Kantian Journal

2018 Vol. 37. No. 3

Back to the list Download an article

The Nature of Appearance in Kant’s Transcendentalism: A Seman- tico-Cognitive Analysis



The concept of appearance within the framework of the transcendental distinction between “appearance” and “thing in itself” is the cornerstone of Kant’s transcendental philosophy. However, its conceptual status seems largely uncertain. This uncertainty is the reason for a wide range of interpretations of Kant’s transcendental idealism. A paradigmatic example is the contemporary confrontation between the “two objects” theory and the “two aspects” theory. In this paper, I develop a semantico-cognitive approach to Kant’s transcendentalism in general as well as to his conception of appearance in particular. Its use makes it possible to clarify both the metaphysical and ontological status of appearance. I show that, from the metaphysical point of view, the specificity of appearance is given by the transcendental triad “object (thing in itself) — appearance — representation.” Within this triad, on the one hand, appearance differs from both thing in itself (external to us) and the representation (within us). On the other hand, appearance as an object of empirical intuition mediates the objective thing and its subjective representation. The introduction of the concept of appearance allows Kant to solve the semantic problem of the conformity of the representation to the object. In this case, appearance is not an object, but just a designation of the object (KrV, B 235). Thus, appearance cannot be understood ontologically as a physical object or a relation. At the same time, an appearance is not identical to its representation, since the former is an object or content of the latter. Applying G. Frege’s “semantic triangle” to the analysis of Kant’s concept of appearance, I show that the transcendental object functions as the sense (Sinn) of the appearance and that the empirical thing in itself is its reference (Bedeutung).


