Transcendental Idealism and Beyond: Kant’s “Theater of the Mind”
Que la tyrannie de l’Objet cesse!
Mort a l’Objet! –Vive l’esprit!
Que le reine eternelle de la liberte commence!
No, great man, you who are of such importance for the human race, your work will not perish! It will bear rich fruits. It will give mankind a fresh impetus; it will bring about a total rebirth of man’s first principles, opinions, and ways of thinking. Believe me, there is nothing which will be unaffected by the consequences of your work, and your discoveries have joyous prospects. … Oh great and good man, what must it be like toward the end of one’s earthly life to be able to have such feelings as you can have! I confess that the thought of your example will always be my guide and will impel me not to retire from the stage before I have been of some use to mankind, to the extent that it lies within my power to be of such use.
Fichte to Kant, 9-20-1793
Introduction. The Question, Background, Methodology4
Chapter One: TRANSCENDENTAL IDEALISM IN THE AESTHETIC
[The “Screen” of The Theater of the Mind] 19
1.1. PP1 of The Aesthetic 21
1.2. Metaphysical Exposition of the Concept of Space22
1.3. Transcendental Exposition of the Concept of Space25
1.4. “Conclusions from the above Concepts” 26
1.5. Transcendental Idealism/Empirical Realism31
1.6. Metaphysical and Transcendental Exposition of the Concept of Time33
1.7. “General Observations on Transcendental Aesthetic” 40
Chapter Two: TRANSCENDENTAL IDEALISM IN THE ANALYTIC
[The “Projector” of the Theater] 48
2.1. Transcendental Apperception as Absolute Condition49
2.2. Transcendental Apperception as the Ground of Objectivity54
2.3. The New “Immanent” Critical Notion of an Object60
2.4. The Schematism, Principles, Refutation of Idealism, and Ground of Phenomena-
Chapter Three: TRANSCENDENTAL IDEALISM IN THE DIALECTIC
[There is “No Exit” from the Theater] 82
3.1. The Paralogisms84
3.2. The Antinomies101
3.3. The Ideal110
Chapter Four: THE CRITICS: THE TRANSCENDENTAL REALISTS 112
4.1. H.E. Allison116, P.F. Strawson137, Walker149, Findlay151, Bohme157,
Sherover and Srzednicki 156, 306, and Waxman157
4.2. Sallis, J.S. Beck, Fichte, and R.P. Wolff159
4.3. Common Objections 163
4.4. Final Assessment of Kant and His Critics164
Chapter Five: BEYOND KANT: TRANSCENDENTAL IDEALISM A LA FICHTE AND HEGEL 165
5.1. The “Standpoint”: The Difference Between Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel169
5.2. Transcendental Idealism a la Fichte175
5.3. Transcendental Idealism a la Hegel185
Appendices: 202, Bibliography: 207
Kant’s “Theater of the Mind”
It is a daring step of reason to liberate mankind to remove it from the terrors of the objective world, but this daring venture cannot fail, because man grows in the measure in which he learns to know himself and his power. In a languid age one cannot expect much progress from a philosophy which asserts as its highest principle that the essence of man consists of freedom and only of freedom, that man is not a thing, not a chattel, and in his very nature no object at all. 
“Does Or Does Not Kant Hold The Object Of Experience To Exist Independently Of Experience?”
This is the most important question to ask with regard to Kant scholarship today, since the answer one gives to it, I believe, will determine whether or not one has understood Kant’s position - Transcendental Idealism. Kant’s true position, which it is the burden of this dissertation to show, is that the object of perception/representation as a matter of fact, has no existence independent or distinct from perception/representation, which is to say that it is not a thing “in itself” but rather an “appearance,” or is a thing only for us. This exactly, I contend, is the singular insight or vision the term “Transcendental Idealism” is intended to communicate. The opposite position, involving untruth, which takes the object of perception to have an existence in itself and distinct from perception, regarding it in this way as a thing capable of existing in itself or as self-subsistent and not as an appearance, is precisely that of “Transcendental Realism.”
In view of the fact that the vast majority of Kant scholars today think it to be Kant’s view that the object really does have an independent existence and, in some cases, that Kant can be read as holding both views, and thus as contradicting himself—as is alleged by P.F. Strawson among others—the importance of the thesis and the problem it engages itself vis-a-vis the contribution it would make to Kant scholarship overall is, I feel, evident. It will, apart from other things, determine, if its logic is sound, whether one is a Transcendental Realist or a Transcendental Idealist.
