Paralogism

Here is a summary of most of the paragraphs of the B version of the Paralogism
12/30/2009 edited 5/11/2011

2. We take recourse in the I of the I think alone (and also distinguish inner and outer representations), and thus come to a doctrine of soul.

3. Nothing empirical is to be considered.

4. So we are dealing solely with the “I think”

5. Since we start with a thinking thing, the I, we now apply the categories and find the soul is substance, simple, identical and in relationship to possible objects in space.

6. This gives us all the elements of a rational doctrine soul: immateriality, incorruptibility, identity and spiritualism and animalism.

7. All we think to ourselves here is a transcendental subject = X, and where the consciousness is not so much a recognition as rather the form of a recognition.

8. I come to the notion of a thinking being through transference of my own thinking to others, and so the “I think” here is merely problematic, and now will be analyzed in that light to see what can be derived through that concept.

9. If we considered anything else, we would have only an empirical and not rational psychology

10. Now we turn to apply the categories to this I of the I think.

11. As a reminder: we do not recognize an object by thinking it, but only by determining a perspective (Anschauung) through that thinking. All that is given is the thinking for the human, but all the thinking consciousness then does not render an object to be recognized, not even myself as an object. It is not the determining self but only the determinable self that can be an object (and that is impossible for us).

12. First paralogistic judgment. I am the subject of all my judgments, and this means that I am a subject and not a predicate (and this is analytical). But it does not mean that I, as an object, am a substance.

13. Second. It is clear that the thinking subject has to be thought as simple, but this does not mean that I, as object, am simple and not subject to decomposition, for such knowledge is dependent upon sensitivity and that is excluded here.

14. Third. I have to think myself as identical in all consciousness, but not that I as an object am identical. The latter would be synthetic and not merely analytic.

15. Finally I clearly distinguish myself as thinker from external objects, for that's what different means. But whether my consciousness of self can continue independently of the body, that is not given, nor can it be.

16. Thus no progress is made from the analysis of the consciousness of self in thinking in general. The logical exposition of the thinking in general is falsely held as a metaphysical determination of the object (myself).

[Note of 1/26/11. Based on lectures on Buddhism at Young Harris College yesterday a thought occured to me which is compatible with all this and which may have been suggested by Kant elsewhere (and where I cannot now remember), namely: let the consciousness of the self be as each of a string of billiard balls in a straight line and where the consciousness is the movement of a ball, and so let one ball move toward another and constitute the consciusness at that moment and then strike the other ball and come to a full stop while the struck ball move with the same force and now constitutes the consciousness and this ball then moves on and strikes the next in line, etc. The notion of a continuing self instead of just a continuing consciousness would then arise as a grammatical illusion (as Kant himself may be implying here) that since the "I" is subject of all our sentences, e.g., I am hungry, yesterday I went to class, tomorrow I will be home, etc., and this subject grammatically has to be identical, we come to think that the soul is also identical when it could actually be diverse as the diverse movements of the various billiard balls. Kant would not be asserting this, but simply showing it as a possibility and to explain the impossibility of proving the immortality of the soul.]

17. Can we prove the proposition: all thinking beings are a substance on their on (and also simple, etc.)? That would apply the categories beyond the objects of experience to things in general and on their own. And the answer is no.

18. There is a ruling paralogism in rational psychology, namely what has to be thought as subject exists as subject and therefore is substance; a thinking entity can only be thought as subject; therefore it exists as a substance.

19. In the major we think an entity in general and how it might be subjected to a perspective, but in the minor we think only of a subject relative to the thinking and the unity of consciousness, but not as it might appear in the perspective. So the conclusion is entirely based on a figure of speech (the same word taken once (in the major) as object and then next (in the minor) as subject), and so is fallacious.

20. The concept of something which can exist only as subject and not as predicate has no objective validity. To have an object as a substance which can be given, a persistent perspective must be given, but there is nothing enduring given to us, for the I is merely the consciousness of the thinking. Hence no substance, simplicity, etc., can be given as an object.

21. Refutation of Mendelssohn. While we cannot think of the simple as able to deteriorate into pieces, we can think of the consciousness in a variable degree which can gradually vanish into nothing.

22. When we look at this all together we start with substance and go backwards through all and close the circle and realize that thinking beings can be aware of themselves independently of outer things and see that persistence is the character of substance. But this means problematic idealism where no proof of the soul is possible.

23. So by analysis of the proposition “I think” in an effort to see how the I determines its existence in space and time, we would arrive at: I think, as subject, as simple subject and an identical subject in all my thinking.

24. The “simple subject” is important, for the apperception is real and its simplicity is possible, and since there is no real that is simple, it is impossible to explain a thinking subject's constitution from the basis of materialism. Since the “subject” is empirical, but since I have need of persistence which is not given to me in my thinking, we cannot determine whether I exist here as substance or as accident. So both materialism and spiritualism are both inadequate for any recognition of the soul regarding any isolated existence.

25. We are familiar with the unity of consciousness only thru experience and it is not possible for us go beyond this experience and also to expand the recognition to all thinking beings in general via the empirical and undetermined (without any perspective) proposition, “I think”.

26. Thus there is no rational psychology as doctrine, but solely as discipline with boundaries set to avoid both materialism and spiritualism, and leaving a hint to focus our attention of fruitful, practical uses of reason.

27. This is all a misunderstanding. The unity of consciousness lying as base to the categories is taken for a perspective of the subject as object with the category of substance applied to it. But no object is given in this unity of thinking and no application for substance. Therefore the subject of the categories cannot make a concept of itself as an object, even as the subject in the representation of time cannot determine in that way its existence in time, and so then of course not the determination of itself (as thinking being in general) through the categories.

Note of 5/11/11. And so we come to confuse a representation of an object (the soul) with the object itself, and since the representation of the soul must be simple, indentical, etc., we conclude that the soul itself must be simple, etc.

Return to the essay Kant in a Nutshell.