sätze. Das Denken ist
demnach satzförmig, und die Logik behandelt das Denken, insofern sie den Satz
als Satz, d. h. seine Satzform behandelt. Jeder einzelne Satz setzt in diesem Sinne
die Logik voraus, nämlich als eine Theorie des Denkens bzw. Urteilens.¹⁶

2.2 Das Verhältnis von Form und Inhalt

Für den obersten Grundsatz ist dies nun insofern von Relevanz, als er alle seine
(Geltungs‐)Bedingungen artikulieren muss. Schelling diskutiert diese Eigenschaft
des obersten Grundsatzes mit Blick auf das Wechselverhältnis von Form und In-
halt: „Das Princip der Philosophie muß also ein solches seyn, in welchem der Inhalt
durch die Form, und hinwiederum die Form durch den Inhalt bedingt ist, und nicht
eines das andere, sondern beide wechselseitig sich voraussetzen“ (SW I/3, S. 360;
AA I/9.1, S. 50).Was hier Prinzip genannt wird, entspricht dem Begriff des obersten
Grundsatzes. Wie an jedem Satz kann nach Schelling auch am Prinzip der Tran-
szendentalphilosophie sein Inhalt und seine Form unterschieden werden. Der
Inhalt eines Satzes betrifft dasjenige, was ein Satz aussagt, die Form eines Satzes
betrifft seine logische Form, nach vor-fregescher Auffassung also die Form der
Prädikation, etwa ‚S ist P‘ oder ‚S ist nicht P‘ etc.¹⁷ Allein für den obersten
Grundsatz soll gelten, dass Inhalt und Form sich wechselseitig voraussetzen. Bei
allen anderen Sätzen ist dies nicht der Fall, sondern hier setzt der Inhalt immer die

 Dies schließt das Verständnis der Logik als Theorie des gültigen Schließens im Übrigen nicht
von vornherein aus. In den Weltalter-Fragmenten expliziert Schelling seine Urteilstheorie gerade
als Schlusstheorie: „Von selbst ergibt sich hieraus, daß das Band im Urtheil das Wesentliche, allen
Theilen zu Grunde Liegende ist […]. Ferner, daß im einfachen Begriff schon das Urtheil vorge-
bildet, im Urtheil der Schluß enthalten, der Begriff also nur das eingewickelte, der Schluß das
entfaltete Urtheil ist“ (SW I/8, S. 214).
 Schelling orientiert seine Überlegungen vermutlich an der Urteilstafel in Kants Kritik der reinen
Vernunft, die er zumindest gelegentlich ausdrücklich erwähnt (vgl. SW I/1, S. 154; AA I/2, S. 72).
Schellings Notation für die kategorische Grundform des Urteils lautet nicht ‚S ist P‘, sondern ‚A = B‘
(vgl. SW I/3, S. 363; AA I/9.1, S. 53).
244 Sebastian Schwenzfeuer

Form voraus: Ausgesagtes lässt sich nur in Form von Aussagesätzen aussagen, das
Ausgesagte (der Inhalt) setzt also die Form der Aussage voraus.
Wenn auch zunächst offen bleibt, wie genau (nämlich durch welchen Inhalt)
dieses Voraussetzungsverhältnis im Falle des obersten Grundsatzes zu einem
Wechselverhältnis von Inhalt und Form werden können soll, ist doch zumindest
im Allgemeinen einsichtig, warum dies so sein muss. Der Grund liegt einfach im
Begriff eines obersten Grundsatzes. Der oberste Grundsatz soll das Prinzip der
Transzendentalphilosophie sein, die Transzendentalphilosophie wiederum soll
das absolute Prinzip des Wissens finden.¹⁸ Dadurch wird sie zu einer Wissenschaft
des Wissens. Wissenschaft ist sie aufgrund ihrer Prinzipiiertheit,Wissenschaft vom
Wissen dadurch, dass sie im Sinne Kants auf die Bedingungen der Möglichkeit von
Erkenntnis überhaupt reflektiert.Wenn das transzendentalphilosophische Prinzip
das Wissen überhaupt, also unangesehen seiner möglichen konkreten Inhalte,
fundieren soll, dann muss dieses Prinzip natürlich Prinzip für alles menschliche
Wissen sein, mithin auch für das Wissen, das in der Logik statthat und in den
logischen Sätzen artikuliert wird.¹⁹ In diesem Sinne ist es nicht möglich, dass die
Transzendentalphilosophie sich in Satzformen artikuliert, die sie einfach nur
voraussetzt.Vielmehr muss es zu ihrem Programm gehören, die logischen Formen
von Sätzen durch und in ihrem Prinzip zu fundieren. Schellings These zum Ver-
hältnis von Logik und Transzendentalphilosophie ist daher, wenn auch rand-
ständig behandelt, doch intrinsisch mit dem Begriff und Selbstverständnis dieser
Art von Philosophie verbunden. Es reicht nicht aus, die logischen Formen von
Sätzen einfach nur als gegeben hinzunehmen. Es kommt vielmehr darauf an, diese
Formen selbst noch einmal aus einem Prinzip zu entwickeln.²⁰
Des Weiteren ist einsichtig, dass dieses Begründungsverhältnis zwischen
Transzendentalphilosophie und Logik nur als Wechselverhältnis zwischen Inhalt
und Form des obersten Grundsatzes gedacht werden kann. Zum Begriff des
transzendentalphilosophischen Prinzips gehört es nämlich, dass es gewusst