Concerning the scope of the question. By “object” is meant the object which is given or found in immediate experience and perception or representation, and with the properties it is perceived to possess, i.e. the spatial, temporal, sensory, material or physical, extended object or thing of experience. The question then concerns whether this object or any of its properties or predicates can be said in any way to exist in themselves or independently or out of relation with or apart from experience or perception/representation/intuition/sensibility. For example, whether the “cabinet” I am looking at right now or any of its spatial, temporal etc., properties can be said to exist independently or apart from my perception of it; this and not the related question as to whether it can be said to exist when I am not perceiving or representing it - though this subordinate question will also receive treatment by me. By “object” then is not meant the transcendental object or the “transcendent” thing in itself, the concern is only with the Thing of experience - this hand, pen, book, tree, building, planet, star. Thus the question can be formulated as follows: Does the thing as given in experience and which certainly exists for us, also have or “enjoy” an existence apart from us, —Is the thing a thing “in itself”, —Does it possess a self-subsistent existence, or merely an existence or being for us (and in and as experienced),—Or in Kant’s idiom, Is the thing only an appearance or is it a thing in itself, i.e. a thing also capable of existing in and by itself?
In essence, Transcendental Realism is the position that the object or thing is a thing in itself, i.e. it (or some of its properties) can exist apart, —Transcendental Idealism, the position holding that it cannot, and is thus an appearance only. It is also important to recognize that this distinction concerns only the object or thing of experience and one’s position concerning the manner of its existence. It does not at all concern a “transcendent” thing in itself (this term will be clarified presently). One commits the transcendental realist “blunder,” as Kant makes very clear, only when one mistakes “appearances for things in themselves,” i.e. when one regards the objects of the senses as self-subsistent beings able to exist apart from our sensibility or representations of them or, as he also says, by “hypostatizing” one’s representations, turning them into self-subsistent things (cf. B519, A369, A385, A389). To be a transcendental realist, then, is not to hold that there are things in themselves or independently existing objects as such. The position concerns only the thing or object of immediate experience or perception, and the belief that it has a being in itself and thus can exist apart from the subject and his intuition (Anschauung) or cognitive faculty. That is, the claim is that the thing of sense can exist apart from me, not that there are things (beings, entities) apart from me. It is this claim which leads one directly into the “re-presentational” theory of perception and epistemology, as Kant indicates at A369, 372, —i.e. if sense things have a being in themselves and apart from me, are independently existing objects, then as outside me and as not immediately accessible, it is clear my perceptions cannot be of them as such but only of a “re-presentation” or copy of them; this is the “empirical idealism” with which transcendental realism is paired, transcendental idealism is accompanied by an “empirical realism,” that is to say, and this is very important, only if I hold the things to have no being in themselves/apart from me, can I be certain I am in touch with reality, the thing itself, and not with just its copy.
Another highly important form of the question, especially for Fichte, is that which couches it in terms of “object” and “representation”: Does the object of representation have an existence distinct from its representation, — or, Is the former divorceable from the latter?
Dogmatism versus Criticism
Since the relationship between the Thing and the Thing in itself is so very crucial, it may be helpful to indicate here briefly, how from what alone is given in experience, viz. the Thing, a “Thing in itself” (or its concept) first originates, and thus how the position of transcendental realism itself, also known as “dogmatism”—which is contrasted with “criticism” (Kant’s position)—first arises. This will also shed light on Kant’s own position:
1] We begin with the situation the self finds itself in, “the given” (if you will). I perceive things/have perceptions. (these things are the only things that are present to me, which I know anything about).
2] Then I reflect: “The thing I perceive must have an independent existence, i.e., must be a Thing able to exist by itself, or is a Thing in itself (a Being, a self-subsistent).” That is, I posit them as having such an existence. In effect, I hypostatize the unity of myself and the object (percept) (cf. the Transcendental Aesthetic PP1, A19). However, what is important, at this point I have not as yet entered into the error of Transcendental Realism, an error which forces me to conclude that my perception is the perception only of a copy, not of the original or reality itself. —The present position is that of “naive realism” and the standpoint of the empirical sciences, viz. the thing has independent reality (is a thing in itself) and I have total access to it - it appears, and is as it appears; reality and appearance coincide.
3] I then reflect: “If they have a being in themselves, then evidently I have no access to them, but to their copies only, i.e., I must not be in immediate relation with them.”
