The Fit of Subjective and Objective Perceptions

September 20, 2013

The remarkable afternoon of a young Roman boy (living in Rome, Georgia, USA).

This is what happened. It was warm and he was tired and since everyone had gone upstairs he decided to lie down on the couch of the screened porch and to take a nap.* Suddenly he woke to loud and angry noises in the back yard along with gun shots. Startled he peered over the railing of the porch and saw a great fight involving a host of men in  some sort of uniforms. There was smoke and the flare of gun shots as some men on the left seemed to be trying to get over the fence and retreat to the neighbor’s house, and they were shooting back and forth with the ones on the right. The only person he recognized was  one of his uncles (whom the boy hardly knew). Terribly frightened the boy lay back down on the couch. And then just as suddenly he decided to run upstairs and find his daddy. He sprang up  from the couch and taking what he had just seen as part and parcel of his experience and reality, he ran upstairs and found his daddy and blurted out with, “what’s happening?” This daddy didn’t pay much attention and went about fixing something.** Puzzled at the sudden calm, the boy peered carefully out the window and saw the back yard exactly the same as it had been when he first went out onto the porch to lie down, as quiet and serene as usual. Then he realized that he had been dreaming and the dream just happened to fit in with his waking experience.***

* What follows in italics is the description of a dream while napping on the couch.

** Something didn’t fit. If the great battle was going on then his daddy would not be calm and continue to fix the something.

*** This experience of the dream is utilized also in Wesley And Rudisill In Discerning Dreams.

He is assuming all this while that all things make sense. This had been the very basis of his own self identity. All things make sense (an assumption of his understanding). As a result he suddenly realizes the object and by means of it pulls all of the perceptions together into a singularity of a manifold. The object that unified it all was the dream. He had dreamed about a fight involving his uncle, a violent fight and that it was taking place in the back yard. In this way then, he integrates his perceptions into a single experience, namely where people sometimes dream and only think they are doing something, when all they are really doing is dreaming while asleep (although this is not recognized during the dream, at least not by most people).

Perhaps this will help me as I seek to incorporate into my conception of Kant’s Deduction of the Categories (beginning on or near page 117) the difference in consciousness between a subjective perception and an objective perception (also called a recognition, which therefore is necessary and universal and required of all people).

It seems that the unified consciousness is necessary in order to have the notion of a self, an identical consciousness accompanying all perceptions. Here a manifold of appearances has been unified by means of an object, as we see with the Roman boy. Now we know (per Kant) that all perceptions must be of this single consciousness in order to be anything at all for us. But there are some occasions of awareness when a perception does not fit in to a single experience and thus not into a unified consciousness. This is the case with the subjective perception. It becomes objective when it is unified with experience, as the Roman boy did here.

When the sun shines on the stone the stone gets warm. A subjective perception. A conscious apprehension and retention of data under the presupposition of a unification into a coming and growing and single experience. It is undertaken for the express purpose of figuring out a manifold which can be described by a rule. Based on the object which is yet unknown to us, we see a rule-based object: when the sun shines for a while the stone grows warm.* We have made sure  through a careful, conscious look, namely a perception (Wahr-nehmung), a fact, an apprehension and a retention and an association via a rule. But no unity with experience.

* Kant in the Prologomena assumes that the lightness of the stone, compared to the darkness periods of the stone, was itself a function of the sun, and of course this too is synthetic and had to be recognized in a similar way.

This might be understood so: this appearance/Erscheinung is definitely representing an object, I just haven’t conceived yet of what object this is. It is a puzzle.

Now in this consciousness I am my identical self and am certain of the fact of the rule, but I haven’t solved the puzzle. I see it as a perception of unquestioned fact, but I haven’t conceived of the object of nature that has been exemplified to me here at this stage.*

* Surely it is the transcendental affinity (connectedness) of all appearances that has me being willing to puzzle over this rule-based perception. I know in advance that all things are connected in some degree and make sense, and so here I am merely looking for the sense is this sun and stone thing.

In the present case we come to the fit by means of the category of understanding giving the schematic of succession. We look at the sun as the cause of the warmth and declare of an objective perception (recognition): of course, the sun not only illuminates the stone with its light, but that light that is flowing through space from the sun is warming the stone, and which in turn warms my hand.* This fits together in a great single consciousness encompassing all people called experience, which is nothing more than the necessary unity and fit of all perceptions.

* Thinking now of the Communality Analogy, we realize just as well, though we don’t mention it, that our hands then are not only warmed, but by virtue of that warmth warms the stone in turn, and the stone and we bounce light waves back to the sun. And so there is causation in succession and also in interactions.**

** I think Schopenhauer would object here and declare that the movements of warmth in space could be explained as a chain of linear causation.

I think, as I look back over all this, that the very wonder that arises upon the perception is fundamentally premised in the assumed and necessary and transcendental affinity of all the appearances, that they all fit together in one way or another, directly or indirectly. In the case of the Roman boy it all came to fit together in a single expanse of time by means of the dream and that is based on the assumption that all things make sense and so there is something to wonder about.*

* For otherwise I would have considered as this as no more meaningful than, say, seeing the moon after I sneeze or cough; it would be simply some perceptions that come and go.

So we wonder at the appearance in general, under the assumption of the affinity, i.e., that all things make sense (and which is what we bring to the table in the play for experience), and then we search out this sense or meaning, and in the process discover that the appearances represent objects, such as the back porch and the dream. And so it is dependent upon the affinity in order to rest assured when we proceed to fashion an actual experience, and it is by means of this actual experience with objects in space, by the way, that we find that objective unity such that our dreams can be distinguished and placed in our heads in time but not in space before us. This touches on the postulation of reality, how it is that the sensation gives us the material of the real, but where there is sometimes no real object corresponding to the viewing/intuition/perception (Anschauung), i.e., we can dream or imagine.

Let’s consider now the case of the subjective perception of the Noon whistle and the starting of a train. We have a rule-directed perception, a subjective perception, for which a fit is called for (per the affinity). And we find the fit in the recognition that both (the whistle and the movement) are effects of a common cause, namely the zenith of the sun. Then we necessitate the perception. The necessitation is entirely empirically, however, and there could be a movement of the train without the whistle, but then that (by virtue of the affinity) would call for an explanation and it would be found in such as the whistle is broken or discontinued, or that the schedule of the train had changed.

The most critical components of all this, I think, is the role of the category as the purveyor of a nature in general and which rules both our expectations (via the affinity) and our perceptions.

It is by means of the affinity and the subjugation of all appearances to the conditions of the unified self consciousness that we come to recognitions of objects including ourselves as an identical consciousness (for in the flood of empirical consciousness there is no unity as such at all, and the unity must be imposed by the imagination acting in accordance with the requirements of our capacity for  understanding). We notice something and pay attention and obtain a subjective perception, e.g., the warmth of the stone, and then necessitate that via the categories of the understanding and fit it into the single consciousness and obtain the objective perception, a/k/a a recognition. And in this way also we come to recognize ourselves as a unified and identical consciousness of self.

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September 2013

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