 „Durch diese Aufgabe selbst ist also zugleich gesetzt, daß das Wissen ein absolutes Princip in
sich selbst habe, und dieses innerhalb des Wissens selbst liegende Princip soll zugleich Princip der
Transscendental-Philosophie als Wissenschaft seyn“ (SW I/3, S. 359; AA I/9.1, S. 49).
 Selbst wenn man logische Sätze als reine Tautologien verstehen wollte – „[d]ie Sätze der Logik
sind Tautologien“ (Wittgenstein 1989, S. 70) –, wären sie nichtsdestotrotz Formen des Wissens.
 Schelling bemängelt an Kants Rekurs auf die Urteilstafel als heuristischem Leitfaden zur
Auffindung der Kategorien: „So sind zwar die Kategorien nach der Tafel der Funktionen des
Urtheilens, diese selbst aber nach gar keinem Princip, angeordnet“ (SW I/1, S. 154; AA I/2, S. 72).
Dies deutet an, dass es zum Programm der Transzendentalphilosophie im Sinne Fichtes und
Schellings gehören muss, die Funktionen und damit die Formen der Urteile selbst noch einmal zu
begründen.
Logik und Transzendentalphilosophie 245

werden kann.²¹ Alles, was gewusst werden kann, drückt sich in der Form von
Sätzen (Urteilen) aus. Das Prinzip der Transzendentalphilosophie muss daher ein
Satz sein. Alle Sätze unterstehen aber im angegebenen Sinne der Logik. Daraus
folgt, dass der Inhalt des obersten Grundsatzes die Form voraussetzen muss.Wenn
das Ableitungsverhältnis zwischen Transzendentalphilosophie und Logik daher
überhaupt bestehen können soll, dann nur so, dass umgekehrt auch noch die
Form des obersten Grundsatzes durch seinen Inhalt bedingt ist. Ansonsten würde
weder das Ableitungsverhältnis möglich sein, noch sich der oberste Grundsatz
seiner Form nach von irgendwelchen anderen Sätzen unterscheiden.²² Besteht
zugleich das umgekehrte Bedingungsverhältnis, also dass die Form ebenso durch
den Inhalt bedingt ist, dann bedingen sich Inhalt und Form eben wechselseitig.
Schwierig mag vor diesem Hintergrund scheinen, wie sich Schelling das
Ableitungsverhältnis zwischen Transzendentalphilosophie und Logik genau
vorstellt, wenn in der angezeigten Weise nicht nur gilt, dass die logische Form von
Sätzen bedingt ist durch den Inhalt des transzendentalphilosophischen Prinzips,
sondern umgekehrt auch noch die Form des Prinzips den Inhalt desselben be-
dingt. Ersteres scheint ein derartiges Ableitungsverhältnis zwar möglich zu ma-
chen, letzteres aber gerade auszuschließen. Von einer Ableitung zu sprechen,
muss eine eindeutige Richtung der Bedingungsverhältnisse implizieren. Wenn
sich (logische) Form und (transzendentalphilosophischer) Inhalt wechselseitig
bedingen, kann es keine eindeutige Ableitung der ersten aus dem zweiten geben.
Man sollte hier bemerken, dass Schelling zweierlei unterscheidet: einerseits das
Wechselverhältnis von Inhalt und Form, andererseits das Verhältnis von Tran-
szendentalphilosophie und Logik. Ersteres ist nämlich nach Schelling ein un-
auflöslicher Zusammenhang, d. h. ein Wechselverhältnis.²³ Letzteres ist davon