At this point, what occurs is that a “disjunction,” “split,” or “gap” is instituted which separates the object from the perception or representation, which can be symbolized as follows:
4] It is precisely at this point that the position Kant calls “transcendental realism” is born. I first come to the idea of a Thing existing outside my experience (as cause of the same)! - that is, to the idea of a Thing existing “in itself,” a “Thing in itself,” for short. Thus, the “Thing in itself” comes right out of the Thing of immediate experience. It is the (sense) thing.....doubled! One of the results of the investigation will be that not only is this how the “thing in itself” originates, but that this is the only “thing in itself” to be found in the Critique. And since Kant’s position is that one who holds this view is thereby a transcendental realist, Kant’s true position is: —There is no Thing in itself! This, I submit, expresses Kant’s position precisely.
Further, it is possible to distinguish not less than seven objects operative in the Critique, viz.,
1] The Thing (of sense; “object,” “appearance”)
2] The Thing in itself, in the immanent sense
3], 4] The Thing in itself, in the transcendent sense, having two senses
5] The Transcendental Object, in the immanent sense
6] The Transcendental Object, in the transcendent sense
7] The Noumenon
1] We have discussed (the object of experience, spatial, temporal, sensible, material-physical, extended).
2] The Thing in itself in the immanent sense, is the Thing of experience, 1], but viewed as able to exist by itself, yet totally accessible, and not yet regarded as existing outside experience (“naive realism”).
3] & 4] The Thing in itself in the transcendent sense, has two senses:
3] This is the “immanent Thing in itself 2]” but now posited as existing outside experience, and regarded as the “cause” of our perception or of its copy. (the Thing in itself of the Transcendental Realist, the psychologist, and perhaps Descartes).
4] This is any thing or being taken as existing outside or independently of experience, not necessarily as a “cause” of our perceptions (or their objects) (e.g. the Divine being, other persons-minds, angels), and as nonspatial, -temporal, -material, -sensible, -extended, an “intelligible” object (ens - “originarium,” “realissimum,” etc.); the same as a “Noumenon.”
5] The Transcendental Object in the immanent sense, is that related to Transcendental Apperception (I am) and the categories and goes into the constituting of an object of experience, 1], “that in which a manifold of intuition is united,” and which is that of the Understanding’s “Pure Concept of an Object,” i.e. the “Pure Concept of a Transcendental Object.” —As such, it only refers to the objects or things of experience, and not to anything “beyond” or “transcendent” of experience.
6] The Transcendental Object in the transcendent sense [A614/B642], this has the same meaning as 3] & 4], and always has a reference to objects of experience or appearances as in some sense their “cause” or “ground”; this will be clarified below.
7] The Noumenon, since it is purely “intelligible” and nonspatial, etc., it is the same as 3], 4] and 6]. This is a vestige of pre-Kantian, pre-critical philosophy (the “I know not what” of Locke and the empiricists) and of the “Inaugural Dissertation” (1770). Kant has critical doubts about it (it “may be nothing at all” A253, A49). —In any case, it can only be “thought of,” and reduces to a “thought – viz., of an intelligible, nonspatial, -extended, etc., independently existing object, which I (and others) hold is self-contradictory and unthinkable, though of course Kant’s official position is that it is not (the positive & negative Noumenon will be treated below). It will turn out that 1] the Thing, is the only real object in the Critique.
It can be seen from a sampling of their texts that the critics I have selected—Allison, Strawson, Walker, Waxman, Findlay, Sherover, Bohme and Srzednicki—do in fact give an affirmative answer to the above question and thus in so doing, I would submit, confess they are in truth transcendental realists, holding to what the majority refer to as a “weighty” object as present in the Critique and claiming Kant holds appearance or the object of representation or perception to exist distinct from the same:
[Kant’s argument] cannot establish any connection between the unity of apperception and objects in the “weighty” sense (148). Allison
How, then, is the doctrine that bodies are but a species of our representationsto be reconciled with the doctrine that we are immediately conscious of the existence of objects in space distinct from our perceptions? (259) P.F. Strawson
Objects are entities in the external world—things like tables and tiepins, capable of existing independently of their perceivers. … Judgements of experience [are] those which purport to agree with some independent object. (76) R.C.S. Walker
Generally speaking, Kant has used the term “Gegenstand” … to refer to what is conceived by us to be external to us and/or to be independent in its being of [our] cognitive or intellectual processes. (253) C.M. Sherover
Kant is right … the object of perception must be objective, i.e. independent of that very perception. (265) J. Srzednicki
We will see that nowhere in his book does Kant speak of the object of experience or define it thus: “by the object I mean that which has an existence independently or distinct from perception, representation, and our cognitive faculty.” —This construal of the “object” is the old “transcendent” concept of an object—qua an “independently existing entity”—of the philosophical Tradition previous to Kant which his “Copernican Revolution” is to render obsolete and replace with a new “immanent” conception of an object construed in terms of (as grounded in) an Act of apperception whereby two or more perceptions/representations are linked (“synthesized”) by a category in a judgement.
