XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

The unity of self-consciousness and the objective unity of apperception

Sebastian Rödl

Edificio: Palazzo dei Congressi
Sala: sala Fermi
Data: 23 maggio 2010 - 14:30
Ultima modifica: 12 aprile 2010

Abstract

Kant argues that the unity of self-consciousness, that is, the unity in virtue of which representations so unified are mine, is the same as the objective unity of apperception, that is, the unity in virtue of which representations so unified are referred to an object. On this identity – the identity of the unity of self-consciousness and the objective unity of apperception – rests the transcendental deduction of the categories. For, the objective unity of apperception is the unity thought in the category; and as this unity is the same as the unity of self-consciousness, it follows that any representation, specifically any intuition, belonging to this latter unity is as such determined by the category.
Commentators have found it difficult to expound this crucial thought of Kant’s – that the unity of self-consciousness is the same as the objective unity of apperception – in such a way as to bring out its truth. Indeed, some have gone so far as to declare the thought unfounded (not considering their inability to apprehend its truth an indication of their own shortcoming). However, recently, in a number of lectures as well as in written material that I have been privileged to be allowed to read, Patricia Kitcher has sought to develop an account of the unity of self-consciousness that shows how it can play the role in the transcendental deduction of the categories that Kant assigns to it, an account that reveals the unity of self-consciousness to be the unity by which representations are referred to an object. I shall follow her in this aim. I will approach the topic from a different angle from Kitcher’s; however, I will make contact with her reflections at a crucial point. I proceed as follows: First I describe the unity of self-consciousness: it is a unity that resides in consciousness of this very unity. Then I describe the unity that judgments exhibit in virtue of referring to an object and say why that unity is the one thought in the category. Finally, I explain why, describing the unity of judgments, we have described nothing other than the unity of self-consciousness, so that being self-conscious and being a subject of objectively valid acts is one and the same.