 „Der Transscendental-Philosoph fragt nicht: welcher letzte Grund unseres Wissens mag außer
demselben liegen? sondern: was ist das Letzte in unserem Wissen selbst, über das wir nicht
hinauskönnen? – Er sucht das Princip des Wissens innerhalb des Wissens (es ist also selbst etwas,
das gewußt werden kann)“ (SW I/3, S. 355; AA I/9.1, S. 45).
 Für Fichte bildet die Satzform des ersten Grundsatzes gemäß der Grundlage der gesamten
Wissenschaftslehre einen eigenen Typus, nämlich das sogenannte thetische Urteil (vgl. GA I/2,
S. 276). Auch Schelling kennt diese Einteilung der Urteile: „Identische Sätze sind nothwendig
thetische, weil in ihnen A schlechthin als solches, und, weil es A ist, gesetzt wird. Aber thetische
Sätze sind nicht nothwendig identische, denn thetische Sätze sind alle, deren Gesetztseyn nicht
durch ein anders Gesetztseyn bedingt ist“ (SW I/1, S. 218 – 219; AA I/2, S. 148). Im System des
transzendentalen Idealismus macht Schelling von dieser Klassifikation allerdings keinen expli-
ziten Gebrauch mehr.
 „Was ist wissenschaftliche Form überhaupt, und welches ist ihr Ursprung? Diese Frage muß
durch die Wissenschaftslehre für alle andern Wissenschaften beantwortet werden. – Aber diese
Wissenschaftslehre ist selbst schon Wissenschaft, es würde also einer Wissenschaftslehre der
246 Sebastian Schwenzfeuer

unterschieden, da Schelling keinen Zweifel daran lässt, dass die Grundsätze der
Logik aus höheren Sätzen abgeleitet sind – und dies kann letztlich nur der
transzendentalphilosophische Grundsatz selbst sein.²⁴

2.3 Abstraktion als Methode der Ableitung

Nach Schelling liegt der Ableitung der logischen Sätze aus der Transzendental-
philosophie eine Abstraktion zugrunde. Die logischen Sätze sollen sich nämlich
so ergeben, dass vom Inhalt des obersten Grundsatzes abstrahiert wird.²⁵ Ab-
strahiert man vom Inhalt des Prinzips bleibt seine logische Form zurück. Zunächst
ist bemerkenswert, dass Schelling die Logik nicht nur für den Fall, dass sie aus der
Transzendentalphilosophie abgeleitet wird, als Abstraktion versteht, sondern
grundsätzlich. „Nun entstehen uns aber die logischen Grundsätze bloß dadurch,
daß wir, was in den andern bloß Form ist, selbst wieder zum Inhalt der Sätze
machen; die Logik kann also überhaupt nur durch Abstraktion von bestimmten
Sätzen entstehen“ (SW I/3, S. 360; AA I/9.1, S. 51). Die Genese der logischen Sätze
und Theorien besteht also immer in einer Abstraktion von Satzinhalten. Logik
thematisiert daher immer nur die Form von Sätzen. Diese Form von Sätzen wird
dann in logischen Sätzen thematisiert.
Nun behauptet Schelling, dass allein eine Ableitung aus dem obersten
Grundsatz der Transzendentalphilosophie dafür Sorge trägt, dass die logischen
Sätze wissenschaftlich sind. Warum sollte dies so sein? Die Antwort auf diese
Frage klärt dann auch erst, wie das besprochene Wechselverhältnis von Inhalt und
Form trotzdem erlaubt, ein Ableitungsverhältnis zwischen Transzendentalphilo-
sophie und Logik anzunehmen. Zunächst bedeutet zu abstrahieren hier, vom