I would like to acknowledge here that I owe no small debt to Daniel Breazeale for the central vision which informs my interpretation. His fine translation of Fichte’s early texts in his Fichte: Early Philosophical Writings, one passage in particular, gave me the clue to the correct way to read Kant’s Critique, viz. without entering it with the assumption of a transcendent, independent Thing in itself, viewed as behind the appearances and as cause of my perceptions, and instead starting the book with assuming no more than the I and what is given in experience, viz., the Thing - making a determined effort to keep from straying out of the present, the immediate, with wings, flying into transcendent realms. The Fichtean text I refer to is this: ‘I require my readers to “check” the Thing in itself at the door before they even enter my Wissenschaftslehre; we begin simply with the “I” and what we find in it [viz. a manifold of intuitions],”—we do not find (look high or low) a “Thing in itself,”‘ etc (SW II, 445, my paraphrase; and see below p. 309).
When I applied what he said to the Critique thinking Kant must be at least as smart as Fichte, and “checked” my “Thing in itself” at the door and entered the Critique without it, I found—a different Kant. I also found that Kemp Smith’s translation—which many of us rely on—was in many places intentionally biased so as to support a “transcendent” Thing in itself reading of Kant’s text. A non-transcendent reading of the Critique not only is possible - upon close inspection of the German - but turns out to be also correct (as yielding - for the first time - a radically consistent Kant). —One glaring example is his translation of Kant’s
Dagegen ist der transzendentale Begriff der Erscheinungen imRaume eine kritische Erinnerung, dass uberhaupt nichts, was im Raume angeschaut wird, eine Sache an sich, noch dass der Raume eine Form der Dinge sei, die ihnen etwa an sich selbst eigen ware, sondern dass uns die Gegenstande an sich gar nicht bekannt sind, und usw., (A30)
The transcendental concept of appearances in space, on the other hand, is a critical reminder that nothing intuited in space is a thing in itself, that space is not a form inhering in things in themselves as their intrinsic property, that objects in themselves are quite unknown to us, etc.
Note Kemp Smith’s wording clearly suggests Kant is committed to the actuality of transcendent, independently existing things/entities (“things in themselves”), and note carefully that he illicitly conflates “der Dinge. . .” and “. . . an sich selbst” so as to read “Things in themselves,” also that the word “unknown” is not in the German, rather “known” (bekannt). A truer more faithful rendering—with my annotations—would be,
The transcendental concept of appearances in space, on the other hand, is a critical reminder that in general nothing intuited in space is a Being (Sache) in itself, that space is not a form of [sensible] things which would be something belonging to them in themselves [which would belong to them in themselves], but rather that objects in themselves are in no way known to us [or: we are not at all acquainted (bekannt not erkannt) with objects in themselves, —meaning not that there actually are such objects and we are, to boot, deprived of knowledge of them (the common reading), but rather simply that the objects we are acquainted with in experience [!] (which we intuit) are not objects in themselves, are not objects capable of existing in themselves, —for they are merely appearances (“which cannot exist in themselves” (A42)), —and these are the only objects we are acquainted with (as to a “thing in itself”, no such thing is to be found within experience, period).]
Thus, it clearly seems possible to read the text without any ontological committment to “supersensible”, transexperienceable entities. I discovered moreover to my amazement, that no text exists in the Critique which expressly links a “Thing in itself”, “affection,” and perception/sensibility; —the crucial, often decisive A20 does not say that the “Thing in itself affects our receptivity,” but rather that an “object” (Gegenstand) does. That this object is not the Thing in itself but rather an appearance is confirmed at A20 where the “object of an empirical intuition” is—“to be entitled appearance”! Thus Fichte’s text—thanks to Breazeale—encouraged me to hold fast to my “new” reading in the face of the great opposition of scholarship that was against it, most of which—if not all—gives a “dogmatic” reading that assumes at the start and as a matter of course (established fact) the texts must refer to a transcendent, “causal” Thing in itself and make a commitment as to its reality.
There are then 2 distinct “Models” (or “standpoints”) one can use in the reading of the Critique which can be named—after the literature appearing after 1781 in response to it—the “dogmatic” and the “critical.”
