An Interpretation of Kant’s Metaphysical Deduction of the Categories

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In what appears to be an important section of the Critique of Pure Reason, when Kant attempts to show the natural connection between the table of judgment and the table of categories, there is a cryptic little paragraph:

The same function that gives unity to the different representations in a judgment also gives unity to the mere synthesis of different representations in an intuition, which, expressed generally, is called the pure concept of understanding. The same understanding, therefore, and indeed by means of the very same actions through which it brings the logical form of a judgment into concepts by means of the analytical unity, also brings a transcendental content into its representations by means of the synthetic unity of the manifold in intuition in general, on account of which they are called pure concepts of the understanding that pertain to objects a priori; this can never be accomplished by universal logic. A79, B105

This paragraph is purported to be the possible key to understanding the argument for the deduction of the categories, and is often referred to as the metaphysical deduction of the categories. Kant will attempt to use the forms of logical judgment to deduce the forms of cognitions in general. The passage contains two sentences, but is nearly unapproachable, even at the level of individual clauses. However, it contains an important step in the argument of the critique, one that not only allows Kant to move between the table of judgments and the table of categories, but also that indicates the transcendental role of the understanding; the way in which intellectual conditions operate to allow the possibility of experience, made manifest by an examination of logic.

Points of Interpretation

The ‘pu...

... middle of paper ...

...lieve that the

first sentence contains premises that imply a conclusion contained in the second

sentence. Indeed they are premises about what is known about the understanding a

priori, and lead to a conclusion that is not surprising, once the premises are

properly understood.

3 I can see why someone might see the first sentence as containing the conclusion of the

argument, but they could only be so motivated if they read 'the pure concept of

understanding' as the categories in general, but they would seem to be committed to

saying that the categories operate in general logic as the analytic unity, which, from

my point of view, does not seem like the right reading.

4 The knowledge element of experience is given in judgment form, but I am not sure if

Kant wants to admit non-knowledge elements into experience, passions, etc...

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