Wissenschaftslehre bedürfen, aber diese selbst würde wieder Wissenschaft seyn, und so ins
Unendliche fort. – Es fragt sich, wie dieser Cirkel, da er offenbar unauflöslich ist, erklärbar sey“
(SW I/3, S. 359; AA I/9.1, S. 49). Die Auflösung dieses Zirkels erfolgt durch den Begriff des
Wechselverhältnisses. „Aus diesem Cirkel, daß jede Form einen Inhalt, jeder Inhalt eine Form
voraussetzt, ist gar nicht herauszukommen,wenn nicht irgend ein Satz gefunden wird, in welchem
wechselseitig Form durch Inhalt, und Inhalt durch Form bedingt und möglich gemacht ist“ (SW I/
3, S. 360; AA I/9.1, S. 50). Ein Argumentationszirkel ist demnach für Schelling unzulässig, das
Wechselverhältnis ist hingegen legitim. Als Kriterium kommt hier allerdings hinzu, dass sich das
Wechselverhältnis an einem Satz muss zeigen lassen.
 „Die erste falsche Voraussetzung jenes Arguments ist also die der Grundsätze der Logik als
unbedingter, das heißt von keinen höhern Sätzen abzuleitender“ (SW I/3, S. 360; AA I/9.1, S. 50 –
51).
 „Entsteht sie [die Logik, S. Sch.] auf wissenschaftliche Art, so kann sie nur durch Abstraktion
von den obersten Grundsätzen des Wissens entstehen“ (SW I/3, S. 360; AA I/9.1, S. 51).
Logik und Transzendentalphilosophie 247

Satzinhalt abzusehen. Wie eine solche Abstraktion genau funktioniert, wird zwar
nicht eigens thematisiert, an einem Beispiel lässt sie sich aber verdeutlichen.²⁶
Nimmt man einen Satz wie ‚Alle Wale sind Säugetiere‘, dann bedeutet, vom Inhalt
dieses Satzes zu abstrahieren, nur so viel wie: vom Walsein und Säugetiersein
abzusehen. Sieht man von diesem Inhalt ab, dann bleibt ein Satz wie ‚Alle …
sind …‘. Da nun die Leerstellen noch differenziert werden, die erste ist nicht
dieselbe wie die zweite, wird der Inhalt durch unterschiedliche Begriffsvariablen
ersetzt: ‚Alle A sind B‘. In den auf diese Weise entstandenen Satzgebilden ver-
bleiben neben den durch Begriffsvariablen angezeigten Leerstellen noch die
logischen Konstanten wie ‚alle‘, ‚oder‘, ‚wenn …, dann …‘ etc. als „Reste“ der
Abstraktion vom Satzinhalt. Diese Konstanten machen dann den Inhalt von lo-
gischen Überlegungen aus, d. h. sie bilden den spezifischen Inhalt von logischen
Sätzen. In diesem Sinne kann man verstehen, wie logische Inhalte aus Abstraktion
gewonnen werden.²⁷
Nicht verständlich ist zunächst, warum die Abstraktion aus dem obersten
Grundsatz der Transzendentalphilosophie gegenüber dem angeführten Beispiel
(also irgendeinem Satz) die Wissenschaftlichkeit der Abstraktion erst ermöglichen
soll. Die Wissenschaftlichkeit der Abstraktion ist für Schelling vermutlich des-
halb wichtig, weil er hier ein Problem der Kritik der reinen Vernunft Kants vor
Augen hat, nämlich die Ableitung der Kategorien aus der Tafel der Urteile. Kant
kritisiert ja an Aristoteles, dass dieser seine zehn Kategorien²⁸ lediglich zufällig
und ohne Prinzip aufgesammelt habe, was es u. a. unmöglich macht, die Voll-
ständigkeit und Reinheit der Kategorien zu beweisen.²⁹ Nur wenn die Kategorien