The Dogmatic - which reads the Critique with the assumption of an independent thing in itself, taking Kant to hold to its real existence (the standpoint of “common sense,” and virtually all previous philosophy, Ancient through Descartes, Spinoza, and Locke). According to it there are two things that exist: on the one side, a subject or knower, on the other, an independent thing (being, “thing in itself”), that which is to be known. This “traditional” Model immediately lands one in the insoluble problem (viz. “skepticism”) of how one is to “get at” the object/the known, of how the independent thing/entity can get into (“migrate” into) the knower and of how I can know the object not as it appears to me (as re-presented) but as it “really is” in itself—and as well, to the “standard” view in Kant interpretations, that independent “Things” are already “out there” before experience, and when we “open our eyes,” or activate our cognitive faculties or “mechanism,” we thus “put them in” or add/impose space and time on them.
The Critical - which reads the Critique without this “dogmatic” assumption. According to this one begins simply with what is immediately given/found in sense intuition - and with nothing else (a merely interior reading of the text, instead of an interior/exterior reading). Hence the only “object” there is, is the sensible object of experience, the Thing —(and as we shall see, the only Thing there is in the Critique, - the “thing in itself” being a deception, the ground of a transcendental “illusion,” namely, of transcendental realism and “dogmatism”). This latter claim, that there is no “thing in itself” in the Critique, is to be regarded as a subsidiary thesis for which I shall attempt to argue. As part of my strategy regarding my methodology I will be using the Critical Model in reading Kant’s text.
As I hold most scholars are entangled in dogmatism or common sense realism of one form or another and as I hold Kant’s position to be the exact opposite of this, indeed is best understood as being its contradictory opposite, a more detailed and historical-genetic account of the difference between Dogmatism and Criticism will shed no small light on our problematic. What is especially remarkable is that many scholars seem to be completely unaware of this difference and of the fact that the conversion of “things in themselves” (or “weighty objects”) into “appearances” is precisely the central motif of Kant’s doctrine of transcendental idealism.
Thus “dogmatism,” is the belief in mind or subject independent realities; in particular, the view that some or all of the features of the experiential object (primary & secondary qualities) are able to exist apart from the subject or its power of representation. Transcendental Idealism or “Criticism”, on the other hand, holds that none of the object’s features, the object being “appearance only” not “thing in itself,” “can exist outside our mind”(B520) - or, more strikingly, that the Universe—the entire spatiotemporal continuum—has no existence whatsoever outside, distinct from our minds and therefore exists only within the bounds of our sensibility (as Strawson correctly holds).
Thus it can be said that the shift from dogmatism to criticism (or “transcendental idealism”) is the distinctive feature of Kant’s philosophy, indeed, that all philosophies previous to Kant’s were infected with some kind or other of dogmatism. It is even fair to say that Modern philosophy, beginning with Descartes, can be seen as Reason’s gradual emancipation of itself from the deception of dogmatism, its belief in entities apart from the subject and its cognitive powers/mind.
The over-coming or -turning of this common sense view of the object’s independent existence began with Descartes’ Meditations, 1641, when the indispensable role and presence of the I (knower or consciousness) in knowledge came into view. Its result was that no longer were there “things” but instead merely my perceptions or “ideas” of things—a world of self-subsistent “things” outside me became a world of ideas inside me, so many contents-modifications of my mind or Cogito—the focus of philosophy then shifted from ontology to epistemology, from Being as such, to Being-in-relation-to-consciousness. I, the subject, no longer had a direct access to beings, but only an indirect one, i.e., via inference from my ideas or re-presentations, from what was “within me” to what was “without me.” One class of my ideas was “objective” in that it represented properties actually belonging to things outside my mind, viz. ideas of extension, figure, motion—“primary qualities.” Other of my ideas were only “subjective,” presenting properties which reflected my sensory make-up rather than the thing itself—color, sound, tactile qualities—”secondary qualities.” Thus, at this point the Object has experienced a considerable loss of properties, the bulk of its sensible properties now regarded as not intrinsic to the object but rather only as relating to the subject, the object in itself being the strictly non-sensible, “mathematical” one of extension (spatiality-materiality), figure and motion, the “quantified” object of the “new” physics/natural science (in contrast to the “old” Aristotelian-scholastic “qualified” view of nature). The former fell on the side of the subject, the latter on that of the object.—This view of the object was held by Locke and the empiricists as well.
