Kantian Journal

2020 Vol. 39. No. 3

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The Problem of the Relationship between Apperception, Self-Consciousness and Consciousness in Kant’s Critical Philosophy

DOI
10.5922/0207-6918-2020-3-2
Pages
24-53

Abstract

Kant does not provide clear-cut definitions of apperception, consciousness, and self-consciousness and everywhere uses these terms as synonyms, which creates the problem of the relationship between these faculties. The importance of this problem stems from the colossal significance of each of the above-mentioned faculties which are intimately connected with Kant’s formulation of the key tasks of transcendental philosophy. The prime task is to discover the categories of understanding and to prove the legitimacy of their use, a task that is further complicated by the difference between the editions of the Critique of Pure Reason in terms of the argumentation in the section on the deduction of categories and Kant’s concept of apperception. Accordingly, the author seeks to clarify the purpose of each of the above-mentioned faculties and to establish their inter-relationship. To this end the author analyses the functional roles of consciousness, self-consciousness and apperception in solving the main tasks of the first Critique. It turns out that consciousness is a reflexive cognitive capacity which provides access to representations in our soul and allows us to distinguish them and to connect them. Self-consciousness is the mode of the functioning of consciousness which makes it possible to study three objects of consciousness: internal and external representations of the subject, the synthetic activity of understanding and our soul. Apperception is the Latin synonym of the concept of Selbstbewußtsein and is aimed at studying the unity of our representations. Because Kant distinguishes multiple kinds of unity, there are different names for apperception. Kant uses the concept of Apperzeption as a synonym of self-consciousness because his concept of consciousness follows the Leibniz-Wolffian tradition.

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