Quick take on Kant’s perceptions and the affinity of all appearances

June 21, 2016

Two metaphors for students of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction of the Categories (and especially the A version Appendix I.2, beginning on or near page 711):

  1. All objective perceptions (recognitions) will be represented here via the number series, where everything fits together as a clock, and two and three make five, for example, and can be unified in the five. And so where experience includes all of the objective recognitions, and is unified.
  2. The subjective perceptions, in contrast, will be represented in the series of the letters of the alphabet, and where (H and J) = (H and J), for example, and there is never any synthesis but only individual observations, e.g., H = the sun illuminates the stone, and J = the stone warms up, but not a synthesis as: the sunlight warms the stone. And perhaps, again as an example, the letter, I, stands for: a murder of crows flying overhead, or anything perceived.

Using the latter example, the two subjective perceptions of the sun shining on the stone and the stone getting warm, once we make an objective perception that the sun warms the stone, i.e., H+J, we would be able to add some numerals (in this metaphor) so that, perhaps, H= 10 and J = 15 and so together they would make 25 and then would fit in with the rest of the objective perceptions (represented in this example as numbers), e.g., a total of say: 54,325 (which would represent the total of the recognitions so far in this person’s experience). Thus before H and J become objective, the total experience of this person would equal 54,300 along with any subjective perceptions such as the H and I and J, etc.

In fact it is only by means of the categories of the understanding that we are able to undertake subjective perceptions in the first place, for these are always anticipations of connections. And this critical role of the categories with respect to perceptions is a central thesis of Kant’s thinking in the A version of the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories.

Another thought. The affinity (assumed and expected connection) of all appearances is a function of our categorical understanding which seeks and requires (and actually provides via the categories as connective devices for the consciousness of self) a single world nature such that all appearances are related either directly or indirectly, and where an investigation of coincidences and patterns would be called for (to determine if they might be connections), and where the future is automatically assumed to be an extension of, and thus homogeneous with, the past.

October 19, 2019: A more recent and comprehensive image of Kant’s thinking here might be a spider web inside the brain of an infant, representing a model of a single and connected nature and wanting only specifics to become a fixed and stable edifice, something to be developed through exposure and opportunity. The subjective perceptions during life would constitute a small, tentative and isolated web per Number 2 above and then eventually and ideally would be incorporated into the larger web per Number 1 when, and if, objective perceptions (recognitions) were attained in the place of the subjective ones by means of the connective categories of human understanding.

 Author contact: pmr#$kantwesley.com, replacing #$ with @

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