Notice here that (scientific) knowledge of these real, extended, shaped, and moving objects was mediated or inferred only and not direct. All we had to do with were the immediate contents of the mind-Cogito, its “subjective” sensations and ideas. We possessed and knew directly merely the “ideas” of space, figure and motion, not space, figure and motion themselves. All we could do was to “infer” or believe that the “things” existing outside and independently of our minds did in fact “correspond” or agree with their ideas or re-presentations existing only in us.—With Leibniz we take a further step away from dogmatism and closer to criticism by moving from the absolute space of Newton and Descartes to strictly “relative” space, i.e. space is not in itself but only in relation to things or “Monads” in space (about which more later). When we reach Kant (via Wolff, Locke, Hume et al) the final overcoming of dogmatism takes place, viz. with Kant’s ingenious equation, Space (extension) = Pure Intuition (as well as with his new focus on the “I” and on a “Thing-in-itself”). This equation yields two important things. First, the object suffers the loss of its remaining qualities—extension, figure, motion—which get accordingly transferred to the subject, to its faculty of sensibility.
Second, since nothing remains to constitute an object independent of the subject (cf. A42, B44, A253, B345), the dividing line of what falls within the subject and what lies without—collapses, along with the notion of representations being re-presentations of objects or things (“once upon a time” sensible, spatial, material) existing outside or independently of the subject.—This leads directly to the true “critical” view of the actual situation (between knower and known, subject and object), viz. that the representation (Vor-stellung) and the object are one and the same thing (Kant e.g. A371, Fichte II, 441; and see Prolegomena (289) 33 Ellington).
“Dogmatism” on the other hand involves a deep-rooted deception or delusion (A388), to be expelled only by criticism. My ordinary common sense view of the world, which I have been steeped in since my earliest years, regards the “World,” being, or “things” as something that has always existed, is “there,” outside of me (in the transcendental sense; cf. Husserl, Cartesian Meditations), existing on its own account (“in itself”), as a fully self-constituted, indifferent being, i.e., in advance of my experience of it. The “World” is what is primary or fundamental (independently “given”); - “I,” on the other hand, exist as what is secondary or derivative (and inessential, incidental to its being and make-up), a subject, which can as well be as not be. The World is there complete by itself - the I, the knower is, so to speak, placed or introduced into it “from outside”—the assumption being that both the knower and the World each have an independent being and are quite able to exist and “get along perfectly well” without each other, and apart from their union which is called Knowing (Erkennen) or Experience (Erfahrung). Criticism finds this assumption (“deception”) misguided, and on two counts: 1. it assumes the I is something derivative, dispensable, that it is possible to abstract from or ignore the I (subject, knower, consciousness), and thus to consider the World or Being as it is apart from the I —which is impossible (for “The ‘I think’ must be able to … etc.” B131). It is impossible to effect this separating of the object of consciousness-representation from consciousness, i.e. to pretend the I is not there, is not an ineliminable factor of Experience. 2. If it is assumed that the Knower and Being (the object, world, known) are from the start independent of one another, exist “outside” of one another, then the fact of knowledge is made inexplicable, incomprehensible. That is, how can what is first outside me, come later to be inside me, to be for me, to be an object of knowledge or experience? This is possible only if Being (the object, world) was within me or in immediate relation with me (with knowing) from the beginning, if knowing and being are parts/factors of a single unity, neither able to exist apart from or “overstep” the other. Dogmatism believes it can start immediately with the object and side-step the I - whereas Criticism knows as against this deception that one cannot transgress this boundary, or “go beyond the I” - one must—can only—begin with the I (or with the unity of I and Thing) and never “egress” from or “fracture” it.
Thus it can be said, the hallmark of dogmatism (and the “letter”) is dis-unity, that of knowing and being, representing and object, subject and object, while that of criticism (the “spirit”) is unity, of the same. The former is unable to account for the possibility of Experience (the fact that there is an object for me at all) - whereas the latter alone can. In this lies the true meaning of Kant’s oft-used expression “in us,” as in “appearances are in us,” “space, time, objects of experience are in us,” —viz. if an object were not in us, or were outside us or independent of us, then it could not be/become an object for us, an object of experience and cognition. Thus to start with Being as such, which dogmatism wants to do, is illicit, as it involves an ungrounded and ungroundable assumption, based on the deception which (mis)takes appearances for things in themselves (B535).
Because dogmatism, in all its varieties, is so deeply ingrained in us and those around us, it takes much time and effort to overcome—and this only through criticism. Most scholars (Kantian and others) have not yet vanquished theirs (as will appear); this is why they settle in most cases for a “compromise” position, a mixture of criticism and dogmatism, idealism and realism. They realize doubtless that Kant clearly says in many places that space and appearances in space are “transcendently ideal”, i.e. have no reality, are nothing apart from us, from our sensibility, but their dogmatism will not let them fully accept it, hence they go on to speak of objects “in the weighty sense” as spatial, material objects that are able to exist “independently” of the subject, perceiver, and his cognitive faculties.