 Abstraktion kann nur insofern ein Absehen von etwas sein, indem es zugleich ein Hinsehen
auf etwas ist. Das Absehen ist kein bloßes Weglassen von etwas, schließlich lässt man ja auch vom
folgenden Beispiel etwas weg, wenn man den Satz ‚Alle Wale sind Säugetiere‘ in den verkürzten,
normalsprachlich wohl gleichbedeutenden Satz ‚Wale sind Säugetiere‘ umformt. Ebenso ist die
Umformung zu ‚Alle Wale sind‘ ein Weglassen (hier: des Prädikatsnomens). Beide Umformungen
können wohl kaum als Abstraktion verstanden werden.
 Dieses Verfahren ist in Lehrbüchern der Logik nicht unüblich (vgl. Mates 1971, S. 26 – 32; Wolff
2006, S. 23 – 30).
 Vgl. Aristoteles: De Cat. IV (Aristoteles 1983, S. 17– 19).
 „Es war ein eines scharfsinnigen Mannes würdiger Anschlag des Aristoteles, diese Grund-
begriffe aufzusuchen. Da er aber kein Principium hatte, so raffte er sie auf, wie sie ihm aufstießen,
und trieb deren zuerst zehn auf, die er Kategorien (Prädikamente) nannte. In der Folge glaubte er
noch ihrer fünfe aufgefunden zu haben, die er unter dem Namen der Postprädikamente hinzu-
fügte. Allein seine Tafel blieb noch immer mangelhaft. Außerdem finden sich auch einige Modi der
reinen Sinnlichkeit darunter (quando, ubi, situs, imgleichen prius, simul), auch ein empirischer
(motus), die in dieses Stammregister des Verstandes gar nicht gehören, oder es sind auch die
abgeleiteten Begriffe mit unter die Urbegriffe gezählt (actio, passio), und an einigen der letztern
fehlt es gänzlich“ (KrV A 81/B 107).
248 Sebastian Schwenzfeuer

nach einem Prinzip aufgesucht werden, kann die Vollständigkeit und Reinheit der
Kategorien eingesehen werden. Zwar kann man feststellen, dass für Kant die
Einteilung der Kategorien der Einteilung der Urteilstafel folgt – jeder Gruppe und
jedem Element der Urteilstafel entspricht eine Gruppe und ein Element auf Seiten
der Kategorien –, allein wie die Urteilstafel gefunden wird, d. h. nach welchem
Prinzip diese Tafel organisiert ist,wird von Kant nicht explizit gesagt. Für die nach-
kantische Philosophie ergibt sich daher die Frage nach einem Prinzip der Ur-
teilstafel. „So sind zwar die Kategorien nach der Tafel der Funktionen des Urt-
heilens, diese selbst aber nach gar keinem Princip, angeordnet“ (SW I/1, S. 154;
AA I/9.1, S. 72). Die Frage nach der Einteilung der Urteilsfunktionen und -formen
nimmt bei Fichte und Schelling nur deshalb wenig Raum ein, weil beide in ihrer
Neuinterpretation der Transzendentalphilosophie zugleich das Programm Kants,
die Kategorien aus den Funktionen und Formen der Urteile zu entwickeln, auf-
geben. Die Kategorien werden von ihnen nicht mehr aus den Urteilen entwickelt,
sondern direkt aus der ursprünglichen Synthesisleistung des transzendentalen
Subjekts.³⁰
Vor diesem Hintergrund wird Schellings Programm, dass auch die logischen
Sätze wissenschaftlich, d. h. nämlich nach einem zugrundeliegenden Prinzip,
entwickelt werden sollten, verständlicher. Allein wie Schelling dies einlösen will,
bedarf der Erläuterung. Zunächst ist nämlich keineswegs einleuchtend, warum
die Logik genau dann wissenschaftlich sein soll, wenn sie aus dem obersten
Grundsatz abstrahiert wird. Die Abstraktion sieht ja, wie beschrieben, gerade vom
spezifischen Inhalt der Ausgangssätze ab, um auf die bloße Form (etwa logische
Konstanten) hinzusehen. Wie sollte es da einen Unterschied machen können, ob
man von einem Satz ausgeht, der das Fundament der Transzendentalphilosophie
(also das transzendentale Subjekt) zum Inhalt hat, statt irgendeinem Satz, der
bspw. von Walfischen handelt? Die logischen Formen betreffen doch wohl alle
Sätze, unangesehen ihres Inhaltes, dies macht ja gerade die Allgemeinheit der
logischen Formen aus. Unklar ist überdies, wie Schelling durch die Abstraktion
vom transzendentalphilosophischen Prinzip das bei Kant gerügte Verfahren, kein

 „Betrachtet man die Sache genauer, so findet sich, daß die im Urtheilen enthaltene Synthesis
zugleich mit der durch die Kategorien ausgedrückten nur eine abgeleitete ist, und beide nur durch
eine ihnen zu Grunde liegende ursprünglichere Sy