Ameriks, K., 1982. Recent Work on Kant’s Theoretical Philosophy. American Philosophical Quarterly, 19(1), pp. 1-24.
Allison, H., 1983. Transcendental Idealism: A Defense. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.
Allison, H., 2004. Kant’s Transcendental Idealism: An Interpretation and Defense. Revised and enlarged ed. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.
Aquila, R., 1979. Things in Themselves and Appearances: Intentionality and Reality. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, 61(3), pp. 293-308.
Aquila, R., 1981. Intentional Objects and Kantian Appearances. Philosophical Topics, 12(2), pp. 9-37.
Aquila, R., 2003. Hans Vaihinger and Some Recent Intentionalist Readings of Kant. Journal of the History of Philosophy, 41(2), pp. 231-250.
Aquila, R., 2016. The Transcendental Idealisms of Kant and Sartre. In: S. Baiasu, eds. 2016. Comparing Kant and Sartre, London & New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 217-255.
Baldner, K., 1990. Is Transcendental Idealism Coherent? Synthese, 85(1), pp. 1-23.
Barker, S. F., 1967. Appearing and appearances in Kant. The Monist, 51(3), pp. 426-441.
Buchdahl, G., 1992. Kant and the Dynamics of Reason: Essays on the Structure of Kant’s Philosophy. Oxford: Blackwell.
Chisholm, R., 1950. The Theory of Appearing. In: M. Black, ed. 1950. Philosophical Analysis. Ithaca & NY: Cornell University Press, pp. 102-118.
Coffa, A., 1991. The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap: To the Vienna Station. Ed. by L. Wessels. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Falkenstein, L., 1991. Kant’s Account of Intuition. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 21(2), pp. 165-193.
Fine, К., 1982. Acts, Events and Things. In: W. Leinfellner, E. Kraemer, J. Schank, eds. 1982. Proceedings of the 6th International Wittgenstein Symposium. Wien: Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, pp. 97-105.
Frege, G., 1948. Sence and Reference [Über Sinn und Bedeutung]. The Philosophical Review, 57(3), pp. 209-230.
Geach, P. T., 1973. Ontological Relativity and Relative Identity. In: M. K. Munitz, ed. 1973. Logic and Ontology. New York: New York University Press, pp. 287-302.
Jankowiak, T., 2017. Kantian Phenomenalism without Berkeleyan Idealism. Kantian Review, 22(2), pp. 205-231.
Jacobi, F. H., 2004. Über den transzendentalen Idealismus, Appendix to David Hume über den Glauben, oder Idealismus und Realismus. Ein Gespräch. In: F. H. Jacobi, 2004. Werke. Volume 2, edited by W. Jaeschke. Hamburg: Meiner, pp. 291-310.
Haag, J., 2007. Erfahrung und Gegenstand. Frankfurt a. M: Klostermann.
Hanna, R., 2001. Kant and the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Howell, R., 2008. Kant’s Subjects: Problems and Prospects of the Research. Kantian Journal, 1(27), pp. 6-21. (In Russ.)
Kant, I., 2009. Fourth Letter: From Kant to Herz, February 21, 1772. In: E. Watkins, ed. 2009. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: Background Source Materials. Translated by E. Watkins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 312-316.
Kant, I., 1998. Critique of Pure Reason, translated and edited by P. Guyer, A. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kant, I., 2002. Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics: That Will Be Able to Come Forward as Science. In: I. Kant, 2002. Theoret­ical Philosophy after 1781, edited by H. Allison, P. Heath. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 29-171.
Katrechko, S. L., 2008. Ding-Ontology of Aristotle vs. Sachverhalt-Ontology of Wittgenstein. In: A. Hieke and H. Leitgeb, eds. 2008. Reduction and Elimination in Philosophy and the Sciences. Papers of the 31st International Wittgenstein Symposium, August 10—16, 2008. Kirchberg am Wechsel: Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, pp. 169-172, [online]. Available at: https://www.alws.at/alws/wp-content/up loads/2018/06/papers-2008.pdf [Accessed 25 May 2018].
Katrechko, S. L., 2016. Does the Kant’s Copernican Revolution Lead to Idealism? (Structure and Dialectic of Kant’s Copernican Revolution. In: T. A. Shiyan, ed. 2016. Filosofiya i nauka: problemy sootneseniya. [Philosophy and Science: the Problem of Correlation]. Volume 1. M.: RGGU, pp. 213-226, [online]. Available at: http://ff-rggu.ru/filemanager/download/1271 [Accessed 26 May 2018]. (In Russ.)
Katrechko, S. L., 2017. The Specificity of Kant’s Transcendentalism and The Concept of The Thing Itself. Kantian Journal, 36(4), pp. 68-87. (In Rus.)
Katrechko, S., 2018a. Kant’s Appearance as an Objectual Representation. Con-Textos Kantianos. International Journal of Philosophy, 7, pp. 44-59, jun. doi: https://doi.org/10.5281/ze nodo.1298600, [online]. Available at: https://www.con-texto skantianos.net/index.php/revista/article/view/310 [Acces­sed 31 July 2018].
Katrechko, S. L., 2018b. Nature of Kant’s Appearance: Semantic Analysis (expanded theses). In: S. L. Katrechko, A. A. Shiyan, eds. 2018. Proceedings of the International Workshop “Transcendental Turn in Contemporary Philosophy-3: nature (specificity) of transcendental philosophy” (Moscow, April 19—21, 2018). Moscow: Foundation for Humanities, pp. 36-48. (In Russ.)
Langton, R., 1998. Kantian Humility. Our Ignorance of Things in Themselves. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Langton, R., 2001. Problems from Kant by James Van Cleve [Review]. The Philosophical Review, 110(3), pp. 451-454.
Marshall, C., 2013. Kant’s Appearances and Things in Themselves as Qua-Objects. Philosophical Quarterly, 63(252), pp. 520-545.
Oberst, M., 2015. Two Worlds and Two Aspects: on Kant’s Distinction between Things in Themselves and Appearances. Kantian Review, 20(1), pp. 53-75.
Palmquist, S. R., 1986. Six Perspectives on the Object in Kant’s Theory of Knowledge. Dialectica, 40(2), pp. 121-151.
Prauss, G., 1971. Erscheinung bei Kant: Ein Problem der “Kritik der reinen Vernunft”. Berlin: de Gruyter & Co.
Prauss, G., 1974. Kant und das Problem der Dinge an sich. Bonn: Bouvier.
Prichard, H. A., 1909. Kant’s Theory of Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford Claredon Press.
Robinson, H., 1994. Two Perspectives on Kant’s Appearances and Things in Themselves. Journal of the History of Philosophy, 33(4), pp. 411-441.
Rohlf, M., 2010. Immanuel Kant. In: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, [online]. Available at: https://plato.stanford. edu/entries/kant/#TraIde [Accessed 25 May 2018].
Russell, B., 1974. Religion and Science. London, Oxford, and New York: Oxford University Press.
Sellars, W., 1968. Science and Metaphysics: Variations on Kantian Themes. London and New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd & The Humanities Press.
Schulting, D., 2011. Kant’s Idealism: The Current Debate. In: D. Schulting, J. Verburgt, eds. 2011. Kant’s Idealism: New Interpretations of a Controversial Doctrine. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 1-25.
Sosa, E., 1987. Subjects among Other Things. Philosophical Perspectives, l, pp. 155-87.
Stang, N., 2017. An Ecumenal Approach to Kant’s Idealism. In: S. L. Katrechko, ed. 2017. Proceedings of the International
Workshop “Transcendental Turn in Contemporary Philosophy (2): Kant Appearance, its Ontological and Epistemological Status” (Moscow, April 26—30, 2018). M.: Foundation center for Civic Initiatives, pp. 26-27, 79-86, [online]. Available at: https://elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=30560029 [Accessed 11 May 2018].
Stang, N., 2016. Kant’s Transcendental Idealism. In: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, [online]. Available at: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-transcendental-idealism/ [Accessed 5 April 2018].
Tolley, C., 2014. Kant’s Appearances as Object-Dependent Senses. In: N. Stang, K. Schafer, eds. On the Sensible and Intelligible Worlds. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming), [online]. Available at: http://philosophyfaculty.ucsd.edu/faculty/ctolley/publications/tolley-KAODS-ms-2014.pdf [Accessed 11 May 2018].
Van Cleve, J., 1999. Problems from Kant. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Walker, R., 2010. Kant on the Number of Worlds. British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 18, pp. 821-843.
Werkmeister, W. H., 1977. Kant’s Refutation of Idealism. Southern Journal of Philosophy, 15 (4), pp. 551-565.
Werkmeister, W. H., 1981. The complementarity of phenomena and things in themselves. Synthese, 47(2), pp. 301-311.
Wood, A., 2005. Kant. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.