 Schelling, Letters on Dogmatism and Criticism, trans. by F. Marti in On the Unconditional in Human Knowledge, 156.
 H.E. Allison, Kant’s Transcendental Idealism, An Interpretation and Defense (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983) 148, 136.
 P.F. Strawson, The Bounds of Sense (London: Routledge, 1966) 259.
 R.C.S. Walker, Kant (London: Routledge, 1978) 76.
 C.M. Sherover, Essays (Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982) 253.
 Srzednicki, Kant-Studien 75 (1984) 94-103.
 J.G.Fichte, Sammtliche Werke (SW), Ed. I.H. Fichte, 8 vols. (Berlin: Veit, 1845-46) II:445, trans. by Breazeale in Fichte, Early Philosophical Writings (Ithaca: Cornell University Press) 325.
 Kant’s text can be read as also saying merely that “in knowing the objects of experience, we are not in any way knowing a “Thing in itself”—i.e. a thing which is either “in itself” or can exist in itself, or both a thing which is able to exist in itself (the transcendental realist position) and a thing as it is in itself (the naive realist position - and such a thing being impossible), or experience does not yield knowledge of a Thing in itself, but only of an appearance.”
 [?] Cf. This conflict of reason with itself must be resolved, even if it should not prove possible within the Theoretical Science of Knowledge; and since the absolute existence of the self cannot be given up, the issue must be decided in favor of the second line of argument, just as in dogmatic idealism (but with this difference, that our idealism is not dogmatic but practical; does not determine what is, but what ought to be). But this must be done in such a way as to explain what needs explaining; which dogmatism could not do. The diminished activity of the self must find an explanation in the self as such; the ultimate ground of it must be posited in the self. This comes about in that the self, which in this respect is practical, is posited as a self that ought to contain in itself the ground of existence of the not-self [universe or object], which diminishes the activity of the intellective self; an infinite Idea which cannot itself be thought, and by which, therefore, we do not so much explain the explicandum as show, rather, that, and why, it is inexplicable; the knot is not so much loosed as projected into infinity.
Kant’s Critique as a “Puzzle”
At this point the reader may object, “What about those four or five passages where Kant clearly speaks of a “transcendental object” underlying appearances and representations as their “cause” or “ground” - surely that these texts exist cannot be denied, what of them?” Since this is a weighty objection I feel it necessary to give here some general response to it. First, one must remember that the Critique appeared within a specific historical period and cultural milieu. Kant, it must be granted, was far ahead of his somewhat “enlightened” but still basically medieval (“theocentric” – in the pejorative sense) age. Recall he says, in his essay on “Enlightenment,” not that we live in an enlightened age but rather in an age of enlightenment, meaning much superstition and dogmatism still clung to humanity and its thinking. I would venture that Kant was acutely aware of his concrete situation. He knew that on his new critical principles one could not ignore the “I think” and thus talk meaningfully about entities (e.g. “God”) that are out of relation with the subject and outside her experience. He knew his standpoint could be viewed as implying atheism—recall, all of his disciples, e.g. Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel sooner or later were branded as “atheists,” since they all came ultimately to deny any type of independently existing- or mind-independent- being whatever. Indeed, as they all said, freedom demands that there be no “thing in itself,” contemporary with itself and having absolute causality, because it would do away with freedom. Hence, I feel—since freedom, it can be argued, is the real objective and desideratum of his philosophy—that Kant was forced in effect to accommodate himself to everyone, to dogmatists and criticists alike. If so, then he deliberately inserted a few “clinkers,” i.e. dogmatic passages into his text to “throw off” the authorities (much like Descartes did several decades earlier), to leave an open a place for a “thing in itself” and for the “transcendent” Divine Being of orthodoxy and thus avoid the charge of “atheism” by the censors. It is to be kept in mind, 1. that Kant knew the categories only apply within experience, hence that these “dogmatic” passages were in fact meaningless as involving an illicit use of the categories of cause and ground, and 2. that he knew his Berkeley, hence that the idea of a “being independent of thought and perception” was self-contradictory and unthinkable. Indeed, everything points to Kant’s intentionally making the Critique into a kind of “puzzle,” - one which only the brighter minds of the age would be able to solve, again much like Descartes was forced to do in regard to his Meditations in order to get it approved by the Catholic authorities. Thus I submit Kant was fully aware of the incompatibleness of his own standpoint, “criticism,” and that of the common view, “dogmatism,” however to keep his book(s) in circulation and thereby enlighten the German nation (to fulfill his literary mission) he, so to speak, had to give the appearance of being “one of the crowd,” i.e. a dogmatist too, exactly what he was overthrowing, and leave room for a “thing in itself.” As we will see, one of the “key’s” to his “puzzle” is that the so-called “Ground” of the phenomena-noumena distinction is in fact an “insufficient ground,” i.e. there really is no ground (to stand on) for a “thing in itself.”
Of course, another possibility is that Kant himself never fully overcame his own dogmatism. For he, like everyone else, also began his life and career as a dogmatist, i.e. as a believer in intelligible entities existing “in themselves” outside the mind. Indeed, as the Inaugural Dissertation of 1770 makes quite clear Kant originally believed in an “intelligible world” as well as a “sensible world,” our pure intuition able to make immediate contact with its objects, sensible appearances, our pure concepts also presumably able to do the same vis-a-vis its non-sensible objects, “things in themselves”. It was only later as he confesses in his letter to Marcus Herz that he began to question the relation of our concepts to “intelligible things in themselves,” i.e. how can a concept relate a priori to an object which is totally independent of it and from which it was not derived? It was at this point that he first began to restrict the use of concepts to experience alone and deny their validity for metaphysics, i.e., for transcendent objects.
A third possibility is that, as he says in the B-Edition Preface, he had to “deny knowledge in order to make room for faith,” i.e. for free practical activity and the moral life, which seem to demand a place for a “transcendent God” and other supersensible existents (e.g. other selves). But perhaps we would do well to listen to those who openly declare that the time has come for a new immanent God or Absolute to replace the old transcendent, inaccessible God of the tradition. –That is, for example, to Schelling who says:
You may give me a thousand revelations of an absolute causality outside myself, and a thousand demands for it on behalf of an intensified practical reason, yet I shall never be able to believe in it as long as my theoretical reason remains the same. My capacity even to assume an absolute object would presuppose that I had first abolished myself as a believing subject! [Further, note:] My objections are not aimed at criticism, but at certain expounders of it, who might have learned that criticism advances the idea of God merely as an object of action, and not at all as an object to be considered as true. I don’t say that they should have learned it from the very spirit of critical philosophy. But they might have learned it at the very least from the word Kant used: postulate. The meaning of this term they should know from mathematics, if not otherwise.
—And to Fichte who remarks:
My absolute I is not the individual, though this is how offended courtiers and irate philosophers have interpreted me. … Instead, the individual must be deduced from the absolute I. As individuals, we find ourselves at that standpoint which I call the practical standpoint. (I call the standpoint of the absolute I the speculative standpoint.) According to this practical point of view, a world exists for us which is independent of us and which we can do no more than modify. From this standpoint, the pure I is posited outside ourselves and is called God.
—And to those in general who say, with three Tubingen seminary students of yore: “We belong to the new race of men who no longer seek for immortality and God without but rather within themselves.” That is to say, to those who hold freedom and a thing-in-itself to be, in the last analysis, incompatible.
See Kant’s Inaugural Dissertation or On the Form and Principle of the Sensible and the Intelligible World, Section II, “On the Distinction Between Sensible Things and Intelligible Things in general,” Werke II, 392, 397, Ed. and trans, by L.W. Beck in Kant Selections (New York: Macmillan Publishers, 1988) 54, 58. Also cf. Kant’s important letter to Marcus Herz of February 21, 1772.
 See Schelling’s remarks in his Philosophical Letters on Dogmatism and Criticism 1795 (Marti 156ff) which have applicability to many of today’s Kantians. And also cf. 76n: “For whatever can say I to itself, also says I am! The pity is that, in theoretical philosophy, God is not determined as identical with my I [!} but etc.” And 99: “In the theoretical sense God isI = Not-I; in the practical sense He is absolute I, which annihilates all not-I. Insofar as the nonfinite I is represented schematically as the ultimate [moral] goal of the finite and thus outside the latter, in practical philosophy God can indeed be represented as outside the finite I (schematically) however only as identical with the nonfinite.”
 Fichte’s letter to Jacobi, August 30, 1795 (Breazeale, 411).
 Schelling, Holderlin, and Hegel’s, Earliest System-Programme (Berne, 1796), trans. by H. Harris in Hegel’s Development, Towards the Sunlight, 1770-1801, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972) 510-512.